(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

The English settlers, who at first had to accept aid from the Yemassee Indians when they landed on the South Carolina shores, have become quite powerful by 1715. No longer do they have to be careful not to offend the Indians; instead, they continually set up farms on the wrong side of the boundary line between the white and Indian territories. Sanutee, one of the Yemassee chiefs, has become suspicious of the colonists; he is afraid that they will soon take over all the Yemassee land. In order to keep the colonists from occupying Indian territory, he has made treaties with other tribes and with the Spanish, who are willing to help the Indians defeat the English. Sanutee’s life is made unhappy by his son, Occonestoga, who has been tempted by liquor to become a close friend of the whites. Sanutee is too proud of his ancestry and his position to call a drunkard his son, and it is only the constant pleading of his wife, Matiwan, that keeps Sanutee from completely disowning Occonestoga.

One of the recent settlers is Gabriel Harrison, a strange young man whose commanding presence and jolly manner make him both admired and disliked. Among those who like him are Bess Matthews, the daughter of old Parson Matthews, and Walter Grayson, an honorable young farmer. Parson Matthews dislikes Harrison because he finds Harrison too lighthearted and worldly in his manner, and Walter’s brother, Hugh, dislikes Harrison because Hugh is also an admirer of Bess. Harrison has brought with him a fine African slave named Hector, who is his constant companion, and a strong and faithful dog named Dugdale. With these two companions, Harrison wanders about the district.

One day in the forest, Harrison comes upon Sanutee fighting with a stranger over the carcass of a deer. He arrives in time to save Sanutee’s life, but the proud Indian expresses no gratitude. Harrison learns that the man Sanutee was fighting is a sailor named Dick Chorley, who has recently arrived on the coast. Although Chorley claims that he has come to trade, Harrison rightly suspects that he is really a Spanish agent who has come to arm the Yemassee against the English. Harrison sends Hector to spy on Chorley and Sanutee, who have been joined by Ishiagaska, another Yemassee chief.

Hector, hiding in the brush, overhears Chorley’s declaration that he has come to South Carolina to arm the Yemassee. Displaying the wampum belt of an Indian treaty, Chorley asks the Yemassee tribe to join the tribes who are willing to fight the English. Before Hector can return to tell Harrison what he has learned, however, the slave is captured and taken aboard Chorley’s ship. Harrison guesses what has become of Hector; he finds Chorley in Parson Matthews’s cabin and, through threats, forces the seaman...

(The entire section is 1129 words.)