TWT logo

Together We Teach
Reading Room

Take time to read.
Reading is the
fountain of wisdom.

| Home | Reading Room The New McGuffey Fourth Reader

The New McGuffey Fourth Reader
by William H. McGuffey, Compiler

< BACK    NEXT >





Many years ago there lived in the west a tribe of Indians who

called themselves Illinois. They were not savage and warlike, as

the tribes around them were, but they liked to live in peace,

hunting the deer in the great woods, and taking the fish from the

shallow streams.

On the bank of a pretty little river that flows into the great

Mississippi a small band of these Indians had built their

wigwams. All along the stream were tall oaks and spreading walnut

trees, with here and there a grove of wild plums or a thicket of

hazel bushes. But only half a mile away began the great prairie,

where there was neither tree nor bush, but only tall grass; and

it stretched like a green sea as far as the eye could reach.

What there was on the other side of the prairie the Indians did

not know. But they had been told that a fierce race of men lived

there who loved only war.

"We will live quietly in our own place," they said, "and then

these strangers will not molest us."

And so for many years they lived, in a careless, happy way by the

side of the pretty river; and few of their young men dared to

wander far from the friendly shelter of the woods.

One day in summer, when the woods were full of the songs of

birds, and the prairie of the sweet odors of flowers, the

Illinois had a festival under the oaks that shaded their village.

The young people played merry games on the green, while their

fathers and mothers sat in the doors of the wigwams and talked

of the peaceful days that were past.

All at once a savage yell was heard in the hazel thicket by the

river; then another from the edge of the prairie; and then a

third from the lower end of the village. In a moment all was

terror and confusion. Too well the Illinois knew the meaning of

these cries. The savage strangers from beyond the prairie had

come at last.

The attack had been so sudden and fierce that the Illinois could

not defend themselves. They scattered and fled far into the woods

on the other side of the little river. Then, one by one, they

came together in a rocky glen where they could hide from danger.

But even there they could hear the yells of their foes, and they

could see the black smoke that rose from their burning wigwams.

What could they do, now that this ruin had at last come upon

them? The bravest among them were in despair. They threw their

bows upon the ground. The warriors were gloomy and silent. They

said it was useless to fight with foes so strong and fierce. The

women and children wept as though heartbroken.

But at the very moment when all seemed lost, a young girl stood

up among them. She had been well known in the little village. Her

thoughtful, quiet ways had endeared her to old and young alike.

Her name was Watseka.

There were no tears in Watseka's eyes as she turned her face

toward the gloomy warriors. All her quietness of manner was gone.

There was no fear in her voice as she spoke.

"Are you men," she said, "and do you thus give up all hope? Turn

your faces toward the village. Do you see the smoke of our

burning homes? Our enemies are counting the scalps they have

taken. They are eating the deer that you killed yesterday on your

own hunting grounds. And do you stand here and do nothing?"

Some of the warriors turned their faces toward the burning

village, but no one spoke.

"Very well," said Watseka. "If you dare not, then I will show you

what can be done. Follow me, women of the Illinois! The strangers

shall not laugh because they have driven us so easily from our

homes. They shall not feed upon the corn that we have raised. We

will show them what the Illinois can do. Follow me!"

As Watseka spoke, her eyes sparkled with a light which filled

every heart with new courage. With one accord the women and girls

gathered around her.

"Lead us, Watseka!" they cried. "We will follow you. We are not afraid."

They armed themselves with the bows and the hatchets which the

warriors had thrown upon the ground. Those who could find nothing

else, picked up stones and sticks. The boys joined them, their

eyes flashing with eagerness. All felt that Watseka would lead

them to victory.

Then it was that courage came into the hearts of the warriors.

"Are we men, and do we let the women and boys thus outdo us?"

they cried. "No, we alone will drive our foes from our home. We

alone will avenge our kinsmen whom they have slain. We will fear

nothing. We will never rest until we have won back all that we have lost!"

And so Watseka and the women and boys did not go into battle. But

the warriors of the Illinois in the darkness of the night crept

silently back through the shadows of the wood. While their foes

lay sleeping by the fires of the burning wigwams, they swept down

upon them like a thunderbolt from the clear sky. Their revenge

was swift and terrible.

And so the Illinois were again at peace, for the fierce warriors

who dwelt on the other side of the prairie dared never molest

them again. And they rebuilt their wigwams by the side of the

pleasant river, and there they lived in comfort for many long

years. Nor did they ever forget how the maiden, Watseka, had

saved them in their hour of greatest need. The story of her

bravery was told and retold a thousand times; the warriors talked

of her beauty; the women praised her goodness; other tribes heard

of her and talked about the hero maiden of the Illinois; and so

long as there were Indians in that western land, the name of

Watseka was remembered and honored.


Molest, harm.

Prairie, a treeless plain.

Wigwam, an Indian house.



Top of Page

< BACK    NEXT >

| Home | Reading Room The New McGuffey Fourth Reader




Why not spread the word about Together We Teach?
Simply copy & paste our home page link below into your emails... 

Want the Together We Teach link to place on your website?
Copy & paste either home page link on your webpage...
Together We Teach 





Use these free website tools below for a more powerful experience at Together We Teach!

****Google™ search****

For a more specific search, try using quotation marks around phrases (ex. "You are what you read")


*** Google Translate™ translation service ***

 Translate text:


  Translate a web page:

****What's the Definition?****
(Simply insert the word you want to lookup)

 Search:   for   

S D Glass Enterprises

Privacy Policy

Warner Robins, GA, USA