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Title: Oak Openings
Author: Cooper, James Fenimore
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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OAK OPENINGS


By James Fennimore Cooper



PREFACE.

It ought to be matter of surprise how men live in the midst of marvels,
without taking heed of their existence. The slightest derangement of
their accustomed walks in political or social life shall excite all
their wonder, and furnish themes for their discussions, for months;
while the prodigies that come from above are presented daily to their
eyes, and are received without surprise, as things of course. In a
certain sense, this may be well enough, inasmuch as all which comes
directly from the hands of the Creator may be said so far to exceed the
power of human comprehension, as to be beyond comment; but the truth
would show us that the cause of this neglect is rather a propensity to
dwell on such interests as those over which we have a fancied control,
than on those which confessedly transcend our understanding. Thus is it
ever with men. The wonders of creation meet them at every turn, without
awakening reflection, while their minds labor on subjects that are not
only ephemeral and illusory, but which never attain an elevation higher
than that the most sordid interests can bestow.

For ourselves, we firmly believe that the finger of Providence is
pointing the way to all races, and colors, and nations, along the path
that is to lead the east and the west alike to the great goal of
human wants. Demons infest that path, and numerous and unhappy are
the wanderings of millions who stray from its course; sometimes in
reluctance to proceed; sometimes in an indiscreet haste to move faster
than their fellows, and always in a forgetfulness of the great rules of
conduct that have been handed down from above. Nevertheless, the main
course is onward; and the day, in the sense of time, is not distant,
when the whole earth is to be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, “as
the waters cover the sea.”

One of the great stumbling-blocks with a large class of well-meaning,
but narrow-judging moralists, are the seeming wrongs that are permitted
by Providence, in its control of human events. Such persons take a
one-sided view of things, and reduce all principles to the level of
their own understandings. If we could comprehend the relations which the
Deity bears to us, as well as we can comprehend the relations we bear
to him, there might be a little seeming reason in these doubts; but when
one of the parties in this mighty scheme of action is a profound mystery
to the other, it is worse than idle, it is profane, to attempt to
explain those things which our minds are not yet sufficiently cleared
from the dross of earth to understand. Look at Italy, at this very
moment. The darkness and depression from which that glorious peninsula
is about to emerge are the fruits of long-continued dissensions and an
iron despotism, which is at length broken by the impulses left behind
him by a ruthless conqueror, who, under the appearance and the phrases
of Liberty, contended only for himself. A more concentrated egotism than
that of Napoleon probably never existed; yet has it left behind it seeds
of personal rights that have sprung up by the wayside, and which are
likely to take root with a force that will bid defiance to eradication.
Thus is it ever, with the progress of society. Good appears to arise
out of evil, and the inscrutable ways of Providence are vindicated by
general results, rather than by instances of particular care. We leave
the application of these remarks to the intelligence of such of our
readers as may have patience to peruse the work that will be found in
the succeeding pages.

We have a few words of explanation to say, in connection with the
machinery of our tale. In the first place, we would remark, that the
spelling of “burr-oak,” as given in this book, is less our own than
an office spelling. We think it should be “bur-oak,” and this for the
simple reason, that the name is derived from the fact that the acorn
borne by this tree is partially covered with a bur. Old Sam Johnson,
however, says that “burr” means the lobe, or lap of the ear; and those
who can fancy such a resemblance between this and the covering of our
acorn, are at liberty to use the two final consonants. Having commenced
stereotyping with this supernumerary, for the sake of uniformity that
mode of spelling, wrong as we think it, has been continued through-out
the book.

There is nothing imaginary in the fertility of the West. Personal
observation has satisfied us that it much surpasses anything that exists
in the Atlantic States, unless in exceptions, through the agency of
great care and high manuring, or in instances of peculiar natural soil.
In these times, men almost fly. We have passed over a thousand miles of
territory within the last few days, and have brought the pictures at the
two extremes of this journey in close proximity in our mind’s eye. Time
may lessen that wonderful fertility, and bring the whole country more
on a level; but there it now is, a glorious gift from God, which it
is devoutly to be wished may be accepted with due gratitude and with
a constant recollection of his unwavering rules of right and wrong, by
those who have been selected to enjoy it.

June, 1848.



THE OAK OPENINGS.



CHAPTER I.

       How doth the little busy bee
       Improve each shining hour,
       And gather honey all the day,
       From every opening flower.
                     WATTS’ HYMNS FOR CHILDREN.

We have heard of those who fancied that they beheld a signal instance
of the hand of the Creator in the celebrated cataract of Niagara. Such
instances of the power of sensible and near objects to influence certain
minds, only prove how much easier it is to impress the imaginations
of the dull with images that are novel, than with those that are less
apparent, though of infinitely greater magnitude. Thus it would seem to
be strange indeed, that any human being should find more to wonder at
in any one of the phenomena of the earth, than in the earth itself; or
should especially stand astonished at the might of Him who created the
world, when each night brings into view a firmament studded with other
worlds, each equally the work of His hands!

Nevertheless, there is (at bottom) a motive for adoration, in the study
of the lowest fruits of the wisdom and power of God. The leaf is as
much beyond our comprehension of remote causes, as much a subject of
intelligent admiration, as the tree which bears it: the single tree
confounds our knowledge and researches the same as the entire forest;
and, though a variety that appears to be endless pervades the world,
the same admirable adaptation of means to ends, the same bountiful
forethought, and the same benevolent wisdom, are to be found in the
acorn, as in the gnarled branch on which it grew.

The American forest has so often been described, as to cause one
to hesitate about reviving scenes that might possibly pall, and in
retouching pictures that have been so frequently painted as to be
familiar to every mind. But God created the woods, and the themes
bestowed by his bounty are inexhaustible. Even the ocean, with its
boundless waste of water, has been found to be rich in its various
beauties and marvels; and he who shall bury himself with us, once more,
in the virgin forests of this widespread land, may possibly discover new
subjects of admiration, new causes to adore the Being that has brought
all into existence, from the universe to its most minute particle.

The precise period of our legend was in the year 1812, and the season
of the year the pleasant month of July, which had now drawn near to its
close. The sun was already approaching the western limits of a wooded
view, when the actors in its opening scene must appear on a stage that
is worthy of a more particular description.

The region was, in one sense, wild, though it offered a picture that
was not without some of the strongest and most pleasing features of
civilization. The country was what is termed “rolling,” from some
fancied resemblance to the surface of the ocean, when it is just
undulating with a long “ground-swell.”

Although wooded, it was not, as the American forest is wont to grow,
with tail straight trees towering toward the light, but with intervals
between the low oaks that were scattered profusely over the view, and
with much of that air of negligence that one is apt to see in grounds
where art is made to assume the character of nature. The trees, with
very few exceptions, were what is called the “burr-oak,” a small
variety of a very extensive genus; and the spaces between them, always
irregular, and often of singular beauty, have obtained the name of
“openings”; the two terms combined giving their appellation to this
particular species of native forest, under the name of “Oak Openings.”

These woods, so peculiar to certain districts of country, are not
altogether without some variety, though possessing a general character
of sameness. The trees were of very uniform size, being little taller
than pear-trees, which they resemble a good deal in form; and having
trunks that rarely attain two feet in diameter. The variety is produced
by their distribution. In places they stand with a regularity resembling
that of an orchard; then, again, they are more scattered and less
formal, while wide breadths of the land are occasionally seen in which
they stand in copses, with vacant spaces, that bear no small affinity to
artificial lawns, being covered with verdure. The grasses are supposed
to be owing to the fires lighted periodically by the Indians in order to
clear their hunting-grounds.

Toward one of these grassy glades, which was spread on an almost
imperceptible acclivity, and which might have contained some fifty or
sixty acres of land, the reader is now requested to turn his eyes. Far
in the wilderness as was the spot, four men were there, and two of them
had even some of the appliances of civilization about them. The woods
around were the then unpeopled forest of Michigan; and the small winding
reach of placid water that was just visible in the distance, was an
elbow of the Kalamazoo, a beautiful little river that flows westward,
emptying its tribute into the vast expanse of Lake Michigan. Now, this
river has already become known, by its villages and farms, and railroads
and mills; but then, not a dwelling of more pretension than the wigwam
of the Indian, or an occasional shanty of some white adventurer,
had ever been seen on its banks. In that day, the whole of that fine
peninsula, with the exception of a narrow belt of country along the
Detroit River, which was settled by the French as far back as near the
close of the seventeenth century, was literally a wilderness. If a white
man found his way into it, it was as an Indian trader, a hunter, or an
adventurer in some other of the pursuits connected with border life and
the habits of the savages.

Of this last character were two of the men on the open glade just
mentioned, while their companions were of the race of the aborigines.
What is much more remarkable, the four were absolutely strangers to each
other’s faces, having met for the first time in their lives, only an
hour previously to the commencement of our tale. By saying that they
were strangers to each other, we do not mean that the white men were
acquaintances, and the Indians strangers, but that neither of the four
had ever seen either of the party until they met on that grassy glade,
though fame had made them somewhat acquainted through their reputations.
At the moment when we desire to present this group to the imagination of
the reader, three of its number were grave and silent observers of
the movements of the fourth. The fourth individual was of middle size,
young, active, exceedingly well formed, and with a certain open
and frank expression of countenance, that rendered him at least
well-looking, though slightly marked with the small-pox. His real name
was Benjamin Boden, though he was extensively known throughout the
northwestern territories by the sobriquet of Ben Buzz--extensively as
to distances, if not as to people. By the voyageurs, and other French
of that region, he was almost universally styled le Bourdon or the
“Drone”; not, however, from his idleness or inactivity, but from the
circumstances that he was notorious for laying his hands on the
products of labor that proceeded from others. In a word, Ben Boden was
a “bee-hunter,” and as he was one of the first to exercise his craft in
that portion of the country, so was he infinitely the most skilful and
prosperous. The honey of le Bourdon was not only thought to be purer and
of higher flavor than that of any other trader in the article, but it
was much the most abundant. There were a score of respectable families
on the two banks of the Detroit, who never purchased of any one else,
but who patiently waited for the arrival of the capacious bark canoe of
Buzz, in the autumn, to lay in their supplies of this savory nutriment
for the approaching winter. The whole family of griddle cakes, including
those of buckwheat, Indian rice, and wheaten flour, were more or less
dependent on the safe arrival of le Bourdon, for their popularity and
welcome. Honey was eaten with all; and wild honey had a reputation,
rightfully or not obtained, that even rendered it more welcome than that
which was formed by the labor and art of the domesticated bee.

The dress of le Bourdon was well adapted to his pursuits and life. He
wore a hunting-shirt and trousers, made of thin stuff, which was dyed
green, and trimmed with yellow fringe. This was the ordinary forest
attire of the American rifleman; being of a character, as it was
thought, to conceal the person in the woods, by blending its hues with
those of the forest. On his head Ben wore a skin cap, somewhat smartly
made, but without the fur; the weather being warm. His moccasins were
a good deal wrought, but seemed to be fading under the exposure of many
marches. His arms were excellent; but all his martial accoutrements,
even to a keen long-bladed knife, were suspended from the rammer of his
rifle; the weapon itself being allowed to lean, in careless confidence,
against the trunk of the nearest oak, as if their master felt there was
no immediate use for them.

Not so with the other three. Not only was each man well armed, but each
man kept his trusty rifle hugged to his person, in a sort of jealous
watchfulness; while the other white man, from time to time, secretly,
but with great minuteness, examined the flint and priming of his own
piece.

This second pale-face was a very different person from him just
described. He was still young, tall, sinewy, gaunt, yet springy and
strong, stooping and round-shouldered, with a face that carried a very
decided top-light in it, like that of the notorious Bardolph. In short,
whiskey had dyed the countenance of Gershom Waring with a tell-tale
hue, that did not less infallibly betray his destination than his speech
denoted his origin, which was clearly from one of the States of New
England. But Gershom had been so long at the Northwest as to have
lost many of his peculiar habits and opinions, and to have obtained
substitutes.

Of the Indians, one, an elderly, wary, experienced warrior, was
a Pottawattamie, named Elksfoot, who was well known at all the
trading-houses and “garrisons” of the northwestern territory, including
Michigan as low down as Detroit itself. The other red man was a young
Chippewa, or O-jeb-way, as the civilized natives of that nation now tell
us the word should be spelled. His ordinary appellation among his own
people was that of Pigeonswing; a name obtained from the rapidity
and length of his flights. This young man, who was scarcely turned
of five-and-twenty, had already obtained a high reputation among the
numerous tribes of his nation, as a messenger, or “runner.”

Accident had brought these four persons, each and all strangers to one
another, in communication in the glade of the Oak Openings, which has
already been mentioned, within half an hour of the scene we are about
to present to the reader. Although the rencontre had been accompanied
by the usual precautions of those who meet in a wilderness, it had been
friendly so far; a circumstance that was in some measure owing to the
interest they all took in the occupation of the bee-hunter. The three
others, indeed, had come in on different trails, and surprised le
Bourdon in the midst of one of the most exciting exhibitions of his
art--an exhibition that awoke so much and so common an interest in the
spectators, as at once to place its continuance for the moment above all
other considerations. After brief salutations, and wary examinations of
the spot and its tenants, each individual had, in succession, given his
grave attention to what was going on, and all had united in begging
Ben Buzz to pursue his occupation, without regard to his visitors. The
conversation that took place was partly in English, and partly in one
of the Indian dialects, which luckily all the parties appeared to
understand. As a matter of course, with a sole view to oblige the
reader, we shall render what was said, freely, into the vernacular.

“Let’s see, let’s see, STRANger,” cried Gershom, emphasizing the
syllable we have put in italics, as if especially to betray his origin,
“what you can do with your tools. I’ve heer’n tell of such doin’s, but
never see’d a bee lined in all my life, and have a desp’rate fancy for
larnin’ of all sorts, from ‘rithmetic to preachin’.”

“That comes from your Puritan blood,” answered le Bourdon, with a quiet
smile, using surprisingly pure English for one in his class of life.
“They tell me you Puritans preach by instinct.”

“I don’t know how that is,” answered Gershom, “though I can turn my hand
to anything. I heer’n tell, across at Bob Ruly (Bois Brulk [Footnote:
This unfortunate name, which it may be necessary to tell a portion of
our readers means “burnt wood,” seems condemned to all sorts of abuses
among the linguists of the West. Among other pronunciations is that of
“Bob Ruly”; while an island near Detroit, the proper name of which is
“Bois Blanc,” is familiarly known to the lake mariners by the name of
“Bobolo.”]) of sich doin’s, and would give a week’s keep at Whiskey
Centre, to know how ‘twas done.”

“Whiskey Centre” was a sobriquet bestowed by the fresh-water sailors
of that region, and the few other white adventurers of Saxon origin who
found their way into that trackless region, firstly on Gershom himself,
and secondly on his residence. These names were obtained from the
intensity of their respective characters, in favor of the beverage
named. L’eau de mort was the place termed by the voyagers, in a sort
of pleasant travesty on the eau de vie of their distant, but still
well-remembered manufactures on the banks of the Garonne. Ben Boden,
however, paid but little attention to the drawling remarks of Gershom
Waring. This was not the first time he had heard of “Whiskey Centre,”
 though the first time he had ever seen the man himself. His attention
was on his own trade, or present occupation; and when it wandered at
all, it was principally bestowed on the Indians; more especially on the
runner. Of Elk’s foot, or Elksfoot, as we prefer to spell it, he had
some knowledge by means of rumor; and the little he knew rendered him
somewhat more indifferent to his proceedings than he felt toward those
of the Pigeonswing. Of this young redskin he had never heard; and, while
he managed to suppress all exhibition of the feeling, a lively curiosity
to learn the Chippewa’s business was uppermost in his mind. As for
Gershom, he had taken HIS measure at a glance, and had instantly set
him down to be, what in truth he was, a wandering, drinking, reckless
adventurer, who had a multitude of vices and bad qualities, mixed up
with a few that, if not absolutely redeeming, served to diminish the
disgust in which he might otherwise have been held by all decent people.
In the meanwhile, the bee-hunting, in which all the spectators took
so much interest, went on. As this is a process with which most of our
readers are probably unacquainted, it may be necessary to explain the
modus operandi, as well as the appliances used.

The tools of Ben Buzz, as Gershom had termed these implements of his
trade, were neither very numerous nor very complex. They were all
contained in a small covered wooden pail like those that artisans and
laborers are accustomed to carry for the purpose of conveying their
food from place to place. Uncovering this, le Bourdon had brought his
implements to view, previously to the moment when he was first seen by
the reader. There was a small covered cup of tin; a wooden box; a sort
of plate, or platter, made also of wood; and a common tumbler, of a very
inferior, greenish glass. In the year 1812, there was not a pane, nor a
vessel, of clear, transparent glass, made in all America! Now, some of
the most beautiful manufactures of that sort, known to civilization, are
abundantly produced among us, in common with a thousand other articles
that are used in domestic economy. The tumbler of Ben Buzz, however, was
his countryman in more senses than one. It was not only American, but
it came from the part of Pennsylvania of which he was himself a native.
Blurred, and of a greenish hue, the glass was the best that Pittsburg
could then fabricate, and Ben had bought it only the year before, on the
very spot where it had been made.

An oak, of more size than usual, had stood a little remote from its
fellows, or more within the open ground of the glade than the rest of
the “orchard.” Lightning had struck this tree that very summer, twisting
off its trunk at a height of about four feet from the ground. Several
fragments of the body and branches lay near, and on these the spectators
now took their seats, watching attentively the movements of the
bee-hunter. Of the stump Ben had made a sort of table, first levelling
its splinters with an axe, and on it he placed the several implements of
his craft, as he had need of each in succession.

The wooden platter was first placed on this rude table. Then le Bourdon
opened his small box, and took out of it a piece of honeycomb, that was
circular in shape, and about an inch and a half in diameter. The little
covered tin vessel was next brought into use. Some pure and beautifully
clear honey was poured from its spout into the cells of the piece of
comb, until each of them was about half filled. The tumbler was next
taken in hand, carefully wiped, and examined, by holding it up before
the eyes of the bee-hunter. Certainly, there was little to admire in it,
but it was sufficiently transparent to answer his purposes. All he asked
was to be able to look through the glass in order to see what was going
on in its interior.

Having made these preliminary arrangements, Buzzing Ben--for the
sobriquet was applied to him in this form quite as often as in the
other--next turned his attention to the velvet-like covering of the
grassy glade. Fire had run over the whole region late that spring, and
the grass was now as fresh, and sweet and short, as if the place were
pastured. The white clover, in particular, abounded, and was then
just bursting forth into the blossom. Various other flowers had
also appeared, and around them were buzzing thousands of bees. These
industrious little animals were hard at work, loading themselves with
sweets; little foreseeing the robbery contemplated by the craft of
man. As le Bourdon moved stealthily among the flowers and their humming
visitors, the eyes of the two red men followed his smallest movement, as
the cat watches the mouse; but Gershom was less attentive, thinking the
whole curious enough, but preferring whiskey to all the honey on earth.

At length le Bourdon found a bee to his mind, and watching the moment
when the animal was sipping sweets from a head of white clover, he
cautiously placed his blurred and green-looking tumbler over it, and
made it his prisoner. The moment the bee found itself encircled with the
glass, it took wing and attempted to rise. This carried it to the upper
part of its prison, when Ben carefully introduced the unoccupied hand
beneath the glass, and returned to the stump. Here he set the tumbler
down on the platter in a way to bring the piece of honeycomb within its
circle.

So much done successfully, and with very little trouble, Buzzing Ben
examined his captive for a moment, to make sure that all was right. Then
he took off his cap and placed it over tumbler, platter, honeycomb, and
bee. He now waited half a minute, when cautiously raising the cap again,
it was seen that the bee, the moment a darkness like that of its hive
came over it, had lighted on the comb, and commenced filling itself with
the honey. When Ben took away the cap altogether, the head and half of
the body of the bee was in one of the cells, its whole attention being
bestowed on this unlooked-for hoard of treasure. As this was just what
its captor wished, he considered that part of his work accomplished. It
now became apparent why a glass was used to take the bee, instead of a
vessel of wood or of bark. Transparency was necessary in order to watch
the movements of the captive, as darkness was necessary in order to
induce it to cease its efforts to escape, and to settle on the comb.

As the bee was now intently occupied in filling itself, Buzzing Ben, or
le Bourdon, did not hesitate about removing the glass. He even ventured
to look around him, and to make another captive, which he placed over
the comb, and managed as he had done with the first. In a minute, the
second bee was also buried in a cell, and the glass was again removed.
Le Bourdon now signed for his companions to draw near.

“There they are, hard at work with the honey,” he said, speaking in
English, and pointing at the bees. “Little do they think, as they
undermine that comb, how near they are to the undermining of their own
hive! But so it is with us all! When we think we are in the highest
prosperity we may be nearest to a fall, and when we are poorest and
hum-blest, we may be about to be exalted. I often think of these things,
out here in the wilderness, when I’m alone, and my thoughts are acTYVE.”

Ben used a very pure English, when his condition in life is remembered;
but now and then, he encountered a word which pretty plainly proved he
was not exactly a scholar. A false emphasis has sometimes an influence
on a man’s fortune, when one lives in the world; but it mattered little
to one like Buzzing Ben, who seldom saw more than half a dozen human
faces in the course of a whole summer’s hunting. We remember an
Englishman, however, who would never concede talents to Burr, because
the latter said, a L’AmEricaine, EurOpean, instead of EuropEan.

“How hive in danger?” demanded Elksfoot, who was very much of a
matter-of-fact person. “No see him, no hear him--else get some honey.”

“Honey you can have for asking, for I’ve plenty of it already in my
cabin, though it’s somewhat ‘arly in the season to begin to break in
upon the store. In general, the bee-hunters keep back till August, for
they think it better to commence work when the creatures”--this word
Ben pronounced as accurately as if brought up at St. James’s, making it
neither “creatur’” nor “creatOOre”--“to commence work when the creatures
have had time to fill up, after winter’s feed. But I like the old stock,
and, what is more, I feel satisfied this is not to be a common summer,
and so I thought I would make an early start.”

As Ben said this, he glanced his eyes at Pigeonswing, who returned the
look in a way to prove there was already a secret intelligence between
them, though neither had ever seen the other an hour before.

“Waal!” exclaimed Gershom, “this is cur’ous, I’ll allow THAT; yes, it’s
cur’ous--but we’ve got an article at Whiskey Centre that’ll put the
sweetest honey bee ever suck’d, altogether out o’ countenance!”

“An article of which you suck your share, I’ll answer for it, judging
by the sign you carry between the windows of your face,” returned Ben,
laughing; “but hush, men, hush. That first bee is filled, and begins to
think of home. He’ll soon be off for HONEY Centre, and I must keep my
eye on him. Now, stand a little aside, friends, and give me room for my
craft.”

The men complied, and le Bourdon was now all intense attention to his
business. The bee first taken had, indeed, filled itself to satiety, and
at first seemed to be too heavy to rise on the wing. After a few moments
of preparation, however, up it went, circling around the spot, as if
uncertain what course to take. The eye of Ben never left it, and when
the insect darted off, as it soon did, in an air-line, he saw it for
fifty yards after the others had lost sight of it. Ben took the range,
and was silent fully a minute while he did so.

“That bee may have lighted in the corner of yonder swamp,” he said,
pointing, as he spoke, to a bit of low land that sustained a growth of
much larger trees than those which grew in the “opening,” “or it has
crossed the point of the wood, and struck across the prairie beyond,
and made for a bit of thick forest that is to be found about three miles
further. In the last case, I shall have my trouble for nothing.”

“What t’other do?” demanded Elksfoot, with very obvious curiosity.

“Sure enough; the other gentleman must be nearly ready for a start,
and we’ll see what road HE travels. ‘Tis always an assistance to a
bee-hunter to get one creature fairly off, as it helps him to line the
next with greater sartainty.”

Ben WOULD say acTYVE, and SARtain, though he was above saying creatoore,
or creatur’. This is the difference between a Pennsylvanian and
a Yankee. We shall not stop, however, to note all these little
peculiarities in these individuals, but use the proper or the peculiar
dialect, as may happen to be most convenient to ourselves.

But there was no time for disquisition, the second bee being now ready
for a start. Like his companion, this insect rose and encircled the
stump several times, ere it darted away toward its hive, in an air-line.
So small was the object, and so rapid its movement, that no one but the
bee-hunter saw the animal after it had begun its journey in earnest. To
HIS disappointment, instead of flying in the same direction as the
bee first taken, this little fellow went buzzing off fairly at a right
angle! It was consequently clear that there were two hives, and that
they lay in very different directions.

Without wasting his time in useless talk, le Bourdon now caught another
bee, which was subjected to the same process as those first taken. When
this creature had filled it-self, it rose, circled the stump as usual,
as if to note the spot for a second visit, and darted away, directly in
a line with the bee first taken. Ben noted its flight most accurately,
and had his eye on it, until it was quite a hundred yards from the
stump. This he was enabled to do, by means of a quick sight and long
practice.

“We’ll move our quarters, friends,” said Buzzing Ben, good-humoredly, as
soon as satisfied with this last observation, and gathering together his
traps for a start. “I must angle for that hive, and I fear it will turn
out to be across the prairie, and quite beyond my reach for to-day.”

The prairie alluded to was one of those small natural meadows, or
pastures, that are to be found in Michigan, and may have contained
four or five thousand acres of open land. The heavy timber of the
swamp mentioned, jutted into it, and the point to be determined was, to
ascertain whether the bees had flown OVER these trees, toward which they
had certainly gone in an air-line, or whether they had found their hive
among them. In order to settle this material question, a new process was
necessary.

“I must ‘angle’ for them chaps,” repeated le Bourdon; “and if you
will go with me, strangers, you shall soon see the nicest part of the
business of bee-hunting. Many a man who can ‘line’ a bee, can do nothing
at an ‘angle’.”

As this was only gibberish to the listeners, no answer was made, but
all prepared to follow Ben, who was soon ready to change his ground.
The bee-hunter took his way across the open ground to a point fully a
hundred rods distant from his first position, where he found another
stump of a fallen tree, which he converted into a stand. The same
process was gone through with as before, and le Bourdon was soon
watching two bees that had plunged their heads down into the cells of
the comb. Nothing could exceed the gravity and attention of the Indians,
all this time. They had fully comprehended the business of “lining” the
insects toward their hives, but they could not understand the virtue of
the “angle.” The first bore so strong an affinity to their own pursuit
of game, as to be very obvious to their senses; but the last included a
species of information to which they were total strangers. Nor were they
much the wiser after le Bourdon had taken his “angle”; it requiring a
sort of induction to which they were not accustomed, in order to put the
several parts of his proceedings together, and to draw the inference.
As for Gershom, he affected to be familiar with all that was going on,
though he was just as ignorant as the Indians themselves. This little
bit of hypocrisy was the homage he paid to his white blood: it being
very unseemly, according to his view of the matter, for a pale-face not
to know more than a redskin.

The bees were some little time in filling themselves. At length one
of them came out of his cell, and was evidently getting ready for his
flight. Ben beckoned to the spectators to stand farther back, in order
to give him a fair chance, and, just as he had done so, the bee rose.
After humming around the stump for an instant, away the insect flew,
taking a course almost at right angles to that in which le Bourdon had
expected to see it fly. It required half a minute for him to recollect
that this little creature had gone off in a line nearly parallel to that
which had been taken by the second of the bees, which he had seen quit
his original position. The line led across the neighboring prairie, and
any attempt to follow these bees was hopeless.

But the second creature was also soon ready, and when it darted away, le
Bourdon, to his manifest delight, saw that it held its flight toward
the point of the swamp INTO, or OVER which two of his first captives had
gone. This settled the doubtful matter. Had the hive of these bees been
BEYOND that wood, the angle of intersection would not have been there,
but at the hive across the prairie. The reader will understand that
creatures which obey an instinct, or such a reason as bees possess,
would never make a curvature in their flights without some strong motive
for it. Thus, two bees taken from flowers that stood half a mile apart
would be certain not to cross each other’s tracks, in returning home,
until they met at the common hive: and wherever the intersecting angle
in their respective flights may be, there would that hive be also. As
this repository of sweets was the game le Bourdon had in view, it is
easy to see how much he was pleased when the direction taken by the
last of his bees gave him the necessary assurance that its home would
certainly be found in that very point of dense wood.



CHAPTER II.

       How skilfully it builds its cell,
       How neat it spreads the wax,
       And labors hard to store it well,
       With the sweet food it makes.
                  WATTS’ HYMNS FOR CHILDREN.


The next thing was to ascertain which was the particular tree in which
the bees had found a shelter. Collecting his implements, le Bourdon was
soon ready, and, with a light elastic tread, he moved off toward the
point of the wood, followed by the whole party. The distance was about
half a mile, and men so much accustomed to use their limbs made light
of it. In a few minutes all were there, and the bee-hunter was busy in
looking for his tree. This was the consummation of the whole process,
and Ben was not only provided for the necessities of the case, but he
was well skilled in all the signs that betokened the abodes of bees.

An uninstructed person might have passed that point of wood a thousand
times, without the least consciousness of the presence of a single
insect of the sort now searched for. In general, the bees flew too high
to be easily perceptible from the ground, though a practised eye can
discern them at distances that would almost seem to be marvellous. But
Ben had other assistants than his eyes. He knew that the tree he sought
must be hollow, and such trees usually give outward signs of the defect
that exists within. Then, some species of wood are more frequented
by the bees than others, while the instinct of the industrious little
creatures generally enables them to select such homes as will not be
very likely to destroy all the fruits of their industry by an untimely
fall. In all these particulars, both bees and bee-hunter were well
versed, and Ben made his search accordingly.

Among the other implements of his calling, le Bourdon had a small
spy-glass; one scarcely larger than those that are used in theatres,
but which was powerful and every way suited to its purposes. Ben was
not long in selecting a tree, a half-decayed elm, as the one likely to
contain the hive; and by the aid of his glass he soon saw bees flying
among its dying branches, at a height of not less than seventy feet
from the ground. A little further search directed his attention to a
knot-hole, in and out of which the glass enabled him to see bees passing
in streams. This decided the point; and putting aside all his implements
but the axe, Buzzing Ben now set about the task of felling the tree.

“STRANger,” said Gershom, when le Bourdon had taken out the first chip,
“perhaps you’d better let ME do that part of the job. I shall expect to
come in for a share of the honey, and I’m willing to ‘arn all I take. I
was brought up on axes, and jack-knives, and sich sort of food, and can
cut OR whittle with the best chopper, or the neatest whittler, in or out
of New England.”

“You can try your hand, if you wish it,” said Ben, relinquishing the
axe. “I can fell a tree as well as yourself, but have no such love for
the business as to wish to keep it all to myself.”

“Waal, I can say, I LIKE it,” answered Gershom, first passing his
thumb along the edge of the axe, in order to ascertain its state; then
swinging the tool, with a view to try its “hang.”

“I can’t say much for your axe, STRANGER, for this helve has no tarve
to’t, to my mind; but, sich as it is, down must come this elm, though
ten millions of bees should set upon me for my pains.”

This was no idle boast of Waring’s. Worthless as he was in so many
respects, he was remarkably skilful with the axe, as he now proved by
the rapid manner in which he severed the trunk of the large elm on which
he was at work. He inquired of Ben where he should “lay the tree,” and
when it came clattering down, it fell on the precise spot indicated.
Great was the confusion among the bees at this sudden downfall of their
long-cherished home. The fact was not known to their enemy, but they had
inhabited that tree for a long time; and the prize now obtained was the
richest he had ever made in his calling. As for the insects, they filled
the air in clouds, and all the invaders deemed it prudent to withdraw
to some little distance for a time, lest the irritated and wronged bees
should set upon them and take an ample revenge. Had they known their
power, this might easily have been done, no ingenuity of man being
able to protect him against the assaults of this insignificant-looking
animal, when unable to cover himself, and the angry little heroes are in
earnest. On the present occasion, however, no harm befell the marauders.
So suddenly had the hive tumbled that its late occupants appeared to be
astounded, and they submitted to their fate as men yield to the power of
tempests and earthquakes. In half an hour most of them were collected on
an adjacent tree, where doubtless a consultation on the mode of future
proceedings was held, after their fashion.

The Indians were more delighted with le Bourdon’s ingenious mode of
discovering the hive than with the richness of the prize; while Ben
himself, and Gershom, manifested most satisfaction at the amount of the
earnings. When the tree was cut in pieces, and split, it was ascertained
that years of sweets were contained within its capacious cavities, and
Ben estimated the portion that fell to his share at more than three
hundred pounds of good honey--comb included--after deducting the
portions that were given to the Indians, and which were abstracted by
Gershom. The three last, however, could carry but little, as they had no
other means of bearing it away than their own backs.

The honey was not collected that night. The day was too far advanced for
that; and le Bourdon--certainly never was name less merited than this
sobriquet as applied to the active young bee-hunter--but le Bourdon, to
give him his quaint appellation, offered the hospitalities of his own
cabin to the strangers, promising to put them on their several paths the
succeeding day, with a good store of honey in each knapsack.

“They do say there ar’ likely to be troublesome times.” he continued,
with simple earnestness, after having given the invitation to partake
of his homely fare; “and I should like to hear what is going on in the
world. From Whiskey Centre I do not expect to learn much, I will own;
but I am mistaken if the Pigeonswing, here, has not a message that will
make us all open our ears.”

The Indians ejaculated their assent; but Gershom was a man who could not
express anything sententiously. As the bee-hunter led the way toward
his cabin, or shanty, he made his comments with his customary freedom.
Before recording what he communicated, however, we shall digress for one
moment in order to say a word ourselves concerning this term “shanty.”
 It is now in general use throughout the whole of the United States,
meaning a cabin that has been constructed in haste, and for temporary
purposes. By a license of speech, it is occasionally applied to more
permanent residences, as men are known to apply familiar epithets
to familiar objects. The derivation of the word has caused some
speculation. The term certainly came from the West-perhaps from the
Northwest-and the best explanation we have ever heard of its derivation
is to sup-pose “shanty,” as we now spell it, a corruption of “chiente,”
 which it is thought may have been a word in Canadian French phrase to
express a “dog-kennel.” “Chenil,” we believe, is the true French
term for such a thing, and our own word is said to be derived from
it--“meute” meaning “a kennel of dogs,” or “a pack of hounds,” rather
than their dwelling. At any rate, “chiente” is so plausible a solution
of the difficulty, that one may hope it is the true one, even though
he has no better authority for it than a very vague rumor. Curious
discoveries are sometimes made by these rude analogies, however, though
they are generally thought not to be very near akin to learning. For
ourselves, now, we do not entertain a doubt that the sobriquet of
“Yankees” which is in every man’s mouth, and of which the derivation
appears to puzzle all our philologists, is nothing but a slight
corruption of the word “Yengeese,” the term applied to the “English,” by
the tribes to whom they first became known. We have no other authority
for this derivation than conjecture, and conjectures that are purely
our own; but it is so very plausible as almost to carry conviction of
itself. [Footnote: Since writing the above, the author has met with an
allusion that has induced him to think he may not have been the first
to suggest this derivation of the word “Yankee.” With himself, the
suggestion is perfectly original, and has long since been published by
him; but nothing is more probable than the fact that a solution so very
natural, of this long-disputed question in language, may have suggested
itself to various minds.]

The “chiente’” or shanty of le Bourdon stood quite near to the banks of
the Kalamazoo, and in a most beautiful grove of the burr-oak. Ben had
selected the site with much taste, though the proximity of a spring of
delicious water had probably its full share in influencing his decision.
It was necessary, moreover, that he should be near the river, as
his great movements were all made by water, for the convenience of
transporting his tools, furniture, etc., as well as his honey. A famous
bark canoe lay in a little bay, out of the current of the stream,
securely moored, head and stern, in order to prevent her beating against
any object harder than herself.

The dwelling had been constructed with some attention to security. This
was rendered necessary, in some measure, as Ben had found by experience,
on account of two classes of enemies--men and bears. From the first, it
is true, the bee-hunter had hitherto apprehended but little. There were
few human beings in that region. The northern portions of the noble
peninsula of Michigan are some-what low and swampy, or are too broken
and savage to tempt the native hunters from the openings and prairies
that then lay, in such rich profusion, further south and west. With the
exception of the shores, or coasts, it was seldom that the northern
half of the peninsula felt the footstep of man. With the southern
half, however, it was very different; the “openings,” and glades, and
watercourses, offering almost as many temptations to the savage as they
have since done to the civilized man. Nevertheless, the bison, or
the buffalo, as the animal is erroneously, but very generally, termed
throughout the country, was not often found in the vast herds of which
we read, until one reached the great prairies west of the Mississippi.
There it was that the red men most loved to congregate; though always
bearing, in numbers, but a trifling proportion to the surface they
occupied. In that day, however, near as to the date, but distant as to
the events, the Chippewas, Ottawas, Pottawattamies, kindred tribes, we
believe, had still a footing in Michigan proper, and were to be found
in considerable numbers in what was called the St. Joseph’s country, or
along the banks of the stream of that name; a region that almost merits
the lofty appellation of the garden of America. Le Bourdon knew many of
their warriors, and was much esteemed among them; though he had never
met with either of those whom chance now had thrown in his way. In
general, he suffered little wrong from the red men, who wondered at his
occupation, while they liked his character; but he had sustained losses,
and even ill-treatment, from certain outcasts of the tribes, as well as
from vagrant whites, who occasionally found their way to his temporary
dwellings. On the present occasion, le Bourdon felt far more uneasiness
from the circumstance of having his abode known to Gershom Waring, a
countryman and fellow-Christian, in one sense at least, than from its
being known to the Chippewa and the Pottawattamie.

The bears were constant and dangerous sources of annoyance to the
bee-hunter. It was not often that an armed man--and le Bourdon seldom
moved without his rifle--has much to apprehend from the common brown
bear of America. Though a formidable-looking animal, especially when
full grown, it is seldom bold enough to attack a human being, nothing
but hunger, or care for its young, ever inducing it to go so much out
of the ordinary track of its habits. But the love of the bear for honey
amounts to a passion. Not only will it devise all sorts of bearish
expedients to get at the sweet morsels, but it will scent them from
afar. On one occasion, a family of Bruins had looked into a shanty of
Ben’s, that was not constructed with sufficient care, and consummated
their burglary by demolishing the last comb. That disaster almost ruined
the adventurer, then quite young in his calling; and ever since its
occurrence he had taken the precaution to build such a citadel as should
at least set teeth and paws at defiance. To one who had an axe, with
access to young pines, this was not a difficult task, as was proved by
the present habitation of our hero.

This was the second season that le Bourdon had occupied “Castle Meal,”
 as he himself called the shanty. This appellation was a corruption of
“chateau au Mtel” a name given to it by a wag of a voyageur who had
aided Ben in ascending the Kalamazoo the previous summer, and had
remained long enough with him to help him put up his habitation. The
building was just twelve feet square, in the interior, and somewhat less
than fourteen on its exterior. It was made of pine logs, in the usual
mode, with the additional security of possessing a roof of squared
timbers of which the several parts were so nicely fitted together as to
shed rain. This unusual precaution was rendered necessary to protect the
honey, since the bears would have unroofed the common bark coverings
of the shanties, with the readiness of human beings, in order to get at
stores as ample as those which the bee-hunter had soon collected beneath
his roof. There was one window of glass, which le Bourdon had brought in
his canoe; though it was a single sash of six small lights, that opened
on hinges; the exterior being protected by stout bars of riven oak,
securely let into the logs. The door was made of three thicknesses of
oaken plank, pinned well together, and swinging on stout iron hinges, so
secured as not to be easily removed. Its outside fastening was made by
means of two stout staples, a short piece of ox-chain, and an unusually
heavy padlock. Nothing short of an iron bar, and that cleverly applied,
could force this fastening. On the inside, three bars of oak rendered
all secure, when the master was at home.

“You set consid’rable store by your honey, I guess, STRANger,” said
Gershom, as le Bourdon unlocked the fastenings and removed the chain,
“if a body may judge by the kear (care) you take on’t! Now, down our way
we ain’t half so partic’lar; Dolly and Blossom never so much as putting
up a bar to the door, even when I sleep out, which is about half the
time, now the summer is fairly set in.”

“And whereabouts is ‘down our way,’ if one may be so bold as to ask the
question?” returned le Bourdon, holding the door half-opened, while he
turned his face toward the other, in expectation of the answer.

“Why, down at Whiskey Centre, to be sure, as the v’y’gerers and other
boatmen call the place.”

“And where is Whiskey Centre?” demanded Ben, a little pertinaciously.

“Why, I thought everybody would ‘a’ known that,” answered Greshom; “sin’
whiskey is as drawin’ as a blister. Whiskey Centre is just where _I_
happen to live; bein’ what a body may call a travellin’ name. As I’m now
down at the mouth of the Kalamazoo, why Whiskey Centre’s there, too.”

“I understand the matter, now,” answered le Bourdon, composing his
well-formed mouth in a sort of contemptuous smile. “You and whiskey,
being sworn friends, are always to be found in company. When I came into
the river, which was the last week in April, I saw nothing like whiskey,
nor anything like a Centre at the mouth.”

“If you’d ‘a’ be’n a fortnight later, STRANger, you’d ‘a’ found both.
Travellin’ Centres, and stationary, differs somewhat, I guess; one is
always to be found, while t’other must be s’arched a’ter.”

“And pray who are Dolly and Blossom; I hope the last is not a WHISKEY
blossom?”

“Not she--she never touches a spoonful, though I tell her it never hurt
mortal! She tries hard to reason me into it that it hurts ME--but that’s
all a mistake, as anybody can see that jest looks at me.”

Ben DID look at him; and, to say truth, came to a somewhat different
conclusion.

“Is she so blooming that you call her ‘Blossom’?” demanded the
bee-hunter, “or is she so young?”

“The gal’s a little of both. Dolly is my wife, and Blossom is my sister.
The real name of Blossom is Margery Waring, but everybody calls her
Blossom; and so I gi’n into it, with the rest on ‘em.”

It is probable that le Bourdon lost a good deal of his interest in
this flower of the wilderness, as soon as he learned she was so nearly
related to the Whiskey Centre. Gershom was so very uninviting an object,
and had so many palpable marks, that he had fairly earned the nickname
which, as it afterward appeared, the western adventurers had given
HIM, as well as his ABODE, wherever the last might be, that no one of
decently sober habits could readily fancy anything belonging to him. At
any rate, the bee-hunter now led the way into his cabin, whither he was
followed without unnecessary ceremony, by all three of his guests.

The interior of the “chiente,” to use the most poetical, if not the most
accurate word, was singularly clean for an establishment set up by
a bachelor, in so remote a part of the world. The honey, in neat,
well-constructed kegs, was carefully piled along one side of the
apartment, in a way to occupy the minimum of room, and to be rather
ornamental than unsightly. These kegs were made by le Bourdon himself,
who had acquired as much of the art as was necessary to that object.
The woods always furnished the materials; and a pile of staves that was
placed beneath a neighboring tree sufficiently denoted that he did not
yet deem that portion of his task completed.

In one corner of the hut was a pile of well-dressed bearskins, three
in number, each and all of which had been taken from the carcasses of
fallen foes, within the last two months. Three more were stretched on
saplings, near by, in the process of curing. It was a material part
of the bee-hunter’s craft to kill this animal, in particular; and the
trophies of his conflicts with them were proportionably numerous. On the
pile already prepared, he usually slept.

There was a very rude table, a single board set up on sticks; and a
bench or two, together with a wooden chest of some size, completed the
furniture. Tools were suspended from the walls, it is true; and no
less than three rifles, in addition to a very neat double-barrelled
“shot-gun,” or fowling-piece, were standing in a corner. These were arms
collected by our hero in his different trips, and retained quite as much
from affection as from necessity, or caution. Of ammunition, there was
no very great amount visible; only three or four horns and a couple of
pouches being suspended from pegs: but Ben had a secret store, as well
as another rifle, carefully secured, in a natural magazine and arsenal,
at a distance sufficiently great from the chiente to remove it from all
danger of sharing in the fortunes of his citadel, should disaster befall
the last.

The cooking was done altogether out of doors. For this essential
comfort, le Bourdon had made very liberal provision. He had a small
oven, a sufficiently convenient fire-place, and a storehouse, at hand;
all placed near the spring, and beneath the shade of a magnificent elm.
In the storehouse he kept his barrel of flour, his barrel of salt,
a stock of smoked or dried meat, and that which the woodsman, if
accustomed in early life to the settlements, prizes most highly, a
half-barrel of pickled pork. The bark canoe had sufficed to transport
all these stores, merely ballasting handsomely that ticklish craft; and
its owner relied on the honey to perform the same office on the return
voyage, when trade or consumption should have disposed of the various
articles just named.

The reader may smile at the word “trade,” and ask where were those to
be found who could be parties to the traffic. The vast lakes and
innumerable rivers of that region, however, remote as it then was
from the ordinary abodes of civilized man, offered facilities for
communication that the active spirit of trade would be certain not to
neglect. In the first place, there were always the Indians to barter
skins and furs against powder, lead, rifles, blankets, and unhappily
“fire-water.” Then, the white men who penetrated to those semi-wilds
were always ready to “dicker” and to “swap,” and to “trade” rifles, and
watches, and whatever else they might happen to possess, almost to their
wives and Children.

But we should be doing injustice to le Bourdon, were we in any manner
to confound him with the “dickering” race. He was a bee-hunter quite as
much through love of the wilderness and love of adventure, as through
love of gain. Profitable he had certainly found the employment, or he
probably would not have pursued it; but there was many a man who--nay,
most men, even in his own humble class in life-would have deemed his
liberal earnings too hardly obtained, when gained at the expense of all
intercourse with their own kind. But Buzzing Ben loved the solitude of
his situation, its hazards, its quietude, relieved by passing moments
of high excitement; and, most of all, the self-reliance that was
indispensable equally to his success and his happiness. Woman, as yet,
had never exercised her witchery over him, and every day was his passion
for dwelling alone, and for enjoying the strange, but certainly most
alluring, pleasures of the woods, increasing and gaining strength in his
bosom. It was seldom, now, that he held intercourse even with the Indian
tribes that dwelt near his occasional places of hunting; and frequently
had he shifted his ground in order to avoid collision, however friendly,
with whites who, like himself, were pushing their humble fortunes along
the shores of those inland seas, which, as yet, were rarely indeed
whitened by a sail. In this respect, Boden and Waring were the very
antipodes of each other; Gershom being an inveterate gossip, in despite
of his attachment to a vagrant and border life.

The duties of hospitality are rarely forgotten among border men. The
inhabitant of a town may lose his natural disposition to receive all
who offer at his board, under the pressure of society; but it is only in
most extraordinary exceptions that the frontier man is ever known to
be inhospitable. He has little to offer, but that little is seldom
withheld, either through prudence or niggardliness. Under this
feeling--we might call it habit also--le Bourdon now set himself at work
to place on the table such food as he had at command and ready cooked.
The meal which he soon pressed his guests to share with him was composed
of a good piece of cold boiled pork, which Ben had luckily cooked the
day previously, some bear’s meat roasted, a fragment of venison steak,
both lean and cold, and the remains of a duck that had been shot the
day before, in the Kalamazoo, with bread, salt, and, what was somewhat
unusual in the wilderness, two or three onions, raw. The last dish was
highly relished by Gershom, and was slightly honored by Ben; but the
Indians passed it over with cold indifference. The dessert consisted of
bread and honey, which were liberally partaken of by all at table.

Little was said by either host or guests, until the supper was finished,
when the whole party left the chiente, to enjoy their pipes in the cool
evening air, beneath the oaks of the grove in which the dwelling stood.
Their conversation began to let the parties know something of each
other’s movements and characters.

“YOU are a Pottawattamie, and YOU a Chippewa,” said le Bourdon, as he
courteously handed to his two red guests pipes of theirs, that he had
just stuffed with some of his own tobacco--“I believe you are a sort of
cousins, though your tribes are called by different names.”

“Nation, Ojebway,” returned the elder Indian, holding up a finger, by
way of enforcing attention.

“Tribe, Pottawattamie,” added the runner, in the same sententious
manner.

“Baccy, good”--put in the senior, by way of showing he was well
contented with his comforts.

“Have you nothin’ to drink?” demanded Whiskey Centre, who saw no great
merit in anything but “firewater.”

“There is the spring,” returned le Bourdon, gravely; “a gourd hangs
against the tree.”

Gershom made a wry face, but he did not move.

“Is there any news stirring among the tribes?” asked the bee-hunter,
waiting, however, a decent interval, lest he might be supposed to betray
a womanly curiosity.

Elksfoot puffed away some time before he saw fit to answer, reserving a
salvo in behalf of his own dignity. Then he removed the pipe, shook off
the ashes, pressed down the fire a little, gave a reviving draught or
two, and quietly replied:

“Ask my young brother--he runner--he know.”

But Pigeonswing seemed to be little more communicative than the
Pottawattamie. He smoked on in quiet dignity, while the bee-hunter
patiently waited for the moment when it might suit his younger guest to
speak. That moment did not arrive for some time, though it came at last.
Almost five minutes after Elksfoot had made the allusion mentioned, the
Ojebway, or Chippewa, removed his pipe also, and looking courteously
round at his host, he said with emphasis:

“Bad summer come soon. Pale-faces call young men togedder, and dig up
hatchet.”

“I had heard something of this,” answered le Bourdon, with a saddened
countenance, “and was afraid it might happen.”

“My brother dig up hatchet too, eh?” demanded Pigeonswing.

“Why should I? I am alone here, on the Openings, and it would seem
foolish in me to wish to fight.”

“Got no tribe--no Ojebway--no Pottawattamie, eh?”

“I have my tribe, as well as another, Chippewa, but can see no use I can
be to it, here. If the English and Americans fight, it must be a long
way from this wilderness, and on or near the great salt lake.”

“Don’t know--nebber know, ‘till see. English warrior plenty in Canada.”

“That may be; but American warriors are not plenty here. This country is
a wilderness, and there are no soldiers hereabouts, to cut each other’s
throats.”

“What you t’ink him?” asked Pigeonswing, glancing at Gershom; who,
unable to forbear any longer, had gone to the spring to mix a cup from
a small supply that still remained of the liquor with which he had left
home. “Got pretty good scalp?”

“I suppose it is as good as another’s--but he and I are countrymen, and
we cannot raise the tomahawk on one another.”

“Don’t t’ink so. Plenty Yankee, him!”

Le Bourdon smiled at this proof of Pigeonswings sagacity, though he felt
a good deal of uneasiness at the purport of his discourse.

“You are right enough in THAT” he answered, “but I’m plenty of Yankee,
too.”

“No, don’t say so,” returned the Chippewa--“no, mustn’t say DAT.
English; no Yankee. HIM not a bit like you.”

“Why, we are unlike each other, in some respects, it is true, though we
are countrymen, notwithstanding. My great father lives at Washington, as
well as his.”

The Chippewa appeared to be disappointed; perhaps he appeared sorry,
too; for le Bourdon’s frank and manly hospitality had disposed him to
friendship instead of hostilities, while his admissions would rather put
him in an antagonist position. It was probably with a kind motive that
he pursued the discourse in a way to give his host some insight into the
true condition of matters in that part of the world.

“Plenty Breetish in woods,” he said, with marked deliberation and point.
“Yankee no come yet.”

“Let me know the truth, at once, Chippewa,” exclaimed le Bourdon. “I am
but a peaceable bee-hunter, as you see, and wish no man’s scalp, or any
man’s honey but my own. Is there to be a war between America and Canada,
or not?”

“Some say, yes; some say, no,” returned Pigeonswing, evasively, “My
part, don’t know. Go, now, to see. But plenty Montreal belt among
redskins; plenty rifle; plenty powder, too.”

“I heard something of this as I came up the lakes,” rejoined Ben; “and
fell in with a trader, an old acquaintance, from Canada, and a good
friend, too, though he is to be my enemy, according to law, who gave me
to understand that the summer would not go over without blows. Still,
they all seemed to be asleep at Mackinaw (Michilimackinac) as I passed
there.”

“Wake up pretty soon. Canada warrior take fort.”

“If I thought that, Chippewa, I would be off this blessed night to give
the alarm.”

“No--t’ink better of dat.”

“Go I would, if I died for it the next hour!”

“T’ink better--be no such fool, I tell you.”

“And I tell you, Pigeonswing, that go I would, if the whole Ojebway
nation was on my trail. I am an American, and mean to stand by my own
people, come what will.”

“T’ought you only peaceable bee-hunter, just now,” retorted the
Chippewa, a little sarcastically.

By this time le Bourdon had somewhat cooled, and he became conscious of
his indiscretion. He knew enough of the history of the past, to be fully
aware that, in all periods of American history, the English, and, for
that matter, the French too, so long as they had possessions on
this continent, never scrupled about employing the savages in their
conflicts. It is true, that these highly polished, and, we may justly
add, humane nations--(for each is, out of all question, entitled to that
character in the scale of comparative humanity as between communities,
and each if you will take its own account of the matter, stands at the
head of civilization in this respect)--would, notwithstanding these high
claims, carry on their AMERICAN wars by the agency of the tomahawk, the
scalping-knife, and the brand. Eulogies, though pronounced by ourselves
on ourselves, cannot erase the stains of blood. Even down to the present
hour, a cloud does not obscure the political atmosphere between England
and America, that its existence may not be discovered on the prairies,
by a movement among the In-dians. The pulse that is to be felt there
is a sure indication of the state of the relations between the parties.
Every one knows that the savage, in his warfare, slays both sexes and
all ages; that the door-post of the frontier cabin is defiled by the
blood of the infant, whose brains have been dashed against it; and that
the smouldering ruins of log-houses oftener than not cover the remains
of their tenants. But what of all that? Brutus is still “an honorable
man,” and the American, who has not this sin to answer for among his
numberless transgressions, is reviled as a semi-barbarian! The time is
at hand, when the Lion of the West will draw his own picture, too; and
fortunate will it be for the characters of some who will gather around
the easel, if they do not discover traces of their own lineaments among
his labors.

The feeling engendered by the character of such a warfare is the secret
of the deeply seated hostility which pervades the breast of the WESTERN
American against the land of his ancestors. He never sees the Times, and
cares not a rush for the mystifications of the Quarterly Review; but
he remembers where his mother was brained, and his father or brother
tortured; aye, and by whose instrumentality the foul deeds were mainly
done. The man of the world can understand that such atrocities may be
committed, and the people of the offending nation remain ignorant of
their existence, and, in a measure, innocent of the guilt; but the
sufferer, in his provincial practice, makes no such distinction,
confounding all alike in his resentments, and including all that bear
the hated name in his maledictions. It is a fearful thing to awaken the
anger of a nation; to excite in it a desire for revenge; and thrice
is that danger magnified, when the people thus aroused possess
the activity, the resources, the spirit, and the enterprise of the
Americans. We have been openly derided, and that recently, because,
in the fulness of our sense of power and sense of right, language that
exceeds any direct exhibition of the national strength has escaped
the lips of legislators, and, perhaps justly, has exposed them to the
imputation of boastfulness. That derision, however, will not soon be
repeated. The scenes enacting in Mexico, faint as they are in comparison
with what would have been seen, had hostilities taken an other
direction, place a perpetual gag in the mouths of all scoffers. The
child is passing from the gristle into the bone, and the next generation
will not even laugh, as does the present, at any idle and ill-considered
menaces to coerce this republic; strong in the consciousness of its own
power, it will eat all such fanfaronades, if any future statesman should
be so ill-advised as to renew them, with silent indifference.

Now, le Bourdon was fully aware that one of the surest pulses of
approaching hostilities between England and America was to be felt in
the far West. If the Indians were in movement, some power was probably
behind the scenes to set them in motion. Pigeonswing was well known to
him by reputation; and there was that about the man which awakened the
most unpleasant apprehensions, and he felt an itching desire to learn
all he could from him, without betraying any more of his own feelings,
if that were possible.

“I do not think the British will attempt Mackinaw,” Ben remarked, after
a long pause and a good deal of smoking had enabled him to assume an air
of safe indifference.

“Got him, I tell you,” answered Pigeonswing, pointedly.

“Got what, Chippewa?”

“Him--Mac-naw--got fort--got so’gers--got whole island. Know dat, for
been dere.”

This was astounding news, indeed! The commanding officer of that
ill-starred garrison could not himself have been more astonished, when
he was unexpectedly summoned to surrender by an enemy who appeared
to start out of the earth, than was le Bourdon, at hearing this
intelligence. To western notions, Michilimackinac was another Gibraltar,
although really a place of very little strength, and garrisoned by only
one small company of regulars. Still, habit had given the fortress a
sort of sanctity among the adventurers of that region; and its fall,
even in the settled parts of the country, sounded like the loss of
a province. It is now known that, anticipating the movements of the
Americans, some three hundred whites, sustained by more than twice that
number of Indians, including warriors from nearly every adjacent tribe,
had surprised the post on the 17th of July, and compelled the subaltern
in command, with some fifty odd men, to surrender. This rapid and highly
military measure, on the part of the British, completely cut off the
post of Chicago, at the head of Lake Michigan, leaving it isolated, on
what was then a very remote wilderness. Chicago, Mackinac, and Detroit,
were the three grand stations of the Americans on the upper lakes, and
here were two of them virtually gone at a blow!



CHAPTER III.

              --Ho! who’s here?
      If anything that’s civil, speak; if savage,
      Take, or lend--

                               Cymbeline


Not another syllable did le Bourdon utter to the Chippewa, or the
Chippewa to him, in that sitting, touching the important event just
communicated. Each carefully avoided manifesting any further interest in
the subject, but the smoking continued for some time after the sun had
set. As the shades of evening began to gather, the Pottawattamie arose,
shook the ashes from his pipe, gave a grunt, and uttered a word or two,
by way of announcing his disposition to retire. On this hint, Ben went
into the cabin, spread his skins, and intimated to his guests that their
beds were ready for them. Few compliments pass among border men on such
occasions, and one after another dropped off, until all were stretched
on the skins but the master of the place. He remained up two hours
later, ruminating on the state of things; when, perceiving that the
night was wearing on, he also found a nest, and sought his repose.

Nothing occurred to disturb the occupants of “Castle Meal,” as le
Bourdon laughingly called his cabin, until the return of day. If there
were any bears scenting around the place, as often occurred at night,
their instinct must have apprised them that a large reinforcement was
present, and caused them to defer their attack to a more favorable
opportunity. The first afoot next morning was the bee-hunter himself,
who arose and left his cabin just as the earliest streaks of day were
appearing in the east. Although dwelling in a wilderness, the “openings”
 had not the character of ordinary forests. The air circulates freely
beneath their oaks, the sun penetrates in a thousand places, and grass
grows, wild but verdant. There was little of the dampness of the virgin
woods; and the morning air, though cool, as is ever the case, even in
midsummer, in regions still covered with trees, was balmy; and, at that
particular spot, it came to the senses of le Bourdon loaded with the
sweets of many a wide glade of his favorite white clover. Of course, he
had placed his cabin near those spots where the insect he sought most
abounded; and a fragrant site it proved to be, in favorable conditions
of the atmosphere. Ben had a taste for all the natural advantages of his
abode, and was standing in enjoyment of its placid beauties when some
one touched his elbow. Turning, quick as thought, he perceived the
Chippewa at his side. That young Indian had approached with the
noiseless tread of his people, and was now anxious to hold a private
communication with him.

“Pottawattamie got long ear--come fudder--” said Pigeonswing; “go
cook-house--t’ink we want breakfast.”

Ben did as desired; and the two were soon side by side at the spring, in
the outlet of which they made their ablutions--the redskin being totally
without paint. When this agreeable office was performed, each felt in
better condition for a conference.

“Elkfoot got belt from Canada fadder,” commenced the Chippewa, with a
sententious allusion to the British propensity to keep the savages in
pay. “KNOW he got him KNOW he keep him.”

“And you, Pigeonswing--by your manner of talking I had set you down for
a king’s Injin, too.”

“TALK so--no FEEL bit so. MY heart Yankee.”

“And have you not had a belt of wampum sent you, as well as the rest of
them?”

“Dat true--got him--don’t keep him.”

“What! did you dare to send it back?”

“Ain’t fool, dough young. Keep him; no keep him. Keep him for Canada
fadder; no keep him for Chippewa brave.”

“What have you then done with your belt?”

“Bury him where nobody find him dis war. No--Waubkenewh no hole in heart
to let king in.”

Pigeonswing, as this young Indian was commonly called in his tribe, in
consequence of the rapidity of his movement when employed as a runner,
had a much more respectable name, and one that he had fairly earned in
some of the forays of his people, but which the commonalty had just the
same indisposition to use as the French have to call Marshal Soult the
Duc de Dalmatie. The last may be the most honorable title, but it is not
that by which he is the best known to his countrymen. Waubkenewh was
an appellation, notwithstanding, of which the young Chippewa was justly
proud; and he often asserted his right to use it, as sternly as the old
hero of Toulouse asserted his right to his duchy, when the Austrians
wished to style him “le Marechal DUC Soult.”

“And you are friendly to the Yankees, and an enemy to the red-coats?”

Waubkenewh grasped the hand of le Bourdon, and squeezed it firmly. Then
he said, warily:

“Take care--Elkfoot friend of Blackbird; like to look at Canada belt.
Got medal of king, too. Have Yankee scalp, bye’m by. Take care--must
speak low, when Elkfoot near.”

“I begin to understand you, Chippewa; you wish me to believe that YOU
are a friend to America, and that the Pottawatamie is not. If this be
so, why have you held the speech that you did last night, and seemed to
be on a war-path AGAINST my countrymen?”

“Dat good way, eh? Elkfoot den t’ink me HIS friend dat very good in
war-time.”

“But is it true, or false, that Mackinaw is taken by the British?”

“Dat true too--gone, and warrior all prisoner. Plenty Winnebago, plenty
Pottawatamie, plenty Ottowa, plenty redskin, dere.”

“And the Chippewas?”

“Some Ojebway, too”--answered Pigeonswing, after a reluctant pause.
“Can’t all go on same path this war. Hatchets, somehow, got two
handle--one strike Yankee; one strike King George.”

“But what is your business here, and where are you now going if you are
friendly to the Americans? I make no secret of my feelings--I am for my
own people, and I wish proof that you are a friend, and not an enemy.”

“Too many question, one time,” returned the Chippewa, a little
distastefully. “No good have so long tongue. Ask one question, answer
him--ask anoder, answer HIM, too.”

“Well, then, what is your business, here?”

“Go to Chicago, for gen’ral.”

“Do you mean that you bear a message from some American general to the
commandant at Chicago?”

“Just so--dat my business. Guess him, right off; he, he, he!”

It is so seldom that an Indian laughs that the bee-hunter was startled.

“Where is the general who has sent you on this errand?” he demanded.

“He at Detroit--got whole army dere--warrior plenty as oak in opening.”

All this was news to the bee-hunter, and it caused him to muse a moment,
ere he proceeded.

“What is the name of the American general who has sent you on this
path?” he then demanded.

“Hell,” answered the Ojebway, quietly.

“Hell! You mean to give his Indian title, I suppose, to show that he
will prove dangerous to the wicked. But how is he called in our own
tongue?”

“Hell--dat he name--good name for so’ger, eh?”

“I believe I understand you, Chippewa--Hull is the name of the governor
of the territory, and you must have mistaken the sound--‘is it not so?”

“Hull--Hell--don’t know--just same--one good as t’other.”

“Yes, one will do as well as the other, if a body only understands you.
So Governor Hull sent you here?”

“No gubbernor--general, tell you. Got big army--plenty warrior--eat
Breesh up!”

“Now, Chippewa, answer me one thing to my likin’, or I shall set you
down as a man with a forked tongue, though you do call yourself a friend
of the Yankees. If you have been sent from Detroit to Chicago, why
are you so far north as this? Why are you here, on the banks of
the Kalamazoo, when your path ought to lead you more toward the St.
Joseph’s?”

“Been to Mackinaw. Gen’ral says, first go to Mackinaw and see wid own
eye how garrison do--den go to Chicago, and tell warrior dere what
happen, and how he best manage. Understan’ dat, Bourdon?”

“Aye, it all sounds well enough, I will acknowledge. You have been to
Mackinaw to look about you, there, and having seen things with your own
eyes, have started for Chicago to give your knowledge to the commandant
at that place. Now, redskin, have you any proof of what you say?”

For some reason that the bee-hunter could not yet fathom, the Chippewa
was particularly anxious either to obtain his confidence, or to deceive
him. Which he was attempting, was not yet quite apparent; but that one
or other was uppermost in his mind, Ben thought was beyond dispute.
As soon as the question last named was put, however, the Indian looked
cautiously around him, as if to be certain there were no spectators.
Then he carefully opened his tobacco-pouch, and extricated from the
centre of the cut weed a letter that was rolled into the smallest
compass to admit of this mode of concealment, and which was encircled
by a thread. The last removed, the letter was unrolled, and its
superscription exposed. The address was to “Captain--Heald, U. S. Army,
commanding at Chicago.” In one corner were the words “On public service,
by Pigeonswing.” All this was submitted to the bee-hunter, who read it
with his own eyes.

“Dat good”--asked the Chippewa, pointedly--“dat tell trut’-b’lieve HIM?”

Le Bourdon grasped the hand of the Indian, and gave it a hearty squeeze.
Then he said frankly, and like a man who no longer entertained any
doubts:

“I put faith in all you say, Chippewa. That is an officer’s letter, and
I now see that you are on the right side. You play’d so deep a game, at
first, hows’ever, that I didn’t know exactly what to make of you. Now,
as for the Pottawattamie--do you set him down as friend or foe, in
reality?”

“Enemy--take your scalp--take my scalp, in minute only can’t catch him.
He got belt from Montreal, and it look handsome in his eye.”

“Which way d’ye think he’s travelling? As I understood you, he and you
fell into the same path within a mile of this very spot. Was the meeting
altogether friendly?”

“Yes; friendly--but ask too many question--too much squaw--ask one
question, den stop for answer.”

“Very true--I will remember that an Indian likes to do one thing at a
time. Which way, then, do you think he’s travelling?”

“Don’t know--on’y guess--guess he on path to Blackbird.”

“And where is Blackbird, and what is he about?”

“Two question, dat!” returned the Chippewa, smiling, and holding up
two of his fingers, at the same time, by way of rebuke. “Blackbird on
war-path;--when warrior on dat path, he take scalp if can get him.”

“But where is his enemy? There are no whites in this part of the
country, but here and there a trader, or a trapper, or a bee-hunter, or
a VOYAGEUR.”

“Take HIS scalp--all scalp good, in war time. An’t partic’lar, down at
Montreal. What you call garrison at Chicago?”

“Blackbird, you then think, may be moving upon Chicago. In that case,
Chippewa, you should outrun this Pottawatamie, and reach the post in
time to let its men know the danger.”

“Start, as soon as eat breakfast. Can’t go straight, nudder, or
Pottawatamie see print of moccasin. Must t’row him off trail.”

“Very true; but I’ll engage you’re cunning enough to do that twice over,
should it be necessary.”

Just then Gershom Waring came out of the cabin, gaping like a hound, and
stretching his arms, as if fairly wearied with sleep. At the sight of
this man the Indian made a gesture of caution, saying, however, in an
undertone:

“How is heart--Yankee or Breesh--love Montreal, eh? Pretty good scalp!
Love King George, eh?”

“I rather think not, but am not certain. He is a poor pale-face,
however, and it’s of no great account how he stands. His scalp would
hardly be worth the taking, whether by English or American.”

“Sell, down at Montreal--better look out for Pottawatamie. Don’t like
that Injin.”

“We’ll be on our guard against him; and there he comes, looking as if
his breakfast would be welcome, and as if he was already thinking of a
start.”

Le Bourdon had been busy with his pots, during the whole time this
discourse was going on, and had warmed up a sufficiency of food to
supply the wants of all his guests. In a few minutes each was busy
quietly eating his morning’s meal, Gershom having taken his bitters
aside, and, as he fancied, unobserved. This was not so much owing to
niggardliness, as to a distrust of his having a sufficient supply of the
liquor, that long indulgence had made, in a measure, necessary to him,
to last until he could get back to the barrels that were still to be
found in his cabin, down on the shore of the lake.

During the breakfast little was said, conversation forming no material
part of the entertainment, at the meals of any but the cultivated. When
each had risen, however, and by certain preliminary arrangements it
was obvious that the two Indians intended to depart, the Pottawatamie
advanced to le Bourdon, and thrust out a hand.

“Thankee”--he said, in the brief way in which he clipped his
English--“good supper--good sleep--good breakfast. Now go. Thankee--when
any friend come to Pottawatamie village, good wigwam dere, and no door.”

“I thank you, Elksfoot--and should you pass this way, ag’in, soon, I
hope you’ll just step into this chiente and help yourself it I should
happen to be off on a hunt. Good luck to you, and a happy sight of
home.”

The Pottawatamie then turned and thrust out a hand to each of the
others, who met his offered leave-taking with apparent friendship. The
bee-hunter observed that neither of the Indians said anything to the
other touching the path he was about to travel, but that each seemed
ready to pursue his own way as if entirely independent, and without the
expectation of having a companion.

Elksfoot left the spot the first. After completing his adieus, the
Pottawattamie threw his rifle into the hollow of his arm, felt at his
belt, as if to settle it into its place, made some little disposition of
his light summer covering, and moved off in a southwesterly direction,
passing through the open glades, and almost equally unobstructed groves,
as steady in his movements as if led by an instinct.

“There he goes, on a bee-line,” said le Bourdon, as the straight form of
the old savage disappeared at length, behind a thicket of trees. “On
a bee-line for the St. Joseph’s river, where he will shortly be, among
friends and neighbors, I do not doubt. What, Chippewa! are you in motion
too?”

“Must go, now,” returned Pigeonswing, in a friendly way. “Bye’m by come
back and eat more honey-bring sweet news, hope-no Canada here,” placing
a finger on his heart-“all Yankee.”

“God be with you, Chippewa-God be with you. We shall have a stirring
summer of it, and I expect to hear of your name in the wars, as of a
chief who knows no fear.”

Pigeonswing waved his hand, cast a glance, half friendly half
contemptuously, at Whiskey Centre, and glided away. The two who remained
standing near the smouldering fire remarked that the direction taken
by the Chippewa was toward the lake, and nearly at right angles to that
taken by the Pottawattamie. They also fancied that the movement of the
former was about half as fast again as that of the latter. In less than
three minutes the young Indian was concealed in the “openings,” though
he had to cross a glade of considerable width in order to reach them.

The bee-hunter was now alone with the only one of his guests who was of
the color and race to which he himself belonged. Of the three, he was
the visitor he least respected; but the dues of hospitality are usually
sacred in a wilderness, and among savages, so that he could do nothing
to get rid of him. As Gershom manifested no intention to quit the place,
le Bourdon set about the business of the hour, with as much method and
coolness as if the other had not been present. The first thing was to
bring home the honey discovered on the previous day; a task of no light
labor, the distance it was to be transported being so considerable, and
the quantity so large. But our bee-hunter was not without the means
of accomplishing such an object, and he now busied himself in getting
ready. As Gershom volunteered his assistance, together they toiled in
apparent amity and confidence.

The Kalamazoo is a crooked stream; and it wound from the spot where le
Bourdon had built his cabin, to a point within a hundred yards of the
fallen tree in which the bees had constructed their hive. As a matter
of course, Ben profited by this circumstance to carry his canoe to the
latter place, with a view to render it serviceable in transporting
the honey. First securing everything in and around the chiente, he
and Gershom embarked, taking with them no less than four pieces
of fire-arms; one of which was, to use the language of the west, a
double-barrelled “shot-gun.” Before quitting the place, however, the
bee-hunter went to a large kennel made of logs, and let out a mastiff
of great power and size. Between this dog and himself there existed the
best possible intelligence; the master having paid many visits to the
prisoner since his return, feeding and caressing him. Glad, indeed, was
this fine animal to be released, bounding back and forth, and leaping
about le Bourdon in a way to manifest his delight. He had been cared for
in his kennel, and well cared for, too; but there is no substitute for
liberty, whether in man or beast, individuals or communities.

When all Was ready, le Bourdon and Gershom got into the canoe, whither
the former now called his dog, using the name of “Hive,” an appellation
that was doubtless derived from his own pursuit. As soon as the mastiff
leaped into the canoe, Ben shoved off, and the light craft was pushed
up the stream by himself and Gershom without much difficulty, and with
considerable rapidity. But little driftwood choked the channel; and,
after fifteen minutes of moderate labor, the two men came near to the
point of low wooded land in which the bee-tree had stood. As they drew
nigh, certain signs of uneasiness in the dog attracted his master’s
attention, and he pointed them out to Gershom.

“There’s game in the wind,” answered Whiskey Centre, who had a good
knowledge of most of the craft of border life, notwithstanding his
ungovernable propensity to drink, and who, by nature, was both shrewd
and resolute. “I shouldn’t wonder”--a common expression of his class--“if
we found bears prowling about that honey!”

“Such things have happened in my time,” answered the bee-hunter, “and
twice in my experience I’ve been driven from the field, and forced to
let the devils get my ‘arnin’s.”

“That was when you had no comrade, stranger” returned Gershom, raising a
rifle, and carefully examining its flint and its priming. “It will be a
large family on ‘em that drives us from that tree; for my mind is made
up to give Doll and Blossom a taste of the sweets.”

If this was said imprudently, as respects ownership in the prize, it
was said heartily, so far as spirit and determination were concerned. It
proved that Whiskey Centre had points about him which, if not absolutely
redeeming, served in some measure to lessen the disgust which one might
other-wise have felt for his character. The bee-hunter knew that there
was a species of hardihood that belonged to border men as the fruits
of their habits, and, apparently, he had all necessary confidence in
Gershom’s disposition to sustain him, should there be occasion for a
conflict with his old enemies.

The first measure of the bee-hunter, after landing and securing his
boat, was to quiet Hive. The animal being under excellent command, this
was soon done; the mastiff maintaining the position assigned him in the
rear, though evidently impatient to be let loose. Had not le Bourdon
known the precise position of the fallen tree, and through that the
probable position of his enemies, he would have placed the mastiff in
advance, as a pioneer or scout; but he deemed it necessary, under
the actual circumstances, to hold him as a reserve, or a force to be
directed whither occasion might require. With this arrangement, then,
le Bourdon and Whiskey Centre advanced, side by side, each carrying two
pieces, from the margin of the river toward the open land that commanded
a view of the tree. On reaching the desired point, a halt was called, in
order to reconnoitre.

The reader will remember that the bee-elm had stood on the edge of a
dense thicket, or swamp, in which the trees grew to a size several times
exceeding those of the oaks in the openings; and le Bourdon had caused
it to fall upon the open ground, in order to work at the honey with
greater ease to himself. Consequently, the fragments lay in full view
of the spot where the halt was made. A little to Gershom’s surprise,
Ben now produced his spy-glass, which he levelled with much earnestness
toward the tree. The bee-hunter, however, well knew his business, and
was examining into the state of the insects whom he had so violently
invaded the night before. The air was filled with them, flying above
and around the tree; a perfect cloud of the little creatures hovering
directly over the hole, as if to guard its treasure.

“Waal,” said Gershom, in his drawling way, when le Bourdon had taken a
long look with the glass, “I don’t see much use in spy-glassin’ in that
fashion. Spy-glassin’ may do out on the lake, if a body has only the
tools to do it with; but here, in the openin’s, nature’s eyes is about
as good as them a body buys in the stores.”

“Take a look at them bees, and see what a fret they’re in,” returned
Ben, handing the glass to his companion. “As long as I’ve been in the
business, I’ve never seen a colony in such a fever. Commonly, a few
hours after the bees find that their tree is down, and their plans
broken into, they give it up, and swarm; looking for a new hive, and
setting about the making more food for the next winter; but here are all
the bees yet, buzzing above the hole, as if they meant to hold out for a
siege.”

“There’s an onaccountable grist on ‘em”--Gershom was never very
particular in his figures of speech, usually terming anything
in quantities a’grist”; and meaning in the present instance by
“onaccountable,” a number not to be counted--“an onaccountable grist on
‘em, I can tell you, and if you mean to charge upon sich enemies, you
must look out for somebody besides Whiskey Centre for your vanguard.
What in natur’ has got into the critters! They can’t expect to set that
tree on its legs ag’in!”

“Do you see a flight of them just in the edge of the for-est--here, more
to the southward?” demanded le Bourdon.

“Sure enough! There is a lot on ‘em there, too, and they seem to be
comin’ and goin’ to the tree, like folks”--Gershom WOULD put his noun
of multitude into the plural, Nova-Anglice--“comin’ and goin’ like folks
carryin’ water to a fire. A body would think, by the stir among ‘em,
them critters’ barrel was empty!”

“The bears are there,” coolly returned the bee-hunter; “I’ve seen such
movements before, and know how to account for them. The bears are in the
thicket, but don’t like to come out in the face of such a colony. I have
heard of bears being chased miles by bees, when their anger was up!”

“Mortality! They have a good deal of dander (dandruff) for sich little
vipers! But what are WE to do, Bourdon? for Doll and Blossom MUST taste
that honey! Half’s mine, you know, and I don’t like to give it up.”

The bee-hunter smiled at the coolness with which Gershom assigned to
himself so large a portion of his property; though he did not think
it worth his while, just then, to “demur to his declaration,” as the
lawyers might have it. There was a sort of border rule, which gave all
present equal shares in any forest captures; just as vessels in sight
come in for prize-money, taken in time of war by public cruisers. At any
rate, the honey of a single tree was not of sufficient value to induce a
serious quarrel about it. If there should be any extra trouble or danger
in securing the present prize, every craft in view might, fairly enough,
come in for its share.

“Doll shall not be forgotten, if we can only house our honey,” answered
the bee-hunter; “nor Blossom, neither. I’ve a fancy, already, for
that blossom of the wilderness, and shall do all I can to make myself
agreeable to her. A man cannot approach a maiden with anything sweeter
than honey.”

“Some gals like sugar’d words better; but, let me tell you one thing,
STRANger-”

“You have eaten bread and salt with me, Whiskey, and both are scarce
articles in a wilderness; and you’ve slept under my roof: is it not
almost time to call me something else than stranger?”

“Well, Bourdon, if you prefer that name; though STRANger is a name I
like, it has sich an up and off sound to it. When a man calls all he
sees STRANgers, it’s a sign he don’t let the grass grow in the road
for want of movin’; and a movin’ man for me, any day, before your
stationaries. I was born on the sea-shore, in the Bay State; and here
I am, up among the fresh-water lakes, as much nat’ralized as any
muskelunge that was ever cotch’d in Huron, or about Mackinaw. If I can
believe my eyes, Bourdon, there is the muzzle of a bear to be seen, jist
under that heavy hemlock--here, where the bees seem thickest!”

“No doubt in the world,” answered le Bourdon, coolly; though he had
taken the precaution to look to the priming of each of his pieces, as if
he expected there would soon be occasion to use them. “But what was that
you were about to say concernin’ Blossom? It would not be civil to the
young woman to overlook her, on account of a bear or two.”

“You take it easy, STRANger--Bourdon, I should say--you take it easy!
What I was about to say was this: that the whull lake country, and
that’s a wide stretch to foot it over, I know; but, big as it is, the
whull lake country don’t contain Blossom’s equal. I’m her brother, and
perhaps ought to be a little modest in sich matters; but I an’t a bit,
and let out jist what I think. Blossom’s a di’mond, if there be di’monds
on ‘arth.”

“And yonder is a bear, if there be bears on earth!” exclaimed le
Bourdon, who was not a little amused with Gershom’s account of his
family, but who saw that the moment was now arrived when it would be
necessary to substitute deeds for words. “There they come, in a drove,
and they seem in earnest.”

This was true enough. No less than eight bears, half of which, however,
were quite young, came tumbling over the logs, and bounding up toward
the fallen tree, as if charging the citadel of the bees by preconcert.
Their appearance was the signal for a general rally of the insects, and
by the time the foremost of the clumsy animals had reached the tree, the
air above and around him was absolutely darkened by the cloud of bees
that was collected to defend their treasures. Bruin trusted too much to
the thickness of his hide and to the defences with which he was provided
by nature, besides being too much incited by the love of honey, to
regard the little heroes, but thrust his nose in at the hole, doubtless
hoping to plunge it at once into the midst of a mass of the sweets. A
growl, a start backward, and a flourishing of the fore-paws, with
sundry bites in the air, at once announced that he had met with greater
resistance than he had anticipated. In a minute, all the bears were on
their hind-legs, beating the air with their fore-paws, and nipping right
and left with their jaws, in vigorous combat with their almost invisible
foes. Instinct supplied the place of science, and spite of the hides
and the long hair that covered them, the bees found the means of darting
their stings into unprotected places, until the quadrupeds were fairly
driven to rolling about on the grass in order to crush their assailants.
This last process had some effect, a great many bees being destroyed by
the energetic rollings and tumblings of the bears; but, as in the tide
of battle, the places of those who fell were immediately supplied by
fresh assailants, until numbers seemed likely to prevail over power,
if not over discipline. At this critical instant, when the bears seemed
fatigued with their nearly frantic saltations, and violent blows upon
nothing, le Bourdon deemed it wise to bring his forces into the combat.
Gershom having been apprised of the plan, both fired at the same
instant. Each ball took effect; one killing the largest of all the
bears, dead on the spot, while the other inflicted a grievous wound on
a second. This success was immediately followed by a second discharge,
wounding two more of the enemy, while Ben held the second barrel of his
“shot-gun” in reserve. While the hurt animals were hobbling off, the men
reloaded their pieces; and by the time the last were ready to advance on
the enemy, the ground was cleared of bears and bees alike, only two of
the former remaining, of which one was already dead and the other dying.
As for the bees, they followed their retreating enemies in a body,
making a mistake that sometimes happens to still more intelligent
beings; that of attributing to themselves, and their own prowess, a
success that had been gained by others.

The bee-hunter and his friend now set themselves at work to provide
a reception for the insects, the return of which might shortly be
expected. The former lighted a fire, being always provided with the
means, while Gershom brought dry wood. In less than five minutes a
bright blaze was gleaming upward, and when the bees returned, as most
of them soon did, they found this new enemy intrenched, as it might be,
behind walls of flame. Thousands of the little creatures perished by
means of this new invention of man, and the rest soon after were led
away by their chiefs to seek some new deposit for the fruits of their
industry.



CHAPTER IV.

             The sad butterfly,
        Waving his lackered wings, darts quickly on,
        And, by his free flight, counsels us to speed
        For better lodgings, and a scene more sweet,
        Than these dear borders offer us to-night.
                                    SIMMS.


It was noon before Ben and Gershom dared to commence the process of
cutting and splitting the tree, in order to obtain the honey. Until
then, the bees lingered around their fallen hive, and it would have been
dangerous to venture beyond the smoke and heat, in order to accomplish
the task. It is true, le Bourdon possessed several secrets, of more or
less virtue, to drive off the bees when disposed to assault him, but
no one that was as certain as a good fire, backed by a dense column of
vapor. Various plants are thought to be so offensive to the insects,
that they avoid even their odor; and the bee-hunter had faith in one or
two of them; but none of the right sort happened now to be near, and he
was obliged to trust, first to a powerful heat, and next to the vapor of
damp wood.

As there were axes, and wedges, and a beetle in the canoe, and Gershom
was as expert with these implements as a master of fencing is with his
foil, to say nothing of the skill of le Bourdon, the tree was soon
laid open, and its ample stores of sweets exposed. In the course of the
afternoon the honey was deposited in kegs, the kegs were transferred to
the canoe, and the whole deposited in the chiente. The day had been one
of toil, and when our two bordermen sat down near the spring, to take
their evening meal, each felt glad that his work was done.

“I believe this must be the last hive I line, this summer,” said le
Bourdon, while eating his supper. “My luck has been good so far, but
in troublesome times one had better not be too far from home. I am
surprised, Waring, that you have ventured so far from your family, while
the tidings are so gloomy.”

“That’s partly because you don’t know ME, and partly because you don’t
know DOLLY. As for leaving hum, with anybody to kear for it, I should
like to know who is more to the purpose than Dolly Waring? I haven’t no
idee that even bees would dare get upon HER! If they did, they’d soon
get the worst on’t Her tongue is all-powerful, to say nawthin’ of her
arms; and if the so’gers can only handle their muskets as she can handle
a broom, there is no need of new regiments to carry on this war.”

Now, nothing could be more false than this character; but a drunkard has
little regard to what he says.

“I am glad your garrison is so strong,” answered the beehunter,
thoughtfully; “but mine is too weak to stay any longer, out here in
the openings. Whiskey Centre, I intend to break up, and return to the
settlement, before the red-skins break loose in earnest. If you will
stay and lend me a hand to embark the honey and stores, and help
to carry the canoe down the river, you shall be well paid for your
trouble.”

“Waal, I’d about as lief do that, as do anything else. Good jobs is
scarce, out here in the wilderness, and when a body lights of one, he
ought to profit by it. I come up here thinkin’ to meet you, for I heer’n
tell from a voyager that you was a-beeing it, out in the openin’s, and
there’s nawthin’ in natur’ that Dolly takes to with a greater relish
than good wild honey. ‘Try whiskey,’ I’ve told her a thousand times,
‘and you’ll soon get to like THAT better than all the rest of creation’;
but not a drop could I ever get her, or Blossom, to swallow. It’s true,
that leaves so much the more for me; but I’m a companionable crittur,
and don’t think I’ve drunk as much as I want, unless I take it
society-like. That’s one reason I’ve taken so mightily to you, Bourdon;
you’re not much at a pull, but you an’t downright afeared of a jug,
neither.”

The bee-hunter was glad to hear that all the family had not this man’s
vice, for he now plainly foresaw that the accidents of his position must
bring him and these strangers much in contact, for some weeks, at least.
Le Bourdon, though not absolutely “afraid of a jug,” as Whiskey Centre
had expressed it, was decidedly a temperate man; drinking but seldom,
and never to excess. He too well knew the hazards by which he was
surrounded, to indulge in this way, even had he the taste for it; but he
had no taste that way, one small jug of brandy forming his supply for a
whole season. In these days of exaggeration in all things, exaggeration
in politics, in religion, in temperance, in virtue, and even in
education, by putting “new wine into old bottles,” that one little jug
might have sufficed to give him a bad name; but five-and-thirty years
ago men had more real independence than they now possess, and were
not as much afraid of that croquemitaine, public opinion, as they
are to-day. To be sure, it was little to le Bourdon’s taste to make a
companion of such a person as Whiskey Centre; but there was no choice.
The man was an utter stranger to him; and the only means he possessed of
making sure that he did not carry off the property that lay so much at
his mercy, was by keeping near him. With many men, the bee-hunter would
have been uneasy at being compelled to remain alone with them in the
woods; for cases in which one had murdered another, in order to get
possession of the goods, in these remote regions, were talked of, among
the other rumors of the borders; but Gershom had that in his air and
manner that rendered Ben confident his delinquencies, at the most, would
scarcely reach bloodshed. Pilfer he might; but murder was a crime which
he did not appear at all likely to commit.

After supping in company, our two adventurers secured everything; and,
retiring to the chiente, they went to sleep. No material disturbance
occurred, but the night passed in tranquillity; the bee-hunter merely
experiencing some slight interruption to his slumbers, from the unusual
circumstance of having a companion. One as long accustomed to be alone
as himself would naturally submit to some such sensation, our habits
getting so completely the mastery as often to supplant even nature.

The following morning the bee-hunter commenced his preparations for a
change of residence. Had he not been discovered, it is probable that the
news received from the Chippewa would not have induced him to abandon
his present position, so early in the season; but he thought the risk of
remaining was too great under all the circumstances. The Pottawattamie,
in particular, was a subject of great distrust to him, and he believed
it highly possible some of that old chief’s tribe might be after his
scalp ere many suns had risen. Gershom acquiesced in these opinions,
and, as soon as his brain was less under the influence of liquor than
was common with him, he appeared to be quite happy in having it in his
power to form a species of alliance, offensive and defensive, with a
man of his own color and origin. Great harmony now prevailed between the
two, Gershom improving vastly in all the better qualities, the instant
his intellect and feelings got to be a little released from the thraldom
of the jug. His own immediate store of whiskey was quite exhausted, and
le Bourdon kept the place in which his own small stock of brandy was
secured a profound secret. These glimmerings of returning intellect,
and of reviving principles, are by no means unusual with the sot, thus
proving that “so long as there is life, there is hope,” for the moral,
as well as for the physical being. What was a little remarkable, Gershom
grew less vulgar, even in his dialect, as he grew more sober, showing
that in all respects he was becoming a greatly improved person.

The men were several hours in loading the canoe, not only all the
stores and ammunition, but all the honey being transferred to it. The
bee-hunter had managed to conceal his jug of brandy, reduced by this
time to little more than a quart, within an empty powder-keg, into which
he had crammed a beaver-skin or two, that he had taken, as it might be
incidentally, in the course of his rambles. At length everything was
removed and stowed in its proper place, on board the capacious canoe,
and Gershom expected an announcement on the part of Ben of his readiness
to embark. But there still remained one duty to perform. The beehunter
had killed a buck only the day before the opening of our narrative, and
shouldering a quarter, he had left the remainder of the animal suspended
from the branches of a tree, near the place where it had been shot and
cleaned. As venison might be needed before they could reach the mouth
of the river, Ben deemed it advisable that he and Gershom should go
and bring in the remainder of the carcass. The men started on this
undertaking accordingly, leaving the canoe about two in the afternoon.

The distance between the spot where the deer had been killed, and the
chiente, was about three miles; which was the reason why the bee-hunter
had not brought home the entire animal the day he killed it; the
American woodsman often carrying his game great distances in preference
to leaving it any length of time in the forest. In the latter case there
is always danger from beasts of prey, which are drawn from afar by the
scent of blood. Le Bourdon thought it possible they might now encounter
wolves; though he had left the carcass of the deer so suspended as to
place it beyond the reach of most of the animals of the wilderness. Each
of the men, however, carried a rifle: and Hive was allowed to accompany
them, by an act of grace on the part of his master.

For the first half-hour, nothing occurred out of the usual course of
events. The bee-hunter had been conversing freely with his companion,
who, he rejoiced to find, manifested far more common sense, not to say
good sense, than he had previously shown; and from whom he was deriving
information touching the number of vessels, and the other movements on
the lakes, that he fancied might be of use to himself when he started
for Detroit. While thus engaged, and when distant only a hundred rods
from the place where he had left the venison, le Bourdon was suddenly
struck with the movements of the dog. Instead of doubling on his own
tracks, and scenting right and left, as was the animal’s wont, he was
now advancing cautiously, with his head low, seemingly feeling his way
with his nose, as if there was a strong taint in the wind.

“Sartain as my name is Gershom,” exclaimed Waring, just after he and Ben
had come to a halt, in order to look around them--“yonder is an Injin!
The crittur’ is seated at the foot of the large oak--hereaway, more
to the right of the dog, and Hive has struck his scent. The fellow is
asleep, with his rifle across his lap, and can’t have much dread of
wolves or bears!”

“I see him,” answered le Bourdon, “and am as much surprised as grieved
to find him there. It is a little remarkable that I should have so many
visitors, just at this time, on my hunting-ground, when I never had
any at all before yesterday. It gives a body an uncomfortable feeling,
Waring, to live so much in a crowd! Well, well--I’m about to move, and
it will matter little twenty-four hours hence.”

“The chap’s a Winnebago by his paint,” added Gershom--“but let’s go up
and give him a call.”

The bee-hunter assented to this proposal, remarking, as they moved
forward, that he did not think the stranger of the tribe just named;
though he admitted that the use of paint was so general and loose among
these warriors, as to render it difficult to decide.

“The crittur’ sleeps soundly!” exclaimed Gershom, stopping within ten
yards of the Indian, to take another look at him.

“He’ll never awake,” put in the bee-hunter, solemnly--“the man is dead.
See; there is blood on the side of his head, and a rifle-bullet has left
its hole there.”

Even while speaking, the bee-hunter advanced, and raising a sort of
shawl, that once had been used as an ornament, and which had last
been thrown carelessly over the head of its late owner, he exposed the
well-known features of Elks-foot, the Pottawattamie, who had left them
little more than twenty-four hours before! The warrior had been shot by
a rifle-bullet directly through the temple, and had been scalped. The
powder had been taken from his horn, and the bullets from his pouch;
but, beyond this, he had not been plundered. The body was carefully
placed against a tree, in a sitting attitude, the rifle was laid across
its legs, and there it had been left, in the centre of the openings, to
become food for beasts of prey, and to have its bones bleached by the
snows and the rains!

The bee-hunter shuddered, as he gazed at this fearful memorial of the
violence against which even a wilderness could afford no sufficient
protection. That Pigeonswing had slain his late fellow-guest, le Bourdon
had no doubt, and he sickened at the thought. Although he had himself
dreaded a good deal from the hostility of the Pottawattamie, he could
have wished this deed undone. That there was a jealous distrust of each
other between the two Indians had been sufficiently apparent; but the
bee-hunter could not have imagined that it would so soon lead to results
as terrible as these!

After examining the body, and noting the state of things around it, the
men proceeded, deeply impressed with the necessity, not only of their
speedy removal, but of their standing by each other in that remote
region, now that violence had so clearly broken out among the tribes.
The bee-hunter had taken a strong liking to the Chippewa, and he
regretted so much the more to think that he had done this deed. It was
true, that such a state of things might exist as to justify an Indian
warrior, agreeably to his own notions, in taking the life of any one of
a hostile tribe; but le Bourdon wished it had been otherwise. A man
of gentle and peaceable disposition himself, though of a profoundly
enthusiastic temperament in his own peculiar way, he had ever avoided
those scenes of disorder and bloodshed, which are of so frequent
occurrence in the forest and on the prairies; and this was actually the
first instance in which he had ever beheld a human body that had fallen
by human hands. Gershom had seen more of the peculiar life of the
frontiers than his companion, in consequence of having lived so closely
in contact with the “fire-water”; but even HE was greatly shocked with
the suddenness and nature of the Pottawattamie’s end.

No attempt was made to bury the remains of Elksfoot, inasmuch as
our adventurers had no tools fit for such a purpose, and any merely
superficial interment would have been a sort of invitation to the wolves
to dig the body up again.

“Let him lean ag’in’ the tree,” said Waring, as they moved on toward the
spot where the carcass of the deer was left, “and I’ll engage nothin’
touches him. There’s that about the face of man, Bourdon, that skears
the beasts; and if a body can only muster courage to stare them full in
the eye, one single human can drive before him a whull pack of wolves.”

“I’ve heard as much,” returned the bee-hunter, “but should not like
to be the ‘human’ to try the experiment That the face of man may have
terrors for a beast, I think likely; but hunger would prove more than
a match for such fear. Yonder is our venison, Waring; safe where I left
it.”

The carcass of the deer was divided, and each man shouldering his
burden, the two returned to the river, taking care to avoid the path
that led by the body of the dead Indian. As both labored with much
earnestness, everything was soon ready, and the canoe speedily left the
shore. The Kalamazoo is not in general a swift and turbulent stream,
though it has a sufficient current to carry away its waters without any
appearance of sluggishness. Of course, this character is not uniform,
reaches occurring in which the placid water is barely seen to move;
and others, again, are found, in which something like rapids, and even
falls, appear. But on the whole, and more especially in the part of the
stream where it was, the canoe had little to disturb it, as it glided
easily down, impelled by a light stroke of the paddle.

The bee-hunter did not abandon his station without regret. He had chosen
a most agreeable site for his chiente, consulting air, shade, water,
verdure, and groves, as well as the chances of obtaining honey. In his
regular pursuit he had been unusually fortunate; and the little pile of
kegs in the centre of his canoe was certainly a grateful sight to his
eyes. The honey gathered this season, moreover, had proved to be of an
unusually delicious flavor, affording the promise of high prices and
ready sales. Still, the bee-hunter left the place with profound regret.
He loved his calling; he loved solitude to a morbid degree, perhaps; and
he loved the gentle excitement that naturally attended his “bee-lining,”
 his discoveries, and his gains. Of all the pursuits that are more or
less dependent on the chances of the hunt and the field, that of
the bee-hunter is of the most quiet and placid enjoyment. He has the
stirring motives of uncertainty and doubt, without the disturbing
qualities of bustle and fatigue; and, while his exercise is sufficient
for health, and for the pleasures of the open air, it is seldom of a
nature to weary or unnerve. Then the study of the little animal that
is to be watched, and, if the reader will, plundered, is not without
a charm for those who delight in looking into the wonderful arcana of
nature. So great was the interest that le Bourdon sometimes felt in his
little companions, that, on three several occasions that very summer,
he had spared hives after having found them, because he had ascertained
that they were composed of young bees, and had not yet got sufficiently
colonized to render a new swarming more than a passing accident. With
all this kindness of feeling toward his victims, Boden had nothing of
the transcendental folly that usually accompanies the sentimentalism of
the exaggerated, but his feelings and impulses were simple and direct,
though so often gentle and humane. He knew that the bee, like all the
other inferior animals of creation, was placed at the disposition
of man, and did not scruple to profit by the power thus beneficently
bestowed, though he exercised it gently, and with a proper
discrimination between its use and its abuse.

Neither of the men toiled much, as the canoe floated down the stream.
Very slight impulses served to give their buoyant craft a reasonably
swift motion, and the current itself was a material assistant. These
circumstances gave an opportunity for conversation, as the canoe glided
onward.

“A’ter all,” suddenly exclaimed Waring, who had been examining the pile
of kegs for some time in silence--“a’ter all, Bourdon, your trade is an
oncommon one! A most extr’ornary and oncommon callin’!”

“More so, think you, Gershom, than swallowing whiskey, morning, noon,
and night?” answered the bee-hunter, with a quiet smile.

“Aye, but that’s not a reg’lar callin’; only a likin’! Now a man may
have a likin’ to a hundred things in which he don’t deal. I set nothin’
down as a business, which a man don’t live by.”

“Perhaps you’re right, Waring. More die by whiskey than live by
whiskey.”

Whiskey Centre seemed struck with this remark, which was introduced so
aptly, and was uttered so quietly. He gazed earnestly at his companion
for near a minute, ere he attempted to resume the discourse.

“Blossom has often said as much as this,” he then slowly rejoined; “and
even Dolly has prophesized the same.”

The bee-hunter observed that an impression had been made, and he thought
it wisest to let the reproof already administered produce its effect,
without endeavoring to add to its power. Waring sat with his chin on his
breast, in deep thought, while his companion, for the first time since
they had met, examined the features and aspect of the man. At first
sight, Whiskey Centre certainly offered little that was inviting; but
a closer study of his countenance showed that he had the remains of a
singularly handsome man. Vulgar as were his forms of speech, coarse and
forbidding as his face had become, through the indulgence which was his
bane, there were still traces of this truth. His complexion had once
been fair almost to effeminacy, his cheeks ruddy with health, and his
blue eye bright and full of hope. His hair was light; and all these
peculiarities strongly denoted his Saxon origin. It was not so much
Anglo-Saxon as Americo-Saxon, that was to be seen in the physical
outlines and hues of this nearly self-destroyed being. The heaviness
of feature, the ponderousness of limb and movement, had all long
disappeared from his race, most probably under the influence of climate,
and his nose was prominent and graceful in outline, while his mouth
and chin might have passed for having been under the chisel of some
distinguished sculptor. It was, in truth, painful to examine that face,
steeped as it was in liquor, and fast losing the impress left by
nature. As yet, the body retained most of its power, the enemy having
insidiously entered the citadel, rather than having actually subdued it.
The bee-hunter sighed as he gazed at his moody companion, and wondered
whether Blossom had aught of this marvellous comeliness of countenance,
without its revolting accompaniments.

All that afternoon, and the whole of the night that succeeded, did
the canoe float downward with the current. Occasionally, some slight
obstacle to its progress would present itself; but, on the whole, its
advance was steady and certain. As the river necessarily followed the
formation of the land, it was tortuous and irregular in its course,
though its general direction was toward the northwest, or west a little
northerly. The river-bottoms being much more heavily “timbered”--to
use a woodsman term--than the higher grounds, there was little of the
park-like “openings” on its immediate banks, though distant glimpses
were had of many a glade and of many a charming grove.

As the canoe moved toward its point of destination, the conversation did
not lag between the bee-hunter and his companion. Each gave the other
a sort of history of his life; for, now that the jug was exhausted,
Gershom could talk not only rationally, but with clearness and force.
Vulgar he was, and, as such, uninviting and often repulsive; still his
early education partook of that peculiarity of New England which, if
it do not make her children absolutely all they are apt to believe
themselves to be, seldom leaves them in the darkness of a besotted
ignorance. As usually happens with this particular race, Gershom
had acquired a good deal for a man of his class in life; and this
information, added to native shrewdness, enabled him to maintain his
place in the dialogue with a certain degree of credit. He had a very
lively perception--fancied or real--of all the advantages of being born
in the land of the Puritans, deeming everything that came of the
great “Blarney Stone” superior to everything else of the same nature
elsewhere; and, while much disposed to sneer and rail at all other
parts of the country, just as much indisposed to “take,” as disposed
to “give.” Ben Boden soon detected this weakness in his companion’s
character, a weakness so very general as scarce to need being pointed
out to any observant man, and which is almost inseparable from half-way
intelligence and provincial self-admiration; and Ben was rather inclined
to play on it, whenever Gershom laid himself a little more open than
common on the subject. On the whole, however, the communications were
amicable; and the dangers of the wilderness rendering the parties
allies, they went their way with an increasing confidence in each
other’s support. Gershom, now that he was thoroughly sober, could impart
much to Ben that was useful; while Ben knew a great deal that even his
companion, coming as he did from the chosen people, was not sorry to
learn. As has been, already intimated, each communicated to the other,
in the course of this long journey on the river, an outline of his past
life.

The history of Gershom Waring was one of every-day occurrence. He was
born of a family in humble circumstances in Massachusetts, a community
in which, however, none are so very humble as to be beneath the paternal
watchfulness of the State. The common schools had done their duty by
him; while, according to his account of the matter, his only sister had
fallen into the hands of a female relative, who was enabled to impart
an instruction slightly superior to that which is to be had from the
servants of the public. After a time, the death of this relative, and
the marriage of Gershom, brought the brother and sister together again,
the last still quite young. From this period the migratory life of
the family commenced. Previously to the establishment of manufactories
within her limits, New England systematically gave forth her increase
to the States west and south of her own territories. A portion of this
increase still migrates, and will probably long continue so to do; but
the tide of young women, which once flowed so steadily from that
region, would now seem to have turned, and is setting back in a flood
of “factory girls.” But the Warings lived at too early a day to feel
the influence of such a pass of civilization, and went west, almost as
a matter of course. With the commencement of his migratory life, Gershom
began to “dissipate,” as it has got to be matter of convention to term
“drinking.” Fortunately, Mrs. Waring had no children, thus lessening in
a measure the privations to which those unlucky females were obliged to
submit. When Gershom left his birthplace he had a sum of money exceeding
a thousand dollars in amount, the united means of himself and sister;
but, by the time he had reached Detroit, it was reduced to less than
a hundred. Several years, however, had been consumed by the way, the
habits growing worse and the money vanishing, as the family went further
and further toward the skirts of society. At length Gershom attached
himself to a sutler, who was going up to Michilimackinac, with a party
of troops; and finally he left that place to proceed, in a canoe of his
own, to the head of Lake Michigan, where was a post on the present site
of Chicago, which was then known as Fort Dearborn.

In quitting Mackinac for Chicago, Waring had no very settled plan. His
habits had completely put him out of favor at the former place; and
a certain restlessness urged him to penetrate still farther into the
wilderness. In all his migrations and wanderings the two devoted females
followed his fortunes; the one because she was his wife, the other
because she was his sister. When the canoe reached the mouth of the
Kalamazoo, a gale of wind drove it into the river; and finding a
deserted cabin, ready built, to receive him, Gershom landed, and had
been busy with the rifle for the last fortnight, the time he had been
on shore. Hearing from some voyageurs who had gone down the lake that a
bee-hunter was up the river, he had followed the stream in its windings
until he fell in with le Bourdon.

Such is an outline of the account which Whiskey Centre gave of himself.
It is true, he said very little of his propensity to drink, but this his
companion was enabled to conjecture from the context of his narrative,
as well as from what he had seen. It was very evident to the bee-hunter,
that the plans of both parties for the summer were about to be seriously
deranged by the impending hostilities, and that some decided movement
might be rendered necessary, even for the protection of their lives.
This much he communicated to Gershom, who heard his opinions with
interest, and a concern in behalf of his wife and sister that at least
did some credit to his heart. For the first time in many months, indeed,
Gershom was now PERFECTLY sober, a circumstance that was solely owing to
his having had no access to liquor for eight-and-forty hours. With
the return of a clear head, came juster notions of the dangers and
difficulties in which he had involved the two self-devoted women who
had accompanied him so far, and who really seemed ready to follow him in
making the circuit of the earth.

“It’s troublesome times,” exclaimed Whiskey Centre, when his
companion had just ended one of his strong and lucid statements of the
embarrassments that might environ them, ere they could get back to the
settled portions of the country--“it’s troublesome times, truly! I see
all you would say, Bourdon, and wonder I ever got my foot so deep
into it, without thinkin’ of all, beforehand! The best on us will make
mistakes, hows’ever, and I suppose I’ve been called on to make mine, as
well as another.”

“My trade speaks for itself,” returned the bee-hunter, “and any man can
see why one who looks for bees must come where they’re to be found;
but I will own, Gershom, that your speculation lies a little beyond my
understanding. Now, you tell me you have two full barrels of whiskey--”

“Had, Bourdon--HAD--one of them is pretty nearly half used, I am
afeared.”

“Well, HAD, until you began to be your own customer. But here you are,
squatted at the mouth of the Kalamazoo, with a barrel and a half of
liquor, and nobody but yourself to drink it! Where the profits are to
come from, exceeds Pennsylvany calculations; perhaps a Yankee can tell.”

“You forget the Injins. I met a man at Mackinaw, who only took out
in his canoe ONE barrel, and he brought in skins enough to set up a
grocery, at Detroit. But I was on the trail of the soldiers, and meant
to make a business on’t, at Fort Dearborn. What between the soldiers and
the redskins, a man might sell gallons a day, and at fair prices.”

“It’s a sorry business at the best, Whiskey; and now you’re fairly
sober, if you’ll take my advice you’ll remain so. Why not make up your
mind, like a man, and vow you’ll never touch another drop.”

“Maybe I will, when these two barrels is emptied--I’ve often thought
of doin’ some sich matter; and, ag’in and ag’in, has Dolly and Blossom
advised me to fall into the plan; but it’s hard to give up old habits,
all at once. If I could only taper off on a pint a day, for a year
or so, I think I might come round in time. I know as well as you do,
Bourdon, that sobriety is a good thing, and dissipation a bad thing; but
it’s hard to give up all at once.”

Lest the instructed reader should wonder at a man’s using the term
“dissipation” in a wilderness, it may be well to explain that, in common
American parlance, “dissipation” has got to mean “drunkenness.” Perhaps
half of the whole country, if told that a man, or a woman, might be
exceedingly dissipated and never swallow anything stronger than water,
would stoutly deny the justice of applying the word to such a person.
This perversion of the meaning of a very common term has probably arisen
from the circumstance that there is very little dissipation in the
country that is not connected with hard drinking. A dissipated woman
is a person almost unknown in America; or when the word is applied, it
means a very different degree of misspending of time, from that which
is understood by the use of the same reproach in older and more
sophisticated states of society. The majority rules in this country,
and with the majority excess usually takes this particular aspect;
refinement having very little connection with the dissipation of the
masses, anywhere.

The excuses of his companion, however, caused le Bourdon to muse, more
than might otherwise have been the case, on Whiskey Centre’s condition.
Apart from all considerations connected with the man’s own welfare, and
the happiness of his family, there were those which were inseparable
from the common safety, in the present state of the country. Boden was a
man of much decision and firmness of character, and he was clear-headed
as to causes and consequences. The practice of living alone had induced
in him the habits of reflection; and the self-reliance produced by his
solitary life, a life of which he was fond almost to a passion, caused
him to decide warily, but to act promptly. As they descended the river
together, therefore, he went over the whole of Gershom Waring’s case and
prospects, with great impartiality and care, and settled in his own mind
what ought to be done, as well as the mode of doing it. He kept his own
counsel, however, discussing all sorts of subjects that were of interest
to men in their situation, as they floated down the stream, avoiding any
recurrence to this theme, which was possibly of more importance to them
both, just then, than any other that could be presented.



CHAPTER V.

      He was a wight of high renown,
        And thou art but of low degree;
     ‘Tis pride that pulls the country down--
        Then take thine auld cloak about thee.
                                     SHAKESPEARE.


The canoe did not reach the mouth of the river until near evening of
the third day of its navigation. It was not so much the distance, though
that was considerable, as it was the obstacles that lay in the way,
which brought the travellers to the end of their journey at so late a
period. As they drew nearer and nearer to the place where Gershom had
left his wife and sister, le Bourdon detected in his companion signs
of an interest in the welfare of the two last, as well as a certain
feverish uneasiness lest all might not be well with them, that said
something in favor of his heart, whatever might be urged against his
prudence and care in leaving them alone in so exposed a situation.

“I’m afeard a body don’t think as much as he ought to do, when liquor is
in him,” said Whiskey Centre, just as the canoe doubled the last point,
and the hut came into view; “else I never could have left two women by
them-selves in so lonesome a place. God be praised! there is the chiente
at any rate; and there’s a smoke comin’ out of it, if my eyes don’t
deceive me! Look, Bourdon, for I can scarcely see at all.”

“There is the house; and, as you say, there is certainly a smoke rising
from it.”

“There’s comfort in that!” exclaimed the truant husband and brother,
with a sigh that seemed to relieve a very loaded breast. “Yes, there’s
comfort in that! If there’s a fire, there must be them that lighted it;
and a fire at this season, too, says that there’s somethin’ to eat,
I should be sorry, Bourdon, to think I’d left the women folks without
food; though, to own the truth, I don’t remember whether I did or not.”

“The man who drinks, Gershom, has commonly but a very poor memory.”

“That’s true--yes, I’ll own that; and I wish it warn’t as true as it is;
but reason and strong drink do NOT travel far in company--”

Gershom suddenly ceased speaking; dropping his paddle like one beset by
a powerless weakness. The bee-hunter saw that he was overcome by some
unexpected occurrence, and that the man’s feelings were keenly connected
with the cause, whatever that might be. Looking eagerly around in quest
of the explanation, le Bourdon saw a female standing on a point of land
that commanded a view of the river and its banks for a considerable
distance, unequivocally watching the approach of the canoe.

“There she is,” said Gershom, in a subdued tone--“that’s Dolly; and
there she has been, I’ll engage, half the time of my absence, waitin’ to
get the first glimpse of my miserable body, as it came back to her. Sich
is woman, Bourdon; and God forgive me, if I have ever forgotten their
natur’, when I was bound to remember it. But we all have our weak
moments, at times, and I trust mine will not be accounted ag’in’ me more
than them of other men.”

“This is a beautiful sight, Gershom, and it almost makes me your friend!
The man for whom a woman can feel so much concern--that a woman--nay,
women; for you tell me your sister is one of the family--but the man
whom DECENT women can follow to a place like this, must have some good
p’ints about him. That woman is a-weepin’; and it must be for joy at
your return.”

“‘Twould be jist like Dolly to do so--she’s done it before, and would be
likely to do so ag’in,” answered Gershom, nearly choked by the effort he
made to speak without betraying his own emotion. “Put the canoe into the
p’int, and let me land there. I must go up and say a kind word to poor
Dolly; while you can paddle on, and let Blossom know I’m near at hand.”

The bee-hunter complied in silence, casting curious glances upward at
the woman while doing so, in order to ascertain what sort of a female
Whiskey Centre could possibly have for a wife. To his surprise, Dorothy
Waring was not only decently, but she was neatly clad, appearing as if
she had studiously attended to her personal appearance, in the hope of
welcoming her wayward and unfortunate husband back to his forest home.
This much le Bourdon saw by a hasty glance as his companion landed, for
a feeling of delicacy prevented him from taking a longer look at the
woman. As Gershom ascended the bank to meet his wife, le Bourdon paddled
on, and landed just below the grove in which was the chiente. It
might have been his long exclusion from all of the other sex, and most
especially from that portion of it which retains its better looks, but
the being which now met the bee-hunter appeared to him to belong to
another world, rather than to that in which he habitually dwelt. As
this was Margery Waring, who was almost uniformly called Blossom by
her acquaintances, and who is destined to act an important part in this
legend of the “openings,” it may be well to give a brief description
of her age, attire, and personal appearance, at the moment when she was
first seen by le Bourdon.

In complexion, color of the hair, and outline of face, Margery Waring
bore a strong family resemblance to her brother. In spite of exposure,
and the reflection of the sun’s rays from the water of the lake,
however, HER skin was of a clear, transparent white, such as one might
look for in a drawing-room, but hardly expect to find in a wilderness;
while the tint of her lips, cheeks, and, in a diminished degree, of her
chin and ears, were such as one who wielded a pencil might long endeavor
to catch without succeeding. Her features had the chiselled outline
which was so remarkable in her brother; while in HER countenance, in
addition to the softened expression of her sex and years, there was
nothing to denote any physical or moral infirmity, to form a drawback
to its witchery and regularity. Her eyes were blue, and her hair as near
golden as human tresses well could be. Exercise, a life of change, and
of dwelling much in the open air, had given to this unusually charming
girl not only health, but its appearance. Still, she was in no respect
coarse, or had anything in the least about her that indicated her being
accustomed to toil, with some slight exception in her hands, perhaps,
which were those of a girl who did not spare herself, when there was an
opportunity to be of use. In this particular, the vagrant life of her
brother had possibly been of some advantage to her, as it had prevented
her being much employed in the ordinary toil of her condition in life.
Still, Margery Waring had that happy admixture of delicacy and physical
energy, which is, perhaps, oftener to be met in the American girl of her
class, than in the girl of almost any other nation; and far oftener than
in the young American of her sex, who is placed above the necessity of
labor.

As a stranger approached her, the countenance of this fair creature
expressed both surprise and satisfaction; surprise that any one should
have been met by Gershom, in such a wilderness, and satisfaction that
the stranger proved to be a white man, and seemingly one who did not
drink.

“You are Blossom,” said the bee-hunter, taking the hand of the
half-reluctant girl, in a way so respectful and friendly that she could
not refuse it, even while she doubted the propriety of thus receiving an
utter stranger--“the Blossom of whom Gershom Waring speaks so often, and
so affectionately?”

“You are, then, my brother’s friend,” answered Margery, smiling so
sweetly, that le Bourdon gazed on her with delight. “We are SO glad
that he has come back! Five terrible nights have sister and I been here
alone, and we have believed every bush was a red man!”

“That danger is over, now, Blossom; but there is still an enemy near you
that must be overcome.”

“An enemy! There is no one here, but Dolly and myself. No one has been
near us, since Gershom went after the bee-hunter, whom we heard was out
in the openings. Are you that bee-bunter?”

“I am, beautiful Blossom; and I tell you there is an enemy here, in your
cabin, that must be looked to.”

“We fear no enemies but the red men, and we have seen none of them since
we reached this river. What is the name of the enemy you so dread, and
where is he to be found?”

“His name is Whiskey, and he is kept somewhere in this hut, in casks.
Show me the place, that I may destroy him, before his friend comes to
his assistance.”

A gleam of bright intelligence flashed into the face of the beautiful
young creature. First she reddened almost to scarlet; then her face
became pale as death. Compressing her lips intensely, she stood
irresolute--now gazing at the pleasing and seemingly well-disposed
stranger before her, now looking earnestly toward the still distant
forms of her brother and sister, which were slowly advancing in the
direction of the cabin.

“Dare you?” Margery at length asked, pointing toward her brother.

“I dare: he is now quite sober, and may be reasoned with. For the sake
of us all, let us profit by this advantage.”

“He keeps the liquor in two casks that you will find under the shed,
behind the hut.”

This said, the girl covered her face with both her hands, and sunk on a
stool, as if afraid to be a witness of that which was to follow. As for
le Bourdon, he did not delay a moment, but passed out of the cabin by a
second door, that opened in its rear. There were the two barrels, and
by their side an axe. His first impulse was to dash in the heads of
the casks where they stood; but a moment’s reflection told him that the
odor, so near the cabin, would be unpleasant to every one, and might
have a tendency to exasperate the owner of the liquor. He cast about
him, therefore, for the means of removing the casks, in order to stave
them, at a distance from the dwelling.

Fortunately, the cabin of Whiskey Centre stood on the brow of a sharp
descent, at the bottom of which ran a brawling brook. At another moment,
le Bourdon would have thought of saving the barrels; but time pressed,
and he could not delay. Seizing the barrel next to him, he rolled it
without difficulty to the brow of the declivity, and set it off with
a powerful shove of his foot. It was the half-empty cask, and away it
went, the liquor it contained washing about as it rolled over and over,
until hitting a rock about half-way down the declivity, the hoops gave
way, when the staves went over the little precipice, and the water of
the stream was tumbling through all that remained of the cask, at the
next instant. A slight exclamation of delight behind him caused the
bee-hunter to look round, and he saw Margery watching his movement
with an absorbed interest. Her smile was one of joy, not unmingled
with terror; and she rather whispered than said aloud--“The other--the
other--THAT is full--be quick; there is no time to lose.” The bee-hunter
seized the second cask and rolled it toward the brow of the rocks. It
was not quite as easily handled as the other barrel, but his strength
sufficed, and it was soon bounding down the declivity after its
companion. The second cask hit the same rock as the first, whence it
leaped off the precipice, and, aided by its greater momentum, it was
literally dashed in pieces at its base.

Not only was this barrel broken into fragments, but its hoops and staves
were carried down the torrent, driving before them those of the sister
cask, until the whole were swept into the lake, which was some distance
from the cabin.

“That job is well done!” exclaimed le Bourdon, when the last fragment of
the wreck was taken out of sight. “No man will ever turn himself into a
beast by means of that liquor.”

“God be praised!” murmured Margery. “He is SO different, stranger, when
he has been drinking, from what he is when he has not! You have been
sent by Providence to do us this good.”

“I can easily believe that, for it is so with us all. But you must
not call me stranger, sweet Margery; for, now that you and I have this
secret between us, I am a stranger no longer.”

The girl smiled and blushed; then she seemed anxious to ask a question.
In the mean time they left the shed, and took seats, in waiting for the
arrival of Gershom and his wife. It was not long ere the last entered;
the countenance of the wife beaming with a satisfaction she made no
effort to conceal. Dolly was not as beautiful as her sister-in-law;
still, she was a comely woman, though one who had been stricken by
sorrow. She was still young, and might have been in the pride of her
good looks, had it not been for the manner in which she had grieved over
the fall of Gershom. The joy that gladdens a woman’s heart, however,
was now illuminating her countenance, and she welcomed le Bourdon most
cordially, as if aware that he had been of service to her husband. For
months she had not seen Gershom quite himself, until that evening.

“I have told Dolly all our adventur’s, Bourdon,” cried Gershom, as
soon as the brief greetings were over, “and she tells me all’s right,
hereabouts. Three canoe-loads of Injins passed along shore, goin’ up the
lake, she tells me, this very a’ternoon; but they didn’t see the smoke,
the fire bein’ out, and must have thought the hut empty; if indeed, they
knew anythin’ of it, at all.”

“The last is the most likely,” remarked Margery; “for I watched them
narrowly from the beeches on the shore, and there was no pointing, or
looking up, as would have happened had there been any one among them who
could show the others a cabin. Houses an’t so plenty, in this part of
the country, that travellers pass without turning round to look at them.
An Injin has curiosity as well as a white man, though he manages so
often to conceal it.”

“Didn’t you say, Blossom, that one of the canoes was much behind the
others, and that a warrior in that canoe DID look up toward this grove,
as if searching for the cabin?” asked Dorothy.

“Either it was so, or my fears made it SEEM so. The two canoes that
passed first were well filled with Injins, each having eight in it;
while the one that came last held but four warriors. They were a mile
apart, and the last canoe seemed to be trying to overtake the others.
I did think that nothing but their haste prevented the men in the last
canoe from landing; but my fears may have made that seem so that was not
so.”

As the cheek of the charming girl flushed with excitement, and her race
became animated, Margery appeared marvellously handsome; more so, the
bee-hunter fancied, than any other female he had ever before seen. But
her words impressed him quite as much as her looks; for he at once saw
the importance of such an event, to persons in their situation. The
wind was rising on the lake, and it was ahead for the canoes; should the
savages feel the necessity of making a harbor, they might return to the
mouth of the Kalamazoo; a step that would endanger all their lives, in
the event of these Indians proving to belong to those, whom there
was now reason to believe were in British pay. In times of peace, the
intercourse between the whites and the red men was usually amicable,
and seldom led to violence, unless through the effects of liquor; but, a
price being placed on scalps, a very different state of things might be
anticipated, as a consequence of the hostilities. This was then a matter
to be looked to; and, as evening was approaching, no time was to be
lost.

The shores of Michigan are generally low, nor are harbors either
numerous, or very easy of access. It would be difficult, indeed, to
find in any other part of the world, so great an extent of coast that
possesses so little protection for the navigator, as that of this very
lake. There are a good many rivers, it is true, but usually they have
bars, and are not easy of entrance. This is the reason why that very
convenient glove, the Constitution, which can be made to fit any hand,
has been discovered to have an extra finger in it, which points out a
mode by which the federal government can create ports wherever nature
has forgotten to perform this beneficent office. It is a little
extraordinary that the fingers of so many of the great “expounders” turn
out to be “thumbs,” however, exhibiting clumsiness, rather than that
adroit lightness which usually characterizes the dexterity of men who
are in the habit of rummaging other people’s pockets, for their own
especial purposes. It must be somewhat up-hill work to persuade any
disinterested and clear-headed man, that a political power to “regulate
commerce” goes the length of making harbors; the one being in a great
measure a moral, while the other is exclusively a physical agency; any
more than it goes the length of making ware-houses, and cranes, and
carts, and all the other physical implements for carrying on trade. Now,
what renders all this “thumbing” of the Constitution so much the more
absurd, is the fact, that the very generous compact interested does
furnish a means, by which the poverty of ports on the great lakes may
be remedied, without making any more unnecessary rents in the great
national glove. Congress clearly possesses the power to create and
maintain a navy, which includes the power to create all sorts of
necessary physical appliances; and, among others, places of refuge for
that navy, should they be actually needed. As a vessel of war requires
a harbor, and usually a better harbor than a merchant-vessel, it strikes
us the “expounders” would do well to give this thought a moment’s
attention. Behind it will be found the most unanswerable argument in
favor of the light-houses, too.

But, to return to the narrative: the Kalamazoo could be entered by
canoes, though it offered no very available shelter for a vessel of any
size. There was no other shelter for the savages for several miles to
the southward; and, should the wind increase, of which there were strong
indications, it was not only possible, but highly probable, that the
canoes would return. According to the account of the females, they
had passed only two hours before, and the breeze had been gradually
gathering strength ever since. It was not unlikely, indeed, that the
attention paid to the river by the warrior in the last canoe may have
had reference to this very state of the weather; and his haste to
overtake his companions been connected with a desire to induce them to
seek a shelter. All this presented itself to the beehunter’s mind, at
once; and it was discussed between the members of the party, freely, and
not without some grave apprehensions.

There was one elevated point--elevated comparatively, if not in a very
positive sense--whence the eye could command a considerable distance
along the lake shore. Thither Margery now hastened to look after the
canoes. Boden accompanied her; and together they proceeded, side by
side, with a new-born but lively and increasing confidence, that was all
the greater, in consequence of their possessing a common secret.

“Brother must be much better than he was,” the girl observed, as they
hurried on, “for he has not once been into the shed to look at the
barrels! Before he went into the openings, he never entered the house
without drinking; and sometimes he would raise the cup to his mouth as
often as three times in the first half-hour. Now, he does not seem even
to think of it!”

“It may be well that he can find nothing to put into his cup, should he
fall into his old ways. One is never sure of a man of such habits, until
he is placed entirely out of harm’s way.”

“Gershom is such a different being when he has not been drinking!”
 rejoined the sister, in a touching manner. “We love him, and strive to
do all we can to keep him up, but it IS hard.”

“I am surprised that YOU should have come into this wilderness with any
one of bad habits.”

“Why not? He is my brother, and I have no parents--he is all to me: and
what would become of Dorothy if I were to quit her, too! She has lost
most of her friends, since Gershom fell into these ways, and it would
quite break her heart, did I desert her.”

“All this speaks well for you, pretty Margery, but it is not the less
surprising--ah, there is my canoe, in plain sight of all who enter the
river; THAT must be concealed, Injins or no Injins.”

“It is only a step further to the place where we can get a lookout. Just
there, beneath the burr-oak. Hours and hours have I sat on that spot,
with my sewing, while Gershom was gone into the openings.”

“And Dolly--where was she while you were here?”

“Poor Dolly!--I do think she passed quite half her time up at the
beech-tree, where you first saw her, looking if brother was not coming
home. It is a cruel thing to a wife to have a truant husband!”

“Which I hope may never be your case, pretty Margery, and which I think
never CAN.”

Margery did not answer: but the speech must have been heard, uttered
as it was in a much lower tone of voice than the young man had hitherto
used; for the charming maiden looked down and blushed. Fortunately,
the two now soon arrived at the tree, and their conversation naturally
reverted to the subject which had brought them there. Three canoes were
in sight, close in with the land, but so distant as to render it for
some time doubtful which way they were moving. At first, the bee-hunter
said that they were still going slowly to the southward; but he
habitually carried his little glass, and, on levelling that, it was
quite apparent that the savages were paddling before the wind, and
making for the mouth of the river. This was a very grave fact; and, as
Blossom flew to communicate it to her brother and his wife, le Bourdon
moved toward his own canoe, and looked about for a place of concealment.

Several considerations had to be borne in mind, in disposing of the
canoes; for that of Gershom was to be secreted, as well as that of the
bee-hunter. A tall aquatic plant, that is termed wild rice, and which
we suppose to be the ordinary rice-plant, unimproved by tillage, grows
spontaneously about the mouths and on the flats of most of the rivers
of the part of Michigan of which we are writing; as, indeed, it is to
be found in nearly all the shallow waters of those regions. There was
a good deal of this rice at hand; and the bee-hunter, paddling his own
canoe and towing the other, entered this vegetable thicket, choosing a
channel that had been formed by some accident of nature, and which wound
through the herbage in a way soon to conceal all that came within its
limits. These channels were not only numerous, but exceedingly winding;
and the bee-hunter had no sooner brought his canoes to the firm ground
and fastened them there, than he ascended a tree, and studied the
windings of these narrow passages, until he had got a general idea of
their direction and characters. This precaution taken, he hurried back
to the hut.

“Well, Gershom, have you settled on the course to be taken?” were the
first words uttered by the bee-hunter when he rejoined the family of
Whiskey Centre.

“We haven’t,” answered the husband. “Sister begs us to quit the chiente,
for the Indians must soon be here; but wife seems to think that she MUST
be safe, now I’m at home ag’in.”

“Then wife is wrong, and sister is right. If you will take my advice,
you will hide all your effects in the woods, and quit the cabin as soon
as possible. The Injins cannot fail to see this habitation, and will be
certain to destroy all they find in it, and that they do not carry off.
Besides, the discovery of the least article belonging to a white
man will set them on our trail; for scalps will soon bear a price at
Montreal. In half an hour, all that is here can be removed into the
thicket that is luckily so near; and by putting out the fire with care,
and using proper caution, we may give the place such a deserted look,
that the savages will suspect nothing.”

“If they enter the river, Bourdon, they will not camp out with a wigwam
so near by, and should they come here, what is to prevent their seein’
the footprints we shall leave behind us?”

“The night, and that only. Before morning their own footsteps will be
so plenty as to deceive them. Luckily we all wear moccasins, which is a
great advantage just now. But every moment is precious, and we should
be stirring. Let the women take the beds and bedding, while you and I
shoulder this chest. Up it goes, and away with it!”

Gershom had got to be so much under his companion’s influence, that he
complied, though his mind suggested various objections to the course
taken, to which his tongue gave utterance as they busied themselves in
this task. The effects of Whiskey Centre had been gradually diminishing
in quantity, as well as in value, for the last three years, and were
now of no great amount, in any sense. Still there were two chests, one
large, and one small. The last contained all that a generous regard for
the growing wants of the family had left to Margery; while the first
held the joint wardrobes of the husband and wife, with a few other
articles that were considered as valuable. Among other things were half
a dozen of very thin silver tea-spoons, which had fallen to Gershom on
a division of family plate. The other six were carefully wrapped up in
paper and put in the till of Margery’s chest, being her portion of this
species of property. The Americans, generally, have very little plate;
though here and there marked exceptions do exist; nor do the humbler
classes lay out much of their earnings in jewelry, while they commonly
dress far beyond their means in all other ways. In this respect, the
European female of the same class in life frequently possesses as much
in massive golden personal ornaments as would make an humble little
fortune, while her attire is as homely as cumbrous petticoats, coarse
cloth, and a vile taste can render it. On the other hand, the American
matron that has not a set--one half-dozen--of silver tea-spoons must
be poor indeed, and can hardly be said to belong to the order of
housekeepers at all. By means of a careful mother, both Gershom and his
sister had the half-dozen mentioned; and they were kept more as sacred
memorials of past and better days than as articles of any use. The
household goods of Waring would have been limited by his means of
transportation, if not by his poverty. Two common low-post maple
bedsteads were soon uncorded and carried off, as were the beds and
bedding. There was scarcely any crockery, pewter and tin being its
substitutes; and as for chairs there was only one, and that had rockers:
a practice of New England that has gradually diffused itself over the
whole country, looking down ridicule, the drilling of boarding-schools,
the comments of elderly ladies of the old school, the sneers of nurses,
and, in a word, all that venerable ideas of decorum could suggest, until
this appliance of domestic ease has not only fairly planted itself in
nearly every American dwelling, but in a good many of Europe also!

It required about twenty minutes for the party to clear the cabin of
every article that might induce an Indian to suspect the presence of
white men. The furniture was carried to a sufficient distance to be
safe from everything but a search; and care was had to avoid as much as
possible making a trail, to lead the savages to the place selected for
the temporary storeroom. This was merely a close thicket, into which
there was a narrow but practicable entrance on the side the least likely
to be visited. When all was accomplished the four went to the lookout to
ascertain how far the canoes had come. It was soon ascertained that they
were within a mile, driving down before a strong breeze and following
sea, and impelled by as many paddles as there were living beings in
them. Ten minutes would certainly bring them up with the bar, and five
more fairly within the river. The question now arose, where the party
was to be concealed during the stay of the savages. Dolly, as was
perhaps natural for the housewife, wished to remain by her worldly
goods, and pretty Margery had a strong feminine leaning to do the same.
But neither of the men approved of the plan. It was risking too much in
one spot; and a suggestion that the bee-hunter was not long in making
prevailed.

It will be remembered that le Bourdon had carried the canoes within
the field of wild rice, and bestowed them there with a good deal of
attention to security. Now these canoes offered, in many respects,
better places of temporary refuge, under all the circumstances, than
any other that could readily be found on shore. They were dry; and by
spreading skins, of which Boden had so many, comfortable beds might be
made for the females, which would be easily protected from the night air
and dews by throwing a rug over the gunwales. Then, each canoe contained
many articles that would probably be wanted; that of the bee-hunter in
particular furnishing food in abundance, as well as diverse other things
that would be exceedingly useful to persons in their situation. The
great advantage of the canoes, however, in the mind of le Bourdon, was
the facilities they offered for flight. He hardly hoped that Indian
sagacity would be so far blinded as to prevent the discovery of the
many footsteps they must have left in their hurried movements, and he
anticipated that with the return of day something would occur to render
it necessary for them to seek safety by a stealthy removal from the
spot. This might be done, he both hoped and believed, under cover of the
rice, should sufficient care be taken to avoid exposure. In placing the
canoes, he had used the precaution to leave them where they could not
be seen from the cabin or its vicinity, or, indeed, from any spot in the
vicinity of the ground that the savages would be likely to visit during
their stay. All these reasons le Bourdon now rapidly laid before his
companions, and to the canoes the whole party retired as fast as they
could walk.

There was great judgment displayed on the part of the bee-hunter in
selecting the wild rice as a place of shelter. At that season it was
sufficiently grown to afford a complete screen to everything within it
that did not exceed the height of a man, or which was not seen from some
adjacent elevation. Most of the land near the mouth of the river was
low, and the few spots which formed exceptions had been borne in mind
when the canoes were taken into the field. But just as Gershom was on
the point of putting a foot into his own canoe, with a view to arrange
it for the reception of his wife, he drew back, and exclaimed after the
manner of one to whom a most important idea suddenly occurs:

“Land’s sake! I’ve forgotten all about them barrels! They’ll fall into
the hands of the savages, and an awful time they’ll make with them! Let
me pass, Dolly; I must look after the barrels this instant.”

While the wife gently detained her eager husband, the bee-hunter quietly
asked to what barrels he alluded.

“The whiskey casks,” was the answer. “There’s two on ‘em in the shed
behind the hut, and whiskey enough to set a whole tribe in commotion. I
wonder I should have overlooked the whiskey!”

“It is a sign of great improvement, friend Waring, and will lead to no
bad consequences,” returned le Bourdon, coolly. “I foresaw the danger,
and rolled the casks down the hill, where they were dashed to pieces in
the brook, and the liquor has long since been carried into the lake in
the shape of grog.”

Waring seemed astounded; but was so completely mystified as not to
suspect the truth. That his liquor should be hopelessly lost was bad
enough; but even that was better than to have it drunk by savages
without receiving any re-turns. After groaning and lamenting over the
loss for a few minutes, he joined the rest of the party in making some
further dispositions, which le Bourdon deemed prudent, if not necessary.

It had occurred to the bee-hunter to divide his own cargo between the
two canoes, which was the task that the whole party was now engaged in.
The object was to lighten his own canoe in the event of flight, and, by
placing his effects in two parcels, give a chance to those in the
boat which might escape, of having wherewithal to comfort and console
themselves. As soon as this new arrangement was completed, le Bourdon
ran up to a tree that offered the desired facilities, and springing
into its branches, was soon high enough to get a view of the bar and the
mouth of the river. By the parting light of day, he distinctly saw FOUR
canoes coming up the stream; which was one more than those reported to
him by Margery as having passed.



CHAPTER VI.

      And long shall timorous fancy see
      The painted chief and pointed spear;
      And reason’s self shall bow the knee
      To shadows and delusions here.
                                 FRENEAU.


A bright moon reflected on the earth for about an hour the light of the
sun, as the latter luminary disappeared. By its aid the bee-hunter, who
still continued in the tree, was enabled to watch the movements of the
canoes of the Indians, though the persons they contained soon got to
be so indistinct as to render it impossible to do more than count their
numbers. The last he made out to be five each in three of the canoes,
and six in the other, making twenty-one individuals in all. This was
too great an odds to think of resisting, in the event of the strangers
turning out to be hostile; and the knowledge of this disparity in force
admonished all the fugitives of the necessity of being wary and prudent.

The strangers landed just beneath the hut, or at the precise spot where
Whiskey Centre was in the habit of keeping his canoe, and whence Boden
had removed it only an hour or two before. The savages had probably
selected the place on account of its shores being clear of the wild
rice, and because the high ground near it promised both a lookout
and comfortable lodgings. Several of the party strolled upward, as if
searching for an eligible spot to light their fire, and one of them soon
discovered the cabin. The warrior announced his success by a whoop, and
a dozen of the Indians were shortly collected in and about the chiente.
All this proved the prudence of the course taken by the fugitives.

Blossom stood beneath the tree, and the bee-hunter told her, as each
incident occurred, all that passed among the strangers, when the girl
communicated the same to her brother and his wife, who were quite near
at hand in one of the canoes. As there was no danger of being overheard,
conversation in an ordinary tone passed between the parties, two of whom
at least were now fond of holding this sort of communion.

“Do they seem to suspect the neighborhood of the occupants of the
cabin?” asked Margery, when the bee-hunter had let her know the manner
in which the savages had taken possession of her late dwelling.

“One cannot tell. Savages are always distrustful and cautious when on a
war-path; and these seem to be scenting about like so many hounds which
are nosing for a trail. They are now gathering sticks to light a fire,
which is better than burning the chiente.”

“THAT they will not be likely to do until they have no further need of
it. Tell me, Bourdon, do any go near the thicket of alders where we have
hidden our goods?”

“Not as yet; though there is a sudden movement and many loud yells among
them!”

“Heaven send that it may not be at having discovered anything we
have forgotten. The sight of even a lost dipper or cup would set them
blood-hounds on our path, as sure as we are white and they are savages!”

“As I live, they scent the whiskey! There is a rush toward, and a
pow-wow in and about the shed--yes, of a certainty they smell the
liquor! Some of it has escaped in rolling down the hill, and their noses
are too keen to pass over a fragrance that to them equals that of roses.
Well, let them SCENT as they may--even an Injin does not get drunk
through his NOSE.”

“You are quite right, Bourdon: but is not this a most unhappy scent for
us, since the smell of whiskey can hardly be there without their seeing
it did not grow in the woods of itself, like an oak or a beech?”

“I understand you, Margery, and there is good sense in what you say.
They will never think the liquor grew there, like a blackberry or a
chestnut, though the place IS called Whiskey Centre!”

“It is hard enough to know that a family has deserved such a name,
without being reminded of it by those that call themselves friends,”
 answered the girl pointedly, after a pause of near a minute, though she
spoke in sorrow rather than in anger.

In an instant the bee-hunter was at pretty Margery’s side, making his
peace by zealous apologies and winning protestations of respect and
concern. The mortified girl was soon appeased; and, after consulting
together for a minute, they went to the canoe to communicate to the
husband and wife what they had seen.

“The whiskey after all is likely to prove our worst enemy,” said the
bee-hunter as he approached. “It would seem that in moving the barrels
some of the liquor has escaped, and the nose of an Injin is too quick
for the odor it leaves, not to scent it.”

“Much good may it do them,” growled Gershom--“they’ve lost me that
whiskey, and let them long for it without gettin’ any, as a punishment
for the same. My fortun’ would have been made could I only have got them
two barrels as far as Fort Dearborn before the troops moved!”

“The BARRELS might have been got there, certainly,” answered le Bourdon,
so much provoked at the man’s regrets for the destroyer which had
already come so near to bringing want and ruin on himself and family, as
momentarily to forget his recent scene with pretty Margery; “but whether
anything would have been IN them is another question. One of those I
rolled to the brow of the hill was half empty as it was.”

“Gershom is so troubled with the ague, if he don’t take stimulant in
this new country,” put in the wife, in the apologetic manner in which
woman struggles to conceal the failings of him she loves. “As for
the whiskey, I don’t grudge THAT in the least; for it’s a poor way
of getting rich to be selling it to soldiers, who want all the reason
liquor has left ‘em, and more too. Still, Gershom needs bitters; and
ought not to have every drop he has taken thrown into his face.”

By this time le Bourdon was again sensible of his mistake, and he beat
a retreat in the best manner he could, secretly resolving not to place
himself any more between two fires, in consequence of further blunders
on this delicate subject. He now found that it was a very different
thing to joke Whiskey Centre himself on the subject of his great
failing, from making even the most distant allusion to it in the
presence of those who felt for a husband’s and a brother’s weakness,
with a liveliness of feeling that brutal indulgence had long since
destroyed in the object of their solicitude. He accordingly pointed out
the risk there was that the Indians should make the obvious inference,
that human beings must have recently been in the hut, to leave the fresh
scent of the liquor in question behind them. This truth was so apparent
that all felt its force, though to no one else did the danger seem so
great as to the bee-hunter. He had greater familiarity with the Indian
character than any of his companions, and dreaded the sagacity of the
savages in a just proportion to his greater knowledge. He did not fail,
therefore, to admonish his new friends of the necessity for vigilance.

“I will return to the tree and take another look at the movements of the
savages,” le Bourdon concluded by saying. “By this time their fire must
be lighted; and by the aid of my glass a better insight may be had into
their plans and feelings.”

The bee-hunter now went back to his tree, whither he was slowly followed
by Margery; the girl yielding to a feverish desire to accompany him,
at the very time she was half restrained by maiden bashfulness; though
anxiety and the wish to learn the worst as speedily as possible,
prevailed.

“They have kindled a blazing fire, and the whole of the inside of the
house is as bright as if illuminated,” said le Bourdon, who was now
carefully bestowed among the branches of his small tree. “There are lots
of the red devils moving about the chiente, inside and out; and they
seem to have fish as well as venison to cook. Aye, there goes more dry
brush on the fire to brighten up the picture, and daylight is almost
eclipsed. As I live, they have a prisoner among ‘em!”

“A prisoner!” exclaimed Margery, in the gentle tones of female pity.
“Not a white person, surely?”

“No--he is a red-skin like all of them--but--wait a minute till I
can get the glass a little more steady. Yes--it is so--I was right at
first!”

“What is so, Bourdon--and in what are you right?”

“You may remember, Blossom, that your brother and I spoke of the two
Injins who visited me in the Openings. One was a Pottawattamie and the
other a Chippewa. The first we found dead and scalped, after he had
left us; and the last is now in yonder hut, bound and a prisoner. He
has taken to the lake on his way to Fort Dearborn, and has, with all his
craft and resolution, fallen into enemies’ hands. Well will it be for
him if his captors do not learn what befell the warrior who was slain
near my cabin, and left seated against a tree!”

“Do you think these savages mean to revenge the death of their brother
on this unfortunate wretch?”

“I know that he is in the pay of our general at Detroit, while the
Pottawattamies are in the pay of the English. This of itself would make
them enemies, and has no doubt been the cause of his being taken; but
I do not well see how Injins on the lake here can know anything of what
happened some fifty miles or so up in the Openings.”

“Perhaps the savages in the canoes belong to the same party as the
warrior you call Elksfoot, and that they have had the means of learning
his death, and by whose hand he fell.”

The bee-hunter was surprised at the quickness of the girl’s wit, the
suggestion being as discreet as it was ingenious. The manner in which
intelligence flies through the wilderness had often surprised him, and
certainly it was possible that the party now before him might have heard
of the fate of the chief whose body he had found in the Openings, short
as was the time for the news to have gone so far. The circumstance
that the canoes had come from the northward was against the inference,
however, and after musing a minute on the facts, le Bourdon mentioned
this objection to his companion.

“Are we certain these are the same canoes as those which I saw pass
this afternoon?” asked Margery, who comprehended the difficulty in an
instant. “Of those I saw, two passed first, and one followed; while here
are FOUR that have landed.”

“What you say may be true enough. We are not to suppose that the canoes
you saw pass are all that are on the lake. But let the savages be whom
they may, prudence tells us to keep clear of them if we can; and this
more so than ever, now I can see that Pigeonswing, who I know to be an
American Injin, is treated by them as an enemy.”

“How are the savages employed now, Bourdon? Do they prepare to eat, or
do they torture their prisoner?”

“No fear of their attempting the last to-night. There is an uneasiness
about them, as if they still smelt the liquor; but some are busy cooking
at the fire. I would give all my honey, pretty Margery, to be able to
save Pigeonswing! He is a good fellow for a savage, and is heart and
hand with us in this new war, that he tells me has begun between us and
the English!”

“You surely would not risk your own life to save a savage, who kills and
scalps at random, as this man has done!”

“In that he has but followed the habits of his color and race. I dare
say WE do things that are quite as bad, according to Injin ways of
thinking. I DO believe, Margery, was that man to see ME in the hands of
the Pottawattamies, as I now see HIM, he would undertake something for
my relief.”

“But what can you, a single man, do when there are twenty against you?”
 asked Margery, a little reproachfully as to manner, speaking like one
who had more interest in the safety of the young bee-hunter than she
chose very openly to express.

“No one can say what he can do till he tries. I do not like the way
they are treating that Chippewa, for it looks as if they meant to do him
harm. He is neither fed, nor suffered to be with his masters; but there
the poor fellow is, bound hand and foot near the cabin door, and lashed
to a tree. They do not even give him the relief of suffering him to sit
down.”

The gentle heart of Margery was touched by this account of the manner in
which the captive was treated, and she inquired into other particulars
concerning his situation, with a more marked interest than she had
previously manifested in his state. The bee-hunter answered her
questions as they were put; and the result was to place the girl in
possession of a minute detail of the true manner in which Pigeonswing
was treated.

Although there was probably no intention on the part of the captors of
the Chippewa to torture him before his time, tortured he must have been
by the manner in which his limbs and body were confined. Not only were
his arms fastened behind his back at the elbows, but the hands were also
tightly bound together in front. The legs had ligatures in two places,
just above the knees and just below the ankles. Around the body was
another fastening; which secured the captive to a beech that stood about
thirty feet from the door of the cabin, and so nearly in a line with
the fire within and the lookout of le Bourdon, as to enable the last
distinctly to note these particulars, aided as he was by his glass.
Relying on the manner in which they secured their prisoner, the savages
took little heed of him; but each appeared bent on attending to his own
comfort, by means of a good supper, and by securing a dry lair in which
to pass the night. All this le Bourdon saw and noted too, ere he dropped
lightly on his feet by the side of Margery, at the root of the tree.

Without losing time that was precious, the bee-hunter went at once to
the canoes and communicated his intention to Waring. The moon had now
set, and the night was favorable to the purpose of le Bourdon. At the
first glance it might seem wisest to wait until sleep had fallen upon
the savages, ere any attempt were made to approach the hut; but Boden
reasoned differently. A general silence would succeed as soon as the
savages disposed of themselves to sleep, which would be much more likely
to allow his footsteps to be overheard, than when tongues and bodies and
teeth were all in active movement. A man who eats after a long march, or
a severe paddling, usually concentrates his attention on his food, as le
Bourdon knew by long experience; and it is a much better moment to steal
upon the hungry and weary, to do so when they feed, than to do so
when they sleep, provided anything like a watch be kept. That the
Pottawattamie would neglect this latter caution le Bourdon did not
believe; and his mind was made up, not only to attempt the rescue of his
Chippewa friend, but to attempt it at once.

After explaining his plan in a few words, and requesting Waring’s
assistance, le Bourdon took a solemn leave of the party, and proceeded
at once toward the hut. In order to understand the movements of the
bee-hunter, it may be well now briefly to explain the position of
the chiente, and the nature of the ground on which the adventurer was
required to act. The hut stood on a low and somewhat abrupt swell, being
surrounded on all sides by land so low as to be in many places wet and
swampy. There were a good many trees on the knoll, and several thickets
of alders and other bushes on the lower ground; but on the whole, the
swamps were nearly devoid of what is termed “timber.” Two sides of the
knoll were abrupt; that on which the casks had been rolled into the
lake, and that opposite, which was next to the tree where Boden had so
long been watching the proceedings of the savages. The distance between
the hut and this tree was somewhat less than a mile. The intervening
ground was low, and most of it was marshy; though it was possible to
cross the marsh by following a particular course. Fortunately this
course, which was visible to the eye by daylight, and had been taken by
the fugitives on quitting the hut, might be dimly traced at night, by
one who understood the ground, by means of certain trees and bushes,
that formed so many finger-posts for the traveller. Unless this
particular route were taken, however, a circuit of three or four miles
must be made, in order to pass from the chiente to the spot where the
family had taken refuge. As le Bourdon had crossed this firm ground
by daylight and had observed it well from his tree, he thought himself
enough of a guide to find his way through it in the dark, aided by the
marks just mentioned.

The bee-hunter had got as far as the edge of the marsh on his way toward
the hut, when, pausing an instant to examine the priming of his rifle,
he fancied that he heard a light footstep behind him. Turning, quick
as thought, he perceived that pretty Margery had followed him thus far.
Although time pressed, he could not part from the girl without showing
that he appreciated the interest she manifested in his behalf. Taking
her hand, therefore, he spoke with a simplicity and truth, that imparted
to his manner a natural grace that one bred in courts might have envied.
What was more, with a delicacy that few in course would deem necessary
under the circumstances, he did not in his language so much impute to
concern on his own account this movement of Margery’s, as to that she
felt for her brother and sister; though in his inmost heart a throbbing
hope prevailed that he had his share in it.

“Do not be troubled on account of Gershom and his wife, pretty Margery,”
 said the bee-hunter, “which, as I perceive, is the main reason why you
have come here; and as for myself, be certain that I shall not forget
who I have left behind, and how much her safety depends on my prudence.”

Margery was pleased, though a good deal confused. It was new to her
to hear allusions of this sort, but nature supplied the feeling to
appreciate them.

“Is it not risking too much, Bourdon?” she said. “Are you sure of being
able to find the crossing in the marsh, in a night so very dark? I do
not know but looking so long at the bright light in the cabin may blind
me, but it DOES seem as if I never saw a darker night!”

“The darkness increases, for the star-light is gone; but I can see where
I go, and so long as I can do that there is not much fear of losing my
way. I do not like to expose you to danger, but--”

“Never mind me, Bourdon--set me to do anything in which you think I can
be of use!” exclaimed the girl, eagerly.

“Well then, Margery, you may do this: come with me to the large tree in
the centre of the marsh, and I will set you on a duty that may possibly
save my life. I will tell you my meaning when there.”

Margery followed with a light, impatient step; and, as neither stopped
to speak or to look around, the two soon stood beneath the tree in
question. It was a large elm that completely overshadowed a considerable
extent of firm ground. Here a full and tolerably near view could be had
of the hut, which was still illuminated by the blazing fire within.
For a minute both stood silently gazing at the strange scene; then le
Bourdon explained to his companion the manner in which she might assist
him.

Once at the elm, it was not so difficult to find the way across the
marsh, as it was to reach that spot, coming FROM the chiente. As there
were several elms scattered about in the centre of the marsh, the
bee-hunter was fearful that he might not reach the right tree; in
which case he would be compelled to retrace his steps, and that at the
imminent hazard of being captured. He carried habitually a small dark
lantern, and had thought of so disposing of it in the lower branches of
this very elm, as to form a focus of it, but hesitated about doing
that which might prove a guide to his enemies as well as to himself.
If Margery would take charge of this lantern, he could hope to reap its
advantages without incurring the hazard of having a light suspended
in the tree for any length of time. Margery understood the lessons she
received, and promised to obey all the injunctions by which they were
accompanied.

“Now, God bless you, Margery,” added the bee-hunter. “Providence has
brought me and your brother’s family together in troublesome times;
should I get back safe from this adventure, I shall look upon it as a
duty to do all I can to help Gershom place his wife and sister beyond
the reach of harm.”

“God bless you, Bourdon!” half whispered the agitated girl. “I know it
is worth some risk to save a human life, even though it be that of an
Injin, and I will not try to persuade you from this undertaking; but
do not attempt more than is necessary, and rely on my using the lantern
just as you have told me to use it.”

Those young persons had not yet known each other a single day, yet both
felt that confidence which years alone, in the crowds of the world, can
ordinarily create in the human mind. The cause of the sympathy which
draws heart to heart, which generates friendships, and love, and
passionate attachments, is not obvious to all who choose to talk of it.
There is yet a profound mystery in our organization, which has hitherto
escaped the researches of both classes of philosophers, and which it
probably was the design of the Creator should not be made known to us
until we draw nearer to that great end which, sooner or later, is to be
accomplished in behalf of our race, when “knowledge will abound,” and we
shall better understand our being and its objects, than is permitted to
us in this our day of ignorance. But while we cannot trace the causes
of a thousand things, we know and feel their effects. Among the other
mysteries of our nature is this of sudden and strong sympathies, which,
as between men for men, and women for women, awaken confidence and
friendship; and as between those of different sexes, excite passionate
attachments that more or less color their future lives. The great
delineator of our common nature, in no one of the many admirable
pictures he has drawn of men, manifests a more profound knowledge of
his subject, than in that in which he portrays the sudden and nearly
ungovernable inclination which Romeo and Juliet are made to display
for each other; an inclination that sets reason, habit, prejudice, and
family enmities at defiance. That such an attachment is to be commended,
we do not say; that all can feel it, we do not believe; that connections
formed under its influence can always be desirable, we are far from
thinking: but that it may exist we believe is just as certain as any of
the incomprehensible laws of our wayward and yet admirable nature.
We have no Veronese tale to relate here, however, but simply a homely
legend, in which human feeling may occasionally be made to bear an
humble resemblance to that world-renowned picture which had its scenes
in the beautiful capital of Venetian Lombardy.

When le Bourdon left his companion, now so intensely interested in his
success, to pick his way in the darkness across the remainder of the
marsh, Margery retired behind the tree, where the first thing she did
was to examine her lantern, and to see that its light was ready to
perform the very important office which might so speedily be required
of it. Satisfied on this point, she turned her eyes anxiously in the
direction of the hut. By this time every trace of the bee-hunter was
lost, the hillock in his front forming too dark a background to admit
of his being seen. But the fire still blazed in the chiente, the savages
not having yet finished their cooking, though several had satisfied
their appetites, and had already sought places where they might stretch
themselves for the night. Margery was glad to see that these last
individuals bestowed themselves within the influence of the fire,
warm as was the night. This was done most probably to escape from the
annoyance of the mosquitos, more or less of which are usually found in
the low lands of the new countries, and near the margins of rivers.

Margery could distinctly see the Chippewa, erect and bound to his tree.
On him she principally kept her looks riveted, for near his person did
she expect first again to find the bee-hunter. Indeed, there was no
chance of seeing one who was placed beneath the light of the fire, since
the brow of the acclivity formed a complete cover, throwing all below it
into deep shade. This circumstance was of the greatest importance to
the adventurer, however, enabling him to steal quite near to his friend,
favored by a darkness that was getting to be intense. Quitting Margery,
we will now rejoin le Bourdon, who by this time was approaching his
goal.

The bee-hunter had some difficulty in finding his way across the marsh;
but floundering through the impediments, and on the whole preserving the
main direction, he got out on the firm ground quite as soon as he had
expected to do. It was necessary for him to use extreme caution. The
Indians according to their custom had dogs, two of which had been in
sight, lying about half-way between the prisoner and the door of the
hut. Boden had seen a savage feeding these dogs; and it appeared to him
at the time as if the Indian had been telling them to be watchful of the
Chippewa. He well knew the services that the red men expected of these
animals, which are kept rather as sentinels than for any great use they
put them to in the hunts. An Indian dog is quick enough to give the
alarm, and he will keep on a trail for a long run and with considerable
accuracy, but it is seldom that he closes and has his share in the
death, unless in the case of very timid and powerless creatures.

Nevertheless, the presence of these dogs exacted extra caution in the
movements of the bee-hunter. He had ascended the hill a little out of
the stream of light which still issued from the open door of the hut,
and was soon high enough to get a good look at the state of things on
the bit of level land around the cabin. Fully one-half of the savages
were yet up and in motion; though the processes of cooking and eating
were by this time nearly ended. These men had senses almost as acute
as those of their dogs, and it was very necessary to be on his guard
against them also. By moving with the utmost caution, le Bourdon reached
the edge of the line of light, where he was within ten yards of the
captive. Here he placed his rifle against a small tree, and drew his
knife, in readiness to cut the prisoner’s thongs. Three several times,
while the bee-hunter was making these preparations, did the two dogs
raise their heads and scent the air; once, the oldest of the two gave
a deep and most ominous growl. Singular as it may seem, this last
indication of giving the alarm was of great service to le Bourdon and
the Chippewa. The latter heard the growl, and saw two of the movements
of the animals’ heads, from all which he inferred that there was some
creature, or some danger behind him. This naturally enough induced him
to bestow a keen attention in that direction, and being unable to
turn body, limbs, or head, the sense of hearing was his only means of
watchfulness. It was while in this state of profound listening that
Pigeonswing fancied he heard his own name, in such a whisper as one
raises when he wishes to call from a short distance with the least
possible expenditure of voice. Presently the words “Pigeonswing,” and
“Chippewa,” were succeeded by those of “bee-hunter,” “Bourdon.” This was
enough: the quick-witted warrior made a low ejaculation, such as might
be mistaken for a half-suppressed murmur that proceeded from pain, but
which one keenly on the watch, and who was striving to communicate with
him, would be apt to understand as a sign of attention. The whispering
then ceased altogether, and the prisoner waited the result with the
stoic patience of an American Indian. A minute later the Chippewa felt
the thongs giving way, and his arms were released at the elbows. An arm
was next passed round his body, and the fastenings at the wrist were
cut. At this instant a voice whispered in his ear--“Be of good heart,
Chippewa--your friend, Bourdon, is here. Can you stand?”

“No stand,” answered the Indian in a low whisper--“too much tie.”

At the next moment the feet of the Chippewa were released, as were also
his knees. Of all the fastenings none now remained but that which bound
the captive to the tree. In not cutting this, the bee-hunter manifested
his coolness and judgment; for were the stout rope of bark severed, the
Indian would have fallen like a log, from total inability to stand. His
thongs had impeded the circulation of the blood, and the usual temporary
paralysis had been the consequence. Pigeonswing understood the reason
of his friend’s forbearance, and managed to rub his hands and wrists
together, while the bee-hunter himself applied friction to his feet,
by passing his own arms around the bottom of the tree. The reader may
imagine the intense anxiety of Margery the while; for she witnessed the
arrival of le Bourdon at the tree, and could not account for the long
delay which succeeded.

All this time, the dogs were far from being quiet or satisfied. Their
masters, accustomed to being surrounded at night by wolves and foxes,
or other beasts, took little heed, however, of the discontent of these
creatures, which were in the habit of growling in their lairs. The
bee-hunter, as he kept rubbing at his friend’s legs, felt now but little
apprehension of the dogs, though a new source of alarm presented itself
by the time the Chippewa was barely able to sustain his weight on his
feet, and long before he could use them with anything like his former
agility. The manner in which the savages came together in the hut, and
the gestures made by their chief, announced pretty plainly that a watch
was about to be set for the night. As it was probable that the sentinel
would take his station near the prisoner, the bee-hunter was at a loss
to decide whether it were better to commence the flight before or after
the rest of the savages were in their lairs. Placing his mouth as close
to the ear of Pigeonswing as could be done without bringing his head
into the light, the following dialogue passed between le Bourdon and the
captive.

“Do you see, Chippewa,” the bee-hunter commenced, “the chief is telling
one of the young men to come and keep guard near you?”

“See him, well ‘nough. Make too many sign, no to see.”

“What think you--shall we wait till the warriors are asleep, or try to
be off before the sentinel comes?”

“Bess wait, if one t’ing. You got rifle--got tomahawk--got knife, eh?”

“I have them all, though my rifle is a short distance behind me, and a
little down the hill.”

“Dat bad--nebber let go rifle on war-path. Well, YOU tomahawk him--_I_
scalp him--dat’ll do.”

“I shall kill no man, Chippewa, unless there is great occasion for it.
If there is no other mode of getting you off, I shall choose to cut this
last thong, and leave you to take care of yourself.”

“Give him tomahawk, den--give him knife, too.”

“Not for such a purpose. I do not like to shed blood without a good
reason for it.”

“No call war good reason, eh? Bess reason in world Pottawattamie dig up
hatchet ag’in’ Great Fadder at Wash’ton--dat no good reason why take his
scalp, eh?”

In whispering these last words the Chippewa used so much energy, that
the dogs again raised their heads from between their forepaws and
growled. Almost at that instant the chief and his few remaining
wakeful companions laid themselves down to sleep, and the young warrior
designated as the sentinel left the hut and came slowly toward the
prisoner. The circumstances admitted of no delay; le Bourdon pressed
the keen edge of his knife across the withe that bound the Indian to
the tree; first giving him notice, in order that he might be prepared to
sustain his own weight. This done, the bee-hunter dropped on the ground,
crawling away out of the light; though the brow of the hill almost
immediately formed a screen to conceal his person from all near the hut.
In another instant he had regained his rifle, and was descending swiftly
toward the crossing at the marsh.



CHAPTER VII.

      We call them savage--oh, be just!
        Their outraged feelings scan;
      A voice comes forth, ‘tis from the dust--
        The savage was a man!
                                 SPRAGUE.


As soon as le Bourdon reached the commencement of that which might be
called his path across the marsh, he stopped and looked backward. He was
now sufficiently removed from the low acclivity to see objects on its
summit, and had no difficulty in discerning all that the waning fire
illuminated. There stood the Chippewa erect against the tree as if still
bound with thongs, while the sentinel was slowly approaching him. The
dogs were on their feet, and gave two or three sharp barks, which had
the effect to cause five or six of the savages to lift their heads in
their lairs. One arose even and threw an armful of dried branches on the
fire, producing a bright blaze, that brought everything around the hut,
and which the light could touch, into full view.

The bee-hunter was astonished at the immovable calmness with which
Pigeonswing still stood to his tree, awaiting the approach of the
sentinel. In a few moments the latter was at his side. At first the
Pottawattamie did not perceive that the prisoner was unbound. He threw
him into shadow by his own person, and it required a close look to note
the circumstance. Boden was too far from the spot to see all the minor
movements of the parties, but there was soon a struggle that could
not be mistaken. As the Pottawattamie was examining the prisoner, an
exclamation that escaped him betrayed the sudden consciousness that the
Chippewa was unbound. The sound was no sooner uttered than Pigeonswing
made a grasp at the sentinel’s knife, which however he did not obtain,
when the two closed and fell, rolling down the declivity into the
darkness. When the Pottawattamie seized the Chippewa, he uttered a
yell, which instantly brought every man of his party to his feet. As the
savages now united in the whoops, and the dogs began to bark wildly, an
infernal clamor was made.

At first, le Bourdon did not know how to act. He greatly feared the
dogs, and could not but think of Margery, and the probable consequences,
should those sagacious animals follow him across the marsh. But he did
not like the idea of abandoning Pigeonswing, when a single blow of his
arm, or a kick of his foot, might be the cause of his escape. While
deliberating in painful uncertainty, the sounds of the struggle ceased,
and he saw the sentinel rising again into the light, limping like one
who had suffered by a fall. Presently he heard a footstep near him, and,
calling in a low voice, he was immediately joined by Pigeonswing. Before
the bee-hunter was aware of his intention, the Chippewa seized his
rifle, and levelling at the sentinel, who still stood on the brow of the
hill, drawn in all his savage outlines distinctly in the light of
the flames, he fired. The cry, the leap into the air, and the fall,
announced the unerring character of the aim. In coming to the earth,
the wounded man fell over the brow of the sharp acclivity, and was heard
rolling toward its base.

Le Bourdon felt the importance of now improving the precious moments,
and was in the act of urging his companion to follow, when the latter
passed an arm around his body, whipped his knife from the girdle and
sheath, and dropping the rifle into his friend’s arms, bounded away in
the darkness, taking the direction of his fallen enemy. There was no
mistaking all this; Chippewa, led by his own peculiar sense of honor,
risking everything to obtain the usual trophy of victory. By this time,
a dozen of the savages stood on the brow of the hill, seemingly at a
loss to understand what had become of the combatants. Perceiving
this, the bee-hunter profited by the delay and reloaded his rifle. As
everything passed almost as swiftly as the electric spark is known
to travel, it was but a moment after the Pottawattamie fell ere his
conqueror was through with his bloody task. Just as le Bourdon threw his
rifle up into the hollow of his arm, he was rejoined by his red
friend, who bore the reeking scalp of the sentinel at his belt; though
fortunately the bee-hunter did not see it on account of the obscurity,
else might he not have been so willing to continue to act with so
ruthless an ally.

Further stay was out of the question; for the Indians were now collected
in a body on the brow of the hill, where the chief was rapidly issuing
his orders. In a minute the band dispersed, every man bounding into the
darkness, as if aware of the danger of remaining within the influence of
the bright light thrown from the fire. Then came such a clamor from
the dogs, as left no doubt in the mind of the bee-hunter that they had
scented and found the remains of the fallen man. A fierce yell came from
the same spot, the proof that some of the savages had already discovered
the body; and le Bourdon told his companion to follow, taking his way
across the marsh as fast as he could overcome the difficulties of the
path.

It has already been intimated that it was not easy, if indeed it were
possible, to cross that piece of low wet land in a direct line. There
was tolerably firm ground on it, but it lay in an irregular form, its
presence being generally to be noted by the growth of trees. Le
Bourdon had been very careful in taking his landmarks, foreseeing the
probability of a hasty retreat, and he had no difficulty for some time
in keeping in the right direction. But the dogs soon left the dead
body, and came bounding across the marsh, disregarding its difficulties;
though their plunges and yells soon made it apparent that even they did
not escape altogether with dry feet. As for the savages, they poured
down the declivity in a stream, taking the dogs as their guides;
and safe ones they might well be accounted, so far as the SCENT was
concerned, though they did not happen to be particularly well acquainted
with all the difficulties of the path.

At length le Bourdon paused, causing his companion to stop also. In the
hurry and confusion of the flight, the former had lost his landmarks,
finding himself amidst a copse of small trees, or large bushes, but
not in the particular copse he sought. Every effort to get out of this
thicket, except by the way he had entered it, proved abortive, and the
dogs were barking at no great distance in his rear. It is true that
these animals no longer approached: for they were floundering in the mud
and water; but their throats answered every purpose to lead the pursuers
on, and the low calls that passed from mouth to mouth, let the
pursued understand that the Pottawattamies were at their heels, if not
absolutely on their trail.

The crisis demanded both discretion and decision; qualities in which the
bee-hunter, with his forest training, was not likely to be deficient. He
looked out for the path by which he had reached the unfortunate thicket,
and having found it, commenced a retreat by the way he had come. Nerve
was needed to move almost in a line toward the dogs and their masters;
but the nerve was forthcoming, and the two advanced like veterans
expecting the fire of some concealed but well-armed battery. Presently,
le Bourdon stopped, and examined the ground on which he stood.

“HERE we must turn, Chippewa,” he said, in a guarded voice. “This is the
spot where I must have missed my way.”

“Good place to turn ‘bout,” answered the Indian--“dog too near.”

“We must shoot the dogs if they press us too hard,” returned the
bee-hunter, leading off rapidly, now secure in the right direction.
“They seem to be in trouble, just at this time; but animals like them
will soon find their way across this marsh.”

“Bess shoot Pottawattamie,” coolly returned Pigeonswing. “Pottawattamie
got capital scalp--dog’s ears no good for nutting any more.”

“Yonder, I believe, is the tree I am in search of!” exclaimed le
Bourdon. “If we can reach that tree, I think all will go well with us.”

The tree was reached, and the bee-hunter proceeded to make sure of
his course from that point. Removing from his pouch a small piece of
moistened powder that he had prepared ere he liberated the Chippewa, he
stuck it on a low branch of the tree he was under, and on the side next
the spot where he had stationed Margery. When this was done, he made his
companion stand aside, and lighting some spunk with his flint and steel,
he fired his powder. Of course, this little preparation burned like the
fireworks of a boy, making sufficient light, however, to be seen in a
dark night for a mile or more. No sooner was the wetted powder hissing
and throwing off its sparks, than the bee-hunter gazed intently into the
now seemingly tangible obscurity of the marsh. A bright light appeared
and vanished. It was enough; the bee-hunter threw down his own signal
and extinguished it with his foot; and, as he wished, the lantern of
Margery appeared no more. Assured now of the accuracy of his position,
as well as of the course he was to pursue, le Bourdon bade his companion
follow, and pressed anew across the marsh. A tree was soon visible, and
toward that particular object the fugitives steadily pressed, until it
was reached. At the next instant Margery was joined; and the bee-hunter
could not refrain from kissing her, in the excess of his pleasure.

“There is a dreadful howling of dogs,” said Margery, feeling no offence
at the liberty taken, in a moment like that, “and it seems to me that a
whole tribe is following at their heels. For Heaven’s sake, Bourdon, let
us hasten to the canoes; brother and sister must think us lost!”

The circumstances pressed, and the bee-hunter took Margery’s arm,
passing it through one of his own, with a decided and protecting manner,
that caused the girl’s heart to beat with emotions not in the least
connected with fear, leaving an impression of pleasure even at that
perilous moment. As the distance was not great, the three were soon
on the beach and near to the canoes. Here they met Dorothy, alone, and
pacing to and fro like a person distressed. She had doubtless heard the
clamor, and was aware that the savages were out looking for their party.
As Margery met her sister, she saw that something more than common
had gone wrong, and in the eagerness of her apprehensions she did not
scruple about putting her questions.

“What has become of brother? Where is Gershom?” demanded the sensitive
girl, at once.

The answer was given in a low voice, and in that sort of manner with
which woman struggles to the last to conceal the delinquencies of him
she loves.

“Gershom is not himself, just now,” half whispered the wife--“he has
fallen into one of his old ways, ag’in.”

“Old ways?” slowly repeated the sister, dropping her own voice to
tones similar to those in which the unpleasant news had just been
communicated. “How is that possible, now that all the whiskey is
emptied?”

“It seems that Bourdon had a jug of brandy among his stores, and Gershom
found it out. I blame no one; for Bourdon, who never abuses the gifts of
Providence, had a right to his comforts at least; but it IS a pity that
there was anything of the sort in the canoes!”

The bee-hunter was greatly concerned at this unwelcome intelligence,
feeling all its importance far more vividly than either of his
companions. They regretted as women; but he foresaw the danger, as a man
accustomed to exertion in trying scenes. If Whiskey Centre had really
fallen into his old ways, so as to render himself an incumbrance,
instead of being an assistant at such a moment, the fact was to be
deplored, but it could only be remedied by time. Luckily they had
the Indian with them, and he could manage one of the canoes, while he
himself took charge of the other. As no time was to be lost--the barking
of the dogs and the cries of the savages too plainly letting it be known
that the enemy was getting through the marsh by some means or other--he
hurried the party down to the canoes, entering that of Whiskey Centre at
once.

Le Bourdon found Gershom asleep, but with the heavy slumbers of the
drunkard. Dolly had removed the jug and concealed it, as soon as
the state of her husband enabled her to do so without incurring his
violence. Else might the unfortunate man have destroyed himself, by
indulging in a liquor so much more palatable than that he was accustomed
to use, after so long and compelled an abstinence. The jug was now
produced, however, and le Bourdon emptied it in the river, to the great
joy of the two females, though not without a sharp remonstrance from the
Chippewa. The bee-hunter was steady, and the last drop of the liquor of
Gascony was soon mingling with the waters of the Kalamazoo. This done,
the bee-hunter desired the women to embark, and called to the Chippewa
to do the same. By quitting the spot in the canoes, it was evident the
pursuers would be balked, temporarily at least, since they must recross
the marsh in order to get into their own boats, without which further
pursuit would be fruitless.

It might have been by means of a secret sympathy, or it was possibly the
result of accident, but certain it is, that the Chippewa was placed
in that of le Bourdon. As for Whiskey Centre, he lay like a log in the
bottom of his own light bark, cared for only by his affectionate wife,
who had made a pillow for his head; but, fortunately, if no assistance
just then, not any material hindrance to the movements of his friends.
By the time le Bourdon and the Chippewa had got their stations, and the
canoes were free of the bottom, it was evident by the sounds, that not
only the dogs, but divers of their masters, had floundered through the
swamp, and were already on the firm ground east of it. As the dogs ran
by scent, little doubt remained of their soon leading the savages to
the place of embarkation. Aware of this, the bee-hunter directed
the Chippewa to follow, and urged his own canoe away from the shore,
following one of three of the natural channels that united just at that
point.

The clamor now sensibly increased, and the approach of the pursuers
was much faster than it had previously been, in consequence of there no
longer being wet land beneath their feet. At the distance of fifty
yards from the shore, however, the channel, or open avenue among
the rice-plants that the canoes had taken, made a short turn to the
northward; for all the events we have just been recording occurred on
the northern, or leeward side of the river. Once around this bend in the
channel, the canoes would have been effectually concealed from those on
the beach, had it even been broad daylight, and, of course, were so
much more hidden from view under the obscurity of a very dark night.
Perceiving this, and fearful that the dip of the paddles might be heard,
le Bourdon ceased to urge his canoe through the water, telling the
Chippewa to imitate his example, and let the boats drift. In consequence
of this precaution the fugitives were still quite near the shore when,
first, the dogs, then a party of their masters, came rushing down to the
very spot whence the canoes had departed scarcely two minutes before.
As no precautions were taken to conceal the advance of the pursuers, the
pursued, or the individuals among them who alone understood the common
language of the great Ojebway nation well, had an opportunity of hearing
and understanding all that was said. Le Bourdon had brought the two
canoes together; and the Chippewa, at his request, now translated
such parts of the discourse of their enemies as he deemed worthy of
communicating to the females.

“Say, now, nobody dere!” commenced the Indian, coolly. “T’ink he no
great way off--mean to look for him--t’ink dog uneasy--won’er why dog so
uneasy.”

“Them dogs are very likely to scent us here in the canoes, we are so
near them,” whispered le Bourdon.

“S’pose he do, can’t catch us,” coolly answered the Chippewa--“beside,
shoot him, don’t take care--bad for dog to chase warrior too much.”

“There is one speaking now, who seems to have authority.”

“Yes--he chief--know he voice--hear him too often--he mean to put
Pigeonswing to torture. Well, let him catch Pigeonswing fust--swift bird
do that, eh?”

“But what says he?--it may be of importance to learn what the chief
says, just now.”

“Who care what he say--can’t do nuttin’--if get good chance, take HIS
scalp, too.”

“Aye, that I dare say--but he is speaking earnestly and in a low voice;
listen, and let us know what he says. I do not well understand at this
distance.”

The Chippewa complied, and maintained an attentive silence until the
chief ceased to speak. Then he rendered what had been said into such
English as he could command, accompanying the translation by the
explanations that naturally suggested themselves to one like himself.

“Chief talk to young men,” said the Chippewa--“all chief talk to young
men--tell him dat Pigeonswing must get off in canoe--don’t see canoe,
nudder--but, muss be canoe, else he swim. T’ink more than one Injin
here--don’t know, dough--maybe, maybe not--can’t tell, till see trail,
morrow morning--”

“Well, well; but what does he tell his young men to DO?” demanded the
bee-hunter, impatiently.

“Don’t be squaw, Bourdon--tell all by’em bye. Tell young men s’pose he
get canoe, den he may get OUR canoe, and carry ‘em off--s’pose he swim;
dat Chippewa devil swim down stream and get OUR canoe dat fashion--bess
go back, some of you, and see arter OUR canoe--dat what he tell young
men most.”

“That is a lucky thought!” exclaimed le Bourdon--“let us paddle down, at
once, and seize all their canoes before they can get there. The distance
by water, owing to this bend in the river, is not half as great as that
by land, and the marsh will double the distance to them.”

“Dat good counsel,” said Pigeonswing--“you go--I follow.”

This was no sooner said, than the canoes again got in motion. The
darkness might now have been a sufficient protection had there been no
rice, but the plant would have concealed the movement, even at noon-day.
The fire in the hut served as a beacon, and enabled le Bourdon to find
the canoes. When he reached the landing, he could still hear the dogs
barking on the marsh, and the voices of those with them, calling in loud
tones to two of the savages who had remained at the chiente, as a sort
of camp-guard.

“What do them chaps say?” asked le Bourdon of the Chippewa. “They yell
as if striving to make the two men at the door of the hut hear them. Can
you make out what they are bawling so loud?”

“Tell two warrior to come down and take care of canoe--dat all--let ‘em
come--find two here to take care of DEM--got good scalp, them two rascal
Pottawattamie!”

“No--no--Pigeonswing--we must have no more of that work to-night, but
must set about towing these four canoes off the shore as fast as we can.
Have you got hitches on your two?”

“Fast ‘nough--so fast, he follow,” answered the Indian, who,
notwithstanding his preparations to help to remove the canoes, was
manifestly reluctant to depart without striking another blow at his
enemies. “Now good time for dem rascal to lose scalp!”

“Them rascals, as you call them, begin to understand their friends in
the marsh, and are looking to the priming of their rifles. We must be
moving, or they may see us, and give us a shot. Shove off, Chippewa, and
paddle at once for the middle of the bay.”

As le Bourdon was much in earnest, Pigeonswing was fain to comply. Had
the last possessed a rifle of his own, or even a knife, it is highly
probable he would have leaped ashore, and found the means of stealing on
some of his enemies unawares, and thus secured another trophy. But the
bee-hunter was determined, and the Chippewa, however reluctant, was
compelled to obey; for not only had le Bourdon kept his rifle at his
side, but he had used the precaution of securing his knife and tomahawk,
both of which he carried habitually, the same as a red man.

The canoes had now a somewhat difficult task. The wind still blew fresh,
and it was necessary for one of these light craft, pretty well loaded
with its proper freight, and paddled by only a single person, to tow two
other craft of equal size dead to the windward. The weight in the towing
craft, and the lightness of those that were towed, rendered this task,
however, easier than it might otherwise have proved. In the course of
a couple of minutes all the canoes were far enough from the shore to be
out of sight of the two Indians, who, by that time, had got down to the
beach to look after their own craft. The yell these savages raised on
finding themselves too late, not only announced their disappointment,
but communicated the extent of the disaster to their friends, who were
still floundering through the marsh.

The great advantage that the party of the bee-hunter had now obtained
must be very apparent to all. In possession of ALL the canoes, their
enemies were, or would be for some time at least, confined to the
northern side of the river, which was so wide near its mouth as to
present an effectual barrier between them and those who occupied the
opposite bank. The canoes, also, enabled the weaker party to change
their position at will, carrying with them as many effects as were on
board, and which included the whole of the property of le Bourdon; while
their loss deprived their enemies of all extra means of motion, and
would be very likely to induce them to proceed on their expedition by
land. The objects of that expedition could only be conjectured by the
bee-hunter, until he had questioned the Chippewa; a thing he did not
fail to do, so soon as he believed the party quite safe under the south
shore. Here the fugitives landed, proceeding up a natural channel in the
wild rice in order to do so, and selecting a bit of dry beach for
their purpose. Margery set about lighting a fire, in order to keep the
mosquitos at a distance, selecting a spot to kindle it, behind a swell
on the land, that concealed the light from all on the other shore. In
the morning, it would be necessary to extinguish that fire, lest its
smoke should betray their position. It was while these things were in
progress, and after le Bourdon had himself procured the fuel necessary
to feed pretty Margery’s fire, that he questioned the Chippewa touching
his captivity.

“Yes, tell all ‘bout him,” answered the Indian, as soon as
interrogated--“no good to hide trail from friend. ‘Member when say
good-by up in openin’ to Bourdon?”

“Certainly--I remember the very instant when you left me. The
Pottawattamie went on one path, and you went on another. I was glad of
that, as you seemed to think he was not your friend.”

“Yes; good not to travel on same path as inimy, ‘cause he quarrel
sometime,” coolly returned the Indian. “Dis time, path come together,
somehow; and Pottawattamie lose he scalp.”

“I am aware of all that, Pigeonswing, and wish it had not been so. I
found the body of Elksfoot sitting up against a tree soon after you left
me, and knew by whose hands he had fallen.”

“Didn’t find scalp, eh?”

“No, the scalp had been taken; though I accounted that but for little,
since the man’s life was gone. There is little gained by carrying on war
in this manner, making the woods, and the openings, and the prairies,
alike unsafe. You see, to what distress this family is reduced by your
Injin manner of making war.”

“How you make him, den--want, to hear. Go kiss, and give venison to
inimy, or go get his scalp, eh? Which bess fashion to make him afeard,
and own you master?”

“All that may be done without killing single travellers, or murdering
women and children. The peace will be made none the sooner between
England and America, because you have got the scalp of Elksfoot.”

“No haben’t got him any longer; wish had--Pottawattamie take him away,
and say he bury him. Well, let him hide him in a hole deep as white
man’s well, can’t hide Pigeonswing honor dere, too. Dat is safe as notch
cut on stick can make him!”

This notch on a stick was the Indian mode of gazetting a warrior; and a
certain number of these notches was pretty certain to procure for him a
sort of savage brevet, which answered his purpose quite as well as the
modern mode of brevetting at Washington answers our purpose. Neither
brings any pay, we believe, nor any command, except in such cases as
rarely occur, and then only to the advantage of government. There are
varieties in honor, as in any other human interest: so are there many
moral degrees in warfare. Thus, the very individual who admires the
occupation of Algiers, or that of Tahiti, or the attack on Canton,
together with the long train of Indian events which have dyed the
peninsulas of the East in the blood of their people, sees an alarming
enormity in the knocking down of the walls of Vera Cruz, though the
breach opened a direct road into San Juan de Ulloa. In the eyes of
the same profound moralists, the garitas of Mexico ought to have been
respected, as so many doors opening into the boudoirs of the beautiful
dames of that fine capital; it being a monstrous thing to fire a shot
into the streets of a town, no matter how many came out of them. We
are happy, therefore, to have it in our power to add these touches of
philosophy that came from Pigeonswing to those of the sages of the
old world, by way of completing a code of international morals on this
interesting subject, in which the student shall be at a loss to say
which he most admires--that which comes from the schools, or that which
comes direct from the wilderness.

“So best,” answered the bee-hunter. “I wish I could persuade you to
throw away that disgusting thing at your belt. Remember, Chippewa, you
are now among Christians, and ought to do as Christians wish.”

“What Christians DO, eh?” returned the Indian, with a sneer, “get drunk
like Whiskey Centre, dere? Cheat poor red man; den get down on knee and
look up at Manitou? DAT what Christian do, eh?”

“They who do such things are Christian but in name--you must think
better of such as are Christians in fact.”

“Ebberybody call himself Christian, tell you--all pale-face
Christian, dey say. Now, listen to Chippewa. Once talk long talk wit’
missionary--tell all about Christian--what Christian do--what Christian
say--how he eat, how he sleep, HOW he drink!--all good--wish Pigeonwing
Christian--den ‘member so’ger at garrison--no eat, no sleep, no drink
Christian fashion--do ebbery t’ing so’ger fashion--swear, fight, cheat,
get drunk--wuss dan Injin--dat Christian, eh?”

“No, that is not acting like a Christian; and I fear very few of us who
call ourselves by that name, act as if we were Christians, in truth,”
 said le Bourdon, conscious of the justice of the Chippewa’s accusation.

“Just dat--now, I get him--ask missionary, one day, where all Christian
go to, so dat Injin can’t find him--none in woods--none on prairie--none
in garrison--none in Mack’naw--none at Detroit--where all go to, den, so
Injin can’t find him, on’y in missionary talk?”

“I am curious to know what answer your missionary made to that
question.”

“Well, tell you--say, on’y one in ten t’ousant RAAL Christians ‘mong
pale-face, dough all call himself Christian! DAT what Injin t’ink queer,
eh?”

“It is not easy to make a red man understand all the ways of the
pale-faces, Pigeonswing; but we will talk of these things another time,
when we are more at our ease. Just now, I wish to learn all I can of the
manner in which you fell into the hands of the Pottawattamies.”

“Dat plain ‘nough--wish Christian talk half as plain. You see, Bourdon,
dat Elksfoot on scout, when we meet in openin’, up river. I know’d his
ar’nd, and so took scalp. Dem Pottawattamie his friend--when dey come to
meet ole chief, no find him; but find Pigeonwing; got me when tired
and ‘sleep; got Elkfoot scalp wid me--sorry for dat--know scalp by
scalp-lock, which had gray hair, and some mark. So put me in canoe, and
meant to take Chippewa to Chicago to torture him--but too much wind. So,
when meet friend in t’odder canoe, come back here to wait little while.”

This was the simple explanation of the manner in which Pigeonswing had
fallen into the hands of his enemies. It would seem that Elksfoot had
come in a canoe from the mouth of the St. Joseph’s to a point about
half-way between that river and the mouth of the Kalamazoo, and there
landed. What the object of the party was, does not exactly appear,
though it is far from being certain that it was not to seize the
bee-hunter, and confiscate his effects. Although le Bourdon was
personally a stranger to Elksfoot, news flies through the wilderness in
an extraordinary manner; and it was not at all unlikely that the fact of
a white American’s being in the openings should soon spread, along with
the tidings that the hatchet was dug up, and that a party should go out
in quest of his scalp and the plunder. It would seem that the savage
tact of the Chippewa detected that in the manner of the Pottawattamie
chief, which assured him the intentions of the old warrior were not
amicable; and that he took the very summary process which has been
related, not only to secure HIS scalp, but effectually to put it out
of his power to do any mischief to one who was an ally, and by means of
recent confidence, now a friend. All this the Indian explained to his
companion, in his usual clipped English, but with a clearness sufficient
to make it perfectly intelligible to his listener. The bee-hunter
listened with the most profound attention, for he was fully aware of the
importance of comprehending all the hazards of his own situation.

While this dialogue was going on, Margery had succeeded in lighting her
fire, and was busy in preparing some warm compound, which she knew would
be required by her unhappy brother after his debauch, Dorothy passed
often between the fire and the canoe, feeling a wife’s anxiety in the
fate of her husband. As for the Chippewa, intoxication was a very venial
offence in his eyes; though he had a contempt for a man who would thus
indulge while on a warpath. The American Indian does possess this merit
of adapting his deportment to his circumstances. When engaged in war he
usually prepares himself, in the coolest and wisest manner, to meet
its struggles, indulging only in moments of leisure, and of comparative
security. It is true that the march of what is called civilization is
fast changing the red man’s character, and he is very apt now to do that
which he sees done by the “Christians” around him.

Le Bourdon, when his dialogue with the Chippewa was over, and after a
few words of explanation with Margery, took his own canoe, and
paddled through the rice-plants into the open water of the river, to
reconnoitre. The breadth of the stream induced him to float down before
the wind, until he reached a point where he could again command a view
of the hut. What he there saw, and what he next did, must be reserved
for a succeeding chapter.



CHAPTER VIII.

     The elfin cast a glance around,
     As he lighted down from his courser toad,
     Then round his breast his wings he wound,
     And close to the river’s brink he strode;
     He sprang on a rock, he breathed a prayer,
     Above his head his arm he threw,
     Then tossed a tiny curve in air,
     And headlong plunged in the water blue.
                                           DRAKE.


An hour had intervened between the time when le Bourdon had removed the
canoes of the Pottawattamies, and the time when he returned alone to the
northern side of the river. In the course of that hour the chief of the
savages had time to ascertain all the leading circumstances that have
just been related, and to collect his people in and around the hut, for
a passing council. The moment was one of action, and not of ceremonies.
No pipe was smoked, nor any of the observances of the great councils
of the tribe attended to; the object was merely to glean facts and
to collect opinions. In all the tribes of this part of North America,
something very like a principle of democracy is the predominant feature
of their politics. It is not, however, that bastard democracy which
is coming so much in fashion among ourselves, and which looks into the
gutters solely for the “people,” forgetting that the landlord has just
as much right to protection as the tenant, the master as the servant,
the rich as the poor, the gentleman as the blackguard. The Indians
know better than all this. They understand, fully, that the chiefs are
entitled to more respect than the loafers in their villages, and listen
to the former, while their ears are shut to the latter. They appear
to have a common sense, which teaches them to avoid equally the
exaggerations of those who believe in blood, and of those who believe
in blackguardism. With them the doctrines of “new men” would sound as
an absurdity, for they never submit to change for change’s sake. On
the contrary, while there is no positive hereditary rank, there is much
hereditary consideration; and we doubt if a red man could be found
in all America, who is so much of a simpleton as to cite among the
qualifications of any man for a situation of trust and responsibility,
that he had never been TAUGHT how to perform its duties. They are
not guilty of the contradiction of elevating men BECAUSE they are
self-taught, while they expend millions on schools. Doubtless they
have, after a fashion of their own, demagogues and Caesars, but they are
usually kept within moderate limits; and in rare instances, indeed,
do either ever seriously trespass on the rights of the tribe. As human
nature is everywhere the same, it is not to be supposed that pure
justice prevails even among savages; but one thing would seem to be
certain, that, all over the world, man in his simplest and wildest state
is more apt to respect his own ordinances, than when living in what is
deemed a condition of high civilization.

When le Bourdon reached the point whence he could get a good view of
the door of the hut, which was still illuminated by the fire within, he
ceased using the paddle beyond the slight effort necessary to keep the
canoe nearly stationary. He was quite within the range of a rifle, but
trusted to the darkness of the night for his protection. That scouts
were out, watching the approaches to the hut, he felt satisfied; and he
did not doubt that some were prowling along the margin of the Kalamazoo,
either looking for the lost boats, or for those who had taken them away.
This made him cautious, and he took good care not to place his canoe in
a position of danger.

It was very apparent that the savages were in great uncertainty as to
the number of their enemies. Had not the rifle been fired, and their
warrior killed and scalped, they might have supposed that their prisoner
had found the means of releasing his limbs himself, and thus effected
his escape; but they knew that the Chippewa had neither gun nor knife,
and as all their own arms, even to those of the dead man, were still in
their possession, it was clear that he had been succored from without.
Now, the Pottawattamies had heard of both the bee-hunter and Whiskey
Centre, and it was natural enough for them to ascribe some of these
unlooked-for feats to one or the other of these agents. It is true,
the hut was known to have been built three or four years earlier, by an
Indian trader, and no one of the party had ever actually seen Gershom
and his family in possession; but the conjectures on this head were as
near the fact, as if the savages had passed and repassed daily. There
was only one point on which these close calculators of events were at
fault. So thoroughly had everything been removed from the chiente, and
so carefully the traces of its recent occupation concealed, that no one
among them suspected that the family had left the place only an hour
before their own arrival. The bee-hunter, moreover, was well assured
that the savages had not yet blundered on the hiding-place of the
furniture. Had this been discovered, its contents would have been
dragged to light, and seen around the fire; for there is usually little
self-restraint among the red men, when they make a prize of this sort.

Nevertheless, there was one point about which even those keen-scented
children of the forest were much puzzled, and which the bee-hunter
perfectly comprehended, notwithstanding the distance at which he was
compelled to keep himself. The odor of the whiskey was so strong, in and
about the chiente, that the Pottawattamies did not know what to make
of it. That there should be the remains of this peculiar smell--one
so fragrant and tempting to those who are accustomed to indulge in the
liquor--in the hut itself, was natural enough; but the savages were
perplexed at finding it so strong on the declivity down which the
barrels had been rolled. On this subject were they conversing, when
le Bourdon first got near enough to observe their proceedings. After
discussing the matter for some time, torches were lighted, and most of
the party followed a grim old warrior, who had an exceedingly true nose
for the scent of whiskey, and who led them to the very spot where the
half-barrel had been first stove by rolling off a rock, and where its
contents had been mainly spilled. Here the earth was yet wet in places,
and the scent was so strong as to leave no doubt of the recent nature of
the accident which had wasted so much of a liquor that was very precious
in Pottawattamie eyes; for accident they thought it must be, since no
sane man could think of destroying the liquor intentionally.

All the movements, gestures, and genuflections of the savages were
plainly seen by the bee-hunter. We say the genuflections, for nearly all
of the Indians got on their knees and applied their noses to the earth,
in order to scent the fragrance of the beloved whiskey; some out of
curiosity, but more because they loved even this tantalizing
indulgence, when no better could be had. But le Bourdon was right in his
conjectures, that the matter was not to end here. Although most of the
Indians scented the remains of the whiskey out of love for the liquor, a
few of their number reasoned on the whole transaction with quite as much
acuteness as could have been done by the shrewdest natural philosopher
living. To them it was very apparent that no great length of time, a few
hours at most, could have elapsed since that whiskey was spilled; and
human hands must have brought it there, in the first place, and poured
it on the ground, in the second. There must have been a strong reason
for such an act, and that reason presented itself to their minds with
unerring accuracy. Their own approach must have been seen, and the
liquor was destroyed because it could not be removed in time to prevent
its falling into their hands. Even the precise manner in which the
whiskey had been disposed of was pretty nearly conjectured by a few of
the chiefs, acute and practised as they were; who, accustomed to this
species of exercise of their wits, had some such dexterity in examining
facts of this nature, and in arriving at just results, as the men of the
schools manifest in the inquiries that more especially belong to their
habits and training. But their conclusions were confined to themselves;
and they were also sufficiently enveloped in doubts, to leave those who
made them ready enough to receive new impressions on the same subject.

All this, moreover, le Bourdon both saw and understood; or, if not
absolutely all, so much of it as to let him comprehend the main
conclusions of the savages, as well as the process by which they were
reached. To obtain light, the Indians made a fire near the charmed spot,
which brought themselves and their movements into plain view from the
canoe of the bee-hunter. Curiosity now became strongly awakened in the
latter, and he ventured in nearer to the shore, in order to get the
best possible view of what was going on. In a manner, he was solving
an enigma; and he experienced the sort of pleasure we all feel at
exercising our wits on difficulties of that nature. The interest he felt
rendered the young man careless as respected the position of his canoe,
which drifted down before the strong breeze, until le Bourdon found
himself in the very edge of the wild rice, which at this point formed
but a very narrow belt along the beach. It was this plant, indeed, that
contributed to make the young man so regardless of his drift, for he
looked upon the belt of rice as a species of landmark to warn him when
to turn. But, at no other spot along that whole shore, where the plant
was to be found at all, was its belt so narrow as at this, immediately
opposite to the new fire of the savages, and almost within the
influence of its rays. To le Bourdon’s surprise, and somewhat to his
consternation, just as his little craft touched the rice, the forms of
two stout warriors passed along the beach, between him and the light,
their feet almost dipping in the water. So near were these two warriors
to him, that, on listening intently, he heard not only their voices,
as they communicated their thoughts to each other in low tones, but
the tread of their moccasined feet on the ground. Retreat, under the
circumstances, would not be safe, for it must have been made under
the muzzles of the rifles; and but one resource presented itself. By
grasping in his hand two or three stalks of the rice-plant, and holding
them firmly, the drift of the canoe was arrested.

After a moment’s reflection, le Bourdon was better satisfied with this
new station than he had been on first gaining it. To have ventured on
such a near approach to his enemies, he would have regarded as madness;
but now he was there, well concealed among the rice, he enjoyed the
advantages of observation it gave him, and looked upon the chance that
brought him there as lucky. He found a thong of buckskin, and fastened
his canoe to the stalks of the plant, thus anchoring or mooring his
little bark, and leaving himself at liberty to move about in it. The
rice was high enough to conceal him, even when erect, and he had some
difficulty in finding places favorable to making his observations
through it. When the bee-hunter made his way into the bow of his canoe,
however, which he did with a moccasined and noiseless foot, he was
startled at perceiving how small was his cover. In point of fact, he was
now within three feet of the inner edge of the rice-plant, which grew
within ten feet of the shore, where the two warriors already mentioned
were still standing, in close communication with each other. Their faces
were turned toward the fire, the bright light from which, at times,
streamed over the canoe itself, in a way to illumine all it contained.
The first impulse of le Bourdon, on ascertaining how closely he had
drifted to the shore, was to seize a paddle and make off, but a second
thought again told him it would be far safer to remain where he was.
Taking his seat, therefore, on a bit of board laid athwart, from gunwale
to gunwale, if such a craft can be said to have gunwales at all, he
patiently waited the course of events.

By this time, all or nearly all of the Pottawattamies had collected on
this spot, on the side of the hill. The hut was deserted, its fire got
to be low, and darkness reigned around the place. On the other hand,
the Indians kept piling brush on their new fire, until the whole of
that hill-side, the stream at its foot, and the ravine through which the
latter ran, were fairly illuminated. Of course, all within the influence
of this light was to be distinctly seen, and the bee-hunter was
soon absorbed in gazing at the movements of savage enemies, under
circumstances so peculiar.

The savages seemed to be entranced by the singular, and to most of them
unaccountable circumstance of the earth’s giving forth the scent of
fresh whiskey, in a place so retired and unknown. While two or three of
their number had certain inklings of the truth, as has been stated,
to much the greater portion of their body it appeared to be a profound
mystery; and one that, in some inexplicable manner, was connected with
the recent digging up of the hatchet. Ignorance and superstition ever
go hand in hand, and it was natural that many, perhaps most of these
uninstructed beings should thus consider so unusual a fragrance, on such
a spot. Whiskey has unfortunately obtained a power over the red man of
this continent that it would require many Fathers Matthew to suppress,
and which can only be likened to that which is supposed to belong to the
influence of witchcraft. The Indian is quite as sensible as the white
man of the mischief that the “fire-water” produces; but, like the white
man, he finds how hard it is to get rid of a master passion, when we
have once submitted ourselves to its sway. The portion of the band that
could not account for the fact of the scent of their beloved beverage’s
being found in such a place, and it was all but three of their whole
party, were quite animated in their discussions on the subject, and
many and crude were the suggestions that fell from their lips. The
two warriors on the beach were more deeply impressed than any of their
companions, with the notion that some “medicine charm” was connected
with this extraordinary affair.

The reader will not be surprised to hear that le Bourdon gazed on the
scene before him with the most profound attention. So near did he seem
to be, and so near was he, in fact, to the savages who were grouped
around the fire, that he fancied he could comprehend what they were
saying, by the expressions of their grim and swarthy countenances.
His conjectures were in part just, and occasionally the bee-hunter was
absolutely accurate in his notions of what was said. The frequency with
which different individuals knelt on the ground, to scent an odor that
is always so pleasant to the red man, would of itself have given a
clew to the general character of the discourse; but the significant and
expressive gestures, the rapid enunciation, and the manner in which the
eyes of the speakers glanced from the faces near themselves to the spot
consecrated by whiskey, pretty plainly told the story. It was while thus
intently occupied in endeavoring to read the singular impression made
on the minds of most of those wild beings, by an incident so much out of
the usual track of their experience, that le Bourdon suddenly found the
bow of his canoe thrusting itself beyond the inner margin of the rice,
and issuing into open water, within ten feet of the very spot where the
two nearest of the savages were still conferring together, apart. The
buckskin thong which served as a fastening had got loosened, and the
light craft was again drifting down before the strong southerly wind,
which still continued to blow a little gale.

Had there been an opportunity for such a thing, the bee-hunter would
have made an effort to escape. But so sudden and unexpected was this
exposure, that he found himself almost within reach of a rifle, before
he was aware of his approaching the two warriors on the shore, at all.
His paddle was in the stern of the canoe, and had he used the utmost
activity, the boat would have grounded on the beach, ere he could have
obtained it. In this situation, therefore, he was absolutely without any
other means than his hands of stopping the canoe, had there even been
time.

Le Bourdon understood his real situation without stopping to reflect;
and, though his heart made one violent leap as soon as he perceived he
was out of cover, he immediately bethought him of the course he ought to
pursue. It would have been fatal to betray alarm, or to attempt flight.
As accident had thus brought him, as it might be on a visit, to the
spot, he at once determined to give his arrival the character of a
friendly call, and the better to support the pretension, to blend with
it, if possible, a little of the oracular, or “medicine” manner, in
order to impose on the imaginations of the superstitious beings into
whose power he had so unwittingly fallen.

The instant the canoe touched the shore, and it was only a moment after
it broke through the cover, le Bourdon arose, and extending his hand
to the nearest Indian, saluted him with the mongrel term of “Sago.” A
slight exclamation from this warrior communicated to his companion an
arrival that was quite as much a matter of surprise to the Indians as to
their guest, and through this second warrior to the whole party on the
hill-side. A little clamor succeeded, and presently the bee-hunter was
surrounded with savages.

The meeting was marked by the self-command and dignified quiet that are
so apt to distinguish the deportment of Indian warriors, when they are
on the war-path, and alive to the duties of manhood. The bee-hunter
shook hands with several, who received his salutations with perfect
calmness, if not with absolute confidence and amity. This little
ceremony gave our hero an opportunity to observe the swarthy
countenances by which he was surrounded, most of which were fierce in
their paint, as well as to reflect a little on his own course. By a
fortunate inspiration he now determined to assume the character of a
“medicine man,” and to connect his prophecies and juggleries with this
lucky accident of the whiskey. Accordingly, he inquired if any one spoke
English, not wishing to trust his explanations to his own imperfect
knowledge of the Ojebway tongue, which is spoken by all the numerous
tribes of that widely-extended nation. Several could render
themselves intelligible in English, and one was so expert as to render
communication with him easy, if not very agreeable. As the savages,
however, soon insisted on examining the canoe, and taking a look at its
contents, previously to listening to their visitor’s explanations,
le Bourdon was fain to submit, and to let the young men satisfy their
curiosity.

The bee-hunter had come on his hazardous expedition in his own canoe.
Previously to quitting the south shore, however, he had lightened
the little craft, by landing everything that was not essential to his
present purpose. As nearly half of his effects were in the canoe of
Whiskey Centre, the task was soon performed, and lucky it was for our
hero that he had bethought him of the prudence of the measure. His sole
object had been to render the canoe swifter and lighter, in the event
of a chase; but, as things turned out, he saved no small portion of
his property by using the precaution. The Indians found nothing in
the canoe, but one rifle, with a horn and pouch, a few light articles
belonging to the bee-hunter’s domestic economy, and which he had not
thought it necessary to remove, and the paddles. All the honey, and the
skins and stores, and spare powder, and lead, and, in short, everything
else that belonged to le Bourdon, was still safe on the other side of
the river. The greatest advantage gained by the Pottawattamies was in
the possession of the canoe itself, by means of which they would now be
enabled to cross the Kalamazoo, or make any other similar expedition, by
water.

But, as yet, not a sign of hostility was betrayed by either party. The
bee-hunter seemed to pay no attention to his rifle and ammunition, or
even to his canoe, while the savages, after having warily examined
the last, together with its contents, returned to their visitor, to
re-examine him, with a curiosity as lively as it was full of distrust.
At this stage in the proceeding, something like a connected and
intelligible conversation commenced between the chief who spoke
English, and who was known in most of the north-western garrisons of the
Americans by the name of Thundercloud, or Cloud, by way of abbreviation,
on account of his sinister looks, though the man actually sustained a
tolerably fair reputation for one of those who, having been wronged, was
so certain to be calumniated. No man was ever yet injured, that he has
not been slandered.

“Who kill and scalp my young man?” asked Cloud, a little abruptly.

“Has my brother lost a warrior?” was the calm reply. “Yes, I see that he
has. A medicine-man can see that, though it is dark.”

“Who kill him, if can see?-who scalp him, too?”

“An enemy did both,” answered le Bourdon, oracularly. “Yes; ‘twas an
enemy that killed him; and an enemy that took his scalp.”

“Why do it, eh? Why come here to take Pottawattamia scalp, when no
war-path open, eh?”

“Pottawattamie, the truth must always be said to a medicine-man. There
is no use in trying to hide truth from HIM. There IS a war-path open;
and a long and a tangled path it is. My Great Father at Washington has
dug up the hatchet against my Great Father at Quebec. Enemies always
take scalps when they can get them.”

“Dat true--dat right, too--nobody grumble at DAT--but who enemy?
pale-face or red-skin?”

“This time it was a red-skin--a Chippewa--one of your own nation, though
not of your own tribe. A warrior called Pigeonswing, whom you had in
thongs, intending to torture him in the morning. He cut his thongs, and
shot your young man--after which he took his scalp.”

“How know dat?” demanded the Cloud, a little fiercely. “You ‘long, and
help kill Pottawattamie, eh?”

“I know it,” answered le Bourdon, coolly, “because medicine-men know
most of what happens. Do not be so hasty, chief, for this is a medicine
spot--whiskey GROWS here.”

A common exclamation escaped all of the red men, who comprehended
the clear, distinct, and oracular-like language and manner of the
bee-hunter. He intended to make an impression on his listeners, and he
succeeded admirably; perhaps as much by means of manner as of matter.
As has been said, all who understood his words--some four or five of the
party--grunted forth their surprise at this evidence of their guest’s
acquaintance with the secrets of the place, in which they were joined by
the rest of their companions, as soon as the words of the pale-face had
been translated. Even the experienced and wary old chiefs, who had more
than half conjectured the truth, in connection with this mysterious odor
of whiskey, were much unsettled in their opinions concerning the wonder,
and got to be in that condition of mind when a man does not know what
to think of any particular event. The bee-hunter, quick-witted, and
managing for his life, was not slow to perceive the advantage he had
gained, and he proceeded at once to clinch the nail he had so skilfully
driven. Turning from Cloud to the head-chief of the party, a warrior
whom he had no difficulty in recognizing, after having so long watched
his movements in the earlier part of the night, he pushed the same
subject a little further.

“Yes; this place is called by the whites Whiskey Centre,” he
added--“which means that it is the centre of all the whiskey of the
country round about.”

“Dat true,” said Cloud, quickly--“I hear so’ger at Fort Dearborn call
him Whiskey Centre!”

This little circumstance greatly complicated the mystery, and le Bourdon
perceived that he had hit on a lucky explanation.

“Soldiers far and near--soldiers drunk or sober--soldiers with scalps,
and soldiers without scalps--all know the place by that name. But you
need not believe with your eyes shut and noses stopped, chief, since you
have the means of learning for yourselves the truth of what I tell you.
Come with me, and I will tell you where to dig in the morning for a
whiskey spring.”

This communication excited a tremendous feeling among the savages, when
its purport came to be explained to the whole party. Apart from the
extraordinary, miraculous nature of such a spring, which in itself was
sufficient to keep alive expectation and gratify curiosity, it was so
comfortable to have an inexhaustible supply of the liquor running out of
the bowels of the earth, that it is no wonder the news spread infinite
delight among the listeners. Even the two or three of the chiefs who
had so shrewdly divined the manner in which the liquor had been spilled,
were staggered by the solemnity and steadiness of the bee-hunter’s
manner, and perhaps a little carried away by sympathy with those around
them. This yielding of the human mind to the influence of numbers is
so common an occurrence as scarcely to require explanation, and is
the source of half the evils that popular associations inflict on
themselves. It is not that men capable of SEEING the truth are ever
wanting; but men capable of MAINTAINING it, in the face of clamor and
collected power.

It will be readily conceived that a medicine-man who is supposed to
possess the means of discovering a spring that should overflow with pure
whiskey, would not be left without urgent demands for a speedy exercise
of this art. This was now the case with le Bourdon, who was called on
from all sides to point out the precise spot where the young men were
to commence digging in order to open on the treasure. Our hero knew that
his only hope of escape was connected with his steadily maintaining his
assumed character; or of maintaining this assumed character, with
his going on, at once, to do something that might have the effect,
temporarily at least, of satisfying the impatience of his now attentive
listeners. Accordingly, when the demand was made on him to give some
evidence of his power, he set about the task, not only with composure,
but with a good deal of ingenuity.

Le Bourdon, it will be remembered, had, with his own hands, rolled the
two barrels of whiskey down the declivity. Feeling the great importance
of effectually destroying them, he had watched their descent, from
the top to the bottom of the hill, and the final disappearance of the
staves, etc., into the torrent which brawled at its foot. It had so
happened that the half-filled cask broke and let out its liquor at a
point much more remote from the stream, than the filled. The latter
had held together until it went over the low rocky precipice, already
mentioned, and was stove at its base, within two yards of the torrent,
which received all its fragments and swept them away, including most
of the liquor itself; but not until the last had been spilled. Now,
the odorous spot which had attracted the noses of the savages, and near
which they had built their fire, was that where the smallest quantity
of the whiskey had fallen. Le Bourdon reasoned on these circumstances
in this wise:--if half a barrel of the liquor can produce so strong a
scent, a barrel filled ought to produce one still stronger; and I will
manifest my medicine-character, by disregarding for the present moment
the spot on the hill-side, and proceed at once to that at the foot
of the rocks. To this latter point, therefore, did he direct all
the ceremony, as well as his own footsteps, when he yielded to the
solicitations of the Pottawattamies, and undertook to point out the
position of the whiskey spring.

The bee-hunter understood the Indian character too well to forget to
embellish his work with a proper amount of jugglery and acting. Luckily,
he had left in the canoe a sort of frock of mottled colors that he had
made himself, to wear in the woods in the autumn as a hunting-dress,
under the notion that such a covering would conceal his approach from
his game, by blending its hues with those of the autumn leaf. This dress
he now assumed, extorting a good deal of half-suppressed admiration from
the younger warriors, by the gay appearance he made. Then he drew out
his spy-glass to its greatest length, making various mysterious signs
and gestures as he did so. This glass proved to be a great auxiliary,
and possibly alone kept the doubters in awe. Le Bourdon saw at once that
it was entirely new, even to the oldest chief, and he felt how much
it might be made to assist him. Beckoning to Cloud, and adjusting the
focus, he directed the small end of his glass to the fire, and placed
the large end to that Indian’s eye. A solitary savage, who loved the
scent of whiskey too much to tear himself away from the spot, was
lingering within the influence of the rays, and of course was seen by
the chief, with his person diminished to that of a dwarf, and his form
thrown to a seeming distance.

An eloquent exclamation followed this exhibition of the medicine-man’s
power; and each of the chiefs, and most of the other warriors, were
gratified with looks through the glass.

“What dat mean?” demanded Cloud, earnestly. “See Wolfeye well
‘nough--why he so little?--why he so far off, he?”

“That is to show you what a medicine-man of the pale-faces can do, when
he is so minded. That Indian is named Wolfseye, and he loves whiskey too
well. That I know, as well as I know his name.”

Each of these exhibitions of intelligence extorted exclamations of
wonder. It is true, that one or two of the higher chiefs understood that
the name might possibly have been obtained from Cloud; but how was the
medicine-man to know that Wolfseye was a drunkard? This last had not
been said in terms; but enough had been said, to let those who
were aware of the propensity feel that more was meant than had been
expressed. Before there was time, however, to deliberate on, or to
dissect this specimen of mysterious knowledge, le Bourdon reversed the
glass, and applied the small end to the eye of Cloud, after having given
it its former direction. The Indian fairly yelled, partly with dread,
and partly with delight, when he saw Wolfseye, large as life, brought so
near him that he fancied he might be touched with his own hand.

“What dat mean?” exclaimed Cloud, as soon as surprise and awe enabled
him to find his voice. “Fuss he little, den he big--fuss he great way,
den he close by--what dat mean, eh?”

“It means that I am a medicine-man, and this is a medicine-glass, and
that I can see with it into the earth, deeper than the wells, or higher
than the mountains!”

These words were translated, and explained to all three. They extorted
many ejaculations of wonder, and divers grunts of admiration and
contentment. Cloud conferred a moment with the two principal chiefs;
then he turned eagerly to the bee-hunter, saying--

“All good, but want to hear more--want to l’arn more--want to SEE more.”

“Name your wants freely, Pottawattamie,” answered le Bourdon, with
dignity, “they shall be satisfied.”

“Want to see--want to TASTE whiskey spring--see won’t do--want to TASTE”

“Good--you shall smell first; then you shall see; after that you shall
taste. Give me room, and be silent; a great medicine is near.”

Thus delivering himself, le Bourdon proceeded with his necromancy.



CHAPTER IX.

  He turned him round, and fled amain With hurry and dash to the beach
  again; He twisted over from side to side, And laid his cheek to the
  cleaving tide; The strokes of his plunging arms are fleet, And with all
  his might he flings his feet, But the water-sprites are round him still,
  To cross his path and work him ill.
                                        --The Culprit Fay.


The first step in the conjuration of the bee-hunter was, to produce an
impression on the minds of his untutored observers, by resorting to a
proper amount of mummery and mystical action. This he was enabled to do
with some effect, in consequence of having practised as a lad in similar
mimicry, by way of pastime. The Germans, and the descendants of Germans
in America, are not of a very high class, as respects education,
taken as a body, and they retain many of the most inveterate of the
superstitions of their Teutonic ancestors. Although the bee-hunter
himself was of purely English descent, he came from a State that was in
part peopled by these Germans and their descendants; and, by intercourse
with them, he had acquired a certain knowledge of their notions on the
subject of necromancy, that he now found was of use. So far as gravity
of mien, solemn grimaces, and unintelligible mutterings were concerned,
le Bourdon played his part to admiration; and by the time he had led
the party half the distance he intended to go, our necromancer, or
“medicine-man,” had complete possession of the imaginations of all the
savages, the two or three chiefs already mentioned alone excepted. At
this stage of the proceedings occurred a little incident, which goes
to prove the disposition of the common mind to contribute in deceiving
itself, and which was of considerable assistance to le Bourdon, in
maintaining his assumed character.

It will be remembered that the place where the Indians had found their
strongest scent was on the hill-side, or the spot where the half-filled
barrel had let out most of its contents. Near this spot their new fire
was still brightly blazing, and there Wolfseye remained, regaling one of
his senses, at least, with an odor that he found so agreeable. But
the bee-hunter knew that he should greatly increase the wonder of the
savages by leading them to a NEW scent-spot, one to which there was no
visible clew, and where the odor was probably much stronger than on the
hill-side. Accordingly he did not approach the fire, but kept around the
base of the hill, just enough within the influence of the light to pick
his way readily, and yet so distant from it as to render his countenance
indistinct and mysterious. No sooner, however, had he got abreast of the
scent-spot known to the savages, than the crowd endeavored to lead him
toward it, by gestures and hints, and, finally, by direct intimations
that he was going astray. All this our “medicine-man” disregarded; he
held his way steadily and solemnly toward that place at the foot of the
hill where he knew that the filled barrel had let out its contents, and
where he, reasonably enough, expected to find sufficient traces of the
whiskey to answer his purposes. At first, this pertinacity provoked
the crowd, which believed he was going wrong; but a few words from
Crowsfeather, the principal chief, caused the commotion to cease. In a
few more minutes le Bourdon stopped, near the place of his destination.
As a fresh scent of whiskey was very perceptible here, a murmur of
admiration, not unmixed with delight, passed among the attendants.

“Now, let the young men build a fire for ME” said the bee-hunter,
solemnly--“not such a fire as that which is burning on the hill, but a
medicine-fire. I SMELL the whiskey spring, and want a medicine-light to
SEE it.”

A dozen young men began to collect the brush; in a minute a pile of some
size had been accumulated on a flat rock, within twenty feet of the spot
where le Bourdon knew that the cask had been dashed to pieces. When he
thought the pile sufficiently large, he told Crowsfeather that it might
be lighted by bringing a brand from the other fire.

“This will not be a medicine-light, for that can come only from
‘medicine-matches,’” he added; “but I want a fire to see the shape of
the ground. Put in the brand, brothers; let us have a flame.”

The desire of the bee-hunter was gratified, and the whole of the base
of the hill around the spot where the filled cask had broken, was
illuminated.

“Now, let all the Pottawattamies stand back,” added le Bourdon,
earnestly. “It might cost a warrior his life to come forward too
soon--or, if not his life, it might give a rheumatism that can never be
cured, which is worse. When it is time for my red brothers to advance,
they will be called.”

As the bee-hunter accompanied this announcement by suitable gestures,
he succeeded in ranging all of the silent, but excited savages on three
sides of his fire, leaving that next his mysterious spring to
himself, alone. When all was arranged, le Bourdon moved slowly, but
unaccompanied, to the precise spot where the cask had broken. Here he
found the odor of the whiskey so strong, as to convince him that some
of the liquor must yet remain. On examining more closely, he ascertained
that several shallow cavities of the flat rock, on which the cask had
been dashed, still contained a good deal of the liquor; enough to prove
of great assistance to his medicine character.

All this while the bee-hunter kept one portion of his faculties on the
alert, in order to effect his escape. That he might deceive for a time,
aided as he was by so many favorable circumstances, he did not doubt;
but he dreaded the morning and the results of a night of reflection and
rest. Crowsfeather, in particular, troubled him; and he foresaw that
his fate would be terrible, did the savages once get an inkling of the
deception he was practising. As he stood there, bending over the little
pools of whiskey, he glanced his eyes toward the gloom which pervaded
the northern side of the hill, and calculated the chances of escape by
trusting to his speed. All of the Pottawattamies were on the opposite
side, and there was a thicket favorably placed for a cover, so near that
the rifle would scarce have time to perform its fatal office, ere
he might hope to bury himself within its leaves. So tempting did the
occasion appear, that, for a single instant, le Bourdon forgot his
caution, and his mummeries, and had actually advanced a step or two in
the direction toward which he contemplated flight, when, on glancing an
uneasy look behind him, he perceived Crowsfeather and his two intimate
counsellors stealthily preparing their rifles, as if they distrusted
his intentions. This at once induced a change of plan, and brought
the bee-hunter back to a sense of his critical position, and of the
indispensable necessity of caution to a man in his situation.

Le Bourdon now seemingly gave all his attention to the rocks where he
stood, and out of which the much-coveted liquor was expected to flow;
though his thoughts were still busily employed in considering the means
of escape, the whole time. While stooping over the different pools, and
laying his plans for continuing his medicine-charms, the bee-hunter saw
how near he had been to committing a great mistake. It was almost as
indispensable to carry off the canoe, as it was to carry off himself;
since, with the canoe, not only would all his own property, but
pretty Margery, and Gershom and his wife, be at the mercy of the
Pottawattamies; whereas, by securing the boat, the wide Kalamazoo would
serve as a nearly impassable barrier, until time was given to the whites
to escape. His whole plan was changed by this suggestion, and he no
longer thought of the thicket and of flight inland. At the same time
that the bee hunter was laying up in his mind ideas so important to his
future movements, he did not neglect the necessary examination of the
means that might be required to extend and prolong his influence over
the minds of the superstitious children of the forest on whom he was
required to practise his arts. His thoughts reverted to the canoe, and
he concocted a plan by which he believed it possible to get possession
of his little craft again. Once on board it, by one vigorous shove he
fancied he might push it within the cover of the rice-plants, where he
would be in reasonable safety against the bullets of the savages. Could
he only get the canoe on the outer side of the narrow belt of the plant,
he should deem himself safe!

Having arranged his course in his own mind, le Bourdon now beckoned to
Crowsfeather to draw near, at the same time inviting the whole party
to approach within a few feet of the spot where he himself stood. The
bee-hunter had brought with him from the boat a fragment of the larger
end of a cane fishing-rod, which he used as a sort of wand. Its size was
respectable, and its length about eight feet. With this wand he pointed
out the different objects he named, and it answered the very important
purpose of enabling him to make certain small changes in the formation
of the ground, that were of the greatest service to him, without
permitting curious eyes to come so near as to detect his artifices.

“Now open your ears, Crowsfeather; and you, Cloud; and all of you, young
braves,” commenced the bee-hunter, solemnly, and with a steadiness that
was admirable; “yes, open wide your ears. The Great Spirit has given
the red man a nose that he might smell--does the Cloud smell more than
common?”

“Sartain--smell whiskey--this Whiskey Centre dey say--nat’ral dat such
smell be here.”

“Do all the chiefs and warriors of the Pottawattamies who are present,
also smell the same?”

“S’pose so--why he don’t, eh? Got nose--can smell whiskey good way, tell
you.”

“It is right they should smell the liquor here, for out of this rock a
whiskey spring will soon begin to run. It will begin with a very small
stream, but soon will there be enough to satisfy everybody. The
Great Manitou knows that his red children are dry; he has sent a
‘medicine-man’ of the pale-faces to find a spring for them. Now, look
at this piece of rock--it is dry--not even the dew has yet moistened it.
See--it is made like a wooden bowl, that it may hold the liquor of the
spring. Let Crowsfeather smell it--smell it, Cloud--let all my young men
smell it, too, that they may be certain that there is nothing there.”

On this invitation, accompanied as it was by divers flourishes of the
wand, and uttered in a deep, solemn tone of voice, the whole party of
the Indians gathered around the small hollow basin-like cavity pointed
out by the bee-hunter, in order both to see and to smell. Most knelt,
and each and all applied their noses to the rock, as near the bowl as
they could thrust them. Even the dignified and distrustful Crowsfeather
could not refrain from bending in the crowd. This was the moment for
which le Bourdon wished, and he instantly prepared to carry out his
design.

Previously, however, to completing the project originally conceived,
a momentary impulse prevailed which urged him to adopt a new mode of
effecting his escape. Now, that most of the savages were on their hands
and knees, struggling to get their noses as near as possible to the
bowl, and all were intent on the same object, it occurred to the
bee-hunter, who was almost as active as the panther of the American
forest, that he might dash on toward the canoe, and make his escape
without further mummery. Had it been only a question of human speed
perhaps such would have been the wisest thing he could do; but a
moment’s reflection told him how much swifter than any foot of man was
the bullet of a rifle. The distance exceeded a hundred yards, and it
was altogether in bright light, by means of the two fires, Wolfseye
continuing to pile brush on that near which he still maintained
his post, as if afraid the precious liquor would start out of the
scent-spot, and be wasted should he abandon his ward. Happily,
therefore, le Bourdon relinquished his dangerous project almost as
soon as it was entertained, turning his attention immediately to the
completion of the plan originally laid.

It has been said that the bee-hunter made sundry flourishes with his
wand. While the savages were most eager in endeavoring to smell the
rock, he lightly touched the earth that confined the whiskey in the
largest pool, and opened a passage by which the liquor could trickle
down the side of the rock, selecting a path for itself, until it
actually came into the bowl, by a sinuous but certain channel.

Here was a wonder! Liquor could not only be smelled, but it could be
actually seen! As for Cloud, not satisfied with gratifying the two
senses connected with the discoveries named, he began to lap with his
tongue, like a dog, to try the effect of taste.

“The Manitou does not hide his face from the Pottawattamie!” exclaimed
this savage, rising to his feet in astonishment; “this is the
fire-water, and such as the pale-faces bring us for skins!”

Others imitated his example, and the exclamations of wonder and delight
flew from mouth to mouth, in a torrent of vehement assertions and
ejaculations. So great a “medicine” charm had never before been
witnessed in that tribe, or in that region, and a hundred more might
succeed, before another should equal this in its welcome character.
There was whiskey, of a certainty, not much in quantity, to be sure, but
of excellent quality, as several affirmed, and coming in a current that
was slowly increasing! This last sign was owing to the circumstance
that le Bourdon had deepened the outlet of the pool, permitting a larger
quantity to flow down the little channel.

The moment had now come for a decisive step. The bee-hunter knew that
his precious rivulet would soon cease to run, and that he must carry out
his design under the first impressions of his charm, or that he probably
would not be permitted to carry it out, at all. At this moment even
Crowsfeather appeared to be awed by what he had seen; but a chief so
sagacious might detect the truth, and disappointment would then be
certain to increase the penalties he would incur.

Making many sweeps of his wand, and touching various points of the rock,
both to occupy the attention of the savages, and to divert it from his
pool, the bee-hunter next felt in his pocket and drew out a small piece
of resin that he knew was there; the remains of a store with which
he resined the bow of his fiddle; for our hero had a violin among his
effects, and often used it in his solitary abodes in the openings.
Breaking this resin on a coal, he made it flash and blaze; but the
quantity was too small to produce the “medicine-fire” he wanted.

“I have more in my canoe,” he said, addressing himself to the
interpreter; “while I go for it, the red men must not stir, lest they
destroy a pale-face’s doings. Least of all they must go near the spring.
It would be better for the chiefs to lead away their young men, and
make them stand under the oak, where nothing can be done to hurt the
‘medicine-charm.’”

The bee-hunter pointed to a tree that stood in the direction of the
canoe, in order to prevent distrust, though he had taken care to select
a spot whence the little craft could not be seen, on account of an
intervening swell in the land, Crowsfeather led his warriors to the
indicated place, where they took their stations, in silent and grave
attention.

In the mean while, le Bourdon continued his incantations aloud;
walking toward his canoe, waving his hand, and uttering a great deal of
gibberish as he slowly proceeded. In passing the tree, our hero, though
he did not turn his head, was sensible that he was followed by the
chiefs, a movement against which he did not dare to remonstrate, though
it sadly disappointed him. Neither hastening nor retarding his steps,
however, in consequence of this unpleasant circumstance, the young man
continued on; once or twice sweeping the wand behind him, in order to
ascertain if he could reach his followers. But Crowsfeather and his
companions stopped when they reached the swell of land which concealed
the canoe, suffering the “medicine-man” to move on alone. Of this
fact le Bourdon became aware, by turning three times in a circle, and
pointing upward at the heavens with his wand, as he did so.

It was a nervous moment when the bee-hunter reached the canoe. He did
not like to look behind him again, lest the chiefs should suspect his
motive, and, in shoving off from the shore, he might do so within a
few yards of the muzzle of a hostile rifle. There was no time to lose,
however, for any protracted delay on his part would certainly cause the
savages to approach, through curiosity, if not through distrust of his
motives. He stepped into his light craft, therefore, without any delay,
still flourishing his wand, and muttering his incantations. The first
thing was to walk to the stern of the canoe, that his weight might
raise the bow from the shore, and also that he might have an excuse for
turning round, and thus get another look at the Indians. So critical was
his situation, and so nervous did it make our young hero, that he took
no heed of the state of matters in the canoe, until the last moment.
When he had turned, however, he ascertained that the two principal
chiefs had drawn so near as to be within twenty yards of him, though
neither held his rifle at “ready,” but each leaned on it in a careless
manner, as if in no anticipation of any necessity to make a speedy
use of the weapon. This state of things could not last, and le Bourdon
braced his nerves for the final trial. On looking for his paddle,
however, he found that of three which the canoe had contained when he
left it, not even one was to be seen! These wily savages had, out of all
question, taken their opportunity to remove and secrete these simple,
but almost indispensable, means of motion.

At the instant when first apprised of the loss just mentioned, the
bee-hunter’s heart sunk within him, and he fell into the seat in the
stern of the canoe, nearly with the weight of so much lead. Then a
species of desperation came over him, and putting an end of his cane
wand upon the bottom, with a vigorous shove he forced the canoe swiftly
astern and to windward. Sudden as was this attempt, and rapid as was
the movement, the jealous eyes and ready hands of the chiefs seemed to
anticipate it. Two shots were fired within a few seconds after the canoe
had quitted the shore. The reports of the rifles were a declaration of
hostilities, and a general yell, accompanied by a common rush toward the
river, announced that the whole band now understood that some deception
had been practised at their expense.

Although the two chiefs in advance had been so very prompt, they were
not quick enough for the rapid movement of the canoe. The distance
between the stern of the boat and the rice-plants was so small, that
the single desperate shove given by the bee-hunter sufficed to bury
his person in the cover, before the leaden messengers reached him.
Anticipating this very attempt, and knowing that the savages might
get their range from the part of the canoe that was still in sight, le
Bourdon bent his body far over the gunwale, grasping the rice-plants
at the same time, and hauling his little craft through them, in the way
that sailors call “hand over hand.” This expedient most probably saved
his life. While bending over the gunwale, he heard the crack of the
rifles, and the whizzing of two bullets that appeared to pass just
behind him. By this time the whole of the canoe was within the cover.

In a moment like that we are describing, incidents pass so rapidly as
almost to defy description. It was not twenty seconds from the instant
when le Bourdon first put his wand down to push the canoe from the land,
ere he found his person emerging from the cover, on its weather side.
Here he was effectually concealed from his enemies, not only on account
of the cover made by the rice-plants, but by reason of the darkness; the
light not extending far enough from the fire to illumine objects on the
river. Nevertheless, new difficulties presented themselves. When clear
of the rice, the wind, which still blew strong, pressed upon his canoe
to such a degree as not only to stop its further movement from the
shore, but so as to turn it broadside to, to its power. Trying with
his wand, the bee-hunter ascertained that it would no longer reach the
bottom. Then he attempted to use the cane as a paddle, but soon found
it had not sufficient hold of the water to answer for such an implement.
The most he could effect with it, in that way, was to keep the canoe for
a short distance along the outer edge of the rice, until it reached a
spot where the plant extended a considerable distance farther toward the
middle of the river. Once within this little forest of the wild rice, he
was enabled to drag the canoe farther and farther from the north shore,
though his progress was both slow and laborious, on account of the
resistance met.

All this time, the savages were not idle. Until the canoe got within
its new cover, it was at no instant fifty yards from the beach, and the
yells, and orders, and whoopings sounded as if uttered directly in le
Bourdon’s ear. A splashing in the water soon announced that our fugitive
was pursued by swimmers. As the savages knew that the beehunter was
without a paddle, and that the wind blew fresh, the expectation
of overtaking their late captive, in this manner, was by no means
chimerical. Half a dozen active young men would prove very formidable to
one in such a situation, more especially while entangled in the mazes
of the rice-plant. The bee-hunter was so well convinced of this
circumstance, that no sooner did he hear the splashes of the swimmers,
than he redoubled his exertions to pull his canoe farther from the spot.
But his progress was slow, and he was soon convinced that his impunity
was more owing to the fact that his pursuers did not know where to find
him, than to the rapidity of his flight.

Notwithstanding his exertions, and the start obtained, le Bourdon soon
felt assured that the swimmers were within a hundred feet of him, their
voices coming from the outer margin of the cover in which he now lay,
stationary. He had ceased dragging the canoe ahead, from an apprehension
of being heard, though the rushing of the wind and the rustling of
the rice might have assured him that the slight noises made by his
own movements would not be very likely to rise above those sounds. The
splashing of the swimmers, and their voices, gradually drew nearer,
until the bee-hunter took up his rifle, determined to sacrifice the
first savage who approached; hoping, thereby, to intimidate the others.
For the first time, it now occurred to him that the breech of his rifle
might be used as a paddle, and he was resolved to apply it to that
service, could he once succeed in extricating himself from the enemies
by whom he was nearly environed, and from the rice.

Just as le Bourdon fancied that the crisis had arrived, and that he
should soon be called on to kill his man, a shout was given by a savage
at some distance in the river, and presently calls passed from mouth to
mouth, among the swimmers. Our hero now listened to a degree that kept
his faculty of hearing at a point of painful attention. The voices and
plashes on the water receded, and what was startling, a sound was heard
resembling that which as produced by a paddle when struck incautiously
against the side of a canoe. Was it then possible that the Chippewa was
out, or had the Pottawattamies one boat that had escaped his attention?
The last was not very probable, as he had several times counted their
little fleet, and was pretty sure of having taken it all to the other
side of the river. The sound of the paddle was repeated, however; then
it occurred to the bee-hunter, that Pigeonswing might be on the scent
for another scalp.

Although the conjecture just mentioned was exceedingly unpleasant to le
Bourdon, the chase of the strange canoe gave him an opportunity to drag
his own light craft ahead, penetrating deeper and deeper among the wild
rice, which now spread itself to a considerable distance from the shore,
and grew so thick as to make it impossible to get through the waving
mass. At length, wearied with his exertions, and a little uncertain as
to his actual position, our hero paused, listening intently, in order to
catch any sounds that might direct his future movements.

By this time the savages ceased to call to each other; most probably
conscious of the advantage it gave the fugitive. The bee-hunter
perfectly understood that his pursuers must be aware of its being
entirely out of his power to get to windward, and that they would keep
along the shore of the river, as he did himself, expecting to see his
canoe sooner or later driven by the wind on the beach. This had made him
anxious to drag his boat as much toward the outer edge of the rice as
he could get it, and by the puffs of wind that he occasionally felt, he
hoped he had, in a great measure, effected his purpose. Still he had his
apprehensions of the savages; as some would be very apt to swim quite
out into the stream, not only to look for him, but to avoid being
entangled among the plants. It was only in the natural channels of the
rice, of which there were a good many, that a swimmer could very readily
make his way, or be in much safety. By waiting long enough, moreover,
the bee-hunter was sure he should tire out his pursuers, and thus get
rid of them.

Just as le Bourdon began to think this last-mentioned purpose had
been accomplished, he heard low voices directly to windward, and the
splashing of water, as if more than one man was coming down upon him,
forcing the stalks of the plants aside. He grasped the rifle, and let
the canoe drift, which it did slowly, under the power of the wind,
notwithstanding the protection of the cover. The swimmers forced their
way through the stalks; but it was evident, just then, that they
were more occupied by their present pursuit than in looking for him.
Presently a canoe came brushing through the rice, forced by the wind,
and dragged by two savages, one of whom swam on each bow. The last did
not see the bee-hunter, or his canoe, the one nearest having his face
turned in the opposite direction; but they were distinctly seen by the
former. Surprised that a seizure should be made with so little fracas,
le Bourdon bent forward to look the better, and, as the stern of the
strange canoe came almost under his eyes, he saw the form of Margery
lying in its bottom. His blood curdled at this sight; for his first
impression was, that the charming young creature had been killed and
scalped; but there being no time to lose, he sprang lightly from one
canoe to the other, carrying the rifle in his hand. As he struck in
the bottom of the boat of Gershom, he heard his name uttered in a
sweet female voice, and knew that Margery was living. Without stopping,
however, to inquire more, he moved to the head of the canoe, and, with
a sharp blow on the fingers, made each of the savages release his grasp.
Then, seizing the rice-plants, he dragged the little craft swiftly to
windward again. All this was done, as it might be, in an instant; the
savages and the canoe being separated some twenty feet, in much less
time than is required to relate the occurrence.

“Bourdon, are you injured?” asked Margery, her voice trembling with
anxiety.

“Not in the least, dear Margery--and you, my excellent girl?”

“They caught my canoe, and I almost died of fright; but they have only
dragged it toward the shore.”

“God be praised! Is there any paddle in the canoe?”

“There are several--one is at your feet, Bourdon--and here, I have
another.”

“Then, let us search for my canoe, and get out of the rice. If we can
but find my canoe, we shall be safe enough, for the savages have nothing
in which to cross the river. Keep your eyes about you, Margery, and look
among the rice for the other boat.”

The search was not long, but it was intently anxious. At length Margery
saw the lost canoe just as it was drifting past them, and it was secured
immediately. In a few minutes, le Bourdon succeeded in forcing the
two craft into open water, when it was easy for him to paddle both to
windward. The reader can readily imagine that our hero did not permit
many minutes to elapse, ere he questioned his companion on the subject
of her adventures. Nor was Margery reluctant to tell them. She had
become alarmed at le Bourdon’s protracted absence, and taking advantage
of Pigeonswing lying down, she unloaded her brother’s canoe, and
went out into the river to look for the absent one. As a matter of
course--though so feminine and far removed from all appearance of
coarseness, a true American girl in this respect--Margery knew perfectly
well how to manage a bark canoe. The habits of her life for the last few
years, made her acquainted with this simple art; and strength being
much less needed than skill, she had no difficulty in going whither
she wished. The fires served as beacons, and Margery had been a distant
witness of the bee-hunter’s necromancy as well as of his escape. The
instant the latter was effected, she endeavored to join him; and it was
while incautiously paddling along the outer edge of the rice, with this
intention, that her canoe was seized by two of the swimmers. As soon as
these last ascertained that they had captured a “squaw,” they did not
give themselves the trouble to get into the canoe--a very difficult
operation with one made of bark, and which is not loaded--but they
set about towing the captured craft to the shore, swimming each with a
single hand and holding on by the other.

“I shall not soon forget this kindness of yours, Margery,” said le
Bourdon, with warmth, when the girl had ended her simple tale, which
had been related in the most artless and ingenuous manner. “No man could
forget so generous a risk on the part of a young woman in his behalf.”

“I hope you do not think it wrong, Bourdon--I should be sorry to have
you think ill of me!”

“Wrong, dear Margery!--but no matter. Let us get ourselves out of
present difficulties, and into a place of safety; then I will tell you
honestly what I think of it, and of you, too. Was your brother awake,
dear Margery, when you left the family?”

“I believe not--he sleeps long and heavily after drinking. But he can
now drink no more, until he reaches the settlements.”

“Not unless he finds the whiskey spring,” returned the bee-hunter,
laughing.

The young man then related to his wondering companion the history of the
mummery and incantations of which she had been a distant spectator. Le
Bourdon’s heart was light, after his hazards and escape, and his spirits
rose as his narrative proceeded. Nor was pretty Margery in a mood to
balk his humor. As the bee-hunter recounted his contrivances to elude
the savages, and most especially when he gave the particulars of the
manner in which he managed to draw whiskey out of the living rock, the
girl joined in his merriment, and filled the boat with that melody of
the laugh of her years and sex, which is so beautifully described by
Halleck.



CHAPTER X.

     The things that once she loved are still the same;
     Yet now there needs another name
     To give the feeling which they claim,
       While she the feeling gives;
     She cannot call it gladness or delight;
     And yet there seems to be a richer, lovelier light
     On e’en the humblest thing that lives.
                                --WASHINGTON ALLSTON.


The history given by le Bourdon lasted until the canoes reached the
south shore. Glad enough was Dorothy to see them both safe back, for
neither of her companions had yet awoke. It was then midnight, and all
now retired to seek the rest which might be so needful to prepare them
for the exertions of the next day. The bee-hunter slept in his canoe,
while Margery shared the buffalo-skin of her sister.

As perfect security, for the moment at least, was felt by the sleepers,
their slumbers were sound, and reached into the morning. Then le Bourdon
arose, and withdrawing to a proper distance, he threw off his clothes
and plunged into the stream, in conformity with a daily practice of his
at that genial season of the year. After bathing, the young man ascended
a hill, whence he might get a good view of the opposite shore, and
possibly obtain some notion of what the Pottawattamies were about. In
all his movements, however, the bee-hunter had an eye to the concealment
of his person, it being of the last importance that the savages should
not learn his position. With the intention of concealment, the fire had
been suffered to go down, a smoke being a sign that no Indian would be
likely to overlook. As for the canoe and the bivouac of the party, the
wild rice and an intermediate hill formed a perfect cover, so long as
nothing was shown above them.

From the height to which he ascended, the bee-hunter, aided by his
glass, got a very clear view of Whiskey Centre and the parts adjacent.
The savages were already stirring, and were busy in the various
avocations of the red man on a war-path. One party was disposing of
the body of their dead companion. Several were cooking, or cleaning the
wild-fowl shot in the bay, while a group was collected near the spot of
the wished-for spring, reluctant to abandon the hopes to which it had
given birth, at the very moment they were plotting to obtain the scalp
of the “medicine-man.” The beloved “fire-water,” that seduces so many
to their destruction, who have enjoyed the advantages of moral teaching,
and which has been a withering curse on the red man of this continent,
still had its influence; and the craving appetites of several of the
drunkards of the party brought them to the spot, as soon as their eyes
opened on the new day. The bee-hunter could see some of this cluster
kneeling on the rocks, lapping like hounds at the scattered little
pools of the liquor, while others scented around, in the hope of yet
discovering the bird that laid the golden egg. Le Bourdon had now little
expectation that his assumed character could be maintained among these
savages any longer, did accident again throw him in their way. The
chiefs, he saw, had distrusted him all along, but had given him an
opportunity to prove what he could do, in order to satisfy the more
vulgar curiosity of their young men. He wisely determined, therefore, to
keep out of the hands of his enemies.

Although le Bourdon could hold a conversation in the tongue of
the Ojebways, he was not fond of so doing. He comprehended without
difficulty nearly all of what was said by them, and had observed the
previous night that the warriors made many allusions to a chief whom
they styled Onoah, but who he himself knew was usually called Scalping
Peter among the whites of that frontier. This savage had a fearful
reputation at all the garrisons, though he never showed himself in
them; and he was now spoken of by the Pottawattamies present, as if they
expected to meet him soon, and to be governed by his commands or his
advice. The bee-hunter had paid great attention whenever this dreaded
name was mentioned, for he was fully aware of the importance of
keeping clear of an enemy who bore so bad a reputation that it was not
considered prudent for a white man to remain long in his company even
in a time of peace. His English sobriquet had been obtained from the
circumstances of its being reputed that this chief, who seemed to belong
to no tribe in particular, while he had great influence with all, had
on divers occasions murdered the palefaces who fell in his way, and then
scalped them. It was added, that he had already forty notches on his
pole, to note that number of scalps taken from the hated whites. In
short, this Indian, a sort of chief by birth, though of what tribe no
one exactly knew, appeared to live only to revenge the wrongs done his
color by the intruders, who had come from toward the rising sun to
drive his people into the great salt lake on the other side of the Rocky
Mountains. Of course there was a good deal that was questionable in
these reports; a rumor in the “openings” and on the prairies, having
this general resemblance to those that circulate in town, and in
drawing-rooms, and at feasts, that no one of them all can be relied on
as rigidly exact. But le Bourdon was still young, and had yet to learn
how little of that which we all hear is true, and how very much is
false. Nevertheless, as an Indian tradition is usually more accurate
than a white man’s written history, so is a rumor of the forest
generally entitled to more respect than the ceaseless gossipings of the
beings who would be affronted were they not accounted civilized.

The bee-hunter was still on the elevated bit of ground, making his
observations, when he was joined by Margery. The girl appeared fresh and
handsome, after a night of sleep, and coming from her dressing-room in
a thicket, and over a stream of sweet running water; but she was sad and
thoughtful. No sooner had le Bourdon shaken her hand, and repeated his
thanks for the succor of the past night, than the full heart of Margery
poured out its feelings, as the swollen stream overflows its banks, and
began to weep.

“Brother is awake,” she said, as soon as her sobs were quieted by a
powerful effect; “but, as is usual with him after hard drinking, so
stupid, that Dolly cannot make him understand our danger. He tells her
he has seen too many Injins to be afraid of these, and that they will
never harm a family that has brought so much liquor into their country.”

“His senses must be at a low ebb, truly, if he counts on Injin
friendship because he has sold fire-water to the young men!” answered
le Bourdon, with a nice understanding of not only Indian nature, but
of human nature. “We may like the sin, Margery, while we detest the
tempter. I have never yet met with the man, pale-face or red-skin, who
did not curse, in his sober moments, the hand that fed his appetite
while intoxicated.”

“I dare say that may be very true,” returned the girl, in a low voice;
“but one has need of his reason to understand it. What will become of us
now, it is hard to say.”

“Why, now, Margery, more than yesterday, or the day before?”

“Yesterday there were no savages near us, and Gershorn had all along
told us he intended to start for the garrison at the head of the lake,
as soon as he got back from his visit to the openings. He is back; but
not in a state to protect his wife and sister from the red man, who will
be looking for us as soon as they can build a canoe, or anything that
will do to cross the river with.”

“Had they even a canoe,” returned le Bourdon, coolly, “they would not
know where to look for us. Thank Heaven! that will be a job that would
take some time; nor is a bark canoe built in a minute. But, Margery,
if your brother be a little dull and heavy, after his debauch, _I_ am
sober, and as much awake as ever I was in my life.”

“Oh! you have no weakness like that of poor brother’s, to make you
otherwise; but, Bourdon, you will naturally wish to take care of
yourself and your property, and will quit us the first good opportunity.
I’m sure that we have no right to expect you will stay a minute longer
than it is your interest to do so, and I do not know that I wish it.”

“Not wish it, Margery!” exclaimed the bee-hunter, in the manner of a
disappointed man. “I had supposed you would have wished my company. But,
now I know the contrary, I shall not much care how soon I go, or into
whose hands I fall.”

It is strange how apt are those who ought to understand one another so
readily, to misinterpret each other’s thoughts. Margery had never seen
the bee-hunter twenty-four hours before, though she had often heard
of him, and of his success in his art; for the fame of a man of good
reputation and active qualities spreads far on a frontier. The very
individual whose existence would be nearly overlooked in a crowded
region, shall be spoken of, and known by his qualities, a hundred
leagues from his place of residence, when settlements are few and far
apart. In this way, Margery had heard of Boden, or of “Bourdon,” as she
called him, in common with hundreds who, confounding his real name with
his sobriquet, made the mistake of using the last under the impression
that it was the true appellation. Margery had no other knowledge of
French than the few words gleaned in her slow progress among a frontier
on which, it is true, more of that language than of any other was heard,
but heard under circumstances that were not particularly favorable to
the acquisition of a foreign tongue. Had she understood the real meaning
of “Bourdon,” she would have bitten off her tongue before she would have
once called Boden by such an appellation; though the bee-hunter himself
was so accustomed to his Canadian nickname as to care nothing at all
about it. But Margery did not like to give pain to any one; and, least
of all, would she desire to inflict it on the bee-hunter, though he
were only an acquaintance of a day. Still, Margery could not muster
sufficient courage to tell her new friend how much he was mistaken, and
that of all the youths she had ever met she would most prefer to keep
him near her brother and sister in their distress; while the young man,
inspired by a pure and infant passion, was just in the frame of mind to
believe the worst of himself, and of his claims to the attention of her
who had begun to occupy so many of his thoughts.

No explanation occurring, our young people descended from the hill,
misconceiving each other’s meaning and wishes, and unhappy under the
influence of an ideal source of misery, when actual circumstances
created so many that were substantial and real. Gershom was found
awake, but, as his sister had described him, stupid and lethargic. The
bee-hunter at once saw that, in his present condition, Whiskey Centre
would still be an incumbrance rather than of any service, in the event
of an occasion for extraordinary exertion. Margery had hinted that it
usually took twenty-four hours to bring her brother entirely round,
after one of his serious debauches; and within that time it was more
than probable that the fate of the family would be decided.

Le Bourdon thought intently, during breakfast, of the condition of his
party, and of the best mode of proceeding, while the pallid and anxious
young creature at his side believed he was deliberating solely on the
best means of extricating himself and his store of honey, from the
savages on the other shore. Had the acquaintance between these young
people been of longer date than it actually was, Margery could not
have entertained a notion so injurious to the bee-hunter, for a single
moment; but there was nothing either violent, or depreciating, in
supposing that one so near being a total stranger would think first of
himself and his own interests, in the situation in which this young man
was now placed.

Little was said during the meal. Dorothy was habitually silent; the
result of grief and care. As for her husband, he was too stupid to
talk, though usually somewhat garrulous; while the Indian seldom did
two things at the same time. This was the hour for acting; when that
for talking should arrive, he would be found equal to its duties.
Pigeonswing could either abstain from food, or could indulge in it
without measure, just as occasion offered. He had often gone for
days without tasting a mouthful, with the exception of a few berries,
perhaps; and he had lain about the camp-fire, a week at a time, gorging
himself with venison, like an anaconda. It is perhaps fortunate for the
American Indian, that this particular quality of food is so very easy of
digestion, since his excesses on it are notorious, and so common to his
habits as almost to belong to his nature. Death might otherwise often be
the consequence.

When the breakfast was ended, it was time to consult about the future
course. As yet, the Pottawattamies had made no new discovery; but the
sagacity of the red man was ever to be feared, when it came to be merely
a question of finding his foe in a forest.

“We have obtained one advantage over the enemy,” said le Bourdon, “by
crossing the river. Water leaves no trail; even had Crowsfeather a
canoe, he might not know where to go in it, in order to find us.”

“Dat not so,” put in the Chippewa, a little dogmatically; “know we hab
canoe--know cross river in him.”

“Why should they know this, Pigeonswing? We may have gone out upon the
lake, or we may have gone up in the oak openings again, for anything the
Pottawattamies can know to the contrary.”

“Tell you, not so. Know don’t go on lake, cause wind blow. Know don’t
go up river, cause dat hard work; know come here, cause dat easy. Injin
like to do what easy, and pale-face do just what Injin do. Crowsfeather
make raft, pretty soon; den he come look arter scalp.”

“Yes,” said Margery, gently; “you had better load your canoe at once,
and go on the lake, while the savages cannot reach you. The wind is fair
for them that are to go north; and I have heard you say that you are
bound to Mackinaw.”

“I shall load my canoe, and I shall load yours, too, Margery; but I
shall not go away from this family, so long as any in it stand in need
of my services.”

“Brother will be able to help us by afternoon. He manages a canoe well,
when himself; so go, Bourdon, while you can. I dare say you have a
mother at home; or a sister perhaps a wife--”

“Neither,” interrupted the bee-hunter, with emphasis. “No one expects
me; no one has a right to expect me.”

The color stole into pretty Margery’s cheeks as she heard these words,
and a ray of comfort gleamed on an imagination that, for the last hour,
had been portraying the worst. Still, her generous temper did not like
the idea of the bee-hunter’s sacrificing himself for those who had
so few claims on him, and she could not but again admonish him of the
necessity of losing no time.

“You will think better of this, Bourdon,” the girl resumed. “We are
going south, and cannot quit the river with this wind, but you could
not have a better time to go north, unless the wind blows harder than I
think it does.”

“The lake is a bad water for a canoe, when there is much wind,” put in
Gershom, yawning after he had spoken, as if the effort fatigued him,
“I wonder what we’re all doing over on this side of the river! Whiskey
Centre is a good enough country for me; I’m going back to look arter my
casks, now I’ve breakfasted. Come, Doll; let’s load up, and be off.”

“You are not yourself yet, Gershom,” returned the sorrowful wife, “or
you would not talk in this way. You had better listen to the advice of
Bourdon, who has done so much for us already, and who will tell you the
way to keep out of Injin clutches. We owe our lives to Bourdon, Gershom,
and you should thank him for it.”

Whiskey Centre muttered a few half intelligible words of thanks, and
relapsed into his state of drowsy indifference. The bee-hunter saw,
however, that the effects of the brandy were leaving him, and he managed
to get him on one side, where he persuaded the fellow to strip and go
into the water. The bath did wonders for the poor creature, who soon
got to be so far himself again, as to be of use, instead of being an
incumbrance. When sober, and more especially when sober for several
consecutive days, Gershom was a man of sufficient energy, possessing
originally great personal strength and activity, which had been
essentially lessened, however, by his excesses in liquor. It has already
been stated what a different being he became, in a moral point of view,
after having been sober for any length of time.

On his return from the bathing, le Bourdon again joined the females.
Margery had been weeping; but she smiled in a friendly way, on meeting
his eye, and appeared less anxious for his departure than she had been
an hour before. As the day advanced, and no signs of the savages were
seen, a sense of greater security began to steal over the females, and
Margery saw less necessity for the departure of their new friend. It
was true, he was losing a wind; but the lake was rough, and after all
it might be better to wait. In short, now that no immediate danger was
apparent, Margery began to reason in conformity with her wishes, as is
so apt to be the case with the young and inexperienced. The bee-hunter
perceived this change in the deportment of his fair friend, and was well
enough disposed to hope it would admit of a favorable construction.

All this time, the Chippewa had taken little visible interest in the
state of the party to which he had now attached himself. The previous
evening had been fertile in excitement and in gratification, and he had
since slept and ate to his entire content. He was ready to meet events
as they might arise, and began to plot the means of obtaining more
Pottawattamie scalps. Let not the refined reader feel disdisgust at this
exhibition of the propensities of an American savage. Civilized life has
had, and still has, very many customs, little less excusable than that
of scalping. Without dragging into the account the thousand and one sins
that disgrace and deform society, it will be sufficient to look into the
single interest of civilized warfare, in order to make out our case. In
the first place, the noblest strategy of the art is, to put the greatest
possible force on the least of the enemy, and to slay the weaker party
by the mere power of numbers. Then, every engine that ingenuity can
invent, is drawn into the conflict; and rockets, revolvers, shells, and
all other infernal devices, are resorted to, in order to get the
better of an enemy who is not provided with such available means of
destruction. And after the battle is over, each side commonly claims
the victory; sometimes, because a partial success has been obtained in a
small portion of the field; sometimes, because half a dozen horses have
run away with a gun, carrying it into the hostile ranks; and, again,
because a bit of rag has fallen from the hands of a dead man, and been
picked up by one of the opposing side. How often has it happened that a
belligerent, well practised in his art, has kept his own colors out of
the affair, and then boasted that they were not lost! Now, an Indian
practises no such shameless expedients. His point of honor is not a
bit of rag, but a bit of his skin. He shaves his head because the hair
encumbers him; but he chivalrously leaves a scalp-lock, by the aid of
which his conquerors can the more easily carry away the coveted
trophy. The thought of cheating in such a matter never occurs to his
unsophisticated mind; and as for leaving his “colors” in barracks, while
he goes in the field himself, he would disdain it--nay, cannot practise
it; for the obvious reason that his head would have to be left with
them.

Thus it was with Pigeonswing. He had made his toilet for the war-path,
and was fierce in his paint, but honest and fair-dealing in other
particulars. If he could terrify his enemies by looking like a skeleton,
or a demon, it was well; his enemy would terrify him, if possible, by
similar means. But neither would dream, or did dream, of curtailing, by
a single hair, that which might be termed the flag-staff of his scalp.
If the enemy could seize it, he was welcome to the prize; but if he
could seize that of the enemy, no scruples on the score of refinement,
or delicacy, would be apt to interfere with his movements. It was in
this spirit, then, that Pigeonswing came to the canoe, where le Bourdon
was holding a little private discourse with Margery, and gave utterance
to what was passing in his mind.

“Good time, now, get more scalps, Bourdon,” said the Chippewa, in his
clipping, sententious English.

“It is a good time, too, to keep our own, Chippewa,” was the answer.
“Your scalp-lock is too long, to be put before Pottawattamie eyes
without good looking after it.”

“Nebber mind him--if go, go; if stay, stay. Always good for warrior to
bring home scalp.”

“Yes; I know your customs in this respect, Pigeonswing, but ours are
different. We are satisfied if we can keep out of harm’s way, when we
have our squaws and pappooses with us.”

“No pappooses here,” returned the Indian, looking around him--“dat your
squaw, eh?”

The reader can readily imagine that this abrupt question brought blushes
into the cheeks of pretty Margery, making her appear ten times
more handsome than before; while even le Bourdon did not take the
interrogatory wholly undisturbed. Still, the latter answered manfully,
as became his sex.

“I am not so fortunate as to have a squaw, and least of all to have
this” said le Bourdon.

“Why no hab her--she good squaw,” returned the literal-minded
Indian--“han’some ‘nough for chief. You ask; she hab--now squaw
well--always like warrior to ask him fuss; den say, yes.”

“Aye, that may do with your red-skin squaws,” le Bourdon hastily
replied; for he saw that Margery was not only distressed, but a little
displeased--“but not with the young women of the pale-faces. I never saw
Margery before last evening; and it takes time for a pale-face girl to
know a youth.”

“Just so wid red-skin--sometime don’t know, till too late! See plenty
dat, in wigwam.”

“Then it is very much in the wigwams as it is in the houses. I have
heard this before.”

“Why not same?--skin make no difference--pale-face spile squaw,
too--make too much of her.”

“That can never be!” exclaimed le Bourdon, earnestly. “When a pretty,
modest, warm-hearted young woman accepts a youth for a husband, he can
never make enough of her!”

On hearing sentiments so agreeable to a woman’s ears, Margery looked
down, but she looked pleased. Pigeonswing viewed the matter very
differently; and being somewhat of a partisan in matters relating
to domestic economy, he had no thought of leaving a point of so much
importance in so bad a way. Accordingly, it is not surprising that,
in pursuing the subject, he expressed opinions in several essentials
diametrically the reverse of those of the bee-hunter.

‘“Easy ‘nough spile squaw,” rejoined the Chippewa. “What she good for,
don’t make her work? Can’t go on the warpath--can’t take scalp--can’t
shoot deer--can’t hunt--can’t kill warrior--so muss work. Dat what squaw
good for.”

“That may do among red men, but we pale-faces find squaws good for
something else--we love them and take care of them--keep them from the
cold in winter, and from the heat in summer; and try to make them as
comfortable and happy as we can.”

“Dat good talk for young squaw’s ears,” returned the Chippewa, a little
contemptuously as to manner; though his real respect for the bee-hunter,
of whose prowess he had so lately been a witness, kept him a little
within bounds “but it bess not take nobody in. What Injin say to squaw,
he do--what pale-face say, he no do.”

“Is that true, Bourdon?” demanded Margery, laughing at the Indian’s
earnestness.

“I shall be honest, and own that there may be some truth in it--for the
Injin promises nothing, or next to nothing, and it is easy to square
accounts, in such cases. That white men undertake more than they always
perform, is quite likely to be the fact The Injin gets his advantage in
this matter, by not even thinking of treating his wife as a woman should
be treated.”

“How should treat woman?” put in Pigeonswing with warmth. “When warrior
eat venison, gib her rest, eh? Dat no good--what you call good, den? If
good hunter husband, she get ‘nough--if an’t good hunter, she don’t get
‘nough. Just so wid Injin--sometime hungry, sometime full. Dat way to
live!”

“Aye, that may be your red man’s ways, but it is not the manner in which
we wish to treat our wives. Ask pretty Margery, here, if she would be
satisfied to wait until her husband had eaten his dinner, and then come
in for the scraps. No-no-Pigeonswing; we feed our women and children
first and come in last, ourselves.”

“Dat good for pappoose--he little; want venison--squaw tough; use to
wait. Do her good.”

Margery now laughed outright, at these specimens of Indian gallantry,
which only too well embody the code of the red man’s habits. Doubtless
the heart has its influence among even the most savage people, for
nature has not put into our breasts feelings and passions to be
discarded by one’s own expedients, or wants. But no advocate of the
American Indian has ever yet been able to maintain that woman fills her
proper place in his estimate of claims. As for Margery, though so long
subject to the whims, passions and waywardness of a drunkard, she
had reaped many of the advantages of having been born in that woman’s
paradise, New England. We are no great admirers of the legacy left
by the Puritan to his descendants, taken as an inheritance in morals,
manners, and customs, and as a whole; though there are parts, in the way
of codicils, that there is no portion of the Christian world which might
not desire to emulate. In particular, do we allude to the estimate put
upon, and the treatment received by their women. Our allusion is not to
the refinements and gracefulness of polished intercourse; for of THEM,
the Blarney Rock of Plymouth has transmitted but a meagre account in the
inventory, and perhaps the less that is said about this portion of the
family property the better; but, dropping a few degrees in the social
scale, and coming down to the level where we are accustomed to regard
people merely as men and women, we greatly question if any other portion
of the world can furnish a parallel to the manly, considerate, rational,
and wisely discriminating care, that the New England husband, as the
rule, bestows on his wife; the father on his daughter; or the brother
on his sister. Gershom was a living, and, all things considered, a
remarkable instance of these creditable traits. When sober, he was
uniformly kind to Dorothy; and for Margery he would at any time risk
his life. The latter, indeed, had more power over him than his own
wife possessed, and it was her will and her remonstrances that most
frequently led him back from the verge of that precipice over which he
was so often disposed to cast himself. By some secret link she bound him
closest to the family dwelling, and served most to recall the days of
youth and comparative innocence, when they dwelt together beneath
the paternal roof, and were equally the objects of the affection and
solicitude of the same kind mother. His attachment to Dorothy was
sincere, and, for one so often brutalized by drink, steady; but Dorothy
could not carry him as far back, in recollections, as the one only
sister who had passed the morning of life with him, in the same homely
but comfortable abode.

We have no disposition to exaggerate the character of those whom it is
the fashion to term the American yeomen, though why such an appellation
should be applied to any in a state of society to which legal
distinctions are unknown, is what we could never understand. There are
no more of esquires and yeomen in this country than there are of knights
and nobles, though the quiet manner in which the transition from the old
to the new state of things has been made, has not rendered the public
mind very sensible to the changes. But, recurring to the class, which is
a positive thing and consequently ought to have a name of some sort or
other, we do not belong to those that can sound its praises without some
large reservations on the score of both principles and manners. Least of
all, are we disposed to set up these yeomen as a privileged class,
like certain of the titular statesmen of the country, and fall down and
worship a calf--not a golden one by the way--of our own setting up.
We can see citizens in these yeomen, but not princes, who are to be
especially favored by laws made to take from others to bestow on them.
But making allowances for human infirmities, the American freeholder
belongs to a class that may justly hold up its head among the tillers
of the earth. He improves daily, under the influence of beneficent
laws, and if he don’t get spoiled, of which there is some danger, in the
eagerness of factions to secure his favor, and through that favor his
VOTE--if he escape this danger, he will ere long make a reasonably near
approach to that being, which the tongue of the flatterer would long
since have persuaded him he had already more than got to be.

To one accustomed to be treated kindly, as was the case with Margery,
the Chippewa’s theory for the management of squaws contained much to
excite her mirth, as well as her resentment, as she now made apparent by
her remarks.

“You do not deserve to HAVE a wife, Pigeonswing,” she cried,
half-laughing, yet evidently alive to the feelings of her sex--“can have
no gratitude for a wife’s tenderness and care. I wonder that a Chippewa
girl can be found to have you?”

“Don’t want him,” coolly returned the Indian, making his preparations
to light his pipe--“got Winnebagoe squaw, already; good ‘nough for
me. Shoot her t’other husband and take his scalp--den she come into my
wigwam.”

“The wretch!” exclaimed Margery.

But this was a word the savage did not understand, and he continued to
puff at the newly lighted tobacco, with all of a smoker’s zeal. When the
fire was secured, he found time to continue the subject.

“Yes, dat good war-path--got rifle; got wife; got TWO scalp! Don’t do so
well, ebbery day.”

“And that woman hoes your corn, and cooks your venison?” demanded the
bee-hunter.

“Sartain--capital good to hoe--no good to cook--make deer meat too dry.
Want to be made to mind business. Bye’m by teach him. No l’arn all at
once, like pale-face pappoose in school.”

“Pigeonswing, have you never observed the manner in which the white man
treats his squaw?”

“Sartain--see him make much of her--put her in warm corner--wrap
blanket round her--give her venison ‘fore he eat himself--see all dat,
often--what den? DAT don’t make it right.”

“I give you up, Chippewa, and agree with Margery in thinking you ought
not to have a squaw, at all.”

“T’ink alike, den--why no get marry?” asked the Indian, without
circumlocution.

Margery’s face became red as fire; then her cheeks settled into the
color of roses, and she looked down, embarrassed. The bee-hunter’s
admiration was very apparent to the Indian, though the girl did not dare
to raise her eyes from the ground, and so did not take heed of it. But
this gossiping was suddenly brought to an end by a most unexpected cause
of interruption; the manner and form of which it shall be our office to
relate, in the succeeding chapter.



CHAPTER XI.

   So should it be--for no heart beats
      Within his cold and silent breast;
    To him no gentle voice repeats
      The soothing words that make us blest.
                                    --PEABODY.


The interruption came from Dorothy, who, on ascending the little height,
had discovered a canoe coming into the mouth of the river, and who was
running, breathless with haste, to announce the circumstance to the
bee-hunter. The latter immediately repaired to the eminence, and saw for
himself the object that so justly had alarmed the woman. The canoe was
coming in from the lake, after running before the wind, which now began
to abate a little in its strength, and it evidently had been endeavoring
to proceed to the northward. The reason for its entering the river, was
probably connected with the cookery or food of the party, since the lake
was each minute getting to be safer, and more navigable for so light
a craft. To le Bourdon’s great apprehension, he saw the savages on the
north shore making signal to this strange canoe, by means of smoke,
and he foresaw the probability of his enemies obtaining the means
of crossing the stream, should the strangers proceed in the desired
direction. To counteract this design, he ran down to a spot on the beach
where there was no rice-plant, and showing himself to the strangers,
invited them to land on the south side, which was much the nearest, and
in other visible respects quite as convenient as the opposite bank
of the river. One of the strangers soon made a gesture with an arm,
implying assent, and the bows of this strange canoe were immediately
turned toward the spot where the bee-hunter stood.

As the canoe drew near, the whole party, including Pigeonswing, came
to the margin of the water to receive the strangers. Of the last, there
were three; one paddling at each end of the light bark, and a third
seated in its centre, doing nothing. As the bee-hunter had his glass,
with which he examined these visitors, he was soon questioned by his
companions concerning their character and apparent purposes.

“Who are they, Bourdon?” demanded the impatient Margery--“and why do
they come here?”

“The last is a question they must answer for themselves, but the
person paddling in the bows of the canoe seems to be a white man, and a
soldier--or a half-soldier, if one may judge from his dress. The man in
the middle of the canoe is white, also. This last fellow seems to be
a parson--yes, he is a clergyman, though pretty well used up in the
wilderness, as to dress. The third man is a red-skin, beyond all doubt.”

“A clergyman!” repeated Margery, in surprise. “What should a clergyman
be doing here?”

“There are missionaries scattered about among the savages, I suppose
you know, and this is probably one of them. A body can tell one of these
parsons by his outside, as far as he can see him. The poor man has heard
of the war, most likely, and is trying to get back into the settlements,
while his scalp is safe on his head.”

“Don’t hurt HIM” put in the Chippewa, pointedly. “Know MEAN well--talk
about Great Spirit--Injin don’t scalp sich medicine-men--if don’t mind
what he say, no good to take his scalp.”

“I’m glad to hear this, Pigeonswing, for I had begun to think NO man’s
scalp was safe under YOUR fingers. But what can the so’ger be doing
down this-away? A body would think there was business enough for all
the so’gers up at the garrison, at the head of the lake. By the way,
Pigeonswing, what has become of your letter to the captain at Fort
Dearborn, to let him know of the war?”

“Chaw him up, like so much ‘baccy,” answered the Chippewa--“yes, chaw
him up, lest Pottawattamie get hold on him, and ask one of King George’s
men to read him. No good to hab letter in sich times.”

“The general who employed you to carry that letter, will scarce thank
you for your care.”

“Yes, he do--t’ank all same--pay all same--letter no use now.”

“How can you know that? The letter might be the means of preventing the
garrison from falling into the enemy’s hands.”

“Got dere, already. Garrison all kill, scalp, or prisoner. Pottawattamie
talk tell me DAT!”

“Is this possible! Mackinaw and Chicago both gone, already! John Bull
must have been at work among the savages a long time, to get them into
this state of readiness!”

“Sartain--work long as can ‘member. ALWAY somebody talkin’ for great
Montreal Fadder among red men.”

“It must be as you say, Chippewa--but, here are our visitors--let us see
what we can make of THEM!”

By this time, the canoe was so near as to render it easy to distinguish
countenances and dress, without the aid of the glass--so near, indeed,
that a swift-moving boat, like the canoe, might be expected soon to
reach the shore. The truth of the observation of the bee-hunter was
confirmed, as the strangers approached. The individual in the bows of
the canoe was clearly a soldier, in a fatigue-dress, and the musket
between his legs was one of those pieces that government furnishes to
the troops of the line. The man in the middle of the boat could no more
be mistaken than he in its bows. Each might be said to be in uniform--
the well-worn, nay, almost threadbare black coat of the “minister,” as
much denoting him to be a man of peace, as the fatigue-jacket and cap on
the person of his hard-featured and weather-beaten companion indicated
that the last was a man of war. As for the red man, Pigeonswing declared
that he could not yet tell his tribe, though there was that about his
air, attire and carriage, that proclaimed him a chief—and, as the
Chippewa fancied, a chief of note. In another minute, the bows of the
light craft grated gently on the shingle of the beach.

“Sago, sago,” said the soldier, rising to step ashore--“sago all,
friends, and I hope we come to a welcome camp.”

“You are welcome,” returned the bee-hunter. “Welcome as strangers met in
the wilderness, but more welcome, as I see by your dress that you are a
veteran of one of Uncle Sam’s regiments.”

“Quite true, Mr. Bee-hunter ; for such I see is _your_ callin’, by the
honey vessel and glass you carry, and by the other signs about you. We
are travelling toward Mackinaw, and hope to fere as friends, while we
stay in your good company.”

“In going to Mackinaw, do you expect to meet with an _American or an
English_ garrison ?”

“One of our own, to be sure,” returned the soldier, looking up from his
work, like one struck by the question.

“Mackinaw has fallen, and is now an English post, as well as Chicago.”

“This, then, must alter our plans, Mr. Amen !” exclaimed the soldier,
addressing the minister. “If the enemy has Mackinaw, it will not do for
us to trust ourselves on the island.”

“Amen” was not the real name of the missionary ; but it was a
_sobriquet_ bestowed by the soldiers, on account of the unction with
which this particular word was ordinarily pronounced, and quite likely,
too, because it was the word of all others most pleasant to their ears,
after a sermon, or a prayer. It had, by long use, got to be so familiar,
that the men did not scruple to use it to the good man’s face. This
missionary was a Methodist ; a sect that possessed, in that day, very
few clergymen of education, most of its divines coming of a class in
life that did not predispose them to take offence at light invasions on
their dignity, and whose zeal and habitual self-denial had schooled them
into a submission to far more positive personal privations, than any
connected with the mere tongue. That there are “wolves in sheep’s
clothing” among the Methodists, as well as among the other religious
sects of the country, our daily experience shows ; but the mind must be
sadly inclined to believe evil of others, which does not see in the
humble and untiring efforts of this particular sect of Christians, more
than mere fanaticism or hypocrisy can produce.

“You are right, corporal,” returned the missionary ; “since this is the
case, I see no better course for us to pursue, than to put ourselves
altogether in the hands of Onoah. He has counselled us well, hitherto,
and will do better by us than any other guide to be found, out in this
wilderness.”

Le Bourdon could scarcely trust his sense of hearing ! Onoah was the
Indian appellation of the terrible and most dreaded savage, who, in
English, went by the name of Scalping Peter, or “Scalping Pete,” among
all the white dwellers on that frontier, and at all the garrisons of the
Americans, far and near. The Indian name, indeed, was said to mean
“scalp,” in several of the dialects of the Iroquois. Perhaps it may be
well, also, to explain here, that the term “garrison” did not imply, in
the language of that region, the troops only who garrisoned a post, but
it was even oftener applied to the post itself than to those who held
it. Thus old, empty, and deserted forts, those that have actually been
abandoned, and are devoted to decay, are almost universally styled the ”
 garrisons,” even though a soldier had not put foot in them for a quarter
of a century. This is one of the proofs of the convertible nature of our
language, of which the country affords so many, and which has changed
the smaller-sized rivers into “creeks,” “lakes” into “ponds,” “squares”
 into “parks,” public promenades on the water into “batteries”; to all of
which innovations, bad as they may be, and useless and uncalled for, and
wanton as they are, we are much more willing to submit, than to the new-
fangled and lubberly abomination of saying “ON a steamboat,” or “ON a
ship.”

While le Bourdon was so much astounded at hearing the terrible name of
Onoah, which was familiar enough to him, neither of his white companions
betrayed any emotion. Had the Indian been termed “Scalping Peter,” it
is probable that both Dorothy and Margery would have screamed, if not
actually fled; but they knew nothing of the appellation that was given
to this mysterious chief, in the language of the red men. To this
circumstance, therefore, was it owing that the utterance of his name did
not produce a general commotion. The bee-hunter observed, nevertheless,
a great change in the demeanor of the Chippewa, the instant the
missionary had uttered the ominous word, though he did not seem to be
alarmed. On the contrary, Boden fancied that his friend Pigeonswing was
pleased, rather than terrified, at ascertaining the character of their
visitor, though he no longer put himself forward, as had been the case
previously; and from that moment the young warrior appeared to carry
himself in a more subdued and less confident manner than was his wont.
This unexpected demeanor on the part of his friend, somewhat confounded
le Bourdon, though it in a degree relieved his apprehensions of any
immediate danger. All this time, the conversation between the missionary
and the corporal went on in as quiet and composed a manner, as if each
saw no ground for any other uneasiness than that connected with the fall
of Mackinaw.

“Yes, sir,” returned the soldier, “Onoah is a good guide, and a great
hand at a council-fire; but these is war-times, and we must stand to
our arms, each accordin’ to his edication and temper--you, sir, with
preachin’ and prayin’, and I with gun and baggonet.”

“Ah! corporal, the preaching and praying would be of quite as much
account with you men of war, as your arms and ammunition, if you could
only be made to think so. Look at Fort Dearborn! It was defended
by human means, having its armed band, and its guns and swords, and
captains and corporals; yet you have seen their pride lowered, their
means of defence destroyed, and a large part of your comrades massacred.
All this has been done to armed men, while the Lord has brought ME, an
unarmed and humble teacher of his word, safely out of the hands of
the Philistines, and placed me here in safety, on the shores of the
Kalamazoo.”

“For that matter, Mr. Amen, the Lord has done the same by ME, with a
musket on my shoulder and a baggonet by my side,” returned the
literal corporal. “Preachin’ may be good on some marches; but arms and
ammunition answers well enough on others. Hearken to the Hebrew, who
knows all the ways of the wilderness, and see if he don’t give you the
same opinion.” “The Hebrew is one of the discarded of the Lord, as he
is one chosen of the Lord!” returned the missionary. “I agree with you,
however, that he is as safe an adviser, for a human adviser, as can
be easily found; therefore will I consult him. Child of the seed of
Abraham,” he added, turning to Onoah, “thou hast heard the tidings from
Mackinaw; we cannot think, any longer, of pursuing our journey in that
direction; whither, then, wouldst thou advise that we shall direct
our steps? I ask this question of THEE first, as an experienced and
sagacious dweller in the wilderness: at a more fitting time, I intend
to turn to the Lord, and seek divine aid for the direction of our
footsteps.”

“Aye,” observed the corporal, who entertained a good deal of respect for
the zealous, but slightly fanatical missionary, though he believed an
Indian was always safe to consult in matters of this sort, “try BOTH--if
one staff should fail, it may be well to have another to lean on. A good
soldier always keeps a part of his troops for a reserve. I motto of his
coat of arms; the “gare a qui la touchc,” or “noli me tangere,” of his
device.”

The head was shaved, as is usual with a warrior, carrying only the
chivalrous scalp-lock, but the chief was not in his paint. The outline
of this celebrated savage’s features was bold and eagle-like; a
comparison that his steady, calm, piercing eye well sustained. The chin
was full and expanded, the lips compressed and firm, the teeth were
short, but even and sound, his smile courteous, and, at times, winning.

In the way of attire, Onoah was simply dressed, consulting the season
and his journey. He had a single eagle’s feather attached to the
scalp-lock, and wore a belt of wampum of more than usual value, beneath
which he had thrust his knife and tomahawk; a light, figured and fringed
hunting-shirt of cotton covered his body, while leggings of deerskin,
with a plain moccasin of similar material, rose to his knee. The latter,
with the lower part of a stout sinewy thigh, was bare. He also carried a
horn and pouch, and a rifle of the American rather than of the military
fashion that is, one long, true, and sighted to the deviation of a hair.

On landing, Peter (for so he was generally called by the whites, when in
courtesy they omitted the prefix of “Scalping”) courteously saluted the
party assembled around the bow of the canoe. This he did with a grave
countenance, like a true American, but in simple sincerity, so far as
human eye could penetrate his secret feelings. To each man he offered
his hand, glancing merely at the two females; though it may be
questioned if he ever before had looked upon so perfect a picture of
female loveliness as Margery at that precise instant presented, with
her face flushed with excitement, her spirited blue eye wandering with
curiosity, and her beautiful mouth slightly parted in admiration.

“Sago, sago!” said Peter, in his deep, guttural enunciation, speaking
reasonably good English. “Sago, sago all, ole and young, friend come to
see you, and eat in your wigwam--which head--chief, eh?”

“We have neither wigwam nor chief here,” answered le Bourdon, though he
almost shrunk from taking the hand of one of whom he had heard the tales
of which this savage had been the hero; “we are common people, and
have no one among us who holds the States’ commission. I live by taking
honey, of which you are welcome to all you can want, and this man is a
helper of the sutlers at the garrisons. He was travelling south to join
the troops at the head of the lake, and I was going north to Mackinaw,
on my way in, toward the settlements.”

“Why is my brother in such haste?” demanded Peter, mildly. “Bees get
tired of making honey?”

“The times are troubled, and the red men have dug up the hatchet; a
pale-face cannot tell when his wigwam is safe.”

“Where my brodder wigwam?” asked Peter, looking warily around him. “See
he an’t here; where is he?”

“Over in the openings, far up the Kalamazoo. We left it last week, and
had got to the hut on the other shore, when a party of Pottawattamies
came in from the lake, and drove us over here for safety.”

On hearing this, Peter turned slowly to the missionary, raising a finger
as one makes a gesture to give emphasis to his words.

“Tole you so,” said the Indian. “Know dere was Pottawattamie dere. Can
tell ‘em great way off.”

“We fear them, having women in our party,” added the bee-hunter, “and
think they might fancy our scalps.”

“Dat like enough; all Injin love scalp in war-time. You Yankee, dey
Br’ish; can’t travel on same path now, and not quarrel. Must not let
Pottawattamie catch you.”

“How are we to help it, now you have come in? We had all the canoes on
this side of the river, and were pretty safe, but should you cross and
place your canoe in their hands, there is nothing to prevent them from
doing what they please with us. If you will promise not to cross the
river till we can get out well on the lake, we may shift our ground,
however, and leave no trail.”

“Muss cross over--yes, muss cross over, else Pottawattamie t’ink it
strange--yes, muss cross over. Shan’t touch canoe, dough.”

“How can you help it, if they be so minded? You are but a single man,
and they are twenty.”

On hearing this, Corporal Flint pricked up his ears, and stood if
possible more erect than ever, for he considered himself a part of a man
at least, and one moreover who had served in all the wars of the west,
from the great battle of St. Glair to that of Mad Anthony. He was spared
the necessity of a reply, however, for Peter made a significant gesture
which as much as told him that he would take that office on himself.

“No need be afeard,” said Peter, quietly. “Know Pottawattamie--know all
chief. Nobody touch canoe of Onoah when he say don’t touch him.”

“Yet they are Injins of the British, and I see you here in company with
a soldier of Uncle Sam.”

“No matter; Onoah go just where he please. Sometime to Pottawattamie;
sometime to Iroquois. All Ojebways know Onoah. All Six Nation know him
well. All Injin know him. Even Cherokee know him now, and open ears when
he speak. Muss cross river, and shake hand with Crowsfeather.”

There was nothing boastful, or vaunting, in Peter’s manner while he
thus announced his immunity or power, but he alluded to it in a quiet,
natural way, like one accustomed to being considered a personage of
consequence. Mankind, in general, make few allowances for the influence
of habit; the sensibilities of the vainglorious themselves being quite
as often wounded by the most natural and direct allusions of those who
enjoy advantages superior to their own, as by those that are intended to
provoke comparisons. In the present instance, however, no such feeling
could exist, the Indian asserting no more than his extended reputation
would fully maintain.

When Peter had thus expressed himself, the missionary thought it meet to
add a few words in explanation. This he did, however, aside, walking a
little apart with the bee-hunter, in order so to do. As for Gershom,
no one seemed to think him of sufficient importance to throw away any
interest or care on him.

“You can trust to Peter, friend bee-hunter,” the missionary observed,
“for what he promises he will perform. I know him well, and have put
myself altogether in his hands. If he says that the Pottawattamies are
not to have his canoe, the Pottawattamies will not get it. He is a man
to be depended on.”

“Is not this, then, Scalping Peter, who bears so terrible a name on all
this frontier?” demanded le Bourdon.

“The same; but do not disturb yourself with names: they hurt no one, and
will soon be forgotten. A descendant of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of
Jacob, is not placed in the wilderness by the hand of divine power for
no purpose; since he is here, rely on it, it is for good.”

“A descendant of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob! Is not Peter, then, a
red-skin and an Injin?”

“Certainly; though no one knows his tribe but himself. I know it, friend
bee-hunter, and shortly shall proclaim it throughout the length and
breadth of the land. Yes, it has been given to me to make this important
discovery, though I sometimes think that Peter himself is really as
ignorant as all around him of the tribe to which he properly belongs.”

“Do you wish to keep it a secret from me, too? I own that, in my eyes,
the tribe of a red-skin goes a good way in making up my opinions of the
man. Is he a Winnebagoe?”

“No, my friend, the Winnebagoes have no claims on him at all.”

“Nor a Pottawattamie, Ottawa, or Ojebway of any sort?”

“He is none of these. Peter cometh of a nobler tribe than any that
beareth such names.”

“Perhaps he is an Injin of the Six Nations? They tell me that many such
have found their way hither since the war of the revolution.”

“All that may be true, but Peter cometh not of Pottawattamie, Ottawa,
nor Ojebway.”

“He can hardly be of the Sacs or the Foxes; he has not the appearance of
an Injin from a region so far west.”

“Neither, neither, neither,” answered Parson Amen, now so full of his
secret as fairly to let it overflow. “Peter is a son of Israel; one of
the lost children of the land of Judea, in common with many of his
red brethren-mind, I do not say ALL, but with MANY of his red
brethren--though he may not know exactly of what tribe himself. This
last point has exercised me greatly, and days and nights have I pondered
over the facts. Turn to Genesis XLIX and 14th, and there will you find
all the authorities recorded. ‘Zebulon shall dwell at the haven of the
sea.’ That refers to some other red brother, nearer to the coast, most
clearly. ‘Issachar is a strong ass, crouching down between two burdens’;
‘and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.’
That refers, most manifestly, to the black man of the Southern States,
and cannot mean Peter. ‘Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in
the path.’ There is the red man for you, drawn with the pencil of truth!
‘Gad, a troop shall overcome him.’ Here, corporal, come this way and
tell our new friend how Mad Anthony with his troopers finally routed
the red-skins. You were there, and know all about it. No language can
be plainer: until the ‘long-knives and leather-stockings’ came into the
woods, the red man had his way. Against THEM he COULD not prevail.”

“Yes,” returned Corporal Flint, who delighted in talking of the wars,
“it was very much as Parson Amen says. The savages, by their nimbleness
and artifices, would first ambush us, and then break away from our
charges, until the gin’ral bethought him of bringing cavalry into
the wilderness. Nobody ever thought of such a plan, until old Anthony
invented it. As soon as we got the fire of the savages, at the Mawmee,
we charged with the baggonet, and put ‘em up; and no sooner was they
up, than away went the horse into them, flourishing the ‘long knife’
and pressing the heel of the ‘leather-stocking’ into the flanks of their
beasts. Mr. Amen has found a varse in Scriptur’s that does come near to
the p’int, and almost foretells our victory, and that, too, as plain as
it stood in dispatches, arterward, from headquarters.”

“‘Gad, a TROOP shall overcome him,’” put in the missionary,
triumphantly.

“That’s it--that’s it; there was just one troop on ‘em, and not a
man more! Mad Anthony said a troop would answer, arter we had put the
red-skins up out of their ambushes, or any other bushes; and so it did.
I must acknowledge that I think more of the Scriptur’s than ever, since
Parson Amen read to me that varse.”

“Hearken unto this, friend bee-hunter,” added the missionary, who
by this time had fairly mounted his hobby, and fancied he saw a true
Israelite in every other Indian of the west, “and tell me if words were
ever more prophetic--‘Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf; in the morning he
shall devour his prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.’ The art
of man could not draw a more faithful picture of these Indians.”

Boden was not much skilled in sacred lore, and scarce knew what to make
of all this. The idea that the American Indians were the descendants
of the lost tribes of Israel was entirely new to him; nor did he know
anything to boast of, touching those tribes, even in their palmiest
days, and while in possession of the promised land; still he had some
confused recollection of that which he had read when a child--what
American has not?--and was enabled to put a question or two, in return
for the information now received. “What, do you take the savages of
America for Jews?” he asked, understanding the general drift of the
missionary’s meaning.

“As sure as you are there, friend bee-hunter, though you are not to
suppose that I think Peter Onoah of the tribe of Benjamin. No, I turn to
the 21st verse for the tribe of Peter Naphthali--Naphthalis, the root
of his stock. ‘Naphthali is a hind, let loose: he giveth goodly words.’
Now, what can be plainer than this? A hind let loose is a deer running
at large, and, by a metaphor, that deer includes the man that hunts him.
Now, Peter has been--nay, is still--a renowned hunter, and is intended
to be enumerated among the hinds let loose; ‘he giveth goodly words,’
would set that point at rest, if anything were wanting to put it beyond
controversy, for Onoah is the most eloquent speaker ear ever listened
to! No one, that has ever heard him speak, can doubt that he is the one
who ‘giveth goodly words.’”

To what other circumstance the well-intentioned missionary would next
have alluded, in the course of this demonstration of a theory that had
got to be a favorite with him, is more than can now be related, since
the Indian himself drew near, and put an end to the conversation. Peter
had made up his mind to cross the river at once; and came to say as
much to his companions, both of whom he intended to leave behind him. Le
Bourdon could not arrest this movement, short of an appeal to force;
and force he did not like to use, doubting equally its justice and its
prudence.



CHAPTER XII.

  There is no other land like thee, No dearer shore; Thou art the shelter
  of the free; The home, the port of liberty Thou hast been, and shall
  ever be Till time is o’er. Ere I forget to think upon My land, shall
  mother curse the son She bore.
                                                    --Percival.


The independent, not to say controlling, manner of Peter, would seem
to put all remonstrances and arguments at defiance, Le Bourdon soon had
occasion to see that both the missionary and the corporal submitted
to his wishes, and that there was no use in gainsaying anything he
proposed. In all matters he did as he pleased; his two companions
submitting to his will as completely as if one of them had seen in this
supposed child of Israel, Joshua, the son of Nun, and the other even
Aaron, the high-priest, himself.

Peter’s preparations were soon made. Everything belonging to the
missionary and the corporal was removed from the canoe, which then
contained only the extra clothing and the special property of the Indian
himself. As soon as ready, the latter quietly and fearlessly paddled
away, his canoe going easily and swiftly down before the wind. He had no
sooner got clear of the rice, than the bee-hunter and Margery ran away
to the eminence, to watch his movements, and to note his reception among
the Pottawattamies. Leaving them there, we shall accompany the canoe, in
its progress toward the northern shore.

At first, Peter paddled quietly on, as if he had no other object
before him than the passage of the river. When quite clear of the
rice, however, he ceased, and undid his bundle of clothes, which were
carefully put away in the knapsack of a soldier. From this repository of
his effects, the chief carefully drew forth a small bundle, on opening
which, no less than seven fresh human scalps appeared. These he arranged
in order on a wand-like pole, when, satisfied with the arrangement,
he resumed the paddle. It was apparent, from the first, that the
Pottawattamies on the north shore had seen the strange canoe when it
entered the river, and they now collected in a group, at the ordinary
landing beneath the chiente, to await its approach. Peter ceased his
own exertion, as soon as he had got within a hundred yards of the beach,
took the scalp-pole in his hand, arose, and permitted the canoe to drift
down before the wind, certain it would take the desired direction, from
the circumstance of his having placed it precisely to windward of
the landing. Once or twice he slowly waved the pole in a way to draw
attention to the scalps, which were suspended from its end, each obvious
and distinct from its companions.

Napoleon, when he returned from the campaign of Austerlitz; or
Wellington, when he entered the House of Commons to receive the thanks
of its speaker, on his return from Spain; or the chief of all the
battles of the Rio Bravo del Norte; or him of the valley of Mexico,
whose exploits fairly rival those of Cortes himself, could scarcely be a
subject of greater interest to a body of spectators, assembled to do
him honor, than was this well-known Indian, as he drew near to the
Pottawattamies, waving his scalps, in significant triumph! Glory, as the
homage paid by man to military renown is termed, was the common impulse
with them all. It is true, that, measured by the standards of reason
and right, the wise and just might find motives for appreciating the
victories of those named differently from the manner in which they are
usually regarded through the atmosphere of success; but in the common
mind it was all glory, alike. The name of “Onoah” passed in murmurs of
admiration, from mouth to mouth; for, as it appeared, the person of this
renowned Indian was recognized by many on the shore, some time ere he
reached it himself.

Crowsfeather, and the other chiefs, advanced to meet the visitor; the
young men standing in the background, in respectful admiration. Peter
now stepped from the canoe, and greeted each of the principal men with
the courteous gravity of a savage. He shook hands with each, calling
one or two by name, a proof of the parties having met before; then
the following dialogue occurred. All spoke in the tongue of the
Pottawattamies, but, as we have had occasion to remark on previous
occasions, it is to be presumed that the reader would scarcely be able
to understand what was said, were we to record it, word for word, in the
language in which it was uttered. In consequence of this difficulty, and
for other reasons to which it may not be necessary to allude, we shall
endeavor to translate that which passed, as closely as the English
idioms will permit us so to do.

“My father is very welcome!” exclaimed Crowsfeather, who, by many
degrees, exceeded all his companions in consideration and rank. “I see
he has taken many scalps as is his practice, and that the pale-faces are
daily getting to be fewer. Will the sun ever rise on that day when their
wigwams will look like the branches of the oak in winter? Can my father
give us any hope of seeing that hour?”

“It is a long path from the salt-lake out of which the sun rises, to
that other salt-lake in which it hides itself at night. The sun sleeps
each night beneath water, but it is so hot that it is soon dried when it
comes out of its bed in the morning. This is the Great Spirit’s doings,
and not ours. The sun is his sun; the Indians can warm themselves by it,
but they cannot shorten its journey a single tomahawk handle’s length.
The same is true of time; it belongs to the Manitou, who will lengthen
or shorten it, as he may see fit. We are his children, and it is our
duty to submit. He has not forgotten us. He made us with his own hand,
and will no more turn us out of the land than a father will turn his
child from the wigwam.”

“We hope this is so; but it does not seem thus to out poor weak eyes,
Onoah. We count the pale-faces, and every summer they grow fast as the
grass on the prairies. We can see more when the leaf falls than when
the tree is in bud; and, then, more when the leaf is in bud than when
it falls. A few moons will put a town where the pine stood, and wigwams
drive the wolves from their homes. In a few years we shall have nothing
but dogs to eat, if the pale-face dogs do not eat us.”

“Squaws are impatient, but men know how to wait. This land was given to
the red man by the Great Spirit, as I have often told you, my children;
if he has let in the pale-faces for a few winters, it is to punish us
for having done wrong. Now that we are sorry for what we have done, he
will help us to drive away the strangers, and give us the woods again
to hunt in by ourselves. Have not messengers from our Great Father in
Montreal been among the Pottawattamies to strengthen their hearts?”

“They are always whispering in the ears of our tribes. I cannot remember
the time when whispers from Montreal have not been among us. Their
blankets are warm, their fire-water is strong, their powder is good,
and their rifles shoot well; but all this does not stop the children of
Uncle Sam from being more at night than they were in the morning. The
red men get tired of counting them. They have become plentier than the
pigeons in the spring. My father has taken many of their scalps, but the
hair must grow after his knife, their scalps are so many.”

“See!” rejoined Peter, lowering his pole so that all might examine his
revolting trophies, “these come from the soldiers at the head of the
lake. Blackbird was there with his young men; no one of them all got as
many scalps! This is the way to stop the white pigeon from flying over
us in such flocks as to hide and darken the sun.”

Another murmur of admiration passed through the crowd, as each young
warrior bent forward to count the number of the scalps, and to note,
by signs familiar to themselves, the ages, sex, and condition of the
different victims. Here was another instance among a hundred others of
which they had heard, of the prowess of the mysterious Onoah, as well
as of his inextinguishable hatred of the race, that was slowly, but
unerringly, supplanting the ancient stock, causing the places that once
knew the people of their tribes “to know them no more.” As soon as this
little burst of feeling had subsided, the conversation went on.

“We have had a pale-face medicine-man among us, Onoah,” continued
Crowsfeather, “and he has so far blinded us that we know not what to
think.”

The chief then recounted the leading events of the visit of the
bee-hunter to the place, stating each occurrence fairly, as he
understood it, and as fairly confessing that even the chiefs were at a
loss to know what to make of the affair. In addition to this account,
he gave the mysterious Onoah the history of the prisoner they had taken,
the death of Elks-foot, their intention to torture that very morning the
Chippewa they had captured, and his flight, together with the loss of
their young man, and the subsequent escape of their unknown enemies,
who had taken away all of their own canoes. How far the medicine-man had
anything to do with the other events of his narrative, Crowsfeather very
candidly admitted he could not even conjecture. He was still at a loss
whether to set down the conjurer for a pretender, or as a real oracle.
Peter, however, was less credulous even than the chiefs. He had his
superstitious notions, like all uneducated men, but a clear head and
quick intellect placed him far above the weaknesses of the red man
in general. On receiving a description of the person of the unknown
“medicine-man,” he at once recognized the bee-hunter. With an Indian to
describe, and an Indian to interpret or apply, escape from discovery was
next to impossible.

Although Onoah, or the “Tribeless,” as he was also frequently called
by the red men, from the circumstance of no one’s knowing to what
particular section of the great Indian family he belonged, perfectly
understood that the bee-hunter he had seen on the other shore was the
individual who had been playing the part of a conjurer among these
Pottawattamies, he was very careful not to reveal the fact to
Crowsfeather. He had his own policy, and was fully aware of all the
virtue there is in mystery and reserve. With an Indian, these qualities
go farther even than with a white man; and we of the Caucasian race are
not entirely exempt from the folly of being deceived by appearances. On
the present occasion Peter kept his knowledge to himself, still leaving
his red brethren in doubt and uncertainty; but he took care to be right
in his own opinions by putting as many questions as were necessary for
that purpose. Once assured of this fact, he turned to other subjects of
even greater interest to himself and his companions.

The conference which now took place between the “Tribeless” and
Crowsfeather was held apart, both being chiefs of too much importance
to be intruded on at a moment like that. The two chiefs exhibited a very
characteristic picture while engaged in this conference. They seated
themselves on a bank, and drawing their legs partially under them, sat
face to face, with their heads less than two feet asunder, occasionally
gesticulating with dignity, but each speaking in his turn with studied
decorum. Crowsfeather was highly painted, and looked fierce and warlike,
but Onoah had nothing extraordinary about him, with the exception of
the decorations and dress already described, unless it might be his
remarkable countenance. The face of this Indian ordinarily wore a
thoughtful cast, an expression which it is not unusual to meet with in
a savage; though at times it lighted up, as it might be with the heat of
inward fires, like the crater giving out its occasional flames beneath
the hues of a saddened atmosphere. One accustomed to study the human
face, and to analyze its expressions, would possibly have discovered in
that countenance lines of deep artifice, together with the traces of
a profound and constitutional enthusiasm. He was bent, at that
very moment, on a scheme worthy of the loftiest spirit living; the
regeneration and union of the people of his race, with a view to recover
the possessions they had yielded to the pale-faces; but it was a project
blended with the ferocity and revenge of a savage-noble while ferocious.

Not idly had the whites, scattered along that frontier, given the
sobriquet of “Scalping” to Peter, As his pole now showed, it had been
earned in a hundred scenes of bloody vengeance; and so great had been
his success, that the warrior, prophet, and councillor, for all
these characters were united in his single person, began to think the
attainment of his wishes possible. As a matter of course, much ignorance
of the power of the Anglo-Saxon race on this continent was blended with
these opinions and hopes; but it was scarcely an ignorance exceeding
that of certain persons of far higher pretensions in knowledge, who live
in another hemisphere, and who often set themselves up as infallible
judges of all things connected with man and his attributes. Peter, the
“Tribeless,” was not more in fault than those who fancied they saw the
power of this great republic in the gallant little band collected at
Corpus Christi, under its indomitable chief, and who, march by march,
nay, foot by foot, as it might be, have perseveringly predicted the
halt, the defeat, the disasters, and final discomfiture, which it has
not yet pleased Divine Providence to inflict on this slight effort of
the young Hercules, as he merely moves in his cradle. Alas, the enemy
that most menaces the overthrow of this new and otherwise invincible
exhibition of human force, is within; seated in the citadel itself;
and must be narrowly watched, or he will act his malignant purpose, and
destroy the fairest hopes that ever yet dawned on the fortunes of the
human race!

The conference between the chiefs lasted fully an hour. Crowsfeather
possessed much of the confidence of Peter, and, as for Onoah, neither
Tecumseh, nor his brother the Prophet, commanded as much of the
respect of Crowsfeather as he did himself. Some even whispered that the
“Tribeless” was the individual who lay behind all, and that the others
named merely acted as he suggested, or advised. The reader will obtain
all the insight into the future that it is necessary now to give him,
by getting a few of the remarks made by the two colloquists, just before
they joined the rest of the party.

“My father, then, intends to lead his pale-faces on a crooked path, and
take their scalps when he has done with them,” said Crowsfeather, who
had been gravely listening to Peter’s plans of future proceeding; “but
who is to get the scalp of the Chippewa?”

“One of my Pottawattamie young men; but not until I have made use of
him. I have a medicine-priest of the pale-faces and a warrior with me,
but shall not put their scalps on my pole until they have paddled
me further. The council is to be first held in the Oak Openings”--we
translate this term freely, that used by Peter meaning rather “the open
woods of the prairies”--“and I wish to show my prisoners to the chiefs,
that they may see how easy it is to cut off all the Yankees. I have now
four men of that people, and two squaws, in my power; let every red man
destroy as many, and the land will soon be clear of them all!”

This was uttered with gleamings of ferocity in the speaker’s face, that
rendered his countenance terrible. Even Crowsfeather quailed a little
before that fierce aspect; but the whole passed away almost as soon as
betrayed, and was succeeded by a friendly and deceptive smile, that
was characteristic of the wily Asiatic rather than of the aboriginal
American.

“They cannot be counted,” returned the Pottawattamie chief, as soon as
his restraint was a little removed by this less terrific aspect of his
companion, “if all I hear is true. Blackbird says that even the squaws
of the pale-faces are numerous enough to overcome all the red men that
remain.”

“There will be two less, when I fasten to my pole the scalps of those
on the other side of the river,” answered Peter, with another of his
transient, but startling gleams of intense revenge. “But no matter, now:
my brother knows all I wish him to do. Not a hair of the head of any
of these pale-faces must be touched by any hand but mine. When the time
comes, the knife of Onoah is sure. The Pottawattamies shall have their
canoes, and can follow us up the river. They will find us in the
Openings, and near the Prairie Round. They know the spot; for the red
men love to hunt the deer in that region. Now, go and tell this to your
young men; and tell them that corn will not grow, nor the deer wait to
be killed by any of your people, if they forget to do as I have said.
Vengeance shall come, when it is time.”

Crowsfeather communicated all this to his warriors, who received it as
the ancients received the words of their oracles. Each member of the
party endeavored to get an accurate notion of his duty, in order that
he might comply to the very letter with the injunctions received. So
profound was the impression made among all the red men of the north-west
by the previous labors of the “Tribeless” to awaken a national spirit,
and so great was their dread of the consequences of disobedience, that
every warrior present felt as if his life were the threatened penalty of
neglect or disinclination to obey.

No sooner, however, had Crowsfeather got through with his communication,
than a general request was made that the problem of the whiskey-spring
might be referred to Onoah for solution. The young men had strong hopes,
not-withstanding all that had passed, that this spring might yet turn
out to be a reality. The scent was still there, strong and fragrant,
and they could not get rid of the notion that “fire-water” grew on that
spot. It is true, their faith had been somewhat disturbed by the manner
in which the medicine-man had left them, and by his failure to draw
forth the gushing stream which he had impliedly promised, and in a small
degree performed; nevertheless little pools of whiskey had been found on
the rock, and several had tasted and satisfied themselves of the quality
of the liquor. As is usual, that taste had created a desire for more, a
desire that seldom slumbered on an Indian palate when strong drinks were
connected with its gratification.

Peter heard the request with gravity, and consented to look into the
matter with a due regard to his popularity and influence. He had his own
superstitious views, but among them there did not happen to be one
which admitted the possibility of whiskey’s running in a stream from the
living rock. Still he was willing to examine the charmed spot, scent the
fragrant odor, and make up his own estimate of the artifices by which
the bee-hunter had been practising on the untutored beings into whose
hand chance had thrown him.

While the young men eagerly pointed out the precise spots where the
scent was the strongest, Peter maintained the most unmoved gravity. He
did not kneel to smell the rocks, like the other chiefs, for this an
innate sense of propriety told him would be undignified; but he made
his observations closely, and with a keen Indian-like attention to every
little circumstance that might aid him in arriving at the truth. All
this time, great was the awe and deep the admiration of the lookers-on.
Onoah had succeeded in creating a moral power for himself among the
Indians of the northwest which much exceeded that of any other red man
of that region. The whites scarcely heard of him, knew but little of
his career, and less of his true character, for both were shrouded in
mystery. There is nothing remarkable in this ignorance of the pale-faces
of the time. They did not understand their own leaders; much less the
leaders of the children of the openings, the prairies, and the forest.
At this hour, what is really known by the mass of the American people of
the true characters of their public men? No nation that has any claim
to civilization and publicity knows less, and for several very obvious
reasons. The want of a capital in which the intelligence of the nation
periodically assembles and whence a corrected public opinion on all such
matters ought constantly to flow, as truth emanates from the collisions
of minds, is one of these reasons. The extent of the country, which
separates men by distances that no fact can travel over without
incurring the dangers of being perverted on the road, is another. But
the most fatal of al he influences that tend to mislead the judgment of
the American citizen, is to be found in the abuse of a machinery that
was intended to produce an exactly contrary effect. If the tongue was
given to man to communicate ideas to his fellows, so has philosophy
described it as “a gift to conceal his thoughts.” If the press was
devised to circulate truth, so has it been changed into a means of
circulating lies. One is easily, nay, more easily, sent abroad on
the four winds of the heavens than the other. Truth requires candor,
impartiality, honesty, research, and industry; but a falsehood, whether
designed or not, stands in need of neither. Of that which is the most
easily produced, the country gets the most; and it were idle to imagine
that a people who blindly and unresistingly submit to be put, as it
might be, under the feet of falsehood, as respects all their own public
men, can ever get very accurate notions of those of other nations.

Thus was it with Onoah. His name was unknown to the whites, except as
a terrible and much-dreaded avenger of the wrongs of his race. With
the red men it was very different. They had no “forked tongues” to make
falsehood take the place of truth; or if such existed they were not
believed. The Pottawattamies now present knew all about Tecumseh,
[Footnote: A “tiger stooping for his prey.”] of whom the whites had also
various and ample accounts. This Shawanee chief had long been active
among them, and his influence was extended far and near. He was a bold,
restless, and ingenious warrior; one, perhaps, who better understood
the art of war, as it was practised among red men, than any Indian then
living. They knew the name and person, also, of his brother Elkswatawa,
[Footnote: “A door opened.”] or the Prophet, whose name has also become
incorporated with the histories of the times. These two chiefs were
very powerful, though scarce dwelling regularly in any tribe; but their
origin, their careers, and their characters were known to all, as were
those of their common father, Pukeesheno, [Footnote: “I light from
fly--“] and their mother, Meethetaske.[Footnote: “A turtle laying her
eggs in the sand.”] But with Onoah it was very different. With him the
past was as much of a mystery as the future. No Indian could say even of
what tribe he was born. The totem that he bore on his person belonged
to no people then existing on the continent, and all connected with him,
his history, nation, and family, was conjecture and fancy.

It is said that the Indians have traditions which are communicated
only to a favored few, and which by them have been transmitted from
generation to generation. An enlightened and educated red man has quite
recently told us in person, that he had been made the repository of some
of these traditions, and that he had thus obtained enough of the history
of his race to be satisfied that they were not derived from the lost
tribes of Israel, though he declined communicating any more. It is so
natural to resort to secrecy in order to extend influence, that we can
have no difficulty In believing the existence of the practice; there
probably being no other reason why Free Masonry or Odd Fellowship should
have recourse to such an expedient, but to rule through the imagination
in preference to the judgment. Now Peter enjoyed all the advantages of
mystery. It was said that even his real name was unknown, that of Onoah
having been given in token of the many scalps he took, and that of
Wa-wa-nosh, which he also sometimes bore, having been bestowed on him
by adoption in consequence of an act of favor extended to him from an
Ojebway of some note, while that of Peter was clearly derived from the
whites. Some of his greatest admirers whispered that when the true name
of the “Tribeless” should get to be known, his origin, early career, and
all relating to him would at once become familiar to every red man.
At present, the Indians must rest content with what they saw and
understood. The wisdom of Wa-wa-nosh made itself felt in the councils;
his eloquence no speaker has equalled for ages; as for his vengeance on
the enemies of his race, that was to be estimated by the scalps he had
taken. More than this no Indian was to be permitted to know, until the
mission of this oracle and chief was completed.

Had one enlightened by the education of a civilized man been there, to
watch the movements and countenance of Peter as he scented the whiskey,
and looked in vain for the cause of the odor, and for a clew to the
mystery which so much perplexed the Pottawattamies, he would probably
have discovered some reason to distrust the sincerity of this remarkable
savage’s doubts. If ever Peter was an actor, it was on that occasion.
He did not, in the least, fall into any of the errors of his companions;
but the scent a good deal confounded him at first. At length he came to
the natural conclusion, that this unusual odor was in some way connected
with the family he had left on the other shore; and from that moment his
mind was at ease.

It did not suit the views of Peter, however, to explain to the
Pottawattamies that which was now getting to be so obvious to himself.
On the contrary, he rather threw dust into the eyes of the chiefs, with
a view to bring them also under the influence of superstition. After
making his observations with unmoved gravity, he promised a solution
of the whole affair when they should again meet in the Openings, and
proposed to recross the river. Before quitting the shore Peter
and Crowsfeather had a clear understanding on the subject of their
respective movements; and, as soon as the former began to paddle up
against the wind, the latter called his young men together, made a short
address, and led them into the woods, as if about to proceed on a march
of length. The party, notwithstanding, did not proceed more than a mile
and a half, when it came to a halt, and lighted a fire in order to cook
some venison taken on the way.

When Peter reached the south shore, he found the whole group assembled
to receive him. His tale was soon told. He had talked with the
Pottawattamies, and they were gone. The canoes, however, must be carried
to the other shore and left there, in order that their owners might
recover their property when they returned. This much had Peter promised,
and his pale-face friends must help him to keep his word. Then he
pointed to the Openings as to their place of present safety. There they
would be removed from all immediate danger, and he would accompany them
and give them the countenance and protection of his name and presence.
As for going south on the lake, that was impossible, so long as the wind
lasted, and it was useless even could it be done. The troops had all
left Chicago, and the fort was destroyed.

Parson Amen and Corporal Flint, both of whom were completely deluded by
Peter, fancying him a secret friend of the whites, in consequence of his
own protestations to that effect and the service he had already rendered
them, in appearance at least, instantly acquiesced in this wily savage’s
proposal. It was the best, the wisest, nay, the only thing that now
could be done. Mackinaw was gone, as well as Chicago, and Detroit must
be reached by crossing the peninsula, instead of taking the easier
but far more circuitous route of the lakes. Gershom was easily enough
persuaded into the belief of the feasibility, as well as of the
necessity, of this deviation from his original road, and he soon agreed
to accompany the party.

With le Bourdon the case was different. He understood himself and the
wilderness. For him the wind was fair, and there was no necessity for
his touching at Mackinaw at all. It is true, he usually passed several
days on that pleasant and salubrious island, and frequently disposed of
lots of honey there; but he could dispense with the visit and the sales.
There was certainly danger now to be apprehended from the Ottawas, who
would be very apt to be out on the lake after this maritime excursion
against the fort; but it was possible even to elude their vigilance. In
a word, the bee-hunter did not believe in the prudence of returning to
the Openings, but thought it by far the wisest for the whole party to
make the best of its way by water to the settlements. All this he urged
warmly on his white companions, taking them aside for that purpose, and
leaving Peter and Pigeonswing together while he did so.

But Parson Amen would as soon have believed that his old congregation in
Connecticut was composed of Philistines, as not to believe that the
red men were the lost tribes, and that Peter, in particular, was not
especially and elaborately described in the Old Testament. He had become
so thoroughly possessed by this crotchet as to pervert everything that
he saw, read, or heard, into evidence, of some sort or other, of the
truth of his notions. In this respect there was nothing peculiar in the
good missionary’s weakness, it being a failing common to partisans of a
theory, to discover proofs of its truths in a thousand things in which
indifferent persons can find even no connection with the subject at all.
In this frame of mind the missionary would as soon think of letting go
his hold on the Bible itself, as think of separating from an Indian who
might turn out any day to be a direct representative of Abraham, and
Isaac, and Jacob. Not to speak irreverently, but to use language that
must be familiar to all, the well-meaning missionary wished to be in at
the death.

Corporal Flint, too, had great faith in Peter. It was a part of
the scheme of the savage to make this straight for-ward soldier an
instrument in placing many scalps in hit power; and though he had
designed from the first to execute his bloody office on the corporal
himself, he did not intend to do so until he had made the most of him
as a stool-pigeon. Here were four more pale-faces thrown in his power,
principally by means of the confidence he had awakened in the minds of
the missionary and the soldier; and that same confidence might be made
instrumental in adding still more to the number. Peter was a sagacious,
even a far-seeing savage, but he labored under the curse of ignorance.
Had his information been of a more extended nature, he would have seen
the utter fallacy of his project to destroy the pale-faces altogether,
and most probably would have abandoned it.

It is a singular fact that, while such men as Tecumseh, his brother the
Prophet, and Peter, were looking forward to the downfall of the republic
on the side of the forest, so many, who ought to have been better
informed on such a subject, were anxiously expecting, nay confidently
predicting it, from beyond the Atlantic. Notwithstanding these sinister
soothsayers, the progress of the nation has, by a beneficent Providence,
been onward and onward, until it is scarcely presumptuous to suppose
that even England has abandoned the expectation of classing this country
again among her dependencies. The fortunes of America, under God, depend
only on herself. America may destroy America; of that there is danger;
but it is pretty certain that Europe united could make no serious
impression on her. Favored by position, and filled with a population
that we have ever maintained was one of the most military in existence,
a truth that recent events are hourly proving to be true, it much
exceeds the power of all the enemies of her institutions to make any
serious impression on her. There is an enemy who may prove too much for
her; it exists in her bosom; and God alone can keep him in subjection,
and repress his desolation.

These were facts, however, of which Wa-wa-nosh, or Onoah, was as
ignorant as if he were an English or French minister of state, and had
got his notions of the country from English or French travellers, who
wished for what they predicted. He had heard of the towns and population
of the republic; but one gets a very imperfect notion of any fact of
this sort by report, unless previous experience has prepared the mind
to make the necessary comparisons, and fitted it to receive the images
intended to be conveyed. No wonder, then, that Peter fell into a mistake
common to those who had so many better opportunities of forming just
opinions, and of arriving at truths that were sufficiently obvious to
all who did not wilfully shut their eyes to their existence.



CHAPTER XIII.

     Hearest thou voices on the shore
      That our ears perceive no more,
      Deafened by the cataract’s roar?

     Bear, through sorrow, wrong, and ruth,
      In thy heart the dew of youth,
      On thy lips the smile of truth.
                            --LONGFELLOW.


From all that has been stated, the reader will, probably, be prepared to
learn that Boden did not succeed in his effort to persuade Gershom,
and the other Christians, to accompany him on his voyage round by Lake
Huron. Corporal Flint was obdurate, and Parson Amen confiding. As for
Gershom, he did not like the thought of retracing his steps so soon, and
the females were obliged to remain with the husband and brother.

“You had better get out of the river while all the canoes are on this
side,” said Margery, as she and le Bourdon walked toward the boats in
company, the council having ended, and everything beginning to assume
the appearance of action. “Remember you will be quite alone, and have a
long, long road to travel!”

“I do remember all this, Margery, and see the necessity for all of us
getting back to the settlements as fast as we can. I don’t half like
this Peter; his name is a bad one in the garrisons, and it makes me
miserable to think that you may be in his power.”

“The missionary and the corporal, as well as my brother, seem willing to
trust him--what can two females do, when their male protector has made
up his mind in such a matter?”

“One who would very gladly be your protector, pretty Margery, has not
made up his mind to the prudence of trusting Peter at all. Put yourself
under my care, and my life shall be lost, or I will carry you safe to
your friends in Detroit.”

This might be deemed tolerably explicit; yet was it not sufficiently so
to satisfy female scruples, or female rights. Margery blushed, and
she looked down, while she did not look absolutely displeased. But her
answer was given firmly, and with a promptitude that showed she was
quite in earnest.

“I cannot quit Dorothy, placed as she is--and it is my duty to die with
brother,” she said.

“Have you thought enough of this, Margery? may not reflection change
your mind?”

“This is a duty on which a girl is not called to reflect; she must FEEL,
in a matter of conscience.”

The bee-hunter fairly sighed, and from a very resolute he became a very
irresolute sort of person. As was natural to one in his situation, he
let out the secret current his thoughts had taken, in the remarks which
followed.

“I do not like the manner in which Peter and Pigeonswing are now talking
together,” he said. “When an Injin is so earnest, there is generally
mischief brewing. Do you see Peter’s manner?”

“He seems to be telling the young warrior something that makes both
forget themselves. I never saw two men who seem so completely to forget
all the rest of the world as them two savages! What can be the meaning,
Bourdon, of so much fierce earnestness?”

“I would give the world to know-possibly the Chippewa may tell me. We
understand each other tolerably well, and, just as you spoke, he gave
me a secret sign that I have a right to think means confidence and
friendship. That savage is either a fast friend, or a thorough villain.”

“Is it safe to trust any of them, Bourdon? No--no--your best way will
be to go down the lakes, and get back to Detroit as soon as you can. Not
only your property, but your LIFE, is at risk.”

“Go, and leave you here, Margery--here, with a brother whose failing you
know as well as I do, and who may, at any moment, fall back into his old
ways! I should not be a man to do it!”

“But brother can get no liquor, now, for it is all emptied. When himself
for a few days, Gershom is a good protector, as well as a good provider.
You must not judge brother too harshly, from what you have seen of him,
Bourdon.”

“I do not wish to judge him at all, Margery. We all have our failin’s,
and whiskey is his. I dare say mine are quite as bad, in some other way.
It’s enough for me, Margery, that Gershom is your brother, to cause me
to try to think well of him. We must not trust to there being no more
liquor among us; for, if that so’ger is altogether without his rations,
he’s the first so’ger I ever met with who was!”

“But this corporal is a friend of the minister, and ministers ought not
to drink!”

“Ministers are like other men, as them that live much among ‘em will
soon find out. Hows’ever, if you WILL stay, Margery, there is no more to
be said. I must cache [Footnote: A Western term, obviously derived from
cacher, to conceal. Cache is much used by the Western adventurers.]
my honey, and get the canoe ready to go up stream again. Where you go,
Margery, I go too, unless you tell me that you do not wish my company.”

This was said quietly, but in the manner of one whose mind was made up.
Margery scarce knew how to take it. That she was secretly delighted,
cannot be denied; while, at the same time, that she felt a generous and
lively concern for the fortunes of le Bourdon, is quite as certain. As
Gershom just then called to her to lend her assistance in preparing to
embark, she had no leisure for expostulation, nor do we know that she
now seriously wished to divert the bee-hunter from his purpose.

It was soon understood by every one that the river was to be crossed,
in order that Gershom might get his household effects, previously to
ascending the Kalamazoo. This set all at--work but the Chippewa, who
appeared to le Bourdon to be watchful and full of distrust. As the
latter had a job before him, that would be likely to consume a couple
of hours, the others were ready for a start long before he had his hole
dug. It was therefore arranged that the bee-hunter should complete
his task, while the others crossed the stream, and went in quest of
Gershom’s scanty stock of household goods. Pigeonswing, however, was
not to be found, when the canoes were ready, and Peter proceeded without
him. Nor did le Bourdon see anything of his friend until the adventurers
were fairly on the north shore, when he rejoined le Bourdon, sitting
on a log, a curious spectator of the latter’s devices to conceal
his property, but not offering to aid him in a single movement. The
bee-hunter too well understood an Indian warrior’s aversion to labor of
all sorts, unless it be connected with his military achievements, to be
surprised at his companion’s indifference to his own toil. As the work
went on, a friendly dialogue was kept up between the parties.

“I didn’t know, Pigeonswing, but you had started for the openings,
before us,” observed le Bourdon. “That tribeless old Injin made
something of a fuss about your being out of the way; I dare say he
wanted you to help back the furniture down to the canoes.”

“Got squaw--what he want--better to do dat?”

“So you would put that pretty piece of work on such persons as Margery
and Dolly!”

“Why not, no? Bot’ squaw-bot know how. Dere business to work for
warrior.”

“Did you keep out of the way, then, lest old Peter should get you at a
job that is onsuitable to your manhood?”

“Keep out of way of Pottawattamie,” returned the Chippewa; “no want to
lose scalp-radder take his’n.”

“But Peter says the Pottawattamies are all gone, and that we have no
longer any reason to fear them; and this medicine-priest tells us, that
what Peter says we can depend on for truth.”

“Dat good medicine-man, eh? T’ink he know a great deal, eh?”

“That is more than I can tell you, Pigeonswing; for though I’ve been
a medicine-man myself, so lately, it is in a different line altogether
from that of Parson Amen’s.”

As the bee-hunter uttered this answer, he was putting the last of his
honey-kegs into the cache, and as he rose from completing the operation,
he laughed heartily, like one who saw images in the occurrences of the
past night, that tended to divert himself, if they had not the same
effect on the other spectators.

“If you medicine-man, can tell who Peter be? Winnebagoe, Sioux, Fox,
Ojebway, Six Nations all say don’t know him. Medicine-man ought to
know--who he be, eh?”

“I am not enough of a medicine-man to answer your question, Pigeonswing.
Set me at finding a whiskey-spring, or any little job of that sort,
and I’ll turn my back to no other whiskey-spring finder on the whole
frontier; but, as for Peter, he goes beyond my calculations, quite. Why
is he called Scalping Peter in the garrisons, if he be so good an Injin,
Chippewa?”

“You ask question--you answer. Don’t know, ‘less he take a good many
scalps. Hear he do take all he can find--den hear he don’t.”

“But you take all you can find, Pigeonswing; and that which is good in
you, cannot be so bad in Peter.”

“Don’t take scalp from friend. When you hear Pigeonswing scalp FRIEND,
eh?”

“I never did hear it; and hope I never shall. But when did you hear that
Peter is so wicked?”

“S’pose he don’t, ‘cause he got no friend among pale-face. Bes’ take
care of dat man?”

“I’m of your way of thinking, myself, Chippewa; though the corporal and
the priest think him all in all. When I asked Parson Amen how he came to
be the associate of one who went by a scalping name, even he told me it
was all name; that Peter hadn’t touched a hair of a human head, in the
way of scalping, since his youth, and that most of his notions and ways
were quite Jewish, The parson has almost as much faith in Peter, as he
has in his religion; I’m not quite sure he has not even more.”

“No matter. Bes’ always for pale-face to trust pale-face, and Injin to
trust Injin. Dat most likely to be right.”

“Nevertheless, I trust YOU Pigeonswing; and, hitherto, you have not
deceived me!”

The Chippewa cast a glance of so much meaning on the bee-hunter, that
the last was troubled by it. For many a day did le Bourdon remember that
look; and painful were the apprehensions to which it gave birth. Until
that morning, the intercourse between the two had been of the most
confidential character; but something like a fierce hatred was blended
in that look. Could it be that the feelings of the Chippewa were
changed? and was it possible that Peter was in any way connected with
this alteration in looks and sentiments? All these suspicions passed
through le Bourdon’s mind, as he finished his cache; and sufficiently
disagreeable did he find it to entertain them. The circumstances,
however, did not admit of any change of plan; and, in a few minutes, the
two were in the canoe, and on their way to join their companions.

Peter had dealt fairly enough with those who accompanied him. The
Pottawattamies were nowhere to be seen, and Gershom led the corporal
to the place where his household goods had been secreted, in so much
confidence, that both the men left their arms behind them. Such was the
state of things when le Bourdon reached the north shore. The young man
was startled, when his eyes fell on the rifles; but, on looking around,
there did not really appear to be any sufficient reason why they might
not be laid aside for a few minutes.

The bee-hunter, having disposed of all his honey, had now a nearly empty
canoe; accordingly, he received a portion of Gershom’s effects; all of
which were safely transported from their place of concealment to the
water side. Their owner was slowly recovering the use of his body and
mind, though still a little dull, from his recent debauch. The females
supplied his place, however, in many respects; and two hours after the
party had landed, it was ready again to proceed on its journey into the
interior. The last article was stowed in one of the canoes, and Gershom
announced his willingness to depart.

At this moment, Peter led the bee-hunter aside, telling his friends that
he would speedily rejoin them. Our hero followed his savage leader along
the foot of the declivity, in the rear of the hut, until the former
stopped at the place where the first, and principal fire of the past
night, had been lighted. Here Peter made a sweeping gesture of his hand,
as if to invite his companion to survey the different objects around. As
this characteristic gesture was made, the Indian spoke.

“My brother is a medicine-man,” he said. “He knows where whiskey
grows--let him tell Peter where to find the spring.”

The recollection of the scene of the previous night came so fresh
and vividly over the imagination of the bee-hunter, that, instead of
answering the question of the chief, he burst into a hearty fit of
laughter. Then, fearful of giving offence, he was about to apologize
for a mirth so ill-timed, when the Indian smiled, with a gleam of
intelligence on his swarthy face, that seemed to say, “I understand it
all,” and continued--

“Good--the chief with three eyes”--in allusion to the spy--glass that
le Bourdon always carried suspended from his neck--“is a very great
medicine-man; he knows when to laugh, and when to look sad. The
Pottawattamies were dry, and he wanted to find them some whiskey to
drink, but could not--our brother, in the canoe, had drunk it all.
Good.”

Again the bee-hunter laughed; and though Peter did not join in his
mirth, it was quite plain that he understood its cause. With this
good-natured sort of intelligence between them, the two returned to the
canoes; the bee-hunter always supposing that the Indian had obtained
his object, in receiving his indirect admission, that the scene of the
previous night had been merely a piece of ingenious jugglery. So much of
a courtier, however, was Peter, and so entire his self-command, that
on no occasion, afterward, did he ever make any further allusion to the
subject.

The ascent of the river was now commenced. It was not a difficult matter
for le Bourdon to persuade Margery, that her brother’s canoe would be
too heavily loaded for such a passage, unless she consented to quit
it for his own. Pigeonswing took the girl’s place, and was of material
assistance in forcing the light, but steady craft, up stream. The three
others continued in the canoe in which they had entered the river. With
this arrangement, therefore, our adventurers commenced this new journey.

Every reader will easily understand, that ascending such a stream as the
Kalamazoo was a very difficult thing from descending it. The progress
was slow, and at many points laborious. At several of the “rifts,” it
became necessary to “track” the canoes up; and places occurred at which
the only safe way of proceeding was to unload them altogether, and
transport boats, cargoes, and all, on the shoulders of the men,
across what are called, in the language of the country, “portages,” or
“carrying-places.” In such toil as this, the corporal was found to be
very serviceable; but neither of the Indians declined to lend their
assistance, in work of this manly character. By this time, moreover,
Gershom had come round, and was an able-bodied, vigorous assistant, once
more. If the corporal was the master of any alcohol, he judiciously kept
it a secret; for not a drop passed any one’s lips during the whole of
that toilsome journey.

Although the difficult places in the river were sufficiently numerous,
most of the reaches were places having steady, but not swift currents
toward the lake. In these reaches the paddles, and those not very
vigorously applied, enabled the travellers to advance as fast as was
desirable; and such tranquil waters were a sort of resting-places
to those who managed the canoes. It was while ascending these easy
channels, that conversation most occurred; each speaker yielding, as
was natural, to the impulses of the thoughts uppermost in his mind. The
missionary talked much of the Jews; and, as the canoes came near each
other, he entered at large, with their different occupants, into the
reasons he had for believing that the red men of America were the
lost tribes of Israel. “The very use of the word ‘tribes,’” would this
simple-minded, and not very profound expounder of the word of God, say,
“is one proof of the truth of what I tell you. Now, no one thinks of
dividing the white men of America into ‘tribes.’ Who ever heard of the
‘tribe’ of New England, or of the ‘tribe’ of Virginia, or of the
‘tribe’ of the Middle States? [Footnote: The reader is not to infer any
exaggeration in this picture. There is no end to the ignorance and folly
of sects and parties, when religious or political zeal runs high. The
writer well remembers to have heard a Universalist, of more zeal
than learning, adduce, as an argument in favor of his doctrine, the
twenty-fifth chapter and forty-sixth verse of St. Matthew, where we are
told that the wicked “shall go away into ever-lasting punishment; but
the righteous into Vis eternal”; by drawing a distinction between the
adjectives, and this so much the more, because the Old Testament speaks
of “everlasting hills,” and “everlasting valleys “; thus proving, from
the Bible, a substantial difference between “everlasting” and “eternal.”
 Now, every Sophomore knows that the word used in Matthew is the same
in both cases, being “aionion,” or “existing forever.”] Even among the
blacks, there are no tribes. There is a very remarkable passage in the
sixty-eighth Psalm, that has greatly struck me, since my mind has turned
to this subject; ‘God shall wound the head his enemies.’ saith the
Psalmist, ‘and the hairy scalp of such a one as goeth on still in his
wickedness.’ Here is a very obvious allusion to a well-known, and what
we think, a barbarous practice of the red men; but, rely on it, friends,
nothing that is permitted on earth is permitted in vain. The attentive
reader of the inspired book, by gleaning here and there, can collect
much authority for this new opinion about the lost tribes; and the day
will come, I do not doubt, when men will marvel that the truth hath
been so long hidden from them. I can scarcely open a chapter, in the Old
Testament, that some passage does not strike me as going to prove
this identity, between the red men and the Hebrews; and, were they all
collected together, and published in a book, mankind would be astonished
at their lucidity and weight. As for scalping, it is a horrid thing in
our eyes, but it is honorable with the red men; and I have quoted to you
the words of the Psalmist, in order to show the manner in which divine
wisdom inflicts penalties on sin. Here is plain justification of
the practice, provided always that the sufferer be in the bondage of
transgression, and obnoxious to divine censure. Let no man, therefore,
in the pride of his learning, and, perhaps, of his prosperity, disdain
to believe things that are so manifestly taught and foretold; but let us
all bow in humble submission to the will of a Being who, to our finite
understanding, is so perfectly incomprehensible.”

We trust that no one of our readers will be disposed to deride Parson
Amen’s speculations on this interesting subject, although this may
happen to be the first occasion on which he has ever heard the practice
of taking scalps justified by Scripture. Viewed in a proper spirit, they
ought merely to convey a lesson of humility, by rendering apparent
the wisdom, nay the necessity, of men’s keeping them-selves within
the limits of the sphere of knowledge they were designed to fill, and
convey, when rightly considered, as much of a lesson to the Puseyite,
with abstractions that are quite as unintelligible to himself as they
are to others; to the high-wrought and dogmatical Calvinist, who in the
midst of his fiery zeal, forgets that love is the very essence of the
relation between God and man; to the Quaker, who seems to think the cut
of a coat essential to salvation; to the descendant of the Puritan, who
whether he be Socinian, Calvinist, Universalist, or any other “1st,”
 appears to believe that the “rock” on which Christ declared he would
found his church was the “Rock of Plymouth”; and to the unbeliever,
who, in deriding all creeds, does not know where to turn to find one
to substitute in their stead. Humility, in matters of this sort, is the
great lesson that all should teach and learn; for it opens the way to
charity, and eventually to faith, and through both of these to hope;
finally, through all of these, to heaven.

The journey up the Kalamazoo lasted many days, the ascent being often
so painful, and no one seeming in a hurry. Peter waited for the time set
for his council to approach, and was as well content to remain in his
canoe, as to “camp out” in the openings. Gershom never was in haste,
while the bee-hunter would have been satisfied to pass the summer in so
pleasant a manner, Margery being seated most of the time in his
canoe. In his ordinary excursions, le Bourdon carried the mastiff as a
companion; but, now that his place was so much better filled, Hive was
suffered to roam the woods that lined most of the river-banks, joining
his master from time to time at the portages or landings. As for the
missionary and the corporal, impatience formed no part of their present
disposition. The first had been led, by the artful Peter, to expect
great results to his theory from the assembly of chiefs which was to
meet in the “openings”; and the credulous parson was, in one sense,
going as blindly on the path of destruction, as any sinner it had ever
been his duty to warn of his fate, was proceeding in the same direction
in another. The corporal, too, was the dupe of Peter’s artifices.
This man had heard so many stories to the Indian’s prejudice, at the
different posts where he had been stationed, as at first to render him
exceedingly averse to making the present journey in his company. The
necessity of the case, as connected with the preservation of his own
life after the massacre of Fort Dearborn, and the influence of the
missionary, had induced him to overlook his ancient prejudices, and to
forget opinions that, it now occurred to him, had been founded in error.
Once fairly within the influence of Peter’s wiles, a simple-minded
soldier like the corporal, was soon completely made the Indian’s dupe.
By the time the canoe reached the mouth of the Kalamazoo, as has been
related, each of these men placed the most implicit reliance on the good
faith and friendly feelings of the very being whose entire life, both
sleeping and waking thoughts, were devoted, not only to his destruction,
but to that of the whole white race on the American continent. So bland
was the manner of this terrible savage, when it comported with his
views to conceal his ruthless designs, that persons more practised and
observant than either of his two companions might have been its dupes,
not to say its victims. While the missionary was completely mystified
by his own headlong desire to establish a theory, and to announce to the
religious world where the lost tribes were to be found, the corporal had
aided in deceiving himself, also, by another process. With him, Peter
had privately conversed of war, and had insinuated that he was secretly
laboring in behalf of his great father at Washington, and against the
other great father down at Montreal. As between the two, Peter professed
to lean to the interests of the first; though, had he laid bare his
in-most soul, a fiery hatred of each would have been found to be its
predominant feeling. But Corporal Flint fondly fancied he was making
a concealed march with an ally, while he thus accompanied one of the
fiercest enemies of his race.

Peter is not to be judged too harshly. It is always respectable to
defend the fireside, and the land of one’s nativity, although the cause
connected with it may be sometimes wrong. This Indian knew nothing of
the principles of colonization, and had no conception that any
other than its original owners--original so far as his traditions
reached--could have a right to his own hunting-grounds. Of the slow but
certain steps by which an overruling Providence is extending a knowledge
of the true God, and of the great atonement through the death of his
blessed Son, Peter had no conception; nor would it probably have seemed
right to his contracted mind, had he even seen and understood this
general tendency of things. To him, the pale-face appeared only as
a rapacious invader, and not a creature obeying the great law of his
destiny, the end of which is doubtless to help knowledge to abound,
until it shall “cover the whole earth as the waters cover the sea.”
 Hatred, inextinguishable and active hatred, appeared to be the law
of this man’s being; and he devoted all the means, aided by all
the intelligence he possessed, to the furtherance of his narrow and
short-sighted means of vengeance and redress. In all this, he acted in
common with Tecumseh and his brother, though his consummate art kept him
behind a veil, while the others were known and recognized as open and
active foes. No publication speaks of this Peter, nor does any orator
enumerate his qualities, while the other two chiefs have been the
subjects of every species of descriptive talent, from that of the poet
to that of the painter.

As day passed after day, the feeling of distrust in the bosom of the
bee-hunter grew weaker and weaker, and Peter succeeded in gradually
worming himself into his confidence also. This was done, moreover,
without any apparent effort. The Indian made no professions of
friendship, laid himself out for no particular attention, nor ever
seemed to care how his companions regarded his deportment. His secret
purposes he kept carefully smothered in his own breast, it is true; but,
beyond that, no other sign of duplicity could have been discovered even
by one who knew his objects and schemes. So profound was his art, that
it had the aspect of nature. Pigeonswing alone was alive to the
danger of this man’s company; and he knew it only by means of certain
semi-confidential communications received in his character of a red man.
It was no part of Peter’s true policy to become an ally to either of the
great belligerents of the day. On the contrary, his ardent wish was to
see them destroy each other, and it was the sudden occurrence of
the present war that had given a new impulse to his hopes, and a new
stimulus to his efforts, as a time most propitious to his purposes. He
was perfectly aware of the state of the Chippewa’s feelings, and he knew
that this man was hostile to the Pottawattamies, as well as to most
of the tribes of Michigan; but this made no difference with him. If
Pigeonswing took the scalp of a white man, he cared not whether it grew
on an English or an American head; in either case it was the destruction
of his enemy. With such a policy constantly in view, it cannot be matter
of surprise that Peter continued on just as good terms with Pigeonswing
as with Crowsfeather. But one precaution was observed in his intercourse
with the first. To Crowsfeather, then on the war-path in quest of
Yankee scalps, he had freely communicated his designs on his own white
companions, while he did not dare to confide to the Chippewa this
particular secret, since that Indian’s relations with the bee-hunter
were so amicable as to be visible to every observer. Peter felt the
necessity of especial caution in his communication with this savage,
therefore; and this was the reason why the Chippewa was in so much
painful uncertainty as to the other’s intentions. He had learned enough
to be distrustful, but not enough to act with decision.

Once, and once only, during their slow passage up the Kalamazoo, did
the bee-hunter observe something about Peter to awaken his original
apprehensions. The fourth day after leaving the mouth of the river,
and when the whole party were resting after the toil of passing a
“carrying-place,” our hero had observed the eyes of that tribeless
savage roaming from one white face to another, with an expression in
them so very fiendish, as actually to cause his heart to beat quicker
than common. The look was such a one as le Bourdon could not remember to
have ever before beheld in a human countenance. In point of fact, he had
seen Peter in one of those moments when the pent fires of the volcano,
that ceaselessly raged within his bosom, were becoming difficult to
suppress; and when memory was busiest in recalling to his imagination
scenes of oppression and wrong, that the white man is only too apt to
forget amid the ease of his civilization, and the security of his power.
But the look, and the impression produced by it on le Bourdon, soon
passed away, and were forgotten by him to whom it might otherwise have
proved to be a most useful warning.

It was a little remarkable that Margery actually grew to be attached to
Peter, often manifesting toward the chief attentions and feelings such
as a daughter is apt to exhibit toward a father. This arose from the
high and courteous bearing of this extraordinary savage. At all times,
an Indian warrior is apt to maintain the dignified and courteous bearing
that has so often been remarked in the race, but it is very seldom that
he goes out of his way to manifest attention to the squaws. Doubtless
these men have the feelings of humanity, and love their wives and
offspring like others; but it is so essential a part of their training
to suppress the exhibition of such emotions, that it is seldom the mere
looker-on has occasion to note them. Peter, however, had neither wife
nor child; or if they existed, no one knew where either was to be found.
The same mystery shrouded this part of his history as veiled all the
rest. In his hunts, various opportunities occurred for exhibiting to the
females manly attentions, by offering to them the choicest pieces of
his game, and pointing out the most approved Indian modes of cooking the
meats, so as to preserve their savory properties. This he did sparingly
at first, and as a part of a system of profound deception; but day by
day, and hour after hour, most especially with Margery, did his manner
become sensibly less distant, and more natural. The artlessness, the
gentle qualities, blended with feminine spirit as they were, and the
innocent gayety of the girl, appeared to win on this nearly remorseless
savage, in spite of his efforts to resist her influence. Perhaps the
beauty of Margery contributed its share in exciting these novel emotions
in the breast of one so stern. We do not mean that Peter yielded to
feelings akin-to love; of this, he was in a manner incapable; but a man
can submit to a gentle regard for woman that shall be totally free from
passion. This sort of regard Peter certainly began to entertain for
Margery; and like begetting like, as money produces money, it is not
surprising that the confidence of the girl herself, as well as her
sympathies, should continue to increase in the favor of this terrible
Indian.

But the changes of feeling, and the various little incidents to which we
have alluded, did not occur in a single moment of time. Day passed after
day, and still the canoes were working their way up the winding channels
of the Kalamazoo, placing at each setting sun longer and longer reaches
of its sinuous stream between the travellers and the broad sheet of
Michigan. As le Bourdon had been up and down the river often, in his
various excursions, he acted as the pilot of the navigation; though all
worked, even to the missionary and the Chippewa. On such an expedition,
toil was not deemed to be discreditable to a warrior, and Pigeonswing
used the paddle and the pole as willingly, and with as much dexterity,
as any of the party.

It was only on the eleventh day after quitting the mouth of the river,
that the canoes came to in the little bay where le Bourdon was in the
habit of securing his light bark, when in the openings. Castle Meal was
in full view, standing peacefully in its sweet solitude; and Hive, who,
as he came within the range of his old hunts, had started off, and got
to the spot the previous evening, now stood on the bank of the river
to welcome his master and his friends to the chiente. It wanted a few
minutes of sunset as the travellers landed, and the parting rays of the
great luminary of our system were glancing through the various glades of
the openings, imparting a mellow softness to the herbage and flowers.
So far as the bee-hunter could perceive, not even a bear had visited
the place in his absence. On ascending to his abode and examining the
fastenings, and on entering the hut, storehouse, etc., le Bourdon became
satisfied that all the property he had left behind was safe, and that
the foot of man--he almost thought of beast too--had not visited the
spot at all during the last fortnight.



CHAPTER XIV.

      Hope in your mountains, and hope in your streams,
        Bow down in their worship, and loudly pray;
      Trust in your strength, and believe in your dreams,
        But the wind shall carry them all away.
                                        --BRAINARD.


The week which succeeded the arrival of our party at Chateau au Miel,
or Castle Meal, as le Bourdon used to call his abode, was one of very
active labor. It was necessary to house the adventurers, and the little
habitation already built was quite insufficient for such a purpose.
It was given to the females, who used it as a private apartment for
themselves, while the cooking, eating, and even sleeping, so far as the
males were concerned, were all done beneath the trees of the openings.
But a new chiente was soon constructed, which, though wanting in the
completeness and strength of Castle Meal, was sufficient for the wants
of these sojourners in the wilderness. It is surprising with how little
of those comforts which civilization induces us to regard as necessaries
we can get along, when cast into the midst of the western wilds. The
female whose foot has trodden, from infancy upward, on nothing harder
than a good carpet-who has been reared amid all the appliances of
abundance and art, seems at once to change her nature, along with her
habits, and often proves a heroine, and an active assistant, when there
was so much reason to apprehend she might turn out to be merely an
encumbrance. In the course of a life that is now getting to be well
stored with experience of this sort, as well as of many other varieties,
we can recall a hundred cases of women, who were born and nurtured
in affluence and abundance, who have cheerfully quitted the scenes of
youth, their silks and satins, their china and plate, their mahogany and
Brussels, to follow husbands and fathers into the wilderness, there
to compete with the savage, often for food, and always for the final
possession of the soil!

But in the case of Dorothy and Blossom, the change had never been of
this very broad character, and habit had long been preparing them for
scenes even more savage than that into which they were now cast. Both
were accustomed to work, as, blessed be God! the American woman
usually works; that is to say, within doors, and to render home neat,
comfortable, and welcome. As housewives, they were expert and willing,
considering the meagreness of their means; and le Bourdon told
the half-delighted, half-blushing Margery, ere the latter had been
twenty-four hours in his chiente, that nothing but the presence of such
a one as herself was wanting to render it an abode fit for a prince!
Then, the cooking was so much improved! Apart from cleanliness, the
venison was found to be more savory; the cakes were lighter; and the
pork less greasy. On this subject of grease, however, we could wish that
a sense of right would enable us to announce its utter extinction in
the American kitchen; or, if not absolutely its extinction, such a
subjection of the unctuous properties, as to bring them within the
limits of a reasonably accurate and healthful taste. To be frank,
Dorothy carried a somewhat heavy hand, in this respect; but pretty
Margery was much her superior. How this difference in domestic
discipline occurred, is more than we can say; but of its existence there
can be no doubt There are two very respectable sections of the civilized
world to which we should imagine no rational being would ever think of
resorting in order to acquire the art of cookery, and these are Germany
and the land of the Pilgrims. One hears, and reads in those elegant
specimens of the polite literature of the day, the letters from
Washington, and from various travellers, who go up and down this river
in steamboats, or along that railway, gratis, much in honor of the good
things left behind the several writers, in the “region of the kock”;
but, woe betide the wight who is silly enough to believe in all this
poetical imagery, and who travels in that direction, in the expectation
of finding a good table! It is extraordinary that such a marked
difference does exist, on an interest of this magnitude, among such
near neighbors; but, of the fact, we should think no intelligent and
experienced man can doubt. Believing as we do, that no small portion
of the elements of national character can be, and are, formed in the
kitchen, the circumstance may appear to us of more moment than to some
of our readers. The vacuum left in cookery, between Boston and Baltimore
for instance, is something like that which exists between Le Verrier’s
new planet and the sun.

But Margery could even fry pork without causing it to swim in grease,
and at a venison steak, a professed cook was not her superior. She also
understood various little mysteries, in the way of converting their
berries and fruits of the wilderness into pleasant dishes; and Corporal
Flint soon affirmed that it was a thousand pities she did not live in
a garrison, which, agreeably to his view of things, was something like
placing her at the comptoir of the Cafe de Paris, or of marrying her to
some second Vatel.

With the eating and drinking, the building advanced pari passu.
Pigeonswing brought in his venison, his ducks, his pigeons, and his game
of different varieties, daily, keeping the larder quite as well supplied
as comported with the warmth of the weather; while the others worked on
the new chiente. In order to obtain materials for this building, one so
much larger than his old abode, Ben went up the Kalamazoo about half a
mile, where he felled a sufficient number of young pines, with trunks of
about a foot in diameter, cutting them into lengths of twenty and thirty
feet, respectively. These lengths, or trunks, were rolled into the
river, down which they slowly floated, until they arrived abreast of
Castle Meal, where they were met by Peter, in a canoe, who towed each
stick, as it arrived, to the place of landing. In this way, at the end
of two days’ work, a sufficient quantity of materials was collected to
commence directly on the building itself.

Log-houses are of so common occurrence, as to require no particular
description of the one now put up, from us. It was rather less than
thirty feet in length, and one-third narrower than it was long. The logs
were notched, and the interstices were filled by pieces of the pine,
split to a convenient size. The roof was of bark, and of the simplest
construction, while there was neither door nor window; though one
aperture was left for the first, and two for the last. Corporal Flint,
however, was resolved that not only a door should be made, as well
as shutters for the windows, but that the house should, in time, be
picketed. When le Bourdon remonstrated with him on the folly of
taking so much unnecessary pains, it led to a discussion, in which the
missionary even felt constrained to join.

“What’s the use--what’s the use?” exclaimed le Bourdon a little
impatiently, when he found the corporal getting to be in earnest in
his proposal. “Here have I lived, safely, two seasons in Castle Meal,
without any pickets or palisades; and yet you want to turn this new
house into a regular garrison!”

“Aye, Bourdon, that was in peaceable times; but these is war times.
I’ve seen the fall of Fort Dearborn, and I don’t want to see the fall of
another post this war. The Pottawattamies is hostile, even Peter owns;
and the Pottawattamies has been here once, as you say yourself, and may
come ag’in.”

“The only Pottawattamie who has ever been at this spot, to my knowledge,
is dead, and his bones are bleaching up yonder in the openings. No fear
of him, then.”

“His body is gone,” answered the corporal; “and what is more the rifle
is gone with it. I heard that his rifle had been forgotten, and went
to collect the arms left on the field of battle, but found nothing. No
doubt his friends have burned, or buried, the chief, and they will be
apt to take another look in this quarter of the country, having l’arnt
the road.”

Boden was struck with this intelligence, as well as with the reasoning,
and after a moment’s pause, he answered in a way that showed a wavering
purpose.

“It will take a week’s work, to picket or palisade the house,” he
answered, “and I wish to be busy among the bees, once more.”

“Go to your bees, Bourdon, and leave me to fortify and garrison, as
becomes my trade. Parson Amen, here, will tell you that the children of
Israel are often bloody-minded and are not to be forgotten.”

“The corporal is right,” put in the missionary; “the corporal is quite
right. The whole history of the ancient Jews gives us this character
of them; and even Saul of Tarsus was bent on persecution and slaughter,
until his hand was stayed by the direct manifestation of the power of
God. I can see glimmerings of this spirit in Peter, and this at a moment
when he is almost ready to admit that he’s a descendant of Israel.”

“Is Peter ready to allow that?” asked the bee-hunter, with more interest
in the answer than he would have been willing to allow.

“As good as that-yes, quite as good as that. I can see, plainly, that
Peter has some heavy mystery on his mind; sooner, or later, we shall
learn it. When it does come out, the world may be prepared to learn the
whole history of the Ten Tribes!”

“In my judgment,” observed the corporal, “that chief could give the
history of twenty, if he was so minded.”

“There were but ten of them, brother Flint--but ten; and of those ten he
could give us a full and highly interesting account. One of these days,
we shall hear it all; in the mean time, it may be well enough to turn
one of these houses into some sort of a garrison.”

“Let it, then, be Castle Meal,” said le Bourdon; “surely, if any one is
to be defended and fortified in this way, it ought to be the women. You
may easily palisade that hut, which is so much stronger than this, and
so much smaller.”

With this compromise, the work went on. The corporal dug a trench four
feet deep, encircling the “castle,” as happy as a lord the whole time;
for this was not the first time he had been at such work, which
he considered to be altogether in character, and suitable to his
profession. No youthful engineer, fresh from the Point, that seat of
military learning to which the republic is even more indebted for its
signal successes in Mexico, than to the high military character of this
population-no young aspirant for glory, fresh from this useful
school, could have greater delight in laying out his first bastion,
or counter-scarp, or glacis, than Corporal Flint enjoyed in fortifying
Castle Meal. It will be remembered that this was the first occasion he
was ever actually at the head of the engineering department Hitherto, it
had been his fortune to follow; but now it had become his duty to lead.
As no one else, of that party, had ever been employed in such a work
on any previous occasion, the corporal did not affect to conceal the
superior knowledge with which he was overflowing. Gershom he found a
ready and active assistant; for, by this time, the whiskey was well out
of him; and he toiled with the greater willingness, as he felt that the
palisades would add to the security of his wife and sister. Neither
did Parson Amen disdain to use the pick and shovel; for, while the
missionary had the fullest reliance in the fact that the red men of that
region were the descendants of the children of Israel, he regarded them
as a portion of the chosen people who were living under the ban of the
divine displeasure, and as more than usually influenced by those evil
spirits, whom St. Paul mentions as the powers of the air. In a word,
while the good missionary had all faith in the final conversion and
restoration of these children of the forests, he did not overlook the
facts of their present barbarity, and great propensity to scalp. He
was not quite as efficient as Gershom, at this novel employment, but
a certain inborn zeal rendered him both active and useful. As for the
Indians, neither of them deigned to touch a tool. Pigeonswing had little
opportunity for so doing, indeed, being usually, from the rising to
the setting sun, out hunting for the support of the party; while Peter
passed most of his time in ruminations and solitary walks. This last
paid little attention to the work about the castle, either knowing it
would, at any moment, by an act of treachery, be in his power to render
all these precautions of no avail; or, relying on the amount of savage
force that he knew was about to collect in the openings. Whenever he
cast a glance on the progress of the work, it was with an eye of great
indifference; once he even carried his duplicity so far, as to make a
suggestion to the corporal, by means of which, as he himself expressed
it, in his imperfect English--“Injin no get inside, to use knife and
tomahawk.” This seeming indifference, on the part of Peter, did
not escape the observation of the bee-hunter, who became still less
distrustful of that mysterious savage, as he noted his conduct in
connection with the dispositions making for defence.

Le Bourdon would not allow a tree of any sort to be felled anywhere near
his abode. While the corporal and his associates were busy in digging
the trench, he had gone to a considerable distance, quite out of sight
from Castle Meal, and near his great highway, the river, where he cut
and trimmed the necessary number of burr-oaks for the palisades. Boden
labored the more cheerfully at this work, for two especial reasons. One
was the fact that the defences might be useful to himself, hereafter,
as much against bears as against Indians; and the other, because Margery
daily brought her sewing or knitting, and sat on the fallen trees,
laughing and chatting, as the axe performed its duties. On three several
occasions Peter was present, also, accompanying Blossom, with a kindness
of manner, and an attention to her pretty little tastes in culling
flowers, that would have done credit to a man of a higher school of
civilization.

The reader is not to suppose, however, because the Indian pays but
little outward attention to the squaws, that he is without natural
feeling, or manliness of character. In some respects his chivalrous
devotion to the sex is, perhaps, in no degree inferior to that of the
class which makes a parade of such sentiments, and this quite as much
from convention and ostentation, as from any other motive. The red man
is still a savage beyond all question, but he is a savage with so many
nobler and more manly qualities, when uncorrupted by communion with the
worst class of whites, and not degraded by extreme poverty, as justly to
render him a subject of our admiration, in self-respect, in dignity, and
in simplicity of deportment. The Indian chief is usually a gentleman;
and this, though he may have never heard of Revelation, and has not the
smallest notion of the Atonement, and of the deep obligations it has
laid on the human race.

Amid the numberless exaggerations of the day, one of particular capacity
has arisen connected with the supposed character of a gentleman. Those
who regard all things through the medium of religious feeling, are apt
to insist that he who is a Christian, is necessarily a gentleman; while
he can be no thorough gentleman, who has not most of the qualities of
the Christian character. This confusion in thought and language, can
lead to no really useful result, while it embarrasses the minds of many,
and renders the expression of our ideas less exact and comprehensive
than they would otherwise be.

We conceive that a man may be very much of a Christian, and very little
of a gentleman; or very much of a gentleman, and very little of a
Christian. There is, in short, not much in common between the two
characters, though it is possible for them to become united in the same
individual. That the finished courtesies of polished life may wear some
of the aspects of that benevolence which causes the Christian “to love
his neighbor as himself,” is certainly true, though the motives of the
parties are so very different as to destroy all real identity between
them. While the moving principle of a gentleman is self-respect, that
of a Christian is humility. The first is ready to lay down his life
in order to wipe away an imaginary dishonor, or to take the life of
another; the last is taught to turn the other cheek, when smitten. In a
word, the first keeps the world, its opinions and its estimation, ever
uppermost in his thoughts; the last lives only to reverence God, and to
conform to his will, in obedience to his revealed mandates. Certainly,
there is that which is both grateful and useful in the refined
deportment of one whose mind and manners have been polished even in the
schools of the world; but it is degrading to the profoundly beautiful
submission of the truly Christian temper, to imagine that anything like
a moral parallel can justly be run between them.

Of course, Peter had none of the qualities of him who sees and feels
his own defects, and relies only on the merits of the atonement for
his place among the children of light, while he had so many of those
qualities which depend on the estimate which man is so apt to place on
his own merits. In this last sense, this Indian had a great many of
the essentials of a gentleman; a lofty courtesy presiding over all his
intercourse with others, when passion or policy did not thrust in new
and sudden principles of action. Even the missionary was so much struck
with the gentleness of this mysterious savage’s deportment in connection
with Margery, as at first to impute it to a growing desire to make a
wife of that flower of the wilderness. But closer observation induced
greater justice to the Indian in this respect Nothing like the
uneasiness, impatience, or distrust of passion could be discerned in his
demeanor; and when Parson Amen perceived that the bee-hunter’s marked
devotion to the beautiful Blossom rather excited a benevolent and kind
interest in the feelings of Peter, so far at least as one could judge
of the heart by external appearances, than anything that bore the fierce
and uneasy impulses of jealousy, he was satisfied that his original
impression was a mistake.

As le Bourdon flourished his axe, and Margery plied her needles, making
a wholesome provision for the coming winter, the mysterious Indian would
stand, a quarter of an hour at a time, immovable as a statue, his eyes
riveted first on one, and then on the other. What passed at such moments
in that stern breast, it exceeds the penetration of man to say: but that
the emotions thus pent within barriers that none could pass or destroy,
were not always ferocious and revengeful, a carefully observant
spectator might possibly have suspected, had such a person been there to
note all the signs of what was uppermost in the chiefs thoughts. Still,
gleamings of sudden, but intense ferocity did occasionally occur; and,
at such instants, the countenance of this extraordinary being was
truly terrific. Fortunately, such bursts of uncontrollable feeling were
transient, being of rare occurrence, and of very short duration.

By the time the corporal had his trenches dug, le Bourdon was prepared
with his palisades, which were just one hundred in number, being
intended to enclose a space of forty feet square. The men all united in
the transportation of the timber, which was floated down the river on a
raft of white pine, the burr-oak being of a specific gravity that fresh
water would not sustain. A couple of days, however, sufficed for the
transportation by water, and as many more for that by land, between
the place of landing and Castle Meal. This much accomplished, the
whole party rested from their labors, the day which succeeded being the
Sabbath.

Those who dwell habitually amid the haunts of men, alone thoroughly
realize the vast importance that ought to be attached to the great day
of rest. Men on the ocean, and men in the forest, are only too apt
to overlook the returns of the Sabbath; thus slowly, but inevitably
alienating themselves more and more from the dread Being who established
the festival, as much in his own honor as for the good of man. When we
are told that the Almighty is jealous of his rights, and desires to
be worshipped, we are not to estimate this wish by any known human
standard, but are ever to bear in mind that it is exactly in proportion
as we do reverence the Creator and Ruler of heaven and earth that we are
nearest, or farthest, from the condition of the blessed. It is probably
for his own good, that the adoration of man is pleasing in the eyes of
God.

The missionary, though a visionary and an enthusiast, as respected the
children of Israel, was a zealous observer of his duties. On Sundays,
he never neglected to set up his tabernacle, even though it were in
a howling wilderness, and went regularly through the worship of God,
according to the form of the sect to which he belonged. His influence,
on the present occasion, was sufficient to cause a suspension of
all labor, though not without some remonstrances on the part of the
corporal. The latter contended that, in military affairs, there was no
Sunday known, unless it might be in peaceable times, and that he had
never heard of intrenchments “resting from their labors,” on the part
of either the besieger or the besieged. Work of that sort, he thought,
ought to go on, day and night, by means of reliefs; and, instead of
pausing to hold church, he had actually contemplated detailing fatigue
parties to labor through, not only that day, but the whole of the
succeeding night.

As for Peter, he never offered the slightest objection to any of Parson
Amen’s sermons or prayers. He listened to both with unmoved gravity,
though no apparent impression was ever made on his feelings. The
Chippewa hunted on the Sabbaths as much as on any other day; and it was
in reference to this fact that the following little conversation took
place between Margery and the missionary, as the party sat beneath the
oaks, passing a tranquil eventide at midsummer.

“How happens it, Mr. Amen,” said Margery, who had insensibly adopted the
missionary’s sobriquet, “that no red man keeps the Sabbath-day, if they
are all descended from the Jews? This is one of the most respected of
all the commandments, and it does not seem natural”--Margery’s use of
terms was necessarily influenced by association and education-“that any
of that people should wholly forget the day of rest.”

“Perhaps you are not aware, Margery, that the Jews, even in civilized
countries, do not keep the same Sabbath as the Christians,” returned
the missionary. “They have public worship on a Saturday, as we do on
a Sunday. Now, I did think I saw some signs of Peter’s privately
worshipping yesterday, while we were all so busy at our garrison. You
may have observed how thoughtful and silent the chief was in the middle
of the afternoon.”

“I DID observe it,” said the bee-hunter, “but must own I did not suspect
him of holding meeting for any purposes within himself. That was one of
the times when I like the manners and behavior of this Injin the least.”

“We do not know--we do not know--perhaps his spirit struggled with the
temptations of the Evil One. To me he appeared to be worshipping, and I
set the fact down as a proof that the red men keep the Jewish Sabbath.”

“I did not know that the Jews keep a Sabbath different from our own,
else I might have thought the same. But I never saw a Jew, to my
knowledge. Did you, Margery?”

“Not to know him for one,” answered the girl; and true enough was the
remark of each. Five-and-thirty years ago, America was singularly not
only a Christian but a Protestant nation. Jews certainly did exist in
the towns, but they were so blended with the rest of the population,
and were so few in number, as scarcely to attract attention to them as
a sect. As for the Romanists, they too had their churches and their
dioceses; but what untravelled American had then ever seen a nun? From
monks, Heaven be praised, we are yet spared; and this is said without
any prejudice against the denomination to which they usually belong. He
who has lived much in a country where that sect prevails, if a man of
a particle of liberality, soon learns that piety and reverence for God,
and a deep sense of all the Christian obligations, can just as well,
nay better, exist in a state of society where a profound submission to
well-established dogmas is to be found, than in a state of society where
there is so much political freedom as to induce the veriest pretenders
to learning to imagine that each man is a church and a hierarchy in his
own person! All this is rapidly changing. Romanists abound, and spots
that half a century since, appeared to be the most improbable place in
the world to admit of the rites of the priests of Rome, now hear the
chants and prayers of the mass-books. All this shows a tendency toward
that great commingling of believers, which is doubtless to precede the
final fusion of sects, and the predicted end.

On the Monday that succeeded the Sabbath mentioned, the corporal had all
his men at work, early, pinning together his palisades, making them up
into manageable bents, and then setting them up on their legs. As the
materials were all there, and quite ready to be put together, the work
advanced rapidly; and by the time the sun drew near the western horizon
once more, Castle Meal was surrounded by its bristling defences. The
whole was erect and stay-lathed, waiting only for the earth to be
shovelled back into the trench, and to be pounded well down. As it
was, the palisades offered a great increase of security to those in
the chiente, and both the females expressed their obligations to their
friends for having taken this important step toward protecting them from
the enemy. When they retired for the night, everything was arranged,
so that the different members of the party might know where to assemble
within the works. Among the effects of Gershom, were a conch and a horn;
the latter being one of those common instruments of tin, which are so
much used in and about American farm-houses, to call the laborers from
the field. The conch was given to the men, that, in case of need, they
might sound the alarm from without, while the horn, or trumpet of tin,
was suspended by the door of the chiente, in order that the females
might have recourse to it, at need.

About midnight, long after the whole party had retired to rest, and when
the stillness of the hours of deepest repose reigned over the openings,
the bee-hunter was awoke from his sleep by an unwonted call. At first,
he could scarce believe his senses, so plaintive, and yet so wild,
was the blast. But there could be no mistake: it was the horn from
the chiente, and, in a moment, he was on his feet. By this time, the
corporal was afoot, and presently all the men were in motion. On this
occasion, Gershom manifested a readiness and spirit that spoke equally
well for his heart and his courage. He was foremost in rushing to the
assistance of his wife and sister, though le Bourdon was very close on
his heels.

On reaching the gate of the palisade, it was found closed, and barred
within; nor did any one appear, until Dorothy was summoned, by repeated
calls, in the well-known voice of her husband. When the two females came
out of the chiente, great was their wonder and alarm! No horn had been
blown by either of them, and there the instrument itself hung, on its
peg, as quiet and mute as if a blast had never been blown into it The
bee-hunter, on learning this extraordinary fact, looked around him
anxiously, in order to ascertain who might be absent. Every man was
present, and each person stood by his arms, no one betraying the
slightest consciousness of knowing whence the unaccountable summons had
proceeded!

“This has been done by you, corporal, in order to bring us together,
under arms, by way of practice,” le Bourdon at length exclaimed.

“False alarms is useful, if not overdone; especially among raw troops,”
 answered Flint, coolly; “but I have given none to-night. I will own I
did intend to have you all out in a day or two by way of practice, but
I have thought it useless to attempt too much at once. When the
garrison is finished, it will be time enough to drill the men to the
alarm-posts.”

“What is your opinion, Peter?” continued le Bourdon. “You understand the
wilderness, and its ways. To what is this extr’or’nary call owing? Why
have we been brought here, at this hour?”

“Somebody blow horn, most likely,” answered Peter, in his unmoved,
philosophical manner. “‘Spose don’t know; den can’t tell. Warrior often
hear ‘larm on war-path.”

“This is an onaccountable thing! If I ever heard a horn, I heard one
to-night; yet this is the only horn we have, and no one has touched it!
It was not the conch I heard; there is no mistaking the difference in
sound between a shell and a horn; and there is the conch, hanging at
Gershom’s neck, just where it has been the whole night.”

“No one has touched the conch--I will answer for THAT,” returned
Gershom, laying a hand on the shell, as if to make certain all was
right.

“This is most extr’or’nary! I heard the horn, if ears of mine ever heard
such an instrument!”

Each of the white men added as much, for every one of them had
distinctly heard the blast. Still neither could suggest any probable
clue to the mystery. The Indians said nothing; but it was so much in
conformity with their habits for red men to maintain silence, whenever
any unusual events awakened feelings in others, that no one thought
their deportment out of rule. As for Peter, a statue of stone could
scarcely have been colder in aspect than was this chief, who seemed to
be altogether raised above every exhibition of human feeling. Even the
corporal gaped, though much excited, for he had been suddenly aroused
from a deep sleep; but Peter was as much superior to physical, as to
moral impressions, on this occasion. He made no suggestion, manifested
no concern, exhibited no curiosity; and when the men withdrew, again, to
their proper habitation, he walked back with them, in the same silence
and calm, as those with which he had advanced. Gershom, however, entered
within the palisade, and passed the remainder of the night with his
family.

The bee-hunter and the Chippewa accidentally came together, as the men
moved slowly toward their own hut, when the following short dialogue
occurred between them.

“Is that you, Pigeonswing?” exclaimed le Bourdon, when he found his
friend touching an elbow, as if by chance.

“Yes, dis me--want better friend, eh?”

“No, I’m well satisfied to have you near me, in an alarm, Chippewa.
We’ve stood by each other once, in troublesome times; and I think we can
do as much, ag’in.”

“Yes; stand by friend--dat honor. Nebber turn back on friend; dat my
way.”

“Chippewa, who blew the blast on the horn?--can you tell me THAT?”

“Why don’t you ask Peter? He wise chief--know eb-beryt’ing. Young Injin
ask ole Injin when don’t know--why not young pale-face ask ole man, too,
eh?”

“Pigeonswing, if truth was said, I believe it would be found that you
suspect Peter of having a hand in this business?”

This speech was rather too idiomatic for the comprehension of the
Indian, who answered according to his own particular view of the matter.

“Don’t blow horn wid hand,” he said--“Injin blow wid mout’, just like
pale-face.”

The bee-hunter did not reply; but his companion’s remark had a tendency
to revive in his breast certain unpleasant and distrustful feelings
toward the mysterious savage, which the incidents and communications of
the last two weeks had had a strong tendency to put to sleep.



CHAPTER XV.

      None knows his lineage, age, or name;
      His looks are like the snows of Caucasus; his eyes
      Beam with the wisdom of collected ages
      In green, unbroken years he sees, ‘tis said,
      The generations pass like autumn fruits,
      Garner’d, consumed, and springing fresh to life,
      Again to perish--
                                      --HILLHOUSE


No further disturbance took place that night, and the men set about
filling up the trenches in the morning steadily, as if nothing had
happened. They talked a little of the extraordinary occurrence, but more
was THOUGHT than SAID. Le Bourdon observed, however, that Pigeonswing
went earlier than usual to the hunt, and that he made his preparations
as if he expected to be absent more than the customary time.

As there were just one hundred feet of ditch to fill with dirt, the task
was completed, and that quite thoroughly, long ere the close of the day.
The pounding down of the earth consumed more time, and was much more
laborious than the mere tumbling of the earth back into its former bed;
but even this portion of the work was sufficiently attended to. When all
was done, the corporal himself, a very critical sort of person in what
he called “garrisons,” was fain to allow that it was as “pretty a piece
of palisading” as he had ever laid eyes on. The “garrison” wanted only
one thing, now, to render it a formidable post--and that was water--no
spring or well existing within its narrow limit; however, he procured
two or three empty barrels, portions of le Bourdon’s effects, placed
them within the works, and had them filled with sweet water. By emptying
this water two or three times a week, and refilling the barrels, it was
thought that a sufficient provision of that great necessary would be
made and kept up. Luckily the corporal’s “garrison” did not drink, and
the want was so much the more easily supplied for the moment.

In truth, the chiente was now converted into a place of some strength,
when it is considered that artillery had never yet penetrated to those
wilds. More than half the savages of the west fought with arrows
and spears in that day, as most still do when the great prairies are
reached. A rifleman so posted as to have his body in a great measure
covered by the trunk of a burr-oak tree, would be reasonably secure
against the missives of an Indian, and, using his own fatal instrument
of death, under a sense of personal security, he would become a
formidable opponent to dislodge. Nor was the smallness of the work any
objection to its security. A single well-armed man might suffice
to defend twenty-five feet of palisades, when he would have been
insufficient to make good his position with twice the extent. Then le
Bourdon had cut loops on three sides of the hut itself, in order to fire
at the bears, and sometimes at the deer, which had often approached
the building in its days of solitude and quiet, using the window on
the fourth side for the same purpose. In a word, a sense of increased
security was felt by the whole party when this work was completed,
though one arrangement was still wanting to render it perfect. By
separating the real garrison from the nominal garrison during the night,
there always existed the danger of surprise; and the corporal, now that
his fortifications were finished, soon devised a plan to obviate this
last-named difficulty. His expedient was very simple, and had somewhat
of barrack-life about it.

Corporal Flint raised a low platform along one side of the chiente,
by placing there logs of pine that were squared on one of their sides.
Above, at the height of a man’s head, a roof of bark was reared on
poles, and prairie grass, aided by skins, formed very comfortable
barrack-beds beneath. As the men were expected to lie with their heads
to the wall of the hut, and their feet outward, there was ample space
for twice their number. Thither, then, were all the homely provisions
for the night transported; and when Margery closed the door of the
chiente, after returning the bee-hunter’s cordial good night, it was
with no further apprehension for the winding of the mysterious horn.

The first night that succeeded the new arrangement passed without any
disturbance. Pigeonswing did not return, as usual, at sunset, and
a little uneasiness was felt on his account; but, as he made his
appearance quite early in the morning, this source of concern ceased.
Nor did the Chippewa come in empty-handed; he had killed not only a
buck, but he had knocked over a bear in his rambles, besides taking a
mess of famously fine trout from a brawling stream at no great distance.
The fish were eaten for breakfast, and immediately after that meal was
ended, a party.

“I know no more than he has himself told me. By his account there is
to be a great council of red men on the prairie, a few miles from this
spot; he is waiting for the appointed day to come, in order to go and
make one of the chiefs that will be there. Is not this true, Chippewa?”

“Yes, dat true--what dat council smoke round fire for, eh? You know?”

“No, I do not, and would be right glad to have you tell me, Pigeonswing.
Perhaps the tribe mean to have a meetin’ to determine in their own minds
which side they ought to take in this war.”

“Not dat nudder. Know well ‘nough which side take. Got message and
wampum from Canada fadder, and most all Injin up this-a way look for
Yankee scalp. Not dat nudder.”

“Then I have no notion what is at the bottom of this council. Peter
seems to expect great things from it; that I can see by his way of
talking and looking whenever he speaks of it.”

“Peter want to see him very much. Smoke at great many sich council
fire.”

“Do you intend to be present at this council on Prairie Round?” asked
the bee-hunter, innocently enough. Pigeonswing turned to look at his
companion, in a way that seemed to inquire how far he was really the
dupe of the mysterious Indian’s wiles. Then, suddenly aware of the
importance of not betraying all he himself knew, until the proper moment
had arrived, he bent his eyes forward again, continuing onward and
answering somewhat evasively.

“Don’t know,” he replied. “Hunter nebber tell. Chief want venison, and
he must hunt. Just like squaw in pale-face wigwam--work,
work--sweep, sweep--cook, cook--never know when work done. So hunter
hunt--hunt--hunt.”

“And for that matter, Chippewa, just like squaw in the red man’s
village, too. Hoe, hoe--dig, dig--carry, carry--so that she never knows
when she may sit down to rest.”

“Yes,” returned Pigeonswing, coolly nodding his assent as he moved
steadily forward. “Dat do right way wid squaw--juss what he good
for--juss what he MADE for--work for warrior and cook his dinner.
Pale-face make too much of squaw.”

“Not accordin’ to your account of their manner of getting along, Injin.
If the work of our squaws is never done, we can hardly make too much of
them. Where does Peter keep HIS squaw?”

“Don’t know,” answered the Chippewa. “Nobody know. Don’t know where his
tribe even.”

“This is very extraor’nary, considering the influence the man seems to
enjoy. How is it that he has so completely got the ears of all the red
men, far and near?”

To this question Pigeonswing gave no answer. His own mind was so far
under Peter’s control that he did not choose to tell more than might be
prudent. He was fully aware of the mysterious chief’s principal design,
that of destroying the white race altogether, and of restoring the red
men to their ancient rights, but several reasons prevented his entering
into the plot heart and hand. In the first place, he was friendly to
the “Yankees,” from whom he, personally, had received many favors and
no wrongs; then, the tribe, or half-tribe, to which he belonged had
been employed, more or less, by the agents of the American government
as runners, and in other capacities, ever since the peace of ‘83; and,
lastly, he himself had been left much in different garrisons, where
he had not only acquired his English, but a habit of thinking of the
Americans as his friends. It might also be added that Pigeonswing,
though far less gifted by nature than the mysterious Peter, had formed
a truer estimate of the power of the “Yankees,” and did not believe they
were to be annihilated so easily. How it happened that this Indian had
come to a conclusion so much safer than that of Peter’s, a man of twice
his capacity, is more than we can explain; though it was probably owing
to the accidental circumstances of his more intimate associations with
the whites.

The bee-hunter was by nature a man of observation, a faculty that his
habits had both increased and stimulated. Had it not been for the manner
in which he was submitting to the influence of Margery, he would long
before have seen that in the deportment of the Chippewa which would have
awakened his distrust; not that Margery in any way endeavored to blind
him to what was passing before his face, but that he was fast getting to
have eyes only for her. By this time she filled not only his waking, but
many of his sleeping thoughts; and when she was not actually before him,
charming him with her beauty, enlivening him with her artless gayety,
and inspiring him with her innocent humor, he fancied she was there,
imagination, perhaps, heightening all those advantages which we have
enumerated. When a man is thoroughly in love, he is quite apt to be
fit for very little else but to urge his suit. Such, in a certain
way, proved to be the case with le Bourdon, who allowed things to pass
unheeded directly before his eyes that previously to his acquaintance
with Margery would not only have been observed, but which would have
most probably led to some practical results. The conduct of Pigeonswing
was among the circumstances that were thus over-looked by our hero. In
point of fact, Peter was slowly but surely working on the mind of the
Chippewa, changing all his opinions radically, and teaching him to
regard every pale-face as an enemy. The task, in this instance, was not
easy; for Pigeonswing, in addition to his general propensities in favor
of the “Yankees,” the result of mere accident, had conceived a real
personal regard for le Bourdon, and was very slow to admit any views
that tended to his injury. The struggle in the mind of the young warrior
was severe; and twenty times was he on the point of warning his friend
of the danger which impended over the whole party, when a sense of good
faith toward Peter, who held his word to the contrary, prevented his so
doing. This conflict of feeling was now constantly active in the breast
of the young savage.

Pigeonswing had another source of uneasiness, to which his companions
were entirely strangers. While hunting, his keen eyes had detected the
presence of warriors in the openings. It is true he had not seen even
one, but he knew that the signs he had discovered could not deceive him.
Not only were warriors at hand, but warriors in considerable numbers.
He had found one deserted lair, from which its late occupants could not
have departed many hours when it came under his own notice. By means of
that attentive sagacity which forms no small portion of the education
of an American Indian, Pigeonswing was enabled to ascertain that this
party, of itself, numbered seventeen, all of whom were men and warriors.
The first fact was easily enough to be seen, perhaps, there being just
seventeen different impressions left in the grass; but that all these
persons were armed men, was learned by Pigeonswing through evidence that
would have been overlooked by most persons. By the length of the lairs
he was satisfied none but men of full stature had been there; and he
even examined sufficiently close to make out the proofs that all but
four of these men carried firearms. Strange as it may seem to those who
do not know how keen the senses become when whetted by the apprehensions
and wants of savage life, Pigeonswing was enabled to discover signs
which showed that the excepted were provided with bows and arrows, and
spears.

When the bee-hunter and his companion came in sight of the carcase of
the bear, which they did shortly after the last remark which we have
given in the dialogue recorded, the former exclaimed with a little
surprise:

“How’s this, Chippewa! You have killed this beast with your bow! Did you
not hunt with the rifle yesterday?”

“Bad fire rifle off now-a-day,” answered Pigeonswing, sententiously.
“Make noise--noise no good.”

“Noise!” repeated the perfectly unsuspecting bee-hunter. “Little good
or little harm can noise do in these openings, where there is neither
mountain to give back an echo, or ear to be startled. The crack of my
rifle has rung through these groves a hundred times and no harm come of
it.”

“Forget war-time now. Bess nebber fire, less can’t help him.
Pottawattamie hear great way off.”

“Oh! That’s it, is it! You’re afraid our old friends the Pottawattamies
may find us out, and come to thank us for all that happened down at
the river’s mouth. Well,” continued le Bourdon, laughing, “if they wish
another whiskey-spring, I have a small jug left, safely hid against a
wet day; a very few drops will answer to make a tolerable spring. You
redskins don’t know everything, Pigeonswing, though you are so keen and
quick-witted on a trail.”

“Bess not tell Pottawattamie any more ‘bout springs,” answered the
Chippewa, gravely; for by this time he regarded the state of things in
the openings to be so serious as to feel little disposition to mirth.
“Why you don’t go home, eh? Why don’t med’cine-man go home, too? Bess
for pale-face to be wid pale-face when red man go on war-path. Color
bess keep wid color.”

“I see you want to be rid of us, Pigeonswing; but the parson has no
thought of quitting this part of the world until he has convinced all
the red-skins that they are Jews.”

“What he mean, eh?” demanded the Chippewa, with more curiosity than it
was usual for an Indian warrior to betray. “What sort of a man Jew, eh?
Why call red man Jew?”

“I know very little more about it than you do yourself, Pigeonswing; but
such as my poor knowledge is, you’re welcome to it. You’ve heard of the
Bible, I dare say?”

“Sartain--med’cine-man read him Sunday. Good book to read, some t’ink.”

“Yes, it’s all that, and a great companion have I found my Bible, when
I’ve been alone with the bees out here in the openings. It tells us of
our God, Chippewa; and teaches us how we are to please him, and how we
may offend. It’s a great loss to you red-skins not to have such a book
among you.”

“Med’cine-man bring him--don’t do much good, yet; some day, p’r’aps, do
better. How dat make red man Jew?”

“Why, this is a new idea to me, though Parson Amen seems fully possessed
with it. I suppose you know what a Jew is?”

“Don’t know anything ‘bout him. Sort o’ nigger, eh?”

“No, no, Pigeonswing, you’re wide of the mark this time. But, that we
may understand each other, we’ll begin at the beginning like, which will
let you into the whole history of the pale-face religion. As we’ve had a
smart walk, however, and here is the bear’s meat safe and sound, just as
you left it, let us sit down a bit on this trunk of a tree, while I give
you our tradition from beginning to end, as it might be. In the first
place, Chippewa, the earth was made without creatures of any sort to
live on it--not so much as a squirrel or a woodchuck.”

“Poor country to hunt in, dat,” observed the Chippewa quietly, while le
Bourdon was wiping his forehead after removing his cap. “Ojebways stay
in it very little time.”

“This, according to our belief, was before any Ojebway lived. At length,
God made a man, out of clay, and fashioned him, as we see men fashioned
and living all around us.”

“Yes,” answered the Chippewa, nodding his head in assent. “Den Manitou
put plenty blood in him--dat make red warrior. Bible good book, if tell
dat tradition.”

“The Bible says nothing about any colors; but we suppose the man first
made to have been a pale-face. At any rate, the pale-faces have got
possession of the best parts of the earth, as it might be, and I
think they mean to keep them. First come, first served, you know. The
pale-faces are many, and are strong.”

“Stop!” exclaimed Pigeonswing, in a way that was very unusual for an
Indian to interrupt another when speaking; “want to ask question--how
many pale-face you t’ink is dere? Ebber count him?”

“Count him!--Why, Chippewa, you might as well count the bees, as
they buzz around a fallen tree. You saw me cut down the tree I last
discovered, and saw the movement of the little animals, and may judge
what success tongue or eye would have in counting THEM; now, just as
true would it be to suppose that any man could count the pale-faces on
this earth.”

“Don’t want count ALL,” answered Pigeonswing. “Want to know how many dis
side of great salt lake.”

“That’s another matter, and more easily come at. I understand you now,
Chippewa; you wish to know how many of us there are in the country we
call America?”

“Juss so,” returned Pigeonswing, nodding in assent. “Dat juss it--juss
what Injin want to know.”

“Well, we do have a count of our own people, from time to time, and
I suppose come about as near to the truth as men can come in such a
matter. There must be about eight millions of us altogether; that is,
old and young, big and little, male and female.”

“How many warrior you got?--don’t want hear about squaw and pappoose.”

“No, I see you’re warlike this morning, and want to see how we are
likely to come out of this struggle with your great Canada father.
Counting all round, I think we might muster hard on upon a million of
fighting men--good, bad, and indifferent; that is to say, there must be
a million of us of proper age to go into the wars.”

Pigeonswing made no answer for near a minute. Both he and the bee-hunter
had come to a halt alongside of the bear’s meat, and the latter was
beginning to prepare his own portion of the load for transportation,
while his companion stood thus motionless, lost in thought. Suddenly,
Pigeonswing recovered his recollection, and resumed the conversation, by
saying:

“What million mean, Bourdon? How many time so’ger at Detroit, and so’ger
on lakes?”

“A million is more than the leaves on all the trees in these
openings”--le Bourdon’s notions were a little exaggerated, perhaps, but
this was what he SAID--“yes, more than the leaves on all these oaks, far
and near. A million is a countless number, and I suppose would make a
row of men as long as from this spot to the shores of the great salt
lake, if not farther.”

It is probable that the bee-hunter himself had no very clear notion
of the distance of which he spoke, or of the number of men it would
actually require to fill the space he mentioned; but his answer sufficed
deeply to impress the imagination of the Indian, who now helped le
Bourdon to secure his load to his back, in silence, receiving the same
service in return. When the meat of the bear was securely bestowed, each
resumed his rifle, and the friends commenced their march in, toward the
chiente; conversing, as they went, on the matter which still occupied
their minds. When the bee-hunter again took up the history of the
creation, it was to speak of our common mother.

“You will remember, Chippewa,” he said, “that I told you nothing on the
subject of any woman. What I have told you, as yet, consarned only the
first MAN, who was made out of clay, into whom God breathed the breath
of life.”

“Dat good--make warrior fuss. Juss right. When breat’ in him, fit to
take scalp, eh?”

“Why, as to that, it is not easy to see whom he was to scalp, seeing
that he was quite alone in the world, until it pleased his Creator to
give him a woman for a companion.”

“Tell ‘bout dat,” returned Pigeonswing, with interest--“tell how he got
squaw.”

“Accordin’ to the Bible, God caused this man to fall into a deep sleep,
when he took one of his ribs, and out of that he made a squaw for him.
Then he put them both to live together, in a most beautiful garden, in
which all things excellent and pleasant was to be found--some such place
as these openings, I reckon.”

“Any bee dere?” asked the Indian, quite innocently. “Plenty honey, eh?”

“That will I answer for! It could hardly be otherwise, when it was the
intention to make the first man and first woman perfectly happy. I dare
say, Chippewa, if the truth was known, it would be found that bees was a
sipping at every flower in that most delightful garden!”

“Why pale-face quit dat garden, eh? Why come here to drive poor Injin
‘way from game? Tell me dat, Bourdon, if he can? Why pale-face ever
leave DAT garden, when he so han’some, eh?”

“God turned him out of it, Chippewa--yes, he was turned OUT of it, with
shame on his face, for having disobeyed the commandments of his Creator.
Having left the garden, his children have scattered over the face of the
earth.”

“So come here to drive off Injin! Well, dat ‘e way wid pale-face I Did
ever hear of red man comin’ to drive off pale-face?”

“I have heard of your red warriors often coming to take our scalps,
Chippewa. More or less of this has been done every year, since our
people have landed in America. More than that they have not done, for
we are too many to be driven very far in, by a few scattering tribes of
Injins.”

“T’ink, den, more pale-face dan Injin, eh?” asked the Chippewa, with an
interest so manifest that he actually stopped in his semi-trot, in order
to put the question. “More pale-face warrior dan red men?”

“More! Aye, a thousand times more, Chippewa. Where you could show one
warrior, we could show a thousand!”

Now, this was not strictly true, perhaps, but it answered the purpose
of deeply impressing the Chippewa with the uselessness of Peter’s plans,
and sustained as it was by his early predilections, it served to
keep him on the right side, in the crisis which was approaching. The
discourse continued, much in the same strain, until the men got in with
their bear’s meat, having been preceded some time by the others, with
the venison.

It is a little singular that neither the questions, nor the manner of
Pigeonswing, awakened any distrust in the bee-hunter. So far from this,
the latter regarded all that had passed as perfectly natural, and as
likely to arise in conversation, in the way of pure speculation, as in
any other manner. Pigeonswing intended to be guarded in what he said and
did, for, as yet, he had not made up his mind which side he would really
espouse, in the event of the great project coming to a head. He had the
desire, natural to a red man, to avenge the wrongs committed against
his race; but this desire existed in a form a good deal mitigated by his
intercourse with the “Yankees,” and his regard for individuals. It had,
nevertheless, strangely occurred to the savage reasoning of this young
warrior that possibly some arrangement might be effected, by means of
which he should take scalps from the Canadians, while Peter and his
other followers were working their will on the Americans. In this
confused condition was the mind of the Chippewa, when he and his
companion threw down their loads, near the place where the provision of
game was usually kept. This was beneath the tree, near the spring and
the cook-house, in order that no inconvenience should arise from its
proximity to the place where the party dwelt and slept. For a siege,
should there be occasion to shut themselves up within the “garrison,”
 the men depended on the pickled pork, and a quantity of dried meat; of
the latter of which the missionary had brought a considerable supply
in his own canoe. Among these stores were a few dozen of buffaloes’
or bisons’ tongues, a delicacy that would honor the best table in the
civilized world, though then so common among the western hunters, as
scarce to be deemed food as good as the common salted pork and beef of
the settlements.

The evening that followed proved to be one of singular softness and
sweetness. The sun went down in a cloudless sky, and gentle airs from
the southwest fanned the warm cheeks of Margery, as she sat, resting
from the labors of the day, with le Bourdon at her side, speaking of the
pleasures of a residence in such a spot. The youth was eloquent, for he
felt all that he said, and the maiden was pleased. The young man could
expatiate on bees in a way to arrest any one’s attention; and Margery
delighted to hear him relate his adventures with these little creatures;
his successes, losses, and journeys.

“But are you not often lonely, Bourdon, living here in the openings,
whole summers at a time, without a living soul to speak to?” demanded
Margery, coloring to the eyes, the instant the question was asked,
lest it should subject her to an imputation against which her modesty
revolted, that of wishing to draw the discourse to a discussion on the
means of preventing this solitude in future.

“I have not been, hitherto,” answered le Bourdon, so frankly as at once
to quiet his companion’s sensitiveness, “though I will not answer for
the future. Now that I have so many with me, we may make some of them
necessary. Mind--I say SOME, not all of my present guests. If I could
have my pick, pretty Margery, the present company would give me ALL I
can desire, and more too. I should not think of going to Detroit for
that companion, since she is to be found so much nearer.”

Margery blushed, and looked down--then she raised her eyes, smiled,
and seemed grateful as well as pleased. By this time she had become
accustomed to such remarks, and she had no difficulty in discovering her
lover’s wishes, though he had never been more explicit. The reflections
natural to her situation threw a shade of gentle seriousness over her
countenance, rendering her more charming than ever, and causing the
youth to plunge deeper and deeper into the meshes that female influence
had cast around him, In all this, however, one of the parties was
governed by a manly sincerity, and the other by girlish artlessness.
Diffidence, one of the most certain attendants of a pure passion, alone
kept le Bourdon from asking Margery to become his wife; while Margery
herself sometimes doubted whether it were possible that any reputable
man could wish to connect himself and his fortunes with a family that
had sunk as low as persons could well sink, in this country, and not
lose their characters altogether. With these doubts and distrusts, so
naturally affecting the mind of each, these young people were rapidly
becoming more and more enamored; the bee-hunter betraying his passion
in the close, absorbed attentions that more properly belong to his sex,
while that of Margery was to be seen in sudden blushes, the thoughtful
brow, the timid glance, and a cast of tenderness that came over her
whole manner, and, as it might be, her whole being.

While our young folk were thus employed, now conversing cheerfully, now
appearing abstracted and lost in thought, though seated side by side,
le Bourdon happened to look behind him, and saw that Peter was regarding
them with one of those intense, but mysterious expressions of the
countenance, that had, now, more than once attracted his attention;
giving reason, each time, for a feeling in which doubt, curiosity, and
apprehension were singularly mingled, even in himself.

At the customary hour, which was always early, in that party of simple
habits, the whole family sought its rest; the females withdrew within
the chiente, while the males arranged their skins without. Ever since
the erection of the palisades, le Bourdon had been in the habit of
calling Hive within the defences, leaving him at liberty to roam about
inside, at pleasure. Previously to this new arrangement, the dog had
been shut up in his kennel, in order to prevent his getting on the track
of a deer, or in close combat with some bear, when his master was not
present to profit by his efforts. As the palisades were too high for
his leap, this putting him at liberty within them answered the double
purpose of giving the mastiff room for healthful exercise, and of
possessing a most vigilant sentinel against dangers of all sorts. On the
present occasion, however, the dog was missing, and after calling and
whistling for him some time, the bee-hunter was fain to bar the gate,
and leave him on the outside. This done, he sought his skin, and was
soon asleep.

It was midnight, when the bee-hunter felt a hand laid on his own arm.
It was the corporal, making this movement, in order to awake him. In an
instant the young man was on his feet, with his rifle in his hand.

“Did you not hear it, Bourdon?” demanded the corporal, in a tone so low
as scarce to exceed a whisper.

“Hear what! I’ve been sleeping, sound as a bee in winter.”

“The horn!--The horn has been blown twice, and, I think, we shall soon
hear it again.”

“The horn was hanging at the door of the chiente, and the conch, too. It
will be easy to see if they are in their places.”

It was only necessary to walk around the walls of the hut, to its
opposite side, in order to ascertain this fact. Le Bourdon did so,
accompanied by the corporal, and just as each laid a hand on the
instruments, which were suspended in their proper places, a heavy rush
was made against the gate, as if to try its fastenings. These pushes
were repeated several times, with a violence that menaced the bars. Of
course, the two men stepped to the spot, a distance of only a few
paces, the gateway of the palisades and the door of the chiente being
contiguous to each other, and immediately ascertained that it was the
mastiff, endeavoring to force his way in. The bee-hunter admitted the
dog, which had been trained to suppress his bark, though this animal was
too brave and large to throw away his breath when he had better rely on
his force. Powerful animals, of this race, are seldom noisy, it being
the province of the cur, both among dogs and men, to be blustering and
spitting out their venom, at all hours and seasons. Hive, however, in
addition to his natural disposition, had been taught, from the time he
was a pup, not to betray his presence unnecessarily by a bark; and it
was seldom that his deep throat opened beneath the arches of the oaks.
When it did, it told like the roaring of the lion in the desert.

Hive was no sooner admitted to the “garrison,” than he manifested just
as strong a desire to get out, as a moment before he had manifested
to get in. This, le Bourdon well knew, indicated the presence of some
thing, or creature, that did not properly belong to the vicinity. After
consulting with the corporal, Pigeonswing was called; and leaving him as
a sentinel at the gate, the two others made a sortie. The corporal
was as brave as a lion, and loved all such movements, though he fully
anticipated encountering savages, while his companion expected an
interview with bears.

As this movement was made at the invitation of the dog, it was
judiciously determined to let him act as pioneer, on the advance.
Previously to quitting the defences, however, the two adventurers looked
closely to their arms. Each examined the priming, saw that his horn
and pouch were accessible, and loosened his knife in its sheath. The
corporal, moreover, fixed his “baggonet,” as he called the formidable,
glittering instrument that usually embellished the end of his musket--a
MUSKET being the weapon he chose to carry, while the bee-hunter himself
was armed with a long western RIFLE.



CHAPTER XVI.

     The raptures of a conqueror’s mood
     Rushed burning through his frame;
     The depths of that green solitude
     Its torrents could not tame,
     Though stillness lay, with eve’s last smile,
     Round those far fountains of the Nile
                               --MRS HEMANS.


When the bee-hunter and Corporal Flint thus went forth in midnight, from
the “garrison” of Castle Meal (Chateau au Miel), as the latter would
have expressed it, it was with no great apprehension of meeting any
other than a four-footed enemy, notwithstanding the blast of the horn
the worthy corporal supposed he had heard. The movements of the dog
seemed to announce such a result rather than any other, for Hive was
taken along as a sort of guide. Le Bourdon, however, did not permit his
mastiff to run off wide, but, having the animal at perfect command, it
was kept close to his own person.

The two men first moved toward the grove of the Kitchen, much to Hive’s
discontent. The dog several times halted, and he whined, and growled,
and otherwise manifested his great dislike to proceed in that direction.
At length so decided did his resistance become, that his master said to
his companion:

“It seems to me best, corporal, to let the mastiff lead us. I have never
yet seen him so set on not going in one way, and on going in another.
Hive has a capital nose, and we may trust him.”

“Forward,” returned the corporal, wheeling short in the direction of
the dog; “one thing should be understood, however, Bourdon, which is
this--you must act as light troops in this sortie, and I as the main
body. If we come on the inimy, it will be your duty to skrimmage in
front as long as you can, and then fall back on your resarves. I shall
depend chiefly on the baggonet, which is the best tool to put an Injin
up with; and as he falls back, before my charge, we must keep him under
as warm a fire as possible. Having no cavalry, the dog might be made
useful in movements to the front and on our flanks.”

“Pooh, pooh, corporal, you’re almost as much set in the notions of your
trade as Parson Amen is set in his idees about the lost tribes. In
my opinion there’ll be more tribes FOUND in these openings before the
summer is over than we shall wish to meet. Let us follow the dog, and
see what will turn up.” Hive WAS followed, and he took a direction that
led to a distant point in the openings, where not only the trees were
much thicker than common, but where a small tributary of the Kalamazoo
ran through a ravine, from the higher lands adjacent into the main
artery of all the neighboring watercourses. The bee-hunter knew the
spot well, having often drank at the rivulet, and cooled his brow in the
close shades of the ravine, when heated by exertions in the more
open grounds. In short, the spot was one of the most eligible for
concealment, coolness, and pure water, within several miles of Castle
Meal. The trees formed a spacious grove around it, and, by means of the
banks, their summits and leaves answered the purpose of a perfect screen
to those who might descend into the ravine, or, it would be better to
say, to the bottom. Le Bourdon was no sooner satisfied that his mastiff
was proceeding toward the great spring which formed the rivulet at the
head of the ravine mentioned, than he suspected Indians might be there.
He had seen signs about the spot, which wore an appearance of its having
been used as a place of encampment--or for “camping out,” as it is
termed in the language of the west--and, coupling the sound of the horn
with the dog’s movements, his quick apprehension seized on the facts as
affording reasonable grounds of distrust. Consequently he resorted to
great caution, as he and the corporal entered the wood which surrounded
the spring, and the small oval bit of bottom that lay spread before it,
like a little lawn. Hive was kept close at his master’s side, though
he manifested a marked impatience to advance. “Now, corporal,” said the
bee-hunter in a low tone, “I think we have lined some savages to their
holes. We will go round the basin and descend to the bottom, in a close
wood which grows there. Did you see that?”

“I suppose I did,” answered the corporal, who was as firm as a rock.
“You meant to ask me if I saw fire?”

“I did. The red men have lighted their council fire in this spot,
and have met to talk around it. Well, let ‘em hearken to each other’s
thoughts, if they will; we shall be neither the better nor the worse for
it.”

“I don’t know that. When the commander-in-chief calls together his
principal officers, something usually comes of it. Who knows but this
very council is called in order to take opinions on the subject of
besieging or of storming our new garrison? Prudent soldiers should
always be ready for the worst.”

“I have no fear, so long as Peter is with us. That chief is listened to
by every red-skin; and while we have him among us there will be little
to care for. But we are getting near to the bottom and must work our way
through these bushes with as little noise as possible. I will keep the
dog quiet.”

The manner in which that sagacious animal now behaved was truly
wonderful. Hive appeared to be quite as much aware of the necessity
of extreme caution as either of the men, and did not once attempt to
precede his master his own length. On one or two occasions he actually
discovered the best passages, and led his companions through them with
something like the intelligence of a human being. Neither growl nor bark
escaped him; on the contrary, even the hacking breathing of an impatient
dog was suppressed, precisely as if the animal knew how near he was
getting to the most watchful ears in the world.

After using the greatest care, the bee-hunter and the corporal got just
such a station as they desired. It was within a very few feet of the
edge of the cover, but perfectly concealed, while small openings enabled
them to see all that was passing in their front. A fallen tree, a relic
of somewhat rare occurrence in the openings of Michigan, even furnished
them with a seat, while it rendered their position less exposed. Hive
placed himself at his master’s side, apparently trusting to other senses
than that of sight for his information, since he could see nothing of
what was going on in front.

As soon as the two men had taken their stations, and began to look about
them, a feeling of awe mingled with their curiosity. Truly, the scene
was one so very remarkable and imposing that it might have filled more
intellectual and better fortified minds with some such sensation.
The fire was by no means large, nor was it particularly bright; but
sufficient to cast a dim light on the objects within reach of its rays.
It was in the precise centre of a bit of bottom land of about half an
acre in extent, which was so formed and surrounded, as to have something
of the appearance of the arena of a large amphitheatre. There was one
break in the encircling rise of ground, it is true, and that was at
a spot directly opposite the station of le Bourdon and his companion,
where the rill which flowed from the spring found a passage out toward
the more open ground. Branches shaded most of the mound, but the arena
itself was totally free from all vegetation but that which covered the
dense and beautiful sward with which it was carpeted. Such is a brief
description of the natural accessories of this remarkable scene.

But it was from the human actors, and their aspects, occupations,
movements, dress, and appearance generally, that the awe which came
over both the bee-hunter and the corporal had its origin. Of these, near
fifty were present, offering a startling force by their numbers alone.
Each man was a warrior, and each warrior was in his paint. These were
facts that the familiarity of the two white men with Indian customs
rendered only too certain. What was still more striking was the fact
that all present appeared to be chiefs; a circumstance which went to
show that an imposing body of red men was most likely somewhere in the
openings, and that too at no great distance. It was while observing and
reflecting on all these things, a suspicion first crossed the mind of le
Bourdon that this great council was about to be held, at that midnight
hour, and so near his own abode, for the purpose of accommodating Peter,
whose appearance in the dark crowd, from that instant, he began to
expect.

The Indians already present were not seated. They stood in groups
conversing, or stalked across the arena, resembling so many dark and
stately spectres. No sound was heard among them, a circumstance that
added largely to the wild and supernatural aspect of the scene. If any
spoke, it was in a tone so low and gentle, as to carry the sound no
farther than to the ears that were listening; two never spoke at
the same time and in the same group, while the moccasin permitted no
footfall to be audible. Nothing could have been more unearthly than the
picture presented in that little, wood-circled arena, of velvet-like
grass and rural beauty. The erect, stalking forms, half naked, if not
even more; the swarthy skins; the faces fierce in the savage conceits
which were intended to strike terror into the bosoms of enemies, and the
glittering eyes that fairly sparkled in their midst, all contributed to
the character of the scene, which le Bourdon rightly enough imagined was
altogether much the most remarkable of any he had ever been in the way
of witnessing.

Our two spectators might have been seated on the fallen tree half an
hour, all of which time they had been gazing at what was passing before
their eyes; with positively not a human sound to relieve the unearthly
nature of the picture. No one spoke, coughed, laughed, or exclaimed, in
all that period. Suddenly, every chief stood still, and all the faces
turned in the same direction. It was toward the little gateway of the
rill, which being the side of the arena most remote from the bee-hunter
and the corporal, lay nearly in darkness as respected them. With the red
men it must have been different, for THEY all appeared to be in intent
expectation of some one from that quarter. Nor did they have to wait
long; for, in half a minute, two forms came out of the obscurity,
advancing with a dignified and deliberate tread to the centre of
the arena. As these newcomers got more within the influence of the
flickering light, le Bourdon saw that they were Peter and Parson Amen.
The first led, with a slow, imposing manner, while the other followed,
not a little bewildered with what he saw. It may be as well to explain
here, that the Indian was coming alone to this place of meeting, when
he encountered the missionary wandering among the oaks, looking for le
Bourdon and the corporal, and, instead of endeavoring to throw off this
unexpected companion, he quietly invited him to be of his own party.

It was evident to le Bourdon, at a glance, that Peter was expected,
though it was not quite so clear that such was the fact as regarded
his companion. Still, respect for the great chief prevented any
manifestations of surprise or discontent, and the medicine-man of the
pale-faces was received with as grave a courtesy as if he had been an
invited guest. Just as the two had entered the dark circle that formed
around them, a young chief threw some dry sticks on the fire, which
blazing upward, cast a stronger light on a row of as terrifically
looking countenances as ever gleamed on human forms. This sudden
illumination, with its accompanying accessories, had the effect to
startle all the white spectators, though Peter looked on the whole with
a calm like that of the leafless tree, when the cold is at its height,
and the currents of the wintry air are death-like still Nothing appeared
to move HIM, whether expected or not; though use had probably accustomed
his eye to all the aspects in which savage ingenuity could offer savage
forms. He even smiled, as he made a gesture of recognition, which
seemed to salute the whole group. It was just then, when the fire burned
brightest, and when the chiefs pressed most within its influence, that
le Bourdon perceived that his old acquaintances, the head-men of the
Pottawattamies, were present, among the other chiefs so strangely and
portentously assembled in these grounds, which he had so long possessed
almost entirely to himself.

A few of the oldest of the chiefs now approached Peter, and a low
conversation took place between them. What was said did not reach le
Bourdon, of course; for it was not even heard in the dark circle of
savages who surrounded the fire. The effect of this secret dialogue,
however, was to cause all the chiefs to be seated, each taking his place
on the grass; the whole preserving the original circle around the fire.
Fortunately, for the wishes of le Bourdon, Peter and his companions took
their stations directly opposite to his own seat, thus enabling him to
watch every lineament of that remarkable chief’s still more remarkable
countenance. Unlike each and all of the red men around him, the face of
Peter was not painted, except by the tints imparted by nature; which, in
his case, was that of copper a little tarnished, or rendered dull by the
action of the atmosphere. The bee-hunter could distinctly trace every
lineament; nor was the dark roving eye beyond the reach of his own
vision. Some attention was given to the fire, too, one of the younger
chiefs occasionally throwing on it a few dried sticks, more to keep
alive the flame, and to renew the light, than from any need of warmth.
One other purpose, however, this fire DID answer; that of enabling
the young chiefs to light the pipes that were now prepared; it seldom
occurring that the chiefs thus assembled without SMOKING around their
council-fire.

As this smoking was just then more a matter of ceremony than for any
other purpose, a whiff or two suffices for each chief; the smoker
passing the pipe to his neighbor as soon as he had inhaled a few puffs.
The Indians are models of propriety, in their happiest moods, and every
one in that dark and menacing circle was permitted to have his turn
with the pipe, before any other step was taken. There were but two pipes
lighted, and mouths being numerous, some time was necessary in order
to complete this ceremony. Still, no sign of impatience was seen, the
lowest chief having as much respect paid to his feelings, as related
to his attention, as the highest. At length the pipes completed their
circuit, even Parson Amen getting, and using, his turn, when a dead
pause succeeded. The silence resembled that of a Quaker meeting, and
was broken only by the rising of one of the principal chiefs, evidently
about to speak. The language of the great Ojebway nation was used on
this occasion, most of the chiefs present belonging to some one of the
tribes of that stock, though several spoke other tongues, English and
French included. Of the three whites present, Parson Amen alone fully
comprehended all that was said, he having qualified himself in this
respect, to preach to the tribes of that people; though le Bourdon
understood nearly all, and even the corporal comprehended a good deal.
The name of the chief who first spoke at this secret meeting, which was
afterward known among the Ojebways by the name of the “Council of the
Bottom Land, near to the spring of gushing water,” was Bear’s Meat, an
appellation that might denote a distinguished hunter, rather than an
orator of much renown.

“Brothers of the many tribes of the Ojebways,” commenced this personage,
“the Great Spirit has permitted us to meet in council. The Manitou of
our fathers is now among these oaks, listening to our words, and looking
in at our hearts. Wise Indians will be careful what they say in such a
presence, and careful of what they think. All should be said and thought
for the best. We are a scattered nation, and the time is come when we
must stop in our tracks, or travel beyond the sound of each other’s
cries. If we travel beyond the hearing of our people, soon will our
children learn tongues that Ojebway ears cannot understand. The mother
talks to her child, and the child learns her words. But no child can
hear across a great lake. Once we lived near the rising sun. Where are
we now? Some of our young men say they have seen the sun go down in the
lakes of sweet water. There can be no hunting-grounds beyond THAT spot;
and if we would live, we must stand still in our tracks. How to do this,
we have met to consider.

“Brothers, many wise chiefs and braves are seated at this council-fire.
It is pleasant to my eyes to look upon them. Ottawas, Chippeways,
Pottawattamies, Menominees, Hurons, and all. Our father at Quebec has
dug up the hatchet against the Yankees. The war-path is open between
Detroit and all the villages of the red men. The prophets are speaking
to our people, and we listen. One is here; he is about to speak. The
council will have but a single sense, which will be that of hearing.”

Thus concluding, Bear’s Meat took his seat, in the same composed
and dignified manner as that in which he had risen, and deep silence
succeeded. So profound was the stillness, that, taken in connection with
the dark lineaments, the lustrous eyeballs that threw back the light
of the fire, the terrific paint and the armed hands of every warrior
present, the picture might be described as imposing to a degree that
is seldom seen in the assemblies of the civilized. In the midst of this
general but portentous calm, Peter arose. The breathing of the circle
grew deeper, so much so as to be audible, the only manner in which
the intensity of the common expectation betrayed itself. Peter was an
experienced orator, and knew how to turn every minutiae of his art to
good account. His every movement was deliberate, his attitude highly
dignified--even his eye seemed eloquent.

Oratory! what a power art thou, wielded, as is so often the case, as
much for evil as for good. The very reasoning that might appear to
be obtuse, or which would be over looked entirely when written and
published, issuing from the mouth, aided by the feelings of sympathy and
the impulses of the masses, seems to partake of the wisdom of divinity.
Thus is it, also, with the passions, the sense of wrong, the appeals
to vengeance, and all the other avenues of human emotion. Let them be
addressed to the cold eye of reason and judgment, in the form of written
statements, and the mind pauses to weigh the force of arguments, the
justice of the appeals, the truth of facts: but let them come upon the
ear aided by thy art, with a power concentrated by sympathy, and the
torrent is often less destructive in its course, than that of the
whirlwind that thou canst awaken!

“Chiefs of the great Ojebway nation, I wish you well,” said Peter,
stretching out his arms toward the circle, as if desirous of embracing
all present. “The Manitou has been good to me. He has cleared a path to
this spring, and to this council-fire. I see around it the faces of many
friends. Why should we not all be friendly? Why should a red man ever
strike a blow against a red man? The Great Spirit made us of the same
color, and placed us on the same hunting-grounds. He meant that we
should hunt in company; not take each other’s scalps. How many warriors
have fallen in our family wars? Who has counted them? Who can say?
Perhaps enough, had they not been killed, to drive the pale-faces into
the sea!”

Here Peter, who as yet had spoken only in a low and barely audible
voice, suddenly paused, in order to allow the idea he had just thrown
out to work on the minds of his listeners. That it was producing its
effect was apparent by the manner in which one stern face turned toward
another, and eye seemed to search in eye some response to a query that
the mind suggested, though no utterance was given to it with the tongue.
As soon, however, as the orator thought time sufficient to impress
that thought on the memories of the listeners had elapsed, he resumed,
suffering his voice gradually to increase in volume, as he warmed with
his subject.

“Yes,” he continued, “the Manitou has been very kind. Who is the
Manitou? Has any Indian ever seen him? Every Indian has seen him. No one
can look on the hunting-grounds, on the lakes, on the prairies, on the
trees, on the game, without seeing his hand. His face is to be seen in
the sun at noonday; his eyes in the stars at night. Has any Indian
ever heard the Manitou? When it thunders, he speaks. When the crash is
loudest, then he scolds. Some Indian has done wrong. Perhaps one red man
has taken another red man’s scalp!”

Another pause succeeded, briefer, and less imposing than the first, but
one that sufficed to impress on the listeners anew, the great evil of an
Indian’s raising his hand against an Indian.

“Yes, there is no one so deaf as not to hear the voice of the Great
Spirit when he is angry,” resumed Peter. “Ten thousands of buffalo
bulls, roaring together, do not make as much noise as his whisper.
Spread the prairies, and the openings, and the lakes, before him, and he
can be heard in all, and on all, at the same time.

“Here is a medicine-priest of the pale-faces; he tells me that the voice
of the Manitou reaches into the largest villages of his people, beneath
the rising sun, when it is heard by the red man across the great lakes,
and near the rocks of the setting sun. It is a loud voice; woe to him
who does not remember it. It speaks to all colors, and to every people,
and tribe, and nation.

“Brothers, that is a lying tradition which says, there is one Manitou
for a Sac, and another for the Ojebway--one Manitou for the red man, and
another for the pale-face. In this, we are alike. One Great Spirit
made all; governs all; rewards all; punishes all. He may keep the happy
hunting-grounds of an Indian separate from the white man’s heaven,
for he knows that their customs are different, and what would please a
warrior would displease a trader; and what would please a trader would
displease a warrior. He has thought of these things, and has made
several places for the spirits of the good, let their colors be what
they may. Is it the same with the places of the spirits of the bad? I
think not. To me it would seem best to let THEM go together, that they
may torment one another. A wicked Indian and a wicked pale-face would
make a bad neighborhood. I think the Manitou will let THEM go together.

“Brothers, if the Manitou keeps the good Indian and the good pale-face
apart in another world, what has brought them together in this? If he
brings the bad spirits of all colors together in another world, why
should they come together here, before their time? A place for wicked
spirits should not be found on earth. This is wrong; it must be looked
into.

“Brothers, I have now done; this pale-face wishes to speak, and I have
said that you would hear his words. When he has spoken his mind, I
may have more to tell you. Now, listen to the stranger. He is a
medicine-priest of the white men, and says he has a great secret to tell
our people--when he has told it, I have another for their ears too. Mine
must be spoken when there is no one near but the children of red clay.”

Having thus opened the way for the missionary, Peter courteously took
his seat, producing a little disappointment among his own admirers,
though he awakened a lively curiosity to know what this medicine-priest
might have to say on an occasion so portentous. The Indians in the
regions of the great lakes had long been accustomed to missionaries, and
it is probable that even some of their own traditions, so far as they
related to religious topics, had been insensibly colored by, if not
absolutely derived from, men of this character; for the first whites
who are known to have penetrated into that portion of the continent were
Jesuits, who carried the cross as their standard and emblem of peace.
Blessed emblem! that any should so confound their own names and
denunciatory practices with the revealed truth, as to imagine that a
standard so appropriate should ever be out of season and place, when it
is proper for man to use aught, at all, that is addressed to his senses,
in the way of symbols, rites, and ceremonies! To the Jesuits succeeded
the less ceremonious and less imposing priesthood of America, as America
peculiarly was in the first years that followed the Revolution. There is
reason to believe that the spirit of God, in a greater or less degree,
accompanied all; for all were self-denying and zealous, though the
fruits of near two centuries of labor have, as yet, amounted to little
more than the promise of the harvest at some distant day. Enough,
however, was known of the missionaries, and their views in general,
to prepare the council, in some small degree, for the forthcoming
exhibition.

Parson Amen had caught some of the habits of the Indians, in the course
of years of communication and intercourse. Like them he had learned to
be deliberate, calm, and dignified in his exterior; and, like them, he
had acquired a sententious mode of speaking.

“My children,” he said, for he deemed it best to assume the parental
character, in a scene of so great moment, “as Peter has told you, the
spirit of God is among you! Christians know that such has he promised
to be always with his people, and I see faces in this circle that I am
ready to claim as belonging to those who have prayed with me, in days
that are long past. If your souls are not touched by divine love, it
does not kill the hope I entertain of your yet taking up the cross, and
calling upon the Redeemer’s name. But, not for this have I come with
Peter, this night. I am now here to lay before you an all-important
fact, that Providence has revealed to me, as the fruit of long labor in
the vineyard of study and biblical inquiry. It is a tradition--and red
men love traditions--it is a tradition that touches your own history,
and which it will gladden your hearts to hear, for it will teach you how
much your nation and tribes have been the subject of the especial care
and love of the Great Spirit. When my children say, speak, I shall be
ready to speak.”

Here the missionary took his seat, wisely awaiting a demonstration on
the part of the council, ere he ventured to proceed any further. This
was the first occasion on which he had ever attempted to broach, in a
direct form, his favorite theory of the “lost tribes.” Let a man get
once fairly possessed of any peculiar notion, whether it be on religion,
political economy, morals, politics, arts, or anything else, and he sees
little beside his beloved principle, which he is at all times ready to
advance, defend, demonstrate, or expatiate on. Nothing can be simpler
than the two great dogmas of Christianity, which are so plain that all
can both comprehend them and feel their truth. They teach us to love
God, the surest way to obey him, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Any one can understand this; all can see how just it is, and how much of
moral sublimity it contains. It is Godlike, and brings us near the very
essence of the Divinity, which is love, mercy, and truth. Yet how few
are content to accept the teachings of the Saviour in this respect,
without embarrassing them with theories that have so much of their
origin in human fancies. We do not mean by this, however, that Parson
Amen was so very wrong in bestowing a part of his attention on that
wonderful people, who, so early set apart by the Creator as the
creatures of his own especial ends, have already played so great a
part in the history of nations, and who are designed, so far as we can
penetrate revelation, yet to enact their share in the sublime drama of
human events.

As for the council, its members were moved by more than ordinary
curiosity to hear what further the missionary might have to say, though
all present succeeded admirably in suppressing the exhibition of
any interest that might seem weak and womanly. After a decent delay,
therefore, Bear’s Meat intimated to the parson that it would be
agreeable to the chiefs present to listen to him further.

“My children, I have a great tradition to tell you,” the missionary
resumed, as soon as on his feet again; “a very great and divine
tradition; not a tradition of man’s, but one that came direct from the
Manitou himself. Peter has spoken truth; there is but one Great Spirit;
he is the Great Spirit of all colors, and tribes, and nations. He made
all men of the same clay.” Here a slight sensation was perceptible among
the audience, most of whom were very decidedly of a different opinion,
on this point of natural history. But the missionary was now so far
warmed with his subject as to disregard any slight interruption, and
proceeded as if his listeners had betrayed no feeling. “And he divided
them afterward into nations and tribes. It was then he caused the color
of his creatures to change. Some he kept white, as he had made them.
Some he put behind a dark cloud, and they became altogether black. Our
wise men think that this was done in punishment for their sins. Some he
painted red, like the nations on this continent.” Here Peter raised a
finger, in sign that he would ask a question; for, without permission
granted, no Indian would interrupt the speaker. Indeed, no one of less
claims than Peter would hardly have presumed to take the step he now
did, and that because he saw a burning curiosity gleaming in the bright
eyes of so many in the dark circle.

“Say on, Peter,” answered the missionary to this sign; “I will reply.”

“Let my brother say WHY the Great Spirit turned the Indian to a red
color. Was he angry with him? or did he paint him so out of love?”

“This is more than I can tell you, friends. There are many colors among
men, in different parts of the world, and many shades among people of
the same color. There are pale-faces fair as the lily, and there are
pale-faces so dark, as scarcely to be distinguished from blacks. The
sun does much of this; but no sun, nor want of sun, will ever make a
pale-face a red-skin, or a red skin a pale-face.”

“Good--that is what we Indians say. The Manitou has made us different;
he did not mean that we should live on the same hunting-grounds,”
 rejoined Peter, who rarely failed to improve every opportunity in order
to impress on the minds of his followers the necessity of now crushing
the serpent in its shell.

“No man can say that,” answered Parson Amen. “Unless my people had come
to this continent, the word of God could not have been preached by
me, along the shores of these lakes. But I will now speak of our great
tradition. The Great Spirit divided mankind into nations and tribes.
When this was done, he picked out one for his chosen people. The
pale-faces call that favorite, and for a long time much-favored people,
Jews. The Manitou led them through a wilderness, and even through a salt
lake, until they reached a promised land, where he permitted them to
live for many hundred winters. A great triumph was to come out of that
people--the triumphs of truth and of the law, over sin and death. In the
course of time--”

Here a young chief rose, made a sign of caution, and crossing the circle
rapidly, disappeared by the passage through which the rill flowed.
In about a minute he returned, showing the way into the centre of the
council to one whom all present immediately recognized as a runner, by
his dress and equipments. Important news was at hand; yet not a man of
all that crowd either rose or spoke, in impatience to learn what it was!



CHAPTER XVII.

   Who will believe that, with a smile whose blessing
     Would, like the patriarch’s, soothe a dying hour;
   With voice as low, as gentle, and caressing
     As e’er won maiden’s lips in moonlight bower;

   With look like patient Job’s, eschewing evil;
     With motions graceful as the birds in air;
   Thou art, in sober truth, the veriest devil
     That e’er clinched fingers in a captive’s hair?
                                        --HALLECK’S Red-Jacket.


Although the arrival of the runner was so totally unexpected, it
scarcely disturbed the quiet of that grave assembly. His approaching
step had been heard, and he was introduced in the manner mentioned, when
the young chief resumed his seat, leaving the messenger standing near
the centre of the circle, and altogether within the influence of the
light. He was an Ottawa, and had evidently travelled far and fast. At
length he spoke; no one having put a single question to him, or betrayed
the least sign of impatient curiosity.

“I come to tell the chiefs what has happened,” said the runner. “Our
Great Father from Quebec has sent his young men against the Yankees. Red
warriors, too, were there in hundreds--” here a murmur of interest was
slightly apparent among the chiefs--“their path led them to Detroit; it
is taken.”

A low murmur, expressive of satisfaction, passed round the circle,
for Detroit was then the most important of all the posts held by the
Americans, along the whole line of the great lakes. Eye met eye in
surprise and admiration; then one of the older chiefs yielded to his
interest in the subject, and inquired:

“Have our young men taken many pale-face scalps?”

“So few that they are not worth counting. I did not see one pole that
was such as an Indian loves to look on.”

“Did our young men keep back, and let the warriors from Quebec do all
the fighting?”

“No one fought. The Yankees asked to be made prisoners, without using
their rifles. Never before have so many captives been led into the
villages with so little to make their enemies look on them with friendly
eyes.”

A gleam of fierce delight passed athwart the dark features of Peter. It
is probable that he fell into the same error, on hearing these tidings,
as that which so generally prevailed for a short time among the natives
of the old world, at the commencement of both of the two last wars of
the republic, when the disasters with which they opened induced so
many to fall into the fatal error of regarding Jonathan as merely
a “shopkeeper.” A shopkeeper, in a certain sense, he may well be
accounted; but among his wares are arms, that he has the head, the
heart, and the hands to use, as man has very rarely been known to use
them before. Even at this very instant, the brilliant success which has
rendered the armed citizens of this country the wonder of Europe, is
reacting on the masses of the old world, teaching them their power, and
inciting them to stand up to the regularly armed bands of their rulers,
with a spirit and confidence that, hitherto, has been little known in
their histories. Happy, thrice happy will it be, if the conquerors use
their success in moderation, and settle down into the ways of practical
reason, instead of suffering their minds to be led astray in quest
of the political jack-o’-lanterns, that are certain to conduct their
followers into the quagmires of impracticable and visionary theories.
To abolish abuses, to set in motion the car of state on the track of
justice and economy, and to distinguish between that which is really
essential to human happiness and human rights, and that which is merely
the result of some wild and bootless proposition in political economy,
are the great self-imposed tasks that the European people seem now to
have assumed; and God grant that they may complete their labors with the
moderation and success with which they would appear to have commenced
them!

As for Peter, with the curse of ignorance weighing on his mind, it is to
be presumed that he fancied his own great task of destroying the whites
was so much the lighter, in consequence of the feeble defence of the
Yankees at Detroit. The runner was now questioned by the different
chiefs for details, which he furnished with sufficient intelligence and
distinctness. The whole of that discreditable story is too prominent in
history, and of too recent occurrence, to stand in need of repetition
here. When the runner had told his tale, the chiefs broke the order of
their circle, to converse the more easily concerning the great events
which had just occurred. Some were not backward in letting their
contempt for the “Yankees” be known. Here were three of their strong
places taken, in quick succession, and almost without a blow. Detroit,
the strongest of them all, and defended by an army, had fallen in a way
to bring the blush to the American face, seemingly leaving the whole
of the northwestern frontier of the country ravished from the red man,
exposed to his incursions and depredations.

“What does my father think of this?” asked Bear’s Meat of Peter, as the
two stood apart, in a cluster of some three or four of the principal
personages present. “Does the news make his heart stronger?”

“It is always strong when this business is before it. The Manitou has
long looked darkly upon the red men, but now his face brightens. The
cloud is passing from before his countenance, and we can begin again to
see his smile. It will be with our sons as it was with our fathers. Our
hunting-grounds will be our own, and the buffalo and deer will be plenty
in our wigwams. The fire-water will flow after them that brought it into
the country, and the red man will once more be happy, as in times past!”

The ignis fatuus of human happiness employs all minds, all faculties,
all pens, and all theories, just at this particular moment. A thousand
projects have been broached, will continue to be broached, and will
fail, each in its time, showing the mistakes of men, without remedying
the evils of which they complain. This is not because a beneficent
Providence has neglected to enlighten their minds, and to show them the
way to be happy, here and hereafter; but because human conceit runs,
pari passu, with human woes, and we are too proud to look for our
lessons of conduct, in that code in which they have been set before us
by unerring wisdom and ceaseless love. If the political economists,
and reformers, and revolutionists of the age, would turn from their
speculations to those familiar precepts which all are taught and so few
obey, they would find rules for every emergency; and, most of all, would
they learn the great secret which lies so profoundly hid from them and
their philosophy, in the contented mind. Nothing short of this will ever
bring the mighty reform that the world needs. The press may be declared
free, but a very brief experience will teach those who fancy that this
one conquest will secure the victory, that they have only obtained King
Stork in the lieu of King Log; a vulgar and most hideous tyrant for one
of royal birth and gentle manners. They may set up the rule of patriots
by profession, in place of the dominion of those who have so long
pretended that the art of governing descends from male to male,
according to the order of primogeniture, and live to wonder that love
of country should have so many weaknesses in common with love of itself.
They may rely on written charters for their liberties, instead of
the divine right of kings, and come perchance to learn, that neither
language, nor covenants, nor signatures, nor seals avail much, as
against the necessities of nations, and the policy of rulers. Do we then
regard reform as impossible, and society to be doomed to struggle on in
its old sloughs of oppression and abuses? Far from it. We believe and
hope, that at each effort of a sage character, something is gained,
while much more than had been expected is lost; and such we think will
continue to be the course of events, until men shall reach that period
in their history when, possibly to their wonder, they will find that a
faultless code for the government of all their affairs has been lying
neglected, daily and hourly, in their very hands, for eighteen centuries
and a half, without their perceiving the all-important truth. In due
season this code will supersede all others, when the world will, for the
first time, be happy and truly free.

There was a marked resemblance between the hopes and expectations of
Peter, in reference to the overthrow of his pale-face enemies on the
American continent, and those of the revolutionists of the old world in
reference to the overthrow of their strong-intrenched foes on that of
Europe. Each fancies success more easy of attainment than the end is
likely to show; both overlook the terrible power of their adversaries;
and both take the suggestions of a hope that is lively rather than
enlightened, as the substitute for the lessons of wisdom.

It was some little time ere the council had so far regained its calm,
as to think of inviting the missionary to resume his discourse. The last
had necessarily heard the news, and was so much troubled by it, as to
feel no great disposition to proceed; but Peter intimating that “the
ears of his friends were open,” he was of opinion it would be wisest to
go on with his traditions.

“Thus it was, my children,” Parson Amen continued, the circle being just
as quiet and attentive as if no interruption had occurred--“the Great
Spirit, selecting from among the nations of the earth, one to be his
chosen people. I cannot stop, now, to tell you all he did for this
nation, in the way of wonders and powers; but, finally, he placed them
in a beautiful country, where milk and honey abounded, and made them
its masters. From that people, in his earthly character, came the Christ
whom we missionaries preach to you, and who is the great head of our
church. Although the Jews, or Israelites, as we call that people, were
thus honored and thus favored of the Manitou, they were but men, they
had the weaknesses of men. On more than one occasion they displeased the
Great Spirit, and that so seriously as to draw down condign punishment
on themselves, and on their wives and children. In various ways were
they visited for their backsliding and sins, each time repenting and
receiving forgiveness. At length the Great Spirit, tired of their
forgetfulness and crimes, allowed an army to come into their land,
and to carry away as captives no less than ten of their twelve tribes;
putting their people in strange hunting-grounds. Now, this happened many
thousands of moons since, and no one can say with certainty what has
become of those captives, whom Christians are accustomed to call ‘the
lost tribes of Israel.’”

Here the missionary paused to arrange his thoughts, and a slight murmur
was heard in the circle as the chiefs communed together, in interested
comments on what had just been said. The pause, however, was short,
and the speaker again proceeded, safe from any ungracious interruption,
among auditors so trained in self-restraint.

“Children, I shall not now say anything touching the birth of Christ,
the redemption of the world, and the history of the two tribes that
remained in the land where God had placed his people; for that is a
part of the subject that comes properly within the scope of my ordinary
teaching. At present I wish only to speak of yourselves; of the red man
of America, of his probable origin and end, and of a great discovery
that many of us think we have made, on this most interesting topic in
the history of the good book. Does any one present know aught of the ten
lost tribes of whom I have spoken?”

Eye met eye, and expectation was lively among those primitive and
untaught savages. At length Crowsfeather arose to answer, the missionary
standing the whole time, motionless, as if waiting for a reply.

“My brother has told us a tradition,” said the Pottawattamie. “It is
a good tradition. It is a strange tradition. Red men love to hear such
traditions. It is wonderful that so many as ten tribes should be LOST,
at the same time, and no one know what has become of them! My brother
asks us if WE know what has become of these ten tribes. How should poor
red men, who live on their hunting-grounds, and who are busy when the
grass grows in getting together food for their squaws and pappooses,
against a time when the buffalo can find nothing to eat in this part of
the world, know anything of a people that they never saw? My brother has
asked a question that he only can answer. Let him tell us where these
ten tribes are to be found, if he knows the place. We should like to go
and look at them.”

“Here!” exclaimed the missionary, the instant Crowsfeather ceased
speaking, and even before he was seated. “Here--in this council--on
these prairies--in these openings--here, on the shores of the great
lakes of sweet water, and throughout the land of America, are these
tribes to be found. The red man is a Jew; a Jew is a red man. The
Manitou has brought the scattered people of Israel to this part of the
world, and I see his power in the wonderful fact. Nothing but a miracle
could have done this!”

Great was the admiration of the Indians at this announcement! None of
their own traditions gave this account of their origin; but there is
reason to believe, on the other hand, that none of them contradict
it. Nevertheless, here was a medicine-priest of the pale-faces boldly
proclaiming the fact, and great was the wonder of all who heard,
thereat! Having spoken, the missionary again paused, that his words
might produce their effect. Bear’s Meat now became his interrogator,
rising respectfully, and standing during the colloquy that succeeded.

“My brother has spoken a great tradition,” said the Menominee. “Did he
first hear it from his fathers?”

“In part, only. The history of the lost tribes has come down to us from
our fathers; it is written in the good book of the pale-faces; the book
that contains the word of the Great Spirit.”

“Does the good book of the pale-faces say that the red men are the
children of the people he has mentioned?”

“I cannot say that it does. While the good book tells us so much,
it also leaves very much untold. It is best that we should look for
ourselves, that we may find out some of its meanings. It is in thus
looking, that many Christians see the great truth which makes the
Indians of America and the Jews beyond the great salt lake, one and the
same people.”

“If this be so, let my brother tell us how far it is from our
hunting-grounds to that distant land across the great salt lake.”

“I cannot give you this distance in miles exactly; but I suppose it may
be eleven or twelve times the length of Michigan.”

“Will my brother tell us how much of this long path is water, and how
much of it is dry land?”

“Perhaps one-fourth is land, as the traveller may choose; the rest must
be water, if the journey be made from the rising toward the setting
sun, which is the shortest path; but, let the journey be made from
the setting toward the rising sun, and there is little water to cross;
rivers and lakes of no great width, as is seen here, but only a small
breadth of salt lake.”

“Are there, then, two roads to that far-off land, where the red men are
thought to have once lived?

“Even so. The traveller may come to this spot from that land by way of
the rising sun, or by way of the setting sun.”

The general movement among the members of the council denoted the
surprise with which this account was received. As the Indians, until
they have had much intercourse with the whites, very generally believe
the earth to be flat, it was not easy for them to comprehend how a given
point could be reached by directly opposite routes. Such an apparent
contradiction would be very likely to extort further questions.

“My brother is a medicine-man of the pale-faces; his hairs are gray,”
 observed Crowsfeather. “Some of your medicine-men are good, and some
wicked. It is so with the medicine-men of the red-skins. Good and bad
are to be found in all nations. A medicine-man of your people cheated my
young men by promising to show them where fire-water grows. He did not
show them. He let them smell, but he did not let them drink. That was a
wicked medicine-man. His scalp would not be safe did my young men see it
again”--here the bee-hunter, insensibly to himself, felt for his rifle,
making sure that he had it between his legs; the corporal being a little
surprised at the sudden start he gave. “His hair does not grow on his
head closer than the trees grow to the ground. Even a tree can be
cut down. But all medicine-men are not alike. My brother is a GOOD
medicine-man. All he says may not be just as he thinks, but he BELIEVES
what he says. It is wonderful how men can look two ways; but it is
more wonderful that they should go to the same place by paths that lead
before and behind. This we do not understand; my brother will tell us
how it can be.”

“I believe I understand what it is that my children would know. They
think the earth is flat, but the pale-faces know that it is round. He
who travels and travels toward the setting sun would come to this very
spot, if he travelled long enough. The distance would be great, but the
end of every straight path in this world is the place of starting.”

“My brother says this. He says many curious things. I have heard a
medicine-man of his people say that the palefaces have seen their Great
Spirit, talked with him, walked with him. It is not so with us Indians.
Our Manitou speaks to us in thunder only. We are ignorant, and wish to
learn more than we now know. Has my brother ever travelled on that path
which ends where it begins? Once, on the prairies, I lost my way. There
was snow, and glad was I to find tracks. I followed the tracks. But one
traveller had passed. After walking an hour, two had passed. Another
hour, and the three had passed, Then I saw the tracks were my own, and
that I had been walking, as the squaws reason, round and round, but not
going ahead.”

“I understand my friend, but he is wrong. It is no matter which path the
lost tribes travelled to get here. The main question is, whether they
came at all. I see in the red men, in their customs, their history,
their looks, and even in their traditions, proof that they are these
Jews, once the favored people of the Great Spirit.”

“If the Manitou so well loves the Indians, why has he permitted the
pale-faces to take away their hunting-grounds? Why has he made the red
man poor, and the white man rich? Brother, I am afraid your tradition is
a lying tradition, or these things would not be so.”

“It is not given to men to understand the wisdom that cometh from above.
That which seemeth so strange to us may be right. The lost tribes had
offended God; and their scattering, and captivity, and punishment, are
but so many proofs of his displeasure. But, if lost, we have reason to
believe that one day they will be found. Yes, my children, it will be
the pleasure of the Great Spirit, one day, to restore you to the land
of your fathers, and make you again, what you once were, a great and
glorious people!”

As the well-meaning but enthusiastic missionary spoke with great fervor,
the announcement of such an event, coming as it did from one whom they
respected, even while they could not understand him, did not fail to
produce a deep sensation. If their fortunes were really the care of the
Great Spirit, and justice was to be done to them by his love and wisdom,
then would the projects of Peter, and those who acted and felt with
him, be unnecessary, and might lead to evil instead of to good. That
sagacious savage did not fail to discover this truth; and he now
believed it might be well for him to say a word, in order to lessen the
influence Parson Amen might otherwise obtain among those whom it was his
design to mould in a way entirely to meet his own wishes. So intense
was the desire of this mysterious leader to execute vengeance on the
pale-faces, that the redemption of the tribes from misery and poverty,
unaccompanied by this part of his own project, would have given him pain
in lieu of pleasure. His very soul had got to be absorbed in this one
notion of retribution, and of annihilation for the oppressors of his
race; and he regarded all things through a medium of revenge, thus
created by his feelings, much as the missionary endeavored to bend every
fact and circumstance, connected with the Indians, to the support of his
theory touching their Jewish origin.

When Peter arose, therefore, fierce and malignant passions were at work
in his bosom; such as a merciful and a benignant deity never wishes to
see in the breast of man, whether civilized or savage. The self-command
of the Tribeless, however, was great, and he so far succeeded in
suppressing the volcano that was raging within, as to speak with his
usual dignity and an entire calmness of exterior.

“My brothers have heard what the medicine-man had to say,” Peter
commenced. “He has told them that which was new to them. He has told
them an Indian is not an Indian. That a red man is a pale-face, and that
we are not what we thought we were. It is good to learn. It makes the
difference between the wise and the foolish. The palefaces learn more
than the red-skins. That is the way they have learned how to get our
hunting-grounds. That is the way they have learned to build their
villages on the spots where our fathers killed the deer. That is the way
they have learned how to come and tell us that we are not Indians, but
Jews. I wish to learn. Though old, my mind craves to know more. That I
may know more, I will ask this medicine-man questions, and my brothers
can open their ears, and learn a little, too, by what he answers.
Perhaps we shall believe that we are not red-skins, but pale-faces.
Perhaps we shall believe that our true hunting-grounds are not near the
great lakes of sweet water, but under the rising sun. Perhaps we shall
wish to go home, and to leave these pleasant openings for the pale faces
to put their cabins on them, as the small-pox that they have also given
to us, puts its sores on our bodies. Brother--” turning toward the
missionary--“listen. You say we are no longer Indians, but Jews: is this
true of ALL red men, or only of the tribes whose chiefs are HERE?”

“Of ALL red men, as I most sincerely believe. You are now red, but once
all of your people were fairer than the fairest of the pale-faces. It is
climate, and hardships, and sufferings that have changed your color.”

“If suffering can do THAT,” returned Peter, with emphasis, “I wonder we
are not BLACK. When ALL our hunting-grounds are covered with the farms
of your people, I think we shall be BLACK.”

Signs of powerful disgust were now visible among the listeners, an
Indian having much of the contempt that seems to weigh so heavily on
that unfortunate class, for all of the color mentioned. At the south, as
is known, the red man has already made a slave of the descendants of the
children of Africa, but no man has ever yet made a slave of a son of
the American forests! THAT is a result which no human power has yet been
able to accomplish. Early in the settlement of the country, attempts
were indeed MADE, by sending a few individuals to the islands; but so
unsuccessful did the experiment turn out to be, that the design was soon
abandoned. Whatever may be his degradation, and poverty, and ignorance,
and savage ferocity, it would seem to be the settled purpose of the
American Indians of our own territories--unlike the aborigines who are
to be found farther south--to live and die free men.

“My children,” answered the missionary, “I pretend not to say what will
happen, except as it has been told to us in the word of God. You know
that we pale-faces have a book, in which the Great Spirit has told us
his laws, and foretold to us many of the things that are to happen. Some
of these things HAVE happened, while some remain TO happen. The loss
of the ten tribes was foretold, and HAS happened; but their being FOUND
again, has not YET happened, unless indeed I am so blessed as to be one
of those who have been permitted to meet them in these openings. Here is
the book--it goes where I go, and is my companion and friend, by day and
by night; in good and evil; in season and out of season. To this book I
cling as to my great anchor, that is to carry me through the storms in
safety! Every line in it is precious; every word true!”

Perhaps half the chiefs present had seen books before, while those who
now laid eyes on one for the first time, had heard of this art of the
pale-faces, which enabled them to set down their traditions in a way
peculiar to themselves. Even the Indians have their records, however,
though resorting to the use of natural signs, and a species of
hieroglyphics, in lieu of the more artistical process of using words and
letters, in a systemized written language. The Bible, too, was a book of
which all had heard, more or less; though not one of those present had
ever been the subject of its influence. A Christian Indian, indeed--and
a few of those were to be found even at that day--would hardly have
attended a council convened for the objects which had caused this to be
convened. Still, a strong but regulated curiosity existed, to see, and
touch, and examine the great medicine-book of the pale-faces. There was
a good deal of superstition blended with the Indian manner of regarding
the sacred volume; some present having their doubts about touching
it, even while most excited by admiration, and a desire to probe its
secrets.

Peter took the little volume, which the missionary extended as if
inviting any one who might so please, to examine it also. It was the
first time the wary chief had ever suffered that mysterious book to
touch him. Among his other speculations on the subject of the manner in
which the white men were encroaching, from year to year, on the lands of
the natives, it had occurred to his mind that this extraordinary volume,
which the pale-faces all SEEMED to reverence, even to the drunkards of
the garrisons, might contain the great elements of their power. Perhaps
he was not very much out of the way in this supposition; though they who
use the volume habitually, are not themselves aware, one-half the time,
why it is so.

On the present occasion, Peter saw the great importance of not betraying
apprehension, and he turned over the pages awkwardly, as one would
be apt to handle a book for the first time, but boldly and without
hesitation. Encouraged by the impunity that accompanied this hardihood,
Peter shook the leaves open, and held the volume on high, in a way that
told his own people that he cared not for its charms or power. There
was more of seeming than of truth, however, in this bravado; for never
before had this extraordinary being made so heavy a draft on his courage
and self-command, as in the performance of this simple act. He did not,
could not know what were the virtues of the book, and his imagination
very readily suggested the worst. As the great medicine-volume of the
pale-faces, it was quite likely to contain that which was hostile to the
red men; and this fact, so probable to his eyes, rendered it likely that
some serious evil to himself might follow from the contact. It did
not, however; and a smile of grim satisfaction lighted his swarthy
countenance, as, turning to the missionary, he said with point--

“Let my brother open his eyes. I have looked into his medicine-book, but
do not see that the red man is anything but a red man. The Great Spirit
made him; and what the Great Spirit makes, lasts. The pale-faces have
made their book, and it lies.”

“No, no--Peter, Peter, thou utterest wicked words. But the Lord will
pardon thee, since thou knowest not what thou sayest. Give me the sacred
volume, that I may place it next my heart, where I humbly trust so many
of its divine precepts are already entrenched.”

This was said in English, under the impulse of feeling, but being
understood by Peter, the latter quietly relinquished the Bible,
preparing to follow up the advantage he perceived he had gained, on the
spot.

“My brother has his medicine-book, again,” said Peter, “and the red men
live. This hand is not withered like the dead branch of the hemlock; yet
it has held his word of the Great Spirit! It may be that a red-skin and
a pale-face book cannot do each other harm. I looked into my brother’s
great charm, but did not see or hear a tradition that tells me we are
Jews. There is a bee-hunter in these openings. I have talked with him.
He has told me who these Jews are. He says they are people who do not
go with the pale-faces, but live apart from them, like men with the
small-pox. It is not right for my brother to come among the red men, and
tell them that their fathers were not good enough to live, and eat, and
go on the same paths as his fathers.”

“This is all a mistake, Peter--a great and dangerous mistake. The
bee-hunter has heard the Jews spoken of by those who do not sufficiently
read the good book. They have been, and are still, the chosen people of
the Great Spirit, and will one day be received back to his favor.
Would that I were one of them, only enlightened by the words of the
New Testament! No real Christian ever can, or does now despise a son of
Israel, whatever has been done in times past. It is an honor, and not a
disgrace, to be what I have said my friends are.”

“If this be so, why do not the pale-faces let us keep out
hunting-grounds to ourselves? We are content. We do not wish to be Jews.
Our canoes are too small to cross the great salt lake. They are hardly
large enough to cross the great lakes of sweet water. We should be
tired of paddling so far. My brother says there is a rich land under the
rising sun, which the Manitou gave to the red men. Is this so?”

“Beyond all doubt. It was given to the children of Israel, for a
possession forever; and though you have been carried away from it for
a time, there the land still is, open to receive you, and waiting the
return of its ancient masters. In good season that return must come; for
we have the word of God for it, in our Christian Bible.”

“Let my brother open his ears very wide, and hear what I have to say.
We thank him for letting us know that we are Jews. We believe that he
thinks what he says. Still, we think we are red men, and Injins, and not
Jews. We never saw the place where the sun rises. We do not wish to see
it. Our hunting-grounds are nearer to the place where he sets. If the
pale-faces believe we have a right to that distant land, which is so
rich in good things, we will give it to them, and keep these openings,
and prairies, and woods. We know the game of this country, and have
found out how to kill it. We do not know the game under the rising sun,
which may kill us. Go to your friends and say, ‘The Injins will give
you that land near the rising sun, if you will let them alone on their
hunting-grounds, where they have so long been. They say that your canoes
are larger than their canoes, and that one can carry a whole tribe. They
have seen some of your big canoes on the great lakes, and have measured
them. Fill all you have got with your squaws and pappooses, put your
property in them, and go back by the long path through which you came.
Then will the red man thank the pale-face and be his friend. The white
man is welcome to that far-off land. Let him take it, and build his
villages on it, and cut down its trees. This is all the Injins ask. If
the pale-faces can take away with them the small-pox and the fire-water,
it will be better still. They brought both into this country, it is
right that they should take them away.’ Will my brother tell this to his
people?”

“It would do no good. They know that the land of Judea is reserved by
God for his chosen people, and they are not Jews. None but the children
of Israel can restore that land to its ancient fertility. It would be
useless for any other to attempt it. Armies have been there, and it
was once thought that a Christian kingdom was set up on the spot; but
neither the time nor the people had come. Jews alone can make Judea what
it was, and what it will be again. If my people owned that land, they
could not use it. There are also too many of us now, to go away in
canoes.”

“Did not the fathers of the pale-faces come in canoes?” demanded Peter,
a little sternly.

“They did; but since that time their increase has been so great, that
canoes enough to hold them could not be found. No; the Great Spirit,
for his own wise ends, has brought my people hither; and here must they
remain to the end of time. It is not easy to make the pigeons fly south
in the spring.”

This declaration, quietly but distinctly made, as it was the habit of
the missionary to speak, had its effect. It told Peter, and those with
him, as plainly as language could tell them, that there was no reason
to expect the pale-faces would ever willingly abandon the country, and
seemed the more distinctly, in all their uninstructed minds, to
place the issue on the armed hand. It is not improbable that some
manifestation of feeling would have escaped the circle, had not an
interruption to the proceedings occurred, which put a stop to all other
emotions but those peculiar to the lives of savages.



CHAPTER XVIII.

     Nearer the mount stood Moses; in his hand
     The rod which blasted with strange plagues the realm
     Of Misraim, and from its time-worn channels
     Upturned the Arabian sea. Fair was his broad
     High front, and forth from his soul-piercing eye
     Did legislation look; which full he fixed
     Upon the blazing panoply undazzled.
                                    --HILLHOUSE.

It often happens in the recesses of the wilderness, that, in the
absence of men, the animals hunt each other. The wolves, in particular,
following their instincts, are often seen in packs, pressing upon the
heels of the antelope, deer, and other creatures of that family, which
depend for safety more on their speed than on their horns. On the
present occasion, a fine buck, with a pack of fifty wolves close after
it, came bounding through the narrow gorge that contained the rill, and
entered the amphitheatre of the bottom-land. Its headlong career was
first checked by the sight of the fire; then arose a dark circle of men,
each armed and accustomed to the chase. In much less time than it has
taken to record the fact, that little piece of bottom-land was crowded
with wolves, deer, and men. The headlong impetuosity of the chase
and flight had prevented the scent from acting, and all were huddled
together, for a single instant, in a sort of inextricable confusion.
Brief as was this melee, it sufficed to allow of a young hunter’s
driving his arrow through the heart of the buck, and enabled others
among the Indians to kill several of the wolves; some with arrows,
others with knives, etc. No rifle was used, probably from a wish not to
give an alarm.

The wolves were quite as much astonished at this unexpected rencontre,
as the Indians. They were not a set of hungry and formidable beasts,
that famine might urge to any pass of desperation; but a pack hunting,
like gentlemen, for their own amusement. Their headlong speed was
checked less by the crowd of men, than by the sight of fire. In their
impetuosity, it is probable that they would have gone clean through five
hundred men, but no wild beast will willingly encounter fire. Three or
four of the chiefs, aware of this dread, seized brands, and throwing
themselves, without care, into the midst of the pack, the animals went
howling off, scattering in all directions. Unfortunately for its own
welfare, one went directly through the circle, plunged into the thicket
beyond, and made its way quite up to the fallen tree, on which
the bee-hunter and the corporal had taken their stations. This was
altogether too much for the training, or for the philosophy of Hive.
Perceiving a recognized enemy rushing toward him, that noble mastiff
met him in a small cleared spot, open-mouthed, and for a few moments
a fierce combat was the consequence. Dogs and wolves do not fight in
silence, and loud were the growls and yells on this occasion. In vain
did le Bourdon endeavor to drag his mastiff off; the animal was on the
high-road to victory, when it is ever hard to arrest the steps of the
combatant. Almost as a matter of course, some of the chiefs rushed
toward the spot, when the presence of the two spectators first became
known to them. At the next moment the wolf lay dead at the feet of Hive;
and the parties stood gazing at each other, equally taken by surprise,
and equally at a loss to know what to do next.

It was perhaps fortunate for the bee-hunter, that neither Crowsfeather,
nor any other of the Pottawattamies, was present at this first
rencontre, or he might have fallen on the spot, a victim to their
disappointed hopes of drinking at a whiskey-spring. The chiefs present
were strangers to le Bourdon, and they stared at him, in a way to show
that his person was equally unknown to them. But it was necessary, now,
to follow the Indians back to their circle, where the whole party soon
collected again, the wolves having gone off on their several routes, to
put up some other animal, and run him to death.

During the whole of that excited and tumultuous scene, which would
probably now be termed a “stampede” in the Mexican-Americo-English of
the day, Peter had not stirred. Familiar with such occurrences, he felt
the importance of manifesting an unmoved calm, as a quality most likely
to impress the minds of his companions with a profound sense of his
dignity and self-command. While all around him was in a tumult, he stood
in his tracks, motionless as a statue. Even the fortitude of the worthy
missionary was shaken by the wild tempest that momentarily prevailed;
and the good man forgot the Jews in his alarm at wolves, forgot the
mighty past in his apprehensions for the uncomfortable and ill-boding
present time. All this, however, was soon over, and order, and quiet,
and a dignified calm once more reigned in the circle. Fagots were thrown
on the fire; and the two captives, or spectators, stood as near it, the
observed of all observers, as the heat rendered comfortable. It was just
then that Crowsfeather and his companions first recognized the magician
of the whiskey-spring.

Peter saw the discovery of the two spectators with some uneasiness. The
time had not come when he intended to strike his blow; and he had seen
signs among those Pottawattamies, when at the mouth of the river, which
had told him how little they were disposed to look with favor on one who
had so grievously trifled with their hopes. His first care, therefore,
was to interpose his authority and influence between le Bourdon and
any project of revenge, which Crowsfeather’s young men might be apt to
devise, as soon as they, too, laid eyes on the offender. This was done
in a characteristic and wily manner.

“Does my brother love honey?” asked the tribeless chief of the leader of
the Pottawattamies present, who sat near him, gazing on le Bourdon much
as the cat looks upon the mouse, ere it makes it its prey. “Some Injins
are fond of that sweet food: if my brother is one of that sort, I can
tell him how to fill his wigwam with honey with little trouble.”

At this suggestion, coming from such a source, Crowsfeather could not
do less than express his thanks, and his readiness to hear what further
might be in reserve for him. Peter then alluded to le Bourdon’s art,
describing him as being the most skilful bee-hunter of the West. So
great was his art in that way, that no Indian had ever yet seen his
equal. It was Peter’s intention to make him exercise his craft soon, for
the benefit of the chiefs and warriors present, who might then return to
their village, carrying with them stores of honey to gladden the hearts
of their squaws and pappooses. This artifice succeeded; for the Indians
are not expert in taking this article of food, which so much abounds in
the forests, both on account of the difficulty they find in felling the
trees, and on account of the “angle-ing” part of the process, which much
exceeds their skill in mathematics. On the other hand, the last is just
the sort of skill a common white American would be likely to manifest,
his readiness and ingenuity in all such processes almost amounting to an
instinct.

Having thus thrown his mantle around le Bourdon for the moment, Peter
then deemed it the better course to finish the historical investigation
in which the council had been so much interested, when the strange
interruption by the wolves occurred. With this view, therefore, he
rose himself, and recalled the minds of all present to this interesting
subject, by a short speech. This he did, especially to prevent any
premature attack on the person of le Bourdon.

“Brothers,” said this mysterious chief, “it is good for Injins to learn.
When they learn a thing, they know it; then they may learn another. It
is in this way that the pale-faces do; it makes them wise, and puts
it in their power to take away our hunting-grounds. A man that knows
nothing is only a child that has grown up too fast. He may be big--may
take long steps--may be strong enough to carry burdens--may love venison
and buffaloes’ humps; but his size is only in the way; his steps he does
not know where to direct; his burdens he does not know how to choose;
and he has to beg food of the squaws, instead of carrying it himself to
their wigwams. He has not learned how to take game. We must all learn.
It is right. When we have learned how to take game, and how to strike
the enemy, and how to keep the wigwam filled, then we may learn
traditions. Traditions tell us of our fathers. We have many traditions.
Some are talked of, even to the squaws. Some are told around the fires
of the tribes. Some are known only to the aged chiefs. This is right,
too. Injins ought not to say too much, nor too little. They should say
what is wise--what is best. But my brother, the medicine-man of the
pale-faces, says that our traditions have not told us everything.
Something has been kept back. If so, it is best to learn that too. If we
are Jews, and not Injins, we ought to know it. If we are Injins, and not
Jews, our brother ought to know it, and not call us by a wrong name. Let
him speak. We listen.”

Here Peter slowly resumed his seat. As the missionary understood all
that had been said, he next arose, and proceeded to make good, as far
as he was able, and in such language as his knowledge of Indian habits
suggested, his theory of the lost tribes.

“I wish my children to understand,” resumed the missionary, “that it
is an honor to be a Jew. I have not come here to lessen the red men in
their own eyes, but to do them honor. I see that Bear’s Meat wishes to
say something; my ears are open, and my tongue is still.”

“I thank my brother for the opportunity to say what is on my mind,”
 returned the chief mentioned. “It is true I have something to say; it
is this: I wish to ask the medicine-man if the pale-faces honor and show
respect to the Jews?”

This was rather an awkward question for the missionary, but he was much
too honest to dissemble. With a reverence for truth that proceeded from
his reverence for the Father of all that is true, he replied honestly,
though not altogether without betraying how much he regretted the
necessity of answering at all. Both remained standing while the dialogue
proceeded; or in parliamentary language, each may be said to have had
the floor at the same time.

“My brother wishes to know if the pale-faces honor the Jews,” returned
the missionary. “I wish I could answer ‘yes’; but the truth forces me to
say ‘no.’ The pale-faces have traditions that make against the Jews, and
the judgments of God weigh heavy on the children of Israel. But all
good Christians, now, look with friendly eyes on this dispersed and
persecuted people, and wish them well. It will give the white men very
great pleasure to learn that I have found the lost tribes of Israel in
the red men of America.”

“Will my brother tell us WHY this will give his people pleasure? Is it
because they will be glad to find old enemies, poor, living on narrow
hunting-grounds, off which the villages and farms of the pale-faces
begin to push them still nearer to the setting sun; and toward whom the
small-pox has found a path to go, but none to come from?”

“Nay, nay, Bear’s Meat, think not so unkindly of us of the white race!
In crossing the great salt lake, and in coming to this quarter of the
world, our fathers were led by the finger of God. We do but obey the
will of the Great Spirit, in pressing forward into this wilderness,
directed by his wisdom how to spread the knowledge of his name among
those who, as yet, have never heard it; or, having heard, have not
regarded it. In all this, the wisest men are but babes; not being able
to say whither they are to go, or what is to be done.”

“This is strange,” returned the unmoved Indian. “It is not so with the
red men. Our squaws and pappooses do know the hunting-ground of one
tribe from the hunting-ground of another. When they put their feet on
strange hunting-grounds, it is because they INTENDED to go there, and to
steal game. This is sometimes right. If it is right to take the scalp of
an enemy, it is right to get his deer and his buffalo, too. But we
never do this without knowing it. If we did, we should be unfit to go at
large, unfit to sit in council. This is the first time I have heard that
the pale-faces are so weak, and they have such feeble minds, too, that
they do not know where they go.”

“My brother does not understand me. No man can see into the future--no
man can say what will happen to-morrow. The Great Spirit only can tell.
It is for him, then, to guide his children in their wanderings. When our
fathers first came out of their canoes upon the land, on this side of
the great salt lake, not one among them knew anything of this country
between the great lakes of sweet water. They did not know that red men
lived here. The Great Spirit did know, and intended then, that I should
this night stand up in this council, and speak of his power and of his
name, and do him reverence. It was the Great Spirit that put it into my
mind to come among the Indians; and it is the Great Spirit who has led
me, step by step, as warriors move toward the graves of their fathers,
to make the discovery, that the Indians are, in truth, the children of
Israel, a part of his own chosen and once much-favored people. Let me
ask my friends one or two questions. Do not your traditions say that
your fathers once came from a far-off land?”

Bear’s Meat now took his seat, not choosing to answer a question of
this nature, in the presence of a chief so much respected as Peter. He
preferred to let the last take up the dialogue where he now saw fit to
abandon it. As the other very well understood the reason of this sudden
movement, he quietly assumed the office of spokesman; the whole affair
proceeding much as if there had been no change.

“Our traditions DO tell us that our fathers came from a far-off land,”
 answered Peter, without rising.

“I thought so!--I thought so!” exclaimed the simple-minded and confiding
missionary. “How wonderful are the ways of God! Yes, my brother, Judea
is a far-off land, and your traditions say that your fathers came from
such a distance! This, then, is something proved. Do not your traditions
say, that once your tribes were more in favor with the Great Spirit than
they are now?”

“Our traditions do say this: once our tribes did not see the face of
the Manitou looking dark upon them, as it now does. That was before
the pale-faces came in their big canoes, across the great salt lake, to
drive the Indians from their hunting-grounds. It was when the small-pox
had not found the path to their villages. When fire-water was unknown to
them, and no Indian had ever burned his throat with it.”

“Oh, but I speak of a time much more distant than that. Of a time when
your prophets stood face to face with God, and talked with the Creator.
Since that day a great change has come over your people. Then your color
was light, like that of the fairest and handsomest of the Circassian
race; now, it has become red. When even the color is changed, it is not
wonderful that men should no longer be the same in other particulars.
Yes; once all the races of men were of the same color and origin.”

“This is not what our traditions say. We have heard from our fathers
that the Great Spirit made men of different colors; some he made light,
like the pale-faces; some red, like the Injins; some black, like the
pale-faces’ slaves. To some he gave high noses; to some low noses: to
some flat noses. To the pale-faces he gave eyes of many colors. This is
the reason why they see so many things, and in so many different ways.
To the red men he gave eyes of the same color, and they always see
things of the same color. To a red man there is no change. Our fathers
have always been red. This we know. If them Jews, of whom my brother
speaks, were ever white, they have not been our fathers. We tell this to
the medicine-man, that he may know it, too. We do not wish to lead him
on a crooked path, or to speak to him with a forked tongue. What we have
said, is so. Now, the road is open to the wigwam of the pale-faces, and
we wish them safe on their journey home. We Injins have a council to
hold around this fire, and will stay longer.”

At this plain intimation that their presence was no longer desirable, it
became necessary for them to depart. The missionary, filled with zeal,
was reluctant to go, for, in his eyes, the present communications with
the savages promised him not only the conversion of pagans, but the
restoration of the Jews! Nevertheless, he was compelled to comply; and
when le Bourdon and the corporal took their departure, he turned, and
pronounced in solemn tone the Christian benediction on the assembly.
The meaning of this last impressive office was understood by most of the
chiefs, and they rose as one man, in acknowledgment.

The three white men, on retiring from the circle, held their way toward
Castle Meal. Hive followed his master, having come out of the combat but
little injured. As they got to a point where a last look could be had of
the bottom-land of the council, each turned to see what was now in the
course of proceeding. The fire glimmered just enough to show the circlet
of dark faces, but not an Indian spoke or moved. There they all sat,
patiently waiting for the moment when the “strangers” might “withdraw”
 to a sufficient distance, to permit them to proceed with their own
private affairs without fear of interruption.

“This has been to me a most trying scene,” observed the missionary,
as the three pursued their way toward the garrison. “How hard it is to
convince men against their wishes. Now, I am as certain as a man can be,
that every one of these Injins is in fact a Jew; and yet, you have seen
how small has been my success in persuading them to be of the right way
of thinking, on this subject.”

“I have always noticed that men stick even to their defects, when
they’re nat’ral,” returned the bee-hunter. “Even a nigger will stand up
for his color, and why shouldn’t an Injin? You began wrong, parson. Had
you just told these chiefs that they were Jews, they might have stood
THAT, poor creatures, for they hardly know how mankind looks upon a
Jew; but you went to work to skin them, in a lump, making so many poor,
wishy-washy pale-faces of all the red-skins, in a body. You and I may
fancy a white face better than one of any other color; but nature colors
the eye when it colors the body, and there’s not a nigger in America who
doesn’t think black the pink of beauty.”

“Perhaps it was proceeding too fast to say anything about the change of
color, Bourdon. But what can a Christian minister do, unless he tell
the truth? Adam could have been but of one color; and all the races on
earth, one excepted, must have changed from that one color.”

“Aye, and my life on it, that all the races on ‘arth believe that
one color to have been just that which has fallen to the luck of each
partic’lar shade. Hang me if I should like to be persuaded out of my
color, any more than these Injins. In America, color goes for a great
deal; and it may count for as much with an Injin as among us whites. No,
no, parson; you should have begun with persuading these savages into
the notion that they’re Jews; if you could get along with THAT, the rest
might be all the easier.”

“You speak of the Jews, not as if you considered them a chosen people
of the Lord, but as a despised and hateful race. This is not right,
Bourdon. I know that Christians are thus apt to regard them; but it does
not tell well for their charity or their knowledge.”

“I know very little about them, Parson Amen; not being certain of ever
having seen a Jew in my life. Still, I will own that I have a sort of
grudge against them, though I can hardly tell you why. Of one thing I
feel certain--no man breathing should ever persuade me into the notion
that I’M a Jew, lost or found; ten tribes or twenty. What say you,
corporal, to this idea?”

“Just as you say, Bourdon. Jews, Turks, and infidels, I despise: so was
I brought up, and so I shall remain.”

“Can either of you tell me WHY you look in this uncharitable light, on
so many of your fellow-creatures? It cannot be Christianity, for such
are not its teachings or feelings. Nor is either of you very remarkable
for his observance of the laws of God, as they have been revealed to
Christian people. MY heart yearns toward these Injins, who are infidels,
instead of entertaining any of the feelings that the corporal has just
expressed.”

“I wish there were fewer of them, and that them few were farther from
Castle Meal,” put in le Bourdon, with point. “I have known all along
that Peter meant to have a great council; but will own, now that I have
seen something of it, I do not find it quite as much to my mind as I had
expected it would be.”

“There’s a strong force on ‘em,” said the corporal, “and a hard set
be they to look at. When a man’s a young soldier, all this paint, and
shaving of heads, and rings in noses and ears, makes some impression;
but a campaign or two ag’in’ the fellows soon brings all down to one
color and one uniform, if their naked hides can be so called. I told ‘em
off, Bourdon, and reconn’itred ‘em pretty well, while they was a making
speeches; and, in my judgment, we can hold good the garrison ag’in’ ‘em
all, if so be we do not run short of water. Provisions and water is what
a body may call fundamentals, in a siege.”

“I hope we shall have no need of force--nay, I feel persuaded there will
not be,” said Parson Amen. “Peter is our friend; and his command
over these savages is wonderful! Never before have I seen red men so
completely under the control of a chief. Your men at Fort Dearborn,
corporal, were scarcely more under the orders of their officers, than
these red-skins are under the orders of this chief!”

“I will not go to compare rig’lars with Injins, Mr. Parson,” answered
the corporal, a little stiffly. “They be not of the same natur’ at all,
and ought not to be put on a footing, in any particular. These savages
may obey their orders, after a fashion of their own; but I should like
to see them manoeuvre under fire. I’ve fit Injins fourteen times, in
my day, and have never seen a decent line, or a good, honest, manly,
stand-up charge, made by the best among ‘em, in any field, far or near.
Trees and covers is necessary to their constitutions, just as sartain as
a deer chased will take to water to throw off the scent. Put ‘em up with
the baggonet, and they’ll not stand a minute.”

“How should they, corporal,” interrupted le Bourdon laughing, “when
they’ve no baggonets of their own to make a stand with? You put one
in mind of what my father used to say. He was a soldier in revolution
times, and sarved his seven years with Washington. The English used
to boast that the Americans wouldn’t ‘stand up to the rack,’ if
the baggonet was set to work; ‘but this was before we got our own
toothpicks,’ said the old man. ‘As soon as they gave US baggonets, too,
there was no want of standing up to the work.’ It seems to me, corporal,
you overlook the fact that Injins carry no baggonets.”

“Every army uses its own weapons. If an Injin prefers his knife and his
tomahawk to a baggonet, it is no affair of mine. I speak of a charge
as I see it; and the soldier who relies on a tomahawk instead of a
baggonet, should stand in his tracks, and give tomahawk play. No, no,
Bourdon, seeing is believing. These red-skins can do nothing with our
people, when our people is properly regimented, well officered, and
thoroughly drilled. They’re skeary to new beginners--THAT I must
acknowledge--but beyond that I set them down as nothing remarkable as
military men.”

“Good or bad, I wish there were fewer of them, and that they were
farther off. This man Peter is a mystery to me: sometimes he seems quite
friendly; then, ag’in, he appears just ready to take all our scalps. Do
you know much of his past history, Mr. Amen?”

“Not as much as I wish I did,” the missionary replied. “No one can tell
me aught concerning Peter, beyond the fact of his being a sort of a
prophet, and a chief of commanding influence. Even his tribe is unknown;
a circumstance that points us to the ancient history of the Jews for the
explanation. It is my own opinion that Peter is of the race of Aaron,
and that he is designed by Divine Providence to play an important
part in the great events on which we touch. All that is wanting is, to
persuade HIM into this belief, himself. Once persuade a man that he is
intended to be something, and your work is half done to your hands. But
the world is so full of ill-digested and random theories, that truth has
as much as it can do to obtain a sober and patient hearing!”

Thus is it with poor human nature. Let a man get a crotchet into his
head--however improbable it may be, however little supported by reason
or fact, however ridiculous, indeed--and he becomes indisposed to
receive any evidence but that which favors his theory; to see any truths
but such as he fancies will harmonize with HIS truths; or to allow
of any disturbing causes in the great workings of his particular
philosophy. This notion of Parson Amen’s concerning the origin of
the North American savage, did not originate with that simple-minded
enthusiast, by any means. In this way are notions formed and nurtured.
The missionary had read somewhat concerning the probability that the
American Indians were the lost tribes of Israel; and possessed with the
idea, everything he saw was tortured into evidence in support of his
theory. There is just as much reason for supposing that any, and all, of
the heathen savages that are scattered up and down the earth have this
origin, as to ascribe it to our immediate tribes; but to this truth the
good parson was indifferent, simply because it did not come within the
circle of his particular belief.

Thus, too, was it with the corporal. Unless courage, and other military
qualities, were manifested precisely in the way in which HE had been
trained, they were not courage and military qualities at all. Every
virtue has its especial and conventional accessories, according to this
school of morals; nothing of the sort remaining as it came from above,
in the simple abstract qualities of right and wrong. On such feelings
and principles as these, do men get to be dogmatical, narrow-minded, and
conceited!

Our three white men pursued their way back to the “garrison,” conversing
as they went, much in the manner they did in the dialogue we have just
recorded. Neither Parson Amen nor the corporal seemed to apprehend
anything, not-withstanding the extraordinary scene in which one had been
an actor, and of which the other had been a witness. Their wonder and
apprehensions, no doubt, were much mitigated by the fact, that it was
understood Peter was to meet a large collection of the chiefs in the
Openings, and the minds of all were, more or less, prepared to see some
such assemblage as had that night got together. The free manner in which
the mysterious chief led the missionary to the circle, was, of itself,
some proof that HE did not desire concealment; and even le Bourdon
admitted, when they came to discuss the details, that this was a
circumstance that told materially in favor of the friendliness of his
intentions. Still, the bee-hunter had his doubts; and most sincerely did
he wish that all in Castle Meal, Blossom in particular, were safe within
the limits of civilized settlements.

On reaching the “garrison,” all was safe. Whiskey Centre watched the
gate--a sober man, now, perforce, if not by inclination; for being
in the Openings, in this respect, is like being at sea with an empty
spirit-room. He was aware that several had passed out, but was surprised
to learn that Peter was of the number. That gate Peter had not passed,
of a certainty; and how else he could quit the palisades was not easily
understood. It was possible to climb over them, it is true; but the feat
would be attended with so great an exertion, and would be so likely
to lead to a noise which would expose the effort, that all had great
difficulty in believing a man so dignified and reserved in manner as
this mysterious chief would be apt to resort to such means of quitting
the place.

As for the Chippewa, Gershom reported his return a few minutes before;
and the bee-hunter entered, to look for that tried friend, as soon as he
learned the fact. He found Pigeonswing laying aside his accoutrements,
previously to lying down to take his rest.

“So, Chippewa, YOU have come back, have you?” exclaimed le Bourdon. “So
many of your red-skin brethren are about, that I didn’t expect to see
you again for these two or three days.”

“No want to eat, den, eh? How you all eat, if hunter don’t do he
duty? S’pose squaw don’t cook vittles, you no like it, eh? Juss so wid
hunter--no KILL vittles, don’t like it nudder.”

“This is true enough. Still, so many of your people are about, just now,
that I thought it probable you might wish to remain outside with them
for a day or two.”

“How know red man about, eh? You SEE him--you COUNT him eh?”

“I have seen something like fifty, and may say I counted that many.
They were chiefs, however, and I take it for granted, a goodly number of
common warriors are not far off. Am I right, Pigeonswing?”

“S’pose don’t know--den, can’t tell? Only tell what he know.”

“Sometimes an Injin GUESSES, and comes as near the truth as a white man
who has seen the thing with his own Pigeonswing made no answer; though
le Bourdon fancied, from his manner, that he had really something on his
mind, and that, too, of importance, which he wished to communicate.

“I think you might tell me some news that I should like to hear,
Chippewa, if you was so minded.”

“Why you stay here, eh?” demanded the Indian, abruptly. “Got plenty
honey--bess go home, now. Always bess go home, when hunt up. Home good
place, when hunter well tired.”

“My home is here, in the Openings, Pigeonswing. When I go into the
settlements, I do little but loaf about among the farm-houses on the
Detroit River, having neither squaw nor wigwam of my own to go to. I
like this place well enough, if your red brethren will let me keep it in
peace.”

“Dis bad place for pale-face, juss now. Better go home, dan stay in
Openin’. If don’t know short path to Detroit, I show you. Bess go, soon
as can; and bess go ALONE. No good to be trouble wid squaw, when in
hurry.”

The countenance of le Bourdon changed at this last intimation; though
the Indian might not have observed it in the darkness. After a brief
pause, the first answered in a very determined way.

“I believe I understand you, Chippewa,” he said. “I shall do nothing of
the sort, however. If the squaws can’t go, too, I shall not quit them.
Would you desert YOUR squaws because you thought them in trouble?”

“An’t your squaw yet. Bess not have squaw at all, when Openin’ so full
of Injin. Where you t’ink is two buck I shoot dis mornin’, eh? Skin
‘em, cut ‘em up, hang ‘em on tree, where wolf can’t get ‘em. Well, go
on after anudder; kill HIM, too. Dere he is, inside of palisade, but no
tudder two. He bot’ gone, when I get back to tree. Two good buck as ever
see! How you like dat, eh?”

“I care very little about it, since we have food enough, and are not
likely to want. So the wolves got your venison from the trees, after all
your care; ha! Pigeonswing.”

“Wolf don’t touch him--wolf CAN’T touch him. Moccasin been under tree.
See him mark. Bess do as I tell you; go home, soon as ever can. Short
path to Detroit; an’t two hundred pale-face mile.”

“I see how it is, Pigeonswing; I see how it is, and thank you for this
hint, while I honor your good faith to your own people. But I cannot go
to Detroit, in the first place, for that town and fort have fallen into
the hands of the British. It might be possible for a canoe to get past
in the night, and to work its way through into Lake Erie, but I cannot
quit my friends. If you can put us ALL in the way of getting away from
this spot, I shall be ready to enter into the scheme. Why can’t we all
get into the canoe, and go down stream, as soon as another night sets
in? Before morning we could be twenty miles on our road.”

“No do any good,” returned Pigeonswing, coldly. “If can’t go alone,
can’t go at all. Squaw no keep up when so many be on trail. No good to
try canoe. Catch you in two days--p’raps one. Well, I go to sleep--can’t
keep eye open all night.”

Hereupon, Pigeonswing coolly repaired to his skins, lay down, and was
soon fast asleep. The bee-hunter was fain to do the same, the night
being now far advanced; but he lay awake a long time, thinking of the
hint he had received, and pondering on the nature of the danger which
menaced the security of the family. At length, sleep asserted its power
over even him, and the place lay in the deep stillness of night.



CHAPTER XIX.

     And stretching out, on either hand,
     O’er all that wide and unshorn land,
     Till weary of its gorgeousness,
     The aching and the dazzled eye
     Rests, gladdened, on the calm, blue sky.
                                         --WHITTIER.


No other disturbance occurred in the course of the night. With the dawn,
le Bourdon was again stirring; and as he left the palisades to repair
to the run, in order to make his ablutions, he saw Peter returning to
Castle Meal. The two met; but no allusion was made to the manner in
which the night had passed. The chief paid his salutations courteously;
and, instead of repairing to his skins, he joined le Bourdon, seemingly
as little inclined to seek for rest, as if just arisen from his lair.
When the bee-hunter left the spring, this mysterious Indian, for the
first time, spoke of business.

“My brother wanted to-day to show Injin how to find honey,” said Peter,
as he and Bourdon walked toward the palisades, within which the whole
family was now moving. “I nebber see honey find, myself, ole as I be.”

“I shall be very willing to teach your chiefs my craft,” answered the
bee-hunter, “and this so much the more readily, because I do not expect
to pracTYSE it much longer, myself; not in this part of the country, at
least.”

“How dat happen?--expec’ go away soon?” demanded Peter, whose keen,
restless eye would, at one instant, seem to read his companion’s soul,
and then would glance off to some distant object, as if conscious of its
own startling and fiery expression. “Now Br’ish got Detroit, where my
broder go? Bess stay here, I t’ink.”

“I shall not be in a hurry, Peter; but my season will soon be up, and I
must get ahead of the bad weather, you know, or a bark canoe will have
but a poor time of it on Lake Huron. When am I to meet the chiefs, to
give them a lesson in finding bees?”

“Tell by-’em-by. No hurry for dat. Want to sleep fuss. See so much
better, when I open eye. So you t’ink of makin’ journey on long path. If
can’t go to Detroit, where can go to?”

“My proper home is in Pennsylvania, on the other side of Lake Erie. It
is a long path, and I’m not certain of getting safely over it in these
troubled times. Perhaps it would be best for me, however, to shape at
once for Ohio; if in that state I might find my way round the end of
Erie, and so go the whole distance by land.”

The bee-hunter said this, by way of throwing dust into the Indian’s
eyes, for he had not the least intention of travelling in the direction
named. It is true, it was HIS most direct course, and the one that
prudence would point out to him, under all the circumstances, had he
been alone. But le Bourdon was no longer alone--in heart and feelings,
at least. Margery now mingled with all his views for the future; and he
could no more think of abandoning her in her present situation, than he
could of offering his own person to the savages for a sacrifice. It was
idle to think of attempting such a journey in company with the
females, and most of all to attempt it in defiance of the ingenuity,
perseverance, and hostility of the Indians. The trail could not be
concealed; and, as for speed, a party of the young men of the wilderness
would certainly travel two miles to Margery’s one.

Le Bourdon, notwithstanding Pigeonswing’s remonstrances, still had his
eye on the Kalamazoo. He remembered the saying, “that water leaves no
trail,” and was not without hopes of reaching the lake again, where he
felt he should be in comparative security; his own canoe, as well as
that of Gershom, being large, well fitted, and not altogether unsuited
to those waters in the summer months. As it would be of the last
importance, however, to get several hours’ start of the Indians, in the
event of his having recourse to such a mode of flight, it was of the
utmost importance also to conceal his intentions, and, if possible, to
induce Peter to imagine his eyes were turned in another direction.

“Well, s’pose go dat way,” answered the chief, quietly, as if suspecting
no artifice. “Set ‘bout him by-’em-by. Today muss teach Injin how to
find honey. Dat make him good friend; and maybe he help my pale-face
broders back to deir country. Been better for ebbery body, if none come
here, at all.”

Thus ended the discourse for that moment. Peter was not fond of much
talking, when he had not his great object in view, but rather kept his
mind occupied in observation. For the next hour, every one in and
about Castle Meal was engaged in the usual morning avocations, that of
breaking their fasts included; and then it was understood that all were
to go forth to meet the chiefs, that le Bourdon might give a specimen of
his craft.

One, ignorant of the state of political affairs on the American
continent, and who was not aware of the vicinity of savages, would
have seen nothing that morning, as the party proceeded on its little
excursion, in and around that remote spot, but a picture of rural
tranquillity and peace. A brighter day never poured its glories on the
face of the earth; and the Openings, and the glades, and even the dark
and denser forests, were all bathed in the sunlight, as that orb is
known to illuminate objects in the softer season of the year, and in the
forty-third degree of latitude. Even the birds appeared to rejoice in
the beauties of the time, and sang and fluttered among the oaks, in
numbers greater than common. Nature usually observes a stern fitness in
her adaptation of means to ends. Birds are to be found in the forests,
on the prairies, and in the still untenanted openings of the west--and
often in countless numbers; more especially those birds which fly in
flocks, and love the security of unoccupied regions--unoccupied by
man is meant--wherein to build their nests, obey the laws of their
instincts, and fulfil their destinies. Thus, myriads of pigeons, and
ducks, and geese, etc., are to be found in the virgin woods, while the
companionable and friendly robin, the little melodious wren, the thrush,
the lark, the swallow, the marten, and all those pleasant little winged
creatures, that flit about our dwellings and grounds, and seem to be
sent by Providence, expressly to chant their morning and evening hymns
to God in our ears, most frequent the peopled districts. It has been
said by Europeans that the American birds are mute, in comparison with
those of the Old World. This is true, to a certain extent, as respects
those which are properly called forest birds, which do, in general,
appear to partake of the sombre character that marks the solemn
stillness of their native haunts. It is not true, however, with the
birds which live in our fields, and grounds, and orchards, each of which
sings its song of praise, and repeats its calls and its notes, as richly
and as pleasantly to the ear, as the birds of other lands. One large
class, indeed, possesses a faculty that enables it to repeat every note
it has ever heard, even to some of the sounds of quadrupeds. Nor is this
done in the discordant tones of the parrot; but in octaves, and trills,
and in rich contra-altos, and all the other pleasing intonations known
to the most gifted of the feathered race. Thus it is, that one American
mocking-bird can outsing all the birds of Europe united.

It seemed that morning as if every bird that was accustomed to glean its
food from the neighborhood of Castle Meal was on the wing, and ready to
accompany the party that now sallied forth to catch the bee. This party
consisted of le Bourdon, himself, as its chief and leader; of Peter, the
missionary, and the corporal. Margery, too, went along; for, as yet, she
had never seen an exhibition of Boden’s peculiar skill. As for Gershom
and his wife, they remained behind, to make ready the noontide meal;
while the Chippewa took his accoutrements, and again sallied out on
a hunt. The whole time of this Indian appeared to be thus taken up;
though, in truth, venison and bear’s meat both abounded, and there was
much less necessity for those constant efforts than he wished to make it
appear. In good sooth, more than half his time was spent in making those
observations, which had led to the advice he had been urging on his
friend, the bee-hunter, in order to induce him to fly. Had Pigeonswing
better understood Peter, and had he possessed a clearer insight into the
extent and magnitude of his plans of retributive vengeance, it is not
probable his uneasiness, at the moment, would have been so great, or the
urgency for an immediate decision on the part of le Bourdon would have
appeared as urgently pressing as it now seemed to be.

The bee-hunter took his way to a spot that was at some distance from
his habitation, a small prairie of circular form, that is now generally
known in that region of the country by the name of Prairie Round. Three
hours were necessary to reach it, and this so much the more, because
Margery’s shorter steps were to be considered. Margery, however, was
no laggard on a path. Young, active, light of foot, and trained in
exertions of this nature, her presence did not probably retard the
arrival many minutes.

The extraordinary part of the proceedings was the circumstance, that the
bee-hunter did not tell any one whither he was going, and that Peter did
not appear to care about putting the question to him. Notwithstanding
this reserve on one side, and seeming indifference on the other, when
the party reached Prairie Round, every one of the chiefs who had been
present at the council of the previous night, was there before it. The
Indians were straggling about, but remained sufficiently near the point
where the bee-hunter and his followers reached the prairie, to assemble
around the group in a very few minutes after it made its appearance.

All this struck le Bourdon as fearfully singular, since it proved how
many secret means of communication existed between the savages. That
the inmates of the habitations were closely observed, and all their
proceedings noted, he could not but suspect, even before receiving this
proof of Peter’s power; but he was not aware until now, how completely
he and all with him were at the mercy of these formidable foes. What
hope could there be for escape, when hundreds of eyes were thus watching
their movements, and every thicket had its vigilant and sagacious
sentinel? Yet must flight be attempted, in some way or other, or Margery
and her sister would be hopelessly lost--to say nothing of himself and
the three other men.

But the appearance of the remarkable little prairie that he had just
reached, and the collection of chiefs, now occupied all the present
thoughts of le Bourdon. As for the first, it is held in repute, even
at the present hour, as a place that the traveller should see, though
covered with farms, and the buildings that belong to husbandry. It
is still visited as a picture of ancient civilization, placed in the
setting of a new country. It is true that very little of this part
of Michigan wears much, if any, of that aspect of a rough beginning,
including stubs, stumps, and circled trees, that it has so often
fallen to our share to describe. There are dense forests, and those of
considerable extent; and wherever the axe is put into them, the progress
of improvement is marked by the same steps as elsewhere; but the lovely
openings form so many exceptions, as almost to compose the rule.

On Prairie Round there was even a higher stamp of seeming
civilization--seeming, since it was nature, after all, that had mainly
drawn the picture. In the first place, the spot had been burnt so
recently, as to leave the entire expanse covered with young grasses and
flowers, the same as if it were a well-kept park. This feature, at
that advanced period of the summer, was in some degree accidental, the
burning of the prairies depending more or less on contingencies of that
sort. We have now less to do with the cause, than with its consequences.
These were most agreeable to the eye, as well as comfortable to the
foot, the grass nowhere being of a height to impede movement, or,
what was of still more importance to le Bourdon’s present pursuit, to
overshadow the flowers. Aware of this fact, he had led his companions
all that distance, to reach this scene of remarkable rural beauty, in
order that he might make a grand display of his art, in presence of the
assembled chiefs of that region. The bee-hunter had pride in his craft,
the same as any other skilful workman who had gained a reputation by
his cunning, and he now trod the prairie with a firmer step, and a more
kindling eye, than was his wont in the commoner haunts of his calling.
Men were there whom it might be an honor to surprise, and pretty Margery
was there also, she who had so long desired to see this very exhibition.

But to revert once more to the prairie, ere we commence the narrative
of what occurred on it. This well-known area is of no great extent,
possessing a surface about equal to that of one of the larger parks
of Europe. Its name was derived from its form, which, without being
absolutely regular, had so near an approach to a circle as to justify
the use of the appellation. The face of this charming field was neither
waving, or what is called “rolling,” nor a dead flat, as often occurs
with river bottoms. It had just enough of undulation to prevent too much
moisture, and to impart an agreeable variety to its plain. As a whole,
it was clear of the forest; quite as much so as if the axe had done its
work there a thousand years before, though wood was not wanting. On the
contrary, enough of the last was to be seen, in addition to that which
formed the frame of this charming landscape, to relieve the view from
all appearance of monotony, and to break it up into copses, thickets,
trees in small clusters, and in most of the varieties that embellish
native scenery. One who had been unexpectedly transferred to the spot,
might well have imagined that he was looking on the site of some old
and long-established settlement, from which every appliance of human
industry had been suddenly and simultaneously abstracted. Of houses,
out-buildings, fences, stacks, and husbandry, there were no signs;
unless the even and verdant sward, that was spread like a vast carpet,
sprinkled with flowers, could have been deemed a sign of the last. There
were the glades, vistas, irregular lawns, and woods, shaped with the
pleasing outlines of the free hand of nature, as if consummate art
had been endeavoring to imitate our great mistress in one of her most
graceful moods.

The Indians present served largely to embellish this scene. Of late
years, horses have become so common among the western tribes, the vast
natural meadows of those regions furnishing the means necessary to keep
them, that one can now hardly form a picture of those savages, with-out
representing them mounted, and wielding the spear; but such was not the
fact with the time of which we are writing, nor was it ever the general
practice to go mounted, among the Indians in the immediate vicinity
of the great lakes. Not a hoof of any sort was now visible, with the
exception of those which belonged to a herd of deer, that were grazing
on a favorite spot, less than a league distant from the place where le
Bourdon and his companions reached the prairie. All the chiefs were on
foot, and very few were equipped with more than the knife and tomahawk,
the side-arms of a chief; the rifles having been secreted, as it might
be, in deference to the festivities and peaceful character of the
occasion. As le Bourdon’s party was duly provided with rifles, the
missionary and Margery excepted, this was a sign that no violence was
contemplated on that occasion at least. “Contemplated,” however, is a
word very expressive, when used in connection with the out-breakings
of human passions, as they are wont to exhibit themselves among the
ignorant and excited. It matters not whether the scene be the capital of
some ancient European monarchy, or the wilds of America, the workings of
such impulses are much the same. Now, a throne is overturned, perhaps,
before they who do it are yet fully aware of what they ought to set up
in its place; and now the deadly rifle, or the murderous tomahawk is
used, more in obedience to the incentives of demons, than in furtherance
of justly recognized rules of conduct. Le Bourdon was aware of all
this, and did not so far confide in appearances, as to overlook the
watchfulness that he deemed indispensable.

The bee-hunter was not long in selecting a place to set up his
apparatus. In this particular, he was mainly governed by a lovely
expanse of sweet-scented flowers, among which bees in thousands were
humming, sipping of their precious gifts at will. Le Bourdon had a care,
also, not to go far from the forests which encircled the prairies, for
among its trees he knew he had to seek the habitations of the insects.
Instead of a stump, or a fallen tree, he had prepared a light framework
of lath, which the corporal bore to the field for him, and on which he
placed his different implements, as soon as he had selected the scene of
operations.

It will not be necessary for us to repeat the process, which has already
been described in our opening chapters; but we shall only touch such
parts of it as have a direct connection with the events of the legend.
As le Bourdon commenced his preparations, however, the circle of chiefs
closed around him, in mute but close attention to every-thing that
passed. Although every one of them had heard of the bee-hunters of the
pale-faces, and most of them had heard of this particular individual
of their number, not an Indian present had ever seen one of these men
practise his craft. This may seem strange, as respects those who so
much roamed the woods; but we have already remarked that it exceeded the
knowledge of the red man to make the calculations that are necessary to
take the bee by the process described. Usually, when he obtains honey,
it is the result of some chance meeting in the forest, and not the
fruits of that far-sighted and persevering industry, which enables the
white man to lay in a store large enough to supply a neighborhood, in
the course of a few weeks’ hunting.

Never was a juggler watched with closer attention, than was le Bourdon,
while setting up his stand, and spreading his implements. Every grave,
dark countenance was turned toward him, and each keen, glistening eye
was riveted on his movements. As the vessel with the comb was set down,
the chiefs nearest recognizing the substance murmured their admiration;
for to them it seemed as if the operator were about to make honey with
honey. Then the glass was a subject of surprise: for half of those
present had never seen such an utensil before. Though many of the chiefs
present had visited the “garrisons” of the northwest, both American and
English, many had not; and, of those who had, not one in ten got any
clear idea of the commonest appliances of civilized life. Thus it was,
then, that almost every article used by the bee-hunter, though so simple
and homely, was the subject of a secret, but well-suppressed admiration.

It was not long ere le Bourdon was ready to look for his bee. The
insects were numerous on the flowers, particularly on the white clover,
which is indigenous in America, springing up spontaneously wherever
grasses are permitted to grow. The great abundance of the bees, however,
had its usual effect, and our hero was a little difficult to please. At
length, a fine and already half-loaded little animal was covered by the
glass and captured. This was done so near the group of Indians, that
each and all noted the process. It was curious, and it was inexplicable!
Could the pale-faces compel bees to reveal the secret of their hives,
and was that encroaching race about to drive all the insects from the
woods and seize their honey, as they drove the Indians before them and
seized their lands? Such was the character of the thoughts that passed
through the minds of more than one chief, that morning, though all
looked on in profound stillness.

When the imprisoned bee was put over the comb, and le Bourdon’s cap
was placed above all, these simple-minded children of the woods and the
prairies gazed, as if expecting a hive to appear beneath the covering,
whenever the latter should be removed. It was not long before the bee
“settled,” and not only the cap, but the tumbler was taken away. For the
first time since the exhibition commenced, le Bourdon spoke, addressing
himself to Peter.

“If the tribeless chief will look sharply,” he said, “he will soon see
the bee take flight. It is filling itself with honey, and the moment
it is loaded--look--look--it is about to rise--there, it is up--see
it circling around the stand, as if to take a look that it may know it
again--there it goes!”

There it did go, of a truth, and in a regular bee-line, or as straight
as an arrow. Of all that crowd, the bee-hunter and Margery alone saw
the insect in its flight. Most of those present lost sight of it,
while circling around the stand; but the instant it darted away, to
the remainder it seemed to vanish into air. Not so with le Bourdon and
Margery, however. The former saw it from habit; the latter from a
quick eye, intense attention, and the wish not to miss anything that le
Bourdon saw fit to do, for her information or amusement. The animal flew
in an air-line toward a point of wood distant fully half a mile, and on
the margin of the prairie.

Many low exclamations arose among the savages. The bee was gone, but
whither they knew not, or on what errand. Could it have been sent on a
message by the pale-face, or had it flown off to give the alarm to its
companions, in order to adopt the means of disappointing the bee-hunter?
As for the last, he went coolly to work to choose another insect; and he
soon had three at work on the comb--all in company, and all uncovered.
Had the number anything to do with the charm, or were these three to be
sent to bring back the one that had already gone away? Such was the sort
of reasoning, and such the queries put to themselves, by several of the
stern children of nature who were drawn up around the stand.

In the mean time le Bourdon proceeded with his operations in the utmost
simplicity. He now called Peter and Bear’s Meat and Crowsfeather nearer
to his person, where they might share with Margery the advantage of more
closely seeing all that passed. As soon as these three chiefs were
near enough, Ben pointed to one bee in particular, saying in the Indian
dialect:

“My brothers see that bee in the centre--he is about to go away. If he
go after the one that went before him, I shall soon know where to look
for honey.”

“How can my brother tell which bee will first fly away?” demanded Bear’s
Meat.

The bee-hunter was able to foresee this, by knowing which insect had
been longest on the comb; but so practised had his eye become, that he
knew with tolerable accuracy, by the movements of the creatures, those
that had filled themselves with honey from those that had not. As it did
not suit his purpose, however, to let all the minutiae of his craft be
known, his answer was evasive. Just at that moment a thought occurred to
him, which it might be well to carry out in full. He had once saved his
life by necromancy, or what seemed to the simple children of the woods
to be necromancy, and why might he not turn the cunning of his regular
art to account, and render it the means of rescuing the females, as well
as himself, from the hands of their captors? This sudden impulse from
that moment controlled his conduct; and his mind was constantly
casting about for the means of effecting what was now his one great
purpose-escape. Instead of uttering in reply to Bear’s Meat’s question
the simple truth, therefore, he rather sought for such an answer as
might make the process in which he was engaged appear imposing and
mystical.

“How do the Injins know the path of the deer?” he asked, by way of
reply. “They look at the deer, get to know him, and understand his ways.
This middle bee will soon fly.”

“Which way will he go?” asked Peter. “Can my brother tell us THAT?”

“To his hive,” returned le Bourdon, carelessly, as if he did not fully
understand the question. “All of them go to their hives, unless I tell
them to go in another direction. See, the bee is up!”

The chiefs now looked with all their eyes. They saw, indeed, that the
bee was making its circles above the stand. Presently they lost sight of
the insect, which to them seemed to vanish; though le Bourdon distinctly
traced its flight for a hundred yards. It took a direction at right
angles to that of the first bee, flying off into the prairie, and
shaping its course toward an island of wood, which might have been of
three or four acres in extent, and distant rather less than a mile.

While le Bourdon was noting this flight, another bee arose. This
creature flew toward the point of forest, already mentioned as the
destination of the insect that had first risen. No sooner was this third
little animal out of sight, than the fourth was up, humming around the
stand. Ben pointed it out to the chiefs; and this time they succeeded in
tracing the flight for, perhaps, a hundred feet from the spot where they
stood. Instead of following either of its companions, this fourth bee
took a course which led it off the prairie altogether, and toward the
habitations.

The suddenly conceived purpose of le Bourdon, to attempt to mystify the
savages, and thus get a hold upon their minds which he might turn to
advantage, was much aided by the different directions taken by these
several bees. Had they all gone the same way, the conclusion that
all went home would be so very natural and obvious, as to deprive
the discovery of a hive of any supernatural merit, at least; and to
establish this was just now the great object the bee-hunter had in view.
As it was, the Indians were no wiser, now all the bees were gone, than
they had been before one of them had flown. On the contrary, they could
not understand how the flights of so many insects, in so many different
directions, should tell the bee-hunter where honey was to be found. Le
Bourdon saw that the prairie was covered with bees, and well knew that,
such being the fact, the inmates of perhaps a hundred different hives
must be present. All this, however, was too novel and too complicated
for the calculations of savages; and not one of those who crowded near,
as observers, could account for so many of the bees going different
ways.

Le Bourdon now intimated a wish to change his ground. He had noted two
of the bees, and the only question that remained to be decided, as IT
respected THEM, was whether they belonged to the precise points toward
which they had flown, or to points beyond them. The reader will easily
understand that this is the nature of the fact determined by taking an
angle, the point of intersection between any two of the lines of flight
being necessarily the spot where the hive is to be found. So far from
explaining this to those around him, however, Boden kept it a secret in
his own breast. Margery knew the whole process, for to HER he had often
gone over it in description, finding a pleasure in instructing one so
apt, and whose tender, liquid blue eyes seemed to reflect every movement
of his own soul and feelings. Margery he could have taught forever, or
fancied for the moment he could; which is as near the truth as men under
the influence of love often get. But, as for the Indians, so far from
letting them into any of his secrets, his strong desire was now to
throw dust into their eyes, in all possible ways, and to make their
well-established character for superstition subservient to his own
projects.

Boden was far from being a scholar, even for one in his class in life.
Down to this hour, the neglect of the means of public instruction
is somewhat of a just ground of reproach against the venerable and
respectable commonwealth of which he was properly a member, though her
people have escaped a knowledge of a great deal of small philosophy and
low intriguing, which it is fair to presume that evil spirits thrust
in among the leaves of a more legitimate information, when the book of
knowledge is opened for the instruction of those who, by circumstances,
are prevented from doing more than bestowing a few hurried glances at
its contents. Still, Ben had read everything about bees on which he
could lay his hands. He had studied their habits personally, and he
had pondered over the various accounts of their communities--a sort of
limited monarchy in which the prince is deposed occasionally, or
when matters go very wrong--some written by really very observant and
intelligent persons, and others again not a little fanciful. Among other
books that had thus fallen in le Bourdon’s way, was one which somewhat
minutely described the uses that were made of bees by the ancient
soothsayers in their divinations. Our hero had no notion of reviving
those rites, or of attempting to imitate the particular practices of
which he had read and heard; but the recollection of them occurred
most opportunely to strengthen and encourage the design, so suddenly
entertained, of making his present operation aid in opening the way to
the one great thing of the hour--an escape into Lake Michigan.

“A bee knows a great deal,” said le Bourdon, to his nearest companions,
while the whole party was moving some distance to take up new ground. “A
bee often knows more than a man.”

“More than pale-face?” demanded Bear’s Meat, a chief who had attained
his authority more by means of physical than of intellectual qualities.

“Sometimes. Pale-faces have gone to bees to ask what will happen. Let me
ask our medicine-man this question. Parson Amen, have YOU any knowledge
of the soothsayers of old using bees when they wished to know what was
about to happen?”

Now, the missionary was not a learned man, any more than the bee-hunter;
but many an unlearned man has heard of this, and he happened to be one
of the number. Of Virgil, for instance, Parson Amen knew but little;
though in the progress of a very loose, but industrious course of
reading, he had learned that the soothsayers put great faith in bees.
His answer was given in conformity with this fact, and in the most
perfect good faith, for he had not the smallest suspicion of what Boden
wished to establish.

“Certainly--most certainly,” answered the well-meaning missionary--“the
fortune-tellers of old times often went to their bees when they wished
to look into the future. It has been a subject much talked of among
Christians, to account for the soothsaying, and witchcraft, and other
supernatural dealings of those who lived in the times of the prophets;
and most of them have held the opinion that evil spirits have been--nay,
still are permitted to work their will on certain men in the flesh. But
bees were in much favor with the soothsayers of old.”

This answer was given in English, and little of it was comprehended by
Peter, and the others who had more or less knowledge of that language,
beyond the part which asserted the agency of bees in witchcraft.
Luckily, this was all le Bourdon desired, and he was well satisfied at
seeing that the idea passed from one chief to another; those who did not
know the English at all, being told by those who had some knowledge
of the tongue, that “bees were thought to be ‘medicine’ among the
pale-faces.”

Le Bourdon gained a great deal of ground by this fortunate corroboration
of his own still more fortunate thought Matters were pretty nearly
desperate with him, and with all his friends, should Peter really
meditate evil; and as desperate diseases notoriously require remedies of
the same character, he was ready to attempt anything that promised even
the smallest chance of success.

“Yes, yes--” the bee-hunter pursued the discourse by saying--“bees know
a great deal. I have sometimes thought that bees know more than bears,
and my brother must be able to tell something of them?”

“Yes; my name is Bear’s Meat,” answered that chief, complacently. “Injin
always give name that mean somet’ing. Kill so many bear one winter, got
dat name.”

“A good name it is! To kill a bear is the most honorable thing a hunter
can do, as we all know. If my brother wishes to hear it, I will ask my
bees when he is to kill another.”

The savage to whom this was addressed fairly started with delight. He
was eagerly signifying his cheerful assent to the proposal, when Peter
quietly interposed, and changed the discourse to himself, in a way that
he had, and which would not easily admit of denial. It was apparent
to le Bourdon that this mysterious Indian was not content that one so
direct and impetuous in his feelings as Bear’s Meat, and who was at the
same time so little qualified to manage his portion of an intellectual
conversation, should be foremost any longer. For that reason he brought
himself more into the foreground, leaving to his friend the capacity
of listener and observer, rather than that of a speaker and actor. What
took place under this new arrangement, will appear as the narrative
proceeds.



CHAPTER XX.

     --Therefore, go with me;
     I’ll give the fairies to attend on thee;
     And they shall fetch thee jewels from the deep,
     --Peas-blossom! cobweb! moth! and mustard-seed,
                                    --Midsummer-Night’s Dream


As le Bourdon kept moving across the prairie, while the remarks were
made that have been recorded in the preceding chapter, he soon reached
the new position where he intended to again set up his stand. Here he
renewed his operations; Peter keeping nearest his person, in jealous
watchfulness of the least movement he made. Bees were caught, and scarce
a minute elapsed ere the bee-hunter had two of them on the piece of
comb, uncovered and at liberty. The circumstance that the cap was
momentarily placed over the insects, struck the savages as a piece of
necromancy, in particular. The reader will understand that this is done
in order to darken the tumbler, and induce the bee to settle down on the
honey so much the sooner. To one who understood the operation and its
reason, the whole was simple enough; but it was a very different matter
with men as little accustomed to prying into the habits of creatures
as insignificant as bees. Had deer, or bisons, or bears, or any of the
quadrupeds of those regions, been the subject of the experiment, it is
highly probable that individuals could have been found in that attentive
and wondering crowd, who could have enlightened the ablest naturalists
on the subject of the animals under examination; but when the inquiry
descended to the bee, it went below the wants and usages of savage life.

“Where you t’ink dis bee go?” demanded Peter, in English, as soon as le
Bourdon raised the tumbler.

“One will go in this direction, the other in that,” answered the
bee-hunter, pointing first toward the corner of the woods, then toward
the island in the prairie--the two points toward which two of the other
bees had flown.

The predictions might or might not prove true. If they did, the effect
must be great; if they did not, the failure would soon be forgotten in
matters of more interest. Our hero, therefore, risked but little, while
he had the chance of gaining a very great advantage. By a fortunate
coincidence, the result completely justified the prediction. A bee
rose, made its circles around the stand, and away it went toward the
island-like copse in the prairie; while its companion soon imitated
its example, but taking the other prescribed direction. This time Peter
watched the insects so closely that he was a witness of their movements,
and with his own eyes he beheld the flight, as well as the direction
taken by each.

“You tell bee do dis?” demanded Peter, with a surprise that was so
sudden, as well as so great, that it overcame in some slight degree his
habitual self-command.

“To be sure I did,” replied le Bourdon, carelessly. “If you wish to see
another, you may.”

Here the young man coolly took another bee, and put it on the comb.
Indifferent as he appeared, however, he used what was perhaps the
highest degree of his art in selecting this insect. It was taken from
the bunch of flowers whence one of his former captives had been taken,
and there was every chance of its belonging to the same hive as its
companion. Which direction it might take, should it prove to be a bee
from either of the two hives of which the positions were now known,
it altogether exceeded Boden’s art to tell, so he dexterously avoided
committing himself. It was enough that Peter gazed attentively, and
that he saw the insect dart away, disappearing in the direction of the
island. By this time more of the savages were on the alert, and now
knowing how and where to look for the bee, they also saw its course.

“You tell him ag’in go dere?” asked Peter, whose interest by this time
was so manifest, as to defy all attempts at concealment.

“To be sure I did. The bees obey ME, as your young men obey YOU. I am
their chief, and they KNOW me. I will give you further proof of this. We
will now go to that little bit of wood, when you shall all see what it
contains. I have sent three of my bees there; and here, one of them is
already back, to let me know what he has seen.”

Sure enough, a bee was buzzing around the head of le Bourdon, probably
attracted by some fragment of comb, and he cunningly converted it into
a messenger from the copse! All this was wonderful to the crowd, and
it even greatly troubled Peter. This man was much less liable to the
influence of superstition than most of his people; but he was very far
from being altogether above it. This is the fact with very few civilized
men; perhaps with no man whatever, let his philosophy and knowledge be
what they may; and least of all, is it true with the ignorant. There is
too much of the uncertain, of the conjectural in our condition as human
beings, to raise us altogether above the distrusts, doubts, wonder, and
other weaknesses of our present condition. To these simple savages, the
manner in which the bees flew, seemingly at le Bourdon’s bidding, to
this or that thicket, was quite as much a matter of astonishment, as
any of our most elaborate deceptions are wonders to our own ignorant and
vulgar. Ignorant! And where is the line to be drawn that is to place men
beyond the pale of ignorance? Each of us fails in some one, if not
in very many of the important branches of the knowledge that is even
reduced to rules Among us. Here is seen the man of books, so ignorant
of the application of his own beloved theories, as to be a mere child in
practice; and there, again, can be seen the expert in practice, who is
totally unacquainted with a single principle of the many that lie at
the root of his very handicraft. Let us not, then, deride these poor
children of the forest, because that which was so entirely new to them,
should also appear inexplicable and supernatural.

As for Peter, he was more confounded than convinced. His mind was so
much superior to those of the other chiefs, as to render him far more
difficult to mislead; though even he was not exempt from the great
weaknesses of ignorance, superstition, and its concomitants--credulity,
and a love of the marvellous. His mind was troubled, as was quite
apparent to Ben, who watched HIM quite as narrowly as he was observed
himself, in all he did. Willing to deepen the impression, our artist
now determined to exhibit some of the higher fruits of his skill. The
production of a considerable quantity of honey would of itself be a sort
of peace-offering, and he now prepared to turn the certainty of there
being a hive in the little wood to account--certainty, because three
bees had taken wing for it, and a very distinct angle had been made with
two of them.

“Does my brother wish any honey?” asked le Bourdon carelessly; “or shall
I send a bee across Lake Michigan, to tell the Injins further west that
Detroit is taken?”

“Can Bourdon find honey, NOW?” demanded Peter.

“Easily. Several hives are within a mile of us. The bees like this
prairie, which is so well garnished with flowers, and I am never at a
loss for work, in this neighborhood. This is my favorite bee-ground; and
I have got all the little creatures so that they know me, and are ready
to do everything that I tell them. As I see that the chiefs love honey,
and wish to eat some, we will now go to one of my hives.”

Thus saying, le Bourdon prepared for another march. He moved with
all his appliances, Margery keeping close at his side, carrying the
honey-comb and honey. As the girl walked lightly, in advance of the
Indians, some fifteen or twenty bees, attracted by the flavor of what
she carried, kept circling around her head, and consequently around that
of Boden; and Peter did not fail to observe the circumstance. To him it
appeared as if these bees were so many accompanying agents, who attended
their master in order to do his bidding. In a word, Peter was fast
getting into that frame of mind, when all that is seen is pressed into
the support of the theory we have adopted. The bee-hunter had some
mysterious connection with, and control over the bees, and this was
one among the many other signs of the existence of his power. All this,
however, Boden himself disregarded. His mind was bent on throwing dust
into the eyes of the Indians; and he was cogitating the means of so
doing, on a much larger scale than any yet attempted.

“Why dem bee fly ‘round young squaw?” demanded Peter--“and fly round
you, too?”

“They know us, and go with us to their hive; just as Injins would come
out of their villages to meet and honor visitors.”

This was a ready reply, but it scarcely satisfied the wily savage to
whom it was given. Just then Crowsfeather led Peter a little aside,
and began talking earnestly to that chief, both continuing on with
the crowd. Le Bourdon felt persuaded that the subject of this private
conference was some of his own former backslidings in the character of
conjuror, and that the Pottawattamie would not deal very tenderly with
his character. Nevertheless, it was too late to retrace his steps, and
he saw the necessity of going on.

“I wish you had not come out with us,” the bee-hunter found an occasion
to say to Margery. “I do not half like the state of things, and this
conjuration about the bees may all fall through.”

“It is better that I should be here, Bourdon,” returned the spirited
girl. “My being here may make them less unfriendly to you. When I am by,
Peter always seems more human, and less of a savage, they all tell me,
than when I am not by.”

“No one can be more willing to own your power, Margery, than I; but
Injins hold the squaws too cheap, to give you much influence over this
old fellow.”

“You do not know--he may have had a daughter of about my age, or size,
or appearance; or with my laugh, or voice, or something else that
reminds him of her, when he sees me. One thing I am sure of--Peter is no
enemy of MINE!”

“I hope this may prove to be true! I do not see, after all, why an Injin
should not have the feelin’s you name. He is a man, and must feel for
his wife and children, the same as other--”

“Bourdon, what ails the dog? Look at the manner in which Hive is
behaving!”

Sure enough, the appearance of Hive was sufficiently obvious to attract
his master’s attention. By this time the crowd had got within twenty
rods of the little island-like copse of wood, the mastiff being nearly
half that distance in advance. Instead of preceding the party, however,
Hive had raised his form in a menacing manner, and moved cautiously
from side to side, like one of his kind that scents a foe. There was no
mistaking these movements; and all the principal chiefs soon had their
attention also drawn to the behavior of the dog.

“Why he do so?” asked Peter. “He ‘fraid of bee, eh?”

“He waits for me to come up,” answered le Bourdon. “Let my brother and
two other chiefs come with me, and let the rest stay here. Bees do not
like crowds. Corporal, I put Margery in your keeping, and Parson Amen
will be near you. I now go to show these chiefs what a bee can tell a
man.”

Thus saying, le Bourdon advanced, followed by Peter, Bear’s Meat, and
Crowsfeather. Our hero had made up his mind that something more than
bees were to be found in the thicket; for, the place being a little
marshy, bushes as well as trees were growing on it, and he fully
expected a rencontre with bears, the creatures most disposed to prey on
the labors of the bee--man excepted. Being well armed, and accompanied
by men accustomed to such struggles, he had no apprehensions, and led
the way boldly, feeling the necessity of manifesting perfect confidence
in all his own acts, in order to command the respect of the observers.
As soon as the bee-hunter passed the dog, the latter growled, showed
his teeth fiercely, and followed, keeping closely at his side. The
confidence and alacrity with which le Bourdon moved into the thicket,
compelled his companions to be on the alert; though the first broke
through the belt of hazels which enclosed the more open area within,
a few instants before the Indians reached the place. Then it was that
there arose such a yell, such screechings and cries, as reached far over
the prairie, and might have appalled the stoutest heart. The picture
that was soon offered to the eye was not less terrific than the sounds
which assailed the ear. Hundreds of savages, in their war-paint, armed,
and in a crowded maze, arose as it might be by one effort, seemingly out
of the earth, and began to leap and play their antics amid the
trees. The sudden spectacle of a crowd of such beings, nearly naked,
frightfully painted, and tossing their arms here and there, while
each yelled like a demon, was enough to overcome the nerves of a very
resolute man. But le Bourdon was prepared for a conflict and even felt
relieved rather than alarmed, when he saw the savages. His ready mind at
once conceived the truth. This band belonged to the chiefs, and composed
the whole, or a principal part of the force which he knew they must
have outlying somewhere on the prairies, or in the openings. He had
sufficiently understood the hints of Pigeonswing to be prepared for such
a meeting, and at no time, of late, had he approached a cover, without
remembering the possibility of its containing Indians.

Instead of betraying alarm, therefore, when this cloud of phantom-like
beings rose before his eyes, le Bourdon stood firm, merely turning
toward the chiefs behind him, to ascertain if they were taken by
surprise, as well as himself. It was apparent that they were; for,
understanding that a medicine-ceremony was to take place on the prairie,
these young men had preceded the party from the hut, and had, ununknown
to all the chiefs, got possession of this copse, as the best available
cover, whence to make their observations on what was going on.

“My brother sees his young men,” said le Bourdon, quietly, the instant a
dead calm had succeeded to the outcries with which he had been greeted.
“I thought he might wish to say something to them, and my bees told me
where to find them. Does my brother wish to know anything else?”

Great was the wonder of the three chiefs, at this exhibition of medicine
power! So far from suspecting the truth, or of detecting the lucky
coincidence by which le Bourdon had been led to the cover of their
warriors, it all appeared to them to be pure necromancy. Such an art
must be of great service; and how useful it would be to the warrior on
his path, to be accompanied by one who could thus command the vigilance
of the bees.

“You find enemy all same as friend?” demanded Peter, letting out the
thought that was uppermost, in the question.

“To be sure. It makes no difference with a bee; he can find an enemy as
easily as he can find a friend.’

“No whiskey-spring dis time?” put in Crowsfeather, a little
inopportunely, and with a distrust painted in his swarthy face that le
Bourdon did not like.

“Pottawattamie, you do not understand medicine-men. OUGHT I to have
shown your young men where whiskey was to be had for nothing? Ask
yourself that question. Did you wish to see your young men wallowing
like hogs in such a spring? What would the great medicine-priest of the
pale-faces, who is out yonder, have said to THAT?”

This was a coup de maitre on the part of the bee-hunter. Until that
moment, the affair of the whiskey-spring had weighed heavily in the
balance against him; but now, it was suddenly changed over in the
scales, and told as strongly in his favor. Even a savage can understand
the morality which teaches men to preserve their reason, and not to
lower themselves to the level of brutes, by swallowing “fire-water”; and
Crowsfeather suddenly saw a motive for regarding our hero with the eyes
of favor, instead of those of distrust and dislike.

“What the pale-face says is true,” observed Peter to his companion. “Had
he opened his spring, your warrior would have been weaker than women. He
is a wonderful medicine-man, and we must not provoke him to anger. How
COULD he know, but through his bees, that our young men were here?”

This question could not be answered; and when the chiefs, followed by
the whole band of warriors, some three or four hundred in number came
out upon the open prairie, all that had passed was communicated to those
who awaited their return, in a few brief, but clear explanations. Le
Bourdon found a moment to let Margery comprehend his position and views,
while Parson Amen and the corporal were put sufficiently on their guard
not to make any unfortunate blunder. The last was much more easily
managed than the first. So exceedingly sensitive was the conscience
of the priest, that had he clearly understood the game le Bourdon was
playing, he might have revolted at the idea of necromancy, as touching
on the province of evil spirits; but he was so well mystified as to
suppose all that passed was regularly connected with the art of taking
bees. In this respect, he and the Indians equally resembled one of those
familiar pictures, in which we daily see men, in masses, contributing
to their own deception and subjection, while they fondly but blindly
imagine that they are not only inventors, but masters. This trade
of mastery, after all, is the property of a very few minds; and no
precaution of the prudent, no forethought of the wary, nor any expedient
of charters, constitutions, or restrictions, will prevent the few from
placing their feet on the neck of the many. We may revive the fable of
King Log and King Stork, as often, and in as many forms as we will; it
will ever be the fable of King Log and King Stork. We are no admirers
of political aristocracies, as a thousand paragraphs from our pen will
prove; and, as for monarchs, we have long thought they best enact their
parts, when most responsible to opinion; but we cannot deceive ourselves
on the subject of the atrocities that are daily committed by those
who are ever ready to assume the places of both, making their
fellow-creatures in masses their dupes, and using those that they affect
to serve.

Ben Boden was now a sort of “gouvernement provisoire” among the
wondering savages who surrounded him. He had got them to believe in
necromancy--a very considerable step toward the exercise of despotic
power. It is true, he hardly knew, himself, what was to be done next;
but he saw quite distinctly that he was in a dilemma, and must manage to
get out of it by some means or other. If he could only succeed in this
instance, as well as he had succeeded in his former essay in the black
art, all might be well, and Margery be carried in triumph into the
settlements. Margery, pro haec vice, was his goddess of liberty, and he
asked for no higher reward, than to be permitted to live the remainder
of his days in the sunshine of her smiles. Liberty! a word that is, just
now, in all men’s mouths, but in how few hearts in its purity and
truth! What a melancholy mistake, moreover, to suppose that, could it
be enjoyed in that perfection with which the imaginations of men love to
cheat their judgments, it is the great good of life! One hour spent
in humble veneration for the Being that gave it, in common with all of
earth, its vacillating and uncertain existence, is of more account
than ages passed in its service; and he who fancies that in worshipping
liberty, he answers the great end of his existence, hugs a delusion
quite as weak, and infinitely more dangerous, than that which now
came over the minds of Peter and his countrymen, in reference to the
intelligence of the bee. It is a good thing to possess the defective and
qualified freedom, which we term “liberty”; but it is a grave error to
set it up as an idol to be worshipped.

“What my brother do next?” demanded Bear’s Meat, who, being a
somewhat vulgar-minded savage, was all for striking and wonder-working
exhibitions of necromancy. “P’raps he find some honey now?”

“If you wish it, chief. What says Peter?--shall I ask my bees to tell
where there is a hive?”

As Peter very readily assented, le Bourdon next set about achieving this
new feat in his art. The reader will recollect that the positions of two
hives were already known to the bee-hunter, by means of that very simple
and every-day process by which he earned his bread. One of these hives
was in the point of wood already mentioned, that lay along the margin of
the prairie; while the other was in this very copse, where the savages
had secreted themselves. Boden had now no thought of giving any further
disturbance to this last-named colony of insects; for an insight into
their existence might disturb the influence obtained by the jugglery of
the late discovery, and he at once turned his attention toward the other
hive indicated by his bees.

Nor did le Bourdon now deem it necessary to resort to his usual means of
carrying on his trade. These were not necessary to one who knew already
where the hive was to be found, while it opened the way to certain
mummeries that might be made to tell well in support of his assumed
character. Catching a bee, then, and keeping it confined within his
tumbler, Ben held the last to his ear, as if listening to what the
fluttering insect had to say. Having seemingly satisfied himself on this
point, he desired the chiefs once more to follow him, having first let
the bee go, with a good deal of ceremony. This set all in motion again;
the party being now increased by the whole band of savages who had been
“put up” from their cover.

By this time, Margery began to tremble for the consequences. She had
held several short conferences with le Bourdon, as they walked together,
and had penetrated far enough into his purposes to see that he was
playing a ticklish game. It might succeed for a time, but she feared
it must fail in the end; and there was always the risk of incurring the
summary vengeance of savages. Perhaps she did not fully appreciate
the power of superstition, and the sluggishness of the mind that once
submits to its influence; while her woman’s heart made her keenly
alive to all those frightful consequences that must attend an exposure.
Nevertheless, nothing could now be done to avert the consequences. It
was too late to recede, and things must take their course, even at all
the hazards of the case. That she might not be wholly useless, when her
lover was risking so much for herself--Margery well understanding
that her escape was the only serious difficulty the bee-hunter
apprehended--the girl turned all her attention to Peter, in whose favor
she felt that she had been daily growing, and on whose pleasure so much
must depend. Changing her position a little, she now came closer to the
chief than she had hitherto done.

“Squaw like medicine-man?” asked Peter, with a significance of
expression that raised a blush in Margery’s cheek.

“You mean to ask me if I like to SEE medicine-men perform,” answered
Margery, with the readiness of her sex. “White women are always curious,
they say--how is it with the women of the red men?”

“Juss so--full of cur’osity. Squaw is squaw--no matter what color.”

“I am sorry, Peter, you do not think better of squaws. Perhaps you never
had a squaw--no wife, or daughter?”

A gleam of powerful feeling shot athwart the dark countenance of the
Indian, resembling the glare of the electric fluid flashing on a cloud
at midnight; but it passed away as quickly as it appeared, leaving
in its stead the hard, condensed expression, which the intensity of
a purpose so long entertained and cultivated, had imprinted there, as
indelibly as if cut in stone.

“All chief have squaw--all chief have pappoose--” was the answer that
came at last. “What he good for, eh?”

“It is always good to have children, Peter; especially when the children
themselves are good.”

“Good for pale-face, maybe--no good for Injin. Pale-face glad when
pappoose born--red-skin sorry.”

“I hope this is not so. Why should an Injin be sorry to see the laugh of
his little son?”

“Laugh when he little--p’raps so; he little, and don’t know what happen.
But Injin don’t laugh any more when he grow up. Game gone; land gone;
corn-field gone. No more room for Injin--pale-face want all. Pale-face
young man laugh--red-skin young man cry. Dat how it is.”

“Oh! I hope not, Peter! I should be sorry to think it was so. The red
man has as good a right--nay, he has a BETTER right to this country than
we whites; and God forbid that he should not always have his full share
of the land!”

Margery probably owed her life to that honest, natural burst of feeling,
which was uttered with a warmth and sincerity that could leave no doubt
that the sentiment expressed came from the heart. Thus singularly are we
constructed! A minute before, and no exemption was made in the mind of
Peter, in behalf of this girl, in the plan he had formed for cutting off
the whites; on the contrary, he had often be-thought him of the number
of young pale-faces that might be, as it were, strangled in their
cradles, by including the bee-hunter and his intended squaw in the
contemplated sacrifice. All this was changed, as in the twinkling of an
eye, by Margery’s honest and fervent expression of her sense of right,
on the great subject that occupied all of Peter’s thoughts. These sudden
impulses in the direction of love for our species, the second of the
high lessons left by the Redeemer to his disciples, are so many proofs
of the creation of man in the image of his maker. They exert their power
often when least expected, and are ever stamped by the same indelible
impression of their divine origin. Without these occasional glimpses at
those qualities which are so apt to lie dormant, we might indeed despair
of the destinies of our race. We are, however, in safe and merciful
hands; and all the wonderful events that are at this moment developing
themselves around us, are no other than the steps taken by Providence
in the progress it is steadily making toward the great and glorious end!
Some of the agencies will be corrupt; others deluded; and no one of them
all, perhaps, will pursue with unerring wisdom the precise path that
ought to be taken; but even the crimes, errors, and delusions, will
be made instrumental in achieving that which was designed before the
foundations of this world were laid!

“Does my daughter wish this?” returned Peter, when Margery had thus
frankly and sincerely given vent to her feelings. “Can a pale-face squaw
wish to leave an Injin any of his hunting-grounds?”

“Thousands of us wish it, Peter, and I for one. Often and often have we
talked of this around our family fire, and even Gershom, when his head
has not been affected by fire-water, has thought as we all have thought.
I know that Bourdon thinks so, too; and I have heard him say that he
thought Congress ought to pass a law to prevent white men from getting
any more of the Injin’s lands.”

The face of Peter would have been a remarkable study, during the few
moments that his fierce will was in the process of being brought
in subjugation to the influence of his better feelings. At first he
appeared bewildered; then compunction had its shade; and human sympathy
came last, asserting its long dormant, but inextinguishable power.
Margery saw some of this, though it far exceeded her penetration to read
all the workings of that stern and savage mind; yet she felt encouraged
by what she did see and understand.

While an almighty and divine Providence was thus carrying out its
own gracious designs in its own way, the bee-hunter continued bent on
reaching a similar end by means of his own. Little did he imagine how
much had been done for him within the last few moments, and how
greatly all he had in view was jeoparded and put at risk by his own
contrivances--contrivances which seemed to him so clever, but which were
wanting in the unerring simplicity and truth that render those that come
from above infallible. Still, the expedients of le Bourdon may have had
their agency in bringing about events, and may have been intended to be
a part of that moral machinery, which was now at work in the breast of
Peter, for good.

It will be remembered that the bee-hunter habitually carried a small
spy-glass, as a part of the implements of his calling. It enabled him
to watch the bees, as they went in and came out of the hives, on the
highest trees, and often saved him hours of fruitless search. This glass
was now in his hand; for an object on a dead tree, that rose a little
apart from those around it, and which stood quite near the extreme point
in the forest, toward which they were all proceeding, had caught his
attention. The distance was still too great to ascertain by the naked
eye what that object was; but a single look with the glass showed
that it was a bear. This was an old enemy of the bee-hunter, who often
encountered the animal, endeavoring to get at the honey, and he had on
divers occasions been obliged to deal with these plunderers, before he
could succeed in his own plans of pilfering. The bear now seen continued
in sight but an instant; the height to which he had clambered being so
great, most probably, as to weary him with the effort, and to compel him
to fall back again. All this was favorable to le Bourdon’s wishes, who
immediately called a halt. The first thing that Bourdon did, when all
the dark eyes were gleaming on him in fierce curiosity, was to catch a
bee and hold it to his ear, as it buzzed about in the tumbler.

“You t’ink dat bee talk?” Peter asked of Margery, in a tone of
confidence, as if a newly-awakened principle now existed between them.

“Bourdon must think so, Peter,” the girl evasively answered, “or he
would hardly listen to hear what it says.”

“It’s strange, bee should talk! Almos’ as strange as pale-face wish to
leave Injin any land! Sartain, bee talk, eh?”

“I never heard one talk, Peter, unless it might be in its buzzing. That
may be the tongue of a bee, for anything I know to the contrary.”

By this time le Bourdon seemed to be satisfied, and let the bee go; the
savages murmuring their wonder and admiration.

“Do my brothers wish to hunt?” asked the bee-hunter in a voice so loud
that all near might hear what he had to say.

This question produced a movement at once. Skill in hunting, next to
success on the war-path, constitutes the great merit of an Indian; and
it is ever his delight to show that he possesses it. No sooner did le
Bourdon throw out his feeler, therefore, than a general exclamation
proclaimed the readiness of all the young men, in particular, to join in
the chase.

“Let my brothers come closer,” said Ben, in an authoritative manner;
“I have something to put into their ears. They see that point of wood,
where the dead basswood has fallen on the prairie. Near that basswood
is honey, and near that honey are bears. This my bees have told me. Now,
let my brothers divide, and some go into the woods, and some stay on the
prairie; then they will have plenty of sweet food.”

As all this was very simple, and easily to be comprehended, not a moment
was lost in the execution. With surprising order and aptitude, the
chiefs led off their parties; one line of dark warriors penetrating the
forest on the eastern side of the basswood, and another on its western;
while a goodly number scattered themselves on the prairie itself, in its
front. In less than a quarter of an hour, signals came from the forest
that the battue was ready, and Peter gave the answering sign to proceed.

Down to this moment, doubts existed among the savages concerning the
accuracy of le Bourdon’s statement. How was it possible that his bees
should tell him where he could find bears? To be sure, bears were the
great enemies of bees--this every Indian knew--but could the bees have a
faculty of thus arming one enemy against another? These doubts, however,
were soon allayed by the sudden appearance of a drove of bears, eight
or ten in number, that came waddling out of the woods, driven before the
circle of shouting hunters that had been formed within.

Now commenced a scene of wild tumult and of fierce delight. The
warriors on the prairie retired before their enemies until all of their
associates were clear of the forest, when the circle swiftly closed
again, until it had brought the bears to something like close quarters.
Bear’s Meat, as became his appellation, led off the dance, letting fly
an arrow at the nearest animal. Astounded by the great number of their
enemies, and not a little appalled by their yells, the poor quadrupeds
did not know which way to turn. Occasionally, attempts were made to
break through the circle, but the flight of arrows, aimed directly at
their faces, invariably drove the creatures back. Fire-arms were not
resorted to at all in this hunt, spears and arrows being the weapons
depended on. Several ludicrous incidents occurred, but none that were
tragical. One or two of the more reckless of the hunters, ambitious of
shining before the representatives of so many tribes, ran rather greater
risks than were required, but they escaped with a few smart scratches.
In one instance, however, a young Indian had a still narrower SQUEEZE
for his life. Literally a SQUEEZE it was, for, suffering himself to get
within the grasp of a bear, he came near being pressed to death, ere his
companions could dispatch the creature. As for the prisoner, the only
means he had to prevent his being bitten, was to thrust the head of his
spear into the bear’s mouth, where he succeeded in holding it, spite of
the animal’s efforts to squeeze him into submission. By the time this
combat was terminated, the field was strewn with the slain; every one of
the bears having been killed by hunters so much practised in the art of
destroying game.



CHAPTER XXI.

     She was an only child--her name Ginevra,
     The joy, the pride of an indulgent father;
     And in her fifteenth year became a bride,
     Marrying an only son, Francesco Dona,
     Her playmate from her birth, and her first love.
                                                     --ROGERS.


 During the hunt there was little leisure for reflection on the
seemingly extraordinary manner in which the bee-hunter had pointed out
the spot where the bears were to be found. No one of the Indians had
seen him apply the glass to his eye, for, leading the party, he had been
able to do this unobserved; but, had they witnessed such a procedure,
it would have been as inexplicable as all the rest. It is true,
Crowsfeather and one or two of his companions had taken a look
through that medicine-glass, but it rather contributed to increase
the conjuror’s renown, than served to explain any of the marvels he
performed.

Peter was most struck with all that had just occurred. He had often
heard of the skill of those who hunted bees, and had several times met
with individuals who practised the art, but this was the first occasion
on which he had ever been a witness, in his own person, of the exercise
of a craft so wonderful! Had the process been simply that of catching a
bee, filling it with honey, letting it go, and then following it to its
hive, it would have been so simple as to require no explanation. But
Peter was too intelligent, as well as too observant, not to have seen
that a great deal more than this was necessary. On the supposition that
the bee flew TOWARD the forest, as had been the fact with two of the
bees taken that morning, in what part of that forest was the hunter to
look for the bee-tree? It was the angle that perplexed Peter, as it did
all the Indians; for that angle, to be understood, required a degree
of knowledge and calculation that entirely exceeded all he had ever
acquired. Thus is it with us ever. The powers, and faculties, and
principles that are necessary fully to comprehend all that we see
and all that surrounds us, exist and have been bestowed on man by his
beneficent Creator. Still, it is only by slow degrees that he is to
become their master, acquiring knowledge, step by step, as he has need
of its services, and learns how to use it. Such seems to be the design
of Providence, which is gradually opening to our inquiries the arcana of
nature, in order that we may convert their possession into such uses as
will advance its own wise intentions. Happy are they who feel this truth
in their character of individuals! Thrice happy the nations which can
be made to understand, that the surest progress is that which is made
on the clearest principles, and with the greatest caution! The notion of
setting up anything new in morals, is as fallacious in theory as it will
be found to be dangerous in practice.

It has been said that a sudden change had come over the fierce purposes
of Peter. For some time, the nature, artlessness, truth, feminine
playfulness and kindness, not to say personal beauty of Margery, had
been gradually softening the heart of this stern savage, as it respected
the girl herself. Nothing of a weak nature was blended with this
feeling, which was purely the growth of that divine principle that is
implanted in us all. The quiet, earnest manner in which the girl
had, that day, protested her desire to see the rights of the red man
respected, completed her conquest; and, so far as the great chief was
concerned, secured her safety. It may seem singular, however, that
Peter, with all his influence, was unable to say that even one that he
was so much disposed to favor, should be spared. By means of his own
eloquence, and perseverance, and deep desire for vengeance, however, he
had aroused a spirit among his followers that was not so easily quelled.
On several occasions, he had found it difficult to prevent the younger
and more impetuous of the chiefs from proceeding at once to secure the
scalps of those who were in their power; and this he had done, only
by promising to increase the number of the victims. How was he then
to lessen that number? and that, too, when circumstances did not seem
likely to throw any more immediately into his power, as he had once
hoped. This council must soon be over, and it would not be in his power
to send the chiefs away without enumerating the scalps of the pale-faces
present among those which were to make up the sum of their race.

Taking the perplexity produced by the bee-hunter’s necromancy, and
adding it to his concern for Margery, Peter found ample subject for
all his reflections. While the young men were dressing their bears, and
making the preparations for a feast, he walked apart, like a man whose
thoughts had little in common with the surrounding scene. Even the
further proceedings of le Bourdon, who had discovered his bee-tree, had
felled it, and was then distributing the honey among the Indians, could
not draw him from his meditations. The great council of all was to be
held that very day--there, on Prairie Round--and it was imperative on
Peter to settle the policy he intended to pursue, previously to the
hour when the fire was to be lighted, and the chiefs met in final
consultation.

In the mean time, le Bourdon, by his distribution of the honey, no less
than by the manner in which he had found it, was winning golden opinions
of those who shared in his bounty. One would think that the idea of
property is implanted in us by nature, since men in all conditions
appear to entertain strong and distinct notions of this right. Natural
it may not be, in the true signification of the term; but it is a
right so interwoven with those that are derived from nature, and
more particularly with our wants, as almost to identify it with the
individual being. It is certain that all we have of civilization is
dependent on a just protection of this right; for, without the assurance
of enjoying his earnings, who would produce beyond the supply necessary
for his own immediate wants? Among the American savages the rights of
property are distinctly recognized, so far as their habits and resources
extend. The hunting-ground belongs to the tribe, and occasionally the
field; but the wigwam, and the arms, and the skins, both for use and
for market, and often the horses, and all other movables, belong to the
individual. So sacred is this right held to be, that not one of those
who stood by, and saw le Bourdon fell his tree, and who witnessed the
operation of bringing to light its stores of honey, appeared to dream of
meddling with the delicious store, until invited so to do by its lawful
owner. It was this reserve, and this respect for a recognized principle,
that enabled the bee-hunter to purchase a great deal of popularity,
by giving away liberally an article so much prized. None, indeed, was
reserved; Boden seeing the impossibility of carrying it away. Happy
would he have been, most happy, could he have felt the assurance of
being able to get Margery off, without giving a second thought to any of
his effects, whether present or absent.

As has been intimated, the bee-hunter was fast rising in the favor of
the warriors; particularly of those who had a weakness on the score of
the stomach. This is the first great avenue to the favor of man--the
belly ruling all the other members, the brains included. All this Peter
noted, and was now glad to perceive; for, in addition to the favor that
Margery had found in his eyes, that wary chief had certain very serious
misgivings on the subject of the prudence of attempting to deal harshly
with a medicine man of Boden’s calibre. Touching the whiskey-spring he
had been doubtful, from the first; even Crowsfeather’s account of
the wonderful glass through which that chief had looked, and seen
men reduced to children and then converted into giants, had failed to
conquer his scepticism; but he was not altogether proof against what he
had that day beheld with his own eyes. These marvels shook his previous
opinion touching the other matters; and, altogether, the effect was to
elevate the bee-hunter to a height, that it really appeared dangerous to
assail.

While Peter was thus shaken with doubts--and that, too, on a point on
which he had hitherto stood as firm as a rock--there was another in the
crowd, who noted the growing favor of le Bourdon with deep disgust.
This man could hardly be termed a chief, though he possessed a malignant
power that was often wielded to the discomfiture of those who were. He
went by the significant appellation of “The Weasel,” a sobriquet that
had been bestowed on him for some supposed resemblance to the little
pilfering, prowling quadruped after which he was thus named. In person,
and in physical qualities generally, this individual was mean and
ill-favored; and squalid habits contributed to render him even less
attractive than he might otherwise have been. He was, moreover,
particularly addicted to intemperance; lying, wallowing like a hog,
for days at a time, whenever his tribe received any of the ample
contribution of fire-water, which it was then more the custom than it is
to-day, to send among the aborigines. A warrior of no renown, a hunter
so indifferent as to compel his squaw and pappooses often to beg for
food in strange lodges, of mean presence, and a drunkard, it may seem
extraordinary that the Weasel should possess any influence amid so many
chiefs renowned for courage, wisdom, deeds in arms, on the hunt, and for
services around the council-fire. It was all due to his tongue. Ungque,
or the Weasel, was eloquent in a high degree--possessing that variety of
his art which most addresses itself to the passions; and, strange as
it may seem, men are oftener and more easily led by those who do little
else than promise, than by those who actually perform. A lying and
fluent tongue becomes a power of itself, with the masses; subverting
reason, looking down justice, brow-beating truth, and otherwise placing
the wrong before the right. This quality the Weasel possessed in a
high degree, and was ever willing to use, on occasions that seemed most
likely to defeat the wishes of those he hated. Among the last was Peter,
whose known ascendancy in his own particular tribe had been a source
of great envy and uneasiness to this Indian. He had struggled hard to
resist it, and had even dared to speak in favor of the pale-faces,
and in opposition to the plan of cutting them all off, purely with a
disposition to oppose this mysterious stranger. It had been in vain,
however; the current running the other way, and the fiery eloquence of
Peter proving too strong even for him. Now, to his surprise, from a few
words dropped casually, this man ascertained that their greatest leader
was disposed so far to relent, as not to destroy ALL the pale-faces in
his power. Whom, and how many he meant to spare, Ungque could not tell;
but his quick, practised discernment detected the general disposition,
and his ruthless tendency to oppose, caused him to cast about for the
means of resisting this sudden inclination to show mercy. With the
Weasel, the moving principle was ever that of the demagogue; it was to
flatter the mass that he might lead it; and he had an innate hostility
to whatever was frank, manly, and noble.

The time had now come when the Indians wished to be alone. At this
council it was their intention to come to an important decision;
and even the “young men,” unless chiefs, were to be merely distant
spectators. Peter sent for le Bourdon, accordingly, and communicated his
wish that all the whites would return to the castle, whither he promised
to join them about the setting of the sun, or early the succeeding day.

“One of you, you know--dat my wigwam,” said the grim chief, smiling on
Margery with a friendly eye, and shaking hands with the bee-hunter, who
thought his manner less constrained than on former similar occasions.
“Get good supper for ole Injin, young squaw; dat juss what squaw good
for.”

Margery laughingly promised to remember his injunction, and went her
way, closely attended by her lover. The corporal followed, armed to the
teeth, and keeping at just such a distance from the young people,
as might enable them to converse without being overheard. As for the
missionary, he was detained a moment by Peter, the others moving slowly,
in order to permit him to come up, ere they had gone their first mile.
Of course, the mysterious chief had not detained Parson Amen without a
motive.

“My brother has told me many curious things,” said Peter, when
alone with the missionary, and speaking now in the language of the
Ojebways--“many very curious things. I like to listen to them. Once he
told me how the pale-face young men take their squaws.”

“I remember to have told you this. We ask the Great Spirit to bless our
marriages, and the ceremony is commonly performed by a priest. This is
our practice, Peter; though not necessary, I think it good.”

“Yes; good alway for pale-face to do pale-face fashion, and for Injin
to do Injin fashion. Don’t want medicine-man to get red-skin squaw. Open
wigwam door, and she come in. Dat ‘nough. If she don’t wish to come
in, can’t make her. Squaw go to warrior she likes; warrior ask squaw
he likes. But it is best for pale-face to take his wife in pale-face
fashion. Does not my brother see a young man of his people, and a young
maiden, that he had better bring together and bless?”

“You must mean Bourdon and Margery,” answered the missionary, in
English, after a moment’s reflection. “The idea is a new one to me;
for my mind has been much occuoccupied of late, with other and more
important matters; though I now plainly see what you mean!”

“That flower of the Openings would soon fade, if the young bee-hunter
should leave it alone on the prairies. This is the will of the Great
Spirit. He puts it into the minds of the young squaws to see all things
well that the hunters of their fancy do. Why he has made the young with
this kindness for each other, perhaps my brother knows. He is wise, and
has books. The poor Injins have none. They can see only with the eyes
they got from Injins, like themselves. But one thing they know. What the
Great Spirit has commanded, is good. Injins can’t make it any better.
They can do it harm, but they can do it no good. Let my brother bless
the couple that the Manitou has brought together.”

“I believe I understand you. Peter, and will think of this. And now that
I must leave you for a little while, let me beg you to think of this
matter of the origin of your tribes, candidly, and with care. Everything
depends on your people’s not mistaking the truth, in this great matter.
It is as necessary for a nation to know its duties, as for a single man.
Promise me to think of this, Peter.”

“My brother’s words have come into my ears--they are good,” returned
the Indian, courteously. “We will think of them at the council, if my
brother will bless his young man and young maiden, according to the law
of his people.”

“I will promise to do this, Peter; or to urge Bourdon and Margery to do
it, if you will promise to speak to-day, in council, of the history of
your forefathers, and to take into consideration, once more, the great
question of your being Hebrews.”

“I will speak as my brother wishes--let him do as I wish. Let him tell
me that I can say to the chiefs before the sun has fallen the length
of my arm, that the young pale-face bee-hunter has taken the young
pale-face squaw into his wigwam.”

“I do not understand your motive, Peter; but that which you ask is wise,
and according to God’s laws, and it shall be done. Fare you well, then,
for a season. When we again meet, Bourdon and Margery shall be one, if
my persuasions can prevail, and you will have pressed this matter of the
lost tribes, again, home to your people. Fare you well, Peter; fare you
well.”

They separated; the Indian with a cold smile of courtesy, but with his
ruthless intentions as respected the missionary in no degree changed.
Boden and Margery alone were exempt from vengeance, according to his
present designs. An unaccountable gentleness of feeling governed him, as
connected with the girl; while superstition, and the dread of an unknown
power, had its full influence on his determination to spare her lover.
There might be some faint ray of human feeling glimmering among the
fierce fires that so steadily burned in the breast of this savage; but
they were so much eclipsed by the brighter light that gleamed around
them, as to be barely perceptible, even to himself. The result of all
these passions was, a determination in Peter to spare those whom he had
advised the missionary to unite--making that union a mysterious argument
in favor of Margery--and to sacrifice all the rest. The red American
is so much accustomed to this species of ruthless proceeding, that the
anguish he might occasion the very beings to whom he now wished to be
merciful, gave the stern chief very little concern. Leaving the Indians
in the exclusive possession of Prairie Round, we will return to the rest
of the party.

The missionary hastened after his friends as fast as he could go. Boden
and Margery had much to say to each other in that walk, which had a
great deal about it to bring their thoughts within the circle of their
own existence. As has been said, the fire had run through that region
late, and the grasses were still young, offering but little impediment
to their movements. As the day was now near its heat, le Bourdon led his
spirited, but gentle companion, through the groves, where they had the
benefit of a most delicious shade, a relief that was now getting to be
very grateful. Twice had they stopped to drink at cool, clear springs,
in which the water seemed to vie with the air in transparency. As this
is not the general character of the water of that region, though marked
exceptions exist, Margery insisted that the water was eastern and not
western water.

“Why do we always think the things we had in childhood better than
those we enjoy afterward?” asked Margery, after making one of these
comparisons, somewhat to the disadvantage of the part of the country in
which she then was. “I can scarce ever think of home--what I call home,
and which was so long a home to me--without shedding tears. Nothing here
seems as good of its kind as what I have left behind me. Do you have the
same longings for Pennsylvania that I feel for the sea-coast and for the
rocks about Quincy?”

“Sometimes. When I have been quite alone for two or three months, I have
fancied that an apple, or a potato, or even a glass of cider that came
from the spot where I was born, would be sweeter than all the honey bees
ever gathered in Michigan.”

“To me it has always seemed strange, Bourdon, that one of your kind
feelings should ever wish to live alone, at all; yet I have heard you
say that a love of solitude first drew you to your trade.”

“It is these strong cases which get a man under, as it might be, and
almost alter his nature. One man will pass his days in hunting deer;
another in catching fish; my taste has been for the bees, and for such
chances with other creatures as may offer. What between hunting, and
hiving, and getting the honey to market, I have very little time to long
for company. But my taste is altering, Margery; HAS altered.”

The girl blushed, but she also smiled, and, moreover, she looked
pleased.

“I am afraid that you are not as much altered as you think,” she
answered, laughingly, however. “It may seem so now; but when you come to
LIVE in the settlements again, you will get tired of crowds.”

“Then I will come with you, Margery, into these Openings, and we can
live TOGETHER here, surely, as well, or far better than I can live here
ALONE. You and Gershom’s wife have spoiled my housekeeping. I really did
not know, until you came up here, how much a woman can do in a chiente.

“Why, Bourdon, you have lived long enough in the settlements to know
THAT!”

“That is true; but I look upon the settlements as one thing, and on the
Openings as another. What will do there isn’t needed here; and what
will do here won’t answer there. But these last few days have so changed
Castle Meal, that I hardly know it myself.”

“Perhaps the change is for the worse, and you wish it undone, Bourdon,”
 observed the girl, in the longing she had to hear an assurance to the
contrary, at the very moment she felt certain that assurance would be
given.

“No, no, Margery. Woman has taken possession of my cabin, and woman
shall now always command there, unless you alter your mind, and refuse
to have me. I shall speak to the missionary to marry us, as soon as I
can get him alone. His mind is running so much on the Jews, that he has
hardly a moment left for us Christians.”

The color on Margery’s cheek was not lessened by this declaration;
though, to admit the truth, she looked none the less pleased. She was a
warm-hearted and generous girl, and sometimes hesitated about separating
herself and her fortunes from those of Gershom and Dorothy; but the
bee-hunter had persuaded her this would be unnecessary, though she did
accept him for a husband. The point had been settled between them on
previous occasions, and much conversation had already passed, in that
very walk, which was confined to that interesting subject. But Margery
was not now disposed to say more, and she adroitly improved the hint
thrown out by Boden, to change the discourse.

“It is the strangest notion I ever heard of,” she cried, laughing, “to
believe Injins to be Jews!”

“He tells me he is by no means the first who has fancied it. Many
writers have said as much before him, and all he claims is, to have been
among them, and to have seen these Hebrews with his own eyes. But here
he comes, and can answer for himself.”

Just as this was said, Parson Amen joined the party, Corporal Flint
closing to the front, as delicacy no longer required him to act as a
rear-guard. The good missionary came up a little heated; and, in order
that he might have time to cool himself, the rate of movement was
slightly reduced. In the mean time the conversation did not the less
proceed.

“We were talking of the lost tribes,” said Margery, half smiling as she
spoke, “and of your idea, Mr. Amen, that these Injins are Jews. It seems
strange to me that they should have lost so much of their ancient ways,
and notions, and appearances, if they are really the people you think.”

“Lost! It is rather wonderful that, after the lapse of two thousand
years and more, so much should remain. Whichever way I look, signs of
these people’s origin beset me. You have read your Bible, Margery--which
I am sorry to say all on this frontier have not--but you have read your
Bible, and one can make an allusion to you with some satisfaction. Now,
let me ask you if you remember such a thing as the scape-goat of the
ancient Jews. It is to be found in Leviticus, and is one of those
mysterious customs with which that extraordinary book is full.”

“Leviticus is a book I never read but once, for we do not read it in our
New England schools. But I do remember that the Jews were commanded to
let one of two goats go, from which practice it has, I believe, been
called a scape-goat.”

“Well,” said le Bourdon, simply, “what a thing is ‘l’arnin’!’ Now, this
is all news to me, though I have heard of ‘scape-goats,’ and TALKED of
‘scape-goats’ a thousand times! There’s a meanin’ to everything, I find;
and I do not look upon this idea of the lost tribes as half as strange
as I did before I l’arnt this!”

Margery had not fallen in love with the bee-hunter for his biblical
knowledge, else might her greater information have received a rude shock
by this mark of simplicity; but instead of dwelling on this proof of le
Bourdon’s want of “schooling,” her active mind was more disposed to push
the allusion to scape-goats to some useful conclusion.

“And what of the goat, Mr. Amen?” she asked; “and how can it belong to
anything here?”

“Why were all those goats turned into the woods and deserts, in the
olden time, Margery? Doubtless to provide food for the ten tribes, when
these should be driven forth by conquerors and hard task-masters. Time,
and climate, and a difference of food, has altered them, as they have
changed the Jews themselves, though they still retain the cleft hoof,
the horns, the habits, and the general characteristics of the goats of
Arabia. Yes; naturalists will find in the end, that the varieties of the
deer of this continent, particularly the antelope, are nothing but
the scape-goats of the ancient world, altered and perhaps improved by
circumstances.”

As this was much the highest flight the good missionary had ever yet
taken, not trifling was the astonishment of his young friends thereat.
Touching the Jews, le Bourdon did not pretend to, or in fact did not
possess much knowledge; but when the question was reduced down to one
of venison, or bears’ meat, or bisons’ humps, with the exception of the
professed hunters and trappers, few knew more about them all than he did
himself. That the deer, or even the antelopes of America ever had been
goats, he did not believe; nor was he at all backward in letting his
dissent to such a theory be known.

“I’m sorry, Parson Amen, you’ve brought in the deer,” he cried. “Had
you stuck to the Jews, I might have believed all that you fancy, in
this business; but the deer have spoiled all. As for scape-goats, since
Margery seems to agree with you, I suppose you are right about THEM
though my notion of such creatures has been to keep clear of them,
instead of following them up, as you seem to think these Hebrews have
done. But if you are no nearer right in your doctrine about the Injins
than you are about their game, you’ll have to change your religion.”

“Do not think that my religion depends on any thread so slight, Bourdon.
A man may be mistaken in interpreting prophecy, and still be a devout
Christian. There are more reasons than you may at first suppose, for
believing in this theory of the gradual change of the goat into the
deer, and especially into the antelope. We do not any of us believe that
Noah had with him, in the ark, all the animals that are now to be found,
but merely the parent-stems, in each particular case, which would be
reducing the number many fold. If all men came from Adam, Bourdon, why
could not all deer come from goats?”

“Why this matter about men has a good deal puzzled me, Parson, and I
hardly know what answer to give. Still, men are men, wherever you find
them. They may be lighter or darker, taller or shorter, with hair or
wool, and yet you can see they are MEN. Perhaps food, and climate, and
manner of living, may have made all the changes we see in them; but
Lord, Parson, a goat has a beard!”

“What has become of the thousands of scape-goats that the ancient
Hebrews must have turned loose in the wilderness? Answer me that,
Bourdon?”

“You might as well ask me, sir, what has become of the thousands of
Hebrews who turned them loose. I suppose all must be dead a thousand
years ago. Scape-goats are creatures that even Injins would not like.”

“All this is a great mystery, Bourdon--a much greater mystery than our
friend Peter, whom you have so often said was a man so unaccountable. By
the way, he has given me a charge to perform an office between you and
Margery, that I had almost forgotten. From what he said to me, I rather
think it may have some connection with our safety. We have enemies among
these savages, I feel very certain; though I believe we have also warm
friends.”

“But what have you in charge that has anything to do with Bourdon
and me?” asked the wondering Margery, who was quick to observe the
connection, though utterly at a loss to comprehend it.

The missionary now called a halt, and finding convenient seats, he
gradually opened the subject with which he had been charged by Peter to
his companions. The reader is probably prepared to learn that there was
no longer any reserve between le Bourdon and Margery on the subject of
their future marriage. The young man had already pressed an immediate
union, as the wisest and safest course to be pursued. Although the
savage American is little addicted to abusing his power over female
captives, and seldom takes into his lodge an unwilling squaw, the
bee-hunter had experienced a good deal of uneasiness on the score of
what might befall his betrothed. Margery was sufficiently beautiful
to attract attention, even in a town; and more than one fierce-looking
warrior had betrayed his admiration that very day, though it was in a
very Indian-like fashion. Rhapsody, and gallant speeches, and sonnets,
form no part of Indian courtship; but the language of admiration is
so very universal, through the eyes, that it is sufficiently easy of
comprehension. It was possible that some chief, whose band was too
formidable to be opposed, might take it into his head to wish to see a
pale-face squaw in his wigwam; and, while it was not usual to do much
violence to a female’s inclinations on such occasions, it was not common
to offer much opposition to those of a powerful warrior. The married
tie, if it could be said to exist at all, however, was much respected;
and it was far less likely that Margery, a wife, would thus be
appropriated, than Margery, unmarried. It is true, cases of unscrupulous
exercise of power are to be found among Indians, as well as among
civilized men, but they are rare, and usually are much condemned.

The bee-hunter, consequently, was well disposed to second Peter’s
project. As for Margery herself, she had half yielded all her objections
to her lover’s unaided arguments, and was partly conquered before this
reinforcement was brought into the field against her. Peter’s motive was
much canvassed, no one of them all being able to penetrate it. Boden,
however, had his private opinion on the subject, nor was it so very much
out of the way. He fancied that the mysterious chief was well disposed
to Margery, and wished to put her as far as possible beyond the chances
of an Indian wigwam; marriage being the step of all others most likely
to afford her this protection. Now this was not exactly true, but it was
right enough in the main. Peter’s aim was to save the life of the girl;
her gentle attractions, and kind attentions to himself having wrought
this much in her favor; and he believed no means of doing so as
certain as forming a close connection for her with the great
medicine-bee-hunter. Judging of them by himself, he did not think the
Indians would dare to include so great a conjurer in their schemes
of vengeance, and was willing himself that le Bourdon should escape,
provided Margery could go free and unharmed with him. As for the
bee-hunter’s powers, he had many misgivings; they might be dangerous to
the red men, and they might not. On this subject, he was in the painful
doubts of ignorance, and had the wide area of conjecture open before his
mind. He saw; but it was “as in a glass, darkly.”

Margery was disposed to delay the ceremony, at least until her brother
and sister might be present. But to this le Bourdon himself was not
much inclined. It had struck him that Gershom was opposed to an early
marriage, most probably because he fancied himself more secure of
the bee-hunter’s ingenious and important aid in getting back to the
settlements, so long as this strong inducement existed to cling to
himself, than if he should release his own hold of Margery, by giving
her at once to her lover. Right or wrong, such was the impression taken
up by le Bourdon, and he was glad when the missionary urged his request
to be permitted to pronounce the nuptial benediction on the spot.

Little ceremony is generally used in an American marriage. In a vast
many cases no clergyman is employed at all; and where there is, most
of the sects have no ring, no giving away, nor any of those observances
which were practised in the churches of old. There existed no
impediment, therefore; and after a decent interval spent in persuasions,
Margery consented to plight her vows to the man of her heart before they
left the spot. She would fain have had Dorothy present, for woman loves
to lean on her own sex on such occasions, but submitted to the necessity
of proceeding at once, as the bee-hunter and the missionary chose to
term it.

A better altar could not have been selected in all that vast region. It
was one of nature’s own erecting; and le Bourdon and his pretty bride
placed themselves before it, with feelings suited to the solemnity of
the occasion. The good missionary stood within the shade of a burr oak
in the centre of those park-like Openings, every object looking fresh,
and smiling, and beautiful. The sward was gieen, and short as that of
a well-tended lawn; the flowers were, like the bride herself, soft,
modest, and sweet; while charming rural vistas stretched through the
trees, much as if art had been summoned in aid of the great mistress who
had designed the landscape. When the parties knelt in prayer--which all
present did, not excepting the worthy corporal--it was on the verdant
ground, with first the branches of the trees, and then the deep,
fathomless vault of heaven for a canopy. In this manner was the marriage
benediction pronounced on the bee-hunter and Margery Waring, in the
venerable Oak Openings. No gothic structure, with its fretted aisles and
clustered columns, could have been onehalf as appropriate for the union
of such a couple.



CHAPTER XXII.

     No shrift the gloomy savage brooks,
     As scowling on the priest he looks;
     Cowesass--cowesass--tawkich wessasseen!
     Let my father look on Bornazeen--
     My father’s heart is the heart of a squaw,
     But mine is so hard that it does not thaw,
                                    --WHITTIER.


Leaving the newly-married couple to pursue their way homeward, it is now
our province to return to Prairie Round. One accustomed to such
scenes would easily have detected the signs of divided opinions and of
agitating doubts among the chiefs, though nothing like contention or
dispute had yet manifested itself. Peter’s control was still in the
ascendant, and he had neglected none of his usual means of securing
influence. Perhaps he labored so much the harder, from the circumstance
that he now found himself so situated, as to be compelled to undo much
that he had previously done.

On the other hand, Ungque appeared to have no particular cause of
concern. His manner was as much unoccupied as usual; and to his habit of
referring all his influence to sudden and powerful bursts of eloquence,
if design of any sort was entertained, he left his success.

We pass over the details of assembling the council. The spot was not
exactly on the prairie, but in a bit of lovely “Opening” on its margin,
where the eye could roam over a wide extent of that peculiar natural
meadow, while the body enjoyed the shades of the wood. The chiefs alone
were in the circle, while the “braves” and the “young men” generally
formed a group on the outside; near enough to hear what passed, and to
profit by it, if so disposed. The pipe was smoked, and all the ordinary
customs observed, when Bear’s Meat arose, the first speaker on that
momentous occasion.

“Brothers,” he said, “this is the great council on Prairie Round to
which we have been called. We have met before, but not here. This is our
first meeting here. We have travelled a long path to get here. Some
of our brethren have travelled farther. They are at Detroit. They went
there to meet our great Canada father, and to take Yankee scalps. How
many scalps they have taken I do not know, or I would tell you. It is
pleasant to me to count Yankee scalps. I would rather count them, than
count the scalps of red men. There are still a great many left. The
Yankees are many, and each Yankee has a scalp. There should not be so
many. When the buffaloes came in the largest droves, our fathers used to
go out to hunt them in the strongest parties. Their sons should do the
same. We are the sons of those fathers. They say we look like them, talk
like them, live like them--we should ACT like them. Let another speak,
for I have done.”

After this brief address, which bore some resemblance to a chairman’s
calling a meeting of civilized men to order, there was more smoking.
It was fully expected that Peter would next arise, but he did not.
Perceiving this, and willing to allow time to that great chief to
arrange his thoughts, Crowsfeather assumed the office of filling the
gap. He was far more of a warrior than of an orator, and was listened
to respectfully, but less for what he said, than for what he had done.
A good deal of Indian boasting, quite naturally, was blended with HIS
discourse.

“My brother has told you of the Yankee scalps,” he commenced. “He says
they are many. He says there ought to be fewer. He did not remember who
sat so near him. Perhaps he does not know that there are three less now
than there were a moon since. Crowsfeather took three at Chicago. Many
scalps were taken there. The Yankees must be plentier than the buffaloes
on the great prairies, if they can lose so many scalps often, and send
forth their warriors. I am a Pottawattamie. My brothers know that tribe.
It is not a tribe of Jews, but a tribe of Injins. It is a great tribe.
It never was LOST. It CANNOT be lost. No tribe better knows all the
paths, and all the best routes to every point where it wishes to go.
It is foolish to say you can lose a Pottawattamie. A duck would be
as likely to lose itself as a Pottawattamie. I do not speak for the
Ottawas: I speak for the Pottawattamies. We are not Jews. We do not wish
to be Jews; and what we do not wish to be, we will not be. Our father
who has come so far to tell us that we are not Injins, but Jews, is
mistaken. I never heard of these Jews before. I do not wish to hear of
them again. When a man has heard enough, he does not keep his ears
open willingly. It is then best for the speaker to sit down. The
Pottawattamies have shut their ears to the great medicine-priest of the
pale-faces. What he says may be true of other tribes, but it is not true
of the Pottawatttamies. We are not lost; we are not Jews. I have done.”

This speech was received with general favor. The notion that the Indians
were not Indians, but Jews, was far from being agreeable to those
who had heard what had been said on the subject; and the opinions of
Crowsfeather possessed the great advantage of reflecting the common
sentiment on this interesting subject. When this is the case, a very
little eloquence or logic goes a great way; and, on the whole, the
address of the last speaker was somewhat better received than that of
the first.

It was now confidently believed that Peter would rise. But he did
not. That mysterious chief was not yet prepared to speak, or he was
judiciously exciting expectation by keeping back. There were at least
ten minutes of silent smoking, ere a chief, whose name rendered into
English was Bough of the Oak, arose, evidently with a desire to help
the time along. Taking his cue from the success of Crows-feather, he
followed up the advantage obtained by that chief, assailing the theory
of the missionary from another quarter.

“I am an Injin,” said Bough of the Oak; “my father was an Injin, and my
mother was the daughter of an Injin. All my fathers were red men,
and all their sons. Why should I wish to be anything else? I asked my
brother, the medicine-priest, and he owned that Jews are pale-faces.
This he should not have owned if he wished the Injins to be Jews. My
skin is red. The Manitou of my fathers so painted it, and their child
will not try to wash out the color. Were the color washed out of my
face, I should be a pale-face! There would not be paint enough to hide
my shame. No; I was born red, and will die a red man. It is not good to
have two faces. An Injin is not a snake, to cast his skin. The skin in
which he was born he keeps. He plays in it when a child; he goes in it
to his first hunt; the bears and the deer know him by it; he carries it
with him on the warpath, and his enemies tremble at the sight of it; his
squaw knows him by that skin when he comes back to his wigwam; and when
he dies, he is put aside in the same skin in--which he was born. There
is but one skin, and it has but one color. At first, it is little. The
pappoose that wears it is little. There is not need of a large skin.
But it grows with the pappoose, and the biggest warrior finds his skin
around him. This is because the Great Spirit fitted it to him. Whatever
the Manitou does is good.

“My brothers have squaws--they have pappooses. When the pappoose is put
into their arms, do they get the paint-stones, and paint it red? They do
not. It is not necessary. The Manitou painted it red before it was born.
How this was done I do not know. I am nothing but a poor Injin, and only
know what I see. I have seen that the pappooses are red when they are
born, and that the warriors are red when they die. They are also
red while living. It is enough. Their fathers could never have been
pale-faces, or we should find some white spots on their children. There
are none.

“Crowsfeather has spoken of the Jews as lost. I am not surprised to hear
it. It seems to me that all pale-faces get lost. They wander from
their own hunting-grounds into those of other people. It is not so with
Injins. The Pottawattamie does not kill the deer of the Iowa, nor the
Ottawa the deer of the Menomenees. Each tribe knows its own game. This
is because they are not lost. My pale-face father appears to wish us
well. He has come on a long and weary path to tell us about his Manitou.
For this I thank him. I thank all who wish to do me good. Them that wish
to do me harm I strike from behind. It is our Injin custom. I do not
wish to hurt the medicine-priest, because I think he wishes to do me
good, and not to do me harm. He has a strange law. It is to do good to
them that do harm to you. It is not the law of the red men. It is not
good law. I do not wonder that the tribes which follow such a law get
lost. They cannot tell their friends from their enemies. They can have
no people to scalp. What is a warrior if he cannot find someone to
scalp? No; such a law would make women of the bravest braves in the
Openings, or on the prairie. It may be a good law for Jews, who get
lost; but it is a bad law for Injins, who know the paths they travel.
Let another speak.”

This brief profession of faith, on the subject that had been so recently
broached in the council, seemed to give infinite satisfaction. All
present evidently preferred being red men, who knew where they were,
than to be pale-faces who had lost their road. Ignorance of his path is
a species of disgrace to an American savage, and not a man there would
have confessed that his particular division of the great human family
was in that dilemma. The idea that the Yankees were “lost,” and had got
materially astray, was very grateful to most who heard it; and Bough of
the Oak gained a considerable reputation as an orator, in consequence of
the lucky hits made on this occasion.

Another long, ruminating pause, and much passing of the pipe of peace
succeeded. It was near half an hour after the last speaker had resumed
his seat, ere Peter stood erect. In that long interval expectation had
time to increase, and curiosity to augment itself. Nothing but a very
great event could cause this pondering, this deliberation, and this
unwillingness to begin. When, however, the time did come for the
mysterious chief to speak, the man of many scalps to open his mouth,
profound was the attention that prevailed among all present. Even after
he had arisen, the orator stood silently looking around him, as if the
throes of his thoughts had to be a little suppressed before he could
trust his tongue to give them utterance.

“What is the earth?” commenced Peter, in a deep, guttural tone of voice,
which the death-like stillness rendered audible even to the outermost
boundaries of the circle of admiring and curious countenances. “It is
one plain adjoining another; river after river; lake after lake; prairie
touching prairie; and pleasant woods, that seem to have no limits, all
given to men to dwell in. It would seem that the Great Spirit parcelled
out this rich possession into hunting-grounds for all. He colored men
differently. His dearest children he painted red, which is his own
color. Them that he loved less he colored less, and they had red only in
spots. Them he loved least he dipped in a dark dye, and left them black.
These are the colors of men. If there are more, I have not seen them.
Some say there are. I shall think so, too, when I see them.

“Brothers, this talk about lost tribes is a foolish talk. We are not
lost. We know where we are, and we know where the Yankees have come to
seek us. My brother has well spoken. If any are lost, it is the Yankees.
The Yankees are Jews; they are lost. The time is near when they will be
found, and when they will again turn their eyes toward the rising sun.
They have looked so long toward the setting sun, that they cannot see
clearly. It is not good to look too long at the same object. The Yankees
have looked at our hunting-grounds, until their eyes are dim. They see
the hunting-grounds, but they do not see all the warriors that are in
them. In time, they will learn to count them.

“Brothers, when the Great Spirit made man, he put him to live on the
earth. Our traditions do not agree in saying of what he was made.
Some say it was of clay, and that when his spirit starts for the happy
hunting-grounds, his body becomes clay again. I do not say that this is
so, for I do not know. It is not good to say that which we do not
know to be true. I wish to speak only the truth. This we do know. If a
warrior die, and we put him in the earth, and come to look for him many
years afterward, nothing but bones are found. All else is gone. I have
heard old men say that, in time, even these bones are not to be found.
It is so with trees; it may be so with men. But it is not so with
hunting-grounds. They were made to last forever.

“Brothers, you know why we have come together on this prairie. It was
to count the pale-faces, and to think of the way of making their number
less. Now is a good time for such a thing. They have dug up the hatchet
against each other, and when we hear of scalps taken among them, it
is good for the red men. I do not think our Canada father is more our
friend than the great Yankee, Uncle Sam. It is true, he gives us more
powder, and blankets, and tomahawks, and rifles than the Yankee, but it
is to get us to fight his battles. We will fight his battles. They are
our battles, too. For this reason we will fight his enemies.

“Brothers, it is time to think of our children. A wise chief once told
me how many winters it is since a pale-face was first seen among red
men. It was not a great while ago. Injins are living who have seen
Injins, whose own fathers saw the first pale-faces. They were few.
They were like little children, then; but now they are grown to be men.
Medicine-men are plenty among them, and tell them how to raise children.
The Injins do not understand this. Small-pox, fire-water, bad hunting,
and frosts, keep us poor, and keep our children from growing as fast as
the children of the pale-faces. Brothers, all this has happened within
the lives of three aged chiefs. One told to another, and he told it to a
third. Three chiefs have kept that tradition. They have given it to
me. I have cut notches on this stick (holding up a piece of ash, neatly
trimmed, as a record) for the winters they told me, and every winter
since I have cut one more. See; there are not many notches. Some of our
people say that the pale-faces are already plentier than leaves on the
trees. I do not believe this. These notches tell us differently. It is
true the pale-faces grow fast, and have many children, and small-pox
does not kill many of them, and their wars are few; but look at this
stick. Could a canoe-full of men become as many as they say, in so few
winters? No; it is not so. The stories we have heard are not true. A
crooked tongue first told them. We are strong enough still to drive
these strangers into the great salt lake, and get back all our
hunting-grounds. This is what I wish to have done.

“Brothers, I have taken many scalps. This stick will tell the number.”
 Here one of those terrible gleams of ferocity to which we have before
alluded, passed athwart the dark countenance of the speaker, causing
all present to feel a deeper sympathy in the thoughts he would express.
“There are many. Every one has come from the head of a pale-face. It is
now twenty winters since I took the scalp of a red man. I shall never
take another. We want all of our own warriors, to drive back the
strangers.

“Brothers, some Injins tell us of different tribes. They talk about
distant tribes as strangers. I tell you we are all children of the same
father. All our skins are red. I see no difference between an Ojebway,
and a Sac, or a Sioux. I love even a Cherokee.” Here very decided signs
of dissatisfaction were manifested by several of the listeners; parties
of the tribes of the great lakes having actually marched as far as
the Gulf of Mexico to make war on the Indians of that region, who were
generally hated by them with the most intense hatred. “He has the blood
of our fathers in him. We are brothers, and should live together as
brothers. If we want scalps, the pale-faces have plenty. It is sweet to
take the scalp of a pale-face. I know it. My hand has done it often,
and will do it again. If every Injin had taken as many scalps as I have
taken, few of these strangers would now remain.

“Brothers, one thing more I have to say. I wish to hear others, and will
not tell all I know this time. One thing more I have to say, and I
now say it. I have told you that we must take the scalps of all the
pale-faces who are now near us. I thought there would have been more,
but the rest do not come. Perhaps they are frightened. There are only
six. Six scalps are not many. I am sorry they are so few. But we can go
where there will be more. One of these six is a medicine-man. I do not
know what to think. It may be good to take his scalp. It may be bad.
Medicine-men have great power. You have seen what this bee-hunter can
do. He knows how to talk with bees. Them little insects can fly into
small places, and see things that Injins cannot see. The Great Spirit
made them so. When we get back all the land, we shall get the bees with
it, and may then hold a council to say what it is best to do with them.
Until we know more, I do not wish to touch the scalp of that bee-hunter.
It may do us great harm. I knew a medicine-man of the pale-faces to lose
his scalp, and small-pox took off half the band that made him prisoner
and killed him. It is not good to meddle with medicine-men. A few days
ago, and I wanted this young man’s scalp, very much. Now, I do not want
it. It may do us harm to touch it. I wish to let him go, and to take his
squaw with him. The rest we can scalp.”

Peter cunningly made no allusion to Margery, until just before he
resumed his seat, though now deeply interested in her safety. As for le
Bourdon, so profound was the impression he had made that morning, that
few of the chiefs were surprised at the exemption proposed in his favor.
The superstitious dread of witchcraft is very general among the American
savages; and it certainly did seem to be hazardous to plot the death
of a man, who had even the bees that were humming on all sides of them
under his control. He might at that very moment be acquainted with all
that was passing; and several of the grim-looking and veteran warriors
who sat in the circle, and who appeared to be men able and willing to
encounter aught human, did not fail to remember the probability of a
medicine-man’s knowing who were his friends, and who his enemies.

When Peter sat down, there was but one man in the circle of chiefs who
was resolved to oppose his design of placing Boden and Margery without
the pale of the condemned. Several were undecided, scarce knowing what
to think of so sudden and strange a proposition, but could not be said
to have absolutely adhered to the original scheme of cutting off all.
The exception was Ungque. This man--a chief by a sort of sufferance,
rather than as a right--was deadly hostile to Peter’s influence, as has
been said, and was inclined to oppose all his plans, though compelled by
policy to be exceedingly cautious how he did it. Here, however, was an
excellent opportunity to strike a blow, and he was determined not to
neglect it. Still, so wily was this Indian, so much accustomed to put a
restraint on his passions and wishes, that he did not immediately arise,
with the impetuous ardor of frank impulses, to make his reply, but
awaited his time.

An Indian is but a man, after all, and is liable to his weaknesses,
notwithstanding the self-command he obtains by severe drilling. Bough of
the Oak was to supply a proof of this truth. He had been so unexpectedly
successful in his late attempt at eloquence, that it was not easy to
keep him off his feet, now that another good occasion to exhibit his
powers offered. He was accordingly the next to speak.

“My brothers,” said Bough of the Oak, “I am named after a tree. You all
know that tree. It is not good for bows or arrows; it is not good for
canoes; it does not make the best fire, though it will burn, and is hot
when well lighted. There are many things for which the tree after which
I am named is not good. It is not good to eat. It has no sap that Injins
can drink, like the maple. It does not make good brooms. But it has
branches like other trees, and they are tough. Tough branches are good.
The boughs of the oak will not bend, like the boughs of the willow, or
the boughs of the ash, or the boughs of the hickory.

“Brothers, I am a bough of the oak. I do not like to bend. When my mind
is made up, I wish to keep it where it was first put. My mind has been
made up to take the scalps of ALL the pale-faces who are now in the
Openings. I do not want to change it. My mind can break, but it can not
bend. It is tough.”

Having uttered this brief but sententious account of his view of the
matter at issue, the chief resumed his seat, reasonably well satisfied
with this, his second attempt to be eloquent that day. His success
this time was not as unequivocal as on the former occasion, but it
was respectable. Several of the chiefs saw a reasonable, if not a very
logical analogy, between a man’s name and his mind; and to them it
appeared a tolerably fair inference that a man should act up to his
name. If his name was tough, he ought to be tough, too. In this it does
not strike us that they argued very differently from civilized beings,
who are only too apt to do that which their better judgments really
condemn, because they think they are acting “in character,” as it is
termed.

Ungque was both surprised and delighted with this unexpected support
from Bough of the Oak. He knew enough of human nature to understand
that a new-born ambition, that of talking against the great, mysterious
chief, Peter, was at the bottom of this unexpected opposition; but
with this he was pleased, rather than otherwise. An opposition that
is founded in reason, may always be reasoned down, if reasons exist
therefor; but an opposition that has its rise in any of the passions,
is usually somewhat stubborn. All this the mean-looking chief, or the
Weasel, understood perfectly, and appreciated highly. He thought the
moment favorable, and was disposed to “strike while the iron was hot.”
 Rising after a decent interval had elapsed, this wily Indian looked
about him, as if awed by the presence in which he stood, and doubtful
whether he could venture to utter his thoughts before so many wise
chiefs. Having made an impression by this air of diffidence, he
commenced his harangue.

“I am called the Weasel,” he said, modestly. “My name is not taken from
the mightiest tree of the forest, like that of my brother; it is taken
from a sort of rat--an animal that lives by its wits. I am well named.
When my tribe gave me that name, it was just. All Injins have not names.
My great brother, who told us once that we ought to take the scalp of
every white man, but WHO now tells us that we ought not to take the
scalp of every white man, has no name. He is called Peter, by the
pale-faces. It is a good name. But it is a pale-face name. I wish we
knew the real name of my brother. We do not know his nation or his
tribe. Some say he is an Ottawa, some an Iowa, some even think him a
Sioux. I have heard he was a Delaware, from toward the rising sun.
Some, but they must be Injins with forked tongues, think and say he is
a Cherokee! I do not believe this. It is a lie. It is said to do my
brother harm. Wicked Injins will say such things. But we do not mind
what THEY say. It is not necessary.

“My brothers, I wish we knew the tribe of this great chief, who tells
us to take scalps, and then tells us not to take scalps. Then we might
understand why he has told us two stories. I believe all he says, but I
should like to know WHY I believe it. It is good to know why we believe
things. I have heard what my brother has said about letting this
bee-hunter go to his own people, but I do not know why he believes this
is best. It is because I am a poor Injin, perhaps; and because I am
called the Weasel. I am an animal that creeps through small holes. That
is my nature. The bison jumps through open prairies, and a horse is
wanted to catch him. It is not so with the weasel; he creeps through
small holes. But he always looks where he goes.

“The unknown chief, who belongs to no tribe, talks of this bee-hunter’s
squaw. He is afraid of so great a medicine-man, and wishes him to go,
and take all in his wigwam with him. He has no squaw. There is a young
squaw in his lodge, but she is not HIS squaw. There is no need of
letting her go, on his account. If we take her scalp, he cannot hurt us.
In that, my brother is wrong. The bees have buzzed too near his ears.
Weasels can hear, as well as other animals; and I have heard that this
young squaw is not this bee-hunter’s squaw.

“If Injins are to take the scalps of all the pale-faces, why should we
not begin with these who are in our hands? When the knife is ready, and
the head is ready, nothing but the hand is wanting. Plenty of hands are
ready, too; and it does not seem good to the eyes of a poor, miserable
weasel, who has to creep through very small holes to catch his game, to
let that game go when it is taken. If my great brother, who has told us
not to scalp this bee-hunter and her he calls his squaw, will tell us
the name of his tribe, I shall be glad. I am an ignorant Injin, and like
to learn all I can; I wish to learn that. Perhaps it will help us to
understand why he gave one counsel yesterday, and another to-day. There
is a reason for it. I wish to know what it is.”

Ungque now slowly seated himself. He had spoken with great moderation,
as to manner; and with such an air of humility as one of our own
demagogues is apt to assume, when he tells the people of their virtues,
and seems to lament the whole time that he, himself, was one of the
meanest of the great human family. Peter saw, at once, that he had
a cunning competitor, and had a little difficulty in suppressing
all exhibition of the fiery indignation he actually felt, at meeting
opposition in such a quarter. Peter was artful, and practised in all
the wiles of managing men, but he submitted to use his means to attain a
great end. The virtual extinction of the white race was his object, and
in order to effect it, there was little he would have hesitated to do.
Now, however, when for the first time in many years a glimmering of
human feeling was shining on the darkness of his mind, he found himself
unexpectedly opposed by one of those whom he had formerly found so
difficult to persuade into his own dire plans! Had that one been a chief
of any renown, the circumstances would have been more tolerable; but
here was a man presuming to raise his voice against him, who, so far as
he knew anything of his past career, had not a single claim to open his
mouth in such a council. With a volcano raging within, that such a state
of things would be likely to kindle in the breast of a savage who had
been for years a successful and nearly unopposed leader, the mysterious
chief rose to reply.

“My brother says he is a weasel,” observed Peter, looking round at the
circle of interested and grave countenances by which he was surrounded.
“That is a very small animal. It creeps through very small holes, but
not to do good. It is good for nothing. When it goes through a small
hole, it is not to do the Injins a service, but for its own purposes. I
do not like weasels.

“My brother is not afraid of a bee-hunter. Can HE tell us what a bee
whispers? If he can, I wish he would tell us. Let him show our young men
where there is more honey--where they can find bear’s meat for another
feast--where they can find warriors hid in the woods.

“My brother says the bee-hunter has no squaw. How does he know this? Has
he lived in the lodge with them--paddled in the same canoe--eat of
the same venison? A weasel is very small. It might steal into the
bee-hunter’s lodge, and see what is there, what is doing, what is eaten,
who is his squaw, and who is not--has this weasel ever done so? I never
saw him there.

“Brothers, the Great Spirit has his own way of doing things. He does not
stop to listen to weasels. He knows there are such animals--there are
snakes, and toads, and skunks. The Great Spirit knows them all, but he
does not mind them. He is wise, and hearkens only to his own mind. So
should it be with a council of great chiefs. It should listen to its own
mind. That is wisdom. To listen to the mind of a weasel is folly.

“Brothers, you have been told that this weasel does not know the tribe
of which I am born. Why should you know it? Injins once were foolish.
While the pale-faces were getting one hunting-ground after another from
them, they dug up the hatchet against their own friends. They took each
other’s scalps. Injin hated Injin--tribe hated tribe. I am of no tribe,
and no one can hate me for my people. You see my skin. It is red. That
is enough. I scalp, and smoke, and talk, and go on weary paths for all
Injins, and not for any tribe. I am without a tribe. Some call me the
Tribeless. It is better to bear that name, than to be called a weasel. I
have done.”

Peter had so much success by this argumentum ad hominem, that most
present fancied that the weasel would creep through some hole, and
disappear. Not so, however, with Ungque. He was a demagogue, after an
Indian fashion; and this is a class of men that ever “make capital” of
abuses, as we Americans say, in our money-getting habits. Instead of
being frightened off the ground, he arose to answer as promptly as if a
practised debater, though with an air of humility so profound, that no
one could take offence at his presumption.

“The unknown chief has answered,” he said, “I am glad. I love to hear
his words. My ears are always open when he speaks, and my mind is
stronger. I now see that it is good he should not have a tribe. He may
be a Cherokee, and then our warriors would wish him ill.” This was a
home-thrust, most artfully concealed; a Cherokee being the Indian of all
others the most hated by the chiefs present;--the Carthaginians of those
western Romans. “It is better he should not have a tribe, than be a
Cherokee. He might better be a weasel.

“Brothers, we have been told to kill ALL the pale-faces. I like that
advice. The land cannot have two owners. If a pale-face owns it, an
Injin cannot. If an Injin owns it, a pale-face cannot. But the chief
without a tribe tells us not to kill all. He tells us to kill all but
the bee-hunter and his squaw. He thinks this bee-hunter is a medicine
bee-hunter, and may do us Injins great harm. He wishes to let him go.

“Brothers, this is not my way of thinking. It is better to kill the
bee-hunter and his squaw while we can, that there may be no more such
medicine bee-hunters to frighten us Injins. If one bee-hunter can do so
much harm, what would a tribe of bee-hunters do? I do not want to see
any more. It is a dangerous thing to know how to talk with bees. It
is best that no one should have that power. I would rather never taste
honey again, than live among pale-faces that can talk with bees.

“Brothers, it is not enough that the pale-faces know so much more than
the red men, but they must get the bees to tell them where to find
honey, to find bears, to find warriors. No; let us take the scalp of the
bee-talker, and of his squaw, that there may never be such a medicine
again. I have spoken.”

Peter did not rise again. He felt that his dignity was involved in
maintaining silence. Various chiefs now uttered their opinions, in
brief, sententious language. For the first time since he began to preach
his crusade, the current was setting against the mysterious chief. The
Weasel said no more, but the hints he had thrown out were improved on
by others. It is with savages as with civilized men; a torrent must find
vent. Peter had the sagacity to see that by attempting further to save
le Bourdon and Margery, he should only endanger his own ascendancy,
without effecting his purpose. Here he completely overlaid the art of
Ungque, turning his own defeat into an advantage. After the matter had
been discussed for fully an hour, and this mysterious chief perceived
that it was useless to adhere to his new resolution, he gave it up
with as much tact as the sagacious Wellington himself could manifest
in yielding Catholic emancipation, or parliamentary reform; or, just in
season to preserve an appearance of floating in the current, and with a
grace that disarmed his opponents.

“Brothers,” said Peter, by way of closing the debate, “I have not seen
straight. Fog sometimes gets before the eyes, and we cannot see. I have
been in a fog. The breath of my brother has blown it away. I now see
clearly. I see that bee-hunters ought not to live. Let this one die--let
his squaw die, too!”

This terminated the discussion, as a matter of course. It was solemnly
decided that all the pale-faces then in the Openings should be cut off.
In acquiescing in this decision, Peter had no mental reservations. He
was quite sincere. When, after sitting two hours longer, in order to
arrange still more important points, the council arose, it was with
his entire assent to the decision. The only power he retained over the
subject was that of directing the details of the contemplated massacre.



CHAPTER XXIII.

     Why is that graceful female here
     With yon red hunter of the deer?
     Of gentle mien and shape, she seems
     For civil halls design’d;
     Yet with the stately savage walks,
     As she were of his kind.
                            --Pinkney.


The family at Castle Meal saw nothing of any Indian until the day that
succeeded the council. Gershom and Dorothy received the tidings of
their sister’s marriage with very little emotion. It was an event they
expected; and as for bride-cake and ceremonies, of one there was none at
all, and of the other no more than has been mentioned. The relatives of
Margery did not break their hearts on account of the neglect with which
they had been treated, but received the young couple as if one had given
her away, and the other “had pulled off her glove,” as young ladies now
express it, in deference to the act that generally gives the coup de
grace to youthful female friendships. On the Openings, neither time nor
breath is wasted in useless compliments; and all was held to be well
done on this occasion, because it was done legally. A question might
have been raised, indeed, whether that marriage had taken place
under the American, or under the English flag; for General Hull, in
surrendering Detroit, had included the entire territory of Michigan, as
well as troops present, troops absent, and troops on the march to join
him. Had he been in possession of Peter’s ruthless secret, which we
happen to know he was not, he could not have been more anxious to throw
the mantle of British authority around all of his race on that remote
frontier, than he proved himself to be. Still, it is to be presumed that
the marriage would have been regarded as legal; conquered territories
usually preserving their laws and usages for a time, at least. A little
joking passed, as a matter of course; for this is de rigueur in all
marriages, except in the cases of the most cultivated; and certainly
neither the corporal nor Gershom belonged to the elite of human society.

About the hour of breakfast Pigeonswing came in, as if returning from
one of his ordinary hunts. He brought with him venison, as well as
several wild ducks that he had killed in the Kalamazoo, and three or
four prairie hens. The Chippewa never betrayed exultation at the success
of his exertions, but on this occasion he actually appeared sad. Dorothy
received his game, and as she took the ducks and other fowls, she spoke
to him.

“Thank you, Pigeonswing,” said the young matron. “No pale-face could be
a better provider, and many are not one-half as good.”

“What provider mean, eh?” demanded the literal-minded savage. “Mean
good; mean bad, eh?”

“Oh! it means good, of course. I could say nothing against a hunter who
takes so good care of us all.”

“What he mean, den?”

“It means a man who keeps his wife and children well supplied with
food.”

“You get ‘nough, eh?”

“I get enough, Pigeonswing, thanks to your industry, such as it is.
Injin diet, however, is not always the best for Christian folk, though
a body may live on it. I miss many things, out here in the Openings, to
which I have been used all the early part of my life.”

“What squaw miss, eh? P’raps Injin find him sometime.”

“I thank you, Pigeonswing, with all my heart, and am just as grateful
for your good intentions, as I should be was you to do all you wish. It
is the mind that makes the marcy, and not always the deed. But you can
never find the food of a pale-face kitchen out here in the Openings of
Michigan. When a body comes to reckon up all the good things of Ameriky,
she don’t know where to begin, or where to stop. I miss tea as much as
anything. And milk comes next. Then there’s buckwheat and coffee--though
things may be found in the woods to make coffee of, but tea has no
substitute. Then, I like wheaten bread, and butter, and potatoes, and
many other such articles, that I was used to all my life, until I came
out here, close to sunset. As for pies and custards, I can’t bear to
think of ‘em now!”

Pigeonswing looked intently at the woman, as she carefully enumerated
her favorites among the dishes of her home-kitchen. When she had ended,
he raised a finger, looked still more significantly at her, and said:

“Why don’t go back, get all dem good t’ings? Better for pale-face to eat
pale-face food, and leave Injin Injin food.”

“For my part, Pigeonswing, I wish such had ever been the law. Venison,
and prairie-fowls, and wild ducks, and trout, and bear’s meat, and wild
pigeons, and the fish that are to be found in these western rivers, are
all good for them that was brought up on ‘em, but they tire an eastern
palate dreadfully. Give me roast beef any day before buffalo’s hump, and
a good barn-yard fowl before all the game-birds that ever flew.”

“Yes; dat de way pale-face squaw feel. Bess go back, and get what she
like. Bess go quick as she can--go today.”

“I’m in no such hurry, Pigeonswing, and I like these Openings well
enough to stay a while longer, and see what all these Injins, that they
tell me are about ‘em, mean to do. Now we are fairly among your people,
and on good terms with them, it is wisest to stay where we are. These
are war-times, and travelling is dangerous, they tell me. When Gershom
and Bourdon are ready to start, I shall be ready.”

“Bess get ready, now,” rejoined Pigeonswing; who, having given this
advice with point, as to manner, proceeded to the spring, where he knelt
and slaked his thirst. The manner of the Chippewa was such as to attract
the attention of the missionary, who, full of his theory, imagined
that this desire to get rid of the whites was, in some way or other,
connected with a reluctance in the Indians to confess themselves Jews.
He had been quite as much surprised as he was disappointed, with the
backwardness of the chiefs in accepting this tradition, and was now in
a state of mind that predisposed him to impute everything to this one
cause.

“I hope, Pigeonswing,” he said to the Chippewa, whom he had followed to
the spring--“I hope, Pigeonswing, that no offence has been taken by the
chiefs on account of what I told them yesterday, concerning their being
Jews. It is what I think, and it is an honor to belong to God’s chosen
people, and in no sense a disgrace. I hope no offence has been taken on
account of my telling the chief they are Jews.”

“Don’t care any t’ing ‘bout it,” answered the literal Indian, rising
from his kneeling position, and wiping his mouth with the back of his
hand. “Don’t care wedder Jew, or wedder Indian.”

“For my own part, gladly would I have it to say that I am descended from
Israel.”

“Why don’t say him, if he make you grad? Good to be grad. All Injin love
to be grad.”

“Because I cannot say it with truth. No; I come of the Gentiles, and not
of the Hebrews, else would I glory in saying I am a Jew, in the sense
of extraction, though not now in the sense of faith. I trust the chiefs
will not take offence at my telling them just what I think.”

“Tell you he don’t care,” returned Pigeonswing, a little crustily.
“Don’t care if Jew--don’t care if Injin. Know dat make no difference.
Hunting-ground just same--game just same--scalps just same. Make no
difference, and don’t care.”

“I am glad of this--but why did you advise Dorothy to quit the Openings
in the hasty manner you did, if all is right with the chiefs? It is not
good to start on a journey without preparation and prayer. Why, then,
did you give this advice to Dorothy to quit the Openings so soon?”

“Bess for squaw to go home, when Injin dig up hatchet. Openin’ full of
warrior--prairie full of warrior--wood full of warrior. When dat so,
bess for squaw to go home.”

“This would be true, were the Indians our enemies. Heaven be praised,
they are our friends, and will not harm us. Peter is a great chief, and
can make his young men do what he tells them; and Peter is our friend.
With Peter to stand by us, and a merciful Providence to direct us where,
when, and how to go, we can have nothing to fear. I trust in Divine
Providence.”

“Who he be?” asked Pigeonswing, innocently, for his knowledge of English
did not extend far enough to comprehend a phrase so complicated, though
so familiar to ourselves. “He know all paths, eh?”

“Yes; and directs us on all paths--more especially such as are for our
good.”

“Bess get him to tell you path into Detroit. Dat good path, now, for all
pale-faces.”

On uttering this advice, which he did also somewhat pointedly, the
Chippewa left the spring, and walked toward the kennel of Hive, where
the bee-hunter was busy feeding his old companion.

“You’re welcome back, Pigeonswing,” the last cordially remarked, without
pausing in his occupation, however. “I saw that you came in loaded, as
usual. Have you left any dead game in the Openings, for me to go and
back in with you?”

“You open ear, Bourdon--you know what Injin say,” returned the Chippewa,
earnestly. “When dog get ‘nough come wid me. Got somet’ing to tell. Bess
hear it, when he CAN hear it.”

“You’ll find me ready enough in a minute. There, Hive, my good fellow,
that ought to satisfy any reasonable dog, and I’ve never found
you unreasonable yet. Well, Chippewa, here I am, with my ears wide
open--stop, I’ve a bit of news, first, for your ears. Do you know,
Pigeonswing, my good fellow, that I am married?”

“Marry, eh? Got squaw, eh? Where you get him?”

“Here, to be sure--where else should I get her? There is but one girl in
these Openings that I would ask to be my wife, and she has been asked,
and answered, yes. Parson Amen married us, yesterday, on our way in
from Prairie Round; so that puts me on a footing with yourself. When you
boast of your squaw that you’ve left in your wigwam, I can boast of mine
that I have here. Margery is a girl to boast of, too!”

“Yes; good squaw, dat. Like dat squaw pretty well. Nebber see better.
Bess keep squaw alway in his own wigwam.”

“Well, mine is in my own wigwam. Castle Meal is my property, and she
does it honor.”

“Dat an’t what Injin mean. Mean dis. Bess have wigwam at home, dere,
where pale-face lives, and bess keep squaw in DAT wigwam. Where my
squaw, eh? She home, in my wigwam--take care of pappoose, hoe corn, and
keep ground good. So bess wid white squaw--bess home, at work.”

“I believe I understand what you mean, Pigeon. Well, home we mean to go,
before the winter sets in, and when matters have a little settled down
between the English and Yankees. It isn’t safe travelling, just now, in
Michigan--you must own that, yourself, my good fellow.”

The Indian appeared at a loss, now, how to express himself further.
On one side was his faith to his color, and his dread of Peter and the
great chiefs; on the other, his strong regard for the bee-hunter. He
pondered a moment, and then took his own manner of communicating that
which he wished to say. The fact that his friend was married made no
great difference in his advice, for the Indian was much too shrewd an
observer not to have detected the bee-hunter’s attachment. He had not
supposed it possible to separate his friend from the family of Gershom,
though he did suppose there would be less difficulty in getting him to
go on a path different from that which the missionary and corporal might
take. His own great purpose was to serve le Bourdon, and how many or how
few might incidentally profit by it he did not care. The truth compels
us to own, that even Margery’s charms, and nature, and warm-hearted
interest in all around her, had failed to make any impression on his
marble-like feelings; while the bee-hunter’s habits, skill in his craft,
and close connection with himself at the mouth of the river, and more
especially in liberating him from his enemies, had united him in a
comrade’s friendship with her husband. It was a little singular that
this Chippewa did not fall into Peter’s superstitious dread of the
bee-hunter’s necromancy, though he was aware of all that had passed
the previous day on the prairie. Either on account of his greater
familiarity with le Bourdon’s habits, or because he was in the secret of
the trick of the whiskey-spring, or from a closer knowledge of white men
and their ways, this young Indian was freer from apprehensions of this
nature, perhaps, than any one of the same color and origin within many
miles of the spot. In a word, Pigeons-wing regarded the bee-hunter as
his friend, while he looked upon the other pale-faces as so many persons
thrown by accident in his company. Now that Margery had actually become
his friend’s squaw, his interest in her was somewhat increased; though
she had never obtained that interest in his feelings that she had
awakened in the breast of Peter, by her attentions to him, her
gentleness, light-hearted gayety, and womanly care, and all without the
least design on her own part.

“No,” answered the Chippewa, after a moment’s reflection, “no very safe
for Yankee, or Yankee Injin. Don’t t’ink my scalp very safe, if
chief know’d I’m Yankee runner. Bess alway to keep scalp safe. Dem
Pottawattamie I take care not to see. Know all about ‘em, too. Know what
he SAY--know what he DO--b’lieve I know what he T’INK.”

“I did not see you, Pigeon, among the red young men, yesterday, out on
Prairie Round.”

“Know too much to go dere. Crowsfeather and Pottawattamie out dere. Bess
not go near dem when dey have eye open. Take ‘em asleep. Dat bess way
wid sich Injin. Catch ‘em some time! But your ear open, Bourdon?”

“Wide open, my good friend--what have you to whisper in it?”

“You look hard at Peter when he come in. If he t’ink good deal, and
don’t say much, when he DO speak, mind what he say. If he smile, and
very much friend, must hab his scalp.”

“Chippewa, Peter is my friend, lives in my cabin, and eats of my bread!
The hand that touches him, touches me.”

“Which bess, eh--HIS scalp, or your’n? If he VERY much friend when he
comes in, his scalp muss come off, or your’n. Yes, juss so. Dat de way.
Know Injin better dan you know him, Bourdon. You good bee-hunter, but
poor Injin. Ebbery body hab his way--Injin got his. Peter laugh and very
much friend, when he come home, den he mean to hab YOUR scalp. If don’t
smile, and don’t seem very much friend, but look down, and t’ink, t’ink,
t’ink, den he no mean to hurt you, but try to get you out of hand of
chiefs. Dat all.”

As Pigeonswing concluded, he walked coolly away, leaving his friend to
ruminate on the alternative of scalp or no scalp! The bee-hunter now
understood the Chippewa perfectly. He was aware that this man had means
of his own to ascertain what was passing around him in the Openings, and
he had the utmost confidence in his integrity and good wishes. If a red
man is slow to forget an injury, he never forgets a favor. In this he
was as unlike as possible to most of the pale-faces who were supplanting
his race, for these last had, and have, as extraordinary a tenacity in
losing sight of benefits, as they have in remembering wrongs.

By some means or other, it was now clear that Pigeonswing foresaw that a
crisis was at hand. Had le Bourdon been as disconnected and solitary as
he was when he first met the Chippewa, it is not probable that
either the words or the manner of his friend would have produced much
impression on him, so little accustomed was he to dwell on the hazards
of his frontier position. But the case was now altogether changed.
Margery and her claims stood foremost in his mind; and through Margery
came Dolly and her husband. There was no mistaking Pigeonswing’s
intention. It was to give warning of some immediate danger, and a danger
that, in some way, was connected with the deportment of Peter. It was
easy enough to comprehend the allusions to the mysterious chief’s smiles
and melancholy; and the bee-hunter understood that he was to watch
that Indian’s manner, and take the alarm or bestow his confidence
accordingly.

Le Bourdon was not left long in doubt. Peter arrived about half-an-hour
after Pigeonswing had gone to seek his rest; and from the instant he
came in sight, our hero discerned the thoughtful eye and melancholy
manner. These signs were still more obvious when the tribeless Indian
came nearer; so obvious, indeed, as to strike more than one of those who
were interested observers of all that this extraordinary being said and
did. Among others, Margery was the first to see this change, and the
first to let it influence her own manner. This she did, notwithstanding
le Bourdon had said nothing to her on the subject, and in defiance of
the bashful feelings of a bride; which, under circumstances less marked,
might have induced her to keep more in the background. As Peter stopped
at the spring to quench his thirst, Margery was, in truth, the first to
approach and to speak to him.

“You seem weary, Peter,” said the young wife, somewhat timidly as to
voice and air, but with a decided and honest manifestation of interest
in what she was about. Nor had Margery gone empty-handed. She took with
her a savory dish, one of those that the men of the woods love--meat
cooked in its own juices, and garnished with several little additions,
that her skill in the arts of civilized life enabled her to supply.

“You seem tired, Peter, and if I did not fear to say it, I should tell
you that you also seem sad,” said Margery, as she placed her dish on a
rude table that was kept at the spot, for the convenience of those who
seldom respected hours, or regularity of any sort in their meals. “Here
is food that you like, which I have cooked with my own hands.”

The Indian looked intently at the timid and charming young creature,
who came forward thus to contribute to his comforts, and the saddened
expression of his countenance deepened. He was fatigued and hungry,
and he ate for some time without speaking, beyond uttering a brief
expression of his thanks. When his appetite was appeased, however, and
she who had so sedulously attended to his wants was about to remove the
remains of the dish, he signed with his finger for her to draw nearer,
intimating that he had something to say. Margery obeyed without
hesitation, though the color flitted in her face like the changes in
an evening sky. But so much good will and confidence had been awakened
between these two, that a daughter would not have drawn near to a father
with more confidence than Margery stood before Peter.

“Medicine-man do what I tell him, young squaw, eh?” demanded Peter,
smiling slightly, and for the first time since they had met.

“By medicine-man do you mean Mr. Amen, or Bourdon?” the bride asked in
her turn, her whole face reflecting the confusion she felt, scarcely
knowing why.

“Bot’. One medicine-man say his prayer; t’odder medicine-man take young
squaw’s hand, and lead her into his wigwam. Dat what I mean.”

“I am married to Bourdon,” returned Margery, dropping her eyes to the
ground, “if that be what you wish to know. I hope you think I shall have
a good husband, Peter.”

“Hope so, too--nebber know till time come. All good for little
while--Injin good, squaw good. Juss like weadder. Sometime
rain--sometime storm--sometime sunshine. Juss so wid Injin, juss so wid
pale-face. No difference. All same. You see dat cloud?--he little now;
but let wind blow, he grow big, and you see nuttin’ but cloud. Let him
have plenty of sunshine, and he go away; den all clear over head. Dat
bess way to live wid husband.”

“And that is the way which Bourdon and I WILL always live together. When
we get back among our own people, Peter, and are living comfortably in a
pale-face wigwam, with pale-face food, and pale-face drinks, and all the
other good things of pale-face housekeeping about us, then I hope you
will come and see how happy we are, and pass some time with us. Every
year I wish you to come and see us, and to bring us venison, and Bourdon
will give you powder, and lead, and blankets, and all you may want,
unless it be fire-water. Fire-water he has promised never again to give
to an Injin.”

“No find any more whiskey-spring, eh?” demanded Peter, greatly
interested in the young woman’s natural and warm-hearted manner of
proposing her hospitalities. “So bess--so bess. Great curse for Injin.
Plenty honey, no fire-water. All dat good. And I come, if--”

Here Peter stopped, nor could all Margery’s questions induce him to
complete the sentence. His gaze at the earnest countenance of the bride
was such as to give her an indefinite sort of uneasiness, not to say a
feeling of alarm.

Still no explanation passed between them. Margery remained near Peter
for some time, administering to his wants, and otherwise demeaning
herself much as a daughter might have done. At length le Bourdon
joined them. The salutations were friendly, and the manner in which the
mysterious chief regarded the equally mysterious bee-hunter, was not
altogether without a certain degree of awe. Boden perceived this, and
was not slow to comprehend that he owed this accession of influence to
the scene which had occurred on the prairie.

“Is the great council ended, Peter?” asked the bee-hunter, when the
little interval of silence had been observed.

“Yes, it over. No more council, now, on Prairie Round.”

“And the chiefs--have they all gone on their proper paths? What has
become of my old acquaintance, Crowsfeather? and all the rest of
them--Bear’s Meat, in particular?”

“All gone. No more council now. Agree what to do and so go away.”

“But are red men always as good as their words? do they PERFORM always
what they PROMISE?”

“Sartain. Ebbery man ought do what he say. Dat Injin law--no pale-face
law, eh?”

“It may be the LAW, Peter, and a very good law it is; but we white men
do not always MIND our own laws.”

“Dat bad--Great Spirit don’t like dat,” returned Peter, looking grave,
and slowly shaking his head. “Dat very bad. When Injin say he do it,
den he do it, if he can. If can’t, no help for it. Send squaw away now,
Bourdon--bess not to let squaw hear what men say, or will always want to
hear.”

Le Bourdon laughed, as he turned to Margery and repeated these words.
The young wife colored, but she took it in good part, and ran up toward
the palisaded lodge, like one who was glad to be rid of her companions.
Peter waited a few moments, then turning his head slowly in all
directions, to make sure of not being overheard, he began to lay open
his mind.

“You been on Prairie Round, Bourdon--you see Injin dere--chief, warrior,
young men, hunter, all dere.”

“I saw them all, Peter, and a goodly sight it was--what between paint,
and medals, and bows and arrows and tomahawks, and all your bravery!”

“You like to see him, eh? Yes; he fine t’ing to look at. Well, dat
council call togedder by ME--you know dat, too, Bourdon?”

“I have heard you say that such was your intention, and I suppose you
did it, chief. They tell me you have great power among your own people,
and that they do very much as you tell them to do.”

Peter looked graver than ever at this remark; and one of his startling
gleams of ferocity passed over his dark countenance. Then he answered
with his customary self-command.

“Sometime so,” he said; “sometime not so. Yesterday, not so. Dere is
chief dat want to put Peter under his foot! He try, but he no do it! I
know Peter well, and know dat chief, too.”

“This is news to me, Peter, and I am surprised to hear it. I did think
that even the great Tecumthe was scarcely as big a chief as you are
yourself.”

“Yes, pretty big chief; dat true. But, among Injin, ebbery man can
speak, and nebber know which way council go. Sometime he go one way;
sometime he go tudder. You hear Bough of Oak speak, eh? Tell me dat?”

“You will remember that I heard none of your speakers on Prairie Round,
Peter. I do not remember any such orator as this Bough of Oak.”

“He great rascal,” said Peter, who had picked up some of the garrison
expressions among those from whom he acquired the knowledge of English
he possessed, such as it was. “Listen, Bourdon. Nebber bess stand too
much in Peter’s way.”

The bee-hunter laughed freely at this remark; for his own success the
previous day, and the impression he had evidently made on that occasion,
emboldened him to take greater liberties with the mysterious chief than
had been his wont.

“I should think that, Peter,” cried the young man, gayly--“I should
think all that. For one, I should choose to get out of it. The path you
travel is your own, and all wise men will leave you to journey along it
in your own fashion.”

“Yes; dat bess way,” answered the great chief, with admirable
simplicity. “Don’t like, when he says yes, to hear anudder chief say no.
Dat an’t good way to do business.”

These were expressions caught from the trading whites, and were often
used by those who got their English from them. “I tell you one t’ing,
Bourdon--dat Bough of Oak very foolish Injin if he put foot on my path.”

“This is plain enough, Peter,” rejoined le Bourdon, who was
unconcernedly repairing some of the tools of his ordinary craft. “By
the way, I am greatly in your debt, I learn, for one thing. They tell me
I’ve got my squaw in my wigwam a good deal sooner, by your advice, than
I might have otherwise done. Margery is now my wife, I suppose you know;
and I thank you heartily, for helping me to get married so much sooner
than I expected to be.”

Here Peter grasped Bourdon by the hand, and poured out his whole soul,
secret hopes, fears, and wishes. On this occasion he spoke in the Indian
dialect--one of those that he knew the bee-hunter understood. And we
translate what he said freely into English, preserving as much of the
original idiom as the change of language will permit.

“Listen, hunter of the bee, the great medicine of the pale-faces, and
hear what a chief that knows the red men is about to tell you. Let my
words go into your ears; let them stay in your mind. They are words that
will do you good. It is not wise to let such words come out again by the
hole through which they have just entered.

“My young friend knows our traditions. They do not tell us that the
Injins were Jews; they tell us that the Manitou created them red men.
They tell us that our fathers used these hunting-grounds ever since the
earth was placed on the back of the big tortoise which upholds it. The
pale-faces say the earth moves. If this be true, it moves as slowly
as the tortoise walks. It cannot have gone far since the Great Spirit
lifted his hand off it. If it move, the hunting-grounds move with it,
and the tribes move with their own hunting-grounds. It may be that some
of the pale-faces are lost, but no Injin is lost--the medicine-priest is
mistaken. He has looked so often in his book, that he sees nothing but
what is there. He does not see what is before his eyes, at his side,
behind his back, all around him. I have known such Injins. They see but
one thing; even the deer jump across their paths, and are not seen.

“Such are our traditions. They tell us that this land was given to the
red men, and not to pale-faces. That none but red men have any right to
hunt here. The Great Spirit has laws. He has told us these laws. They
teach us to love our friends, and to hate our enemies. You don’t believe
this, Bourdon?” observing the bee-hunter to wince a little, as if he
found the doctrine bad.

“This is not what our priests tell US,” answered le Bourdon. “They tell
us that the white man’s God commands us to love all alike--to do GOOD to
our enemies, to LOVE them that wish us HARM, and to treat all men as
we would wish men to treat us.” Peter was a good deal surprised at this
doctrine, and it was nearly a minute before he resumed the discourse. He
had recently heard it several times, and it was slowly working its way
into his mind.

“Such are our traditions, and such are our laws. Look at me. Fifty
winters have tried to turn my hair white. Time can do that. The hair is
the only part of an Injin that ever turns white; all the rest of him is
red. That is his color. The game knows an Injin by his color. The tribes
know him. Everything knows him by his color. He knows the things which
the Great Spirit has given him, in the same way. He gets used to them,
and they are his acquaintances. He does not like strange things. He does
not like strangers. White men are strangers, and he does not like to
see them on his hunting-ground. If they come singly, to kill a few
buffaloes, or to look for honey, or to catch beaver, the Injins would
not complain. They love to give of their abundance. The pale-faces
do not come in this fashion. They do not come as guests; they come as
masters. They come and they stay. Each year of my fifty have I heard of
new tribes that have been driven by them toward the setting sun.

“Bourdon, for many seasons I have thought of this. I have tried to find
a way to stop them. There is but one. That way must the Injins try, or
give up their hunting-grounds to the strangers. No nation likes to give
up its hunting-grounds. They come from the Manitou, and one day he may
ask to have them back again. What could the red men say, if they let the
pale-faces take them away? No; this we cannot do. We will first try the
one thing that is to be done.”

“I believe I understand you, Peter,” observed le Bourdon, finding
that his companion paused. “You mean war. War, in the Injin mode of
redressing all wrongs; war against man, woman, and child!”

Peter nodded in acquiescence, fixing his glowing eyes on the
bee-hunter’s face, as if to read his soul.

“Am I to understand, then, that you and your friends, the chiefs and
their followers, that I saw on Prairie Round, mean to begin with US,
half-a-dozen whites, of whom two are women, who happen to be here in
your power--that OUR scalps are to be the first taken?”

“First!--no, Bourdon. Peter’s hand has taken a great many, years since.
He has got a name for his deeds, and no longer dare go to the white
men’s forts. He does not look for Yankees, he looks for pale-faces. When
he meets a pale-face on the prairies, or in the woods, he tries to get
his scalp. This has he done for years, and many has he taken.”

“This is a bloody account you are giving of yourself, Peter, and I
would rather you should not have told it. Some such account I have heard
before; but living with you, and eating, and drinking, and sleeping, and
travelling in your company, I had not only hoped, but begun to think, it
was not true.”

“It is true. My wish is to cut off the pale-faces. This must be done, or
the pale-faces will cut off the Injins. There is no choice. One nation
or the other must be destroyed. I am a red man; my heart tells me that
the pale-faces should die. They are on strange hunting-grounds, not
the red men. They are wrong, we are right. But, Bourdon, I have friends
among the pale-faces, and it is not natural to scalp our friends. I do
not understand a religion that tells us to love our enemies, and to do
good to them that do harm to us--it is a strange religion. I am a poor
Injin, and do not know what to think! I shall not believe that any do
this, till I see it. I understand that we ought to love our friends.
Your squaw is my daughter. I have called her daughter--she knows it, and
my tongue is not forked, like a snake’s. What it says, I mean. Once I
meant to scalp your young squaw, because she was a pale-face squaw, and
might be the mother of more. Now I do not mean to scalp her; my hand
shall never harm her. My wisdom shall tell her to escape from the hands
of red men who seek her scalp. You, too; now you are her husband,
and are a great medicine-man of the bees, my hand shall not hurt you,
either. Open your ears wide, for big truths must go into them.”

Peter then related in full his attempt to procure a safe passage for
le Bourdon and Margery into the settlements, and its total failure. He
owned that by his previous combinations he had awakened a spirit among
the Indians that his present efforts could not quell. In a word, he told
the whole story as it must have been made apparent to the reader, and he
now came with his plans to defeat the very schemes that he had himself
previously projected. One thing, however, that he did not conceal,
filled the mind of his listener with horror, and created so strong an
aversion to acting in concert with one who could even allude to it so
coolly, that there was danger of breaking off all communications between
the parties, and placing the result purely on force; a course that must
have proved totally destructive to all the whites. The difficulty arose
from a naive confession of Peter’s, that he did not even wish to save
any but le Bourdon and Margery, and that he still desired the deaths of
all the others, himself!



CHAPTER XXIV.

     For thou wert born of woman! Thou didst come,
     O Holiest! to this world of sin and gloom,
     Not in thy dread omnipotent array;
     And not by thunders strewed
     Was thy tempestuous road,
     Nor indignation burnt before thee on thy way.
     But thee, a soft and naked child,
     Thy mother undefiled,
     In the rude manger laid to rest
     From off her virgin breast.


The blood of the bee-hunter curdled in his veins as he listened to
Peter’s business-like and direct manner of treating this terrible
subject. Putting the most favorable view on his situation, it was
frightful to look on. Admitting that this fanatical savage were sincere
in all his professions of a wish to save him and Margery, and le
Bourdon did not, nay, COULD not doubt this, after his calm but ferocious
revelations; but, admitting all this to be true, how was he to escape
with his charming bride, environed as they were by so large a band of
hostile Indians? Then the thought of abandoning his other companions,
and attempting, in cold selfishness, to escape with Margery alone, was
more than he could bear. Never before, in his adventurous and bold life,
had le Bourdon been so profoundly impressed with a sense of his danger,
or so much overcome.

Still, our hero was not unmanned. He saw all the hazards, as it were, at
a glance, and felt how terrible might be the result should they really
fall into the hands of the warriors, excited to exercise their ingenuity
in devising the means of torture; and he gazed into the frightful
perspective with a manly steadiness that did him credit, even while he
sickened at the prospect.

Peter had told his story in a way to add to its horrible character.
There was a manner of truth, of directness, of WORK, if one may use such
an expression on such a subject, that gave a graphic reality to all he
said. As if his task was done, the mysterious chief now coolly arose,
and moved away to a little grove, in which the missionary and the
corporal had thrown themselves on the grass, where they lay speculating
on the probable course that the bands in their neighborhood would next
pursue. So thoroughly possessed was the clergyman with his one idea,
however, that he was expressing regret at his failure in the attempt to
convince the savages that they were Jews, when Peter joined them.

“You tired--you lie down in daytime, like sick squaw, eh?” asked the
Indian, in a slightly satirical manner. “Bess be up, sich fine day, and
go wid me to see some more chief.”

“Most gladly, Peter,” returned the missionary, springing to his feet
with alacrity--“and I shall have one more opportunity to show your
friends the truth of what I have told them.”

“Yes, Injin love to hear trut’--hate to hear lie. Can tell ‘em all you
want to say. He go too, eh?” pointing to the corporal, who rather hung
back, as if he saw that in the invitation which was not agreeable to
him.

“I will answer for my friend,” returned the confiding missionary,
cheerfully. “Lead on, Peter, and we will follow.”

Thus pledged, the corporal no longer hesitated; but he accompanied
Parson Amen, as the latter fell into the tracks of the chief, and
proceeded rapidly in the direction of the spring in the piece of
bottom-land, where the council first described had been held. This spot
was about two miles from the palisaded house, and quite out of view, as
well as out of reach of sound. As they walked side by side, taking the
footsteps of the great chief for their guides, the corporal, however,
expressed to his companion his dislike of the whole movement.

“We ought to stand by our garrison in times like these, Mr. Amen,” said
the well-meaning soldier. “A garrison is a garrison; and Injins seldom
do much on a well-built and boldly-defended spot of that natur’. They
want artillery, without which their assaults are never very formidable.”

“Why talk you of warlike means, corporal, when we are in the midst of
friends? Is not Peter our known and well-tried associate, one with whom
you and I have travelled far; and do we not know that we have friends
among these chiefs, whom we are now going to visit? The Lord has led
me into these distant and savage regions, to carry his word, and to
proclaim his name; and a most unworthy and unprofitable servant should
I prove, were I to hesitate about approaching them I am appointed to
teach. No, no; fear nothing. I will not say that you carry Caesar and
his fortunes, as I have heard was once said of old, but I will say you
follow one who is led of God, and who marches with the certainty of
being divinely commanded.”

The corporal was ashamed to oppose so confident an enthusiasm, and he
offered no further resistance. Together the two followed their leader,
who, turning neither to the right hand nor to the left, soon had them
out of sight of the castle, and well on their way toward the spring.
When about half the distance was made, the direction took the
party through a little thicket, or rather along its margin, and the
missionary, a good deal to his surprise, saw Pigeonswing within the
cover, seemingly preparing for another hunt. This young warrior had
so lately returned from one excursion of this nature, that he was not
expected to go forth so soon on another. Nor was he accustomed to go out
so early in the day. This was the hour in which he ordinarily slept; but
there he was, beyond a question, and apparently looking at the party as
it passed. So cold was his manner, however, and so indifferent did he
seem, that no one would have suspected that he knew aught of what was in
contemplation. Having satisfied himself that his friend, the bee-hunter,
was not one of those who followed Peter, the Chippewa turned coldly
away, and began to examine the flint of his rifle. The corporal noted
this manner, and it gave him additional confidence to proceed; for
he could not imagine that any human being would manifest so much
indifference, when sinister designs existed.

Peter turned neither to the right hand nor to the left, until he had led
the way down upon the little arena of bottom-land already described, and
which was found well sprinkled with savages. A few stood, or sat about
in groups, earnestly conversing; but most lay extended at length on the
green sward, in the indolent repose that is so grateful to an Indian
warrior in his hours of inaction. The arrival of Peter, however,
instantly put a new face on the appearance of matters. Every man started
to his feet, and additions were made to those who were found in the
arena by those who came out of the adjacent thickets, until some two
or three hundred of the red men were assembled in a circle around the
newly-arrived pale-faces.

“There,” said Peter, sternly, fastening his eye with a hostile
expression on Bough of the Oak and Ungque, in particular--“there are
your captives. Do with them as you will. As for them that have dared to
question my faith, let them own that they are liars!”

This was not a very amicable salutation, but savages are accustomed to
plain language. Bough of the Oak appeared a little uneasy, and Ungque’s
countenance denoted dissatisfaction; but the last was too skilful an
actor to allow many of the secrets of his plotting mind to shine through
the windows of his face. As for the crowd at large, gleams of content
passed over the bright red faces, illuminating them with looks of savage
joy. Murmurs of approbation were heard, and Crowsfeather addressed the
throng, there, where it stood, encircling the two helpless and as yet
but half-alarmed victims of so fell a plot.

“My brothers and my young men can now see,” said this Pottawattamie,
“that the tribeless chief has an Injin heart. His heart is NOT a
pale-face heart--it is that of a red man. Some of our chiefs have
thought that he had lived too much with the strangers, and that he had
forgotten the traditions of our fathers, and was listening to the song
of the medicine priest. Some thought that he believed himself lost, and
a Jew, and not an Injin. This is not so. Peter knows the path he is on.
He knows that he is a redskin, and he looks on the Yankees as enemies.
The scalps he has taken are so numerous they cannot be counted. He is
ready to take more. Here are two that he gives to us. When we have done
with these two captives, he will bring us more. He will continue to
bring them, until the pale-faces will be as few as the deer in their own
clearings. Such is the will of the Manitou.”

The missionary understood all that was said, and he was not a little
appalled at the aspect of things. For the first time he began
to apprehend that he was in danger. So much was this devout and
well-intentioned servant of his church accustomed to place his
dependence on a superintending Providence, that apprehension of personal
suffering seldom had any influence on his exertions. He believed himself
to be an object of especial care; though he was ever ready to admit that
the wisdom which human minds cannot compass, might order events that,
at first sight, would seem to be opposed to that which ought to be
permitted to come to pass. In this particular Parson Amen was a model of
submission, firmly believing that all that happened was in furtherance
of the great scheme of man’s regeneration and eventual salvation.

With the corporal it was very different. Accustomed to war with red
men, and most acquainted with them in their worst character, he ever
suspected treachery, and had followed Peter with a degree of reluctance
he had not cared to express. He now thoroughly took the alarm, however,
and stood on his guard. Although he did not comprehend more than half of
that which Peter had said, he understood quite enough to see that he and
the missionary were surrounded by enemies, if not by executioners.

“We have fallen into a sort of ambush here, Parson Amen,” cried the
corporal, rattling his arms as he looked to their condition, “and it’s
high time we beat the general. If there were four on us we might form
a square; but being only two, the best thing we can do will be to stand
back to back, and for one to keep an eye on the right flank, while he
nat’rally watches all in front; and for the other to keep an eye on the
left flank, while he sees to the rear. Place your back close to mine,
and take the left flank into your part of the lookout. Closer, closer,
my good sir; we must stand solid as rooted trees, to make anything of a
stand.”

The missionary, in his surprise, permitted the corporal to assume the
position described, though conscious of its uselessness in their actual
condition. As for the Indians, the corporal’s manner and the rattling of
his arms induced the circle to recede several paces; though nothing like
alarm prevailed among them. The effect, nevertheless, was to leave the
two captives space for their evolutions, and a sort of breathing time.
This little change had the appearance of something like success, and it
greatly encouraged the corporal. He began to think it even possible to
make a retreat that would be as honorable as any victory.

“Steady--keep shoulder to shoulder, Parson Amen, and take care of your
flank. Our movement must be by our left flank, and everything depends
on keeping that clear. I shall have to give you my baggonet, for you’re
entirely without arms, which leaves my rear altogether exposed.”

“Think nothing of your arms, Brother Flint--they would be useless in my
hands in any case; and, were we made of muskets, they could be of no use
against these odds. My means of defence come from on high; my armor is
faith; and my only weapon, prayer. I shall not hesitate to use the last
on this, as on all other occasions.”

The missionary then called on the circle of curious savages by whom he
was surrounded, and who certainly contemplated nothing less than his
death, in common with those of all his white companions, to unite with
him in addressing the Throne of Grace. Accustomed to preach and pray
to these people in their own dialect, the worthy parson made a strong
appeal to their charities, while supplicating the favors of Divine
Providence in behalf of himself and his brother captive. He asked for
all the usual benedictions and blessings on his enemies, and made a very
happy exposition of those sublime dogmas of Christianity, which teach us
to “bless them that curse us,” and to “pray for those who despitefully
use us.” Peter, for the first time in his life, was now struck with
the moral beauty of such a sentiment, which seldom fails, when duly
presented, of producing an effect on even the dullest minds. His
curiosity was touched, and instead of turning coldly, as had been his
intention, and leaving the captives in the hands of those to whom he
had delivered them, he remained in the circle, and paid the closest
attention to all of the proceedings. He had several times previously
heard the missionary speak of this duty as a command of God’s, but never
before had he deemed it possible to realize such a thing in practice.

The Indians, if not absolutely awe-struck by the singular spectacle
before them, seemed well disposed to let the missionary finish his
appeal; some wondering, others doubting, and all more or less at a
loss to know what to make of an exhibition so unusual. There stood the
corporal, with his back pressed closely to that of his companion, his
musket at “make ready,” and his whole mien that of a man with every
nerve screwed to the sticking-point; while the missionary, the other
side of the picture, with outstretched arms, was lifting his voice
in prayer to the throne of the Most High. As this extraordinary scene
continued, the corporal grew excited; and ere long his voice was
occasionally heard, blended with that of the clergyman, in terms of
advice and encouragement.

“Blaze away, Mr. Amen,” shouted the soldier. “Give ‘em another
volley--you’re doing wonders, and their front has given ground! One
more such volley as the last, and we’ll make a forward movement,
ourselves--attention!--prepare to march by the left flank, as soon as
there is a good opening!”

That good opening, however, was never made. The savages, though
astonished, were by no means frightened, and had not the smallest idea
of letting their captives escape. On the contrary, Bear’s Meat, who
acted as commander-in-chief on this occasion, was quite self-possessed,
and so far from being impressed with the missionary’s prayer, he
listened to it only in the hope of hearing some admission of weakness
escape. But the excitement of the corporal soon produced a crisis. His
attempts to make a movement “by the left flank,” caused his column of
defence to be broken, and obtaining no assistance from Parson Amen, who
was still pouring out his soul in prayer, while endeavoring to
bring things back to their original state, he suddenly found himself
surrounded and disarmed. From that instant, the corporal changed
his tactics. So long as he was armed, and comparatively free, he had
bethought him only of the means of resistance; now that these were
denied him, he submitted, and summoned all his resolution to bear the
penalties of his captivity, in a manner that might not do discredit to
his regiment. This was the third time that Corporal Flint had been a
prisoner among the Indians, and he was not now to learn the nature of
their tender mercies. His forebodings were not of the most pleasant
character; but that which could not be helped, he was disposed to bear
with manly fortitude. His greatest concern, at that fearful moment, was
for the honor of his corps.

All this time, Parson Amen continued his prayer. So completely was his
spirit occupied with the duty of offering up his petition, that he was
utterly unconscious of what else had passed; nor had he heard one of the
corporal’s appeals for “attention,” and to be “steady,” and to march “by
the left flank.” In a word, the whole man was intent on prayer; and when
thus employed, a six-pounder discharged in the circle would hardly
have disconcerted him. He persevered, therefore, uninterrupted by his
conquerors, until he concluded in his own way. Having thus fortified his
soul, and asked for succor where he had now so long been accustomed to
seek and to find it, the worthy missionary took his seat quietly on a
log, on which the corporal had been previously placed by his captors.

The time had arrived for the chiefs to proceed in the execution of their
purposes. Peter, profoundly struck with the prayers of the missionary in
behalf of his enemies, had taken a station a little on one side, where
he stood ruminating on what he had just heard. If ever precept bore the
stamp of a divine origin, it is this. The more we reflect on it, the
clearer do our perceptions of this truth become. The whole scheme of
Christ’s redemption and future existence is founded in love, and such a
system would be imperfect while any were excluded from its benefits.
To love those who reciprocate our feelings is so very natural, that
the sympathies which engender this feeling are soonest attracted by a
knowledge of their existence, love producing love, as power increases
power. But to love those who hate us, and to strive to do good to those
who are plotting evil against ourselves, greatly exceeds the moral
strength of man, unaided from above. This was the idea that puzzled
Peter, and he now actually interrupted the proceedings, in order
to satisfy his mind on a subject so totally new to him. Previously,
however, to taking this step, he asked the permission of the principal
chiefs, awakening in their bosoms by means of his explanations some of
the interest in this subject that he felt himself.

“Brother medicine-man,” said the mysterious chief, drawing nearer to the
missionary, accompanied himself by Bear’s Meat, Crowsfeather, and one or
two more, “you have been talking to the Great Spirit o! the pale-faces.
We have heard your words, and think them well. They are good words for
a man about to set out on the path that leads to the unknown lands.
Thither we must all go some time, and it matters little when. We may not
all travel the same path. I do not think the Manitou will crowd tribes
of different colors together there, as they are getting to be crowded
together here.

“Brother, you are about to learn how all these things really are. If red
men, and pale-faces, and black men are to live in the same land, after
death, you will shortly know it. My brother is about to go there. He and
his friend, this warrior of his people, will travel on that long path in
company. I hope they will agree by the way, and not trouble each other.
It will be convenient to my brother to have a hunter with him; the path
is so long, he will be hungry before he gets to the end. This warrior
knows how to use a musket, and we shall put his arms with him in his
grave.

“Brother, before you start on this journey, from which no traveller ever
returns, let his color be what it may, we wish to hear you speak further
about loving our enemies. This is not the Indian rule. The red men hate
their enemies, and love their friends. When they ask the Manitou to
do anything to their enemies, it is to do them harm. This is what our
fathers taught us: it is what we teach our children. Why should we love
them that hate us: why should we do good to them that do us harm? Tell
us now, or we may never hear the reason.”

“Tell you I will, Peter, and the Lord so bless my words that they may
soften your hearts, and lead you all to the truth, and to dependence on
the mediation of his blessed Son! We should do good to them that do evil
to us, because the Great Spirit has commanded us so to do. Ask your own
heart if this is not right. If they sound like words that are spoken by
any but those who have been taught by the Manitou, himself. The devils
tell us to revenge, but God commands us to forgive. It is easy to do
good to them that do good to us; but it tries the heart sorely to do
good to them that do us evil. I have spoken to you of the Son of the
Great Spirit. He came on earth, and told us with his own mouth all these
great truths. He said that next to the duty of loving the Manitou, was
the duty of loving our neighbors. No matter whether friend or enemy, it
was our duty to love them, and do them all the good we can. If there is
no venison in their wigwams, we should take the deer off our own poles,
and carry it and put on theirs. Why have I come here to tell you this?
When at home, I lived under a good roof, eat of abundance, and slept in
a soft and warm bed. You know how it is here. We do not know to-day what
we shall eat to-morrow. Our beds are hard, and our roofs are of bark. I
come, because the Son of the Manitou, he who came and lived among men,
told us to do all this. His commands to his medicine-men were, to go
forth, and tell all nations, and tribes, and colors, the truth--to
tell them to ‘love them that sought to do them harm, and to do good for
evil.’”

Parson Amen pausing a moment to take breath, Ungque, who detected the
wavering of Peter’s mind, and who acted far more in opposition to the
mysterious and tribeless chief than from any other motive, profited by
the occasion thus afforded to speak. Without this pause, however, the
breeding of an Indian would have prevented any interruption.

“I open my mouth to speak,” said The Weasel, in his humblest manner.
“What I say is not fit for the wise chiefs to hear. It is foolish, but
my mind tells me to say it. Does the medicine-man of the pale-faces tell
us that the Son of the Great Spirit came upon earth, and lived among
men?”

“I do; such is our belief; and the religion we believe and teach cometh
directly from his mouth.”

“Let the medicine-man tell the chiefs how long the Son of the Great
Spirit stayed on earth, and which way he went when he left it.”

Now, this question was put by Ungque through profound dissimulation. He
had heard of the death of Christ, and had obtained some such idea of
the great sacrifice as would be apt to occur to the mind of a savage.
He foresaw that the effect of the answer would be very likely to destroy
most of the influence that the missionary had just been building up, by
means of his doctrine and his prayers. Parson Amen was a man of singular
simplicity of character, but he had his misgivings touching the effect
of this reply. Still he did not scruple about giving it, or attempt in
any manner to mystify or to deceive.

“It is a humiliating and sad story, my brethren, and one that ought to
cause all heads to be bowed to the earth in shame,” he answered. “The
Son of the Great Spirit came among men; he did nothing but good; told
those who heard him how to live and how to die. In return for all this,
wicked and unbelieving men put him to death. After death his body
was taken up into Heaven--the region of departed spirits, and the
dwelling-place of his Father--where he now is, waiting for the time
when he is to return to the earth, to reward the good and to punish the
wicked. That time will surely come; nor do I believe the day to be very
distant.”

The chiefs listened to this account with grave attention. Some of them
had heard outlines of the same history before. Accounts savoring of the
Christian history had got blended with some of their own traditions,
most probably the fruits of the teachings of the earlier missionaries,
but were so confused and altered as to be scarcely susceptible of being
recognized. To most of them, however, the history of the incarnation
of the Son of God was entirely new; and it struck THEM as a most
extraordinary thing altogether that any man should have injured such
a being! It was, perhaps, singular that no one of them all doubted
the truth of the tradition itself. This they supposed to have been
transmitted with the usual care, and they received it as a fact not to
be disputed. The construction that was put on its circumstances will
best appear in the remarks that followed.

“If the pale-faces killed the Son of the Great Spirit,” said Bough of
the Oak, pointedly, “we can see why they wish to drive the red men from
their lands. Evil spirits dwell in such men, and they do nothing but
what is bad. I am glad that our great chief has told us to put the foot
on this worm and crush it, while yet the Indian foot is large enough to
do it. In a few winters they would kill us, as they killed the Spirit
that did them nothing but good!”

“I am afraid that this mighty tradition hath a mystery in it that
your Indian minds will scarcely be willing to receive,” resumed the
missionary, earnestly. “I would not, for a thousand worlds, or to save
ten thousand lives as worthless as my own, place a straw in the way of
the faith of any; yet must I tell the thing as it happened. This Son of
the Great Spirit was certainly killed by the Jews of that day, so far as
he COULD be killed. He possessed two natures, as indeed do all men: the
body and soul. In his body he was man, as we all are men; in his soul he
was a part of the Great Spirit himself. This is the great mystery of our
religion. We cannot tell how it can happen, but we believe it. We see
around us a thousand things that we cannot understand, and this is one
of them.”

Here Bear’s Meat availed himself of another pause to make a remark. This
he did with the keenness of one accustomed to watch words and events
closely, but with a simplicity that showed no vulgar disposition to
scepticism.

“We do not expect that all the Great Spirit does can be clear to us
Indians,” he said. “We know very little; he knows everything. Why
should we think to know all that he knows? We do not. That part of the
tradition gives us no trouble. Indians can believe without seeing. They
are not squaws, that wish to look behind every bush. But my brother has
told too much for his own good. If the pale-faces killed their Great
Spirit, they can have no Manitou, and must be in the hands of the Evil
Spirit This is the reason they want our hunting-grounds. I will not let
them come any nearer to the setting sun. It is time to begin to kill
them, as they killed their Great Spirit. The Jews did this. My brother
wishes us to think that red men are Jews! No; red men never harmed the
Son of the Great Spirit, They would receive him as a friend, and treat
him as a chief. Accursed be the hand that should be raised to harm him.
This tradition is a wise tradition. It tells us many things. It tells us
that Injins are not Jews. They never hurt the Son of the Great Spirit.
It tells us that the red men have always lived on these hunting-grounds,
and did not come from toward the rising sun. It tells us that pale-faces
are not fit to live. They are too wicked. Let them die.”

“I would ask a question,” put in Peter. “This tradition is not new. I
have heard it before. It entered but a little way into my ears. I did
not think of it. It has now entered deeper, and I wish to hear more. Why
did not the Son of the Great Spirit kill the Jews?--why did he let the
Jews kill him? Will my brother say?”

“He came on earth to die for man, whose wickedness was so deep that the
Great Spirit’s justice could not be satisfied with less. WHY this is so
no one knows. It is enough that it should be so. Instead of thinking of
doing harm to his tormentors and murderers, he died for them, and died
asking for benefits on them, and on their wives and children, for all
time to come. It was he who commanded us to do good to them that do harm
to us.”

Peter gave the utmost attention to this answer, and when he had received
it, he walked apart, musing profoundly. It is worthy of being observed
that not one of these savages raised any hollow objections to the
incarnation of the Son of the Great Spirit, as would have been the case
with so many civilized men. To them this appeared no more difficult and
incomprehensible than most of that which they saw around them. It is
when we begin to assume the airs of philosophy, and to fancy, because
we know a little, that the whole book of knowledge is within our grasp,
that men become sceptics. There is not a human being now in existence
who does not daily, hourly see that which is just as much beyond his
powers of comprehension as this account of the incarnation of the Deity,
and the whole doctrine of the Trinity; and yet he acquiesces in that
which is before his eyes, because it is familiar and he sees it, while
he cavils at all else, though the same unknown and inexplicable cause
lies behind everything. The deepest philosophy is soon lost in this
general mystery, and, to the eye of a meek reason, all around us is a
species of miracle, which must be referred to the power of the Deity.

While thus disposed to receive the pale-face traditions with respect,
however, the red men did not lose sight of their own policy and
purposes. The principal chiefs now stepped aside, and held a brief
council. Though invited to do so, Peter did not join them; leaving to
Bough of the Oak, Ungque, and Bear’s Meat the control of the result
The question was whether the original intention of including this
medicine-priest among those to be cut off should, or should not, be
adhered to. One or two of the chiefs had their doubts, but the opinion
of the council was adverse.

“If the pale-faces killed the Son of their Great Spirit, why should we
hesitate about killing them?” The Weasel asked, with malicious point,
for he saw that Peter was now sorely troubled at the probability of his
own design being fully carried out. “There is no difference. This is
a medicine-priest--in the wigwam is a medicine-bee-hunter, and that
warrior may be a medicine-warrior. We do not know. We are poor Injins
that know but little. It is not so with the pale-faces; they talk with
the conjurer’s bees, and know much. We shall not have ground enough to
take even a muskrat, soon, unless we cut off the strangers. The Manitou
has given us these; let us kill them.”

As no one very strenuously opposed the scheme, the question was soon
decided, and Ungque was commissioned to communicate the result to
the captives. One exception, however, was to be made in favor of the
missionary. His object appeared to be peaceful, and it was determined
that he should be led a short distance into the surrounding thicket, and
be there put to death, without any attempt to torture, or aggravate his
sufferings. As a mark of singular respect, it was also decided not to
scalp him.

As Ungque, and those associated with him, led the missionary to the
place of execution, the former artfully invited Peter to follow. This
was done simply because the Weasel saw that it would now be unpleasant
to the man he hated--hated merely because he possessed an influence that
he coveted for himself.

“My father will see a pleasant sight,” said the wily Weasel, as he
walked at Peter’s side, toward the indicated spot; “he will see a
pale-face die, and know that his foot has been put upon another worm.”

No answer was made to this ironical remark, but Peter walked in silence
to the place where the missionary was stationed, surrounded by a guard.
Ungque now advanced and spoke.

“It is time for the medicine-priest of the pale-faces to start after the
spirits of his people who have gone before him,” he said. “The path is
long, and unless he walks fast, and starts soon, he may not overtake
them. I hope he will see some of them that helped to kill the Son of his
Great Spirit, starving, and foot-sore, on the way.”

“I understand you,” returned the missionary, after a few moments passed
in recovering from the shock of this communication. “My hour is come. I
have held my life in my hand ever since I first put foot in this heathen
region, and if it be the Creator’s will that I am now to die, I bow to
the decree. Grant me a few minutes for prayer to my God.”

Ungque signed that the delay should be granted. The missionary uncovered
his head, knelt, and again lifted up his voice in prayer. At first the
tones were a little tremulous; but they grew firmer as he proceeded.
Soon they became as serene as usual. He first asked mercy for himself,
threw all his hopes on the great atonement, and confessed how far he was
from that holiness which alone could fit him to see God. When this duty
was performed, he prayed for his enemies. The language used was his
mother tongue, but Peter comprehended most of that which was said. He
heard his own people prayed for; he heard his own name mentioned, as the
condemned man asked the mercy of the Manitou in his behalf. Never before
was the soul of this extraordinary savage so shaken. The past seemed
like a dream to him, while the future possessed a light that was still
obscured by clouds. Here was an exemplification in practice of that
divine spirit of love and benevolence which had struck him, already,
as so very wonderful. There could be no mistake. There was the kneeling
captive, and his words, clear, distinct, and imploring, ascended through
the cover of the bushes to the throne of God.

As soon as the voice of the missionary was mute, the mysterious chief
bowed his head and moved away. He was then powerless. No authority of
his could save the captive, and the sight that so lately would have
cheered his eyes was now too painful to bear. He heard the single blow
of the tomahawk which brained the victim, and he shuddered from head to
foot. It was the first time such a weakness had ever come over him. As
for the missionary, in deference to his pursuits, his executioners dug
him a grave, and buried him unmutilated on the spot where he had fallen.



CHAPTER XXV.

     Brutal alike in deed and word,
     With callous heart and hand of strife.
     How like a fiend may man be made,
     Plying the foul and monstrous trade
     Whose harvest-field is human life.
                                 --WHITTIER.


A veil like that of oblivion dropped before the form of the missionary.
The pious persons who had sent him forth to preach to the heathen,
never knew his fate; a disappearance that was so common to that class of
devoted men, as to produce regret rather than surprise. Even those who
took his life felt a respect for him; and, strange as it may seem, it
was to the eloquence of the man who now would have died to save him,
that his death was alone to be attributed. Peter had awakened fires that
he could not quench, and aroused a spirit that he could not quell. In
this respect, he resembled most of those who, under the guise of reform,
or revolution, in moments of doubt, set in motion a machine that is
found impossible to control, when it is deemed expedient to
check exaggeration by reason. Such is often the case with even
well-intentioned leaders, who constantly are made to feel how much
easier it is to light a conflagration, than to stay its flames when
raging.

Corporal Flint was left seated on the log, while the bloody scene of the
missionary’s death was occurring. He was fully alive to all the horrors
of his own situation, and comprehended the nature of his companion’s
movements. The savages usually manifested so much respect for
missionaries, that he was in no degree surprised. Parson Amen had been
taken apart for his execution, and when those who had caused his removal
returned, the corporal looked anxiously for the usual but revolting
token of his late companion’s death. As has been said, however, the
missionary was suffered to lie in his wild grave, without suffering a
mutilation of his remains.

Notwithstanding this moderation, the Indians were getting to be incited
by this taste of blood. The principal chiefs became sterner in their
aspects, and the young men began to manifest some such impatience as
that which the still untried pup betrays, when he first scents his
game. All these were ominous symptoms, and were well understood by the
captive.

Perhaps it would not have been possible, in the whole range of human
feelings, to find two men under influences more widely opposed to each
other than were the missionary and the corporal, in this, their last
scene on earth. The manner of Parson Amen’s death has been described. He
died in humble imitation of his Divine Master, asking for blessings on
those who were about to destroy him, with a heart softened by Christian
graces, and a meekness that had its origin in the consciousness of his
own demerits. On the other hand, the corporal thought only of vengeance.
Escape he knew to be impossible, and he would fain take his departure
like a soldier, or as he conceived a soldier should die, in the midst of
fallen foes.

Corporal Flint had a salutary love of life, and would very gladly
escape, did the means offer; but, failing of these, all his thoughts
turned toward revenge. Some small impulses of ambition, or what it is
usual to dignify with that term, showed themselves even at that serious
moment. He had heard around the camp-fires, and in the garrisons, so
many tales of heroism and of fortitude manifested by soldiers who had
fallen into the hands of the Indians, that a faint desire to enroll his
own name on the list of these worthies was beginning to arise in his
breast. But truth compels us to add that the predominant feeling was
the wish to revenge his own fate, by immolating as many of his foes
as possible. To this last purpose, therefore, his thoughts were mainly
directed, during that interval which his late companion had employed in
prayers for those under whose blows he was about to fall. Such is the
difference in man, with his heart touched, or untouched, by the power of
the Holy Spirit.

It was, however, much easier for the corporal to entertain designs of
the nature mentioned than to carry them out: unarmed, surrounded by
watchful enemies, and totally without support of any sort, the chances
of effecting his purpose were small indeed. Once, for a minute only,
the veteran seriously turned his thoughts to escape. It occurred to him,
that he might possibly reach the castle, could he get a little start;
and should the Indians compel him to run the gauntlet, as was often
their practice, he determined to make an effort for life in that mode.
Agreeably to the code of frontier warfare, a successful flight of this
nature was scarcely less creditable than a victory in the field.

Half an hour passed after the execution of the missionary before the
chiefs commenced their proceedings with the corporal. The delay was
owing to a consultation, in which The Weasel had proposed despatching
a party to the castle, to bring in the family, and thus make a common
destruction of the remaining pale-faces known to be in that part of the
Openings. Peter did not dare to oppose this scheme, himself; but he so
managed as to get Crowsfeather to do it, without bringing himself into
the foreground. The influence of the Pottawattamie prevailed, and it
was decided to torture this one captive, and to secure his scalp, before
they proceeded to work their will on the others. Ungque, who had gained
ground rapidly by his late success, was once more commissioned to state
to the captive the intentions of his captors.

“Brother,” commenced The Weasel, placing himself directly in front of
the corporal, “I am about to speak to you. A wise warrior opens his
ears, when he hears the voice of his enemy. He may learn something it
will be good for him to know. It will be good for you to know what I am
about to say.

“Brother, you are a pale-face, and we are Injins. You wish to get our
hunting-grounds, and we wish to keep them. To keep them, it has become
necessary to take your scalp. I hope you are ready to let us have it.”

The corporal had but an indifferent knowledge of the Indian language,
but he comprehended all that was uttered on this occasion. Interest
quickened his faculties, and no part of what was said was lost. The
gentle, slow, deliberate manner in which The Weasel delivered himself,
contributed to his means of understanding. He was fortunately prepared
for what her heard, and the announcement of his approaching fate did not
disturb him to the degree of betraying weakness. This last was a
triumph in which the Indians delighted, though they ever showed the
most profound respect for such of their victims as manifested a manly
fortitude. It was necessary to reply, which the corporal did in English,
knowing that several present could interpret his words. With a view to
render this the more easy, he spoke in fragments of sentences, and with
great deliberation.

“Injins,” returned the corporal, “you surrounded me, and I have been
taken prisoner--had there been a platoon on us, you mightn’t have made
out quite so well. It’s no great victory for three hundred warriors to
overcome a single man. I count Parson Amen as worse than nothing, for
he looked to neither rear nor flank. If I could have half an hour’s work
upon you, with only half of our late company, I think we should lower
your conceit. But that is impossible, and so you may do just what you
please with me. I ask no favors.”

Although this answer was very imperfectly translated, it awakened a good
deal of admiration. A man who could look death so closely in the face,
with so much steadiness, became a sort of hero in Indian eyes; and
with the North American savage, fortitude is a virtue not inferior to
courage. Murmurs of approbation were heard, and Ungque was privately
requested to urge the captive further, in order to see how far present
appearances were likely to be maintained.

“Brother, I have said that we are Injins,” resumed The Weasel, with an
air so humble, and a voice so meek, that a stranger might have supposed
he was consoling, instead of endeavoring to intimidate, the prisoner.
“It is true. We are nothing but poor, ignorant Injins. We can only
torment our prisoners after Injin fashion. If we were pale-faces, we
might do better. We did not torment the medicine-priest. We were afraid
he would laugh at our mistakes. He knew a great deal. We know but
little. We do as well as we know how.

“Brother, when Injins do as well as they know how, a warrior should
forget their mistakes. We wish to torment you, in a way to prove that
you are all over man. We wish so to torment you that you will stand up
under the pain in such a way that it will make our young men think your
mother was not a squaw--that there is no woman in you. We do this for
our own honor, as well as for yours. It will be an honor to us to have
such a captive; it will be an honor to you to be such a captive. We
shall do as well as we know how.

“Brother, it is most time to begin. The tormenting will last a long
time. We must not let the medicine-priest get too great a start on the
path to the happy hunting-grounds of your--”

Here, a most unexpected interruption occurred, that effectually put a
stop to the eloquence of Ungque. In his desire to make an impression,
the savage approached within reach of the captive’s arm, while his
own mind was intent on the words that he hoped would make the prisoner
quail. The corporal kept his eye on that of the speaker, charming him,
as it were, into a riveted gaze, in return. Watching his opportunity, he
caught the tomahawk from The Weasel’s belt, and by a single blow, felled
him dead at his feet. Not content with this, the old soldier now bounded
forward, striking right and left, inflicting six or eight wounds on
others, before he could be again arrested, disarmed, and bound. While
the last was doing, Peter withdrew, unobserved.

Many were the “hughs” and other exclamations of admiration that
succeeded this display of desperate manhood! The body of The Weasel was
removed, and interred, while the wounded withdrew to attend to their
hurts; leaving the arena to the rest assembled there. As for the
corporal, he was pretty well blown, and, in addition to being now bound
hand and foot, his recent exertions, which were terrific while they
lasted, effectually incapacitated him from making any move, so long as
he was thus exhausted and confined.

A council was now held by the principal chiefs. Ungque had few friends.
In this, he shared the fate of most demagogues, who are commonly
despised even by those they lead and deceive. No one regretted him
much, and some were actually glad of his fate. But the dignity of the
conquerors must be vindicated. It would never do to allow a pale-face
to obtain so great an advantage, and not take a signal vengeance for
his deeds. After a long consultation, it was determined to subject the
captive to the trial by saplings, and thus see if he could bear the
torture without complaining.

As some of our readers may not understand what this fell mode of
tormenting is, it may be necessary to explain.

There is scarcely a method of inflicting pain, that comes within, the
compass of their means, that the North American Indians have not essayed
on their enemies. When the infernal ingenuity that is exercised on these
occasions fails of its effect, the captives themselves have been heard
to suggest other means of torturing that THEY have known practised
successfully by their own people. There is often a strange strife
between the tormentors and the tormented; the one to manifest skill in
inflicting pain, and the other to manifest fortitude in enduring it.
As has just been said, quite as much renown is often acquired by the
warrior, in setting all the devices of his conquerors at defiance, while
subject to their hellish attempts, as in deeds of arms. It might be more
true to say that such WAS the practice among the Indians, than to say,
at the present time, that such IS; for it is certain that civilization
in its approaches, while it has in many particulars even degraded the
red man, has had a silent effect in changing and mitigating many of his
fiercer customs--this, perhaps, among the rest. It is probable that the
more distant tribes still resort to all these ancient usages; but it is
both hoped and believed that those nearer to the whites do not.

The “torture by saplings” is one of those modes of inflicting pain that
would naturally suggest themselves to savages. Young trees that do not
stand far apart are trimmed of their branches, and brought nearer to
each other by bending their bodies; the victim is then attached to both
trunks, sometimes by his extended arms, at others by his legs, or by
whatever part of the frame cruelty can suggest, when the saplings are
released, and permitted to resume their upright positions. Of course,
the sufferer is lifted from the earth, and hangs suspended by his limbs,
with a strain on them that soon produces the most intense anguish. The
celebrated punishment of the “knout” partakes a good deal of this same
character of suffering. Bough of the Oak now approached the corporal, to
let him know how high an honor was in reserve for him.

“Brother,” said this ambitious orator, “you are a brave warrior. You
have done well. Not only have you killed one of our chiefs, but you have
wounded several of our young men. No one but a brave could have done
this. You have forced us to bind you, lest you might kill some more.
It is not often that captives do this. Your courage has caused us to
consult HOW we might best torture you, in a way most to manifest your
manhood. After talking together, the chiefs have decided that a man of
your firmness ought to be hung between two young trees. We have found
the trees, and have cut off their branches. You can see them. If they
were a little larger their force would be greater, and they would give
you more pain--would be more worthy of you; but these are the largest
saplings we could find. Had there been any larger, we would have let
you have them. We wish to do you honor, for you are a bold warrior, and
worthy to be well tormented.

“Brother, look at these saplings! They are tall and straight. When they
are bent by many hands, they will come together. Take away the hands,
and they will become straight again. Your arms must then keep them
together. We wish we had some pappooses here, that they might shoot
arrows into your flesh. That would help much to torment you. You cannot
have this honor, for we have no pappooses. We are afraid to let our
young men shoot arrows into your flesh. They are strong, and might kill
you. We wish you to die between the saplings, as is your right, being so
great a brave.

“Brother, we think much better of you since you killed The Weasel, and
hurt our young men. If all your warriors at Chicago had been as bold
as you, Black-Bird would not have taken that fort. You would have saved
many scalps. This encourages us. It makes us think the Great Spirit
means to help us, and that we shall kill all the pale-faces. When we get
further into your settlements, we do not expect to meet many such braves
as you. They tell us we shall then find men who will run, and screech
like women. It will not be a pleasure to torment such men. We had
rather torment a bold warrior, like you, who makes us admire him for his
manliness. We love our squaws, but not in the warpath. They are best
in the lodges; here we want nothing but men. You are a man--a brave--we
honor you. We think, notwithstanding, we shall yet make you weak. It
will not be easy, yet we hope to do it. We shall try. We may not think
quite so well of you, if we do it; but we shall always call you a brave.
A man is not a stone. We can all feel, and when we have done all that is
in our power, no one can do more. It is so with Injins; we think it must
be so with pale-faces. We mean to try and see how it is.”

The corporal understood very little of this harangue, though he
perfectly comprehended the preparations of the saplings, and Bough of
the Oak’s allusions to THEM. He was in a cold sweat at the thought, for
resolute as he was, he foresaw sufferings that human fortitude could
hardly endure. In this state of the case, and in the frame of mind he
was in, he had recourse to an expedient of which he had often heard,
and which he thought might now be practised to some advantage. It was to
open upon the savages with abuse, and to exasperate them, by taunts and
sarcasm, to such a degree as might induce some of the weaker members
of the tribe to dispatch him on the spot. As the corporal, with the
perspective of the saplings before his eyes, manifested a good deal of
ingenuity on this occasion, we shall record some of his efforts.

“D’ye call yourselves chiefs and warriors?” he began, upon a pretty high
key. “I call ye squaws! There is not a man among ye. Dogs would be the
best name. You are poor Injins. A long time ago, the pale-faces came
here in two or three little canoes. They were but a handful, and you
were plentier than prairie wolves. Your bark could be heard throughout
the land. Well, what did this handful of pale-faces? It drove your
fathers before them, until they got all the best of the hunting-grounds.
Not an Injin of you all, now, ever get down on the shores of the great
salt lake, unless to sell brooms and baskets, and then he goes sneaking
like a wolf after a sheep. You have forgotten how clams and oysters
taste. Your fathers had as many of them as they could eat; but not one
of YOU ever tasted them. The pale-faces eat them all. If an Injin asked
for one, they would throw the shell at his head, and call him a dog.

“Do you think that my chiefs would hang one of you between two such
miserable saplings as these? No! They would scorn to practice such
pitiful torture. They would bring the tops of two tall pines together,
trees a hundred and fifty feet high, and put their prisoner on the
topmost boughs, for the crows and ravens to pick his eyes out. But you
are miserable Injins! You know nothing. If you know’d any better, would
you act such poor torment ag’in’ a great brave? I spit upon ye, and call
you squaws. The pale-faces have made women of ye. They have taken out
your hearts, and put pieces of dog’s flesh in their places.”

Here the corporal, who delivered himself with an animation suited to his
language, was obliged to pause, literally for want of breath. Singular
as it may seem, this tirade excited great admiration among the savages.
It is true, that very few understood what was said; perhaps no one
understood ALL, but the manner was thought to be admirable. When some of
the language was interpreted, a deep but smothered resentment was felt;
more especially at the taunts touching the manner in which the whites
had overcome the red men. Truth is hard to be borne, and the individual,
or people, who will treat a thousand injurious lies with contempt, feel
all their ire aroused at one reproach that has its foundation in fact.
Nevertheless, the anger that the corporal’s words did, in truth, awaken,
was successfully repressed, and he had the disappointment of seeing that
his life was spared for the torture.

“Brother,” said Bough of the Oak, again placing himself before the
captive, “you have a stout heart. It is made of stone, and not of flesh.
If our hearts be of dog’s meat, yours is of stone. What you say is true.
The pale-faces DID come at first in two or three canoes, and there were
but few of them. We are ashamed, for it is true, A few pale-faces drove
toward the setting sun many Injins. But we cannot be driven any further.
We mean to stop here, and begin to take all the scalps we can. A great
chief, who belongs to no one tribe, but belongs to all tribes, who
speaks all tongues, has been sent by the Great Spirit to arouse us. He
has done it. You know him. He came from the head of the lake with you,
and kept his eye on your scalp. He has meant to take it from the first.
He waited only for an opportunity. That opportunity has come, and we now
mean to do as he has told us we ought to do. This is right. Squaws are
in a hurry; warriors know how to wait. We would kill you at once, and
hang your scalp on our pole, but it would not be right We wish to do
what is right. If we ARE poor Injins, and know but little, we know what
is right. It is right to torment so great a brave, and we mean to do
it. It is only just to you to do so. An old warrior who has seen so many
enemies, and who has so big a heart, ought not to be knocked in the
head like a pappoose or a squaw. It is his right to be tormented. We are
getting ready, and shall soon begin. If my brother can tell us a new way
of tormenting, we are willing to try it. Should we not make out as well
as pale-faces, my brother will remember who we are. We mean to do our
best, and we hope to make his heart soft. If we do this, great will be
our honor. Should we not do it, we cannot help it. We shall try.”

It was now the corporal’s turn to put in a rebutter.

This he did without any failure in will or performance. By this time he
was so well warmed as to think or care very little about the saplings,
and to overlook the pain they might occasion.

“Dogs can do little but bark; ‘specially Injin dogs,” he said. “Injins
themselves are little better than their own dogs. They can bark, but
they don’t know how to bite. You have many great chiefs here. Some
are panthers, and some bears, and some buffaloes; but where are your
weasels? I have fit you now these twenty years, and never have I known
ye to stand up to the baggonet. It’s not Injin natur’ to do THAT.”

Here the corporal, without knowing it, made some such reproach to the
aboriginal warriors of America as the English used to throw into the
teeth of ourselves--that of not standing up to a weapon which neither
party possessed. It was matter of great triumph that the Americans would
not stand the charge of the bayonet at the renowned fight on Breed’s,
for instance, when it is well known that not one man in five among the
colonists had any such weapon at all to “stand up” with. A different
story was told at Guildford, and Stony Point, and Eutaw, and Bennington,
and Bemis’ Heights, and fifty other places that might be named, after
the troops were furnished with bayonets. THEN it was found that the
Americans could use them as well as others, and so might it have proved
with the red men, though their discipline, or mode of fighting, scarce
admitted of such systematic charges. All this, however, the corporal
overlooked, much as if he were a regular historian who was writing to
make out a case.

“Harkee, brother, since you WILL call me brother; though, Heaven be
praised, not a drop of nigger or Injin blood runs in my veins,” resumed
the corporal. “Harkee, friend redskin, answer me one thing. Did you ever
hear of such a man as Mad Anthony? He was the tickler for your infernal
tribes! You pulled no saplings together for him. He put you up with ‘the
long-knives and leather-stockings,’ and you outrun his fleetest horses.
I was with him, and saw more naked backs than naked faces among your
people, that day. Your Great Bear got a rap on his nose that sent him to
his village yelping like a cur.”

Again was the corporal compelled to stop to take breath. The allusion to
Wayne, and his defeat of the Indians, excited so much ire, that several
hands grasped knives and tomahawks, and one arrow was actually drawn
nearly to the head; but the frown of Bear’s Meat prevented any outbreak,
or actual violence. It wa’s deemed prudent, however, to put an end to
this scene, lest the straightforward corporal, who laid it on heavily,
and who had so much to say about Indian defeats, might actually succeed
in touching some festering wound that would bring him to his death at
once. It was, accordingly, determined to proceed with the torture of the
saplings without further delay.

The corporal was removed accordingly, and placed between the two bended
trees, which were kept together by withes around their tops. An arm of
the captive was bound tightly at the wrist to the top of each tree, so
that his limbs were to act as the only tie between the saplings, as soon
as the withes should be cut. The Indians now worked in silence, and the
matter was getting to be much too serious for the corporal to indulge in
any more words. The cold sweat returned, and many an anxious glance
was cast by the veteran on the fell preparations. Still he maintained
appearances, and when all was ready, not a man there was aware of the
agony of dread which prevailed in the breast of the victim. It was not
death that he feared as much as suffering. A few minutes, the corporal
well knew, would make the pain intolerable, while he saw no hope of
putting a speedy end to his existence. A man might live hours in such a
situation. Then it was that the teachings of childhood were revived in
the bosom of this hardened man, and he remembered the Being that died
for HIM, in common with the rest of the human race, on the tree. The
seeming similarity of his own execution struck his imagination, and
brought a tardy but faint recollection of those lessons that had lost
most of their efficacy in the wickedness and impiety of camps. His soul
struggled for relief in that direction, but the present scene was too
absorbing to admit of its lifting itself so far above his humanity.

“Warrior of the pale-faces,” said Bough of the Oak, “we are going to cut
the withe. You will then be where a brave man will want all his courage.
If you are firm, we will do you honor; if you faint and screech, our
young men will laugh at you. This is the way with Injins. They honor
braves; they point the finger at cowards.”

Here a sign was made by Bear’s Meat, and a warrior raised the tomahawk
that was to separate the fastenings, His hand was in the very act of
descending, when the crack of a rifle was heard, and a little smoke rose
out of the thicket, near the spot where the bee-hunter and the corporal,
himself, had remained so long hid, on the occasion of the council first
held in that place. The tomahawk fell, however, the withes were parted,
and up flew the saplings, with a violence that threatened to tear the
arms of the victim out of their sockets.

The Indians listened, expecting the screeches and groans;--they
gazed, hoping to witness the writhings of their captive. But they were
disappointed. There hung the body, its arms distended, still holding
the tops of the saplings bowed, but not a sign of life was seen. A small
line of blood trickled down the forehead, and above it was the nearly
imperceptible hole made by the passage of a bullet. The head itself had
fallen forward, and a little on one shoulder. The corporal had escaped
the torments reserved for him, by this friendly blow.

It was so much a matter of course for an Indian to revenge his own
wounds--to alleviate his smarts, by retaliating on those who inflicted
them--that the chiefs expressed neither surprise nor resentment at the
manner of the corporal’s death. There was some disappointment, it is
true; but no anger was manifested, since it was supposed that some one
of those whom the prisoner had wounded had seen fit, in this mode,
to revenge his own hurts. In this, however, the Indians deceived
themselves. The well-intentioned and deadly shot that saved the corporal
from hours of agony came from the friendly hand of Pigeonswing, who had
no sooner discharged his rifle than he stole away through the thicket,
and was never discovered. This he did, too, at the expense of Ungque’s
scalp, on which he had set his heart.

As for the Indians, perceiving that their hopes of forcing a captive
to confess his weakness were frustrated, they conferred together on the
course of future proceedings. There was an inquiry for Peter, but Peter
was not to be found. Bough of the Oak suggested that the mysterious
chief must have gone to the palisaded hut, in order to get the remaining
scalps, his passion for this symbol of triumphs over pale-faces being
well known. It was, therefore, incumbent on the whole band to follow,
with the double view of sharing in the honor of the assault, and of
rendering assistance.

Abandoning the body of the corporal where it hung, away went these
savages, by this time keenly alive to the scent of blood. Something like
order was observed, however, each chief leading his own particular part
of the band, in his own way, but on a designated route. Bear’s Meat
acted as commander-in-chief, the subordinate leaders following his
instructions with reasonable obedience. Some went in one direction,
others in another; until the verdant bottom near the sweet spring was
deserted.

In less than half an hour the whole band was collected around Castle
Meal, distant, however, beyond the range of a rifle. The different
parties, as they arrived, announced their presence by whoops, which were
intended to answer the double purpose of signals, and of striking terror
to the hearts of the besieged; the North American Indians making ample
use of this great auxiliary in war.

All this time no one was seen in or about the fortified hut The gate
was closed, as were the doors and windows, manifesting preparations for
defence; but the garrison kept close. Nor was Peter to be seen. He might
be a prisoner, or he might not have come in this direction. It was just
possible that he might be stealing up to the building, to get a nearer
view, and a closer scout.

Indian warfare is always stealthy. It is seldom, indeed, that the
aboriginal Americans venture on an open assault of any fortified place,
however small and feeble it may be. Ignorant of the use of artillery,
and totally without that all-important arm, their approaches to any
cover, whence a bullet may be sent against them, are ever wary, slow,
and well concerted. They have no idea of trenches--do not possess the
means of making them, indeed--but they have such substitutes of their
own as usually meet all their wants, more particularly in portions of
the country that are wooded. In cases like this before our present band,
they had to exercise their wits to invent new modes of effecting their
purposes.

Bear’s Meat collected his principal chiefs, and, after a considerable
amount of consultation, it was determined, in the present instance, to
try the virtue of fire. The only sign of life they could detect about
the hut was an occasional bark from Hive, who had been taken within the
building, most probably to protect him from the bullets and arrows of
the enemy. Even this animal did not howl like a dog in distress; but he
barked, as if aware of the vicinity of strangers. The keenest scrutiny
could not detect an outlet of any sort about the hut. Everything was
tightly closed, and it was impossible to say when, or whence, a bullet
might not be sent against the unwary.

The plan was soon formed, and was quite as rapidly executed. Bough of
the Oak, himself, supported by two or three other braves, undertook to
set the buildings on fire. This was done by approaching the kitchen,
dodging from tree to tree, making each movement with a rapidity that
defeated aim, and an irregularity that defied calculation. In this way
the kitchen was safely reached, where there was a log cover to conceal
the party. Here also was fire, the food for dinner being left, just as
it had been put over to boil, not long before. The Indians had prepared
themselves with arrows and light wood, and soon they commenced sending
their flaming missiles toward the roof of the hut. Arrow after arrow
struck, and it was not long before the roof was on fire.

A yell now arose throughout the Openings. Far and near the Indians
exulted at their success. The wood was dry, and it was of a very
inflammable nature. The wind blew, and in half an hour Castle Meal
was in a bright blaze. Hive now began to howl, a sign that he knew his
peril. Still, no human being appeared. Presently the flaming roof fell
in and the savages listened intently to hear the screeches of their
victims. The howls of the dog increased, and he was soon seen, with his
hair burned from his skin, leaping on the unroofed wall, and thence into
the area within the palisades. A bullet terminated his sufferings as he
alighted.

Bear’s Meat now gave the signal, and a general rush was made. No rifle
opposed them, and a hundred Indians were soon at the palisades. To the
surprise of all, the gate was found unfastened. Rushing within, the
door of the hut was forced, and a view obtained of the blazing furnace
within. The party had arrived in sufficient season to perceive fragments
of le Bourdon’s rude furniture and stores yet blazing, but nowhere was
a human corpse visible. Poles were got, and the brands were removed, in
the expectation of finding bones beneath them; but without success. It
was now certain that no pale-face had perished in that hut. Then the
truth flashed on the minds of all the savages: le Bourdon and his
friends had taken the alarm in time, and had escaped!



CHAPTER XXVI.

     Behold, O Lord! the heathen tread
      The branches of thy fruitful vine,
     That its luxurious tendrils spread
      O’er all the hills of Palestine.
     And now the wild boar comes to waste
     Even us, the greenest boughs and last.
     That, drinking of its choicest dew,
     On Zion’s hill in beauty grew.
                                  --MILMAN.

 The change in Peter had been gradually making itself apparent, ever
since he joined the party of the bee-hunter. When he entered the
Kalamazoo, in the company of the two men who had now fallen the victims
of his own designs, his heart was full of the fell intention of cutting
off the whole white race. Margery had first induced him to think of
exceptions. He had early half-decided that she should be spared, to be
carried to his own lodge, as an adopted daughter. When he became aware
of the state of things between his favorite and her lover, there was a
severe struggle in his breast on the subject of sparing the last. He
saw how strongly the girl was attached to him, and something like human
sentiments forced their way among his savage plans. The mysterious
communication of le Bourdon with the bees, however, had far more
influence in determining him to spare so great a medicine-man, than
Margery’s claims; and he had endeavored to avail himself of a marriage
as a means of saving the bride, instead of saving the bridegroom.
All the Indians entertained a species of awe for le Bourdon, and all
hesitated about laying hands on one who appeared so gifted. It was,
therefore, the expectation of this extraordinary being that the wife
might be permitted to escape with the husband. The effect of The
Weasel’s cunning has been described. Such was the state of Peter’s mind
when he met the band in the scenes last described. There he had been all
attention to the demeanor of the missionary. A hundred times had he seen
warriors die uttering maledictions on their enemies; but this was the
first occasion on which he had ever known a man to use his latest breath
in asking for blessings on those “who persecuted him.” At first, Peter
was astounded. Then the sublime principles had their effect, and his
heart was deeply touched with what he heard. How far the Holy Spirit
aided these better feelings, it might be presumptuous, on the one hand,
to say; while, on the other, it will be equally presuming to think of
denying the possibility--nay, the probability--that the great change
which so suddenly came over the heart of Peter was produced by more than
mere human agencies. We know that this blessed Spirit is often poured
out, in especial cases, with affluent benevolence, and there can be no
sufficient reason for supposing this savage might not have been thus
signally favored, as soon as the avenues of his heart opened to the
impulses of a generous humanity. The very qualities that would induce
such a being to attempt the wild and visionary scheme of vengeance and
retribution, that had now occupied his sleeping and waking thoughts for
years, might, under a better direction, render him eminently fit to be
the subject of divine grace. A latent sense of right lay behind all his
seeming barbarity, and that which to us appears as a fell ferocity, was,
in his own eyes, no less than a severe justice.

The words, the principles, the prayers, and, more than all, the EXAMPLE
of the missionary, wrought this great change, so far as human agencies
were employed; but the power of God was necessary to carry out and
complete this renewal of the inner man. We do not mean that a miracle
was used in the sudden conversion of this Indian to better feelings, for
that which is of hourly occurrence, and which may happen to all, comes
within the ordinary workings of a Divine Providence, and cannot thus be
designated with propriety; but we do wish to be understood as saying,
that no purely human power could have cleared the moral vision, changed
all the views, and softened the heart of such a man, as was so promptly
done in the case of Peter. The way had been gradually preparing,
perhaps, by the means already described, but the great transformation
came so suddenly and so powerfully as to render him a different being,
as it might almost be, in the twinkling of an eye! Such changes often
occur, and though it may suit the self-sufficiency of the worldling
to deride them, he is the wisest who submits in the meekest spirit to
powers that exceed his comprehension.

In this state of mind, then, Peter left the band as soon as the fate of
the missionary was decided. His immediate object was to save the
whites who remained, Gershom and Dorothy now having a place in his
good intentions, as well as le Bourdon and Margery. Although he moved
swiftly, and nearly by an air-line, his thoughts scarce kept company
with his feet. During that rapid walk, he was haunted with the image of
a man, dying while he pronounced benedictions on his enemies!

There was little in common between the natural objects of that placid
and rural scene and the fell passions that were so actively at work
among the savages. The whole of the landscape was bathed in the light
of a clear, warm summer’s day. These are the times when the earth truly
seems a sanctuary, in spots remote from the haunts of men, and least
exposed to his abuses. The bees hum around the flowers, the birds carol
on the boughs and from amid their leafy arbors, while even the leaping
and shining waters appear to be instinct with the life that extols the
glory of God.

As for the family near the palisaded hut, happiness had not, for many
a month, been so seated among them, as on this very occasion. Dorothy
sympathized truly in the feelings of the youthful and charming bride,
while Gershom had many of the kind and affectionate wishes of a brother
in her behalf. The last was in his best attire, as indeed were the
females, who were neatly though modestly clad, and Gershom had that air
of decent repose and of quiet enjoyment, which is so common of a Sabbath
with the men of his class, among the people from whom he sprung. The
fears lately excited were momentarily forgotten. Everything around them
wore an air so placid; the vault above them was so profoundly tranquil;
the light of day was so soft and yet so bright; the Openings seemed so
rural and so much like pictures of civilization, that apprehension had
been entirely forgotten in present enjoyment. Such was the moment when
Peter suddenly stood before le Bourdon and Margery, as the young couple
sat beneath the shade of the oaks, near the spring. One instant the
Indian regarded this picture of young wedded life with a gleam of
pleasure on his dark face; then he announced his presence by speaking.

“Can’t sit here lookin’ at young squaw,” said this literal being.
“Get up, and put thing in canoe. Time come to go on path dat lead to
pale-face country.”

“What has happened, Peter?” demanded the bee-hunter, springing to his
feet. “You come like a runner rushing in with his bad tidings. Has
anything happened to give an alarm?”

“Up, and off, tell you. No use talkin’ now. Put all he can in canoe,
and paddle away fast as can.” There was no mistaking Peter’s manner. The
bee-hunter saw the uselessness of questioning such a man, at a time like
that, and he called to Gershom to join him.

“Here is the chief, to warn us to move,” said the bee-hunter,
endeavoring to appear calm, in order that he might not needlessly alarm
the females, “and what he advises, we had better do. I know there is
danger, by what has fallen from Pigeonswing as well as from himself; so
let us lose no time, but stow the canoes, and do as he tells us.”

As Gershom assented, it was not two minutes ere all were at work. For
several days, each canoe had been furnished with provisions for a hasty
flight. It remained only to add such of the effects as were too valuable
and necessary to be abandoned, and which had not been previously exposed
without the palisades. For half an hour le Bourdon and Gershom worked
as for life. No questions were asked, nor was a single moment lost, in
a desire to learn more. The manner in which Peter bore himself satisfied
Boden that the emergency was pressing, and it is seldom that more was
done by so few hands in so short a period. Fortunately, the previous
preparation greatly aided the present object, and nearly everything of
any value was placed in the canoes within the brief space mentioned. It
then became necessary to decide concerning the condition in which Castle
Meal was to be left. Peter advised closing every aperture, shutting
the gate, and leaving the dog within. There is no doubt that these
expedients prevented the parties falling early into the hands of their
enemies; for the time lost by the savages in making their approaches to
the hut was very precious to the fugitives.

Just as the canoes were loaded, Pigeonswing came in. He announced that
the whole band was in motion, and might be expected to reach the grove
in ten minutes. Placing an arm around the slender waist of Margery, le
Bourdon almost carried her to his own canoe, Gershom soon had Dorothy in
his little bark, while Peter entered that to the ownership of which he
may be said to have justly succeeded by the deaths of the corporal and
the missionary. Pigeonswing remained behind, in order to act as a scout,
having first communicated to Peter the course the last ought to steer.
Before the Chippewa plunged into the cover in which it was his intention
to conceal himself, he made a sign that the band was already in sight.

The heart of le Bourdon sunk within him, when he learned how near were
the enemy. To him, escape seemed impossible; and he now regretted having
abandoned the defences of his late residence. The river was sluggish for
more than a mile at that spot, and then occurred a rift, which could
not be passed without partly unloading the canoes, and where there must
necessarily be a detention of more than an hour. Thus, it was scarcely
possible for canoes descending that stream to escape from so large a
band of pursuers. The sinuosities, themselves, would enable the last
to gain fifty points ahead of them, where ambushes, or even open
resistance, must place them altogether at the mercy of the savages.

Peter knew all this, as well as the bee-hunter, and he had no intention
of trusting his new friends in a flight down the river. Pigeonswing,
with the sententious brevity of an Indian, had made an important
communication to him, while they were moving, for the last time, toward
the canoes, and he now determined to profit by it. Taking the lead,
therefore, with his own canoe, Peter paddled UP, instead of DOWN the
stream, going in a direction opposite to that which it would naturally
be supposed the fugitives had taken. In doing this, also, he kept
close under the bank which would most conceal the canoes from those who
approached it on its southern side.

It will be remembered that the trees for the palisades had been cut from
a swamp, a short distance above the bee-hunter’s residence. They had
grown on the margin of the river, which had been found serviceable in
floating the logs to their point of destination. The tops of many of
these trees, resinuous, and suited by their nature to preserve their
leaves for a considerable time, lay partly in the stream and partly on
its banks; and Pigeonswing, foreseeing the necessity of having a place
of refuge, had made so artful a disposition of several of them, that,
while they preserved all the appearance of still lying where they had
fallen, it was possible to haul canoes up beneath them, between the
branches and the bank, in a way to form a place of perfect concealment.
No Indian would have trusted to such a hiding-place, had it not been
matter of notoriety that the trees had been felled for a particular
purpose, or had their accidental disposition along the bank been
discernibly deranged. But such was not the case, the hand of Pigeonswing
having been so skilfully employed that what he had done could not
be detected. He might be said to have assisted nature, instead of
disturbing her.

The canoes were actually paddling close under the bank, in the Castle
Meal reach of the river, when the band arrived at the grove, and
commenced what might be called the investment of the place. Had not all
the attention of the savages been drawn toward the hut, it is probable
that some wandering eye might have caught a glimpse of some one of them,
as inequalities in the bank momentarily exposed each, in succession,
to view. This danger, however, passed away, and by turning a point,
the fugitives were effectually concealed from all who did not actually
approach the river at that particular point. Here it was, however, that
the swamp commenced, and the ground being wet and difficult, no one
would be likely to do this. The stream flowed through this swamp, having
a dense wood on each side, though one of no great extent. The reach,
moreover, was short, making a completely sheltered haven of the
Kalamazoo, within its limits.

Once in this wooded reach, Peter tossed an arm, and assumed an air of
greater security. He felt infinitely relieved, and knew that they were
safe, for a time, unless some wanderer should have taken to the swamp--a
most improbable thing of itself. When high enough, he led the way across
the stream, and entering below, he soon had all the canoes in their
place of concealment.

“Dis good place,” observed the great chief, as soon as all were fast;
“bess take care, dough. Bess not make track too much on land; Injin got
sharp eye, and see ebbery t’ing. Now, I go and talk wid chief. Come back
by-’em-by. You stay here. Good-bye.”

“Stop, Peter--one word before we part. If you see Parson Amen, or the
corporal, it might be well to tell THEM where we are to be found. They
would be glad to know.”

Peter looked grave; even sad. He did not answer for fully a minute. When
he did, it was in a low, suppressed voice, such as one is apt to use
when there is a weight felt on his mind.

“Nebber know any t’ing ag’in,” returned the chief. “Both dem pale-face
dead.”

“Dead!” echoed all within hearing.

“Juss so; Injin kill him. Mean to kill you, too--dat why I run away.
Saw medicine-priest die. What you t’ink, Blossom?--What you t’ink,
Bourdon?--Dat man die asking Great Spirit to do good to Injin!”

“I can believe it, Peter, for he was a good man, and such are our
Christian laws, though few of us obey them. I can easily believe that
Parson Amen was an exception, however.”

“Yes, Peter, such are our Christian laws,” put in Margery, earnestly.
“When Christ, the Son of God, came on earth to redeem lost men, he
commanded his followers to do good to them that did evil to us, and to
pray for them that tried to harm us. We have his very words, written in
our bibles.”

“You got him?” said Peter, with interest. “See you read him, of’en. Got
dat book here?”

“To be sure I have--it is the last thing I should have forgotten. Dolly
has one, and I have another; we read in them every day, and we hope
that, before long, brother and Bourdon will read in them, too.”

“Why, I’m no great scholar, Margery,” returned her husband, scratching
his full, curling head of hair, out of pure awkwardness; “to please YOU,
however, I’d undertake even a harder job. It was so with the bees, when
I began; I thought I should never succeed in lining the first bee to his
hive; but, since that time, I think I’ve lined a thousand!”

“It’s easy, it’s easy, dear Benjamin, if you will only make a
beginning,” returned the much interested young wife. “When we get to a
place of safety, if it be God’s will that we ever shall, I hope to have
you join me in reading the good book, daily. See, Peter, I keep it in
this little bag, where it is safe, and always at hand.”

“You read dem word for me, Blossom: I want to hear him, out of dis book,
himself.”

Margery did as he desired. She was very familiar with the New Testament,
and, turning to the well-known and God-like passage, she read several
verses, in a steady, earnest voice. Perhaps the danger they were in,
and the recent communication of the death of their late companions,
increased her earnestness and solemnity of manner, for the effect
produced on Peter was scarcely less than that he had felt when he
witnessed a practical obedience to these sublime principles, in the
death of the missionary. Tears actually started to this stern savage’s
eyes, and he looked back on his late projects and endeavors to immolate
a whole race with a shudder. Taking Margery’s hand, he courteously
thanked her, and prepared to quit the place. Previously to leaving
his friends, however, Peter gave a brief account of the manner of the
missionary’s death, and of the state in which he had left the corporal.
Pigeonswing had told him of the fate of the last, as well as of the
eagerness with which the band had set out in quest of more white scalps.

“Peter, we can count on you for a friend, I hope?” said the bee-hunter,
as the two were about to part, on the bank of the river. “I fear you
were, once, our enemy!”

“Bourdon,” said Peter, with dignity, and speaking in the language of his
own people, “listen. There are Good Spirits, and there are Bad Spirits.
Our traditions tell us this. Our own minds tell us this, too. For twenty
winters a Bad Spirit has been whispering in my ear. I listened to
him; and did what he told me to do. I believed what he said. His words
were--‘Kill your enemies--scalp all the pale-faces--do not leave a
squaw, or a pappoose. Make all their hearts heavy. This is what an Injin
should do.’ So has the Bad Spirit been whispering to me, for twenty
winters. I listened to him. What he said, I did. It was pleasant to me
to take the scalps of the pale-faces. It was pleasant to think that no
more scalps would be left among them, to take. I was Scalping Peter.

“Bourdon, the Good Spirit has, at last, made himself heard. His whisper
is so low, that at first my ears did not hear him. They hear him now.
When he spoke loudest, it was with the tongue of the medicine-priest of
your people. He was about to die. When we are about to die, our voices
become strong and clear. So do our eyes. We see what is before, and we
see what is behind. We feel joy for what is before--we feel sorrow for
what is behind. Your medicine-priest spoke well. It sounded in my ears
as if the Great Spirit, himself, was talking. They say it was his Son.
I believe them. Blossom has read to me out of the good book of your
people, and I find it is so. I feel like a child, and could sit down, in
my wigwam, and weep.

“Bourdon, you are a pale-face, and I am an Injin. You are strong, and
I am weak. This is because the Son of the Great Spirit has talked with
your people, and has not talked with mine. I now see why the pale-faces
overrun the earth and take the hunting-grounds. They know most, and have
been told to come here, and to tell what they know to the poor ignorant
Injins. I hope my people will listen. What the Son of the Great Spirit
says must be true. He does not know how to do wrong.

“Bourdon, once it seemed sweet to me to take the scalps of my enemies.
When an Injin did me harm, I took his scalp. This was my way. I could
not help it, then. The Wicked Spirit told me to do this. The Son of the
Manitou has now told me better. I have lived under a cloud. The breath
of the dying medicine-priest of your people has blown away that cloud.
I see clearer. I hear him telling the Manitou to do me good, though
I wanted his scalp. He was answered in my heart. Then my ears opened
wider, and I heard what the Good Spirit whispered. The ear in which the
Bad Spirit had been talking for twenty winters shut, and was deaf. I
hear him no more. I do not want to hear him again. The whisper of the
Son of the Manitou is very pleasant to me. It sounds like the wren
singing his sweetest song. I hope he will always whisper so. My ear
shall never again be shut to his words.

“Bourdon, it is pleasant to me to look forward. It is not pleasant to me
to look back. I see how many things I have done in one way, that ought
to have been done in another way. I feel sorry, and wish it had not been
so. Then I hear the Son of the Manitou asking His Father, who liveth
above the clouds, to do good to the Jews who took his life. I do not
think Injins are Jews. In this, my brother was wrong. It was his own
notion, and it is easy for a man to think wrong. It is not so with the
Son of the Manitou. He thinketh always as His Father thinketh, which is
right.

“Bourdon, I am no longer Peter--I must be another Injin. I do not feel
the same. A scalp is a terrible thing in my eyes--I wish never to take
another--never to see another--a scalp is a bad thing. I now LOVE the
Yankees. I wish to do them good, and not to do them harm. I love
most the Great Spirit, that let his own Son die for all men. The
medicine-priest said he died for Injins, as well as for pale-faces. This
we did not know, or we should have talked of him more in our traditions.
We love to talk of good acts. But we are such ignorant Injins! The Son
of the Manitou will have pity on us, and tell us oftener what we ought
to do. In time, we shall learn. Now, I feel like a child: I hope I shall
one day be a man.”

Having made this “confession of faith,” one that would have done credit
to a Christian church, Peter shook the bee-hunter kindly by the hand,
and took his departure. He did not walk into the swamp, though it was
practicable with sufficient care, but he stepped into the river, and
followed its margin, knowing that “water leaves no trail.” Nor did Peter
follow the direct route toward the now blazing hut, the smoke from
which was rising high above the trees, but he ascended the stream, until
reaching a favorable spot, he threw aside all of his light dress, made
it into a bundle, and swam across the Kalamazoo, holding his clothes
above the element with one hand. On reaching the opposite shore, he
moved on to the upper margin of the swamp, where he resumed his clothes.
Then he issued into the Openings, carrying neither rifle, bow, tomahawk,
nor knife. All his weapons he had left in his canoe, fearful that they
might tempt him to do evil, instead of good, to his enemies. Neither
Bear’s Meat, nor Bough of the Oak, was yet regarded by Peter with the
eye of love. He tried not to hate them, and this he found sufficiently
difficult; conscious of this difficulty, he had laid aside his arms,
accordingly. This mighty change had been gradually in progress, ever
since the chief’s close communication with Margery, but it had received
its consummation in the last acts, and last words, of the missionary!

Having got out into the Openings, it was not difficult for Peter to join
his late companions without attracting observation from whence he came.
He kept as much under cover as was convenient, and reached the kitchen,
just as the band broke into the defences, and burst open the door of the
blazing and already roofless hut. Here Peter paused, unwilling to
seem inactive in such a scene, yet averse to doing anything that a
sensitively tender conscience might tell him was wrong. He knew there
was no human being there to save, and cared little for the few effects
that might be destroyed. He did not join the crowd, therefore, until it
was ascertained that the bee-hunter and his companions had escaped.

“The pale-faces have fled,” said Bear’s Meat to the great chief, when
the last did approach him. “We have looked for their bones among the
ashes, but there are none. That medicine-bee-hunter has told them that
their scalps were wanted, and they have gone off!”

“Have any of the young men been down to the river, to look for their
canoes?” quietly demanded Peter. “If the canoes are gone, too, they have
taken the route toward the Great Lake.”

This was so obvious and probable, that a search was immediately set on
foot. The report was soon made, and great was the eagerness to pursue.
The Kalamazoo was so crooked, that no one there doubted of overtaking
the fugitives, and parties were immediately organized for the chase.
This was done with the customary intelligence and shrewdness of Indians.
The canoes that belonged to Crowsfeather and his band had been brought
up the river, and they lay concealed in rushes, not a mile from the hut.
A party of warriors brought them to the landing, and they carried one
division of the party to the opposite shore, it being the plan to follow
each bank of the river, keeping close to the stream, even to its mouth,
should it prove necessary. Two other parties were sent in direct lines,
one on each side of the river, also, to lay in ambush at such distant
points, ahead, as would be almost certain to anticipate the arrival of
the fugitives. The canoes were sent down the stream, to close the net
against return, while Bear’s Meat, Bough of the Oak, Crowsfeather, and
several others of the leading chiefs, remained near the still burning
hut, with a strong party, to examine the surrounding Openings for
foot-prints and trails. It was possible that the canoes had been sent
adrift, in order to mislead them, while the pale-faces had fled by land.

It has been stated that the Openings had a beautiful sward, near Castle
Meal, This was true of that particular spot, and was the reason why
le Bourdon had selected it for his principal place of residence. The
abundance of flowers drew the bees there, a reason of itself why he
should like the vicinity. Lest the reader should be misled, however,
it may be well to explain that an absence of sward is characteristic of
these Openings, rather than the reverse, it being, to a certain degree,
a cause of complaint, now that the country is settled, that the lands of
the Oak Openings are apt to be so light that the grasses do not readily
form as firm a turf as is desirable for meadows and pastures. We
apprehend this is true, however, less as a rule than as exceptions;
there being variety in the soils of these Openings, as well as in other
quarters.

Nevertheless, the savages were aware that the country around the burned
hut, for a considerable extent, differed, in this particular, from most
of that which lay farther east, or more inland. On the last a trail
would be much more easily detected than on the first, and a party,
under the direction of a particularly experienced leader, was dispatched
several miles to the eastward, to look for the usual signs of the
passage of any toward Detroit, taking that route. This last expedient
troubled Peter exceedingly, since it placed a body of enemies in the
rear of the fugitives; thereby rendering their position doubly perilous.
There was no help for the difficulty, however; and the great chief saw
the party depart without venturing on remonstrance, advice, or any
other expedient to arrest the movement. Bear’s Meat now called the head
chiefs, who remained, into a circle, and asked for opinions concerning
the course that ought next to be taken.

“What does my brother, the tribeless chief, say?” he asked, looking at
Peter, in a way to denote the expectation which all felt, that he ought
to be able to give useful counsel in such a strait. “We have got but
two scalps from six heads; and one of THEM is buried with the
medicine-priest.”

“Scalps cannot be taken from them that get off,” returned Peter,
evasively. “We must first catch these pale-faces. When they are found
it will be easy to scalp them. If the canoes are gone, I think the
medicine-bee-hunter and his squaws have gone in them. We may find the
whole down the river.”

To this opinion most of the chiefs assented, though the course of
examining for a trail farther east was still approved. The band was so
strong, while the pale-faces were so few, that a distribution of their
own force was of no consequence, and it was clearly the most prudent to
send out young men in all directions. Every one, however, expected that
the fugitives would be overtaken on, or near, the river, and Bear’s Meat
suggested the propriety of their moving down stream, themselves, very
shortly.

“When did my brother last see the pale-faces?” asked Crowsfeather. “This
bee-hunter knows the river well, and may have started yesterday; or even
after he came from the Great Council of the Prairie.”

This was a new idea, but one that seemed probable enough. All eyes
turned toward Peter, who saw, at once, that such a notion must greatly
favor the security of the fugitives, and felt a strong desire to
encourage it. He found evasion difficult, however, and well knew the
danger of committing himself. Instead of giving a straightforward
answer, therefore, he had recourse to circumlocution and subterfuge.

“My brother is right,” he answered. “The pale-faces HAVE had time to
get far down the stream. As my brothers know, I slept among them at the
Round Prairie. To-day, they know I was with them at the council of the
spring of gushing waters.”

All this was true, as far as it went, although the omissions were very
material. No one seemed to suspect the great chief, whose fidelity
to his own principles was believed to be of a character amounting to
enthusiasm. Little did any there know of the power of the unseen Spirit
of God to alter the heart, producing what religionists term the new
birth. We do not wish, however, to be understood that Peter had, as
yet, fully experienced this vast change. It is not often the work of a
moment, though well-authenticated modern instances do exist, in which we
have every reason to believe that men have been made to see and feel
the truth almost as miraculously as was St. Paul himself. As for this
extraordinary savage, he had entered into the strait and narrow way,
though he was not far advanced on its difficult path.

When men tell us of the great progress that the race is making toward
perfection, and point to the acts which denote its wisdom, its power to
control its own affairs, its tendencies toward good when most left
to its own self-control, our minds are filled with scepticism. The
every-day experience of a life now fast verging toward threescore,
contradicts the theory and the facts. We believe not in the possibility
of man’s becoming even a strictly rational being, unaided by a power
from on high; and all that we have seen and read goes to convince us
that HE is most of a philosopher, the most accurate judge of his real
state, the most truly learned, who most vividly sees the necessity of
falling back on the precepts of revelation for all his higher principles
and practice. We conceive that this mighty truth furnishes unanswerable
proof of the unceasing agency of a Providence, and when we once admit
this, we concede that our own powers are insufficient for our own wants.

That the world, as a whole, is advancing toward a better state of
things, we as firmly believe as we do that it is by ways that have not
been foreseen by man; and that, whenever the last has been made the
agent of producing portions of this improvement, it has oftener been
without design, or calculation, than with it. Who, for instance,
supposes that the institutions of this country, of which we boast so
much, could have stood as long as they have, without the conservative
principles that are to be found in the Union; and who is there so vain
as to ascribe the overshadowing influence of this last great power to
any wisdom in man? We all know that perfectly fortuitous circumstances,
or what appear to us to be such, produced the Federal Government, and
that its strongest and least exceptionable features are precisely those
which could not be withstood, much less invented, as parts of the theory
of a polity.

A great and spasmodic political movement is, at this moment, convulsing
Christendom. That good will come of it, we think is beyond a question;
but we greatly doubt whether it will come in the particular form, or by
the specified agencies, that human calculations would lead us to expect.
It must be admitted that the previous preparations, which have induced
the present effort, are rather in opposition to, than the consequences
of, calculated agencies; overturning in their progress the very
safeguards which the sagacity of men had interposed to the advance of
those very opinions that have been silently, and by means that would
perhaps baffle inquiry, preparing the way for the results that have been
so suddenly and unexpectedly obtained. If the course is onward, it is
more as the will of God, than from any calculations of man; and it is
when the last are the most active, that there is the greatest reason to
apprehend the consequences.

Of such a dispensation of the Providence of Almighty God, do we believe
Peter to have been the subject. Among the thousand ways that are
employed to touch the heart, he had been most affected by the sight of
a dying man’s asking benedictions on his enemies! It was assailing his
besetting sin; attacking the very citadel of his savage character, and
throwing open, at once, an approach into the deepest recesses of his
habits and dispositions. It was like placing a master-key in the hands
of him who would go through the whole tenement, for the purpose of
purifying it.



CHAPTER XXVII.

     Thou to whom every faun and satyr flies
     For willing service; whether to surprise
     The squatted hare, while in half sleeping fits,
     Or upward ragged precipices flit
     To save poor lambkins from the eagle’s maw;
     Or by mysterious enticement draw
     Bewildered shepherds to their path again;--
                                      --KEATS.


It can easily be understood that the party with the canoes were left by
Peter in a state of great anxiety. The distance between the site of the
hut and their place of concealment was but little more than a quarter
of a mile, and the yell of the savages had often reached their ears,
notwithstanding the cover of the woods. This proximity, of itself, was
fearful; but the uncertainty that le Bourdon felt on the subject of
Peter’s real intentions added greatly to his causes of concern. Of
course, he knew but little of the sudden change that had come over this
mysterious chief’s feelings; nor is it very likely that he would have
been able to appreciate it, even had the fact been more fully stated.
Our hero had very little acquaintance with the dogmas of Christianity,
and would have, most probably, deemed it impossible that so great a
revolution of purpose could have been so suddenly wrought in the mind of
man, had the true state of the case been communicated to him. He would
have been ready enough to allow that, with God, nothing is impossible;
but might have been disposed to deny the influence of His Holy Spirit,
as exhibited in this particular form, for a reason no better than the
circumstance that he himself had never been the subject of such a power.
All that Peter had said, therefore, served rather to mystify him, than
to explain, in its true colors, what had actually occurred. With Margery
it was different. Her schooling had been far better than that of any
other of the party, and, while she admired the manly appearance, and
loved the free, generous character of her husband, she had more than
once felt pained at the passing thoughts of his great indifference to
sacred things. This feeling in le Bourdon, however, was passive rather
than active, and gave her a kind interest in his future welfare, rather
than any present pain through acts and words.

But, as respects their confidence in Peter, this young couple were much
farther apart than in their religious notions. The bee-hunter had never
been without distrust, though his apprehensions had been occasionally
so far quieted as to leave him nearly free of them altogether; while
his wife had felt the utmost confidence in the chief, from the very
commencement of their acquaintance. It would be useless, perhaps, to
attempt to speculate on the causes; but it is certain that there are
secret sources of sympathy that draw particular individuals toward each
other and antipathies that keep them widely separated. Men shall meet
for the first time, and feel themselves attracted toward each other,
like two drops of water, or repelled, like the corks of an electric
machine.

The former had been the case with Peter and Margery. They liked each
other from the first, and kind orifices had soon come to increase this
feeling. The girl had now seen so much of the Indians, as to regard
them much as she did others, or with the discriminations, and tastes,
or distastes, with which we all regard our fellow-creatures; feeling no
particular cause of estrangement. It is true that Margery would not have
been very likely to fall in love with a young Indian, had one come in
her way of a suitable age and character; for her American notions on the
subject of color might have interposed difficulties; but, apart from the
tender sentiments, she could see good and bad qualities in one of the
aborigines, as well as in a white man. As a consequence of this sympathy
between Peter and Margery, the last had ever felt the utmost confidence
in the protection and friendship of the first. This she did, even while
the struggle was going on in his breast on the subject of including her
in his fell designs, or of making an exception in her favor. It
shows the waywardness of our feelings that Margery had never reposed
confidence in Pigeonswing, who was devotedly the friend of le Bourdon,
and who remained with them for no other reason than a general wish to be
of use. Something BRUSQUE in his manner, which was much less courteous
and polished than that of Peter, had early rendered her dissatisfied
with him, and once estranged, she had never felt disposed to be on terms
of intimacy sufficient to ascertain his good or bad qualities.

The great change of feeling in Peter was not very clearly understood by
Margery, any more than it was by her husband; though, had her attention
been drawn more strictly to it, she would have best known how to
appreciate it. But this knowledge was not wanting to put HER perfectly
at peace, so far as apprehension of his doing her harm was concerned.
This sense of security she now manifested in a conversation with le
Bourdon, that took place soon after Peter had left them.

“I wish we weren’t in the hands of this red-skin, Margery,” said her
husband, a little more off his guard than was his wont.

“Of Peter! You surprise me, Benjamin. I think we could not be in better
hands, since we have got this risk to run with the savages. If it was
Pigeonswing that you feared, I could understand it.”

“I will answer for Pigeonswing with my life.”

“I am glad to hear you say so, for _I_ do not half like HIM. Perhaps I
am prejudiced against him. The scalp he took down at the mouth of the
river set me against him from the first.”

“Do you not know, Margery, that your great friend goes by the name of
‘Scalping Peter’?”

“Yes, I know it very well; but I do not believe he ever took a scalp in
his life.”

“Did he ever tell you as much as that?”

“I can’t say that he did; but he has never paraded anything of the sort
before my eyes, like Pigeonswing. I do not half like that Chippewa, dear
Bourdon.”

“No fear of him, Margery; nor, when I come to think it all over, do I
see why Peter should have brought us here, if he means anything wrong.
The man is so mysterious, that I cannot line him down to his hole.”

“My word for it, Bourdon, that when you DO, it will take you to a
friendly hive. I have put almost as much faith in Peter as in you or
Gershom. You heard what he said about Parson Amen and the corporal.”

“And how coolly he took it all,” answered her husband, shaking his head.
“It has been a sudden departure for them, and one would think even an
Injin might have felt it more.”

Margery’s cheek grew pale, and her limbs trembled a little. It was a
minute ere she could pursue the discourse.

“This is terrible, but I will not, cannot believe it,” she said. “I’m
sure, Bourdon, we ought to be very thankful to Peter for having
brought us here. Remember how earnestly he listened to the words of the
Saviour.”

“If he has brought us here with a good intention, I thank him for it.
But I scarce know what to think. Pigeonswing has given me many a hint,
which I have understood to mean that we ought not to trust this unknown
Injin too much.”

“So has he given me some of his hints, though I would sooner trust Peter
than trust him, any time.”

“Our lives are in the care of Providence, I see. If we can really rely
on these two Injins, all may be well; for Peter has brought us to an
admirable cover, and he says that the Chippewa prepared it.”

The young husband and his wife now landed, and began to examine
more particularly into the state of the swamp, near their place of
concealment. Just at that spot, the bank of the river was higher than
in most of the low land, and was dry, with a soil that approached sand.
This was the place where the few young pines had grown. The dry ground
might have covered four or five acres, and so many trees having been
felled, light and air were admitted, in a way to render the place
comparatively cheerful. The branches of the felled trees made a
sufficient cover in all directions, though the swamp itself was more
than that, almost a defence, toward the Openings. The bee-hunter found
it was possible, though it was exceedingly difficult, to make his
way through it. He ascertained the fact, however, since it might be
important to their future movements to know it.

In a word, le Bourdon made a complete RECONNAISSANCE of his position. He
cleared a spot for the females, and made a sort of hut, that would
serve as a protection against rain, and in which they all might sleep at
night. There was little doubt that this place must be occupied for some
days, if Peter was acting in good faith, since an early movement would
infallibly lead to detection. Time must be given to the Indians to
precede them, or the great numbers of the savages would scarce leave a
hope of escape. A greater sense of security succeeded this examination,
and these arrangements. The danger was almost entirely to be apprehended
on the side of the river. A canoe passing up-stream might, indeed,
discover their place of concealment, but it was scarcely to be
apprehended that one would wade through the mud and water of the swamp
to approach them in any other direction.

Under these circumstances, le Bourdon began to feel more security in
their position. Could he now be certain of Peter, his mind would be
comparatively at ease, and he might turn his attention altogether to
making the party comfortable. Margery, who seldom quitted his side,
reasoned with him on the subject of the mysterious chief’s good faith,
and by means of her own deep reliance on him, she came at last to the
point of instilling some of her own confidence into the mind of her
husband. From that time he worked at the shelter for the females, and
the other little arrangements their situation rendered necessary, with
greater zest, and with far more attention to the details. So long as
we are in doubt of accomplishing good, we hesitate about employing our
energies; but once let hope revive within us, in the shape of favorable
results, and we become new men, bracing every nerve to the task, and
working with redoubled spirit; even should it be at the pump of the
sinking ship, which, we believe, ranks the highest among the toils that
are inflicted on the unfortunate.

For three days and nights did le Bourdon and his friends remain on that
dry land of the swamp, without hearing or seeing anything of either
Peter or Pigeonswing. The time was growing long, and the party anxious;
though the sense of security was much increased by this apparent
exemption from danger. Still, uncertainty, and the wish to ascertain the
precise state of things in the Openings, were gradually getting to be
painful, and it was with great satisfaction that the bee-hunter met his
young wife as she came running toward him, on the morning of the fourth
day, to announce that an Indian was approaching, by wading in the margin
of the river, keeping always in the water so as to leave no trail.
Hurrying to a point whence their visitor might be seen, le Bourdon soon
perceived it was no other than Pigeonswing. In a few minutes this Indian
arrived, and was gladly received by all four of the fugitives, who
gathered around him, eager to hear the news.

“You are welcome, Chippewa,” cried le Bourdon, shaking his friend
cordially by the hand. “We were half afraid we might never see you
again. Do you bring us good or evil tidings?”

“Mustn’t be squaw, and ask too much question, Bourdon,” returned the
red-skin, carefully examining the priming of his rifle, in order to make
sure it was not wet. “Got plenty venison, eh?”

“Not much venison is left, but we have caught a good many fish, which
have helped us along. I have killed a dozen large squirrels, too, with
your bow and arrows, which I find you left in your canoe. But--”

“Yes, he good bow, dat--might kill hummin’-bird wid dat bow. Fish good
here, eh?”

“They are eatable, when a body can get no better. But NOW, I should
think, Pigeonswing, you might give us some of the news.”

“Mustn’t be squaw, Bourdon--bad for warrior be squaw. Alway bess be man,
and be patient, like man. What you t’ink, Bourdon? Got him at last!”

“Got WHAT my good fellow? I see nothing about you, but your arms and
ammunition.”

“Got scalp of dat Weasel! Wasn’t dat well done? Nebber no young warrior
take more scalp home dan Pigeonswing carry dis time! Got t’ree; all
hid, where Bear’s Meat nebber know. Take ‘em away, when he get ready to
march.”

“Well, well, Chippewa--I suppose it will not be easy to reason you out
of this feelin’--but what has become of the red-skins who burned my
cabin, and who killed the missionary and the corporal?”

“All about--dough must go down river. Look here, Bourdon, some of dem
chief fool enough to t’ink bee carry you off on his wing!”

Here the Chippewa looked his contempt for the credulity and ignorance of
the others, though he did not express it after the boisterous manner in
which a white man of his class might have indulged. To him le Bourdon
was a good fellow, but no conjuror, and he understood the taking of the
bee too well to have any doubts as to the character of that process.
His friend had let him amuse himself by the hour in looking through his
spy-glass, so that the mind of this one savage was particularly well
fortified against the inroads of the weaknesses that had invaded those
of most of the members of the great council. Consequently, he was amused
with the notion taken up by some of the others, that le Bourdon had
been carried off by bees, though he manifested his amusement in a very
Indian-like fashion.

“So much the better,” answered le Bourdon; “and I hope they have
followed to line me down to my hive in the settlements.”

“Most on ‘em go--yes, dat true. But some don’t go. Plenty of Injins
still about dis part of Opening.”

“What are we then to do? We shall soon be in want of food. The fish do
not bite as they did, and I have killed all the squirrels I can find.
You know I dare not use a rifle.”

“Don’t be squaw, Bourdon. When Injin get marry he grows good deal like
squaw at fuss; but dat soon go away. I spose it’s just so wid pale-face.
Mustn’t be squaw, Bourdon. Dat bad for warrior. What you do for eat?
Why, see dere,” pointing to an object that was floating slowly down the
river, the current of which was very sluggish just in that reach. “Dere
as fat buck as ever did see, eh?”

Sure enough the Indian had killed a deer, of which the Openings were
full, and having brought it to the river, he had constructed a raft of
logs, and placing the carcase on it, he had set his game adrift, taking
care to so far precede it as to be in readiness to tow it into port.
When this last operation was performed, it was found that the Chippewa
did not heedlessly vaunt the quality of his prize. What was more, so
accurately had he calculated the time, and the means of subsistence in
the possession of the fugitives, that his supply came in just as it
was most needed. In all this he manifested no more than the care of
an experienced and faithful hunter. Next to the war-path, the
hunting-ground is the great field for an Indian’s glory; deeds and facts
so far eclipsing purely intellectual qualifications with savages, as to
throw oratory, though much esteemed by them, and wisdom at the Council
Fires, quite into the shade. In all this, we find the same propensity
among ourselves. The common mind, ever subject to these impulses, looks
rather to such exploits as address themselves to the senses and the
imagination, than to those qualities which the reason alone can best
appreciate; and in this, ignorance asserts its negative power over all
conditions of life.

Pigeonswing now condescended to enter on such explanations as the state
of the case rendered necessary. His account was sufficiently clear,
and it manifested throughout the sagacity and shrewdness of a practised
hunter and scout. We shall not attempt to give his words, which would
require too much space, but the substance of his story was briefly this:

As has been alluded to already, the principal chiefs, on a suggestion
of Bear’s Meat, had followed the young men down the Kalamazoo, dividing
themselves by a part of their body’s crossing the stream at the first
favorable spot. In this way the Indians proceeded, sweeping the river
before them, and examining every place that seemed capable of concealing
a canoe. Runners were kept in constant motion between the several
parties, in order to let the state of the search be known to all; and,
feigning to be one of these very men, Pigeonswing had held communication
with several whom he purposely met, and to whom he imparted such
invented information as contributed essentially to send the young men
forward on a false scent. In this way, the main body of the savages
descended the river some sixty miles, following its windings, in the
first day and a half. Here Pigeonswing left them, turning his own face
up stream, in order to rejoin his friends. Of Peter he had no knowledge;
neither knowing, nor otherwise learning, what had become of the great
chief. On his way up stream, Pigeonswing met several more Indians;
runners like himself, or as he seemed to be; or scouts kept on the
lookout for the fugitives. He had no difficulty in deceiving these men.
None of them had been of Crowsfeather’s party, and he was a stranger to
them all. Ignorant of his real character, they received his information
without distrust, and the orders he pretended to convey were obeyed by
them without the smallest hesitation. In this way, then, Pigeonswing
contrived to send all the scouts he met away from the river, by telling
them that there was reason to think the pale-faces had abandoned the
stream, and that it was the wish of Bear’s Meat that their trail should
be looked for in the interior. This was the false direction that he gave
to all, thereby succeeding better even than he had hoped in clearing
the banks of the Kalamazoo of observers and foes. Nevertheless, many of
those whom he knew to be out, some quite in the rear of the party, and
others in its front, and at no great distance from them, he did not
meet; of course he could not get his false directions to their ears.
There were, in fact, so many of the Indians and so few of the whites,
that it was an easy matter to cover the path with young warriors, any
one party of whom would be strong enough to capture two men and as many
women.

Having told the tale of his own doings, Pigeonswing next came to his
proposition for the mode of future proceeding. He proposed that the
family should get into the canoes that very night, and commence its
flight by going down the stream directly toward its foes! This sounded
strangely, but there did not seem to be any alternative. A march across
the peninsula would be too much for the females, and there was the
certainty that their trail would be found. It may seem strange to
those who are unacquainted with the American Indian, and his habits,
to imagine that, in so large an expanse, the signs of the passage of so
small a party might not escape detection; but such was the case. To one
unaccustomed to the vigilance and intelligence of these savages, it must
appear just as probable that the vessel could be followed through the
wastes of the ocean, by means of its wake, as that the footprints should
be so indelible as to furnish signs that can be traced for days. Such,
however, is the fact, and no one understood it better than the Chippewa.
He was also aware that the country toward Ohio, whither the fugitives
would naturally direct their course, now that the English were in
possession of Detroit, must soon be a sort of battle-ground, to which
most of the warriors of that region would eagerly repair. Under all the
circumstances, therefore, he advised the flight by means of the river.
Le Bourdon reasoned on all he heard, and, still entertaining some of his
latent distrust of Peter, and willing to get beyond his reach, he soon
acquiesced in the proposition, and came fully into the plan.

It was now necessary to reload the canoes. This was done in the course
of the day, and every arrangement was made, so as to be ready for a
start as soon as the darkness set in. Everybody was glad to move, though
all were aware of the extent of the hazard they ran. The females, in
particular, felt their hearts beat, as each, in her husband’s canoe,
issued out of the cover into the open river. Pigeonswing took the lead,
paddling with a slow, but steady sweep of his arm, and keeping as
close as was convenient to one bank. By adopting this precaution, he
effectually concealed the canoes from the eyes of all on that side of
the river, unless they stood directly on its margin, and had the aid of
the shadows to help conceal them from any who might happen to be on the
other. In this way, then, the party proceeded, passing the site of
the hut, and the grove of Openings around it, undetected. As the river
necessarily flowed through the lowest land, its banks were wooded much
of the way, which afforded great protection to the fugitives; and this
so much the more because these woods often grew in swamps where the
scouts would not be likely to resort.

About midnight the canoes reached the first rift. An hour was lost in
unloading and in reloading the canoes, and in passing the difficulties
at that point. As soon as this was done, the party re-embarked,
and resorted once more to the use of the paddle, in order to gain a
particular sheltered reach of the river previously to the return of
light. This was effected successfully, and the party landed.

It now appeared that Pigeonswing had chosen another swamp as a place
of concealment for the fugitives to use during the day. These swamps,
through which the river wound its way in short reaches, were admirably
adapted to such purposes. Dark, sombre, and hardly penetrable on the
side of the land, they were little likely to be entered after a first
examination. Nor was it at all probable that females, in particular,
would seek a refuge in such a place. But the Chippewa had found the
means to obviate the natural obstacles of the low land. There were
several spots where the water from the river set back into the swamp,
forming so many little creeks; and into the largest of one of these he
pushed his canoe, the others following where he led. By resorting to
such means, the shelter now obtained was more complete, perhaps, than
that previously left.

Pigeonswing forced his light boat up the shallow inlet, until he
reached a bit of dry land, where he brought up, announcing THAT as the
abiding-place during the day. Glad enough was every one to get on shore,
in a spot that promised security, after eight hours of unremitting
paddling and of painful excitement. Notwithstanding the rifts and
carrying-places they had met, and been obliged to overcome, le Bourdon
calculated that they had made as many as thirty miles in the course of
that one night. This was a great movement, and to all appearances it had
been made without detection. As for the Chippewa, he was quite content,
and no sooner was his canoe secured, than he lighted his pipe and sat
down to his enjoyment with an air of composure and satisfaction.

“And here, you think, Pigeonswing, that we shall be safe during the
day?” demanded le Bourdon, approaching the fallen tree on which the
Indian had taken his seat.

“Sartain--no Pottawattamie come here. Too wet. Don’t like wet. An’t
duck, or goose--like dry land, juss like squaw. Dis good ‘baccy,
Bourdon--hope you got more for friend.”

“I have enough for us all, Pigeonswing, and you shall have a full share.
Now, tell me; what will be your next move, and where do you intend to
pass the morrow?”

“Juss like diss. Plenty of swamp, Bourdon, on Kekalamazoo. [Footnote:
This is the true Indian word, though the whites have seen fit to omit
the first syllable.] Run canoe in swamp; den safe ‘nough. Injins won’t
look ‘ere, ‘cause he don’t know whereabout look. Don’t like swamp. Great
danger down at mouth of river.”

“So it has seemed to me, Chippewa. The Injins must be there in a strong
force, and we shall find it no easy matter to get through them. How do
you propose to do it?”

“Go by in night. No udder way. When can’t see, can’t see. Dere plenty of
rush dere; dat good t’ing, and, p’raps, dat help us. Rush good cover for
canoe. Expec’, when we get down ‘ere, to get some scalp, too. Plenty of
Pottawattamie about dat lodge, sartain; and it very hard if don’t get
some on him scalp. You mean stop, and dig up cache; eh, Bourdon?”

The cool, quiet manner in which Pigeonswing revealed his own plans, and
inquired into those of his friend, had, at least, the effect to revive
the confidence of le Bourdon. He could not think the danger very great
so long as one so experienced as the Chippewa felt so much confidence in
his own future proceedings; and, after talking a short time longer with
this man, the bee-hunter went to seek Margery, in order to impart to her
a due portion of his own hopes.

The sisters were preparing the breakfast. This was done without the use
of fire, it being too hazardous to permit smoke to rise above the tops
of the trees. Many is the camp that has been discovered by the smoke,
which can be seen at a great distance; and it is a certain sign of the
presence of man, when it ascends in threads, or such small columns as
denote a domestic fire beneath. This is very different from the clouds
that float above the burning prairies, and which all, at once, impute
to their true origin. The danger of using fire had been so much guarded
against by our fugitives, that the cooking of the party had been done
at night; the utmost caution having been used to prevent the fire itself
from being seen, and care taken to extinguish it long before the return
of day. A supply of cold meat was always on hand, and had it not been,
the fugitives would have known how to live on berries, or, at need, to
fast; anything was preferable, being exposed to certain capture.

As soon as the party had broken their fast, arrangements were made for
recruiting nature by sleep. As for Pigeonswing, Indian-like, he had
eaten enormously, no reasonable quantity of venison sufficing to appease
his appetite; and when he had eaten, he lay down in the bottom of his
canoe and slept. Similar dispositions were made of their persons by the
rest, and half an hour after the meal was ended, all there were in a
profound sleep. No watch was considered necessary, and none was kept.

The rest of the weary is sweet. Long hours passed, ere any one there
awoke; but no sooner did the Chippewa move than all the rest were afoot.
It was now late in the day, and it was time to think of taking the
meal that was to sustain them through the toil and fatigues of another
arduous night. This was done; the necessary preparations being made for
a start ere the sun had set. The canoes were then shoved as near the
mouth of the inlet as it was safe to go, while the light remained.
Here they stopped, and a consultation took place, as to the manner of
proceeding.

No sooner did the shades of evening close around the place than the
fugitives again put forth. The night was clouded and dark, and so much
of the way now lay through forests that there was little reason to
apprehend detection. The chief causes of delay were the rifts, and the
portages, as had been the case the night before. Luckily, le Bourdon had
been up and down the stream so often as to be a very tolerable pilot
in its windings. He assumed the control, and by midnight the greatest
obstacle to that evening’s progress was overcome. At the approach of
day, Pigeonswing pointed out another creek, in another swamp, where the
party found a refuge for the succeeding day. In this manner four nights
were passed on the river, and as many days in swamps, without discovery.
The Chippewa had nicely calculated his time and his distances, and
not the smallest mistake was made. Each morning a place of shelter was
reached in sufficient season; and each night the fugitives were ready
for the start as the day shut in. In this manner, most of the river was
descended, until a distance that could be easily overcome in a couple of
hours of paddling alone remained between the party and the mouth of the
stream. Extreme caution was now necessary, for signs of Indians in the
neighborhood had been detected at several points in the course of the
last night’s work. On one occasion, indeed, the escape was so narrow as
to be worth recording.

It was at a spot where the stream flowed through a forest denser than
common, that Pigeonswing heard voices on the river, ahead of him. One
Indian was calling to another, asking to be set across the stream in a
canoe. It was too late to retreat, and so much uncertainty existed as
to the nearness, or distance, of the danger, that the Chippewa deemed it
safest to bring all three of his canoes together, and to let them float
past the point suspected, or rather KNOWN, to be occupied by enemies.
This was done, with the utmost care. The plan succeeded, though not
without running a very great risk. The canoes did float past unseen,
though there was a minute of time when le Bourdon fancied by the sounds
that savages were talking to each other, within a hundred feet of his
ears. Additional security, however, was felt in consequence of the
circumstance, since the pursuers must imagine the river below them to be
free from the pursued.

The halt that morning was made earlier than had been the practice
previously. This was done because the remaining distance was so small
that, in continuing to advance, the party would have incurred the risk
of reaching the mouth of the river by daylight. This was to be avoided
on every account, but principally because it was of great importance to
conceal from the savages the direction taken. Were the chiefs certain
that their intended victims were on Lake Michigan, it would be possible
for them to send parties across the isthmus, that should reach points
on Lake Huron, days in advance of the arrival of the bee-hunter and his
friends in the vicinity of Saginaw, or Pointe aux Barques, for instance,
and where the canoes would be almost certain to pass near the shore,
laying their ambushes to accomplish these ends. It was thought very
material, therefore, to conceal the movements, even after the lake
might be reached, though le Bourdon had not a doubt of his canoes much
outsailing those of the savages. The Indians are not very skilful in the
use of sails, while the bee-hunter knew how to manage a bark canoe in
rough water, with unusual skill. In the common acceptation, he was no
sailor; but, in his own peculiar craft, there was not a man living who
could excel him in dexterity or judgment.

The halting-place that morning was not in a swamp, for none offered at
a suitable distance from the mouth of the river. On the contrary, it
was in a piece of Opening, that was tolerably well garnished with trees,
however, and through which ran a small brook that poured its tribute
into the Kalamazoo. The Chippewa had taken notice of this brook, which
was large enough to receive the canoes, where they might be concealed
in the rushes. A favorable copse, surrounded with elders, afforded
a covered space on shore, and these advantages were improved for an
encampment.

Instead of seeking his rest as usual, on reaching this cover,
Pigeonswing left the party on a scout. He walked up the brook some
distance, in order to conceal his trail, and then struck across the
Opening, taking the direction westward, or toward the river’s mouth.
As for le Bourdon and his friends, they ate and slept as usual,
undisturbed; but arose some hours before the close of day.

Thus far, a great work had been accomplished. The canoes had descended
the stream with a success that was only equalled by the hardihood of the
measure, conducted by an intelligence that really seemed to amount to
an instinct Pigeonswing carried a map of the Kalamazoo in his head, and
seemed never at a loss to know where to find the particular place he
sought. It is true, he had roamed through those Openings ever since he
was a child; and an Indian seldom passes a place susceptible of being
made of use to his habits, that he does not take such heed of its
peculiarities, as to render him the master of all its facilities.

Margery was now full of hope, while the bee-hunter was filled with
apprehensions. She saw all things couleur de rose, for she was young,
happy, and innocent; but he better understood that they were just
approaching the most serious moment of their flight. He knew the
vigilance of the American savage, and could not deceive himself on the
subject of the danger they must run. The mouth of the river was just the
place that, of all others, would be the closest watched, and to pass it
would require not only all their skill and courage, but somewhat of the
fostering care of Providence. It might be done with success, though the
chances were much against.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

     Yes! we have need to bid our hopes repose
     On some protecting influence; here confined
     Life hath no healing balm for mental woes;
     Earth is too narrow for the immortal mind.
     Our spirits burn to mingle with the day,
     As exiles panting for their native coast;
     Yet lured by every wild-flower from their way,
     And shrinking from the gulf that must be crossed.
     Death hovers round us--in the zephyr’s sigh
     As in the storm he comes--and lo! Eternity!
                                                --MRS. HEMANS.


It was probably that inherent disposition to pry into unknown things,
which is said to mark her sex, and which was the weakness assailed by
the serpent when he deluded Eve into disobedience, that now tempted
Margery to go beyond the limits which Pigeonswing had set for her, with
a view to explore and ascertain what might be found without. In doing
this, however, she did not neglect a certain degree of caution, and
avoided exposing her person as much as possible.

Margery had got to the very verge of prudence, so far as the cover was
concerned, when her steps were suddenly arrested by a most unexpected
and disagreeable sight. An Indian was seated on a rock within twenty
feet of the place where she stood. His back was toward her, but she
was certain it could not be Pigeonswing, who had gone in a contrary
direction, while the frame of this savage was much larger and heavier
than that of the Chippewa. His rifle leaned against the rock, near his
arm, and the tomahawk and knife were in his belt; still Margery thought,
so far as she could ascertain, that he was not in his war-paint, as she
knew was the fact with those whom she had seen at Prairie Round. The
attitude and whole deportment of this stranger, too, struck her as
remarkable. Although our heroine stood watching him for several minutes,
almost breathless with terror and anxiety to learn his object, he never
stirred even a limb in all that time. There he sat, motionless as
the rock on which he had placed himself; a picture of solitude and
reflection.

It was evident, moreover, that this stranger also sought a species of
concealment, as well as the fugitives. It is true he had not buried
himself in a cover of bushes; but his seat was in a hollow of the ground
where no one could have seen him, from the rear or on either side, at a
distance a very little greater than that at which Margery stood, while
his front was guarded from view by a line of bushes that fringed the
margin of the stream. Marius, pondering on the mutations of fortune,
amid the ruins of Carthage, could scarcely have presented a more
striking object than the immovable form of this stranger. At length
the Indian slightly turned his head, when his observer, to her great
surprise, saw the hard, red, but noble and expressive profile of the
well-known features of Peter.

In an instant all Margery’s apprehensions vanished, and her hand was
soon lightly laid on the shoulder of her friend. Notwithstanding the
suddenness of this touch, the great chief manifested no alarm. He turned
his head slowly, and when he saw the bright countenance of the charming
bride, his smile met hers in pleased recognition. There was no start, no
exclamation, no appearance of surprise; on the contrary, Peter seemed to
meet his pretty young friend much as a matter of course, and obviously
with great satisfaction.

“How lucky this is, Peter!” exclaimed the breathless Margery. “Bourdon’s
mind will now be at rest, for he was afraid you had gone to join our
enemies, Bear’s Meat and his party.”

“Yes; go and stay wid ‘em. So bess. Now dey t’ink Peter all on deir
side. But never forget you, young Blossom.”

“I believe you, Peter; for I FEEL as if you are a true friend. How lucky
that we should meet here!”

“No luck at all. Come a purpose. Pigeonswing tell me where you be, so
come here. Juss so.”

“Then you expected to find us in this cover! and what have you to tell
us of our enemies?”

“Plenty of DEM. All about mout’ of river. All about woods and Openings
here. More dan you count. T’ink of nuttin’ but get your scalp.”

“Ah! Peter;--why is it that you red men wish so much to take our
lives?--and why have you destroyed the missionary, a pious Christian,
who wished for nothing but your good?”

Peter bent his eyes to the earth, and for more than a minute he made no
reply. He was much moved, however, as was visible in his countenance,
which plainly denoted that strong emotions were at work within.

“Blossom, listen to my words,” he, at length, answered. “They are such
as a fader would speak to his da’ghter. You my da’ghter. Tell you so,
once; and what Injin say once, he say alway. Poor, and don’t know much,
but know how to do as he say he do. Yes, you my da’ghter! Bear’s Meat
can’t touch YOU, widout he touch ME. Bourdon your husband; you his
squaw. Husband and squaw go togedder, on same path. Dat right. But,
Blossom, listen. Dere is Great Spirit. Injin believe dat as well as
pale-face. See dat is so. Dere is Great WICKED Spirit, too. Feel dat,
too; can’t help it. For twenty winter dat Great Wicked Spirit stay close
to my side. He put his hand before one of my ear, and he put his mout’
to tudder. Keep whisper, whisper, day and night, nebber stop whisper.
Tell me to kill pale-face, wherever I find him. Bess to kill him. If
didn’t kill pale-face, pale-face kill Injin. No help for it. Kill ole
man, kill young man; kill squaws, pappoose and all. Smash eggs and break
up ‘e nest. Dat what he whisper, day and night, for twenty winters.
Whisper so much, was force to b’lieve him. Bad to have too much whisper
of same t’ing in ear. Den I want scalp. Couldn’t have too much scalp.
Took much scalp. All pale-face scalp. Heart grow hard. Great pleasure
was to kill pale-face. Dat feeling last, Blossom, till I see you. Feel
like fader to you, and don’t want your scalp. Won’er great deal why I
feel so, but do feel so. Dat my natur’. Still want all udder pale-face
scalp. Want Bourdon scalp, much as any.”

A slight exclamation from his companion, which could scarcely be called
a scream, caused the Indian to cease speaking, when the two looked
toward each other, and their eyes met. Margery, however, saw none of
those passing gleams of ferocity which had so often troubled her in the
first few weeks of their acquaintance; in their stead, an expression of
subdued anxiety, and an earnestness of inquiry that seemed to say how
much the chief’s heart yearned to know more on that mighty subject
toward which his thoughts had lately been turned. The mutual glance
sufficed to renew the confidence our heroine was very reluctant to
relinquish, while it awakened afresh all of Peter’s parental concern in
the welfare of the interesting young woman at his side.

“But this feeling has left you, Peter, and you no longer wish Bourdon’s
scalp,” said Margery, hastily. “Now he is my husband, he is your son.”

“Dat good, p’raps,” answered the Injin, “but dat not a reason, nudder,
Blossom. You right, too. Don’t want Bourdon scalp any longer. Dat true.
But don’t want ANY scalp, any more. Heart grow soft--an’t hard, now.”

“I wish I could let you understand, Peter, how much I rejoice to hear
this! I have never felt afraid of you, on my own account, though I will
own that I have sometimes feared that the dreadful cruel stories which
are told of your enmity to my color are not altogether without truth.
Now, you tell me you are the white man’s friend, and that you no longer
wish to injure him. These are blessed words, Peter; and humbly do I
thank God, through his blessed Son, that I have lived to hear them!”

“Dat Son make me feel so,” returned the Indian, earnestly. “Yes, juss
so. My heart was hard, till medicinepriest tell dat tradition of Son of
Great Spirit--how he die for all tribes and nations, and ask his fader
to do good to dem dat take his life--dat won’erful tradition, Blossom!
Sound like song of wren in my ear--sweeter dan mocking-bird when he do
his bess. Yes, dat won’erful. He true, too; for medicine-priest ask his
Manitou to bless Injin, juss as Injins lift tomahawk to take his life. I
see’d and heard dat, myself. All, won’erful, won’erful!”

“It was the Spirit of God that enabled poor Amen to do that, Peter; and
it is the Spirit of God that teaches you to see and feel the beauty
of such an act. Without the aid of that Spirit, we are helpless as
children; with it, strong as giants. I do not wonder, at all, that the
good missionary was able to pray for his enemies with his dying breath.
God gave him strength to do so.”

Margery spoke as she felt, earnestly, and with emphasis. Her cheeks
flushed with the strength of her feelings, and Peter gazed on her with a
species of reverence and wonder. The beauty of this charming young woman
was pleasing rather than brilliant, depending much on expression for
its power. A heightened color greatly increased it, and when, as in this
instance, the eyes reflected the tints of the cheeks, one might have
journeyed days in older regions, without finding her equal in personal
attractions. Much as he admired her, however, Peter had now that on his
mind which rendered her beauty but a secondary object with him. His
soul had been touched by the unseen, but omnipresent, power of the Holy
Spirit, and his companion’s language and fervor contributed largely in
keeping alive his interest in what he felt.

“Nebber know Injin do dat,” said Peter, in a slow, deliberative sort of
way; “no, nebber know Injin do so. Always curse and hate his enemy, and
most when about to lose his scalp. Den, feelin’s hottest. Den, most want
to use tomahawk on his enemy. Den, most feel dat he hate him. But not so
wid medicine-priest. Pray for Injin; ask Great Spirit to do him all
‘e good he can; juss as Injin was goin’ to strike. Won’erful--most
won’erful DAT, in my eyes. Blossom, you know Peter. He your fader. He
take you, and make you his da’ghter. His heart is soft to you, Blossom.
But, he nuttin’ but poor Injin, dough a great chief. What he know?
Pale-face pappoose know more dan Injin chief. Dat come from Great Spirit
too. He wanted it so, and it is so. Our chiefs say dat Great Spirit love
Injin. May be so. T’ink he love ebbery body; but he can’t love Injin as
much as he love pale-face, or he wouldn’t let red man know so little.
Don’t count wigwams, and canoes, and powder, and lead, as proof of Great
Spirit’s love. Pale-face got more of dese dan Injin. Dat I see and know,
and dat I feel. But it no matter. Injin used to be poor, and don’t care.
When used to be poor, den used to it. When used to be rich, den it hard
not to be rich. All use. Injin don’t care. But it bad not to know. I’m
warrior--I’m hunter--I’m great chief. You squaw--you young--you know
so much as squaw of chief. But you know most. I feel ashamed to know so
little. Want to know more. Want to know most how ‘e Son of Great Spirit
die for all tribe, and pray to his fader to bless ‘em dat kill him. Dat
what Peter now want most to know!”

“I wish I was better able to teach you, Peter, from the bottom of my
heart; but the little I do know you shall hear. I would not deny you for
a thousand worlds, for I believe the Holy Spirit has touched your heart,
and that you will become a new man. Christians believe that all must
become new men, who are to live in the other world, in the presence of
God.”

“How can dat be? Peter soon be ole--how can ole man grow young ag’in?”

“The meaning of this is that we must so change in feelings, as no longer
to be the same persons. The things that we loved we must hate, and the
things that we hated, or at least neglected, we must love. When we feel
this change in our hearts, then may we hope that we love and reverence
the Great Spirit, and are living under his holy care.”

Peter listened with the attention of an obedient and respectful child.
If meekness, humility, a wish to learn the truth, and a devout sentiment
toward the Creator, are so many indications of the “new birth,” then
might this savage be said to have been truly “born again.” Certainly he
was no longer the same man, in a moral point of view, and of this he was
himself entirely conscious. To him the wonder was what had produced so
great and so sudden a change! But the reply he made to Margery will, of
itself, sufficiently express his views of his own case.

“An Injin like a child,” he said, meekly; “nebber know. Even pale-face
squaw know more dan great chief, Nebber feel as do now. Heart soft as
young squaw’s. Don’t hate any body, no more. Wish well to all tribe,
and color, and nation. Don’t hate Bri’sh, don’t hate Yankee; don’t hate
Cherokee, even. Wish ‘em all well. Don’t know dat heart is strong enough
to ask Great Spirit to do ‘em all good, if dey want my scalp--p’rap
dat too much for poor Injin; but don’t want nobody’s scalp, myself. Dat
somet’in’, I hope, for me.”

“It is, indeed, Peter; and if you will get down on your knees, and
humble your thoughts, and pray to God to strengthen you in these good
feelings, he will be sure to do it, and make you, altogether, a new
man.”

Peter looked wistfully at Margery, and then turned his eyes toward
the earth. After sitting in a thoughtful mood for some time, he again
regarded his companion, saying, with the simplicity of a child:

“Don’t know how to do dat, Blossom. Hear medicine-priest of pale-faces
pray, sometime, but poor Injin don’t know enough to speak to Great
Spirit. You speak to Great Spirit for him. He know your voice, Blossom,
and listen to what you say; but he won’t hear Peter, who has so long
hated his enemy. P’raps he angry if he hear Peter speak.”

“In that you are mistaken, Peter. The ears of the Lord are ever open to
our prayers, when put up in sincerity, as I feel certain that yours will
now be. But, after I have told you the meaning of what I am about to
say, I will pray with you and for you. It is best that you should begin
to do this, as soon as you can.”

Margery then slowly repeated to Peter the words of the Lord’s prayer.
She gave him its history, and explained the meaning of several of
its words that might otherwise have been unintelligible to him,
notwithstanding his tolerable proficiency in English--a proficiency
that had greatly increased in the last few weeks, in consequence of his
constant communications with those who spoke it habitually. The word
“trespasses,” in particular, was somewhat difficult for the Indian to
comprehend, but Margery persevered until she succeeded in giving her
scholar tolerably accurate ideas of the meaning of each term. Then she
told the Indian to kneel with her, and, for the first time in his life,
that man of the Openings and prairies lifted his voice in prayer to the
one God. It is true that Peter had often before mentally asked favors
of his Manitou; but the requests were altogether of a worldly character,
and the being addressed was invested with attributes very different from
those which he now understood to belong to the Lord of heaven and earth.
Nor was the spirit in asking at all the same. We do not wish to be
understood as saying that this Indian was already a full convert to
Christianity, which contains many doctrines of which he had not the most
distant idea; but his heart had undergone the first step in the great
change of conversion, and he was now as humble as he had once been
proud; as meek, as he had formerly been fierce; and he felt that certain
proof of an incipient love of the Creator, in a similar feeling toward
all the works of his hands.

When Peter arose from his knees, after repeating the prayer to Margery’s
slow leading, it was with the dependence of a child on the teaching of
its mother. Physically, he was the man he ever had been. He was as able
to endure fatigue, as sinewy in his frame, and as capable of fasting and
of sustaining fatigue, as in his most warlike days; but, morally, the
change was great, indeed. Instead of the obstinate confidence in himself
and his traditions, which had once so much distinguished this chief,
there was substituted an humble distrust of his own judgment, that
rendered him singularly indisposed to rely on his personal views, in
any matter of conscience, and he was truly become a child in all
that pertained to his religious belief. In good hands, and under more
advantageous circumstances, the moral improvement of Peter would have
been great; but, situated as he was, it could not be said to amount to
much more than a very excellent commencement.

All this time both Peter and Margery had been too intent on their
feelings and employment, to take much heed to the precautions necessary
to their concealment. The sun was setting ere they arose, and then it
was that Peter made the important discovery that they were observed by
two of the young men of the Pottawattamies--scouts kept out by Bear’s
Meat to look for the fugitives.

The time was when Peter would not have hesitated to use his rifle on
these unwelcome intruders; but the better spirit that had come over him,
now led him to adopt a very different course. Motioning to the young
men, he ordered them to retire, while he led Margery within the cover
of the bushes. Formerly, Peter would not have scrupled to resort to
deception, in order to throw these two young men on a wrong scent, and
get rid of them in that mode; but now he had a reluctance to deceive;
and, no sooner did they fall back at his beckoning, than he followed
Margery to the camp. The latter was giving her husband a hurried account
of what had just happened, as Peter joined them.

“Our camp is known!” exclaimed the bee-hunter the instant he beheld the
Indian.

“Juss so. Pottawattamie see squaw, and go and tell his chief. Dat
sartain,” answered Peter.

“What is there to be done?--Fight for our lives, or fly?”

“Get in canoe quick as can. It take dem young men half-hour to reach
place where chief be. In dat half-hour we muss go as far as we can. No
good to stay here. Injin come in about one hour.”

Le Bourdon knew his position well enough to understand this.
Nevertheless, there were several serious objections to an immediate
flight. Pigeonswing was absent, and the bee-hunter did not like the
notion of leaving him behind, for various reasons. Then it was not yet
dark; and to descend the river by daylight, appeared like advancing into
the jaws of the lion designedly. Nor was le Bourdon at his ease on the
subject of Peter. His sudden appearance, the insufficient and far from
clear account of Margery, and the extraordinary course advised, served
to renew ancient distrusts, and to render him reluctant to move. But of
one thing there could be no doubt. Their present position must be known,
for Margery had seen the two strange Indians with her own eyes, and a
search might soon be expected. Under all the circumstances, therefore,
our hero reluctantly complied with Margery’s reiterated solicitations,
and they all got into the canoes.

“I do not like this movement, Peter,” said le Bourdon, as he shoved his
own light craft down the brook, previously to entering the river. “I
hope it may turn out to be better than it looks, and that you can keep
us out of the hands of our enemies. Remember, it is broad daylight, and
that red men are plenty two or three miles below us.”

“Yes, know dat; but muss go. Injin too plenty here, soon. Yes, muss go.
Bourdon, why you can’t ask bee, now, what bess t’ing for you to do, eh?
Good time, now, ask bee to tell what he know.”

The bee-hunter made no reply, but his pretty wife raised her hand,
involuntarily, as if to implore the Indian to forbear. Peter was a
little bewildered; for as yet, he did not understand that a belief in
necromancy was not exactly compatible with the notions of the Christian
Providence. In his ignorance, how much was he worse off than the wisest
of our race? Will any discreet man who has ever paid close attention to
the power of the somnambule, deny that there is a mystery about such a
person that exceeds all our means of explanation? That there are degrees
in the extent of this power--that there are false, as well as true
somnambules--all who have attended to the subject must allow; but, a
deriding disbeliever in our own person once, we have since seen that
which no laws, known to us, can explain, and which we are certain is
not the subject of collusion, as we must have been a party to the fraud
ourselves, were any such practised. To deny the evidence of our senses
is an act of greater weakness than to believe that there are mysteries
connected with our moral and physical being that human sagacity has not
yet been able to penetrate; and we repudiate the want of manliness
that shrinks from giving its testimony when once convinced, through an
apprehension of being derided, as weaker than those who withhold their
belief. We KNOW that our own thoughts have been explained and rendered,
by a somnambule, under circumstances that will not admit of any
information by means known to us by other principles; and whatever
others may think on the subject, we are perfectly conscious that no
collusion did or could exist. Why, then, are we to despise the poor
Indian because he still fancied le Bourdon could hold communication with
his bees? We happen to be better informed, and there may be beings
who are aware of the as yet hidden laws of animal magnetism--hidden
as respects ourselves, though known to them--and who fully comprehend
various mistakes and misapprehensions connected with our impressions on
this subject, that escape our means of detection. It is not surprising,
therefore, that Peter, in his emergency, turned to those bees, in the
hope that they might prove of assistance, or that Margery silently
rebuked him for the weakness, in the manner mentioned.

Although it was still light, the sun was near setting when the canoes
glided into the river. Fortunately for the fugitives, the banks were
densely wooded, and the stream of great width--a little lake, in
fact--and there was not much danger of their being seen until they got
near the mouth; nor then, even, should they once get within the cover
of the wild rice, and of the rushes. There was no retreat, however; and
after paddling some distance, in order to get beyond the observation of
any scout who might approach the place where they had last been seen,
the canoes were brought close together, and suffered to float before
a smart breeze, so as not to reach the mouth of the stream before the
night closed around them. Everything appeared so tranquil, the solitude
was so profound, and their progress so smooth and uninterrupted, that a
certain amount of confidence revived in the breasts of all, and even the
bee-hunter had hopes of eventual escape.

A conversation now occurred, in which Peter was questioned concerning
the manner in which he had been occupied during his absence; an absence
that had given le Bourdon so much concern. Had the chief been perfectly
explicit, he would have confessed that fully one-half of his waking
thoughts had been occupied in thinking of the death of the Son of God,
of the missionary’s prayer for his enemies, and of the sublime morality
connected with such a religion. It is true Peter did not--could not,
indeed--enter very profoundly into the consideration of these subjects;
nor were his notions either very clear or orthodox; but they were
sincere, and the feelings to which they gave birth were devout.
Peter did not touch on these circumstances, however, confining his
explanations to the purely material part of his proceedings. He had
remained with Bear’s Meat, Crowsfeather, and the other leading chiefs,
in order to be at the fountain-head of information, and to interpose his
influence should the pale-faces unhappily fall into the hands of those
who were so industriously looking for them. Nothing had occurred to call
his authority out, but a strange uncertainty seemed to reign among the
warriors, concerning the manner in which their intended victims eluded
their endeavors to overtake them. No trail had been discovered, scout
after scout coming in to report a total want of success in their
investigations inland. This turned the attention of the Indians still
more keenly on the river’s mouth, it being certain that the canoes could
not have passed out into the lake previously to the arrival of the two
or three first parties of their young men, who had been sent so early to
watch that particular outlet.

Peter informed le Bourdon that his cache had been discovered, opened,
and rifled of its stores. This was a severe loss to our hero, and one
that would have been keenly felt at any other time; but just then he had
interests so much more important to protect, that he thought and said
little about this mishap. The circumstance which gave him the most
concern was this: Peter stated that Bear’s Meat had directed about a
dozen of his young men to keep watch, day and night, in canoes, near
the mouth of the river, lying in wait among the wild rice, like so many
snakes in the grass.

The party was so much interested in this conversation that, almost
insensibly to themselves, they had dropped down to the beginning of the
rushes and rice, and had got rather dangerously near to the critical
point of their passage. As it was still daylight, Peter now proposed
pushing the canoes in among the plants, and there remaining until it
might be safer to move. This was done accordingly, and in a minute or
two all three of the little barks were concealed within the cover.

The question now was whether the fugitives had been observed, but
suffered to advance, as every foot they descended the stream was taking
them nearer to their foes. Peter did not conceal his apprehension on
this point, since he deemed it improbable that any reach near the mouth
of the Kalamazoo was without its lookouts, at a moment so interesting.
Such was, indeed, the fact, as was afterward ascertained; but the young
men who had seen Peter and Margery had given the alarm, passing the
word where the fugitives were to be found, and the sentinels along this
portion of the stream had deserted their stations, in order to be in at
the capture. By such delicate and unforeseen means does Providence often
protect those who are the subjects of its especial care, baffling the
calculations of art by its own quiet control of events.

The bee-hunter had a feverish desire to be moving. After remaining
in the cover about half an hour, he proposed that they should get the
canoes into one of the open passages, of which there were many among the
plants, and proceed. Peter had more of the patience of an Indian, and
deemed the hour too early. But le Bourdon was not yet entirely free
from distrust of his companion, and telling Gershom to follow, he
began paddling down one of the passages mentioned. This decisive step
compelled the rest to follow, or to separate from their companions. They
chose to do the first.

Had le Bourdon possessed more self-command, and remained stationary a
little longer, he would, in all probability, have escaped altogether
from a very serious danger that he was now compelled to run. Although
there were many of the open places among the plants, they did not always
communicate with each other, and it became necessary to force the
canoes through little thickets, in order to get out of one into another,
keeping the general direction of descending the river. It was while
effecting the first of these changes, that the agitation of the tops
of the plants caught the eye of a lookout on the shore. By signals,
understood among themselves, this man communicated his discovery to a
canoe that was acting as one of the guard-boats, thus giving a general
alarm along the whole line of sentinels, as well as to the chiefs down
at the hut or at the mouth of the river. The fierce delight with which
this news was received, after so long a delay, became ungovernable, and
presently yells and cries filled the air, proceeding from both sides of
the stream, as well as from the river itself.

There was not a white person in those canoes who did not conceive that
their party was lost, when this clamor was heard. With Peter it was
different. Instead of admitting of alarm, he turned all his faculties to
use. While le Bourdon himself was nearly in despair, Peter was listening
with his nice ears, to catch the points on the river whence the yells
arose. For the banks he cared nothing. The danger was from the canoes.
By the keenness of his faculties, the chief ascertained that there were
four canoes out, and that they would have to run the gauntlet between
them, or escape would be hopeless. By the sounds he also became certain
that these four canoes were in the rice, two on each side of the river,
and there they would probably remain, in expectation that the fugitives
would be most likely to come down in the cover.

The decision of Peter was made in a moment. It was now quite dark, and
those who were in canoes within the rice could not well see the middle
of the stream, even by daylight. He determined, therefore, to take the
very centre of the river, giving his directions to that effect with
precision and clearness. The females he ordered to lie down, each in
her own canoe, while their husbands alone were to remain visible. Peter
hoped that, in the darkness, le Bourdon and Gershom might pass for
Indians, on the lookout, and under his own immediate command.

One very important fact was ascertained by le Bourdon, as soon as these
arrangements were explained and completed. The wind on the lake was
blowing from the south, and of course was favorable to those who desired
to proceed in the opposite direction. This he communicated to Margery in
a low tone, endeavoring to encourage her by all the means in his power.
In return, the young wife muttered a few encouraging words to her
husband. Every measure was understood between the parties. In the event
of a discovery, the canoes were to bury themselves in the rice, taking
different directions, each man acting for himself. A place of rendezvous
was appointed outside, at a headland known to Gershom and le Bourdon,
and signals were agreed on, by which the latest arrival might know that
all was safe there. These points were settled as the canoes floated
slowly down the stream.

Peter took and kept the lead. The night was star-lit and clear, but
there was no moon. On the water, this made but little difference,
objects not being visible at any material distance. The chief governed
the speed, which was moderate, but regular. At the rate he was now
going, it would require about an hour to carry the canoes into the lake.
But nearly all of that hour must pass in the midst of enemies!

Half of the period just mentioned elapsed, positively without an alarm
of any sort. By this time, the party was abreast of the spot where
Gershom and le Bourdon had secreted the canoes in the former adventure
at the mouth of the river. On the shores, however, a very different
scene now offered. Then, the fire burned brightly in the hut, and the
savages could be seen by its light. Now, all was not only dark, but
still as death. There was no longer any cry, sound, alarm, or foot-fall,
audible. The very air seemed charged with uncertainty, and its
offspring, apprehension.

As they approached nearer and nearer to what was conceived to be the
most critical point in the passage, the canoes got closer together; so
close, indeed, that le Bourdon and Gershom might communicate in very
guarded tones. The utmost care was taken to avoid making any noise,
since a light and careless blow from a paddle, on the side of a canoe,
would be almost certain, now, to betray them. Margery and Dorothy could
no longer control their feelings, and each rose in her seat, raising her
body so as to bring her head above the gunwale of the canoe, if a bark
canoe can be said to have a gunwale at all. They even whispered to each
other, endeavoring to glean encouragement by sympathy. At this instant
occurred the crisis in their attempt to escape.



CHAPTER XXIX.

     For an Indian isle she shapes her way
     With constant mind both night and day:
     She seems to hold her home in view
     And sails as if the path she knew,
     So calm and stately in her motion
     Across the unfathomed, trackless ocean.
                                           -- WILSON.


It has been said that Peter was in advance. When his canoe was nearly
abreast of the usual landing at the hut, he saw two canoes coming out
from among the rice, and distant from him not more than a hundred
yards. At a greater distance, indeed, it would not have been easy to
distinguish such an object on the water at all. Instead of attempting to
avoid these two canoes, the chief instantly called to them, drawing the
attention of those in them to himself, speaking so loud as to be easily
overheard by those who followed.

“My young men are too late,” he said. “The pale-faces have been seen in
the openings above by our warriors, and must soon be here. Let us land,
and be ready to meet them at the wigwam.”

Peter’s voice was immediately recognized. The confident, quiet, natural
manner in which he spoke served to mislead those in the canoes; and when
he joined them, and entered the passage among the rice that led to the
landing, preceding the others, the last followed him as regularly as the
colt follows its dam. Le Bourdon heard the conversation, and understood
the movement, though he could not see the canoes. Peter continued
talking aloud, as he went up the passage, receiving answers to all he
said from his new companions, his voice serving to let the fugitives
know precisely where they were. All this was understood and improved by
the last, who lost no time in turning the adventure to account.

The first impulse of le Bourdon had been to turn and fly up stream.
But, ascertaining that these dangerous enemies were so fully occupied
by Peter as not to see the canoes behind, he merely inclined a little
toward the other side of the channel, and slackened his rate of
movement, in order not to come too near. The instant he was satisfied
that all three of the canoes in advance had entered the passage
mentioned, and were moving toward the landing, he let out, and glided
down stream like an arrow. It required but half a minute to cross the
opening of the passage, but Peter’s conversation kept his followers
looking ahead, which greatly lessened the risk. Le Bourdon’s heart was
in his mouth several times, while thus running the gauntlet, as it might
be; but fortune favored them; or, as Margery more piously understood the
circumstances, a Divine Providence led them in safety past the danger.

At the mouth of the river both le Bourdon and Gershom thought it highly
probable that they should fall in with more lookouts, and each prepared
his arms for a fight. But no canoe was there, and the fugitives were
soon in the lake. Michigan is a large body of water, and a bark canoe is
but a frail craft to put to sea in, when there is any wind or commotion.
On the present occasion, there was a good deal of both; so much as
greatly to terrify the females. Of all the craft known, however, one
of these egg-shells is really the safest, if properly managed, among
breakers or amid the combing of seas. We have ourselves ridden in them
safely through a surf that would have swamped the best man-of-war cutter
that ever floated; and done it, too, without taking on board as much
water as would serve to wash one’s hands. The light vessel floats on so
little of the element, indeed, that the foam of a large sea has scarce
a chance of getting above it, or aboard it; the great point in the
handling being to prevent the canoe from falling broadside to. By
keeping it end on to the sea, in our opinion, a smart gale might be
weathered in one of these craft, provided the endurance of a man could
bear up against the unceasing watchfulness and incessant labor of
sweeping with the paddle, in order to prevent broaching to.

Le Bourdon, it has been said, was very skilful in the management of his
craft; and Gershom, now perforce a sober and useful man, was not
much behind him in this particular. The former had foreseen this very
difficulty, and made all his arrangements to counteract it. No sooner,
therefore, did he find the canoes in rough water than he brought them
together, side by side, and lashed them there. This greatly lessened the
danger of capsizing, though it increased the labor of managing the craft
when disposed to turn broadside to. It only remained to get sail on the
catamaran, for some such thing was it now, in order to keep ahead of the
sea as much as possible. Light cotton lugs were soon spread, one in each
canoe, and away they went, as sailors term it, wing and wing.

It was now much easier steering, though untiring vigilance was still
necessary. A boat may appear to fly, and yet the “send of the sea”
 shall glance ahead of it with the velocity of a bird. Nothing that goes
through, or ON, the water--and the last is the phrase best suited to
the floating of a bark canoe--can ever be made to keep company with
that feathery foam, which, under the several names of “white-caps”--an
in-shore and lubber’s term--“combs,” “breaking of the seas,” “the wash,”
 etc., etc., glances by a vessel in a blow, or comes on board her even
when she is running before it. We have often watched these clouds of
water, as they have shot ahead of us, when ploughing our own ten or
eleven knot through the brine, and they have ever appeared to us as so
many useful admonishers of what the power of God is, as compared to the
power of man. The last shall construct his ship, fit her with all the
appliances of his utmost art, sail her with the seaman’s skill, and
force her through her element with something like railroad speed;
yet will the seas “send” their feathery crests past her, like so
many dolphins, or porpoises, sporting under her fore-foot. It is this
following sea which becomes so very dangerous in heavy gales, and which
compels the largest ships frequently to heave to, in order that they may
present their bows to its almost resistless power.

But our adventurers had no such gales as those we mean, or any such seas
to withstand. The wind blew fresh from the south, and Michigan can get
up a very respectable swell at need. Like the seas in all the great
lakes, it was short, and all the worse for that. The larger the expanse
of water over which the wind passes, the longer is the sea, and the
easier is it for the ship to ride on it. Those of Lake Michigan,
however, were quite long enough for a bark canoe, and glad enough were
both Margery and Dorothy when they found their two little vessels lashed
together, and wearing an air of more stability than was common to them.
Le Bourdon’s sail was first spread, and it produced an immediate relief
from the washing of the waves. The drift of a bark canoe, in a smart
blow, is considerable, it having no hold on the water to resist it; but
our adventurers fairly flew as soon as the cotton cloth was opened. The
wind being exactly south, by steering due north, or dead before it, it
was found possible to carry the sail in the other canoe, borne out
on the opposite side; and from the moment that was opened, all the
difficulty was reduced to steering so “small,” as seamen term it, as
to prevent one or the other of the lugs from jibing. Had this occurred,
however, no very serious consequences would have followed, the
precaution taken of lashing the craft together rendering capsizing next
to impossible.

The Kalamazoo and its mouth were soon far behind, and le Bourdon no
longer felt the least apprehension of the savages left in it. The
Indians are not bold navigators, and he felt certain that the lake was
too rough for the savages to venture out, while his own course gradually
carried him off the land, and out of the track of anything that kept
near the shore. A short time produced a sense of security, and the
wind appearing to fall, instead of increasing in violence, it was soon
arranged that one of the men should sleep, while the other looked to the
safety of the canoes.

It was about nine o’clock when the fugitives made sail, off the mouth of
the Kalamazoo; and, at the return of light, seven hours later, they were
more than forty miles from the place of starting. The wind still stood,
with symptoms of growing fresher again as the sun rose, and the land
could just be seen in the eastern board, the coast in that direction
having made a considerable curvature inland. This had brought the canoes
farther from the land than le Bourdon wished to be, but he could not
materially change his course without taking in one of his sails. As much
variation was made, however, as was prudent, and by nine o’clock, or
twelve hours after entering the lake, the canoes again drew near to the
shore, which met them ahead. By the bee hunter’s calculations, they were
now about seventy miles from the mouth of the Kalamazoo, having passed
the outlets of two or three of the largest streams of those regions.

The fugitives selected a favorable spot, and landed behind a headland
that gave them a sufficient lee for the canoes. They had now reached a
point where the coast trends a little to the eastward, which brought the
wind in a slight degree off the land. This change produced no very
great effect on the seas, but it enabled the canoes to keep close to
the shore, making something of a lee for them. This they did about noon,
after having lighted a fire, caught some fish in a small stream, killed
a deer and dressed it, and cooked enough provisions to last for two
or three days. The canoes were now separated again; it being easier to
manage them in that state than when lashed together, besides enabling
them to carry both sails. The farther north they got the more of a lee
was found, though it was in no place sufficient to bring smooth water.

In this manner several more hours were passed, and six times as many
more miles were made in distance. When le Bourdon again landed, which
he did shortly before the sun set, he calculated his distance from
the mouth of the Kalamazoo to be rather more than a hundred miles. His
principal object was to ascend a bluff and to take a look at the coast,
in order to examine it for canoes. This his glass enabled him to do with
some accuracy, and when he rejoined the party, he was rejoiced to have
it in his power to report that the coast was clear. After refreshing
themselves, the canoes were again brought together, in order to divide
the watches, and a new start was made for the night. In this manner did
our adventurers make their way to the northward for two nights and days,
landing often, to fish, hunt, rest, and cook, as well as to examine the
coast. At the end of the time mentioned, the celebrated straits of the
Michillimackinac, or Mackinaw, as they are almost universally termed,
came in sight. The course had been gradually changing toward the
eastward, and, luckily for the progress of the fugitives, the wind with
it, leaving them always a favorable breeze. But it was felt to be no
longer safe to use a sail, and recourse was had to the paddles, until
the straits and island were passed. This caused some delay, and added a
good deal to the labor; but it was deemed so dangerous to display
their white cotton sails, objects that might be seen for a considerable
distance, that it was thought preferable to adopt this caution. Nor
was it useless. In consequence of this foresight, a fleet of canoes was
passed in safety, which were crossing from the post at Mackinaw to ward
the main land of Michigan. The number of the canoes in this fleet could
not have been less than fifty, but getting a timely view of them, le
Bourdon hid his own craft in a cove, and remained there until the danger
was over.

The course now changed still more, while the wind got quite round to the
westward. This made a fair wind at first, and gave the canoes a good lee
as they advanced. Lake Huron, which was the water the fugitives were now
on, lies nearly parallel to Michigan, and the course was southeasterly.
As le Bourdon had often passed both ways on these waters, he had his
favorite harbors, and knew those signs which teach navigators how to
make their prognostics of the weather. On the whole, the fugitives did
very well, though they lost two days between Mackinaw and Saginaw Bay;
one on account of the strength of the wind, and one on account of rain.
During the last, they remained in a hut that le Bourdon had himself
constructed in one of his many voyages, and which he had left standing.
These empty cabins, or chientes, are of frequent occurrence in new
countries, being used, like the Refuges in the Alps, by every traveller
as he has need of them.

The sight of the fleet of canoes, in the straits of Michillimackinac,
caused the fugitives the only real trouble they had felt, between the
time when they left the mouth of the Kalamazoo, and the ten days that
succeeded. By the end of that period the party had crossed Saginaw,
and was fast coming up with Point au Barques, a landmark for all who
navigate the waters of Huron, when a canoe was seen coming out from
under the land, steering as if to intercept them. This sight gave both
concern and pleasure; concern, as it might lead to a hostile encounter,
and pleasure, because the bee-hunter hoped for information that might be
useful in governing his future course. Here his glass came in play, with
good effect. By means of that instrument, it was soon ascertained that
the strange canoe contained but two men, both Indians, and as that was
just their own force no great danger was apprehended from the meeting.
The craft, therefore, continued to approach each other, le Bourdon
keeping his glass levelled on the strangers much of the time.

“As I live, yonder are Peter and Pigeonswing,” suddenly exclaimed our
hero. “They have crossed the Peninsula, and have come out from the
point, in that canoe, to meet us.”

“With important news, then, depend on it, Benjamin,” answered the wife.
“Tell this to brother, that he and Dolly may not feel more alarm than is
necessary.”

The bee-hunter called out to his friends in the other canoe, and
communicated the discovery just made, the two craft keeping always
within hailing distance of each other.

“Them Injins are not here for nothing,” answered Dorothy. “You will find
they have something serious to say.”

“We shall soon know,” called out le Bourdon. “Ten minutes will bring us
alongside of them.”

The ten minutes did that much, and before the expiration of the short
space, the three canoes were fastened together, that of Peter being in
the centre. The bee-hunter saw, at a glance, that the expedition of
the Indians had been hurried; for their canoe, besides being of
very indifferent qualities, was not provided with the implements and
conveniences usual to a voyage of any length. Still, he would not ask
a question, but lighting his pipe, after a few puffs, he passed it
courteously over to Peter. The great chief smoked a while, and gave it
to Pigeonswing, in his turn, who appeared to enjoy it quite as much as
any of the party.

“My father does not believe he is a Jew?” said le Bourdon, smiling;
willing to commence a discourse, though still determined not to betray a
womanish curiosity.

“We are poor Injins, Bourdon; just as the Great Spirit made us. Dat
bess. Can’t help what Manitou do. If he don’t make us Jew, can’t be Jew.
If he make us Injin, muss be Injin. For my part, b’lieve I’m Injin, and
don’t want to be pale-face. Can love pale-face, now, juss as well as
love Injin.”

“Oh, I hope this is true, Peter,” exclaimed Margery, her handsome face
flushing with delight, at hearing these words. “So long as your heart
tells you this, be certain that the Spirit of God is in you.”

Peter made no answer, but he looked profoundly impressed with the novel
feeling that had taken possession of his soul. As for the bee-hunter, he
did not meddle with Margery’s convictions or emotions on such subjects,
resembling, in this particular, most men, who, however indifferent to
religion in their own persons, are never sorry to find that their wives
profoundly submit to its influence. After a short pause, a species
of homage involuntarily paid to the subject, he thought he might now
inquire into the circumstances that brought the Indians on their route,
without incurring the imputation of a weak and impatient curiosity. In
reply, Peter’s story was soon told. He had rejoined the chiefs without
exciting distrust, and all had waited for the young men to bring in the
captives. As soon as it was ascertained that the intended victims had
escaped, and by water, parties proceeded to different points, in order
to intercept them. Some followed in canoes, but, being less bold in
their navigation than the bee-hunter, they did not make the straits
until some time after the fugitives had passed. Peter, himself,
had joined Bear’s Meat and some twenty warriors who had crossed the
Peninsula, procured canoes at the head of Saginaw Bay, and had come out
at Point au Barques, the very spot our party was now approaching, three
days before its arrival.

Tired with waiting, and uncertain whether his enemies had not got the
start of him, Bear’s Meat had gone into the river below, intending to
keep his watch there, leaving Peter at the Point, with three young men
and one canoe, to have a lookout. These young men the great chief had
found an excuse for sending to the head of the Bay, in quest of another
canoe, which left him, of course, quite alone on the Point. Scarce had
the young man got out of sight, ere Pigeonswing joined his confederate,
for it seems that this faithful friend had kept on the skirts of the
enemy the whole time, travelling hundreds of miles, and enduring hunger
and fatigue, besides risking his life at nearly every step, in order to
be of use to those whom he considered himself pledged to serve.

Of course, Peter and Pigeonswing understood each other. One hour after
they joined company, the canoes of the fugitives came in sight, and
were immediately recognized by their sails. They were met, as has been
mentioned, and the explanations that we have given were made before the
party landed at the Point.

It was something to know where the risk was to be apprehended; but le
Bourdon foresaw great danger. He had brought his canoes, already, quite
five hundred miles, along a hazardous coast--though a little craft, like
one of those he navigated, ran less risk, perhaps, than a larger
vessel, since a shelter might, at any time, be found within a reasonable
distance for it. From Pointe au Barques to the outlet of the lake
was less than a hundred miles more. This outlet was a river, as it is
called--a strait, in fact--which communicates with the small shallow
lake of St. Clair, by a passage of some thirty miles in length. Then
the lake St. Clair was to be crossed about an equal distance, when the
canoes would come out in what is called the Detroit River, a strait
again, as its name indicates. Some six or eight miles down this passage,
and on its western side, stands the city of Detroit, then a village of
no great extent, with a fort better situated to repel an attack of the
savages, than to withstand a siege of white men. This place was now in
the possession of the British, and, according to le Bourdon’s notion, it
was scarcely less dangerous to him than the hostility of Bear’s Meat and
his companions.

Delay, however, was quite as dangerous as anything else. After cooking
and eating, therefore, the canoes continued their course, Peter and
Pigeonswing accompanying them, though they abandoned their own craft.
Peter went with the bee-hunter and Margery, while the Chippewa took a
seat and a paddle in the canoe of Gershom. This change was made in
order to put a double power in each canoe, since it was possible that
downright speed might become the only means of safety.

The wind still stood at the westward, and the rate of sailing was rapid.
About the close of the day the party drew near to the outlet, when Peter
directed the sails to be taken in. This was done to prevent their being
seen, a precaution that was now aided by keeping as near to the shore
as possible, where objects so small and low would be very apt to be
confounded with others on the land.

It was quite dark when the canoes entered the St. Clair river. Favored
by the current and the wind, their progress was rapid, and ere the day
returned, changing his direction from the course ordinarily taken, Peter
entered the lake by a circuitous passage; one of the many that lead from
the river to the lake, among aquatic plants that form a perfect shelter.
This detour saved the fugitives from falling into the hands of one party
of their enemies, as was afterward ascertained by the Indians. Bear’s
Meat had left two canoes, each manned by five warriors, to watch the
principal passages into Lake St. Clair, not anticipating that any
particular caution would be used by the bee-hunter and his friends, at
this great distance from the place where they had escaped from their
foes. But the arrival of Peter, his sagacity, and knowledge of Indian
habits, prevented the result that was expected. The canoes got into
the lake unseen, and crossed it a little diagonally, so as to reach the
Canada shore in the middle of the afternoon of the succeeding day, using
their sails only when far from land, and not exposed to watchful eyes.

The bee-hunter and his friends landed that afternoon at the cabin of
a Canadian Frenchman, on the shore of the lake, and at a safe distance
from the outlet which led still farther south. Here the females were
hospitably received, and treated with that kindness which marks the
character of the Canadian French. It mattered little to these simple
people, whether the travellers were of the hostile nation or not. It is
true, they did not like the “Yankees,” as all Americans are termed by
them, but they were not particularly in love with their English masters.
It was well enough to be repossessed of both banks of the Detroit,
for both banks were then peopled principally by their own race, the
descendants of Frenchmen of the time of Louis XIV., and who still
preserved much of the language, and many of the usages, of the French
of that period. They spoke then, as now, only the language of their
fathers.

The bee-hunter left the cottage of these simple and hospitable people,
as soon as the night was fairly set in; or, rather, as soon as a young
moon had gone down. Peter now took the command, steering the canoe of
le Bourdon, while Gershom followed so close as to keep the bow of his
little craft within reach of the Indian’s arm. In less than an hour the
fugitives reached the opening of the river, which is here divided into
two channels by a large island. On that very island, and at that precise
moment, was Bear’s Meat lying in wait for their appearance, provided
with three canoes, each having a crew of six men. It would have been
easy for this chief to go to Detroit, and give the alarm to the savages
who were then collected there in a large force, and to have made such
a disposition of the canoes as would have rendered escape by water
impossible; but this would have been robbing himself and his friends of
all the credit of taking the scalps, and throwing away what is termed
“honor” among others as well as among savages. He chose, therefore, to
trust to his own ability to succeed; and supposing the fugitives would
not be particularly on their guard at this point, had little doubt of
intercepting them here, should they succeed in eluding those he had left
above.

The bee-hunter distrusted that island, and used extra caution in passing
it. In the first place, the two canoes were brought together, so as to
give them, in the dark, the appearance of only one; while the four men
added so much to the crew as to aid the deception. In the end it proved
that one of Bear’s Meat’s canoes that was paddling about in the middle
of the river had actually seen them, but mistook the party for a canoe
of their own, which ought to have been near that spot, with precisely
six persons in it, just at that time. These six warriors had landed, and
gone up among the cottages of the French to obtain some fruit, of which
they were very fond, and of which they got but little in their own
villages. Owing to this lucky coincidence, which the pretty Margery ever
regarded as another special interposition of Providence in their favor,
the fugitives passed the island without molestation, and actually got
below the last lookouts of Bear’s Meat, though without their knowledge.

It was by no means a difficult thing to go down the river, now that so
many canoes were in motion on it, at all hours. The bee-hunter knew what
points were to be avoided, and took care not to approach a sentinel. The
river, or strait, is less than a mile wide, and by keeping in the centre
of the passage, the canoes, favored by both wind and current, drove by
the town, then an inconsiderable village, without detection. As soon as
far enough below, the canoes were again cast loose from each other, and
sail was made on each. The water was smooth, and some time before
the return of light the fugitives were abreast of Malden, but in the
American channel. Had it been otherwise, the danger could not have been
great. So completely were the Americans subdued by Hull’s capitulation,
and so numerous were the Indian allies of the British, that the passage
of a bark canoe, more or less, would hardly have attracted attention. At
that time, Michigan was a province of but little more than a name. The
territory was wide, to be sure, but the entire population was not larger
than that of a moderately sized English market town, and Detroit was
then regarded as a distant and isolated point. It is true that Mackinac
and Chicago were both more remote, and both more isolated, but an
English force, in possession of Detroit, could be approached by the
Americans on the side of the land only by overcoming the obstacles of a
broad belt of difficult wilderness. This was done the succeeding year,
it is true, but time is always necessary to bring out Jonathan’s latent
military energies. When aroused, they are not trifling, as all his
enemies have been made to feel; but a good deal of miscalculation,
pretending ignorance, and useless talking must be expended, before the
really efficient are allowed to set about serving the country in their
own way.

In this respect, thanks to West Point, a well-organized staff, and
well-educated officers, matters are a little improving. Congress has
not been able to destroy the army, in the present war, though it did its
best to attain that end; and all because the nucleus was too powerful
to be totally eclipsed by the gas of the usual legislative tail of the
Great National Comet, of which neither the materials nor the orbit can
any man say he knows. One day, it declares war with a hurrah; the next,
it denies the legislation necessary to carry it on, as if it distrusted
its own acts, and already repented of its patriotism. And this is
the body, soulless, the very school of faction, as a whole of very
questionable quality in the outset, that, according to certain
expounders of the constitution, is to perform all the functions of a
government; which is not only to pass laws, but is to interpret them;
which is to command the army, aye, even to wheeling its platoons;
which reads the constitution as an abbe mumbles his aves and paters, or
looking at everything but his texts; and which is never to have its
acts vetoed, unless in cases where the Supreme Court would spare the
Executive that trouble. We never yet could see either the elements or
the fruits of this great sanctity in the National Council. In our eyes
it is scarcely ever in its proper place on the railway of the Union, has
degenerated into a mere electioneering machine, performing the little
it really does convulsively, by sudden impulses, equally without
deliberation or a sense of responsibility. In a word, we deem it the
power of all others in the state that needs the closest watching, and
were we what is termed in this country “politicians,” we should go for
the executive who is the most ready to apply the curb to these vagaries
of faction and interested partisans! Vetoes. Would to Heaven we could
see the days of Good Queen Bess revived for one session of Congress at
least, and find that more laws were sent back for the second thoughts
of their framers than were approved! Then, indeed, might the country be
brought back to a knowledge of the very material constitutional facts
that the legislature is not commander-in-chief, does not negotiate
or make treaties, and has no right to do that which it has done so
often--appoint to office by act of Congress.

As a consequence of the little apprehension entertained by the English
of being soon disturbed in their new conquests, le Bourdon and his
friends got out of the Detroit River, and into Lake Erie, without
discovery or molestation. There still remained a long journey before
them. In that day the American side of the shores of all the Great Lakes
was little more than a wilderness. There were exceptions at particular
points, but these were few and far asunder. The whole coast of
Ohio--for Ohio has its coast as well as Bohemia [Footnote: See
Shakespeare--Winter’s Tale.]--was mostly in a state of nature, as was
much of those of Pennsylvania and New York, on the side of the fresh
water. The port which the bee-hunter had in view was Presque Isle, now
known as Erie, a harbor in Pennsylvania, that has since become somewhat
celebrated in consequence of its being the port out of which the
American vessels sailed, about a year later than the period of which we
are writing, to fight the battle that gave them the mastery of the lake.
This was a little voyage of itself, of near two hundred miles, following
the islands and the coast, but it was safely made in the course of
the succeeding week. Once in Lake Erie and on the American side, our
adventurers felt reasonably safe against all dangers but those of the
elements. It is true that a renowned annalist, whose information is
sustained by the collected wisdom of a State Historical Society, does
tell us that the enemy possessed both shores of Lake Erie in 1814; but
this was so small a mistake, compared with some others that this Nestor
in history had made, that we shall not stop to explain it. Le Bourdon
and his party found all the south shore of Lake Erie in possession
of the Americans, so far as it was in the possession of any one, and
consequently ran no risks from this blunder of the historian and his
highly intelligent associates!

Peter and Pigeonswing left their friends before they reached Presque
Isle. The bee-hunter gave them his own canoe, and the parting was not
only friendly, but touching. In the course of their journey, and during
their many stops, Margery had frequently prayed with the great chief.
His constant and burning desire, now, was to learn to read, that he
might peruse the word of the Great Spirit, and regulate his future life
by its wisdom and tenets. Margery promised, should they ever meet again,
and under circumstances favorable to such a design, to help him attain
his wishes.

Pigeonswing parted from his friend with the same light-hearted vivacity
as he had manifested in all their intercourse. Le Bourdon gave him his
own rifle, plenty of ammunition, and various other small articles that
were of value to an Indian, accepting the Chippewa’s arms in return. The
exchange, however, was greatly to the advantage of the savage. As for
Peter, he declined all presents. He carried weapons now, indeed, merely
for the purpose of hunting; but the dignity of his character and station
would have placed him above such compensations, had the fact been
otherwise.



CHAPTER XXX.

           Come to the land of peace!
     Come where the tempest hath no longer sway,
     The shadow passes from the soul away--
            The sounds of weeping cease.

           Fear hath no dwelling there!
     Come to the mingling--of repose and love,
     Breathed by the silent spirit of the dove,
            Through the celestial air.
                                           --MRS. HEMANS.

It is now more than thirty-three years since the last war with the
English terminated, and about thirty-six to the summer in which the
events recorded in this legend occurred. This third of a century has
been a period of mighty changes in America. Ages have not often brought
about as many in other portions of the earth, as this short period of
time has given birth to among ourselves. We had written, thus far, on
the evidence of documents sent to us, when an occasion offered to
verify the truth of some of our pictures, at least, by means of personal
observation.

Quitting our own quiet and secluded abode in the mountains, in the
pleasant month of June, and in this current year of 1848, we descended
into the valley of the Mohawk, got into the cars, and went flying by
rails toward the setting sun. Well could we remember the time when an
entire day was required to pass between that point on the Mohawk where
we got on the rails, and the little village of Utica. On the present
occasion, we flew over the space in less than three hours, and dined in
a town of some fifteen thousand souls.

We reached Buffalo, at the foot of Lake Erie, in about twenty hours
after we had entered the cars. This journey would have been the labor of
more than a week, at the time in which the scene of this tale occurred.
Now, the whole of the beautiful region, teeming with its towns and
villages, and rich with the fruits of a bountiful season, was almost
brought into a single landscape by the rapidity of our passage.

At Buffalo, we turned aside to visit the cataract. Thither, too, we went
on rails. Thirty-eight years had passed away since we had laid eyes on
this wonderful fall of water. In the intervening time we had travelled
much, and had visited many of the renowned falls of the old world, to
say nothing of the great number which are to be found in other parts of
our own land. Did this visit, then, produce disappointment?

Did time, and advancing years, and feelings that had become deadened by
experience, contribute to render the view less striking, less grand, in
any way less pleasing than we had hoped to find it? So far from this,
all our expectations were much more than realized. In one particular,
touching which we do not remember ever to have seen anything said, we
were actually astonished at the surpassing glory of Niagara. It was the
character of sweetness, if we can so express it, that glowed over the
entire aspect of the scene. We were less struck with the grandeur of
this cataract, than with its sublime softness and gentleness. To water
in agitation, use had so long accustomed us, perhaps, as in some slight
degree to lessen the feeling of awe that is apt to come over the
novice in such scenes; but we at once felt ourselves attracted by the
surpassing loveliness of Niagara. The gulf below was more imposing than
we had expected to see it, but it was Italian in hue and softness, amid
its wildness and grandeur. Not a drop of the water that fell down that
precipice inspired terror; for everything appeared to us to be filled
with attraction and love. Like Italy itself, notwithstanding so much
that is grand and imposing, the character of softness, and the witchery
of the gentler properties, is the power we should ascribe to Niagara, in
preference to that of its majesty. We think this feeling, too, is more
general than is commonly supposed, for we find those who dwell near the
cataract playing around it, even to the very verge of its greatest fall,
with a species of affection, as if they had the fullest confidence in
its rolling waters. Thus it is that we see the little steamer, the Maid
of the Mist, paddling up quite near to the green sheet of the Horse-Shoe
itself, and gliding down in the current of the vortex, as it is
compelled to quit the eddies, and come more in a line with the main
course of the stream. Wires, too, are suspended across the gulf below,
and men pass it in baskets. It is said that one of these inventions is
to carry human beings over the main fall, so that the adventurer may
hang suspended in the air, directly above the vortex. In this way do
men, and even women, prove their love for the place, all of which we
impute to its pervading character of sweetness and attraction.

At Buffalo we embarked in a boat under the English flag, which is called
the Canada, This shortened our passage to Detroit, by avoiding all the
stops at lateral ports, and we had every reason to be satisfied with our
selection. Boat, commander, and the attendance were such as would have
done credit to any portion of the civilized world. There were many
passengers, a motley collection, as usual, from all parts of the
country.

Our attention was early drawn to one party, by the singular beauty of
its females. They seemed to us to be a grandmother, in a well-preserved,
green old age; a daughter, but a matron of little less than forty; and
two exceedingly pretty girls of about eighteen and sixteen, whom we took
to be children of the last. The strong family likeness between these
persons led us early to make this classification, which we afterward
found was correct.

By occasional remarks, I gathered that the girls had been to an
“Eastern” boarding-school, that particular feature in civilization not
yet flourishing in the Northwestern States. It seemed to us that we
could trace in the dialect of the several members of this family,
the gradations and peculiarities that denote the origin and habits of
individuals. Thus, the grandmother was not quite as Western in her forms
of speech as her matronly daughter, while the grandchildren evidently
spoke under the influence of boarding-school correction, or like girls
who had been often lectured on the subject “First rate,” and “Yes, sir,”
 and “That’s a fact,” were often in the mouth of the pleasing mother, and
even the grandmother used them all, though not as often as her daughter,
while the young people looked a little concerned and surprised, whenever
they came out of the mouth of their frank-speaking mother. That these
persons were not of a very high social class was evident enough, even in
their language. There was much occasion to mention New York, we found,
and they uniformly called it “the city.” By no accident did either of
them happen to use the expression that she had been “in town,” as one of
us would be apt to say. “He’s gone to the city,” or “She’s in the city,”
 are awkward phrases, and tant soit peu vulgar; but even our pretty
young boarding-school eleves would use them. We have a horror of the
expression “city,” and are a little fastidious, perhaps, touching its
use.

But these little peculiarities were spots on the sun. The entire family,
taken as a whole, was really charming; and long before the hour for
retiring came, we had become much interested in them all. We found
there was a fifth person belonging to this party, who did not make his
appearance that night. From the discourse of these females, however, it
was easy to glean the following leading facts: This fifth person was
a male; he was indisposed, and kept his berth; and he was quite
aged. Several nice little dishes were carried from the table into his
state-room that evening, by one or the other of the young sisters,
and each of the party appeared anxious to contribute to the invalid’s
comfort. All this sympathy excited our interest, and we had some
curiosity to see this old man, long ere it was time to retire. As
for the females, no name was mentioned among them but that of a Mrs.
Osborne, who was once or twice alluded to in full. It was “grandma,” and
“ma,” and “Dolly,” and “sis.” We should have liked it better had it been
“mother,” and “grandmother,” and that the “sis” had been called Betsey
or Molly; but we do not wish to be understood as exhibiting these
amiable and good-looking strangers as models of refinement. “Ma” and
“sis” did well enough, all things considered, though “mamma” would have
been better if they were not sufficiently polished to say “mother.”

We had a pleasant night of it, and all the passengers appeared next
morning with smiling faces. It often blows heavily on that lake, but
light airs off the land were all the breezes we encountered. We were
among the first to turn out, and on the upper deck forward, a place
where the passengers are fond of collecting, as it enables them to look
ahead, we found a single individual who immediately drew all of our
attention to himself. It was an aged man, with hair already as white as
snow. Still there was that in his gait, attitudes, and all his movements
which indicated physical vigor, not to say the remains, at least, of
great elasticity and sinewy activity. Aged as he was, and he must have
long since passed his fourscore years, his form was erect as that of
a youth. In stature he was of rather more than middle height, and in
movements deliberate and dignified. His dress was quite plain, being
black, and according to the customs of the day. The color of his face
and hands, however, as well as the bold outlines of his countenance, and
the still keen, restless, black eye, indicated the Indian.

Here, then, was a civilized red man, and it struck us at once, that he
was an ancient child of the forest, who had been made to feel the truths
of the gospel. One seldom hesitates about addressing an Indian, and we
commenced a discourse with our venerable fellow-passenger, with very
little circumlocution or ceremony.

“Good-morning, sir,” we observed--“a charming time we have of it, on
the lake.”

“Yes--good time--” returned my red neighbor, speaking short and clipped,
like an Indian, but pronouncing his words as if long accustomed to the
language.

“These steamboats are great inventions for the western lakes, as are the
railroads for this vast inland region. I dare say you can remember Lake
Erie when it was an unusual thing to see a sail of any sort on it; and
now, I should think, we might count fifty.”

“Yes--great change--great change, friend!--all change from ole time.”

“The traditions of your people, no doubt, give you reason to see and
feel all this?”

The predominant expression of this red man’s countenance was that of
love. On everything, on every human being toward whom he turned his
still expressive eyes, the looks he gave them would seem to indicate
interest and affection. This expression was so decided and peculiar,
that we early remarked it, and it drew us closer and closer to the old
chief, the longer we remained in his company. That expression, however,
slightly changed when we made this allusion to the traditions of
his people, and a cloud passed before his countenance. This change,
nevertheless, was as transient as it was sudden, the benevolent and
gentle look returning almost as soon as it had disappeared. He seemed
anxious to atone for this involuntary expression of regrets for the
past, by making his communications to me as free as they could be.

“My tradition say a great deal,” was the answer, “It say some good, some
bad.”

“May I ask of what tribe you are?”

The red man turned his eyes on us kindly, as if to lessen anything
ungracious there might be in his refusal to answer, and with an
expression of benevolence that we scarcely remember ever to have seen
equalled. Indeed, we might say with truth, that the love which shone out
of this old man’s countenance habitually, surpassed that which we can
recall as belonging to any other human face. He seemed to be at peace
with himself, and with all the other children of Adam.

“Tribe make no difference,” he answered. “All children of same Great
Spirit.”

“Red men and pale-faces?” I asked, not a little surprised with his
reply.

“Red man and pale-face. Christ die for all, and his Fadder make all. No
difference, excep’ in color. Color only skin deep.”

“Do you, then, look on us pale-faces as having a right here? Do you
not regard us as invaders, as enemies who have come to take away your
lands?”

“Injin don’t own ‘arth. ‘Arth belong to God, and he send whom he like
to live on it. One time he send Injin; now he send pale-face. His ‘arth,
and he do what he please wid it. Nobody any right to complain. Bad to
find fault wid Great Spirit. All he do, right; nebber do anyt’ing bad.
His blessed Son die for all color, and all color muss bow down at his
holy name. Dat what dis good book say,” showing a small pocket Bible,
“and what dis good book say come from Great Spirit, himself.”

“You read the Holy Scriptures, then--you are an educated Indian?”

“No; can’t read at all. Don’t know how. Try hard, but too ole to begin.
Got young eyes, however, to help me,” he added, with one of the fondest
smiles I ever saw light a human face, as he turned to meet the pretty
Dolly’s “Good-morning, Peter,” and to shake the hand of the elder
sister. “She read good book for old Injin, when he want her; and when
she off at school, in ‘city,’ den her mudder or her gran’mudder read for
him. Fuss begin wid gran’mudder; now get down to gran’da’ghter. But good
book all de same, let who will read it.”

This, then, was “Scalping Peter,” the very man I was travelling into
Michigan to see, but how wonderfully changed! The Spirit of the Most
High God had been shed freely upon his moral being, and in lieu of the
revengeful and vindictive savage, he now lived a subdued, benevolent
Christian! In every human being he beheld a brother, and no longer
thought of destroying races, in order to secure to his own people the
quiet possession of their hunting-grounds. His very soul was love; and
no doubt he felt himself strong enough to “bless those who cursed him,”
 and to give up his spirit, like the good missionary whose death had
first turned him toward the worship of the one true God, praying for
those who took his life.

The ways of Divine Providence are past the investigations of human
reason. How often, in turning over the pages of history, do we find
civilization, the arts, moral improvement, nay, Christianity itself,
following the bloody train left by the conqueror’s car, and good pouring
in upon a nation by avenues that at first were teeming only with the
approaches of seeming evils! In this way, there is now reason to hope
that America is about to pay the debt she owes to Africa; and in this
way will the invasion of the forests, and prairies and “openings,”
 of the red man be made to atone for itself by carrying with it the
blessings of the Gospel, and a juster view of the relations which man
bears to his Creator. Possibly Mexico may derive lasting benefits from
the hard lesson that she has so recently been made to endure.

This, then, was Peter, changed into a civilized man and a Christian! I
have found, subsequently, that glimmerings of the former being existed
in his character; but they showed themselves only at long intervals, and
under very peculiar circumstances. The study of these traits became a
subject of great interest with us, for we now travelled in company the
rest of our journey. The elder lady, or “grandma,” was the Margery of
our tale; still handsome, spirited, and kind. The younger matron was her
daughter and only child, and “sis,” another Margery, and Dorothy, were
her grandchildren. There was also a son, or a grandson rather, Ben,
who was on Prairie Round, “with the general.” The “general” was our old
friend, le Bourdon, who was still as often called “General Bourdon,”
 as “General Boden.” This matter of “generals” at the West is a little
overdone, as all ranks and titles are somewhat apt to be in new
countries. It causes one often to smile, at the East; and no wonder that
an Eastern habit should go down in all its glory, beneath the
“setting sun.” In after-days, generals will not be quite as “plenty as
blackberries.”

No sooner did Mrs. Boden, or Margery, to use her familiar name, learn
that we were the very individual to whom the “general” had sent the
notes relative to his early adventures, which had been prepared by
the “Rev. Mr. Varse,” of Kalamazoo, than she became as friendly and
communicative as we could possibly desire.

Her own life had been prosperous, and her marriage happy. Her brother,
however, had fallen back into his old habits, and died ere the war of
1812 was ended. Dorothy had returned to her friends in Massachusetts,
and was still living, in a comfortable condition, owing to a legacy from
an uncle. The bee-hunter had taken the field in that war, and had seen
some sharp fighting on the banks of the Niagara. No sooner was peace
made, however, than he returned to his beloved Openings, where he had
remained, “growing with the country,” as it is termed, until he was now
what is deemed a rich man in Michigan. He has a plenty of land, and that
which is good; a respectable dwelling, and is out of debt. He meets
his obligations to an Eastern man just as promptly as he meets those
contracted at home, and regards the United States, and not Michigan, as
his country. All these were good traits, and we were glad to learn that
they existed in one who already possessed so much of our esteem. At
Detroit we found a fine flourishing town, of a healthful and natural
growth, and with a population that was fast approaching twenty thousand.
The shores of the beautiful strait on which it stands, and which, by a
strange blending of significations and languages, is popularly called
the “Detroit River,” were alive with men and their appliances, and we
scarce know where to turn to find a more agreeable landscape than that
which was presented to us, after passing the island of “Bobolo” (Bois
Blanc), near Maiden. Altogether, it resembled a miniature picture of
Constantinople, without its Eastern peculiarities.

At Detroit commenced our surprise at the rapid progress of Western
civilization. It will be remembered that at the period of our tale, the
environs of Detroit excepted, the whole peninsula of Michigan lay in
a state of nature. Nor did the process of settlement commence actively
until about twenty years since; but, owing to the character of
the country, it already possesses many of the better features of a
long-inhabited region. There are stumps, of course, for new fields are
constantly coming into cultivation; but on the whole, the appearance is
that of a middle-aged, rather than that of a new region.

We left Detroit on a railroad, rattling away toward the setting sun, at
a good speed even for that mode of conveyance. It seemed to us that
our route was well garnished with large villages, of which we must have
passed through a dozen, in the course of a few hours’ “railing,” These
are places varying in size from one to three thousand inhabitants. The
vegetation certainly surpassed that of even West New York, the trees
alone excepted. The whole country was a wheat-field, and we now began
to understand how America could feed the world. Our road lay among the
“Openings” much of the way, and we found them undergoing the changes
which are incident to the passage of civilized men. As the periodical
fires had now ceased for many years, underbrush was growing in lieu of
the natural grass, and in so much those groves are less attractive than
formerly; but one easily comprehends the reason, and can picture to
himself the aspect that these pleasant woods must have worn in times of
old.

We left the railroad at Kalamazoo--an unusually pretty village, on the
banks of the stream of that name. Those who laid out this place, some
fifteen years since, had the taste to preserve most of its trees;
and the houses and grounds that stand a little apart from the busiest
streets--and they are numerous for a place of rather more than two
thousand souls--are particularly pleasant to the eye, on account of the
shade, and the rural pictures they present. Here Mrs. Boden told us we
were within a mile or two of the very spot where once had stood Castle
Meal (Chateau au Miel), though the “general” had finally established
himself at Schoolcraft, on Prairie Ronde.

The first prairie we had ever seen was on the road between Detroit and
Kalamazoo; distant from the latter place only some eight or nine miles.
The axe had laid the country open in its neighborhood; but the spot was
easily to be recognized by the air of cultivation and age that pervaded
it. There was not a stump on it, and the fields were as smooth as any on
the plains of Lombardy, and far more fertile, rich as the last are known
to be. In a word, the beautiful perfection of that little natural meadow
became apparent at once, though seated amid a landscape that was by no
means wanting in interest of its own.

We passed the night at the village of Kalamazoo; but the party of
females, with old Peter, proceeded on to Prairie Round, as that
particular part of the country is called in the dialect of Michigan, it
being a corruption of the old French name of la prairie ronde. The Round
Meadow does not sound as well as Prairie Round, and the last being quite
as clear a term as the other, though a mixture of the two languages,
we prefer to use it. Indeed, the word “prairie” may now be said to
be adopted into the English; meaning merely a natural instead of an
artificial meadow, though one of peculiar and local characteristics. We
wrote a note to General Boden, as I found our old acquaintance Ben Boden
was universally termed, letting him know I should visit Schoolcraft next
day; not wishing to intrude at the moment when that charming family was
just reunited after so long a separation.

The next day, accordingly, we got into a “buggy” and went our way.
The road was slightly sandy a good part of the twelve miles we had
to travel, though it became less so as we drew near to the celebrated
prairie. And celebrated, and that by an abler pen than ours, does this
remarkable place deserve to be! We found all our expectations concerning
it fully realized, and drove through the scene of abundance it presented
with an admiration that was not entirely free from awe.

To get an idea of Prairie Round, the reader must imagine an oval plain
of some five-and-twenty or thirty thousand acres in extent, of the most
surpassing fertility, without an eminence of any sort--almost without an
inequality. There are a few small cavities, howevers in which there are
springs that form large pools of water that the cattle will drink. This
plain, so far as we saw it, is now entirely fenced and cultivated. The
fields are large, many containing eighty acres, and some one hundred and
sixty; most of them being in wheat. We saw several of this size in
that grain. Farm-houses dotted the surface, with barns, and the other
accessories of rural life. In the centre of the prairie is an “island”
 of forest, containing some five or six hundred acres of the noblest
native trees we remember ever to have seen. In the centre of this wood
is a little lake, circular in shape, and exceeding a quarter of a mile
in diameter. The walk in this wood-which is not an Opening, but an
old-fashioned virgin forest--we found delightful of a warm summer’s day.
One thing that we saw in it was characteristic of the country. Some
of the nearest farmers had drawn their manure into it, where it lay in
large piles, in order to get it out of the way of doing any mischief.
Its effect on the land, it was thought, would be to bring too much
straw!

On one side of this island of wood lies the little village or large
hamlet of Schoolcraft. Here we were most cordially welcomed by General
Boden, and all of his fine descendants. The head of this family is
approaching seventy, but is still hale and hearty. His head is as white
as snow, and his face as red as a cherry. A finer old man one seldom
sees. Temperance, activity, the open air, and a good conscience, have
left him a noble ruin; if ruin he can yet be called. He owes the last
blessing, as he told us himself, to the fact that he kept clear of
the whirlwind of speculation that passed over this region some ten or
fifteen years since. His means are ample; and the harvest being about to
commence, he invited me to the field.

The peculiar ingenuity of the American has supplied the want of
laborers, in a country where agriculture is carried on by wholesale,
especially in the cereals, by an instrument of the most singular and
elaborate construction. This machine is drawn by sixteen or eighteen
horses, attached to it laterally, so as to work clear of the standing
grain, and who move the whole fabric on a moderate but steady walk. A
path is first cut with the cradle on one side of the field, when the
machine is dragged into the open place. Here it enters the standing
grain, cutting off its heads with the utmost accuracy as it moves. Forks
beneath prepare the way, and a rapid vibratory motion of a great number
of two-edged knives effect the object. The stalks of the grain can be
cut as low or as high as one pleases, but it is usually thought best to
take only the heads. Afterward the standing straw is burned, or fed off,
upright.

The impelling power which causes the great fabric to advance also sets
in motion the machinery within it As soon as the heads of the grain are
severed from the stalks, they pass into a receptacle, where, by a very
quick and simple process, the kernels are separated from the husks.
Thence all goes into a fanning machine, where the chaff is blown away.
The clean grain falls into a small bin, whence it is raised by a screw
elevator to a height that enables it to pass out at an opening to which
a bag is attached. Wagons follow the slow march of the machine, and the
proper number of men are in attendance. Bag after bag is renewed, until
a wagon is loaded, when it at once proceeds to the mill, where the grain
is soon converted into flour. Generally the husbandman sells to the
miller, but occasionally he pays for making the flour, and sends the
latter off, by railroad, to Detroit, whence it finds its way to Europe,
possibly, to help feed the millions of the old world. Such, at least,
was the course of trade the past season. As respects this ingenious
machine, it remains only to say that it harvests, cleans, and bags
from twenty to thirty acres of heavy wheat, in the course of a single
summer’s day! Altogether it is a gigantic invention, well adapted to
meet the necessities of a gigantic country.

Old Peter went afield with us that day. There he stood, like a striking
monument of a past that was still so recent and wonderful. On that very
prairie, which was now teeming with the appliances of civilization,
he had hunted and held his savage councils. On that prairie had he
meditated, or consented to the deaths of the young couple, whose
descendants were now dwelling there, amid abundance, and happy. Nothing
but the prayers of the dying missionary, in behalf of his destroyers,
had prevented the dire consummation.

We were still in the field, when General Boden’s attention was drawn
toward the person of another guest. This, too, was an Indian, old like
himself, but not clad like Peter, in the vestments of the whites. The
attire of this sinewy old man was a mixture of that of the two races. He
wore a hunting-shirt, moccasins, and a belt; but he also wore trousers,
and otherwise had brought himself within the habits of conventional
decency. It was Pigeonswing, the Chippewa, come to pay his annual visit
to his friend, the bee-hunter, The meeting was cordial, and we afterward
ascertained that when the old man departed, he went away loaded with
gifts that would render him comfortable for a twelvemonth.

But Peter, after all, was the great centre of interest with us. We could
admire the General’s bee-hives, which were numerous and ingenious; could
admire his still handsome Margery, and all their blooming descendants;
and were glad when we discovered that our old friend--made so by means
of a knowledge of his character, if not by actual acquaintance--was much
improved in mind, was a sincere Christian, and had been a Senator of his
own State; respected and esteemed by all who knew him. Such a career,
however, has nothing peculiar in America; it is one of every-day
occurrence, and shows the power of man when left free to make his own
exertions; while that of the Scalping Peter indicated the power of God.
There he was, living in the midst of the hated race, loving and beloved;
wishing naught but blessings on all colors alike; looking back upon his
traditions and superstitions with a sort of melancholy interest, as
we all portray in our memories the scenes, legends, and feelings of an
erring childhood.

We were walking in the garden, after dinner, and looking at the hives.
There were the general, Margery, Peter, and ourselves. The first was
loud in praise of his buzzing friends, for whom it was plain he still
entertained a lively regard. The old Indian, at first, was sad. Then
he smiled, and, turning to us, he spoke earnestly and with some of his
ancient fire and eloquence.

“Tell me you make a book,” he said. “In dat book tell trut’. You see
me--poor old Injin. My fadder was chief--I was great chief, but we was
children. Knowed nuttin’. Like little child, dough great chief.
Believe tradition. T’ink dis ‘arth flat--t’ink Injin could scalp all
pale-face--t’ink tomahawk, and war-path, and rifle, bess t’ings in
whole world. In dat day, my heart was stone. Afraid of Great Spirit, but
didn’t love him. In dat time I t’ink General could talk wid bee. Yes;
was very foolish den. Now, all dem cloud blow away, and I see my Fadder
dat is in heaven. His face shine on me, day and night, and I never get
tired of looking at it. I see him smile, I see him lookin’ at poor ole
Injin, as if he want him to come nearer; sometime I see him frown and
dat scare me. Den I pray, and his frown go away.

“Stranger, love God. B’lieve his blessed Son, who pray for dem dat kill
him. Injin don’t do that. Injin not strong enough to do so good t’ing.
It want de Holy Spirit to strengthen de heart, afore man can do so great
t’ing. When he got de force of de Holy Spirit, de heart of stone is
changed to de heart of woman, and we all be ready to bless our enemy and
die. I have spoken. Let dem dat read your book understand.”


THE END.





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