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they started off together. The women led the way along a trail through the woods, which the young man had never noticed before, until they came to a small creek, where, without hesitating, they stepped into the water. The young man paused in surprise on the bank, and thought to himself, “They are walking in the water; I do not wish to do that.” The women understood his thoughts, just as though he had spoken, and turned and said to him, “This is not water; this is the road to our house."
He still hesitated, but they urged him on until he stepped into the water and found it was only soft grass that made a fine level trail.
They went on until the path came to a large stream, which he knew to be Tallulah River. The women plunged boldly in, but again the warrior hesitated on the bank, thinking to himself, “That water is very deep and will drown me! I cannot go on.” They knew his thoughts again, and turned and said, “This is not water, but the main trail that goes past our house, which is now close by.” He stepped in, and instead of water, there was tall waving grass that closed above his head as he followed them.
They went only a short distance and came to a cave of rock close under Ugunyi, the Cherokee name for Tallulah Falls. The women entered, while the warrior stood at the mouth, but they said, “This is our house; come in, our brother will soon be at home; he is coming now.” They heard low thunder in the distance. He went inside and stood up close to the entrance. Then the women took off their long hair and hung it up on a rock, and both their heads were as smooth as pumpkins. The man thought, “It is not hair at all,” and he was more frightened than
The younger woman, the one he was about to marry, then sat down and told him to take a seat beside her. He looked, and it was a large turtle on which she sat, and it raised itself up and stretched out its claws, as if angry at being disturbed. The youth refused to sit down, insisting that it was a turtle, but the woman again assured him that it was a seat. Then there was a louder roll of thunder, and the woman said, “Now our brother is nearly home.” While he still refused to come nearer or sit down, suddenly there was a great thunder clap just behind him, and turning quickly he saw a man standing in the doorway of the
“This is my brother," said the woman, and he came in and sat down upon the turtle, which again rose up and stretched out its claws. The young warrior still refused to come in. The brother then said that he was just about to start to a council, and invited the young man to go with him. The hunter said he was willing to go, if only he had a horse; so the young woman was told to bring one. She went out and soon came back, leading a great uktena snake, that curled and twisted along the whole length of the cave. Some people say that it was a white uktena and that the brother himself rode a red one. The hunter was terribly frightened and said, "That is a snake; I cannot ride that." The others insisted that it was not a snake, but their riding horse. The brother grew impatient and said to the woman, “He may like it better if you bring him a saddle and some bracelets for his wrists and arms. So they went out again and brought in a saddle and some arm bands, and the saddle was another
turtle, which they fastened on the uktena's back, and the bracelets were living slimy snakes, which they made ready to twist around the hunter's wrists.
He was almost dead with fear, and said, “What kind of horrible place is this? I can never stay here to live with snakes and creeping things." The brother became very angry and called him a coward, and then it was as if lightning flashed from his eyes and struck the young man, and a terrific crash of thunder stretched him senseless.
When at last he came to himself again, he was standing with his feet in the water and both hands grasping a laurel bush that grew out from the bank, and there was no trace of the cave or the Thunder People, but he was alone in the forest. He made his way out and finally reached his own settlement, but found that he had been gone so long that all the people thought him dead, although to him it seemed only the day after the dance. His friends questioned him closely, and, forgetting the warning, he told the story; but in seven days he died, for no one can come back from the underworld and tell it and live. *
A TRAGEDY OF THE SWAMP
Over in what is known as the "Fork”-in the angle which Brier Creek makes with the Savannah River-a number of curious relics have been discovered from time to time of the race who here lived and roamed the woods before the bold Genoese navigator found a new world in the West. On this particular spot there must have stood an important settlement or village, for numberless have been the weapons of war and the utensils for domestic use which have been here found. Indeed, it was the logical site for the red man's camp. The Savannah River, on one side, and Brier Creek, on the other, abounded in the finest fish, while the dense swamp which extends for miles over this region of country was full of game. It is well within the bounds of fair inference to assume that there was here an Indian village which was even more important than the one which overlooked the river from the high bluff at Yamacraw, where Savannah is today situated.
Deep in the labyrinths of this swamp there may be seen, among other things, what is said to be an old Indian well. As far back as the oldest inhabitant's grandsire can recollect, this hole has been here, and here it still remains. It was evidently dug to be used as a well—for what other purpose could it serve in this remote part of the swamp? But late researches have made it quite certain that this deep hole was not dug by the Indians. It was not the habit of the red man to dig wells, when springs and streams were near at hand.
In the immediate neighborhood of this well there formerly stood a large mound, some fifteen feet in length, supposed by those who observed it here for years to have been the last resting place of some In
* James Mooney, in “Myths of the Cherokee," House Documents, Vol. 118.
dian warrior. This lonely part of the swamp is nearly two miles directly east of the old Saxon place—an unfrequented locality; but not long ago, three young men of Sylvania, interested in antiquities, made a trip into this quarter for purposes of investigation. They found that on top of the mound a pine tree had taken root and had grown to be a forest giant, perhaps a hundred years old, its roots spreading in all directions over the supposed tomb. Of course, there is no way of telling how much further back the mound itself dated, but the evidence furnished by the tree suffices to fix the minimum age limit.
Though somewhat disappointed in failing to find the bones of an Indian chief, they unearthed what was still more startling—the remains of a small cabin or structure of some kind, which had been burned; and it was the ruins of this structure which formed the mound. It was evidently an abode of primitive character, for what remained of the charred poles showed that they had simply been stuck in the ground; but they were probably brought together in wigwam fashion and covered with some kind of bark. The fact that it was once a human habitation was confirmed by the discovery of small pieces of timber which seemed to have been carefully cut and by numerous fragments of domestic pottery which were unearthed from the ruins.
Bringing the historic imagination constructively to bear upon these disclosures it became evident to the investigators that a tragedy of some kind had taken place here in the swamp-it may have been two cen. turies ago. The place was destroyed by fire; but whether it was due to accident or to murderous intent there was nothing to indicate. In the light cast upon the problem by the bits of pottery, the lone inhabitant of this primitive abode could not have been an Indian. This rude hut in the swamp was not the work of a red man. It evinced the skill of a hand accustomed to better structures than the savage home-maker knew how to build.
Who, then, was the mysterious occupant?
Let us go back. After the pious Salzburgers came and settled at old Ebenezer, on the Savannah River, some thirty miles below this place, in the year 1733, there was a story told by the Indians of a Lone Hunter—a pale face—who lived in a swamp higher up the river and who was seen only at intervals by the Indians. This man was a mighty hunter, skilled in the use of the rifle; and he sometimes came to the Indian village to exchange game for corn. He dressed in cloths made of the furs of animals which he had slain and he learned to speak a few words of the Indian tongue, so that he could communicate with the natives. But the Indians managed to make the Salzburgers understand that he was not of the same race with the new comers at Ebenezer, nor with the pale face settlers at Savannah. From the accounts given by the red men it is clearly evident that he was a Spanish soldier-a member of the bold but cruel race which played so prominent a part in the early explorations and conquests of the new world and whose memorials on the continent of North America have not been obliterated by two centuries of Anglo-Saxon domination.
It was during this period that the Spaniards, who were then in possession of Florida, made frequent incursions into Georgia and South Carolina; and perchance the Lone Hunter may have been a Cavalier, who, wearied and sick, had fallen by the wayside, where he was left to die. Or, he may voluntarily have deserted his comrades for this lonely life in the swamp. Here, in this secluded spot, not far from the Indian village, where supplies could be obtained when needed, he had doubtless, with the implements usually carried by the Spanish soldier, fashioned the small timbers for his house and built his wigwam cabin. Here, too, with the pick, which he was in the habit of carrying on his back, when on the march, he patiently dug the well that he might be constantly supplied with water.
How long he lived here is only a matter of vague speculation, but there is every reason to believe that he perished with his home, which some enemy must have fired-perhaps some skulking Indian from the village who had looked with envious eyes upon the Lone Hunter's sword and rifle. We can almost see him stealthily approaching the little cabin, stopping ever and anon behind some large tree to reconnoiter—thus creeping slowly onward again. From the top of the Hunter's hut rises a thin line of smoke, for he is cooking some beaten corn, which he has purchased from the Indians and on the coals he is broiling a steak, cut from the deer which fell before his rifle on yester eve. Reaching the door, with the noiseless tread of a panther, the savage springs upon his unprepared victim—then a fierce struggle ensues. But the Hunter, taken unawares, at last succumbs. His body is dragged away, his home is pilfered, and then an ember from the fire is applied to the dry bark on the sides, and soon the cabin is a smoldering ruin.
It may have been thus. This much is true. The Lone Hunter was never found by the Salzburgers, though they made a search for him where the Indians said he lived; and there was a minor Indian chief who long boasted of a Spanish rifle and sword which he claimed to have received from one of the invaders. The site of the old Indian village was near the Black plantation, some three miles distant from the Lone Hunter's cabin.*
Sixteen years before the beginning of our narrative a war broke out between the Cherokee and the Upper Creek Indians. The former claimed the territory as far south as the Tishmaugu and the latter as far north and east as the Iacoda Trail, which was nearly identical with the present Athens and Clarkesville Road. Their first engagement was at Numerado, near the confluence of Hurricane Creek and Etoha River, above Hurricane Shoals. Amercides, apparently an Indian with a Greek name, was leader of the Cherokees, and as gallant a brave as ever drew
* We are indebted for the above story to an article which appeared in a Sylvania paper, signed “W. M. H.”
the bow. He rode a white horse and dashed from place to place as if trained on the battlefield of Europe.
Talitch-lechee, commander of the Creeks, anxious for a personal encounter, placed himself at a favorable point and awaited the expected opportunity. It soon came and the Creek buried his tomahawk in the gallant leader's side. When the white horse was seen running riderless through the forest of Numerado, the Cherokees began to retreat. But soon the scene changed. Elancydyne, the wife, or as she was generally called, the queen of Amercides, committing a small child which she was holding in her arms to the care of an attendant, mounted the riderless horse and at once took command. She was greeted by a yell from the Cherokees that echoed and re-echoed up and down the river and forward and backward across the valley. Soon the air was thick with flying arrows and whizzing tomahawks.
The conflict deepened and the battle waged on. The commander was more cautious than her fallen lord, but rode unflinchingly in the face of every danger. At last, the Creeks, finding their ranks so fatally thinned, retreated hastily. Another yell—this time the yell of victory, reverberated over the hills and the heroine of the day, forgetting all things else, hastened to see if her child was safe. She found it sleeping soundly in the arms of an attendant who, to shield the babe from harm, had received an arrow deeply in her own shoulder. Her name was Yetha; and though the wound was thought to be fatal, she lived to be
Soon a band of young warriors gathered around the queen and, carrying her over the battlefield, in grim mockery introduced her to the fallen Creeks as their conqueror. Elated by their decisive victory, the Cherokees considered the country conquered territory as far as they claimed and began a march across it to take formal possession. In the meantime, however, the Creeks had received substantial recruits, and since Talitchlechee was a wily old chief of long experience the enterprise was doubtful. His enemy, still lead by what her followers considered their invincible new queen, moved slowly and cautiously forward until they reached the verge of the plateau which dips toward Cold Spring, where they met Talitch-lechee in command of a larger force than at Numerado.
The Creeks gave the gage of battle and soon the engagement became general. Though Queen Elancydyne showed that she was a skilful and fearless leader, she was finally overcome by numbers, but by a masterpiece of strategy, she made a flank movement, and, going still forward, camped that night at Arharra on the plain where Prospect Church now stands and within hearing of the waters of Tishmaugu, the object of her expedition. This singular movement on the part of an enemy who had shown such consummate skill so puzzled Talitch-lechee that he hesitated to offer battle. The next morning, however, an accident brought on a general engagement, with varying success. This continued at intervals until noon when the Creek chief sent Umausauga, one of his trusted braves, to conceal a number of expert bowmen in the branches of some spreading trees that grew in an adjacent forest. Late in the afternoon the conflict again became general.
Elancydyne, on her white horse, led the van, and her example so inspired her followers that they gave another deafening yell and rushed