Joseph Thayendanegea Brant : b.1742 - d.1807

It was one day in the summer, some three years after their arrival, that the little company received a distinguished visitor in the person of the famous Chief and trusted officer of His Majesty's Army, Captain Joseph Brant.  This splendid Indian, known among his fellows as Thayendanegea, was a full-blooded Mohawk, whose life-story to this day reads like a romance.  From the time the War started he had been loyal to the British flag, and for his services had received a three-thousand-acre grant of land at the north end of Macassa Water, where he had built a spacious home, and lived in a dignified elegance that savoured of other and more stately days.  Once or twice some members of the family had sighted him, riding round his property, or driving with his beautiful Mohawk wife to the nearest Indian country of Oswego, where, to all Indian supporters of the British Crown, lands had been granted, reaching for a distance of ten miles on each side of the Grand River, and extending from its source to its mouth.  Here was arising an Indian village, modelled after a plan dear to the Chief's own heart, and here he had built a church, primarily for his own people, but was destined to be a beacon for them all, for it was the first Protestant Church in Upper Canada.

  One Easter Sunday the Hamiltons and the Nelsons journeyed there for a service, and felt delightfully at home, enfolded between those fragrant, cedar-smelling walls, with the beautifully constructed ceiling, the long rows of benches, the tiny, melodious organ that led the singing so sweetly, and, above all, the atmosphere of sanctity that pervaded the place.  From the small altar, on which shone the ancient silver Communion plate, presented by Her Majesty Queen Anne to Chief Brant's father, to the boldly etched Commandments painted on the wall above, the place seemed to breathe reverence.  The gilded letters proclaiming the Law were familiar to all the young people except Celista and Pear Dew.  They remembered them in the old days, but even these took on a greater significance when one tried to read such familiar commandments as "Thou shalt not steal' in its Mohawk equivalent, 'Toghfack aghfenoufkch'!

  Frances Rebecca, however had been attracted by the beautiful face of Mrs. Brant.  And when she heard from some of the neighbours how the lady was herself a Mohawk princess, orphaned in her youth, brought up by English friends, who, because she realized how much her people must learn if they would hold together as a nation, set herself to learn, that she might teach then, her admiration grew.  Mrs. Brant could speak English and French as fluently as her own tongue, and while never despising or disdaining the poorest among her own people she worked with her husband to bring the two races together, that friendliness and harmonious living might be gained.

  So when the day came that the Captain and Mrs. Brant rode round the bay on their two thoroughbreds and drew rein by the Hamiltons' porch, Frances Rebecca was amongst those most delighted to receive them.

  Only she and Mother Hamilton were there, but Mrs. Nelson soon joined them, with the other young folk, and together they listened while the gracious lady talked, and the Chief wandered up and down their thriving lands in company with Jimmie, and their now very frequent companion, Asahel McCollum,  praising their work, admiring their flock -- now increased to six -- advising and encouraging them.

  Cynthia Elizabeth had left the homestead just a little before the arrival, though from a distant height she saw them come.  Regretfully she knew she must hurry on, however, for Father had been working alone all morning, clearing a distant pasture, and, for a wonder, none of the neighbours went with him.

  She quickened her steps through the half-cleared spaces, then 'OO-o-EEe!  Father!' she called.

  Quickly came an answered shout, 'Cynthy -- Cynthy!  For goodness' sake hurry!'

  The girl's feet scarcely seemed to touch the ground then.  She raced through the remaining brushwood, heedless of the branches and brambles that beat and tore against her hands and face.  Out into the cleared pasture she darted, then she checked with a gasp and all but dropped the precious lunch.  Her father stood unhurt, but he was not alone; in front of him, his painted face dark with baffled rage, crouched a befeathered Indian chief.  He was watching for a chance to spring on Father Hamilton and beat him down.  But the Loyalist confronted him, axe upraised, and so he dared not move.  This was not all, however.  Nearby lay a large, newly felled log; evidently her father had been splitting it, for the splitting-wedge lay nearby.  On either side of the log, an object too huge to be moved by anything less than a yoke of oxen, stood six Indians.  Their faces were contorted with pain and rage, for each of them was held very securely fast by the hands, which were seemingly wedged into the crack of the log.  All this the young girl saw as she rushed to her father's side, and he, without moving his eyes from the chief, told what had happened.

  'They came on me, Cynthy, just as I was splitting the log.  They told me they had it in for me -- some old grudge.  And it isn't us they mean.  But I couldn't convince them.  Maybe it was the folks who lived here before us.  Anyway, they made it clear I wouldn't go home again, so I told them if they must kill me, first help me to split the log, as Mother would need it for a fire when winter came and she hadn't me to fetch any.  This big fellow here' -- indicating the chief -- 'was the only one who understood; he told the others to take hold of the sides and pull.  Then I kicked the wedge away and it trapped them by the hands -- see?  But I can't move now, for that chief's yearning for a chance to get me.  Run for help, Cynthy -- and for goodness' sake be quick!'

  The girl needed no second bidding.  Dropping her burden, she sped away, leaping over rock and rut and root, sure-footed and heedless of herself, her golden hair flying, her blue eyes wide with fear.

  So she burst upon the little group upon the porch, hurling herself past her mother and the rest, and straight into the arms of astonished Captain Brant.

  'Come!  Come!  Oh come!' she cried wildly, dragging at the gentleman's sleeve.  'There are Indians on the hill, and they are trying to kill my father!'

  Fortunately Chief Brant was quick to understand.  One leap from the porch and he was on his horse, then, catching her hand, he swung her lightly up before him.  At the same instant Asahel and Jimmie jumped on to the other, and so the rescue party set off, guided by the girl.  Up the slopes they galloped, to arrive very quickly on the strange scene.  Neither the Loyalist nor the Indian had moved, but the snarls of pain and fury from the rest could be heard far away.

  They subsided very quickly when Chief Brant arrived, for then there was a conversation of a very different character.  The seven culprits recognized and feared the stately Mohawk; they knew his insistence on law and order; they realized very thoroughly just what he would do.  So a crestfallen group of prisoners was released from the log and marched down the hill towards the settlement, where on the way they met a crowd of neighbours hurrying to Father Hamilton's rescue.

  The disciplining of these Indians the Loyalists knew they might leave to their kind visitor, who would not be likely to condone a wrongdoing just because it was done by some of his own race.  So little more was said about it, and people were grouped again round the famous Indian and his wife, who recognized in the White Man's coming something far in advance of Red Men's lore, and which they would do well to adopt, if their race was to endure.

  Each had so much to give the other.  the ideals of cleanliness, order, and morality such as the Loyalists knew made good exchange for the practices of self-preservation, adaptability, and woodcraft such as the Indians could teach.

  'For instance, dear Mrs. Hamilton,' said Mrs. Brant towards the close of that visit.  'You must let me show you how to preserve wild fruit for winter's use, even though you have no sugar to do it with.  And never again must you go short of lights at night, or soap.  I can teach you how to make both, so if the traders fail to come, or you haven't the wherewithal to barter, you can always fall back upon your own.'

  It was during this and other conversations, when the summer afternoons grew long and golden, that Mrs. Brant's quick eyes discovered something else.  For a long time she made no remark about it, but one Sunday evening, after a service which the Chief and a visiting missionary conducted from the Hamilton homestead porch, she suddenly put her arm round Frances Rebecca's shoulders and, smiling from her to the not-so-distant Asahel, said meaningly:  'So the Fairy Prince is not so far away, is he, Rebecca?  Mother Hamilton, your girl is grown a woman now!'

  Cynthia Elizabeth might have laughed a few years ago at the thought of people falling in love.  But not now.  Instead she cut short Stanley James' shrill cackle of mirth with a sharp slap, and stared from one to the other with bright, interested eyes.

  She saw Rebecca blushing deeply, heard the meaningful, good-natured chaff of their friends, particularly at the frank surprise of Father and Mother Hamilton, who, it would seem, were the only people present who had noticed nothing.  Then she saw Asahel McCollum, who had flushed a dull brick under his tan, suddenly square his shoulders and, walking up to their father, say something in a low, decided tone.  At this Rebecca suddenly became agitated and tearful, and turned from their friend to their watching mother, in a sudden, flurried manner.  But matters were soon settled.  Asahel's head was up, with a proud, straightforward air, and their father, after listening to what he said, suddenly clapped him on the shoulders, and, turning, led him smilingly towards the rest.  Then they all rose with a murmur of expectancy, and Mrs. Brant, with one arm still round Rebecca, and the other hand extended towards the self-conscious young man, said cheerfully:

  'Then it is all settle, is it, my dears?  And when is the wedding to be?'

 

 

 

 

 

 

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