Part 7 out of 9
"to believe Injins to be Jews!"
"He tells me he is by no means the first who has fancied it. Many
writers have said as much before him, and all he claims is, to have
been among them, and to have seen these Hebrews with his own eyes.
But here he comes, and can answer for himself."
Just as this was said, Parson Amen joined the party, Corporal Flint
closing to the front, as delicacy no longer required him to act as a
rear-guard. The good missionary came up a little heated; and, in
order that he might have time to cool himself, the rate of movement
was slightly reduced. In the mean time the conversation did not the
"We were talking of the lost tribes," said Margery, half smiling as
she spoke, "and of your idea, Mr. Amen, that these Injins are Jews.
It seems strange to me that they should have lost so much of their
ancient ways, and notions, and appearances, if they are really the
people you think."
"Lost! It is rather wonderful that, after the lapse of two thousand
years and more, so much should remain. Whichever way I look, signs
of these people's origin beset me. You have read your Bible,
Margery--which I am sorry to say all on this frontier have not--but
you have read your Bible, and one can make an allusion to you with
some satisfaction. Now, let me ask you if you remember such a thing
as the scape-goat of the ancient Jews. It is to be found in
Leviticus, and is one of those mysterious customs with which that
extraordinary book is full."
"Leviticus is a book I never read but once, for we do not read it in
our New England schools. But I do remember that the Jews were
commanded to let one of two goats go, from which practice it has, I
believe, been called a scape-goat."
"Well," said le Bourdon, simply, "what a thing is 'l'arnin'!' Now,
this is all news to me, though I have heard of 'scape-goats,' and
TALKED of 'scape-goats' a thousand times! There's a meanin' to
everything, I find; and I do not look upon this idea of the lost
tribes as half as strange as I did before I l'arnt this!"
Margery had not fallen in love with the bee-hunter for his biblical
knowledge, else might her greater information have received a rude
shock by this mark of simplicity; but instead of dwelling on this
proof of le Bourdon's want of "schooling," her active mind was more
disposed to push the allusion to scape-goats to some useful
"And what of the goat, Mr. Amen?" she asked; "and how can it belong
to anything here?"
"Why were all those goats turned into the woods and deserts, in the
olden time, Margery? Doubtless to provide food for the ten tribes,
when these should be driven forth by conquerors and hard task-
masters. Time, and climate, and a difference of food, has altered
them, as they have changed the Jews themselves, though they still
retain the cleft hoof, the horns, the habits, and the general
characteristics of the goats of Arabia. Yes; naturalists will find
in the end, that the varieties of the deer of this continent,
particularly the antelope, are nothing but the scape-goats of the
ancient world, altered and perhaps improved by circumstances."
As this was much the highest flight the good missionary had ever yet
taken, not trifling was the astonishment of his young friends
thereat. Touching the Jews, le Bourdon did not pretend to, or in
fact did not possess much knowledge; but when the question was
reduced down to one of venison, or bears' meat, or bisons' humps,
with the exception of the professed hunters and trappers, few knew
more about them all than he did himself. That the deer, or even the
antelopes of America ever had been goats, he did not believe; nor
was he at all backward in letting his dissent to such a theory be
"I'm sorry, Parson Amen, you've brought in the deer," he cried. "Had
you stuck to the Jews, I might have believed all that you fancy, in
this business; but the deer have spoiled all. As for scape-goats,
since Margery seems to agree with you, I suppose you are right about
THEM though my notion of such creatures has been to keep clear of
them, instead of following them up, as you seem to think these
Hebrews have done. But if you are no nearer right in your doctrine
about the Injins than you are about their game, you'll have to
change your religion."
"Do not think that my religion depends on any thread so slight,
Bourdon. A man may be mistaken in interpreting prophecy, and still
be a devout Christian. There are more reasons than you may at first
suppose, for believing in this theory of the gradual change of the
goat into the deer, and especially into the antelope. We do not any
of us believe that Noah had with him, in the ark, all the animals
that are now to be found, but merely the parent-stems, in each
particular case, which would be reducing the number many fold. If
all men came from Adam, Bourdon, why could not all deer come from
"Why this matter about men has a good deal puzzled me, Parson, and I
hardly know what answer to give. Still, men are men, wherever you
find them. They may be lighter or darker, taller or shorter, with
hair or wool, and yet you can see they are MEN. Perhaps food, and
climate, and manner of living, may have made all the changes we see
in them; but Lord, Parson, a goat has a beard!"
"What has become of the thousands of scape-goats that the ancient
Hebrews must have turned loose in the wilderness? Answer me that,
"You might as well ask me, sir, what has become of the thousands of
Hebrews who turned them loose. I suppose all must be dead a thousand
years ago. Scape-goats are creatures that even Injins would not
"All this is a great mystery, Bourdon--a much greater mystery than
our friend Peter, whom you have so often said was a man so
unaccountable. By the way, he has given me a charge to perform an
office between you and Margery, that I had almost forgotten. From
what he said to me, I rather think it may have some connection with
our safety. We have enemies among these savages, I feel very
certain; though I believe we have also warm friends."
"But what have you in charge that has anything to do with Bourdon
and me?" asked the wondering Margery, who was quick to observe the
connection, though utterly at a loss to comprehend it.
The missionary now called a halt, and finding convenient seats, he
gradually opened the subject with which he had been charged by Peter
to his companions. The reader is probably prepared to learn that
there was no longer any reserve between le Bourdon and Margery on
the subject of their future marriage. The young man had already
pressed an immediate union, as the wisest and safest course to be
pursued. Although the savage American is little addicted to abusing
his power over female captives, and seldom takes into his lodge an
unwilling squaw, the bee-hunter had experienced a good deal of
uneasiness on the score of what might befall his betrothed. Margery
was sufficiently beautiful to attract attention, even in a town; and
more than one fierce-looking warrior had betrayed his admiration
that very day, though it was in a very Indian-like fashion.
Rhapsody, and gallant speeches, and sonnets, form no part of Indian
courtship; but the language of admiration is so very universal,
through the eyes, that it is sufficiently easy of comprehension. It
was possible that some chief, whose band was too formidable to be
opposed, might take it into his head to wish to see a pale-face
squaw in his wigwam; and, while it was not usual to do much violence
to a female's inclinations on such occasions, it was not common to
offer much opposition to those of a powerful warrior. The married
tie, if it could be said to exist at all, however, was much
respected; and it was far less likely that Margery, a wife, would
thus be appropriated, than Margery, unmarried. It is true, cases of
unscrupulous exercise of power are to be found among Indians, as
well as among civilized men, but they are rare, and usually are much
The bee-hunter, consequently, was well disposed to second Peter's
project. As for Margery herself, she had half yielded all her
objections to her lover's unaided arguments, and was partly
conquered before this reinforcement was brought into the field
against her. Peter's motive was much canvassed, no one of them all
being able to penetrate it. Boden, however, had his private opinion
on the subject, nor was it so very much out of the way. He fancied
that the mysterious chief was well disposed to Margery, and wished
to put her as far as possible beyond the chances of an Indian
wigwam; marriage being the step of all others most likely to afford
her this protection. Now this was not exactly true, but it was right
enough in the main. Peter's aim was to save the life of the girl;
her gentle attractions, and kind attentions to himself having
wrought this much in her favor; and he believed no means of doing so
as certain as forming a close connection for her with the great
medicine-bee-hunter. Judging of them by himself, he did not think
the Indians would dare to include so great a conjurer in their
schemes of vengeance, and was willing himself that le Bourdon should
escape, provided Margery could go free and unharmed with him. As for
the bee-hunter's powers, he had many misgivings; they might be
dangerous to the red men, and they might not. On this subject, he
was in the painful doubts of ignorance, and had the wide area of
conjecture open before his mind. He saw; but it was "as in a glass,
Margery was disposed to delay the ceremony, at least until her
brother and sister might be present. But to this le Bourdon himself
was not much inclined. It had struck him that Gershom was opposed to
an early marriage, most probably because he fancied himself more
secure of the bee-hunter's ingenious and important aid in getting
back to the settlements, so long as this strong inducement existed
to cling to himself, than if he should release his own hold of
Margery, by giving her at once to her lover. Right or wrong, such
was the impression taken up by le Bourdon, and he was glad when the
missionary urged his request to be permitted to pronounce the
nuptial benediction on the spot.
Little ceremony is generally used in an American marriage. In a vast
many cases no clergyman is employed at all; and where there is, most
of the sects have no ring, no giving away, nor any of those
observances which were practised in the churches of old. There
existed no impediment, therefore; and after a decent interval spent
in persuasions, Margery consented to plight her vows to the man of
her heart before they left the spot. She would fain have had Dorothy
present, for woman loves to lean on her own sex on such occasions,
but submitted to the necessity of proceeding at once, as the bee-
hunter and the missionary chose to term it.
A better altar could not have been selected in all that vast region.
It was one of nature's own erecting; and le Bourdon and his pretty
bride placed themselves before it, with feelings suited to the
solemnity of the occasion. The good missionary stood within the
shade of a burr oak in the centre of those park-like Openings, every
object looking fresh, and smiling, and beautiful. The sward was
gieen, and short as that of a well-tended lawn; the flowers were,
like the bride herself, soft, modest, and sweet; while charming
rural vistas stretched through the trees, much as if art had been
summoned in aid of the great mistress who had designed the
landscape. When the parties knelt in prayer--which all present did,
not excepting the worthy corporal--it was on the verdant ground,
with first the branches of the trees, and then the deep, fathomless
vault of heaven for a canopy. In this manner was the marriage
benediction pronounced on the bee-hunter and Margery Waring, in the
venerable Oak Openings. No gothic structure, with its fretted aisles
and clustered columns, could have been onehalf as appropriate for
the union of such a couple.
No shrift the gloomy savage brooks,
As scowling on the priest he looks;
Let my father look on Bornazeen-
My father's heart is the heart of a squaw,
But mine is so hard that it does not thaw,
Leaving the newly-married couple to pursue their way homeward, it is
now our province to return to Prairie Round. One accustomed to such
scenes would easily have detected the signs of divided opinions and
of agitating doubts among the chiefs, though nothing like contention
or dispute had yet manifested itself. Peter's control was still in
the ascendant, and he had neglected none of his usual means of
securing influence. Perhaps he labored so much the harder, from the
circumstance that he now found himself so situated, as to be
compelled to undo much that he had previously done.
On the other hand, Ungque appeared to have no particular cause of
concern. His manner was as much unoccupied as usual; and to his
habit of referring all his influence to sudden and powerful bursts
of eloquence, if design of any sort was entertained, he left his
We pass over the details of assembling the council. The spot was not
exactly on the prairie, but in a bit of lovely "Opening" on its
margin, where the eye could roam over a wide extent of that peculiar
natural meadow, while the body enjoyed the shades of the wood. The
chiefs alone were in the circle, while the "braves" and the "young
men" generally formed a group on the outside; near enough to hear
what passed, and to profit by it, if so disposed. The pipe was
smoked, and all the ordinary customs observed, when Bear's Meat
arose, the first speaker on that momentous occasion.
"Brothers," he said, "this is the great council on Prairie Round to
which we have been called. We have met before, but not here. This is
our first meeting here. We have travelled a long path to get here.
Some of our brethren have travelled farther. They are at Detroit.
They went there to meet our great Canada father, and to take Yankee
scalps. How many scalps they have taken I do not know, or I would
tell you. It is pleasant to me to count Yankee scalps. I would
rather count them, than count the scalps of red men. There are still
a great many left. The Yankees are many, and each Yankee has a
scalp. There should not be so many. When the buffaloes came in the
largest droves, our fathers used to go out to hunt them in the
strongest parties. Their sons should do the same. We are the sons of
those fathers. They say we look like them, talk like them, live like
them--we should ACT like them. Let another speak, for I have done."
After this brief address, which bore some resemblance to a
chairman's calling a meeting of civilized men to order, there was
more smoking. It was fully expected that Peter would next arise, but
he did not. Perceiving this, and willing to allow time to that great
chief to arrange his thoughts, Crowsfeather assumed the office of
filling the gap. He was far more of a warrior than of an orator, and
was listened to respectfully, but less for what he said, than for
what he had done. A good deal of Indian boasting, quite naturally,
was blended with HIS discourse.
"My brother has told you of the Yankee scalps," he commenced. "He
says they are many. He says there ought to be fewer. He did not
remember who sat so near him. Perhaps he does not know that there
are three less now than there were a moon since. Crowsfeather took
three at Chicago. Many scalps were taken there. The Yankees must be
plentier than the buffaloes on the great prairies, if they can lose
so many scalps often, and send forth their warriors. I am a
Pottawattamie. My brothers know that tribe. It is not a tribe of
Jews, but a tribe of Injins. It is a great tribe. It never was LOST.
It CANNOT be lost. No tribe better knows all the paths, and all the
best routes to every point where it wishes to go. It is foolish to
say you can lose a Pottawattamie. A duck would be as likely to lose
itself as a Pottawattamie. I do not speak for the Ottawas: I speak
for the Pottawattamies. We are not Jews. We do not wish to be Jews;
and what we do not wish to be, we will not be. Our father who has
come so far to tell us that we are not Injins, but Jews, is
mistaken. I never heard of these Jews before. I do not wish to hear
of them again. When a man has heard enough, he does not keep his
ears open willingly. It is then best for the speaker to sit down.
The Pottawattamies have shut their ears to the great medicine-priest
of the pale-faces. What he says may be true of other tribes, but it
is not true of the Pottawatttamies. We are not lost; we are not
Jews. I have done."
This speech was received with general favor. The notion that the
Indians were not Indians, but Jews, was far from being agreeable to
those who had heard what had been said on the subject; and the
opinions of Crowsfeather possessed the great advantage of reflecting
the common sentiment on this interesting subject. When this is the
case, a very little eloquence or logic goes a great way; and, on the
whole, the address of the last speaker was somewhat better received
than that of the first.
It was now confidently believed that Peter would rise. But he did
not. That mysterious chief was not yet prepared to speak, or he was
judiciously exciting expectation by keeping back. There were at
least ten minutes of silent smoking, ere a chief, whose name
rendered into English was Bough of the Oak, arose, evidently with a
desire to help the time along. Taking his cue from the success of
Crows-feather, he followed up the advantage obtained by that chief,
assailing the theory of the missionary from another quarter.
"I am an Injin," said Bough of the Oak; "my father was an Injin, and
my mother was the daughter of an Injin. All my fathers were red men,
and all their sons. Why should I wish to be anything else? I asked
my brother, the medicine-priest, and he owned that Jews are pale-
faces. This he should not have owned if he wished the Injins to be
Jews. My skin is red. The Manitou of my fathers so painted it, and
their child will not try to wash out the color. Were the color
washed out of my face, I should be a pale-face! There would not be
paint enough to hide my shame. No; I was born red, and will die a
red man. It is not good to have two faces. An Injin is not a snake,
to cast his skin. The skin in which he was born he keeps. He plays
in it when a child; he goes in it to his first hunt; the bears and
the deer know him by it; he carries it with him on the warpath, and
his enemies tremble at the sight of it; his squaw knows him by that
skin when he comes back to his wigwam; and when he dies, he is put
aside in the same skin in--which he was born. There is but one skin,
and it has but one color. At first, it is little. The pappoose that
wears it is little. There is not need of a large skin. But it grows
with the pappoose, and the biggest warrior finds his skin around
him. This is because the Great Spirit fitted it to him. Whatever the
Manitou does is good.
"My brothers have squaws--they have pappooses. When the pappoose is
put into their arms, do they get the paint-stones, and paint it red?
They do not. It is not necessary. The Manitou painted it red before
it was born. How this was done I do not know. I am nothing but a
poor Injin, and only know what I see. I have seen that the pappooses
are red when they are born, and that the warriors are red when they
die. They are also red while living. It is enough. Their fathers
could never have been pale-faces, or we should find some white spots
on their children. There are none.
"Crowsfeather has spoken of the Jews as lost. I am not surprised to
hear it. It seems to me that all pale-faces get lost. They wander
from their own hunting-grounds into those of other people. It is not
so with Injins. The Pottawattamie does not kill the deer of the
Iowa, nor the Ottawa the deer of the Menomenees. Each tribe knows
its own game. This is because they are not lost. My pale-face father
appears to wish us well. He has come on a long and weary path to
tell us about his Manitou. For this I thank him. I thank all who
wish to do me good. Them that wish to do me harm I strike from
behind. It is our Injin custom. I do not wish to hurt the medicine-
priest, because I think he wishes to do me good, and not to do me
harm. He has a strange law. It is to do good to them that do harm to
you. It is not the law of the red men. It is not good law. I do not
wonder that the tribes which follow such a law get lost. They cannot
tell their friends from their enemies. They can have no people to
scalp. What is a warrior if he cannot find someone to scalp? No;
such a law would make women of the bravest braves in the Openings,
or on the prairie. It may be a good law for Jews, who get lost; but
it is a bad law for Injins, who know the paths they travel. Let
This brief profession of faith, on the subject that had been so
recently broached in the council, seemed to give infinite
satisfaction. All present evidently preferred being red men, who
knew where they were, than to be pale-faces who had lost their road.
Ignorance of his path is a species of disgrace to an American
savage, and not a man there would have confessed that his particular
division of the great human family was in that dilemma. The idea
that the Yankees were "lost," and had got materially astray, was
very grateful to most who heard it; and Bough of the Oak gained a
considerable reputation as an orator, in consequence of the lucky
hits made on this occasion.
Another long, ruminating pause, and much passing of the pipe of
peace succeeded. It was near half an hour after the last speaker had
resumed his seat, ere Peter stood erect. In that long interval
expectation had time to increase, and curiosity to augment itself.
Nothing but a very great event could cause this pondering, this
deliberation, and this unwillingness to begin. When, however, the
time did come for the mysterious chief to speak, the man of many
scalps to open his mouth, profound was the attention that prevailed
among all present. Even after he had arisen, the orator stood
silently looking around him, as if the throes of his thoughts had to
be a little suppressed before he could trust his tongue to give them
"What is the earth?" commenced Peter, in a deep, guttural tone of
voice, which the death-like stillness rendered audible even to the
outermost boundaries of the circle of admiring and curious
countenances. "It is one plain adjoining another; river after river;
lake after lake; prairie touching prairie; and pleasant woods, that
seem to have no limits, all given to men to dwell in. It would seem
that the Great Spirit parcelled out this rich possession into
hunting-grounds for all. He colored men differently. His dearest
children he painted red, which is his own color. Them that he loved
less he colored less, and they had red only in spots. Them he loved
least he dipped in a dark dye, and left them black. These are the
colors of men. If there are more, I have not seen them. Some say
there are. I shall think so, too, when I see them.
"Brothers, this talk about lost tribes is a foolish talk. We are not
lost. We know where we are, and we know where the Yankees have come
to seek us. My brother has well spoken. If any are lost, it is the
Yankees. The Yankees are Jews; they are lost. The time is near when
they will be found, and when they will again turn their eyes toward
the rising sun. They have looked so long toward the setting sun,
that they cannot see clearly. It is not good to look too long at the
same object. The Yankees have looked at our hunting-grounds, until
their eyes are dim. They see the hunting-grounds, but they do not
see all the warriors that are in them. In time, they will learn to
"Brothers, when the Great Spirit made man, he put him to live on the
earth. Our traditions do not agree in saying of what he was made.
Some say it was of clay, and that when his spirit starts for the
happy hunting-grounds, his body becomes clay again. I do not say
that this is so, for I do not know. It is not good to say that which
we do not know to be true. I wish to speak only the truth. This we
do know. If a warrior die, and we put him in the earth, and come to
look for him many years afterward, nothing but bones are found. All
else is gone. I have heard old men say that, in time, even these
bones are not to be found. It is so with trees; it may be so with
men. But it is not so with hunting-grounds. They were made to last
"Brothers, you know why we have come together on this prairie. It
was to count the pale-faces, and to think of the way of making their
number less. Now is a good time for such a thing. They have dug up
the hatchet against each other, and when we hear of scalps taken
among them, it is good for the red men. I do not think our Canada
father is more our friend than the great Yankee, Uncle Sam. It is
true, he gives us more powder, and blankets, and tomahawks, and
rifles than the Yankee, but it is to get us to fight his battles. We
will fight his battles. They are our battles, too. For this reason
we will fight his enemies.
"Brothers, it is time to think of our children. A wise chief once
told me how many winters it is since a pale-face was first seen
among red men. It was not a great while ago. Injins are living who
have seen Injins, whose own fathers saw the first pale-faces. They
were few. They were like little children, then; but now they are
grown to be men. Medicine-men are plenty among them, and tell them
how to raise children. The Injins do not understand this. Small-pox,
fire-water, bad hunting, and frosts, keep us poor, and keep our
children from growing as fast as the children of the pale-faces.
"Brothers, all this has happened within the lives of three aged
chiefs. One told to another, and he told it to a third. Three chiefs
have kept that tradition. They have given it to me. I have cut
notches on this stick (holding up a piece of ash, neatly trimmed, as
a record) for the winters they told me, and every winter since I
have cut one more. See; there are not many notches. Some of our
people say that the pale-faces are already plentier than leaves on
the trees. I do not believe this. These notches tell us differently.
It is true the pale-faces grow fast, and have many children, and
small-pox does not kill many of them, and their wars are few; but
look at this stick. Could a canoe-full of men become as many as they
say, in so few winters? No; it is not so. The stories we have heard
are not true. A crooked tongue first told them. We are strong enough
still to drive these strangers into the great salt lake, and get
back all our hunting-grounds. This is what I wish to have done.
"Brothers, I have taken many scalps. This stick will tell the
number." Here one of those terrible gleams of ferocity to which we
have before alluded, passed athwart the dark countenance of the
speaker, causing all present to feel a deeper sympathy in the
thoughts he would express. "There are many. Every one has come from
the head of a pale-face. It is now twenty winters since I took the
scalp of a red man. I shall never take another. We want all of our
own warriors, to drive back the strangers.
"Brothers, some Injins tell us of different tribes. They talk about
distant tribes as strangers. I tell you we are all children of the
same father. All our skins are red. I see no difference between an
Ojebway, and a Sac, or a Sioux. I love even a Cherokee." Here very
decided signs of dissatisfaction were manifested by several of the
listeners; parties of the tribes of the great lakes having actually
marched as far as the Gulf of Mexico to make war on the Indians of
that region, who were generally hated by them with the most intense
hatred. "He has the blood of our fathers in him. We are brothers,
and should live together as brothers. If we want scalps, the pale-
faces have plenty. It is sweet to take the scalp of a pale-face. I
know it. My hand has done it often, and will do it again. If every
Injin had taken as many scalps as I have taken, few of these
strangers would now remain.
"Brothers, one thing more I have to say. I wish to hear others, and
will not tell all I know this time. One thing more I have to say,
and I now say it. I have told you that we must take the scalps of
all the pale-faces who are now near us. I thought there would have
been more, but the rest do not come. Perhaps they are frightened.
There are only six. Six scalps are not many. I am sorry they are so
few. But we can go where there will be more. One of these six is a
medicine-man. I do not know what to think. It may be good to take
his scalp. It may be bad. Medicine-men have great power. You have
seen what this bee-hunter can do. He knows how to talk with bees.
Them little insects can fly into small places, and see things that
Injins cannot see. The Great Spirit made them so. When we get back
all the land, we shall get the bees with it, and may then hold a
council to say what it is best to do with them. Until we know more,
I do not wish to touch the scalp of that bee-hunter. It may do us
great harm. I knew a medicine-man of the pale-faces to lose his
scalp, and small-pox took off half the band that made him prisoner
and killed him. It is not good to meddle with medicine-men. A few
days ago, and I wanted this young man's scalp, very much. Now, I do
not want it. It may do us harm to touch it. I wish to let him go,
and to take his squaw with him. The rest we can scalp."
Peter cunningly made no allusion to Margery, until just before he
resumed his seat, though now deeply interested in her safety. As for
le Bourdon, so profound was the impression he had made that morning,
that few of the chiefs were surprised at the exemption proposed in
his favor. The superstitious dread of witchcraft is very general
among the American savages; and it certainly did seem to be
hazardous to plot the death of a man, who had even the bees that
were humming on all sides of them under his control. He might at
that very moment be acquainted with all that was passing; and
several of the grim-looking and veteran warriors who sat in the
circle, and who appeared to be men able and willing to encounter
aught human, did not fail to remember the probability of a medicine-
man's knowing who were his friends, and who his enemies.
When Peter sat down, there was but one man in the circle of chiefs
who was resolved to oppose his design of placing Boden and Margery
without the pale of the condemned. Several were undecided, scarce
knowing what to think of so sudden and strange a proposition, but
could not be said to have absolutely adhered to the original scheme
of cutting off all. The exception was Ungque. This man--a chief by a
sort of sufferance, rather than as a right--was deadly hostile to
Peter's influence, as has been said, and was inclined to oppose all
his plans, though compelled by policy to be exceedingly cautious how
he did it. Here, however, was an excellent opportunity to strike a
blow, and he was determined not to neglect it. Still, so wily was
this Indian, so much accustomed to put a restraint on his passions
and wishes, that he did not immediately arise, with the impetuous
ardor of frank impulses, to make his reply, but awaited his time.
An Indian is but a man, after all, and is liable to his weaknesses,
notwithstanding the self-command he obtains by severe drilling.
Bough of the Oak was to supply a proof of this truth. He had been so
unexpectedly successful in his late attempt at eloquence, that it
was not easy to keep him off his feet, now that another good
occasion to exhibit his powers offered. He was accordingly the next
"My brothers," said Bough of the Oak, "I am named after a tree. You
all know that tree. It is not good for bows or arrows; it is not
good for canoes; it does not make the best fire, though it will
burn, and is hot when well lighted. There are many things for which
the tree after which I am named is not good. It is not good to eat.
It has no sap that Injins can drink, like the maple. It does not
make good brooms. But it has branches like other trees, and they are
tough. Tough branches are good. The boughs of the oak will not bend,
like the boughs of the willow, or the boughs of the ash, or the
boughs of the hickory.
"Brothers, I am a bough of the oak. I do not like to bend. When my
mind is made up, I wish to keep it where it was first put. My mind
has been made up to take the scalps of ALL the pale-faces who are
now in the Openings. I do not want to change it. My mind can break,
but it can not bend. It is tough."
Having uttered this brief but sententious account of his view of the
matter at issue, the chief resumed his seat, reasonably well
satisfied with this, his second attempt to be eloquent that day. His
success this time was not as unequivocal as on the former occasion,
but it was respectable. Several of the chiefs saw a reasonable, if
not a very logical analogy, between a man's name and his mind; and
to them it appeared a tolerably fair inference that a man should act
up to his name. If his name was tough, he ought to be tough, too. In
this it does not strike us that they argued very differently from
civilized beings, who are only too apt to do that which their better
judgments really condemn, because they think they are acting "in
character," as it is termed.
Ungque was both surprised and delighted with this unexpected support
from Bough of the Oak. He knew enough of human nature to understand
that a new-born ambition, that of talking against the great,
mysterious chief, Peter, was at the bottom of this unexpected
opposition; but with this he was pleased, rather than otherwise. An
opposition that is founded in reason, may always be reasoned down,
if reasons exist therefor; but an opposition that has its rise in
any of the passions, is usually somewhat stubborn. All this the
mean-looking chief, or the Weasel, understood perfectly, and
appreciated highly. He thought the moment favorable, and was
disposed to "strike while the iron was hot." Rising after a decent
interval had elapsed, this wily Indian looked about him, as if awed
by the presence in which he stood, and doubtful whether he could
venture to utter his thoughts before so many wise chiefs. Having
made an impression by this air of diffidence, he commenced his
"I am called the Weasel," he said, modestly. "My name is not taken
from the mightiest tree of the forest, like that of my brother; it
is taken from a sort of rat--an animal that lives by its wits. I am
well named. When my tribe gave me that name, it was just. All Injins
have not names. My great brother, who told us once that we ought to
take the scalp of every white man, but WHO now tells us that we
ought not to take the scalp of every white man, has no name. He is
called Peter, by the pale-faces. It is a good name. But it is a
pale-face name. I wish we knew the real name of my brother. We do
not know his nation or his tribe. Some say he is an Ottawa, some an
Iowa, some even think him a Sioux. I have heard he was a Delaware,
from toward the rising sun. Some, but they must be Injins with
forked tongues, think and say he is a Cherokee! I do not believe
this. It is a lie. It is said to do my brother harm. Wicked Injins
will say such things. But we do not mind what THEY say. It is not
"My brothers, I wish we knew the tribe of this great chief, who
tells us to take scalps, and then tells us not to take scalps. Then
we might understand why he has told us two stories. I believe all he
says, but I should like to know WHY I believe it. It is good to know
why we believe things. I have heard what my brother has said about
letting this bee-hunter go to his own people, but I do not know why
he believes this is best. It is because I am a poor Injin, perhaps;
and because I am called the Weasel. I am an animal that creeps
through small holes. That is my nature. The bison jumps through open
prairies, and a horse is wanted to catch him. It is not so with the
weasel; he creeps through small holes. But he always looks where he
"The unknown chief, who belongs to no tribe, talks of this bee-
hunter's squaw. He is afraid of so great a medicine-man, and wishes
him to go, and take all in his wigwam with him. He has no squaw.
There is a young squaw in his lodge, but she is not HIS squaw. There
is no need of letting her go, on his account. If we take her scalp,
he cannot hurt us. In that, my brother is wrong. The bees have
buzzed too near his ears. Weasels can hear, as well as other
animals; and I have heard that this young squaw is not this bee-
"If Injins are to take the scalps of all the pale-faces, why should
we not begin with these who are in our hands? When the knife is
ready, and the head is ready, nothing but the hand is wanting.
Plenty of hands are ready, too; and it does not seem good to the
eyes of a poor, miserable weasel, who has to creep through very
small holes to catch his game, to let that game go when it is taken.
If my great brother, who has told us not to scalp this bee-hunter
and her he calls his squaw, will tell us the name of his tribe, I
shall be glad. I am an ignorant Injin, and like to learn all I can;
I wish to learn that. Perhaps it will help us to understand why he
gave one counsel yesterday, and another to-day. There is a reason
for it. I wish to know what it is."
Ungque now slowly seated himself. He had spoken with great
moderation, as to manner; and with such an air of humility as one of
our own demagogues is apt to assume, when he tells the people of
their virtues, and seems to lament the whole time that he, himself,
was one of the meanest of the great human family. Peter saw, at
once, that he had a cunning competitor, and had a little difficulty
in suppressing all exhibition of the fiery indignation he actually
felt, at meeting opposition in such a quarter. Peter was artful, and
practised in all the wiles of managing men, but he submitted to use
his means to attain a great end. The virtual extinction of the white
race was his object, and in order to effect it, there was little he
would have hesitated to do. Now, however, when for the first time in
many years a glimmering of human feeling was shining on the darkness
of his mind, he found himself unexpectedly opposed by one of those
whom he had formerly found so difficult to persuade into his own
dire plans! Had that one been a chief of any renown, the
circumstances would have been more tolerable; but here was a man
presuming to raise his voice against him, who, so far as he knew
anything of his past career, had not a single claim to open his
mouth in such a council. With a volcano raging within, that such a
state of things would be likely to kindle in the breast of a savage
who had been for years a successful and nearly unopposed leader, the
mysterious chief rose to reply.
"My brother says he is a weasel," observed Peter, looking round at
the circle of interested and grave countenances by which he was
surrounded. "That is a very small animal. It creeps through very
small holes, but not to do good. It is good for nothing. When it
goes through a small hole, it is not to do the Injins a service, but
for its own purposes. I do not like weasels.
"My brother is not afraid of a bee-hunter. Can HE tell us what a bee
whispers? If he can, I wish he would tell us. Let him show our young
men where there is more honey--where they can find bear's meat for
another feast--where they can find warriors hid in the woods.
"My brother says the bee-hunter has no squaw. How does he know this?
Has he lived in the lodge with them--paddled in the same canoe--eat
of the same venison? A weasel is very small. It might steal into the
bee-hunter's lodge, and see what is there, what is doing, what is
eaten, who is his squaw, and who is not--has this weasel ever done
so? I never saw him there.
"Brothers, the Great Spirit has his own way of doing things. He does
not stop to listen to weasels. He knows there are such animals--
there are snakes, and toads, and skunks. The Great Spirit knows them
all, but he does not mind them. He is wise, and hearkens only to his
own mind. So should it be with a council of great chiefs. It should
listen to its own mind. That is wisdom. To listen to the mind of a
weasel is folly.
"Brothers, you have been told that this weasel does not know the
tribe of which I am born. Why should you know it? Injins once were
foolish. While the pale-faces were getting one hunting-ground after
another from them, they dug up the hatchet against their own
friends. They took each other's scalps. Injin hated Injin--tribe
hated tribe. I am of no tribe, and no one can hate me for my people.
You see my skin. It is red. That is enough. I scalp, and smoke, and
talk, and go on weary paths for all Injins, and not for any tribe. I
am without a tribe. Some call me the Tribeless. It is better to bear
that name, than to be called a weasel. I have done."
Peter had so much success by this argumentum ad hominem, that most
present fancied that the weasel would creep through some hole, and
disappear. Not so, however, with Ungque. He was a demagogue, after
an Indian fashion; and this is a class of men that ever "make
capital" of abuses, as we Americans say, in our money-getting
habits. Instead of being frightened off the ground, he arose to
answer as promptly as if a practised debater, though with an air of
humility so profound, that no one could take offence at his
"The unknown chief has answered," he said, "I am glad. I love to
hear his words. My ears are always open when he speaks, and my mind
is stronger. I now see that it is good he should not have a tribe.
He may be a Cherokee, and then our warriors would wish him ill."
This was a home-thrust, most artfully concealed; a Cherokee being
the Indian of all others the most hated by the chiefs present;--the
Carthaginians of those western Romans. "It is better he should not
have a tribe, than be a Cherokee. He might better be a weasel.
"Brothers, we have been told to kill ALL the pale-faces. I like that
advice. The land cannot have two owners. If a pale-face owns it, an
Injin cannot. If an Injin owns it, a pale-face cannot. But the chief
without a tribe tells us not to kill all. He tells us to kill all
but the bee-hunter and his squaw. He thinks this bee-hunter is a
medicine bee-hunter, and may do us Injins great harm. He wishes to
let him go.
"Brothers, this is not my way of thinking. It is better to kill the
bee-hunter and his squaw while we can, that there may be no more
such medicine bee-hunters to frighten us Injins. If one bee-hunter
can do so much harm, what would a tribe of bee-hunters do? I do not
want to see any more. It is a dangerous thing to know how to talk
with bees. It is best that no one should have that power. I would
rather never taste honey again, than live among pale-faces that can
talk with bees.
"Brothers, it is not enough that the pale-faces know so much more
than the red men, but they must get the bees to tell them where to
find honey, to find bears, to find warriors. No; let us take the
scalp of the bee-talker, and of his squaw, that there may never be
such a medicine again. I have spoken."
Peter did not rise again. He felt that his dignity was involved in
maintaining silence. Various chiefs now uttered their opinions, in
brief, sententious language. For the first time since he began to
preach his crusade, the current was setting against the mysterious
chief. The Weasel said no more, but the hints he had thrown out were
improved on by others. It is with savages as with civilized men; a
torrent must find vent. Peter had the sagacity to see that by
attempting further to save le Bourdon and Margery, he should only
endanger his own ascendancy, without effecting his purpose. Here he
completely overlaid the art of Ungque, turning his own defeat into
an advantage. After the matter had been discussed for fully an hour,
and this mysterious chief perceived that it was useless to adhere to
his new resolution, he gave it up with as much tact as the sagacious
Wellington himself could manifest in yielding Catholic emancipation,
or parliamentary reform; or, just in season to preserve an
appearance of floating in the current, and with a grace that
disarmed his opponents.
"Brothers," said Peter, by way of closing the debate, "I have not
seen straight. Fog sometimes gets before the eyes, and we cannot
see. I have been in a fog. The breath of my brother has blown it
away. I now see clearly. I see that bee-hunters ought not to live.
Let this one die--let his squaw die, too!"
This terminated the discussion, as a matter of course. It was
solemnly decided that all the pale-faces then in the Openings should
be cut off. In acquiescing in this decision, Peter had no mental
reservations. He was quite sincere. When, after sitting two hours
longer, in order to arrange still more important points, the council
arose, it was with his entire assent to the decision. The only power
he retained over the subject was that of directing the details of
the contemplated massacre.
Why is that graceful female here
With yon red hunter of the deer?
Of gentle mien and shape, she seems
For civil halls design'd;
Yet with the stately savage walks,
As she were of his kind.
The family at Castle Meal saw nothing of any Indian until the day
that succeeded the council. Gershom and Dorothy received the tidings
of their sister's marriage with very little emotion. It was an event
they expected; and as for bride-cake and ceremonies, of one there
was none at all, and of the other no more than has been mentioned.
The relatives of Margery did not break their hearts on account of
the neglect with which they had been treated, but received the young
couple as if one had given her away, and the other "had pulled off
her glove," as young ladies now express it, in deference to the act
that generally gives the coup de grace to youthful female
friendships. On the Openings, neither time nor breath is wasted in
useless compliments; and all was held to be well done on this
occasion, because it was done legally. A question might have been
raised, indeed, whether that marriage had taken place under the
American, or under the English flag; for General Hull, in
surrendering Detroit, had included the entire territory of Michigan,
as well as troops present, troops absent, and troops on the march to
join him. Had he been in possession of Peter's ruthless secret,
which we happen to know he was not, he could not have been more
anxious to throw the mantle of British authority around all of his
race on that remote frontier, than he proved himself to be. Still,
it is to be presumed that the marriage would have been regarded as
legal; conquered territories usually preserving their laws and
usages for a time, at least. A little joking passed, as a matter of
course; for this is de rigueur in all marriages, except in the cases
of the most cultivated; and certainly neither the corporal nor
Gershom belonged to the elite of human society.
About the hour of breakfast Pigeonswing came in, as if returning
from one of his ordinary hunts. He brought with him venison, as well
as several wild ducks that he had killed in the Kalamazoo, and three
or four prairie hens. The Chippewa never betrayed exultation at the
success of his exertions, but on this occasion he actually appeared
sad. Dorothy received his game, and as she took the ducks and other
fowls, she spoke to him.
"Thank you, Pigeonswing," said the young matron. "No pale-face could
be a better provider, and many are not one-half as good."
"What provider mean, eh?" demanded the literal-minded savage. "Mean
good; mean bad, eh?"
"Oh! it means good, of course. I could say nothing against a hunter
who takes so good care of us all."
"What he mean, den?"
"It means a man who keeps his wife and children well supplied with
"You get 'nough, eh?"
"I get enough, Pigeonswing, thanks to your industry, such as it is.
Injin diet, however, is not always the best for Christian folk,
though a body may live on it. I miss many things, out here in the
Openings, to which I have been used all the early part of my life."
"What squaw miss, eh? P'raps Injin find him sometime."
"I thank you, Pigeonswing, with all my heart, and am just as
grateful for your good intentions, as I should be was you to do all
you wish. It is the mind that makes the marcy, and not always the
deed. But you can never find the food of a pale-face kitchen out
here in the Openings of Michigan. When a body comes to reckon up all
the good things of Ameriky, she don't know where to begin, or where
to stop. I miss tea as much as anything. And milk comes next. Then
there's buckwheat and coffee--though things may be found in the
woods to make coffee of, but tea has no substitute. Then, I like
wheaten bread, and butter, and potatoes, and many other such
articles, that I was used to all my life, until I came out here,
close to sunset. As for pies and custards, I can't bear to think of
Pigeonswing looked intently at the woman, as she carefully
enumerated her favorites among the dishes of her home-kitchen. When
she had ended, he raised a finger, looked still more significantly
at her, and said:
"Why don't go back, get all dem good t'ings? Better for pale-face to
eat pale-face food, and leave Injin Injin food."
"For my part, Pigeonswing, I wish such had ever been the law.
Venison, and prairie-fowls, and wild ducks, and trout, arid bear's
meat, and wild pigeons, and the fish that are to be found in these
western rivers, are all good for them that was brought up on 'em,
but they tire an eastern palate dreadfully. Give me roast beef any
day before buffalo's hump, and a good barn-yard fowl before all the
game-birds that ever flew."
"Yes; dat de way pale-face squaw feel. Bess go back, and get what
she like. Bess go quick as she can--go today."
"I'm in no such hurry, Pigeonswing, and I like these Openings well
enough to stay a while longer, and see what all these Injins, that
they tell me are about 'em, mean to do. Now we are fairly among your
people, and on good terms with them, it is wisest to stay where we
are. These are war-times, and travelling is dangerous, they tell
me. When Gershom and Bourdon are ready to start, I shall be ready."
"Bess get ready, now," rejoined Pigeonswing; who, having given this
advice with point, as to manner, proceeded to the spring, where he
knelt and slaked his thirst. The manner of the Chippewa was such as
to attract the attention of the missionary, who, full of his theory,
imagined that this desire to get rid of the whites was, in some way
or other, connected with a reluctance in the Indians to confess
themselves Jews. He had been quite as much surprised as he was
disappointed, with the backwardness of the chiefs in accepting this
tradition, and was now in a state of mind that predisposed him to
impute everything to this one cause.
"I hope, Pigeonswing," he said to the Chippewa, whom he had followed
to the spring--"I hope, Pigeonswing, that no offence has been taken
by the chiefs on account of what I told them yesterday, concerning
their being Jews. It is what I think, and it is an honor to belong
to God's chosen people, and in no sense a disgrace. I hope no
offence has been taken on account of my telling the chief they are
"Don't care any t'ing 'bout it," answered the literal Indian, rising
from his kneeling position, and wiping his mouth with the back of
his hand. "Don't care wedder Jew, or wedder Indian."
"For my own part, gladly would I have it to say that I am descended
"Why don't say him, if he make you grad? Good to be grad. All Injin
love to be grad."
"Because I cannot say it with truth. No; I come of the Gentiles, and
not of the Hebrews, else would I glory in saying I am a Jew, in the
sense of extraction, though not now in the sense of faith. I trust
the chiefs will not take offence at my telling them just what I
"Tell you he don't care," returned Pigeonswing, a little crustily.
"Don't care if Jew--don't care if Injin. Know dat make no
difference. Hunting-ground just same--game just same--scalps just
same. Make no difference, and don't care."
"I am glad of this--but why did you advise Dorothy to quit the
Openings in the hasty manner you did, if all is right with the
chiefs? It is not good to start on a journey without preparation and
prayer. Why, then, did you give this advice to Dorothy to quit the
Openings so soon?"
"Bess for squaw to go home, when Injin dig up hatchet. Openin' full
of warrior--prairie full of warrior--wood full of warrior. When dat
so, bess for squaw to go home."
"This would be true, were the Indians our enemies. Heaven be
praised, they are our friends, and will not harm us. Peter is a
great chief, and can make his young men do what he tells them; and
Peter is our friend. With Peter to stand by us, and a merciful
Providence to direct us where, when, and how to go, we can have
nothing to fear. I trust in Divine Providence."
"Who he be?" asked Pigeonswing, innocently, for his knowledge of
English did not extend far enough to comprehend a phrase so
complicated, though so familiar to ourselves. "He know all paths,
"Yes; and directs us on all paths--more especially such as are for
"Bess get him to tell you path into Detroit. Dat good path, now, for
On uttering this advice, which he did also somewhat pointedly, the
Chippewa left the spring, and walked toward the kennel of Hive,
where the bee-hunter was busy feeding his old companion.
"You're welcome back, Pigeonswing," the last cordially remarked,
without pausing in his occupation, however. "I saw that you came in
loaded, as usual. Have you left any dead game in the Openings, for
me to go and back in with you?"
"You open ear, Bourdon--you know what Injin say," returned the
Chippewa, earnestly. "When dog get 'nough come wid me. Got somet'ing
to tell. Bess hear it, when he CAN hear it"
"You'll find me ready enough in a minute. There, Hive, my good
fellow, that ought to satisfy any reasonable dog, and I've never
found you unreasonable yet. Well, Chippewa, here I am, with my ears
wide open--stop, I've a bit of news, first, for your ears. Do you
know, Pigeonswing, my good fellow, that I am married?"
"Marry, eh? Got squaw, eh? Where you get him?"
"Here, to be sure--where else should I get her? There is but one
girl in these Openings that I would ask to be my wife, and she has
been asked, and answered, yes. Parson Amen married us, yesterday, on
our way in from Prairie Round; so that puts me on a footing with
yourself. When you boast of your squaw that you've left in your
wigwam, I can boast of mine that I have here. Margery is a girl to
boast of, too!"
"Yes; good squaw, dat. Like dat squaw pretty well. Nebber see
better. Bess keep squaw alway in his own wigwam."
"Well, mine is in my own wigwam. Castle Meal is my property, and she
does it honor."
"Dat an't what Injin mean. Mean dis. Bess have wigwam at home, dere,
where pale-face lives, and bess keep squaw in DAT wigwam. Where my
squaw, eh? She home, in my wigwam--take care of pappoose, hoe corn,
and keep ground good. So bess wid white squaw--bess home, at work."
"I believe I understand what you mean, Pigeon. Well, home we mean to
go, before the winter sets in, and when matters have a little
settled down between the English and Yankees. It isn't safe
travelling, just now, in Michigan--you must own that, yourself, my
The Indian appeared at a loss, now, how to express himself further.
On one side was his faith to his color, and his dread of Peter and
the great chiefs; on the other, his strong regard for the bee-
hunter. He pondered a moment, and then took his own manner of
communicating that which he wished to say. The fact that his friend
was married made no great difference in his advice, for the Indian
was much too shrewd an observer not to have detected the bee-
hunter's attachment. He had not supposed it possible to separate his
friend from the family of Gershom, though he did suppose there would
be less difficulty in getting him to go on a path different from
that which the missionary and corporal might take. His own great
purpose was to serve le Bourdon, and how many or how few might
incidentally profit by it he did not care. The truth compels us to
own, that even Margery's charms, and nature, and warm-hearted
interest in all around her, had failed to make any impression on his
marble-like feelings; while the bee-hunter's habits, skill in his
craft, and close connection with himself at the mouth of the river,
and more especially in liberating him from his enemies, had united
him in a comrade's friendship with her husband. It was a little
singular that this Chippewa did not fall into Peter's superstitious
dread of the bee-hunter's necromancy, though he was aware of all
that had passed the previous day on the prairie. Either on account
of his greater familiarity with le Bourdon's habits, or because he
was in the secret of the trick of the whiskey-spring, or from a
closer knowledge of white men and their ways, this young Indian was
freer from apprehensions of this nature, perhaps, than any one of
the same color and origin within many miles of the spot. In a word,
Pigeons-wing regarded the bee-hunter as his friend, while he looked
upon the other pale-faces as so many persons thrown by accident in
his company. Now that Margery had actually become his friend's
squaw, his interest in her was somewhat increased; though she had
never obtained that interest in his feelings that she had awakened
in the breast of Peter, by her attentions to him, her gentleness,
light-hearted gayety, and womanly care, and all without the least
design on her own part.
"No," answered the Chippewa, after a moment's reflection, "no very
safe for Yankee, or Yankee Injin. Don't t'ink my scalp very safe, if
chief know'd I'm Yankee runner. Bess alway to keep scalp safe. Dem
Pottawattamie I take care not to see. Know all about 'em, too. Know
what he SAY--know what he DO--b'lieve I know what he T'INK."
"I did not see you, Pigeon, among the red young men, yesterday, out
on Prairie Round."
"Know too much to go dere. Crowsfeather and Pottawattamie out dere.
Bess not go near dem when dey have eye open. Take 'em asleep. Dat
bess way wid sich Injin. Catch 'em some time! But your ear open,
"Wide open, my good friend--what have you to whisper in it?"
"You look hard at Peter when he come in. If he t'ink good deal, and
don't say much, when he DO speak, mind what he say. If he smile, and
very much friend, must hab his scalp."
"Chippewa, Peter is my friend, lives in my cabin, and eats of my
bread! The hand that touches him, touches me."
"Which bess, eh--HIS scalp, or your'n? If he VERY much friend when
he comes in, his scalp muss come off, or your'n. Yes, juss so. Dat
de way. Know Injin better dan you know him, Bourdon. You good bee-
hunter, but poor Injin. Ebbery body hab his way--Injin got his.
Peter laugh and very much friend, when he come home, den he mean to
hab YOUR scalp. If don't smile, and don't seem very much friend, but
look down, and t'ink, t'ink, t'ink, den he no mean to hurt you, but
try to get you out of hand of chiefs. Dat all."
As Pigeonswing concluded, he walked coolly away, leaving his friend
to ruminate on the alternative of scalp or no scalp! The bee-hunter
now understood the Chippewa perfectly. He was aware that this man
had means of his own to ascertain what was passing around him in the
Openings, and he had the utmost confidence in his integrity and good
wishes. If a red man is slow to forget an injury, he never forgets a
favor. In this he was as unlike as possible to most of the pale-
faces who were supplanting his race, for these last had, and have,
as extraordinary a tenacity in losing sight of benefits, as they
have in remembering wrongs.
By some means or other, it was now clear that Pigeonswing foresaw
that a crisis was at hand. Had le Bourdon been as disconnected and
solitary as he was when he first met the Chippewa, it is not
probable that either the words or the manner of his friend would
have produced much impression on him, so little accustomed was he to
dwell on the hazards of his frontier position. But the case was now
altogether changed. Margery and her claims stood foremost in his
mind; and through Margery came Dolly and her husband. There was no
mistaking Pigeonswing's intention. It was to give warning of some
immediate danger, and a danger that, in some way, was connected with
the deportment of Peter. It was easy enough to comprehend the
allusions to the mysterious chief's smiles and melancholy; and the
bee-hunter understood that he was to watch that Indian's manner, and
take the alarm or bestow his confidence accordingly.
Le Bourdon was not left long in doubt. Peter arrived about half-an-
hour after Pigeonswing had gone to seek his rest; and from the
instant he came in sight, our hero discerned the thoughtful eye and
melancholy manner. These signs were still more obvious when the
tribeless Indian came nearer; so obvious, indeed, as to strike more
than one of those who were interested observers of all that this
extraordinary being said and did. Among others, Margery was the
first to see this change, and the first to let it influence her own
manner. This she did, notwithstanding le Bourdon had said nothing to
her on the subject, and in defiance of the bashful feelings of a
bride; which, under circumstances less marked, might have induced
her to keep more in the background. As Peter stopped at the spring
to quench his thirst, Margery was, in truth, the first to approach
and to speak to him.
"You seem weary, Peter," said the young wife, somewhat timidly as to
voice and air, but with a decided and honest manifestation of
interest in what she was about. Nor had Margery gone empty-handed.
She took with her a savory dish, one of those that the men of the
woods love--meat cooked in its own juices, and garnished with
several little additions, that her skill in the arts of civilized
life enabled her to supply.
"You seem tired, Peter, and if I did not fear to say it, I should
tell you that you also seem sad," said Margery, as she placed her
dish on a rude table that was kept at the spot, for the convenience
of those who seldom respected hours, or regularity of any sort in
their meals. "Here is food that you like, which I have cooked with
my own hands."
The Indian looked intently at the timid and charming young creature,
who came forward thus to contribute to his comforts, and the
saddened expression of his countenance deepened. He was fatigued and
hungry, and he ate for some time without speaking, beyond uttering a
brief expression of his thanks. When his appetite was appeased,
however, and she who had so sedulously attended to his wants was
about to remove the remains of the dish, he signed with his finger
for her to draw nearer, intimating that he had something to say.
Margery obeyed without hesitation, though the color flitted in her
face like the changes in an evening sky. But so much good will and
confidence had been awakened between these two, that a daughter
would not have drawn near to a father with more confidence than
Margery stood before Peter.
"Medicine-man do what I tell him, young squaw, eh?" demanded Peter,
smiling slightly, and for the first time since they had met.
"By medicine-man do you mean Mr. Amen, or Bourdon?" the bride asked
in her turn, her whole face reflecting the confusion she felt,
scarcely knowing why.
"Bot'. One medicine-man say his prayer; t'odder medicine-man take
young squaw's hand, and lead her into his wigwam. Dat what I mean."
"I am married to Bourdon," returned Margery, dropping her eyes to
the ground, "if that be what you wish to know. I hope you think I
shall have a good husband, Peter."
"Hope so, too--nebber know till time come. All good for little
while--Injin good, squaw good. Juss like weadder. Sometime rain--
sometime storm--sometime sunshine. Juss so wid Injin, juss so wid
pale-face. No difference. All same. You see dat cloud?--he little
now; but let wind blow, he grow big, and you see nuttin' but cloud.
Let him have plenty of sunshine, and he go away; den all clear over
head. Dat bess way to live wid husband."
"And that is the way which Bourdon and I WILL always live together.
When we get back among our own people, Peter, and are living
comfortably in a pale-face wigwam, with pale-face food, and pale-
face drinks, and all the other good things of pale-face housekeeping
about us, then I hope you will come and see how happy we are, and
pass some time with us. Every year I wish you to come and see us,
and to bring us venison, and Bourdon will give you powder, and lead,
and blankets, and all you may want, unless it be fire-water. Fire-
water he has promised never again to give to an Injin."
"No find any more whiskey-spring, eh?" demanded Peter, greatly
interested in the young woman's natural and warm-hearted manner of
proposing her hospitalities. "So bess--so bess. Great curse for
Injin. Plenty honey, no fire-water. All dat good. And I come, if--"
Here Peter stopped, nor could all Margery's questions induce him to
complete the sentence. His gaze at the earnest countenance of the
bride was such as to give her an indefinite sort of uneasiness, not
to say a feeling of alarm.
Still no explanation passed between them. Margery remained near
Peter for some time, administering to his wants, and otherwise
demeaning herself much as a daughter might have done. At length le
Bourdon joined them. The salutations were friendly, and the manner
in which the mysterious chief regarded the equally mysterious bee-
hunter, was not altogether without a certain degree of awe. Boden
perceived this, and was not slow to comprehend that he owed this
accession of influence to the scene which had occurred on the
"Is the great council ended, Peter?" asked the bee-hunter, when the
little interval of silence had been observed.
"Yes, it over. No more council, now, on Prairie Round."
"And the chiefs--have they all gone on their proper paths? What has
become of my old acquaintance, Crowsfeather? and all the rest of
them--Bear's Meat, in particular?"
"All gone. No more council now. Agree what to do and so go away."
"But are red men always as good as their words? do they PERFORM
always what they PROMISE?"
"Sartain. Ebbery man ought do what he say. Dat Injin law--no pale-
face law, eh?"
"It may be the LAW, Peter, and a very good law it is; but we white
men do not always MIND our own laws."
"Dat bad--Great Spirit don't like dat," returned Peter, looking
grave, and slowly shaking his head. "Dat very bad. When Injin say he
do it, den he do it, if he can. If can't, no help for it. Send squaw
away now, Bourdon--bess not to let squaw hear what men say, or will
always want to hear."
Le Bourdon laughed, as he turned to Margery and repeated these
words. The young wife colored, but she took it in good part, and ran
up toward the palisaded lodge, like one who was glad to be rid of
her companions. Peter waited a few moments, then turning his head
slowly in all directions, to make sure of not being overheard, he
began to lay open his mind.
"You been on Prairie Round, Bourdon--you see Injin dere--chief,
warrior, young men, hunter, all dere."
"I saw them all, Peter, and a goodly sight it was--what between
paint, and medals, and bows and arrows and tomahawks, and all your
"You like to see him, eh? Yes; he fine t'ing to look at. Well, dat
council call togedder by ME--you know dat, too, Bourdon?"
"I have heard you say that such was your intention, and I suppose
you did it, chief. They tell me you have great power among your own
people, and that they do very much as you tell them to do."
Peter looked graver than ever at this remark; and one of his
startling gleams of ferocity passed over his dark countenance. Then
he answered with his customary self-command.
"Sometime so," he said; "sometime not so. Yesterday, not so. Dere is
chief dat want to put Peter under his foot! He try, but he no do it!
I know Peter well, and know dat chief, too."
"This is news to me, Peter, and I am surprised to hear it. I did
think that even the great Tecumthe was scarcely as big a chief as
you are yourself."
"Yes, pretty big chief; dat true. But, among Injin, ebbery man can
speak, and nebber know which way council go. Sometime he go one way;
sometime he go tudder. You hear Bough of Oak speak, eh? Tell me
"You will remember that I heard none of your speakers on Prairie
Round, Peter. I do not remember any such orator as this Bough of
"He great rascal," said Peter, who had picked up some of the
garrison expressions among those from whom he acquired the knowledge
of English he possessed, such as it was. "Listen, Bourdon. Nebber
bess stand too much in Peter's way."
The bee-hunter laughed freely at this remark; for his own success
the previous day, and the impression he had evidently made on that
occasion, emboldened him to take greater liberties with the
mysterious chief than had been his wont.
"I should think that, Peter," cried the young man, gayly--"I should
think all that. For one, I should choose to get out of it. The path
you travel is your own, and all wise men will leave you to journey
along it in your own fashion."
"Yes; dat bess way," answered the great chief, with admirable
simplicity. "Don't like, when he says yes, to hear anudder chief say
no. Dat an't good way to do business."
These were expressions caught from the trading whites, and were
often used by those who got their English from them. "I tell you one
t'ing, Bourdon--dat Bough of Oak very foolish Injin if he put foot
on my path."
"This is plain enough, Peter," rejoined le Bourdon, who was
unconcernedly repairing some of the tools of his ordinary craft. "By
the way, I am greatly in your debt, I learn, for one thing. They
tell me I've got my squaw in my wigwam a good deal sooner, by your
advice, than I might have otherwise done. Margery is now my wife, I
suppose you know; and I thank you heartily, for helping me to get
married so much sooner than I expected to be."
Here Peter grasped Bourdon by the hand, and poured out his whole
soul, secret hopes, fears, and wishes. On this occasion he spoke in
the Indian dialect--one of those that he knew the bee-hunter
understood. And we translate what he said freely into English,
preserving as much of the original idiom as the change of language
"Listen, hunter of the bee, the great medicine of the pale-faces,
and hear what a chief that knows the red men is about to tell you.
Let my words go into your ears; let them stay in your mind. They are
words that will do you good. It is not wise to let such words come
out again by the hole through which they have just entered.
"My young friend knows our traditions. They do not tell us that the
Injins were Jews; they tell us that the Manitou created them red
men. They tell us that our fathers used these hunting-grounds ever
since the earth was placed on the back of the big tortoise which
upholds it. The pale-faces say the earth moves. If this be true, it
moves as slowly as the tortoise walks. It cannot have gone far since
the Great Spirit lifted his hand off it. If it move, the hunting-
grounds move with it, and the tribes move with their own hunting-
grounds. It may be that some of the pale-faces are lost, but no
Injin is lost--the medicine-priest is mistaken. He has looked so
often in his book, that he sees nothing but what is there. He does
not see what is before his eyes, at his side, behind his back, ail
around him. I have known such Injins. They see but one thing; even
the deer jump across their paths, and are not seen.
"Such are our traditions. They tell us that this land was given to
the red men, and not to pale-faces. That none but red men have any
right to hunt here. The Great Spirit has laws. He has told us these
laws. They teach us to love our friends, and to hate our enemies.
You don't believe this, Bourdon?" observing the bee-hunter to wince
a little, as if he found the doctrine bad.
"This is not what our priests tell US," answered le Bourdon. "They
tell us that the white man's God commands us to love all alike--to
do GOOD to our enemies, to LOVE them that wish us HARM, and to treat
all men as we would wish men to treat us." Peter was a good deal
surprised at this doctrine, and it was nearly a minute before he
resumed the discourse. He had recently heard it several times, and
it was slowly working its way into his mind.
"Such are our traditions, and such are our laws. Look at me. Fifty
winters have tried to turn my hair white. Time can do that. The hair
is the only part of an Injin that ever turns white; all the rest of
him is red. That is his color. The game knows an Injin by his color.
The tribes know him. Everything knows him by his color. He knows the
things which the Great Spirit has given him, in the same way. He
gets used to them, and they are his acquaintances. He does not like
strange things. He does not like strangers. White men are strangers,
and he does not like to see them on his hunting-ground. If they come
singly, to kill a few buffaloes, or to look for honey, or to catch
beaver, the Injins would not complain. They love to give of their
abundance. The pale-faces do not come in this fashion. They do not
come as guests; they come as masters. They come and they stay. Each
year of my fifty have I heard of new tribes that have been driven by
them toward the setting sun.
"Bourdon, for many seasons I have thought of this. I have tried to
find a way to stop them. There is but one. That way must the Injins
try, or give up their hunting-grounds to the strangers. No nation
likes to give up its hunting-grounds. They come from the Manitou,
and one day he may ask to have them back again. What could the red
men say, if they let the pale-faces take them away? No; this we
cannot do. We will first try the one thing that is to be done."
"I believe I understand you, Peter," observed le Bourdon, finding
that his companion paused. "You mean war. War, in the Injin mode of
redressing all wrongs; war against man, woman, and child!"
Peter nodded in acquiescence, fixing his glowing eyes on the bee-
hunter's face, as if to read his soul.
"Am I to understand, then, that you and your friends, the chiefs and
their followers, that I saw on Prairie Round, mean to begin with US,
half-a-dozen whites, of whom two are women, who happen to be here in
your power--that OUR scalps are to be the first taken?"
"First!--no, Bourdon. Peter's hand has taken a great many, years
since. He has got a name for his deeds, and no longer dare go to the
white men's forts. He does not look for Yankees, he looks for pale-
faces. When he meets a pale-face on the prairies, or in the woods,
he tries to get his scalp. This has he done for years, and many has
"This is a bloody account you are giving of yourself, Peter, and I
would rather you should not have told it. Some such account I have
heard before; but living with you, and eating, and drinking, and
sleeping, and travelling in your company, I had not only hoped, but
begun to think, it was not true."
"It is true. My wish is to cut off the pale-faces. This must be
done, or the pale-faces will cut off the Injins. There is no choice.
One nation or the other must be destroyed. I am a red man; my heart
tells me that the pale-faces should die. They are on strange
hunting-grounds, not the red men. They are wrong, we are right. But,
Bourdon, I have friends among the pale-faces, and it is not natural
to scalp our friends. I do not understand a religion that tells us
to love our enemies, and to do good to them that do harm to us--it
is a strange religion. I am a poor Injin, and do not know what to
think! I shall not believe that any do this, till I see it. I
understand that we ought to love our friends. Your squaw is my
daughter. I have called her daughter--she knows it, and my tongue is
not forked, like a snake's. What it says, I mean. Once I meant to
scalp your young squaw, because she was a pale-face squaw, and might
be the mother of more. Now I do not mean to scalp her; my hand shall
never harm her. My wisdom shall tell her to escape from the hands of
red men who seek her scalp. You, too; now you are her husband, and
are a great medicine-man of the bees, my hand shall not hurt you,
either. Open your ears wide, for big truths must go into them."
Peter then related in full his attempt to procure a safe passage for
le Bourdon and Margery into the settlements, and its total failure.
He owned that by his previous combinations he had awakened a spirit
among the Indians that his present efforts could not quell. In a
word, he told the whole story as it must have been made apparent to
the reader, and he now came with his plans to defeat the very
schemes that he had himself previously projected. One thing,
however, that he did not conceal, filled the mind of his listener
with horror, and created so strong an aversion to acting in concert
with one who could even allude to it so coolly, that there was
danger of breaking off all communications between the parties, and
placing the result purely on force; a course that must have proved
totally destructive to all the whites. The difficulty arose from a
naive confession of Peter's, that he did not even wish to save any
but le Bourdon and Margery, and that he still desired the deaths of
all the others, himself!
For thou wert born of woman! Thou didst come,
O Holiest! to this world of sin and gloom,
Not in thy dread omnipotent array;
And not by thunders strewed
Was thy tempestuous road,
Nor indignation burnt before thee on thy way.
But thee, a soft and naked child,
Thy mother undefiled,
In the rude manger laid to rest
From off her virgin breast.
The blood of the bee-hunter curdled in his veins as he listened to
Peter's business-like and direct manner of treating this terrible
subject. Putting the most favorable view on his situation, it was
frightful to look on. Admitting that this fanatical savage were
sincere in all his professions of a wish to save him and Margery,
and le Bourdon did not, nay, COULD not doubt this, after his calm
but ferocious revelations; but, admitting all this to be true, how
was he to escape with his charming bride, environed as they were by
so large a band of hostile Indians? Then the thought of abandoning
his other companions, and attempting, in cold selfishness, to escape
with Margery alone, was more than he could bear. Never before, in
his adventurous and bold life, had le Bourdon been so profoundly
impressed with a sense of his danger, or so much overcome.
Still, our hero was not unmanned. He saw all the hazards, as it
were, at a glance, and felt how terrible might be the result should
they really fall into the hands of the warriors, excited to exercise
their ingenuity in devising the means of torture; and he gazed into
the frightful perspective with a manly steadiness that did him
credit, even while he sickened at the prospect.
Peter had told his story in a way to add to its horrible character.
There was a manner of truth, of directness, of WORK, if one may use
such an expression on such a subject, that gave a graphic reality to
all he said. As if his task was done, the mysterious chief now
coolly arose, and moved away to a little grove, in which the
missionary and the corporal had thrown themselves on the grass,
where they lay speculating on the probable course that the bands in
their neighborhood would next pursue. So thoroughly possessed was
the clergyman with his one idea, however, that he was expressing
regret at his failure in the attempt to convince the savages that
they were Jews, when Peter joined them.
"You tired--you lie down in daytime, like sick squaw, eh?" asked the
Indian, in a slightly satirical manner. "Bess be up, sich fine day,
and go wid me to see some more chief."
"Most gladly, Peter," returned the missionary, springing to his feet
with alacrity--"and I shall have one more opportunity to show your
friends the truth of what I have told them."
"Yes, Injin love to hear trut'--hate to hear lie. Can tell 'em all
you want to say. He go too, eh?" pointing to the corporal, who
rather hung back, as if he saw that in the invitation which was not
agreeable to him.
"I will answer for my friend," returned the confiding missionary,
cheerfully. "Lead on, Peter, and we will follow."
Thus pledged, the corporal no longer hesitated; but he accompanied
Parson Amen, as the latter fell into the tracks of the chief, and
proceeded rapidly in the direction of the spring in the piece of
bottom-land, where the council first described had been held. This
spot was about two miles from the palisaded house, and quite out of
view, as well as out of reach of sound. As they walked side by side,
taking the footsteps of the great chief for their guides, the
corporal, however, expressed to his companion his dislike of the
"We ought to stand by our garrison in times like these, Mr. Amen,"
said the well-meaning soldier. "A garrison is a garrison; and Injins
seldom do much on a well-built and boldly-defended spot of that
natur'. They want artillery, without which their assaults are never
"Why talk you of warlike means, corporal, when we are in the midst
of friends? Is not Peter our known and well-tried associate, one
with whom you and I have travelled far; and do we not know that we
have friends among these chiefs, whom we are now going to visit? The
Lord has led me into these distant and savage regions, to carry his
word, and to proclaim his name; and a most unworthy and unprofitable
servant should I prove, were I to hesitate about approaching them I
am appointed to teach. No, no; fear nothing. I will not say that you
carry Caesar and his fortunes, as I have heard was once said of old,
but I will say you follow one who is led of God, and who marches
with the certainty of being divinely commanded."
The corporal was ashamed to oppose so confident an enthusiasm, and
he offered no further resistance. Together the two followed their
leader, who, turning neither to the right hand nor to the left, soon
had them out of sight of the castle, and well on their way toward
the spring. When about half the distance was made, the direction
took the party through a little thicket, or rather along its margin,
and the missionary, a good deal to his surprise, saw Pigeonswing
within the cover, seemingly preparing for another hunt. This young
warrior had so lately returned from one excursion of this nature,
that he was not expected to go forth so soon on another. Nor was he
accustomed to go out so early in the day. This was the hour in which
he ordinarily slept; but there he was, beyond a question, and
apparently looking at the party as it passed. So cold was his
manner, however, and so indifferent did he seem, that no one would
have suspected that he knew aught of what was in contemplation.
Having satisfied himself that his friend, the bee-hunter, was not
one of those who followed Peter, the Chippewa turned coldly away,
and began to examine the flint of his rifle. The corporal noted this
manner, and it gave him additional confidence to proceed; for he
could not imagine that any human being would manifest so much
indifference, when sinister designs existed.
Peter turned neither to the right hand nor to the left, until he had
led the way down upon the little arena of bottom-land already
described, and which was found well sprinkled with savages. A few
stood, or sat about in groups, earnestly conversing; but most lay
extended at length on the green sward, in the indolent repose that
is so grateful to an Indian warrior in his hours of inaction. The
arrival of Peter, however, instantly put a new face on the
appearance of matters. Every man started to his feet, and additions
were made to those who were found in the arena by those who came out
of the adjacent thickets, until some two or three hundred of the red
men were assembled in a circle around the newly-arrived pale-faces.
"There," said Peter, sternly, fastening his eye with a hostile
expression on Bough of the Oak and Ungque, in particular--"there are
your captives. Do with them as you will. As for them that have dared
to question my faith, let them own that they are liars!"
This was not a very amicable salutation, but savages are accustomed
to plain language. Bough of the Oak appeared a little uneasy, and
Ungque's countenance denoted dissatisfaction; but the last was too
skilful an actor to allow many of the secrets of his plotting mind
to shine through the windows of his face. As for the crowd at large,
gleams of content passed over the bright red faces, illuminating
them with looks of savage joy. Murmurs of approbation were heard,
and Crowsfeather addressed the throng, there, where it stood,
encircling the two helpless and as yet but half-alarmed victims of
so fell a plot.
"My brothers and my young men can now see," said this Pottawattamie,
"that the tribeless chief has an Injin heart. His heart is NOT a
pale-face heart--it is that of a red man. Some of our chiefs have
thought that he had lived too much with the strangers, and that he
had forgotten the traditions of our fathers, and was listening to
the song of the medicine priest. Some thought that he believed
himself lost, and a Jew, and not an Injin. This is not so. Peter
knows the path he is on. He knows that he is a redskin, and he looks
on the Yankees as enemies. The scalps he has taken are so numerous
they cannot be counted. He is ready to take more. Here are two that
he gives to us. When we have done with these two captives, he will
bring us more. He will continue to bring them, until the pale-faces
will be as few as the deer in their own clearings. Such is the will
of the Manitou."
The missionary understood all that was said, and he was not a little
appalled at the aspect of things. For the first time he began to
apprehend that he was in danger. So much was this devout and well-
intentioned servant of his church accustomed to place his dependence
on a superintending Providence, that apprehension of personal
suffering seldom had any influence on his exertions. He believed
himself to be an object of especial care; though he was ever ready
to admit that the wisdom which human minds cannot compass, might
order events that, at first sight, would seem to be opposed to that
which ought to be permitted to come to pass. In this particular
Parson Amen was a model of submission, firmly believing that all
that happened was in furtherance of the great scheme of man's
regeneration and eventual salvation.
With the corporal it was very different. Accustomed to war with red
men, and most acquainted with them in their worst character, he ever
suspected treachery, and had followed Peter with a degree of
reluctance he had not cared to express. He now thoroughly took the
alarm, however, and stood on his guard. Although he did not
comprehend more than half of that which Peter had said, he
understood quite enough to see that he and the missionary were
surrounded by enemies, if not by executioners.
"We have fallen into a sort of ambush here, Parson Amen," cried the
corporal, rattling his arms as he looked to their condition, "and
it's high time we beat the general. If there were four on us we
might form a square; but being only two, the best thing we can do
will be to stand back to back, and for one to keep an eye on the
right flank, while he nat'rally watches all in front; and for the
other to keep an eye on the left flank, while he sees to the rear.
Place your back close to mine, and take the left flank into your
part of the lookout. Closer, closer, my good sir; we must stand
solid as rooted trees, to make anything of a stand."
The missionary, in his surprise, permitted the corporal to assume
the position described, though conscious of its uselessness in their
actual condition. As for the Indians, the corporal's manner and the
rattling of his arms induced the circle to recede several paces;
though nothing like alarm prevailed among them. The effect,
nevertheless, was to leave the two captives space for their
evolutions, and a sort of breathing time. This little change had the
appearance of something like success, and it greatly encouraged the
corporal. He began to think it even possible to make a retreat that
would be as honorable as any victory.
"Steady--keep shoulder to shoulder, Parson Amen, and take care of
your flank. Our movement must be by our left flank, and everything
depends on keeping that clear. I shall have to give you my baggonet,
for you're entirely without arms, which leaves my rear altogether
"Think nothing of your arms, Brother Flint--they would be useless in
my hands in any case; and, were we made of muskets, they could be of
no use against these odds. My means of defence come from on high; my
armor is faith; and my only weapon, prayer. I shall not hesitate to
use the last on this, as on all other occasions."
The missionary then called on the circle of curious savages by whom
he was surrounded, and who certainly contemplated nothing less than
his death, in common with those of all his white companions, to
unite with him in addressing the Throne of Grace. Accustomed to
preach and pray to these people in their own dialect, the worthy
parson made a strong appeal to their charities, while supplicating
the favors of Divine Providence in behalf of himself and his brother
captive. He asked for all the usual benedictions and blessings on
his enemies, and made a very happy exposition of those sublime
dogmas of Christianity, which teach us to "bless them that curse
us," and to "pray for those who despitefully use us." Peter, for the
first time in his life, was now struck with the moral beauty of such
a sentiment, which seldom fails, when duly presented, of producing
an effect on even the dullest minds. His curiosity was touched, and
instead of turning coldly, as had been his intention, and leaving
the captives in the hands of those to whom he had delivered them, he
remained in the circle, and paid the closest attention to all of the
proceedings. He had several times previously heard the missionary
speak of this duty as a command of God's, but never before had he
deemed it possible to realize such a thing in practice.
The Indians, if not absolutely awe-struck by the singular spectacle
before them, seemed well disposed to let the missionary finish his
appeal; some wondering, others doubting, and all more or less at a
loss to know what to make of an exhibition so unusual. There stood
the corporal, with his back pressed closely to that of his
companion, his musket at "make ready," and his whole mien that of a
man with every nerve screwed to the sticking-point; while the
missionary, the other side of the picture, with outstretched arms,
was lifting his voice in prayer to the throne of the Most High. As
this extraordinary scene continued, the corporal grew excited; and
ere long his voice was occasionally heard, blended with that of the
clergyman, in terms of advice and encouragement.
"Blaze away, Mr. Amen," shouted the soldier. "Give 'em another
volley--you're doing wonders, and their front has given ground! One
more such volley as the last, and we'll make a forward movement,
ourselves--attention!--prepare to march by the left flank, as soon
as there is a good opening!"
That good opening, however, was never made. The savages, though
astonished, were by no means frightened, and had not the smallest
idea of letting their captives escape. On the contrary, Bear's Meat,
who acted as commander-in-chief on this occasion, was quite self-
possessed, and so far from being impressed with the missionary's
prayer, he listened to it only in the hope of hearing some admission
of weakness escape. But the excitement of the corporal soon produced
a crisis. His attempts to make a movement "by the left flank,"
caused his column of defence to be broken, and obtaining no
assistance from Parson Amen, who was still pouring out his soul in
prayer, while endeavoring to bring things back to their original
state, he suddenly found himself surrounded and disarmed. From that
instant, the corporal changed his tactics. So long as he was armed,
and comparatively free, he had bethought him only of the means of
resistance; now that these were denied him, he submitted, and
summoned all his resolution to bear the penalties of his captivity,
in a manner that might not do discredit to his regiment. This was
the third time that Corporal Flint had been a prisoner among the
Indians, and he was not now to learn the nature of their tender
mercies. His forebodings were not of the most pleasant character;
but that which could not be helped, he was disposed to bear with
manly fortitude. His greatest concern, at that fearful moment, was
for the honor of his corps.
All this time, Parson Amen continued his prayer. So completely was
his spirit occupied with the duty of offering up his petition, that
he was utterly unconscious of what else had passed; nor had he heard
one of the corporal's appeals for "attention," and to be "steady,"
and to march "by the left flank." In a word, the whole man was
intent on prayer; and when thus employed, a six-pounder discharged
in the circle would hardly have disconcerted him. He persevered,
therefore, uninterrupted by his conquerors, until he concluded in
his own way. Having thus fortified his soul, and asked for succor
where he had now so long been accustomed to seek and to find it, the
worthy missionary took his seat quietly on a log, on which the
corporal had been previously placed by his captors.
The time had arrived for the chiefs to proceed in the execution of
their purposes. Peter, profoundly struck with the prayers of the
missionary in behalf of his enemies, had taken a station a little on
one side, where he stood ruminating on what he had just heard. If
ever precept bore the stamp of a divine origin, it is this. The more
we reflect on it, the clearer do our perceptions of this truth
become. The whole scheme of Christ's redemption and future existence
is founded in love, and such a system would be imperfect while any
were excluded from its benefits. To love those who reciprocate our
feelings is so very natural, that the sympathies which engender this
feeling are soonest attracted by a knowledge of their existence,
love producing love, as power increases power. But to love those who
hate us, and to strive to do good to those who are plotting evil
against ourselves, greatly exceeds the moral strength of man,
unaided from above. This was the idea that puzzled Peter, and he now
actually interrupted the proceedings, in order to satisfy his mind
on a subject so totally new to him. Previously, however, to taking
this step, he asked the permission of the principal chiefs,
awakening in their bosoms by means of his explanations some of the
interest in this subject that he felt himself.
"Brother medicine-man," said the mysterious chief, drawing nearer to
the missionary, accompanied himself by Bear's Meat, Crowsfeather,
and one or two more, "you have been talking to the Great Spirit o!
the pale-faces. We have heard your words, and think them well. They
are good words for a man about to set out on the path that leads to
the unknown lands. Thither we must all go some time, and it matters
little when. We may not all travel the same path. I do not think the
Manitou will crowd tribes of different colors together there, as
they are getting to be crowded together here.
"Brother, you are about to learn how all these things really are. If
red men, and pale-faces, and black men are to live in the same land,
after death, you will shortly know it. My brother is about to go
there. He and his friend, this warrior of his people, will travel on
that long path in company. I hope they will agree by the way, and
not trouble each other. It will be convenient to my brother to have
a hunter with him; the path is so long, he will be hungry before he
gets to the end. This warrior knows how to use a musket, and we
shall put his arms with him in his grave.
"Brother, before you start on this journey, from which no traveller
ever returns, let his color be what it may, we wish to hear you
speak further about loving our enemies. This is not the Indian rule.
The red men hate their enemies, and love their friends. When they
ask the Manitou to do anything to their enemies, it is to do them
harm. This is what our fathers taught us: it is what we teach our
children. Why should we love them that hate us: why should we do
good to them that do us harm? Tell us now, or we may never hear the
"Tell you I will, Peter, and the Lord so bless my words that they
may soften your hearts, and lead you all to the truth, and to
dependence on the mediation of his blessed Son! We should do good to
them that do evil to us, because the Great Spirit has commanded us
so to do. Ask your own heart if this is not right. If they sound
like words that are spoken by any but those who have been taught by
the Manitou, himself. The devils tell us to revenge, but God
commands us to forgive. It is easy to do good to them that do good
to us; but it tries the heart sorely to do good to them that do us
evil. I have spoken to you of the Son of the Great Spirit. He came
on earth, and told us with his own mouth all these great truths. He
said that next to the duty of loving the Manitou, was the duty of
loving our neighbors. No matter whether friend or enemy, it was our
duty to love them, and do them all the good we can. If there is no
venison in their wigwams, we should take the deer off our own poles,
and carry it and put on theirs. Why have I come here to tell you
this? When at home, I lived under a good roof, eat of abundance, and
slept in a soft and warm bed. You know how it is here. We do not
know to-day what we shall eat to-morrow. Our beds are hard, and our
roofs are of bark. I come, because the Son of the Manitou, he who
came and lived among men, told us to do all this. His commands to
his medicine-men were, to go forth, and tell all nations, and
tribes, and colors, the truth--to tell them to 'love them that
sought to do them harm, and to do good for evil.'"
Parson Amen pausing a moment to take breath, Ungque, who detected
the wavering of Peter's mind, and who acted far more in opposition
to the mysterious and tribeless chief than from any other motive,
profited by the occasion thus afforded to speak. Without this pause,
however, the breeding of an Indian would have prevented any
"I open my mouth to speak," said The Weasel, in his humblest manner.
"What I say is not fit for the wise chiefs to hear. It is foolish,
but my mind tells me to say it. Does the medicine-man of the pale-
faces tell us that the Son of the Great Spirit came upon earth, and
lived among men?"
"I do; such is our belief; and the religion we believe and teach
cometh directly from his mouth."
"Let the medicine-man tell the chiefs how long the Son of the Great
Spirit stayed on earth, and which way he went when he left it."
Now, this question was put by Ungque through profound dissimulation.
He had heard of the death of Christ, and had obtained some such idea
of the great sacrifice as would be apt to occur to the mind of a
savage. He foresaw that the effect of the answer would be very
likely to destroy most of the influence that the missionary had just
been building up, by means of his doctrine and his prayers. Parson
Amen was a man of singular simplicity of character, but he had his
misgivings touching the effect of this reply. Still he did not
scruple about giving it, or attempt in any manner to mystify or to
"It is a humiliating and sad story, my brethren, and one that ought
to cause all heads to be bowed to the earth in shame," he answered.
"The Son of the Great Spirit came among men; he did nothing but
good; told those who heard him how to live and how to die. In return
for all this, wicked and unbelieving men put him to death. After
death his body was taken up into Heaven--the region of departed
spirits, and the dwelling-place of his Father--where he now is,
waiting for the time when he is to return to the earth, to reward
the good and to punish the wicked. That time will surely come; nor
do I believe the day to be very distant."
The chiefs listened to this account with grave attention. Some of
them had heard outlines of the same history before. Accounts
savoring of the Christian history had got blended with some of their
own traditions, most probably the fruits of the teachings of the
earlier missionaries, but were so confused and altered as to be
scarcely susceptible of being recognized. To most of them, however,
the history of the incarnation of the Son of God was entirely new;
and it struck THEM as a most extraordinary thing altogether that any
man should have injured such a being! It was, perhaps, singular that
no one of them all doubted the truth of the tradition itself. This
they supposed to have been transmitted with the usual care, and they
received it as a fact not to be disputed. The construction that was
put on its circumstances will best appear in the remarks that
"If the pale-faces killed the Son of the Great Spirit," said Bough
of the Oak, pointedly, "we can see why they wish to drive the red
men from their lands. Evil spirits dwell in such men, and they do
nothing but what is bad. I am glad that our great chief has told us
to put the foot on this worm and crush it, while yet the Indian foot
is large enough to do it. In a few winters they would kill us, as
they killed the Spirit that did them nothing but good!"
"I am afraid that this mighty tradition hath a mystery in it that
your Indian minds will scarcely be willing to receive," resumed the
missionary, earnestly. "I would not, for a thousand worlds, or to
save ten thousand lives as worthless as my own, place a straw in the
way of the faith of any; yet must I tell the thing as it happened.
This Son of the Great Spirit was certainly killed by the Jews of
that day, so far as he COULD be killed. He possessed two natures, as
indeed do all men: the body and soul. In his body he was man, as we
all are men; in his soul he was a part of the Great Spirit himself.
This is the great mystery of our religion. We cannot tell how it can
happen, but we believe it. We see around us a thousand things that
we cannot understand, and this is one of them."
Here Bear's Meat availed himself of another pause to make a remark.
This he did with the keenness of one accustomed to watch words and
events closely, but with a simplicity that showed no vulgar
disposition to scepticism.
"We do not expect that all the Great Spirit does can be clear to us
Indians," he said. "We know very little; he knows everything. Why
should we think to know all that he knows? We do not. That part of
the tradition gives us no trouble. Indians can believe without
seeing. They are not squaws, that wish to look behind every bush.
But my brother has told too much for his own good. If the pale-faces
killed their Great Spirit, they can have no Manitou, and must be in
the hands of the Evil Spirit This is the reason they want our
hunting-grounds. I will not let them come any nearer to the setting
sun. It is time to begin to kill them, as they killed their Great
Spirit. The Jews did this. My brother wishes us to think that red
men are Jews! No; red men never harmed the Son of the Great Spirit,
They would receive him as a friend, and treat him as a chief.
Accursed be the hand that should be raised to harm him. This
tradition is a wise tradition. It tells us many things. It tells us
that Injins are not Jews. They never hurt the Son of the Great
Spirit. It tells us that the red men have always lived on these
hunting-grounds, and did not come from toward the rising sun. It
tells us that pale-faces are not fit to live. They are too wicked.
Let them die."
"I would ask a question," put in Peter. "This tradition is not new.
I have heard it before. It entered but a little way into my ears. I
did not think of it. It has now entered deeper, and I wish to hear
more. Why did not the Son of the Great Spirit kill the Jews?--why
did he let the Jews kill him? Will my brother say?"
"He came on earth to die for man, whose wickedness was so deep that
the Great Spirit's justice could not be satisfied with less. WHY
this is so no one knows. It is enough that it should be so. Instead
of thinking of doing harm to his tormentors and murderers, he died
for them, and died asking for benefits on them, and on their wives
and children, for all time to come. It was he who commanded us to do
good to them that do harm to us."
Peter gave the utmost attention to this answer, and when he had
received it, he walked apart, musing profoundly. It is worthy of
being observed that not one of these savages raised any hollow
objections to the incarnation of the Son of the Great Spirit, as
would have been the case with so many civilized men. To them this
appeared no more difficult and incomprehensible than most of that
which they saw around them. It is when we begin to assume the airs
of philosophy, and to fancy, because we know a little, that the
whole book of knowledge is within our grasp, that men become
sceptics. There is not a human being now in existence who does not
daily, hourly see that which is just as much beyond his powers of
comprehension as this account of the incarnation of the Deity, and
the whole doctrine of the Trinity; and yet he acquiesces in that
which is before his eyes, because it is familiar and he sees it,
while he cavils at all else, though the same unknown and
inexplicable cause lies behind everything. The deepest philosophy is
soon lost in this general mystery, and, to the eye of a meek reason,
all around us is a species of miracle, which must be referred to the
power of the Deity.
While thus disposed to receive the pale-face traditions with
respect, however, the red men did not lose sight of their own policy
and purposes. The principal chiefs now stepped aside, and held a
brief council. Though invited to do so, Peter did not join them;
leaving to Bough of the Oak, Ungque, and Bear's Meat the control of
the result The question was whether the original intention of
including this medicine-priest among those to be cut off should, or
should not, be adhered to. One or two of the chiefs had their
doubts, but the opinion of the council was adverse.
"If the pale-faces killed the Son of their Great Spirit, why should
we hesitate about killing them?" The Weasel asked, with malicious
point, for he saw that Peter was now sorely troubled at the
probability of his own design being fully carried out. "There is no
difference. This is a medicine-priest--in the wigwam is a medicine-
bee-hunter, and that warrior may be a medicine-warrior. We do not
know. We are poor Injins that know but little. It is not so with the
pale-faces; they talk with the conjurer's bees, and know much. We
shall not have ground enough to take even a muskrat, soon, unless we
cut off the strangers. The Manitou has given us these; let us kill
As no one very strenuously opposed the scheme, the question was soon
decided, and Ungque was commissioned to communicate the result to
the captives. One exception, however, was to be made in favor of the
missionary. His object appeared to be peaceful, and it was
determined that he should be led a short distance into the
surrounding thicket, and be there put to death, without any attempt
to torture, or aggravate his sufferings. As a mark of singular
respect, it was also decided not to scalp him.
As Ungque, and those associated with him, led the missionary to the
place of execution, the former artfully invited Peter to follow.
This was done simply because the Weasel saw that it would now be
unpleasant to the man he hated--hated merely because he possessed an
influence that he coveted for himself.
"My father will see a pleasant sight," said the wily Weasel, as he
walked at Peter's side, toward the indicated spot; "he will see a
pale-face die, and know that his foot has been put upon another
No answer was made to this ironical remark, but Peter walked in
silence to the place where the missionary was stationed, surrounded
by a guard. Ungque now advanced and spoke.
"It is time for the medicine-priest of the pale-faces to start after
the spirits of his people who have gone before him," he said. "The
path is long, and unless he walks fast, and starts soon, he may not
overtake them. I hope he will see some of them that helped to kill
the Son of his Great Spirit, starving, and foot-sore, on the way."