One day in the next week she went down to the river far in the woods, and took a bath, combing her long straight black hair down her shoulders. Then she put on her new dress, and went down to the miller's house. It was all very quiet, for the children were not there, but their mother came to the door. She laughed out loud with pleasure when she saw Donee. The red dress was just the right color for her to wear with her dark skin and black hair. Her eyes were soft and shy, and her bare feet and arms (like most Indian women's) pretty enough to be copied in marble.
"You are a good child--you're a very good child! Here are the dishes.
I wish the children were at home. Sit right down on the step now and eat a piece of pie."
But Donee could not eat the pie, her heart was so full.
"Hillo!" called the miller, when he saw her. "Why, what a nice girl you are to-day, Dony! Your brother's hard at work, eh? It will all come right, then."
Donee stood around for a long time, afraid to say what she wanted.
"What is it?" asked the miller's wife.
Donee managed to whisper, if she were to have a party the next day, could the children come to it? and their mother said: "Certainly, in the evening."
When the little girl ran down the hill, the miller said: "Seems as if't would be easy to make Christians out of them two."
"I'm going to do what I can for Donee," said the miller's wife.
It was not so easy for the little red-skinned girl to have a party, for she had neither jam nor bread, nor butter, not to mention candy.
But she was up very early the next morning, and made tiny little cakes of corn, no bigger than your thumbnail, and she went to a hollow tree she knew of and got a cupful of honey, and brought some red haws, and heaps of nuts, hickory and chestnuts. When Oostogah had gone, she set out her little dishes under a big oak, and dressed herself in her lovely frock, though she knew the party could not begin for hours and hours. The brown cakes and honey, and scarlet haws, were in the white dishes, and the gold pitcher, with a big purple flower, was in the middle. Donee sat down and looked at it all. In a year or two Oostogah would build a house like the miller's, and she should have a blue carpet on the floor, and a white bed, and wear red frocks every day, like Betty.
Just then she heard voices talking. Oostogah had come back; he sat upon a log; and the trader, who came around once a year, stood beside him, a pack open at his feet. It was this peddler, Hawk, who was talking.
"I tell you, Oostogy, the miller's a fool. There's no new settlers coming here, and nobody wants your land. There's hundreds and thousands of acres beyond better than this. You'd better take my offer. Look at that suit!"
He held up short trousers of blue cloth worked with colored porcupine quills, and a scarlet mantle glittering with beads and gold fringe.
"I don't want it," grunted Oostogah. "Sell my land for big pile money."
"Oh, very well. I don't want to buy your land. There's thousands of acres to be had for the asking, but there's not such a dress as that in the United States. I had that dress made on purpose for you, Oostogy. I said: 'Make me a dress for the son of a great chief. The handsomest man'" (eying the lad from head to foot) "'that lives this side of the great water.'"
Oostogah grunted, but his eyes began to sparkle.
"Here now, Oostogy, just try it on to please me. I'd like to see you dressed like a chief for once."
Oostogah, nothing loth, dropped his dirty blanket, and was soon rigged in the glittering finery, while Hawk nodded in rapt admiration.
"There's not a man in the country, red-skin or pale-face, but would know you for the son of the great Denomah. Go look down in the creek, Oostogy."
Oostogah went, and came back, walking more slowly. He began to take off his mantle.
"There's a deputation from these Northern tribes going this winter to see the Great Father at Washington. If Oostogy had a proper dress he could go. But shall the son of Denomah come before the Great Father in a torn horse-blanket?"
"Your words are too many," said Oostogah. "I have made up my mind. I will sell you the land for the clothes."
Donee came up then, and stood directly before him, looking up at him.
But she said nothing. It is not the habit of Indian women and children to speak concerning matters of importance.
Oostogah pushed her out of the way, and, with the trader, went into the hut to finish their bargain.
In an hour or two her brother came to Donee. He had his new clothes in a pack on his back. "Come," he said, pointing beyond the great river to the dark woods.
"We will come back here again, Oostogah?"
"No; we will never come back."
Donee went to the tree and looked down at the party she had made; at the little dishes with the rose on each. But she did not lift one of them up. She took off her pretty dress and laid it beside them, and, going to the hut, put on her old rags again. Then she came out and followed her brother, whose face was turned toward the great dark woods in the west.
When the miller's children came to the party that afternoon, a pig was lying on Donee's red dress, and the dishes were scattered and broken.
But the hut was empty.
A year afterward, the miller came back from a long journey. After he had kissed and hugged his wife and little ones, he said: "You remember, wife, how Hawk cheated that poor Indian lad out of his land?"
"Yes; I always said it was the old story of the fox and the foolish raven over again."
"It was the old story of the white and the red man over again. But out in an Indian village I found Donee sick and starving."
The miller's wife jumped to her feet. The tears rushed to her eyes.
"What did you do? What did you do?"
"Well, there wasn't but one thing to do, and I did that." He went out to the wagon and carried in the little Indian girl, and laid her on the bed.
"Poor child! Poor child! Where is Oostogah?"
The miller shook his head. "Don't ask any questions about him. The raven flew away to the woods, and was never heard of again. Better if that were the end of Oostogah."
Donee, opening her tired eyes, saw the blue carpet and the white bed where she lay, and the red dahlias shining in the sun and looking in at the window, and beside her were the children, and the children's mother smiling down on her with tears in her eyes.
THE PRIVATE THEATRICALS
By Mrs. A. D. T. Whitney
Saturday was a day of hammering, basting, draping, dressing, rehearsing, running from room to room. Upstairs, in Mrs. Green's garret, Leslie Goldthwaite and Dakie Thayne, with a third party never before introduced upon the stage, had a private practising; and at tea-time, when the great hall was cleared, they got up there with Sin Saxon and Frank Scherman, locked the doors, and in costume, with regular accompaniment of bell and curtain, the performance was repeated.
Dakie Thayne was stage-manager and curtain-puller; Sin Saxon and Frank Scherman represented audience, with clapping and stamping, and laughter that suspended both,--making as nearly the noise of two hundred as two could,--this being an essential part of the rehearsal in respect to the untried nerves of the _debutant_, which might easily be a little uncertain.
"He stands fire like a Yankee veteran."
"It's inimitable," said Sin Saxon, wiping the moist merriment from her eyes. "And your cap, Leslie! And that bonnet! And this unutterable old oddity of a gown! Who did contrive it all? and where did they come from? You'll carry off the glory of the evening. It ought to be the last."
"No, indeed," said Leslie. "Barbara Frietchie must be last, of course.
But I'm so glad you think it will do. I hope they'll be amused."