The Indian Plume

: Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land

Brightest flower that grows beside the brooks is the scarlet blossom of

the Indian plume: the blood of Lenawee. Hundreds of years ago she lived

happily among her brother and sister Saranacs beside Stony Creek, the

Stream of the Snake, and was soon to marry the comely youth who, for the

speed of his foot, was called the Arrow. But one summer the Quick Death

came on the people, and as the viewless devil stalked through the village
young and old fell before him. The Arrow was the first to die. In vain

the Prophet smoked the Great Calumet: its smoke ascending took no shape

that he could read. In vain was the white dog killed to take aloft the

people's sins. But at last the Great Spirit himself came down to the

mountain called the Storm Darer, splendid in lightning, awful in his

thunder voice and robe of cloud. My wrath is against you for your sins,

he cried, and naught but human blood will appease it.

In the morning the Prophet told his message, and all sat silent for a

time. Then Lenawee entered the circle. Lenawee is a blighted flower,

she sobbed. Let her blood flow for her people. And catching a knife

from the Prophet's belt, she ran with it to the stream on which she and

the Arrow had so often floated in their canoe. In another moment her

blood had bedewed the earth. Lay me with the Arrow, she murmured, and,

smiling in their sad faces, breathed her last. The demon of the quick

death shrank from the spot, and the Great Spirit smiled once more on the

tribe that could produce such heroism. Lenawee's body was placed beside

her lover's, and next morning, where her blood had spilt, the ground was

pure, and on it grew in slender spires a new flower,--the Indian plume:

the transformed blood of sacrifice. The people loved that flower in all

years after. They decked their hair and dresses with it and made a feast

in its honor. When parents taught their children the beauty of

unselfishness they used as its emblem a stalk of Indian plume.