Part 5 out of 9
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
"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
"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
"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
"Don't blow horn wid hand," he said--"Injin blow wid mout', just
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.
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--
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
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,
"Yes, dat true--what dat council smoke round fire for, eh? You
"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
"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-
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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,
"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
"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
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
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
"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.
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
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
"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
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
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
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
"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
"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!
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?
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
"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
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
"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
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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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.
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
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
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,"