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The Princess Pocahontas

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THE RETURN OF THE WARRIORS

Through the white forest came Opechanchanough and his braves, treading as silently as the flakes that fell about them. From their girdles hung fresh scalp locks which their silent Monachan owners did not miss.

But Opechanchanough, on his way to Werowocomoco to tell The Powhatan of the victory he had won over his enemies, did not feel quite sure that he had slain all the war party against which he and his Pamunkey braves had gone forth. The unexpected snow, coming late in the winter, had been blown into their eyes by the wind so that they could not tell whether some of the Monachans had not succeeded in escaping their vengeance. Perhaps, even yet, so near to the wigwams of his brother's town, the enemy might have laid an ambush. Therefore, it behooved them to be on their guard, to look behind each tree for crouching figures and to harken with all their ears that not even a famished squirrel might crack a nut unless they could point out the bough on which it perched.

Opechanchanough led the long thin line that threaded its way through the broad cutting between huge oaks, still bronze with last year's leaves. He held his head high and to himself he framed the words of the song of triumph he meant to sing to The Powhatan, as the chief of the Powhatans was called. Then, suddenly before his face shot an arrow.

At a shout from their leader, the long line swung itself to the right, and fifty arrows flew to the northward, the direction from which danger might be expected. Still there was silence, no outcry from an ambushed enemy, no sign of other human creatures.

Opechanchanough consulted with his braves whence had the arrow come; and even while they talked, another arrow from the right whizzed before his face.

"A bad archer," he grunted, "who cannot hit me with two shots." Then pointing to a huge oak that forked half way up, he commanded:

"Bring him to me."

Two braves rushed forward to the tree, on which all eyes were now fixed. It was difficult to distinguish anything through the falling snow and the mass of its flakes that had gathered in the crotch. All was white there, yet there was something white which moved, and the two braves on reaching the tree trunk yelled in delight and disdain.

The white figure moved rapidly now. Swinging itself out on a branch and catching hold of a higher one, it seemed determined to retreat from its pursuers to the very summit of the tree. But the braves did not waste time in climbing after it; they leapt up in the air like panthers, caught the branch and swung it vigorously back and forth so that the creature's feet slipped from under it and it fell into their outstretched arms.


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