Gateway to the Classics: Chief Black Hawk by Frank Lee beals
Chief Black Hawk by  Frank Lee beals


Loud Thunder

A LL night Black Hawk sat by the side of his wounded son. A small torch lighted the lodge. In the shadows Singing Bird and Loud Thunder watched and waited. Occasionally the stillness was broken by a groan from Nasomsee. Each time he groaned Black Hawk spoke to him in a gentle voice.

Black Hawk repeated to himself again and again, "If for any reason the treaty is broken, the brave who breaks it must die. If for any reason—"

The first rays of light crept into the lodge. Slowly Black Hawk rose from his mat. He blew out the torch light. He motioned to Loud Thunder and the two left the lodge. Noiselessly Singing Bird took Black Hawk's place beside Nasomsee.

Black Hawk and Loud Thunder walked through the silent streets of Saukenuk. They came to a gate and the guard opened it for them. Black Hawk quickened his steps. They came to Pyesa's grave. Black Hawk turned to his son and said, "The Sauk and Iowa chiefs have made a treaty. It is a treaty of friendship. The brave who breaks the treaty must die."

"But Nasomsee cannot go to the Iowa village," said Loud Thunder. "He is badly wounded."

"My son broke the treaty!" said Black Hawk.

"Father, he cannot travel. He is wounded."

Black Hawk put his hand on Loud Thunder's shoulder. "Nasomsee is a Sauk," he said. His voice was firm.

"I will go in his place, Father. I will die for him and for the honor of my people!"

Black Hawk's hold on Loud Thunder's shoulder tightened.

"The Great Spirit will watch over you, my son," he said. "Come, we will go to Keokuk's lodge and tell him."

That same morning ten braves waited in front of Black Hawk's lodge. They were mounted on ponies. Red Eagle and Mehaska were with them. No one spoke, and even the horses were quiet. A brave dismounted. He led two ponies to where Black Hawk, Singing Bird, and Loud Thunder stood.

"Are you ready, Loud Thunder?"

"Yes, I am ready." Loud Thunder turned toward his mother. "When Nasomsee asks for me, tell him I left to hunt for Osaukee." He looked down at Singing Bird and saw the tears in her eyes. He knelt before her.

Singing Bird put her hand on his head and in a voice no louder than a whisper said, "May the Great Spirit watch over you, my son. My prayers follow you."

Black Hawk and Loud Thunder mounted their ponies and rode away. Loud Thunder was dressed in the doeskin clothes he had worn the day he had been made a brave of the Sauk nation. On that day the beaded quiver had been full of feathered arrows, today the quiver was empty.

The Sauks rode all day. Loud Thunder, tall and handsome, rode in front with his father. "Tell me more about Osaukee," said Black Hawk.

"The Iowa brave was about to shoot Osaukee when Nasomsee called out to him. The Iowa brave then turned his gun on Nasomsee and fired. Nasomsee fired at the Iowa brave and killed him," said Loud Thunder.

"And then Osaukee ran away and left Nasomsee to die?" asked Black Hawk.

"No, Father. Osaukee helped me carry Nasomsee to our lodge. He stayed with me as long as I needed him."

"You saw him go?" questioned Black Hawk.

"Yes, Father, I saw him go."

At noon Black Hawk ordered a halt to rest the ponies and to let the braves eat their pemmican. At night they made camp just off the trail.

Seven days later the braves came to the Iowa village. Black Hawk reined in his pony and dismounted. Loud Thunder said good-by to the braves. Then he rode up to where Black Hawk was waiting. He dismounted and bowed low to his father. "I am not afraid," he said.

"You are a true Sauk, Loud Thunder," said Black Hawk. "Good-by, my son."

Alone, Loud Thunder marched toward the Iowa village. He sang the Sauk death song. His voice was strong and it did not falter.

Suddenly the gates of the village opened. A chief and twenty braves mounted on ponies raced out of the village. They rode by Loud Thunder at a gallop.

Black Hawk saw the braves riding toward him. He went to meet them.

"Black Hawk," called the chief, "our runners told us that you were on your way. Did you bring the Sauk brave who killed our warrior?"

"Yes, he is ready to die for the honor of his people," answered Black Hawk. "He is in your village. His name is Loud Thunder. He did not kill your warrior. Loud Thunder's younger brother killed him, but he is so badly wounded that he could not come. Loud Thunder insisted upon taking his brother's place."

"A true brother," said the Iowa chief.

"Loud Thunder is my elder son," replied Black Hawk. He drew back his shoulders. "He is ready to die for his brother."

The Iowa chief, followed by his braves, turned and rode away. Black Hawk motioned to his waiting warriors. "Start back on our trail. Make camp and I will join you there."

Red Eagle, leading Loud Thunder's pony, took command of the braves. In a few minutes they had moved out of sight.

Black Hawk mounted his pony. He rode toward the Iowa village until the square was in plain view. The Iowa warriors, armed with spears and clubs, circled around Loud Thunder. Black Hawk clutched his gun. He bowed his head and wept.

Several hours later Black Hawk joined his braves. They had made camp just off the trail. Red Eagle and Mehaska met Black Hawk as he rode into camp. A young Indian brave took charge of Black Hawk's horse. The night was cold and damp. The Indians gathered around their campfire. The fire was bright and cheerful. Suddenly a brave jumped to his feet.

"Horses are coming this way," he shouted.

"Get your guns!" called Black Hawk. "Take cover."

The braves grabbed their rifles and hurried to a protected spot.

The sound of horses' hoofs came nearer. Was it friend or foe? Black Hawk and his braves waited.

Through an opening a young Indian riding one horse and leading another came into the light cast by the campfire.

"Loud Thunder!" shouted the braves as they rushed forward, "Loud Thunder!"

Loud Thunder jumped from his horse and ran to his father.

"My son!" exclaimed Black Hawk.

"Father, I am free!" cried Loud Thunder.

"What happened? Tell me what happened."

"The braves threatened to kill me. They danced their Death Dance around me but I was not afraid. They could tell that I was not afraid. Then the chiefs held a council. The war chief came to the square and made a speech. He told them that he had talked to you, Father."

"Yes, I told the war chief that you were ready to die for your brother," said Black Hawk. "I

told him that you were my son and a true Sauk." "The war chief told this to his people," said Loud Thunder. "At once they cheered me. They gave me food, two horses, and set me free."

It was late before the Sauk braves could go to sleep that night. They laughed and shouted and danced about the campfire. At last Black Hawk called, "We must be on our way early in the morning. We must lose no time. Loud Thunder's mother is waiting for my return and in her heart there is no joy. We must hurry with the good news."

Before dawn Black Hawk and his braves were on the trail for Saukenuk. What a different journey! On the way to the Iowa village the braves had been quiet and sad. Now they were noisy and happy. As they rode along they sang their gayest hunting songs.

Black Hawk selecting two braves, commanded "Ride on ahead. As soon as you reach the villag( tell Singing Bird and Nasomsee that Loud Thun der is returning, too. Order a feast to be give/ in honor of my son."

The two braves rode away at a gallop.

When Black Hawk and the other braves arrived a feast was ready. The people in the square cheered and shouted. Black Hawk and Loud Thunder rode on. In front of their lodge Singing Bird was waiting.

In a moment Singing Bird was in the arms of her tall, handsome son.

"Because you were fearless your life was spared," cried Singing Bird. "My brave son!" "Did you doubt my courage, Mother?"

"Oh, my son, " smiled his mother. "I did not doubt your courage. You are a son of Black Hawk."

1. Who was Keokuk and what kind of man was he?

2. In what way did Black Hawk prove that he was a ;ood Sauk citizen?

3. How did Colonel Davenport treat the Sauks?

4. Explain the treaty made by the Sauk and Iowa Indians.

5. Tell about the first breaking of the treaty.

6. How did Loud Thunder prove his courage?

7. What did the Iowa Indians do to Loud Thunder?

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