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A short story by Charles M. Skinner

The Obstinacy Of Saint Clair

Title:     The Obstinacy Of Saint Clair
Author: Charles M. Skinner [More Titles by Skinner]

When the new First Regiment of United States Infantry paused at Marietta, Ohio, on its way to garrison Vincennes, its officers made a gay little court there for a time. The young Major Hamtramck--contemptuously called by the Indians "the frog on horseback," because of his round shoulders--found especial pleasure in the society of Marianne Navarre, who was a guest at the house of General Arthur St. Clair; but the old general viewed this predilection with disfavor, because he had hoped that his own daughter would make a match with the major. But Louisa longed for the freedom of the woods. She was a horsewoman and a hunter, and she had a sentimental fondness for Indians.

When Joseph Brandt (Thayendanegea) camped with his dreaded band near the town, it was she who--without her father's knowledge, and in the disguise of an Indian girl--took the message that had been entrusted to a soldier asking the tribe to send delegates to a peace council at the fort. Louisa and Brandt had met in Philadelphia some years before, when both were students in that city, and he was rejoiced to meet her again, for he had made no secret of his liking for her, and in view of the bravery she had shown in thus riding into a hostile camp his fondness increased to admiration. After she had delivered the message she said, "Noble warrior, I have risked my life to obtain this interview. You must send some one back with me." Brandt replied, "It is fitting that I alone should guard so courageous a maiden," and he rode with her through the lines, under the eyes of a wondering and frowning people, straight to the general's door. Soon after, Brandt made a formal demand for the hand of this dashing maid, but the stubborn general refused to consider it. He was determined that she ought to love Major Hamtramck, and he told her so in tones so loud that they reached the ears of Marianne, as she sat reading in her room. Stung by this disclosure of the general's wishes, and doubting whether the major had been true to her--fearful, too, that she might be regarded as an interloper--she made a pretext to return as quickly as possible to her home in Detroit, and left no adieus for her lover.

It was not long after that war broke out between the settlers and the Indians, for Brandt now had a personal as well as a race grudge to gratify, though when he defeated St. Clair he spared his life in the hope that the general would reward his generosity by resigning to him his daughter. At all events, he resolved that the "frog on horseback," whom he conceived to be his rival, should not win her. The poor major, who cared nothing for Louisa, and who was unable to account for the flight of Marianne, mourned her absence until it was rumored that she had been married, when, as much in spite as in love, he took to himself a mate. After he had been for some time a widower he met Marianne again, and learned that she was still a maiden. He renewed his court with ardor, but the woman's love for him had died when she learned of his marriage. Affecting to make light of this second disappointment, he said, "Since I cannot be united to you in life, I shall be near you in death."

"A soldier cannot choose where he shall die," she answered.

"No matter. I shall sleep in the shadow of your tomb."

As it fell out they were indeed buried near each other in Detroit. Thus, the stupidity and obstinacy of General St. Clair, in supposing that he could make young folks love to order, thwarted the happiness of four people and precipitated a war.

[The end]
Charles M. Skinner's short story: Obstinacy Of Saint Clair