The Lunar Bow which brilliantly adorns Niagara Falls by moonlight

STORY OF THE LUNAR BOW, ( Which brilliantly adorns Niagara Falls by moonlight),
Origin of the Totem of the Wolf.


The tradition of the Lunar Bow, the Manitou's bright path, or the origin of the totem of the wolf, was traced with a scene long remembered at their councils, passing from generation to generation, and still sung by the Indian mothers in their far-off home towards the setting sun--the last foot-hold of the dark sons of the forest on this their native land. On the east side of the Falls of Niagara, before the hallowed waters of the mist fell, on the pale-faced warrior or the sound of the axe had even broken the great stillness of their undisputed soil, the dark shadows of the primeval forest fell only on rock and wigwam.

The red-topped sumach and sweet sassafras grew thick on either side, while ledges of rocks here and there pierced the foliage of the cedar-crowned banks 'round which tumbled and roared the mad waves, leaping like frightened does in wild confusion to their final plunge. The narrow Indian trails, winding around swamps, over hills, and through ravines, were the only paths that led to this their Great Manitou.

The drowsy sultriness of an American summer pervaded this secluded spot, harmonizing with the unceasing roar of the Great Falls. Ever and anon, tall, dark forms might be seen suddenly appearing from the thick foliage of the underbrush, through which their paths with difficulty wound, and silently their painted faces and gayly plumed heads dropped round the big wigwam. Important questions waited the decision of their wisest Sachems, and runners had been sent with wampum to call together distant Chiefs, who, with braves and warriors, as became the dignity of the wampum, answered by their presence quickly and in silence.

Near the brink of the Falls, beneath an aged pine, reclined a well- guarded, sorrowful, but haughty band. Their fine symmetry, noble height, and free carriage, were especially attractive. They were all young warriors, whose white paint presented emblems of peace: their plumes were from the beautiful white crane of the sunny forest, which designated the southern land from whence they came.

A gleam of pride flashed across their dark faces, while their attitudes bespoke both defiance and despair. A tall, stately looking youth appeared to command from these few the deference due a Chief. He was leaning against the old tree, looking for the first time on the great sheet of falling waters, where soon himself and followers would probably end their tortures by a welcome leap. Their noble bearing had attracted the eye of the Sachem's daughter, the Gentle Fawn; she, with a few young Indian girls, half hid among the whortleberry bushes growing luxuriantly around the smaller wigwams of the camp, were dividing their attention between the stately captives and weaving the gaudy wampums to be bestowed, with the shy little weavers themselves, upon such young braves as should be deemed worthy by the great council. Their stolen glances of admiration and pity, however, were intercepted by the young brave who brought home and so suspiciously guarded the prisoners. He was a fierce, wicked savage, with repulsive, glistening eyes, evincing a cunning, revengeful disposition.

At the side of this savage hung a string of fresh scalps, and a gleam of exultation shot across his swarthy visage as he pointed to the gory trophies at his belt, saying:

"The Black Snakes scalps are fresh from his enemies; the fingers of the Gentle Fawn cannot number them."

"The Fawn does not like the smell of blood," quickly answered the sensitive maid. "The Black Snake is a boy, and does not know his friends from his enemies."

"The Fawn has been taking lessons from the mocking-birds," replied Black Snake, "and has learned many tunes; she sings now for the ears of the sunny Eagle, whose wings are too feeble to fly. His last flight will be short (pointing to the cataract); he will not need his wings, and the Gentle Fawn will soon learn to sing to Black Snake. The Fawn is an infant, and Black Snake will feed her on birds' eggs." Approaching with a noiseless step, he continued, in a lower tone: "The Black Snake will be a great warrior; he must build a lodge of his own whereon to hang his enemies' scalps (shaking them in her face), and the Gentle Fawn will light his pipe."

With a suppressed cry the Fawn sprung to her feet. In an instant from the long wild grass, at her side appeared a huge wolf, of unusual size and strength, which the powerful creature owed in a measure to the affectionate care of its mistress. She had found it when young, reared and fed it with her own hands, and they had become inseparable friends and protectors to each other.

With an angry growl and flashing eyes the wolf warned the Indian back. Black Snake pointed his flint-headed spear with a look of disdain at the heart of the watchful beast. His arm was suddenly arrested by the hand of the Sachem, Great Oak.

"Does the Black Snake make war with the women? Wouldst kill my daughter's four-footed friend? Has the young brave only arrow-heads for his friends? He must go back to his mother's wigwam: let her teach him how to use them."

The dark frown passed from the Great Oak's face as he addressed his daughter. With a watchful tenderness seldom found in the breast of a warrior, the stern old Sagamore's voice grew soft as a woman's.

"My daughter will follow her father; he knows not his wigwam when the Fawn and her four-footed friend are not there."

Thus saying they immediately left the discomfited brave. In passing by the stranger captives, a sigh escaped the old Indian as he saw the sympathetic looks that passed between them and his daughter, and compared that noble young Chief, so soon to pass away, with the treacherous warrior who aspired to fill the War Chief's place, and receive his daughter with the title. The War Chief was slain on that same expedition that conquered and brought home the prisoners. Another was to be chosen and the captives disposed of, which was the business that had called together Chiefs from distant places. Occupied with sad thoughts, that brought him no comfort, he was attracted by the low whine of the wolf, and upon turning discovered him fondling around the captive Chief, who seemed equally pleased with him; at the same time be caught the ill-omened look of Black Snake, distorting his face with rage, jealousy and revenge, as it glowed from beneath his tawdry plume of many colors. Hastening his daughter along, who was quickly followed by the wolf as she gave a peculiar call, they passed silently out of sight.