The night became quiet again as the fires began to burn low. The screaming of the tortured captives had subsided and the last of the combats between captives for the entertainment of the assembled tribal leaders had ended. As the chiefs began to talk quietly amongst themselves, Hakkaluggee, war chief of the Keuhankans strode into the light provided by the biggest fires. A hush fell over the leaders as they gave their full attention to Hakkaluggee.
Scanning their faces, Hakkaluggee stood straighter and began –
In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep had fallen upon me, fear came upon me and trembling, which made all my bones shiver! Then a spirit passed before my face causing the hair of my head to stand up! The spirit stood still, but I could not discern the form thereof and it was silent as the grave.
Then I heard a voice saying “Are the teeth of the young lions broken? Why have you not cast out the invaders from your lands and sacred places? How long must the spirit of your ancestors be in pain!”
Angry murmurs arose from the onlookers, and hands reached for tomahawks and knives at this insult to the dignity of the gathering.
“Hold thy peace,” Hakkaluggee shouted, “and I shall share with thee what the spirit said to teach me!”
“Free this land,” the spirit said, “and thou shalt know that thy people shall be great as the grass of the earth. We know that the heathen have driven thy brethren far from you – we have pity upon you for the hard hand of the Enemy toucheth you – but you must rise up against this foe!”
“Brothers! Did not our fathers deal with the heathen? Did not our gods bring evil upon us and upon our peoples for treating with them? We should contend with them, curse them, and smite them… pluck off their hair and make them swear by their false god to abandon our lands! I swear to you here, now, that I will cleanse these lands of all strangers, every one!”
The chiefs began to sound their war crys, but Hakkaluggee stilled them once more. “Now hear from our ally, Double-Scalp!”
Chevalier Hubert de la PÃ¢tÃ© FeuilletÃ©e then stepped from the shadows where he had been watching. Flinging off his cloak, he stood before them in the full dress uniform of a Freedonian officer. “Hear diligently my declaration, for this is written in the King’s name, and sealed with His ring that no man may reverse it!” He then pulled a scroll from his coat and began to read from the list of promises of guns, powder, and munitions his King would supply. Finishing quickly, he thrust the scroll into the air with a flourish that once again brought Hakkaluggee forward.
“Tonight we send runners to all the peoples of this land, carrying the bloody tomahawk to declare our intent! They shall fly over trails and back roads, through woods and across rivers, bringing the challenge to destroy, to kill, and to punish all of the invaders! Let none stand idly while we go to war!”
The chiefs could remain silent no more and they broke out with their war cries, brandishing their weapons and calling for the blood of their enemies. PÃ¢tÃ© FeuilletÃ©e walked slowly back over to stand beside his superior on the liaison mission, Comte de Legerdemain. Legedemain turned to smile at his subordinate and mutter sotto voce, “Most excellent work tonight, Hubert. We have these savages right where we want them, eating from the palms of our hands!” Double-Scalp returned the smile as he once again enfolded himself in his cloak.
And in the dark of the night, the war drums began to beat….