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From Half-Hours With The Best Humorous Authors, selected and arranged by Charles Morris, Vol. II. American; J. B. Lippincott Company; Philadelphia; 1889, pp. 85-89.




[Timothy Flint, the author of “Ten Years in the Valley of the Mississippi” and “Geography of the Mississippi Valley,” was born in Massachusetts in 1780, and died in the same State in 1840. He travelled considerably in the then almost unknown regions described in his works, whither he went as a missionary in 1815. He was the author also of “Arthur Clenning” and other novels. His Western experiences are often told in a lively manner, as in the following story from “The Shenandoah Valley.”]

BAPTISTE, always a standing lover and gallant for all the undistinguished Indian girls of the nation, had been observed in earnest dialogue with T’selle’nee, or the Peony, the pretty daughter of Mon-son-sah, or the Spotted Panther, a proud and fine Shienne warrior, who doted on this his only child. What injury or insult was offered the belle of round and vermilion-rouged cheek does not appear; but next morning it was the current gossip among the fair of the nation that T’selle’nee had had a “medicine-dream.” At any rate, she was reported to be in tears, shut up under the customary and severest interdiction of Indian usage. . . . There was a great trouble in the wigwam. The fierce father forced his daughter to confession. The smooth-tongued and voluble Canadian had vague intimations that this affair was likely to bring no good to him. Truth was, as a general lover, he had the reputation of being particularly slippery and unworthy of confidence. Various girls had made calculation upon him for a husband. But Baptiste had a manifest preference for being a general lover, and a specific aversion to matrimony in particular.

Whoever among this people has had a dream of sufficient 86 import to cause the dreamer to wear black paint and to proclaim an interdict becomes for the time a subject of universal speculation and remark. The general whisper, especially among the women, was, What has Baptiste done? and, What has caused the interdict of T’selle’nee?

Mon-san-sah, meanwhile was not idle. The deepest indignation of his burning spirit was called forth. The frequent amours and infidelities of Baptiste were circulated, and generally not at all to his advantage. An affair of his, touching a Shoshonee girl, was blazoned with many a minute circumstance of wanton cruelty. “What right,” they said, “had the proud and babbling pale-face to conduct himself after this fashion toward the red-skin girls? They would teach him to repent such courses.” The cunning young T’selle’nee, though interdicted, and of course supposed to be unable to see or converse with any one, was in fact at the bottom of all this.

The result of the long-brooded mischief was at length disclosed. Hatch was the envoy of Mon-son-sah to Baptiste Dettier, to make known to him the purposes that were settled in respect to his case. Hatch, Dutch though he was, enjoyed a comfortable broad joke. . . . Baptiste in passing heard him call him to a stop, with a pale face and palpitating heart. He seemed disposed to walk on.

“Will you stop, Mynheer Baptiste? said the Dutchman, with a visage of mysterious importance. “Perhaps you will find it to your interest to hear what I have to say to you?”

“Vell, sare,” said Baptiste, stopping and squaring himself, “suppose you tell me vat for you stop me from mine promenade. Is it von mighty dem big ting dat you hab to tell me?”

“Oh, no, Mynheer Baptiste, it is no great matter. It only concerns your life.”


“Sacre! Monsieur Dutchman,” cried Baptiste, shrugging and turning pale, “s’pose you tink it von mighty dem leet ting to concern my life. Monsieur Dutchman, vat for make you look so dem big? I pray you, sare, speak out vat for you stop me.”

The Dutchman continued to economize the luxury of his joke as long as possible, and proceeded in his customary dialect, and with the most perfect sang-froid, to ask him if he had ever known such an Indian demoiselle as T’selle’nee.

“Sare,vat for you ax me dat? ’Tis mine own affair, sare.”

“Well, Baptiste, they say she had had a dream, and that her face is painted as black as a thunder-cloud. It is common report that the matter closely concerns you. At any rate, the Spotted Panther is not to be rifled with, and he takes a deep interest in the business. You know the Spotted Panther?”

“Yes, sare, dat garçcon is one dem farouche villain.”

“Perhaps you like his daughter better?”

“Sacred! no. She is von dem — what you call him in Hinglees?”

“Never mind. She will make you the better wife for that. I have an errand to you from the Spotted Panther.”

“You make me frissonne all over my body,” said Baptiste, looking deadly pale.

“I have it in charge from the Spotted Panther to ask you, Baptiste, if you are disposed to marry T’selle’nee as soon as she is out of her black paint and her dream. They say she loves you to distraction.”

“Sez bien,” replied Baptiste, giving his wonted shrug of self-complacency; “so do twenty oder demoiselles of dese dem sauvages. Dat all for vat you stop me?”

“No. I am commissioned only to propose to you the 88 simple question. Do you choose to marry T’selle’nee, or not? And you are to let me report an immediate answer.”

“Parbleau, Monsieur Dutchman. S’pose I say no?”

“You will hear the consequences, and then I will say him no, if you wish it.”

“Vell, sare, what are de big consequence if I say no? ’Tis von dem farouche affair, ça!”

“He proposes to you one of two alternatives, — to marry his daughter, or be roasted alive at a slow fire. It is no great matter, after all. The beautiful T’selle’nee, or a roasting, — that’s the alternative.”

“’Tis von dem — what you call him, alternateeve? O mon Dieu! mon Dieu!” cried Baptiste, crossing himself, and seeming in an agony. “You dem Dutchman have no heart on your body, or you no tell me dat dem word and half grin your teeth all the time, sacre! You call him leet matter to roast von Christian like a pig, sacre!”

“Why, certainly, you don’t think it so great a thing to be roasted? You know, Baptiste, that an Indian smokes his pipe, and sings songs, and tells stories, and provokes his roasters, and thinks it little more than a comfort to be roasted.”

“O ciel!” cried the Canadian, apparently feeling faint at the horror of the idea. “You are von dem hard-heart Dutchman, to make sport of dis farouche affair!”

“Still, Baptiste, something must be done. You know the Spotted Panther is not a personage to be trifled with. Have you made up your mind for your answer?”

“’Tis von dem sommaire business, ça! O mon Dieu, aidez-moi! Oui, oui. I vill marree dis dem crapeau. S’pose — how like dem fool you talk! — that it be von leet ting to be roast? Certainment, me no make experimong.”

“Very good,” answered Hatch, with the same unmoved calmness. “Then we need not discuss the matter of roasting 89 at all. I thought you would prefer the wife. But you will please tell me the very words I am to report to the Spotted Panther.”

“O mon Dieu! ’Tis trop dur, a ting très-misérable. Me love all de damoiselles. Dey all love me. ’Tis ver hard affair, to tie me up to von dem crapeau, like un chien in a string.”

“Are these the words you wish me to carry back to the Spotted Panther?”

“No, certainement, no. You tell that savage gentilhomme, vid my best complimens, that I am trop sensible of de great honneur which his belle fille have done me. S’pose his belle fille no say that word to me fuss, den I tell her I offer my love and my devotions and my heart wid von satisfaction infini, and dat I lead her to de altare with great plaisir, sacre!”

Hatch omitted the last word, and reported all the rest with great fidelity. The invincible solemnity of the Dutchman’s narrative gave greater zest to the enjoyment of the Indians, who all knew, amid those forced compliments, what a bitter pill matrimony was to such an indiscriminant gallant.


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