Mauley The Brave Ferry-Man

A poem by Hanford Lennox Gordon

Crouching in the early morning,
Came the swarth and naked "Sioux;"[CF]
On the village, without warning,
Fell the sudden, savage blow.
Horrid yell and crack of rifle
Mingle as the flames arise;
With the tomahawk they stifle
Mothers' wails and children's cries.
Men and women to the ferry
Fly from many a blazing cot;
Brave and ready grim and steady,
Mauley mans the ferry-boat.

Can they cross the ambushed river?
'Tis for life the only chance;
Only this may some deliver
From the scalping-knife and lance.
Through the throng of wailing women
Frantic men in terror burst;
"Back, ye cowards!" thundered Mauley,
"I will take the women first!"
Then with brawny arms and lever
Back the craven men he smote.
Brave and ready grim and steady,
Mauley mans the ferry-boat.

To and fro across the river
Plies the little mercy-craft,
While from ambushed gun and quiver
On it falls the fatal shaft.
Trembling from the burning village,
Still the terror-stricken fly,
For the Indians' love of pillage
Stays the bloody tragedy.
At the windlass-bar bare-headed
Bare his brawny arms and throat
Brave and ready grim and steady,
Mauley mans the ferry-boat.

Hark! a sudden burst of war-whoops!
They are bent on murder now;
Down the ferry-road they rally,
Led by furious Little Crow.
Frantic mothers clasp their children,
And the help of God implore;
Frantic men leap in the river
Ere the boat can reach the shore.
Mauley helps the weak and wounded
Till the last soul is afloat;
Brave and ready grim and steady,
Mauley mans the ferry-boat.

Speed the craft! The fierce Dakotas
Whoop and hasten to the shore,
And a shower of shot and arrows
On the crowded boat they pour.
Fast it floats across the river,
Managed by the master hand,
Laden with a freight so precious,
God be thanked! it reaches land.
Where is Mauley grim and steady,
Shall his brave deed be forgot?
Grasping still the windlass-lever,
Dead he lies upon the boat.

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