Thomas Mayne Reed
Osceola, leader of the Seminoles
The action takes place in Florida in the early 1830s, before and during the so-called Second Seminol War. The protagonist George Randolph is the son of an impoverished planter who moved from Virginia to Florida. In his veins there is an admixture of Indian blood, which is considered to be a matter of pride in America.
At the very beginning of the narrative we get acquainted with other heroes. Among them are slaves Yellow Jack and Black Jack, Mulatto and Negro, Mulat is described as a creature gloomy, spiteful, cruel and vindictive – qualities that the hero, on whose behalf the story is narrated, considers the psychological feature of mulattoes in general: “Mulattos are proud of their yellow skin and pose themselves
Between the mulatto and the negro there is a rivalry because of the beauty of the Viola quartrononca. Once the mulatto, wishing to achieve her favor, lies in wait on the forest path, and from violence Viola is saved only by the appearance of the hero’s sister, young Virginia. The mulatto is punished; from revenge he kills his beloved Virginia deer, he is punished again, and then he decides to the extreme – lures the alligator into the pool where the girl usually bathes.
Her death is saved by an Indian youth named Powell, the son of an Indian and white.
The mulatta decided to execute a bitten off for the life of a white mulatto girl – to burn alive. In the preparations for the execution, the owners of the neighboring plantation, the father and son of Ringgold, take a keen interest in the preparations – everyone knows that young Ringgold dreams of marrying Virginia. Powell and Arge Ringleg are exchanging insults, and as a result of the fights between them, Yellow Jack manages to escape. He is followed by a chase, but in front of his pursuers, he becomes a victim of a crocodile.
In the meantime, Ringgold and his friends Ned Spence and Bill Williams decide to punish the proud Indian, and the hero saves him from beatings with whips.
This is how the friendship between the hero and the Indian develops, to which Virginia and Sister Powell Mayumi subsequently join. This friendship does not last long: soon the parents of the hero learn about it, and it is urgently sent to study at West Point.
When he returns to Florida, a war with the Indians is brewing, the lands of which the white settlers claim. However, it is impossible to drive the Indians out of their land simply because there is a special agreement on this matter. White’s task is to dissolve the existing one and conclude a new treaty providing for the resettlement of the Indians to new lands. In case of refusal of Indians it is decided to use force. Government troops are being drawn to places of resettlement of Seminoles.
Among the Indian leaders there is no unity on the issue of resettlement: some are ready to agree to the conditions of whites, others prefer to fight with the troops. Among the latter – a young leader, named Osceola, famous for his courage.
After a short stay at home, George Randolph goes to Fort King, where there is a department for the affairs of the Seminoles and the main headquarters of the Florida army under the command of General Klintch, to which the hero is seconded. From a conversation with Black Jack, he learns that the Ringgolds deceived the estate from the Powell family, and she went somewhere. This news is very distressing to him, since he has long loved Mayumi. On the way to the fort in George, someone shoots, and Black Jack says it was Yellow Jack.
The day after the arrival of the hero in Fort King, there is a council of leaders, at which government agent Wiley Thompson calls on them to sign a resettlement agreement. At a critical moment, Osceola appears who decides the outcome of the council – under his pressure, the chief leader refuses to sign. Angry and frustrated, Thompson turns to him, calling him Powell, and then the hero will recognize him.
Agent Thompson makes an ultimatum to the Indians, to which he was authorized by the president: either resettlement or war. But the Indians declare that they are ready to defend themselves. Then the agent invites them to discuss everything again in their circle and gather the next day.
Late in the evening, George is in the woods, waiting for the leader-traitors, who must inform him important information. Suddenly, the insane Indian Hajj-Eva, familiar to him from childhood, appears and warns him of the danger. He really witnesses a conspiracy: his old foe Ahrens Ringgold is planning to kill him to marry his sister and take possession of the plantations. The murder must be committed by Yellow Jack, who until that time was considered dead.
The next day, near King Fort, a new meeting of the agent with the Indians takes place, during which Osceola is arrested, and Haj-Eve appoints George a date in the forest.
The hero wants to settle scores with Ringhold. A friend advises him to give Ringgold an excuse to challenge him to a duel first. Such is quickly found: Ringgold boasts of the amorous victories of his friend Scott, the adjutant of the commander-in-chief, who allegedly made Mayumi his mistress. George gives Ringhold a slap in the face, then hurts in a duel.
Arriving in the evening in the woods, the hero becomes a witness of a meeting between Mayumi and Scott. The girl asks Scott to help release his brother, but he makes her a dirty proposal. The hero saves the girl, and she falls into his arms.
The same evening, George visits Osceola and advises signing the contract, since the signature does not oblige him to anything: after all, the whole people must accept the decision on resettlement. So Osceola regains her freedom.
Meanwhile, the mobilization of volunteers in the American army begins. To form such a detachment the hero with a friend, Captain Gallagher, goes to his native village of Suoni.
On the way, he becomes aware that his sister secretly meets with Osceola. He is very upset, because such meetings can seriously damage her reputation. However, gradually it begins to seem to him that Virginia sympathizes with Gallagher, and he responds with reciprocity. Suddenly, the hero learns that his sister often goes to the Arena Ringgold. He is afraid, as if Virginia did not commit a rash act and did not marry him. But, by chance becoming a witness of their meeting, he finds out that Virginia is trying to get a gift that once belonged to the Powellas. Later, the girl gives her brother a promise not to have anything to do with Ringold.
George is urgently summoned to Fort King. Once at night in the woods, he falls into captivity to the Indians and becomes a witness to Osceola’s revenge by the traitorous traitor Omatl. A little later, during the celebration of Christmas, the Indians kill Agent Thompson – so revenge Osceola.
A real war begins, in which the Indians win one victory after another (the defeat of Major Dade’s detachment, the Battle of Whitlakuchi). One commander-in-chief replaces another, but none of them can inflict any serious defeat on the Indians. During the war, the hero miraculously remains alive.
After a two-month absence, he returns home. He is tormented with heavy forebodings. Arriving, he learns that his estate was burnt, his mother and uncle, who served as the manager, were killed, and his sister was kidnapped. Eyewitnesses call the Indians guilty, but later it turns out that this Yellow Jack changed into Osceola’s suit, and the kidnapping was organized by Ringgold, then to act as a savior and thus force Virginia to marry him.
To help the hero and his sister, as always, comes Osceola. Grateful Virginia hands him the documents for the right of possession of the estate, and George takes under his protection Mayumi, suggesting to marry her.
But Oceole is no longer destined to take advantage of the nobility of Virginia: he lost interest in life, as he managed to get rid of everyone who had vowed revenge. During the night halt, he easily gives himself to arrest, and a few weeks later he dies in captivity from an incurable disease.
At the time of Osceola’s arrest, from the bite of a rattlesnake, which always carries with him the insane Hajj-Ewa, Yellow Jack dies, who betrayed the Indian to the authorities.
Virginia is married to Captain Gallagher, the hero marries Mayumi, and Black Jack and his wife Viola sends the manager to one of the Randolph plantations.