The dusky warriors stood in groups around the funeral pyre,
The scowl upon their knotted brows betrayed their vengeful ire.
It needed not the cords, the stake, the rites so stern and rude,
To tell it was to be a scene of cruelty and blood.
Yet 'mid those guilt-stained men could any vile enough be found
To harm the victim who there stood, in helpless thraldom bound?
A girl of slight and fragile form, of gentle child-like grace,
Though woman's earnest thoughtfulness beamed in that sweet young face.
Oh! lovely was that winsome child of a dark and rugged line,
And e'en mid Europe's daughters fair, surpassing might she shine:
For ne'er had coral lips been wreathed by brighter, sunnier smile,
Or dark eyes beamed with lustrous light, more full of winsome wile.
With glowing cheek and curving lip, she stood, in silent pride,
A queen in simple majesty, though captive bound and tied,
Nor could that sight of death, though fit to turn a strong heart weak,
Chase back the deep scorn from her brow, the color from her cheek.
And, yet, it was not wonderful, that haughty, high-born grace,
She stood amid her direst foes, a Princess of her race;
Knowing they'd met to wreak on her their hatred 'gainst her name,
To doom her to a fearful death, to pangs of fire and flame.
But, mindful of the teachings stern of childhood's early years,
She had firmly vowed no plaints of hers, or womanish weak tears
Would glad her foes but, as became her rank and lineage high,
That she would, like a Huron maid, nobly and bravely die.
One moment, - then her proud glance fled, her form she humbly bowed,
A softened light stole o'er her brow, she prayed to heaven aloud:
"Hear me, Thou Great and Glorious One, Protector of my race,
Whom, in the far-off Spirit land, I'll soon see face to face!
"Pour down Thy blessings on my tribe, may they triumphant rise
Above the guileful Iroquois - Thine and our enemies;
And give me strength to bear each pang with courage high and free,
That, dying thus, I may be fit to reign, oh God! with Thee."
Her prayer was ended, and again, like crowned and sceptred Queen,
She wore anew her lofty smile, her high and royal mien,
E'en though the Chief the signal gave, and quick two warriors dire,
Sprang forth to lead the dauntless girl to the lit funeral pyre.
Back, with an eye of flashing scorn, recoiled she from their grasp,
"Nay, touch me not, I'd rather meet the coil of poisoned asp!
My aged sire, and all my tribe will learn with honest pride
That, as befits a Huron's child, their chieftain's daughter died!"
She dashed aside her tresses dark with bright and fearless smile,
And like a fawn she bounded on the fearful funeral pile;
And even while those blood-stained men fulfilled their cruel part
They praised that maiden's courage rare, her high and dauntless heart.