Wildcat, The Seminole XVIII, Coacoochee

In one of the later skirmishes between Colonel Worth's men and the Indians, several Seminoles were captured and among them was Blue Feather.  During the fighting, she had become separated from her mother, who escaped capture.
A Florida soldier recognized the girl as Wildcat's daughter.  When he told his commander that Blue Feather was among the captives, Colonel Worth was delighted.  Here was a valuable hostage.    
The colonel sent a messenger into the wilderness to find Wildcat.  The messenger was an elderly subchief whom the white men called Micco.  Months earlier, Micco had decided that it was no use fighting the invaders any longer.  He had surrendered.  He seemed a harmless old man and he could understand a little English.  Colonel Worth had kept him at the fort and he was often useful to the army.
Micco, then, trailed into the wilderness carrying gifts from the colonel.  He had a pipe and tobacco for Wildcat and also a white flag on which a picture was drawn, a picture of two hands clasped together in friendship.He soon found Wildcat and his band.  They were camped on the edge of the Everglades beside a small lake.  When Micco and Wildcat had eaten together, the old man slowly took the gifts from the pouch at  his waist, and handed them to Wildcat.
"From Colonel Worth," he said.
Wildcat looked mockingly at the white flag.  He took it in his hands, ripped it into four pieces, and flung them to the ground.
"Osceola believed in a flag of truce, I remember," he remarked bitterly.
"Wait," said Micco.  "I bring you a talk from Colonel Worth.  He is a good man, a man you can trust.  He wants you to come in and have a peace talk with him."
Old Micco talked on and on, with long pauses between his sentences.  Wildcat listened impatiently.  When at last he learned that Blue Feather was a prisoner, he jumped to his feet with a cry of deep pain.
"I must have my daughter back!"  he cried harshly.  "She must not be exiled without me!"
Micco watched the young chief intently, without speaking--words were no longer needed.  The staggering news was enough.
Wildcat stood, staring blindly at the lake.  Then he sat down wearily on a fallen log, leaning forward with elbows on his knees.  He picked up the pipe, the gift from Colonel Worth.  His strong, lean hands, gripped it so tightly that it was in danger of breaking.
Micco studied him.  The green turban on the warrior's head was new--a thing seized in some raid on a settlement, no doubt.  Silver bracelets bound his arms and his powder-and-shot pouch was ornamented with small feathers.  Wildcat was still a handsome, well-dressed warrior.  He was still a dandy!
Then Micco noticed the troubled eyes and the hard mouth and the lines of bitterness that time had cut into Wildcat's cheeks.  He sighed a little to see that those thin lips did not curve upward at the corners as they used to do when the chief was a mischief-loving young man.
"Micco," said Wildcat heavily, "in this hour I have come to a decision.  I cannot fight any more.  For a long time, the war has been lost, and I would not let my eyes see the truth.  But Wildcat has fought his last battle. We tried to keep our homeland and we failed.  The might of the white man is too great for us."
Wildcat bent his head down and rested his forehead on clenched hands.  Micco felt the sting of tears behind his own eyes.  It was a sad thing to see a brave man face defeat
"Come," said Wildcat presently, "there is no use in mourning the past."  He stood up slowly.  "I will send a message to your Colonel Worth, and prepare to go in for a peace talk."
He gathered some sticks from the ground, selected eight of them, and handed them to Micco, to say that he would meet Colonel Worth in eight days.
Eight days later, the chief and seven companions appeared at army headquarters.  Wildcat walked ahead, proud and stately.  His warriors followed behind him  Their faces were expressionless; but their eyes moved uneasily from the rows of tents to the bearded soldiers, and to the cannon with their bid wheels.  Wildcat, however, looked at nothing.  He strode toward the group of officers who were coming to meet him.
Colonel Worth was in the lead.  He was broad-shouldered and stern, with deep-set piercing eyes.  He, too, marched forward with a sturdy step
Wildcat shook hands calmly with each of the officers.  Then he stepped back, looked steadily at Colonel Worth and said, "I received the white flag and the talk that you sent me.  I have come to speak of peace and to get my daughter."
Before he could say any more, there was a cry of greeting and Blue Feather burst out of Colonel Worth's tent.  The colonel had hidden the girl there, meaning to show her when the time came.   But Blue Feather had ideas of her own.
She rushed across the parade ground and threw herself into Wildcat's arms.  Her father held her close.  Finding her safe moved him as fear or despair could never have done.  In spite of himself, he had to turn his head aside, lest the enemy should see the tears in his eyes.  
Blue Feather did not want her father to lose his dignity in front of these soldiers.  She loosed her arms from around his neck and stood back, smiling.  She reached into the beaded pouch she wore at her waist, and brought forth some bullets and powder.
Colonel Worth, watching the scene, gave a start of surprise.  Where on earth had the little prisoner got them?  The truth is that Blue Feather had stolen them from a soldier and kept them hidden so that she would have a gift for her father when she saw him.
Wildcat accepted his daughter's gifts with a gracious bow.  Just as Blue Feather thought, the little ceremony gave him time to recover his dignity.  She stepped back among her father's warriors so that he could go on talking with the white chiefs.  Her eyes glowed with pride.  What a great man was her father!
Wildcat folded his arms and tossed his head back.  In a steady voice he said, "I have lived in Florida all my life  I love the land.  My body is made of its sands.  My people have asked for a small piece of ground, enough to plant and hunt upon, far to the south, wild and uninhabited.  This was not granted us.  Must we even go far away, to strange and hostile country, in order to stay alive?"
An Indian prisoner translated this speech into English.  Colonel Worth's eyes met the eyes of another officer in a quick glance.  These were hopeful words!  Wildcat was the most important chief left in the field, and if he surrendered the war was as good as ended!
Colonel Worth replied in a tone as stately as Wildcat's own.  "You are a great warrior, a brave man.  But the war you have made has led to much bloodshed and many cruel murders.  It is time now that the Indian felt the strength of the white man.  Like the oak tree, you may bear up for many years against strong winds.  But the time must come when the oak will fall.  This time has arrived.
"Now, you are a great chief.  The Indians throughout the country look to you as their leader.  By your leadership they are governed.  This war must now end, and you are the man to end it."


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