Miller painted several variations of this romantic episode. For this watercolor version, commissioned by William Walters, Miller wrote an extensive caption. In the artist’s explanation, the young man has chosen his bride-to-be from a different tribe but, having insufficient wherewithal to properly compensate the bride’s family, he decides to steal his life’s companion instead. “By stratagem and adroitness he knows the prize may be gained. In watching the opposite camp he ascertains when the warriors leave for hunting, or forays, and seizing the opportunity alights from his horse at the entrance of her lodge, — persuades…her to mount his steed… and makes for the river at top-speed” (Ross, 86). The elopers are halfway across the river before the camp realizes what has happened and pursuit is not possible—a water escape to happily ever after.
Peter H. Hassrick