The Adventures Of Captain Bonneville By Washington Irving

 -  The victors eagerly gathered up
the spoils; but their greatest prize was the scalp of the
Blackfoot brave. This they - Page 250
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The Victors Eagerly Gathered Up The Spoils; But Their Greatest Prize Was The Scalp Of The Blackfoot Brave.

This they bore off in triumph to their village, where it had ever since been an object of the greatest exultation and rejoicing.

It had been elevated upon a pole in the centre of the village, where the warriors had celebrated the scalp dance round it, with war feasts, war songs, and warlike harangues. It had then been given up to the women and boys; who had paraded it up and down the village with shouts and chants and antic dances; occasionally saluting it with all kinds of taunts, invectives, and revilings.

The Blackfeet, in this affair, do not appear to have acted up to the character which has rendered them objects of such terror. Indeed, their conduct in war, to the inexperienced observer, is full of inconsistencies; at one time they are headlong in courage, and heedless of danger; at another time cautious almost to cowardice. To understand these apparent incongruities, one must know their principles of warfare. A war party, however triumphant, if they lose a warrior in the fight, bring back a cause of mourning to their people, which casts a shade over the glory of their achievement. Hence, the Indian is often less fierce and reckless in general battle, than he is in a private brawl; and the chiefs are checked in their boldest undertakings by the fear of sacrificing their warriors.

This peculiarity is not confined to the Blackfeet.

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