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Oak Openings by James Fenimore Cooper

Part 9 out of 9

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most. I feel ashamed to know so little. Want to know more. Want to
know most how 'e Son of Great Spirit die for all tribe, and pray to
his fader to bless 'em dat kill him. Dat what Peter now want most to

"I wish I was better able to teach you, Peter, from the bottom of my
heart; but the little I do know you shall hear. I would not deny you
for a thousand worlds, for I believe the Holy Spirit has touched
your heart, and that you will become a new man. Christians believe
that all must become new men, who are to live in the other world, in
the presence of God."

"How can dat be? Peter soon be ole--how can ole man grow young

"The meaning of this is that we must so change in feelings, as no
longer to be the same persons. The things that we loved we must
hate, and the things that we hated, or at least neglected, we must
love. When we feel this change in our hearts, then may we hope that
we love and reverence the Great Spirit, and are living under his
holy care."

Peter listened with the attention of an obedient and respectful
child. If meekness, humility, a wish to learn the truth, and a
devout sentiment toward the Creator, are so many indications of the
"new birth," then might this savage be said to have been truly "born
again." Certainly he was no longer the same man, in a moral point of
view, and of this he was himself entirely conscious. To him the
wonder was what had produced so great and so sudden a change! But
the reply he made to Margery will, of itself, sufficiently express
his views of his own case.

"An Injin like a child," he said, meekly; "nebber know. Even pale-
face squaw know more dan great chief, Nebber feel as do now. Heart
soft as young squaw's. Don't hate any body, no more. Wish well to
all tribe, and color, and nation. Don't hate Bri'sh, don't hate
Yankee; don't hate Cherokee, even. Wish 'em all well. Don't know dat
heart is strong enough to ask Great Spirit to do 'em all good, if
dey want my scalp--p'rap dat too much for poor Injin; but don't want
nobody's scalp, myself. Dat somet'in', I hope, for me."

"It is, indeed, Peter; and if you will get down on your knees, and
humble your thoughts, and pray to God to strengthen you in these
good feelings, he will be sure to do it, and make you, altogether, a
new man."

Peter looked wistfully at Margery, and then turned his eyes toward
the earth. After sitting in a thoughtful mood for some time, he
again regarded his companion, saying, with the simplicity of a

"Don't know how to do dat, Blossom. Hear medicine-priest of pale-
faces pray, sometime, but poor Injin don't know enough to speak to
Great Spirit. You speak to Great Spirit for him. He know your voice,
Blossom, and listen to what you say; but he won't hear Peter, who
has so long hated his enemy. P'raps he angry if he hear Peter

"In that you are mistaken, Peter. The ears of the Lord are ever open
to our prayers, when put up in sincerity, as I feel certain that
yours will now be. But, after I have told you the meaning of what I
am about to say, I will pray with you and for you. It is best that
you should begin to do this, as soon as you can."

Margery then slowly repeated to Peter the words of the Lord's
prayer. She gave him its history, and explained the meaning of
several of its words that might otherwise have been unintelligible
to him, notwithstanding his tolerable proficiency in English--a
proficiency that had greatly increased in the last few weeks, in
consequence of his constant communications with those who spoke it
habitually. The word "trespasses," in particular, was somewhat
difficult for the Indian to comprehend, but Margery persevered until
she succeeded in giving her scholar tolerably accurate ideas of the
meaning of each term. Then she told the Indian to kneel with her,
and, for the first time in his life, that man of the Openings and
prairies lifted his voice in prayer to the one God. It is true that
Peter had often before mentally asked favors of his Manitou; but the
requests were altogether of a worldly character, and the being
addressed was invested with attributes very different from those
which he now understood to belong to the Lord of heaven and earth.
Nor was the spirit in asking at all the same. We do not wish to be
understood as saying that this Indian was already a full convert to
Christianity, which contains many doctrines of which he had not the
most distant idea; but his heart had undergone the first step in the
great change of conversion, and he was now as humble as he had once
been proud; as meek, as he had formerly been fierce; and he felt
that certain proof of an incipient love of the Creator, in a similar
feeling toward all the works of his hands.

When Peter arose from his knees, after repeating the prayer to
Margery's slow leading, it was with the dependence of a child on the
teaching of its mother. Physically, he was the man he ever had been.
He was as able to endure fatigue, as sinewy in his frame, and as
capable of fasting and of sustaining fatigue, as in his most warlike
days; but, morally, the change was great, indeed. Instead of the
obstinate confidence in himself and his traditions, which had once
so much distinguished this chief, there was substituted an humble
distrust of his own judgment, that rendered him singularly
indisposed to rely on his personal views, in any matter of
conscience, and he was truly become a child in all that pertained to
his religious belief. In good hands, and under more advantageous
circumstances, the moral improvement of Peter would have been great;
but, situated as he was, it could not be said to amount to much more
than a very excellent commencement.

All this time both Peter and Margery had been too intent on their
feelings and employment, to take much heed to the precautions
necessary to their concealment. The sun was setting ere they arose,
and then it was that Peter made the important discovery that they
were observed by two of the young men of the Pottawattamies--scouts
kept out by Bear's Meat to look for the fugitives.

The time was when Peter would not have hesitated to use his rifle on
these unwelcome intruders; but the better spirit that had come over
him, now led him to adopt a very different course. Motioning to the
young men, he ordered them to retire, while he led Margery within
the cover of the bushes. Formerly, Peter would not have scrupled to
resort to deception, in order to throw these two young men on a
wrong scent, and get rid of them in that mode; but now he had a
reluctance to deceive; and, no sooner did they fall back at his
beckoning, than he followed Margery to the camp. The latter was
giving her husband a hurried account of what had just happened, as
Peter joined them.

"Our camp is known!" exclaimed the bee-hunter the instant he beheld
the Indian.

"Juss so. Pottawattamie see squaw, and go and tell his chief. Dat
sartain," answered Peter.

"What is there to be done?--Fight for our lives, or fly?"

"Get in canoe quick as can. It take dem young men half-hour to reach
place where chief be. In dat half-hour we muss go as far as we can.
No good to stay here. Injin come in about one hour."

Le Bourdon knew his position well enough to understand this.
Nevertheless, there were several serious objections to an immediate
flight. Pigeonswing was absent, and the bee-hunter did not like the
notion of leaving him behind, for various reasons. Then it was not
yet dark; and to descend the river by daylight, appeared like
advancing into the jaws of the lion designedly. Nor was le Bourdon
at his ease on the subject of Peter. His sudden appearance, the
insufficient and far from clear account of Margery, and the
extraordinary course advised, served to renew ancient distrusts, and
to render him reluctant to move. But of one thing there could be no
doubt. Their present position must be known, for Margery had seen
the two strange Indians with her own eyes, and a search might soon
be expected. Under all the circumstances, therefore, our hero
reluctantly complied with Margery's reiterated solicitations, and
they all got into the canoes.

"I do not like this movement, Peter," said le Bourdon, as he shoved
his own light craft down the brook, previously to entering the
river. "I hope it may turn out to be better than it looks, and that
you can keep us out of the hands of our enemies. Remember, it is
broad daylight, and that red men are plenty two or three miles below

"Yes, know dat; but muss go. Injin too plenty here, soon. Yes, muss
go. Bourdon, why you can't ask bee, now, what bess t'ing for you to
do, eh? Good time, now, ask bee to tell what he know."

The bee-hunter made no reply, but his pretty wife raised her hand,
involuntarily, as if to implore the Indian to forbear. Peter was a
little bewildered; for as yet, he did not understand that a belief
in necromancy was not exactly compatible with the notions of the
Christian Providence. In his ignorance, how much was he worse off
than the wisest of our race? Will any discreet man who has ever paid
close attention to the power of the somnambule, deny that there is a
mystery about such a person that exceeds all our means of
explanation? That there are degrees in the extent of this power--
that there are false, as well as true somnambules--all who have
attended to the subject must allow; but, a deriding disbeliever in
our own person once, we have since seen that which no laws, known to
us, can explain, and which we are certain is not the subject of
collusion, as we must have been a party to the fraud ourselves, were
any such practised. To deny the evidence of our senses is an act of
greater weakness than to believe that there are mysteries connected
with our moral and physical being that human sagacity has not yet
been able to penetrate; and we repudiate the want of manliness that
shrinks from giving its testimony when once convinced, through an
apprehension of being derided, as weaker than those who withhold
their belief. We KNOW that our own thoughts have been explained and
rendered, by a somnambule, under circumstances that will not admit
of any information by means known to us by other principles; and
whatever others may think on the subject, we are perfectly conscious
that no collusion did or could exist. Why, then, are we to despise
the poor Indian because he still fancied le Bourdon could hold
communication with his bees? We happen to be better informed, and
there may be beings who are aware of the as yet hidden laws of
animal magnetism--hidden as respects ourselves, though known to
them--and who fully comprehend various mistakes and misapprehensions
connected with our impressions on this subject, that escape our
means of detection. It is not surprising, therefore, that Peter, in
his emergency, turned to those bees, in the hope that they might
prove of assistance, or that Margery silently rebuked him for the
weakness, in the manner mentioned.

Although it was still light, the sun was near setting when the
canoes glided into the river. Fortunately for the fugitives, the
banks were densely wooded, and the stream of great width--a little
lake, in fact--and there was not much danger of their being seen
until they got near the mouth; nor then, even, should they once get
within the cover of the wild rice, and of the rushes. There was no
retreat, however; and after paddling some distance, in order to get
beyond the observation of any scout who might approach the place
where they had last been seen, the canoes were brought close
together, and suffered to float before a smart breeze, so as not to
reach the mouth of the stream before the night closed around them.
Everything appeared so tranquil, the solitude was so profound, and
their progress so smooth and uninterrupted, that a certain amount of
confidence revived in the breasts of all, and even the bee-hunter
had hopes of eventual escape.

A conversation now occurred, in which Peter was questioned
concerning the manner in which he had been occupied during his
absence; an absence that had given le Bourdon so much concern. Had
the chief been perfectly explicit, he would have confessed that
fully one-half of his waking thoughts had been occupied in thinking
of the death of the Son of God, of the missionary's prayer for his
enemies, and of the sublime morality connected with such a religion.
It is true Peter did not--could not, indeed--enter very profoundly
into the consideration of these subjects; nor were his notions
either very clear or orthodox; but they were sincere, and the
feelings to which they gave birth were devout. Peter did not touch
on these circumstances, however, confining his explanations to the
purely material part of his proceedings. He had remained with Bear's
Meat, Crowsfeather, and the other leading chiefs, in order to be at
the fountain-head of information, and to interpose his influence
should the pale-faces unhappily fall into the hands of those who
were so industriously looking for them. Nothing had occurred to call
his authority out, but a strange uncertainty seemed to reign among
the warriors, concerning the manner in which their intended victims
eluded their endeavors to overtake them. No trail had been
discovered, scout after scout coming in to report a total want of
success in their investigations inland. This turned the attention of
the Indians still more keenly on the river's mouth, it being certain
that the canoes could not have passed out into the lake previously
to the arrival of the two or three first parties of their young men,
who had been sent so early to watch that particular outlet.

Peter informed le Bourdon that his cache had been discovered,
opened, and rifled of its stores. This was a severe loss to our
hero, and one that would have been keenly felt at any other time;
but just then he had interests so much more important to protect,
that he thought and said little about this mishap. The circumstance
which gave him the most concern was this: Peter stated that Bear's
Meat had directed about a dozen of his young men to keep watch, day
and night, in canoes, near the mouth of the river, lying in wait
among the wild rice, like so many snakes in the grass.

The party was so much interested in this conversation that, almost
insensibly to themselves, they had dropped down to the beginning of
the rushes and rice, and had got rather dangerously near to the
critical point of their passage. As it was still daylight, Peter now
proposed pushing the canoes in among the plants, and there remaining
until it might be safer to move. This was done accordingly, and in a
minute or two all three of the little barks were concealed within
the cover.

The question now was whether the fugitives had been observed, but
suffered to advance, as every foot they descended the stream was
taking them nearer to their foes. Peter did not conceal his
apprehension on this point, since he deemed it improbable that any
reach near the mouth of the Kalamazoo was without its lookouts, at a
moment so interesting. Such was, indeed, the fact, as was afterward
ascertained; but the young men who had seen Peter and Margery had
given the alarm, passing the word where the fugitives were to be
found, and the sentinels along this portion of the stream had
deserted their stations, in order to be in at the capture. By such
delicate and unforeseen means does Providence often protect those
who are the subjects of its especial care, baffling the calculations
of art by its own quiet control of events.

The bee-hunter had a feverish desire to be moving. After remaining
in the cover about half an hour, he proposed that they should get
the canoes into one of the open passages, of which there were many
among the plants, and proceed. Peter had more of the patience of an
Indian, and deemed the hour too early. But le Bourdon was not yet
entirely free from distrust of his companion, and telling Gershom to
follow, he began paddling down one of the passages mentioned. This
decisive step compelled the rest to follow, or to separate from
their companions. They chose to do the first.

Had le Bourdon possessed more self-command, and remained stationary
a little longer, he would, in all probability, have escaped
altogether from a very serious danger that he was now compelled to
run. Although there were many of the open places among the plants,
they did not always communicate with each other, and it became
necessary to force the canoes through little thickets, in order to
get out of one into another, keeping the general direction of
descending the river. It was while effecting the first of these
changes, that the agitation of the tops of the plants caught the eye
of a lookout on the shore. By signals, understood among themselves,
this man communicated his discovery to a canoe that was acting as
one of the guard-boats, thus giving a general alarm along the whole
line of sentinels, as well as to the chiefs down at the hut or at
the mouth of the river. The fierce delight with which this news was
received, after so long a delay, became ungovernable, and presently
yells and cries filled the air, proceeding from both sides of the
stream, as well as from the river itself.

There was not a white person in those canoes who did not conceive
that their party was lost, when this clamor was heard. With Peter it
was different. Instead of admitting of alarm, he turned all his
faculties to use. While le Bourdon himself was nearly in despair,
Peter was listening with his nice ears, to catch the points on the
river whence the yells arose. For the banks he cared nothing. The
danger was from the canoes. By the keenness of his faculties, the
chief ascertained that there were four canoes out, and that they
would have to run the gauntlet between them, or escape would be
hopeless. By the sounds he also became certain that these four
canoes were in the rice, two on each side of the river, and there
they would probably remain, in expectation that the fugitives would
be most likely to come down in the cover.

The decision of Peter was made in a moment. It was now quite dark,
and those who were in canoes within the rice could not well see the
middle of the stream, even by daylight. He determined, therefore, to
take the very centre of the river, giving his directions to that
effect with precision and clearness. The females he ordered to lie
down, each in her own canoe, while their husbands alone were to
remain visible. Peter hoped that, in the darkness, le Bourdon and
Gershom might pass for Indians, on the lookout, and under his own
immediate command.

One very important fact was ascertained by le Bourdon, as soon as
these arrangements were explained and completed. The wind on the
lake was blowing from the south, and of course was favorable to
those who desired to proceed in the opposite direction. This he
communicated to Margery in a low tone, endeavoring to encourage her
by all the means in his power. In return, the young wife muttered a
few encouraging words to her husband. Every measure was understood
between the parties. In the event of a discovery, the canoes were to
bury themselves in the rice, taking different directions, each man
acting for himself. A place of rendezvous was appointed outside, at
a headland known to Gershom and le Bourdon, and signals were agreed
on, by which the latest arrival might know that all was safe there.
These points were settled as the canoes floated slowly down the

Peter took and kept the lead. The night was star-lit and clear, but
there was no moon. On the water, this made but little difference,
objects not being visible at any material distance. The chief
governed the speed, which was moderate, but regular. At the rate he
was now going, it would require about an hour to carry the canoes
into the lake. But nearly all of that hour must pass in the midst of

Half of the period just mentioned elapsed, positively without an
alarm of any sort. By this time, the party was abreast of the spot
where Gershom and le Bourdon had secreted the canoes in the former
adventure at the mouth of the river. On the shores, however, a very
different scene now offered. Then, the fire burned brightly in the
hut, and the savages could be seen by its light. Now, all was not
only dark, but still as death. There was no longer any cry, sound,
alarm, or foot-fall, audible. The very air seemed charged with
uncertainty, and its offspring, apprehension.

As they approached nearer and nearer to what was conceived to be the
most critical point in the passage, the canoes got closer together;
so close, indeed, that le Bourdon and Gershom might communicate in
very guarded tones. The utmost care was taken to avoid making any
noise, since a light and careless blow from a paddle, on the side of
a canoe, would be almost certain, now, to betray them. Margery and
Dorothy could no longer control their feelings, and each rose in her
seat, raising her body so as to bring her head above the gunwale of
the canoe, if a bark canoe can be said to have a gunwale at all.
They even whispered to each other, endeavoring to glean
encouragement by sympathy. At this instant occurred the crisis in
their attempt to escape.


For an Indian isle she shapes her way
With constant mind both night and day:
She seems to hold her home in view
And sails as if the path she knew,
So calm and stately in her motion
Across the unfathomed, trackless ocean.

It has been said that Peter was in advance. When his canoe was
nearly abreast of the usual landing at the hut, he saw two canoes
coming out from among the rice, and distant from him not more than a
hundred yards. At a greater distance, indeed, it would not have been
easy to distinguish such an object on the water at all. Instead of
attempting to avoid these two canoes, the chief instantly called to
them, drawing the attention of those in them to himself, speaking so
loud as to be easily overheard by those who followed.

"My young men are too late," he said. "The pale-faces have been seen
in the openings above by our warriors, and must soon be here. Let us
land, and be ready to meet them at the wigwam."

Peter's voice was immediately recognized. The confident, quiet,
natural manner in which he spoke served to mislead those in the
canoes; and when he joined them, and entered the passage among the
rice that led to the landing, preceding the others, the last
followed him as regularly as the colt follows its dam. Le Bourdon
heard the conversation, and understood the movement, though he could
not see the canoes. Peter continued talking aloud, as he went up the
passage, receiving answers to all he said from his new companions,
his voice serving to let the fugitives know precisely where they
were. All this was understood and improved by the last, who lost no
time in turning the adventure to account.

The first impulse of le Bourdon had been to turn and fly up stream.
But, ascertaining that these dangerous enemies were so fully
occupied by Peter as not to see the canoes behind, he merely
inclined a little toward the other side of the channel, and
slackened his rate of movement, in order not to come too near. The
instant he was satisfied that all three of the canoes in advance had
entered the passage mentioned, and were moving toward the landing,
he let out, and glided down stream like an arrow. It required but
half a minute to cross the opening of the passage, but Peter's
conversation kept his followers looking ahead, which greatly
lessened the risk. Le Bourdon's heart was in his mouth several
times, while thus running the gauntlet, as it might be; but fortune
favored them; or, as Margery more piously understood the
circumstances, a Divine Providence led them in safety past the

At the mouth of the river both le Bourdon and Gershom thought it
highly probable that they should fall in with more lookouts, and
each prepared his arms for a fight. But no canoe was there, and the
fugitives were soon in the lake. Michigan is a large body of water,
and a bark canoe is but a frail craft to put to sea in, when there
is any wind or commotion. On the present occasion, there was a good
deal of both; so much as greatly to terrify the females. Of all the
craft known, however, one of these egg-shells is really the safest,
if properly managed, among breakers or amid the combing of seas. We
have ourselves ridden in them safely through a surf that would have
swamped the best man-of-war cutter that ever floated; and done it,
too, without taking on board as much water as would serve to wash
one's hands. The light vessel floats on so little of the element,
indeed, that the foam of a large sea has scarce a chance of getting
above it, or aboard it; the great point in the handling being to
prevent the canoe from falling broadside to. By keeping it end on to
the sea, in our opinion, a smart gale might be weathered in one of
these craft, provided the endurance of a man could bear up against
the unceasing watchfulness and incessant labor of sweeping with the
paddle, in order to prevent broaching to.

Le Bourdon, it has been said, was very skilful in the management of
his craft; and Gershom, now perforce a sober and useful man, was not
much behind him in this particular. The former had foreseen this
very difficulty, and made all his arrangements to counteract it. No
sooner, therefore, did he find the canoes in rough water than he
brought them together, side by side, and lashed them there. This
greatly lessened the danger of capsizing, though it increased the
labor of managing the craft when disposed to turn broadside to. It
only remained to get sail on the catamaran, for some such thing was
it now, in order to keep ahead of the sea as much as possible. Light
cotton lugs were soon spread, one in each canoe, and away they went,
as sailors term it, wing and wing.

It was now much easier steering, though untiring vigilance was still
necessary. A boat may appear to fly, and yet the "send of the sea"
shall glance ahead of it with the velocity of a bird. Nothing that
goes through, or ON, the water--and the last is the phrase best
suited to the floating of a bark canoe--can ever be made to keep
company with that feathery foam, which, under the several names of
"white-caps"--an in-shore and lubber's term--"combs," "breaking of
the seas," "the wash," etc., etc., glances by a vessel in a blow, or
comes on board her even when she is running before it. We have often
watched these clouds of water, as they have shot ahead of us, when
ploughing our own ten or eleven knot through the brine, and they
have ever appeared to us as so many useful admonishers of what the
power of God is, as compared to the power of man. The last shall
construct his ship, fit her with all the appliances of his utmost
art, sail her with the seaman's skill, and force her through her
element with something like railroad speed; yet will the seas "send"
their feathery crests past her, like so many dolphins, or porpoises,
sporting under her fore-foot. It is this following sea which becomes
so very dangerous in heavy gales, and which compels the largest
ships frequently to heave to, in order that they may present their
bows to its almost resistless power.

But our adventurers had no such gales as those we mean, or any such
seas to withstand. The wind blew fresh from the south, and Michigan
can get up a very respectable swell at need. Like the seas in all
the great lakes, it was short, and all the worse for that. The
larger the expanse of water over which the wind passes, the longer
is the sea, and the easier is it for the ship to ride on it. Those
of Lake Michigan, however, were quite long enough for a bark canoe,
and glad enough were both Margery and Dorothy when they found their
two little vessels lashed together, and wearing an air of more
stability than was common to them. Le Bourdon's sail was first
spread, and it produced an immediate relief from the washing of the
waves. The drift of a bark canoe, in a smart blow, is considerable,
it having no hold on the water to resist it; but our adventurers
fairly flew as soon as the cotton cloth was opened. The wind being
exactly south, by steering due north, or dead before it, it was
found possible to carry the sail in the other canoe, borne out on
the opposite side; and from the moment that was opened, all the
difficulty was reduced to steering so "small," as seamen term it, as
to prevent one or the other of the lugs from jibing. Had this
occurred, however, no very serious consequences would have followed,
the precaution taken of lashing the craft together rendering
capsizing next to impossible.

The Kalamazoo and its mouth were soon far behind, and le Bourdon no
longer felt the least apprehension of the savages left in it. The
Indians are not bold navigators, and he felt certain that the lake
was too rough for the savages to venture out, while his own course
gradually carried him off the land, and out of the track of anything
that kept near the shore. A short time produced a sense of security,
and the wind appearing to fall, instead of increasing in violence,
it was soon arranged that one of the men should sleep, while the
other looked to the safety of the canoes.

It was about nine o'clock when the fugitives made sail, off the
mouth of the Kalamazoo; and, at the return of light, seven hours
later, they were more than forty miles from the place of starting.
The wind still stood, with symptoms of growing fresher again as the
sun rose, and the land could just be seen in the eastern board, the
coast in that direction having made a considerable curvature inland.
This had brought the canoes farther from the land than le Bourdon
wished to be, but he could not materially change his course without
taking in one of his sails. As much variation was made, however, as
was prudent, and by nine o'clock, or twelve hours after entering the
lake, the canoes again drew near to the shore, which met them ahead.
By the bee hunter's calculations, they were now about seventy miles
from the mouth of the Kalamazoo, having passed the outlets of two or
three of the largest streams of those regions.

The fugitives selected a favorable spot, and landed behind a
headland that gave them a sufficient lee for the canoes. They had
now reached a point where the coast trends a little to the eastward,
which brought the wind in a slight degree off the land. This change
produced no very great effect on the seas, but it enabled the canoes
to keep close to the shore, making something of a lee for them. This
they did about noon, after having lighted a fire, caught some fish
in a small stream, killed a deer and dressed it, and cooked enough
provisions to last for two or three days. The canoes were now
separated again; it being easier to manage them in that state than
when lashed together, besides enabling them to carry both sails. The
farther north they got the more of a lee was found, though it was in
no place sufficient to bring smooth water.

In this manner several more hours were passed, and six times as many
more miles were made in distance. When le Bourdon again landed,
which he did shortly before the sun set, he calculated his distance
from the mouth of the Kalamazoo to be rather more than a hundred
miles. His principal object was to ascend a bluff and to take a look
at the coast, in order to examine it for canoes. This his glass
enabled him to do with some accuracy, and when he rejoined the
party, he was rejoiced to have it in his power to report that the
coast was clear. After refreshing themselves, the canoes were again
brought together, in order to divide the watches, and a new start
was made for the night. In this manner did our adventurers make
their way to the northward for two nights and days, landing often,
to fish, hunt, rest, and cook, as well as to examine the coast. At
the end of the time mentioned, the celebrated straits of the
Michillimackinac, or Mackinaw, as they are almost universally
termed, came in sight. The course had been gradually changing toward
the eastward, and, luckily for the progress of the fugitives, the
wind with it, leaving them always a favorable breeze. But it was
felt to be no longer safe to use a sail, and recourse was had to the
paddles, until the straits and island were passed. This caused some
delay, and added a good deal to the labor; but it was deemed so
dangerous to display their white cotton sails, objects that might be
seen for a considerable distance, that it was thought preferable to
adopt this caution. Nor was it useless. In consequence of this
foresight, a fleet of canoes was passed in safety, which were
crossing from the post at Mackinaw to ward the main land of
Michigan. The number of the canoes in this fleet could not have been
less than fifty, but getting a timely view of them, le Bourdon hid
his own craft in a cove, and remained there until the danger was

The course now changed still more, while the wind got quite round to
the westward. This made a fair wind at first, and gave the canoes a
good lee as they advanced. Lake Huron, which was the water the
fugitives were now on, lies nearly parallel to Michigan, and the
course was southeasterly. As le Bourdon had often passed both ways
on these waters, he had his favorite harbors, and knew those signs
which teach navigators how to make their prognostics of the weather.
On the whole, the fugitives did very well, though they lost two days
between Mackinaw and Saginaw Bay; one on account of the strength of
the wind, and one on account of rain. During the last, they remained
in a hut that le Bourdon had himself constructed in one of his many
voyages, and which he had left standing. These empty cabins, or
chientes, are of frequent occurrence in new countries, being used,
like the Refuges in the Alps, by every traveller as he has need of

The sight of the fleet of canoes, in the straits of
Michillimackinac, caused the fugitives the only real trouble they
had felt, between the time when they left the mouth of the
Kalamazoo, and the ten days that succeeded. By the end of that
period the party had crossed Saginaw, and was fast coming up with
Point au Barques, a landmark for all who navigate the waters of
Huron, when a canoe was seen coming out from under the land,
steering as if to intercept them. This sight gave both concern and
pleasure; concern, as it might lead to a hostile encounter, and
pleasure, because the bee-hunter hoped for information that might be
useful in governing his future course. Here his glass came in play,
with good effect. By means of that instrument, it was soon
ascertained that the strange canoe contained but two men, both
Indians, and as that was just their own force no great danger was
apprehended from the meeting. The craft, therefore, continued to
approach each other, le Bourdon keeping his glass levelled on the
strangers much of the time.

"As I live, yonder are Peter and Pigeonswing," suddenly exclaimed
our hero. "They have crossed the Peninsula, and have come out from
the point, in that canoe, to meet us."

"With important news, then, depend on it, Benjamin," answered the
wife. "Tell this to brother, that he and Dolly may not feel more
alarm than is necessary."

The bee-hunter called out to his friends in the other canoe, and
communicated the discovery just made, the two craft keeping always
within hailing distance of each other.

"Them Injins are not here for nothing," answered Dorothy. "You will
find they have something serious to say."

"We shall soon know," called out le Bourdon. "Ten minutes will bring
us alongside of them."

The ten minutes did that much, and before the expiration of the
short space, the three canoes were fastened together, that of Peter
being in the centre. The bee-hunter saw, at a glance, that the
expedition of the Indians had been hurried; for their canoe, besides
being of very indifferent qualities, was not provided with the
implements and conveniences usual to a voyage of any length. Still,
he would not ask a question, but lighting his pipe, after a few
puffs, he passed it courteously over to Peter. The great chief
smoked a while, and gave it to Pigeonswing, in his turn, who
appeared to enjoy it quite as much as any of the party.

"My father does not believe he is a Jew?" said le Bourdon, smiling;
willing to commence a discourse, though still determined not to
betray a womanish curiosity.

"We are poor Injins, Bourdon; just as the Great Spirit made us. Dat
bess. Can't help what Manitou do. If he don't make us Jew, can't be
Jew. If he make us Injin, muss be Injin. For my part, b'lieve I'm
Injin, and don't want to be pale-face. Can love pale-face, now, juss
as well as love Injin."

"Oh, I hope this is true, Peter," exclaimed Margery, her handsome
face flushing with delight, at hearing these words. "So long as your
heart tells you this, be certain that the Spirit of God is in you."

Peter made no answer, but he looked profoundly impressed with the
novel feeling that had taken possession of his soul. As for the bee-
hunter, he did not meddle with Margery's convictions or emotions on
such subjects, resembling, in this particular, most men, who,
however indifferent to religion in their own persons, are never
sorry to find that their wives profoundly submit to its influence.
After a short pause, a species of homage involuntarily paid to the
subject, he thought he might now inquire into the circumstances that
brought the Indians on their route, without incurring the imputation
of a weak and impatient curiosity. In reply, Peter's story was soon
told. He had rejoined the chiefs without exciting distrust, and all
had waited for the young men to bring in the captives. As soon as it
was ascertained that the intended victims had escaped, and by water,
parties proceeded to different points, in order to intercept them.
Some followed in canoes, but, being less bold in their navigation
than the bee-hunter, they did not make the straits until some time
after the fugitives had passed. Peter, himself, had joined Bear's
Meat and some twenty warriors who had crossed the Peninsula,
procured canoes at the head of Saginaw Bay, and had come out at
Point au Barques, the very spot our party was now approaching, three
days before its arrival.

Tired with waiting, and uncertain whether his enemies had not got
the start of him, Bear's Meat had gone into the river below,
intending to keep his watch there, leaving Peter at the Point, with
three young men and one canoe, to have a lookout. These young men
the great chief had found an excuse for sending to the head of the
Bay, in quest of another canoe, which left him, of course, quite
alone on the Point. Scarce had the young man got out of sight, ere
Pigeonswing joined his confederate, for it seems that this faithful
friend had kept on the skirts of the enemy the whole time,
travelling hundreds of miles, and enduring hunger and fatigue,
besides risking his life at nearly every step, in order to be of use
to those whom he considered himself pledged to serve.

Of course, Peter and Pigeonswing understood each other. One hour
after they joined company, the canoes of the fugitives came in
sight, and were immediately recognized by their sails. They were
met, as has been mentioned, and the explanations that we have given
were made before the party landed at the Point.

It was something to know where the risk was to be apprehended; but
le Bourdon foresaw great danger. He had brought his canoes, already,
quite five hundred miles, along a hazardous coast--though a little
craft, like one of those he navigated, ran less risk, perhaps, than
a larger vessel, since a shelter might, at any time, be found within
a reasonable distance for it. From Pointe au Barques to the outlet
of the lake was less than a hundred miles more. This outlet was a
river, as it is called--a strait, in fact--which communicates with
the small shallow lake of St. Clair, by a passage of some thirty
miles in length. Then the lake St. Clair was to be crossed about an
equal distance, when the canoes would come out in what is called the
Detroit River, a strait again, as its name indicates. Some six or
eight miles down this passage, and on its western side, stands the
city of Detroit, then a village of no great extent, with a fort
better situated to repel an attack of the savages, than to withstand
a siege of white men. This place was now in the possession of the
British, and, according to le Bourdon's notion, it was scarcely less
dangerous to him than the hostility of Bear's Meat and his

Delay, however, was quite as dangerous as anything else. After
cooking and eating, therefore, the canoes continued their course,
Peter and Pigeonswing accompanying them, though they abandoned their
own craft. Peter went with the bee-hunter and Margery, while the
Chippewa took a seat and a paddle in the canoe of Gershom. This
change was made in order to put a double power in each canoe, since
it was possible that downright speed might become the only means of

The wind still stood at the westward, and the rate of sailing was
rapid. About the close of the day the party drew near to the outlet,
when Peter directed the sails to be taken in. This was done to
prevent their being seen, a precaution that was now aided by keeping
as near to the shore as possible, where objects so small and low
would be very apt to be confounded with others on the land.

It was quite dark when the canoes entered the St. Clair river.
Favored by the current and the wind, their progress was rapid, and
ere the day returned, changing his direction from the course
ordinarily taken, Peter entered the lake by a circuitous passage;
one of the many that lead from the river to the lake, among aquatic
plants that form a perfect shelter. This detour saved the fugitives
from falling into the hands of one party of their enemies, as was
afterward ascertained by the Indians. Bear's Meat had left two
canoes, each manned by five warriors, to watch the principal
passages into Lake St. Clair, not anticipating that any particular
caution would be used by the bee-hunter and his friends, at this
great distance from the place where they had escaped from their
foes. But the arrival of Peter, his sagacity, and knowledge of
Indian habits, prevented the result that was expected. The canoes
got into the lake unseen, and crossed it a little diagonally, so as
to reach the Canada shore in the middle of the afternoon of the
succeeding day, using their sails only when far from land, and not
exposed to watchful eyes.

The bee-hunter and his friends landed that afternoon at the cabin of
a Canadian Frenchman, on the shore of the lake, and at a safe
distance from the outlet which led still farther south. Here the
females were hospitably received, and treated with that kindness
which marks the character of the Canadian French. It mattered little
to these simple people, whether the travellers were of the hostile
nation or not. It is true, they did not like the "Yankees," as all
Americans are termed by them, but they were not particularly in love
with their English masters. It was well enough to be repossessed of
both banks of the Detroit, for both banks were then peopled
principally by their own race, the descendants of Frenchmen of the
time of Louis XIV., and who still preserved much of the language,
and many of the usages, of the French of that period. They spoke
then, as now, only the language of their fathers.

The bee-hunter left the cottage of these simple and hospitable
people, as soon as the night was fairly set in; or, rather, as soon
as a young moon had gone down. Peter now took the command, steering
the canoe of le Bourdon, while Gershom followed so close as to keep
the bow of his little craft within reach of the Indian's arm. In
less than an hour the fugitives reached the opening of the river,
which is here divided into two channels by a large island. On that
very island, and at that precise moment, was Bear's Meat lying in
wait for their appearance, provided with three canoes, each having a
crew of six men. It would have been easy for this chief to go to
Detroit, and give the alarm to the savages who were then collected
there in a large force, and to have made such a disposition of the
canoes as would have rendered escape by water impossible; but this
would have been robbing himself and his friends of all the credit of
taking the scalps, and throwing away what is termed "honor" among
others as well as among savages. He chose, therefore, to trust to
his own ability to succeed; and supposing the fugitives would not be
particularly on their guard at this point, had little doubt of
intercepting them here, should they succeed in eluding those he had
left above.

The bee-hunter distrusted that island, and used extra caution in
passing it. In the first place, the two canoes were brought
together, so as to give them, in the dark, the appearance of only
one; while the four men added so much to the crew as to aid the
deception. In the end it proved that one of Bear's Meat's canoes
that was paddling about in the middle of the river had actually seen
them, but mistook the party for a canoe of their own, which ought to
have been near that spot, with precisely six persons in it, just at
that time. These six warriors had landed, and gone up among the
cottages of the French to obtain some fruit, of which they were very
fond, and of which they got but little in their own villages. Owing
to this lucky coincidence, which the pretty Margery ever regarded as
another special interposition of Providence in their favor, the
fugitives passed the island without molestation, and actually got
below the last lookouts of Bear's Meat, though without their

It was by no means a difficult thing to go down the river, now that
so many canoes were in motion on it, at all hours. The bee-hunter
knew what points were to be avoided, and took care not to approach a
sentinel. The river, or strait, is less than a mile wide, and by
keeping in the centre of the passage, the canoes, favored by both
wind and current, drove by the town, then an inconsiderable village,
without detection. As soon as far enough below, the canoes were
again cast loose from each other, and sail was made on each. The
water was smooth, and some time before the return of light the
fugitives were abreast of Malden, but in the American channel. Had
it been otherwise, the danger could not have been great. So
completely were the Americans subdued by Hull's capitulation, and so
numerous were the Indian allies of the British, that the passage of
a bark canoe, more or less, would hardly have attracted attention.
At that time, Michigan was a province of but little more than a
name. The territory was wide, to be sure, but the entire population
was not larger than that of a moderately sized English market town,
and Detroit was then regarded as a distant and isolated point. It is
true that Mackinac and Chicago were both more remote, and both more
isolated, but an English force, in possession of Detroit, could be
approached by the Americans on the side of the land only by
overcoming the obstacles of a broad belt of difficult wilderness.
This was done the succeeding year, it is true, but time is always
necessary to bring out Jonathan's latent military energies. When
aroused, they are not trifling, as all his enemies have been made to
feel; but a good deal of miscalculation, pretending ignorance, and
useless talking must be expended, before the really efficient are
allowed to set about serving the country in their own way.

In this respect, thanks to West Point, a well-organized staff, and
well-educated officers, matters are a little improving. Congress has
not been able to destroy the army, in the present war, though it did
its best to attain that end; and all because the nucleus was too
powerful to be totally eclipsed by the gas of the usual legislative
tail of the Great National Comet, of which neither the materials nor
the orbit can any man say he knows. One day, it declares war with a
hurrah; the next, it denies the legislation necessary to carry it
on, as if it distrusted its own acts, and already repented of its
patriotism. And this is the body, soulless, the very school of
faction, as a whole of very questionable quality in the outset,
that, according to certain expounders of the constitution, is to
perform all the functions of a government; which is not only to pass
laws, but is to interpret them; which is to command the army, aye,
even to wheeling its platoons; which reads the constitution as an
abbe mumbles his aves and paters, or looking at everything but his
texts; and which is never to have its acts vetoed, unless in cases
where the Supreme Court would spare the Executive that trouble. We
never yet could see either the elements or the fruits of this great
sanctity in the National Council. In our eyes it is scarcely ever in
its proper place on the railway of the Union, has degenerated into a
mere electioneering machine, performing the little it really does
convulsively, by sudden impulses, equally without deliberation or a
sense of responsibility. In a word, we deem it the power of all
others in the state that needs the closest watching, and were we
what is termed in this country "politicians," we should go for the
executive who is the most ready to apply the curb to these vagaries
of faction and interested partisans! Vetoes. Would to Heaven we
could see the days of Good Queen Bess revived for one session of
Congress at least, and find that more laws were sent back for the
second thoughts of their framers than were approved! Then, indeed,
might the country be brought back to a knowledge of the very
material constitutional facts that the legislature is not commander-
in-chief, does not negotiate or make treaties, and has no right to
do that which it has done so often--appoint to office by act of

As a consequence of the little apprehension entertained by the
English of being soon disturbed in their new conquests, le Bourdon
and his friends got out of the Detroit River, and into Lake Erie,
without discovery or molestation. There still remained a long
journey before them. In that day the American side of the shores of
all the Great Lakes was little more than a wilderness. There were
exceptions at particular points, but these were few and far asunder.
The whole coast of Ohio--for Ohio has its coast as well as Bohemia
[Footnote: See Shakespeare--Winter's Tale.]--was mostly in a state
of nature, as was much of those of Pennsylvania and New York, on the
side of the fresh water. The port which the bee-hunter had in view
was Presque Isle, now known as Erie, a harbor in Pennsylvania, that
has since become somewhat celebrated in consequence of its being the
port out of which the American vessels sailed, about a year later
than the period of which we are writing, to fight the battle that
gave them the mastery of the lake. This was a little voyage of
itself, of near two hundred miles, following the islands and the
coast, but it was safely made in the course of the succeeding week.
Once in Lake Erie and on the American side, our adventurers felt
reasonably safe against all dangers but those of the elements. It is
true that a renowned annalist, whose information is sustained by the
collected wisdom of a State Historical Society, does tell us that
the enemy possessed both shores of Lake Erie in 1814; but this was
so small a mistake, compared with some others that this Nestor in
history had made, that we shall not stop to explain it. Le Bourdon
and his party found all the south shore of Lake Erie in possession
of the Americans, so far as it was in the possession of any one, and
consequently ran no risks from this blunder of the historian and his
highly intelligent associates!

Peter and Pigeonswing left their friends before they reached Presque
Isle. The bee-hunter gave them his own canoe, and the parting was
not only friendly, but touching. In the course of their journey, and
during their many stops, Margery had frequently prayed with the
great chief. His constant and burning desire, now, was to learn to
read, that he might peruse the word of the Great Spirit, and
regulate his future life by its wisdom and tenets. Margery promised,
should they ever meet again, and under circumstances favorable to
such a design, to help him attain his wishes.

Pigeonswing parted from his friend with the same light-hearted
vivacity as he had manifested in all their intercourse. Le Bourdon
gave him his own rifle, plenty of ammunition, and various other
small articles that were of value to an Indian, accepting the
Chippewa's arms in return. The exchange, however, was greatly to the
advantage of the savage. As for Peter, he declined all presents. He
carried weapons now, indeed, merely for the purpose of hunting; but
the dignity of his character and station would have placed him above
such compensations, had the fact been otherwise.


Come to the land of peace!
Come where the tempest hath no longer sway,
The shadow passes from the soul away--
The sounds of weeping cease.

Fear hath no dwelling there!
Come to the mingling--of repose and love,
Breathed by the silent spirit of the dove,
Through the celestial air.

It is now more than thirty-three years since the last war with the
English terminated, and about thirty-six to the summer in which the
events recorded in this legend occurred. This third of a century has
been a period of mighty changes in America. Ages have not often
brought about as many in other portions of the earth, as this short
period of time has given birth to among ourselves. We had written,
thus far, on the evidence of documents sent to us, when an occasion
offered to verify the truth of some of our pictures, at least, by
means of personal observation.

Quitting our own quiet and secluded abode in the mountains, in the
pleasant month of June, and in this current year of 1848, we
descended into the valley of the Mohawk, got into the cars, and went
flying by rails toward the setting sun. Well could we remember the
time when an entire day was required to pass between that point on
the Mohawk where we got on the rails, and the little village of
Utica. On the present occasion, we flew over the space in less than
three hours, and dined in a town of some fifteen thousand souls.

We reached Buffalo, at the foot of Lake Erie, in about twenty hours
after we had entered the cars. This journey would have been the
labor of more than a week, at the time in which the scene of this
tale occurred. Now, the whole of the beautiful region, teeming with
its towns and villages, and rich with the fruits of a bountiful
season, was almost brought into a single landscape by the rapidity
of our passage.

At Buffalo, we turned aside to visit the cataract. Thither, too, we
went on rails. Thirty-eight years had passed away since we had laid
eyes on this wonderful fall of water. In the intervening time we had
travelled much, and had visited many of the renowned falls of the
old world, to say nothing of the great number which are to be found
in other parts of our own land. Did this visit, then, produce

Did time, and advancing years, and feelings that had become deadened
by experience, contribute to render the view less striking, less
grand, in any way less pleasing than we had hoped to find it? So far
from this, all our expectations were much more than realized. In one
particular, touching which we do not remember ever to have seen
anything said, we were actually astonished at the surpassing glory
of Niagara. It was the character of sweetness, if we can so express
it, that glowed over the entire aspect of the scene. We were less
struck with the grandeur of this cataract, than with its sublime
softness and gentleness. To water in agitation, use had so long
accustomed us, perhaps, as in some slight degree to lessen the
feeling of awe that is apt to come over the novice in such scenes;
but we at once felt ourselves attracted by the surpassing loveliness
of Niagara. The gulf below was more imposing than we had expected to
see it, but it was Italian in hue and softness, amid its wildness
and grandeur. Not a drop of the water that fell down that precipice
inspired terror; for everything appeared to us to be filled with
attraction and love. Like Italy itself, notwithstanding so much that
is grand and imposing, the character of softness, and the witchery
of the gentler properties, is the power we should ascribe to
Niagara, in preference to that of its majesty. We think this
feeling, too, is more general than is commonly supposed, for we find
those who dwell near the cataract playing around it, even to the
very verge of its greatest fall, with a species of affection, as if
they had the fullest confidence in its rolling waters. Thus it is
that we see the little steamer, the Maid of the Mist, paddling up
quite near to the green sheet of the Horse-Shoe itself, and gliding
down in the current of the vortex, as it is compelled to quit the
eddies, and come more in a line with the main course of the stream.
Wires, too, are suspended across the gulf below, and men pass it in
baskets. It is said that one of these inventions is to carry human
beings over the main fall, so that the adventurer may hang suspended
in the air, directly above the vortex. In this way do men, and even
women, prove their love for the place, all of which we impute to its
pervading character of sweetness and attraction.

At Buffalo we embarked in a boat under the English flag, which is
called the Canada, This shortened our passage to Detroit, by
avoiding all the stops at lateral ports, and we had every reason to
be satisfied with our selection. Boat, commander, and the attendance
were such as would have done credit to any portion of the civilized
world. There were many passengers, a motley collection, as usual,
from all parts of the country.

Our attention was early drawn to one party, by the singular beauty
of its females. They seemed to us to be a grandmother, in a well-
preserved, green old age; a daughter, but a matron of little less
than forty; and two exceedingly pretty girls of about eighteen and
sixteen, whom we took to be children of the last. The strong family
likeness between these persons led us early to make this
classification, which we afterward found was correct.

By occasional remarks, I gathered that the girls had been to an
"Eastern" boarding-school, that particular feature in civilization
not yet flourishing in the Northwestern States. It seemed to us that
we could trace in the dialect of the several members of this family,
the gradations and peculiarities that denote the origin and habits
of individuals. Thus, the grandmother was not quite as Western in
her forms of speech as her matronly daughter, while the
grandchildren evidently spoke under the influence of boarding-school
correction, or like girls who had been often lectured on the subject
"First rate," and "Yes, sir," and "That's a fact," were often in the
mouth of the pleasing mother, and even the grandmother used them
all, though not as often as her daughter, while the young people
looked a little concerned and surprised, whenever they came out of
the mouth of their frank-speaking mother. That these persons were
not of a very high social class was evident enough, even in their
language. There was much occasion to mention New York, we found, and
they uniformly called it "the city." By no accident did either of
them happen to use the expression that she had been "in town," as
one of us would be apt to say. "He's gone to the city," or "She's in
the city," are awkward phrases, and tant soit peu vulgar; but even
our pretty young boarding-school eleves would use them. We have a
horror of the expression "city," and are a little fastidious,
perhaps, touching its use.

But these little peculiarities were spots on the sun. The entire
family, taken as a whole, was really charming; and long before the
hour for retiring came, we had become much interested in them all.
We found there was a fifth person belonging to this party, who did
not make his appearance that night. From the discourse of these
females, however, it was easy to glean the following leading facts:
This fifth person was a male; he was indisposed, and kept his berth;
and he was quite aged. Several nice little dishes were carried from
the table into his state-room that evening, by one or the other of
the young sisters, and each of the party appeared anxious to
contribute to the invalid's comfort. All this sympathy excited our
interest, and we had some curiosity to see this old man, long ere it
was time to retire. As for the females, no name was mentioned among
them but that of a Mrs. Osborne, who was once or twice alluded to in
full. It was "grandma," and "ma," and "Dolly," and "sis." We should
have liked it better had it been "mother," and "grandmother," and
that the "sis" had been called Betsey or Molly; but we do not wish
to be understood as exhibiting these amiable and good-looking
strangers as models of refinement. "Ma" and "sis" did well enough,
all things considered, though "mamma" would have been better if they
were not sufficiently polished to say "mother."

We had a pleasant night of it, and all the passengers appeared next
morning with smiling faces. It often blows heavily on that lake, but
light airs off the land were all the breezes we encountered. We were
among the first to turn out, and on the upper deck forward, a place
where the passengers are fond of collecting, as it enables them to
look ahead, we found a single individual who immediately drew all of
our attention to himself. It was an aged man, with hair already as
white as snow. Still there was that in his gait, attitudes, and all
his movements which indicated physical vigor, not to say the
remains, at least, of great elasticity and sinewy activity. Aged as
he was, and he must have long since passed his fourscore years, his
form was erect as that of a youth. In stature he was of rather more
than middle height, and in movements deliberate and dignified. His
dress was quite plain, being black, and according to the customs of
the day. The color of his face and hands, however, as well as the
bold outlines of his countenance, and the still keen, restless,
black eye, indicated the Indian.

Here, then, was a civilized red man, and it struck us at once, that
he was an ancient child of the forest, who had been made to feel the
truths of the gospel. One seldom hesitates about addressing an
Indian, and we commenced a discourse with our venerable fellow-
passenger, with very little circumlocution or ceremony.

"Good-morning, sir," we observed--" a charming time we have of it,
on the lake."

"Yes--good time--" returned my red neighbor, speaking short and
clipped, like an Indian, but pronouncing his words as if long
accustomed to the language.

"These steamboats are great inventions for the western lakes, as are
the railroads for this vast inland region. I dare say you can
remember Lake Erie when it was an unusual thing to see a sail of any
sort on it; and now, I should think, we might count fifty."

"Yes--great change--great change, friend!--all change from ole

"The traditions of your people, no doubt, give you reason to see and
feel all this?"

The predominant expression of this red man's countenance was that of
love. On everything, on every human being toward whom he turned his
still expressive eyes, the looks he gave them would seem to indicate
interest and affection. This expression was so decided and peculiar,
that we early remarked it, and it drew us closer and closer to the
old chief, the longer we remained in his company. That expression,
however, slightly changed when we made this allusion to the
traditions of his people, and a cloud passed before his countenance.
This change, nevertheless, was as transient as it was sudden, the
benevolent and gentle look returning almost as soon as it had
disappeared. He seemed anxious to atone for this involuntary
expression of regrets for the past, by making his communications to
me as free as they could be.

"My tradition say a great deal," was the answer, "It say some good,
some bad."

"May I ask of what tribe you are?"

The red man turned his eyes on us kindly, as if to lessen anything
ungracious there might be in his refusal to answer, and with an
expression of benevolence that we scarcely remember ever to have
seen equalled. Indeed, we might say with truth, that the love which
shone out of this old man's countenance habitually, surpassed that
which we can recall as belonging to any other human face. He seemed
to be at peace with himself, and with all the other children of

"Tribe make no difference," he answered. "All children of same Great

"Red men and pale-faces?" I asked, not a little surprised with his

"Red man and pale-face. Christ die for all, and his Fadder make all.
No difference, excep' in color. Color only skin deep."

"Do you, then, look on us pale-faces as having a right here? Do you
not regard us as invaders, as enemies who have come to take away
your lands?"

"Injin don't own 'arth. 'Arth belong to God, and he send whom he
like to live on it. One time he send Injin; now he send pale-face.
His 'arth, and he do what he please wid it. Nobody any right to
complain. Bad to find fault wid Great Spirit. All he do, right;
nebber do anyt'ing bad. His blessed Son die for all color, and all
color muss bow down at his holy name. Dat what dis good book say,"
showing a small pocket Bible, "and what dis good book say come from
Great Spirit, himself."

"You read the Holy Scriptures, then--you are an educated Indian?"

"No; can't read at all. Don't know how. Try hard, but too ole to
begin. Got young eyes, however, to help me," he added, with one of
the fondest smiles I ever saw light a human face, as he turned to
meet the pretty Dolly's "Good-morning, Peter," and to shake the hand
of the elder sister. "She read good book for old Injin, when he want
her; and when she off at school, in 'city,' den her mudder or her
gran'mudder read for him. Fuss begin wid gran'mudder; now get down
to gran'da'ghter. But good book all de same, let who will read it."

This, then, was "Scalping Peter," the very man I was travelling into
Michigan to see, but how wonderfully changed! The Spirit of the Most
High God had been shed freely upon his moral being, and in lieu of
the revengeful and vindictive savage, he now lived a subdued,
benevolent Christian! In every human being he beheld a brother, and
no longer thought of destroying races, in order to secure to his own
people the quiet possession of their hunting-grounds. His very soul
was love; and no doubt he felt himself strong enough to "bless those
who cursed him," and to give up his spirit, like the good missionary
whose death had first turned him toward the worship of the one true
God, praying for those who took his life.

The ways of Divine Providence are past the investigations of human
reason. How often, in turning over the pages of history, do we find
civilization, the arts, moral improvement, nay, Christianity itself,
following the bloody train left by the conqueror's car, and good
pouring in upon a nation by avenues that at first were teeming only
with the approaches of seeming evils! In this way, there is now
reason to hope that America is about to pay the debt she owes to
Africa; and in this way will the invasion of the forests, and
prairies and "openings," of the red man be made to atone for itself
by carrying with it the blessings of the Gospel, and a juster view
of the relations which man bears to his Creator. Possibly Mexico may
derive lasting benefits from the hard lesson that she has so
recently been made to endure.

This, then, was Peter, changed into a civilized man and a Christian!
I have found, subsequently, that glimmerings of the former being
existed in his character; but they showed themselves only at long
intervals, and under very peculiar circumstances. The study of these
traits became a subject of great interest with us, for we now
travelled in company the rest of our journey. The elder lady, or
"grandma," was the Margery of our tale; still handsome, spirited,
and kind. The younger matron was her daughter and only child, and
"sis," another Margery, and Dorothy, were her grandchildren. There
was also a son, or a grandson rather, Ben, who was on Prairie Round,
"with the general." The "general" was our old friend, le Bourdon,
who was still as often called "General Bourdon," as "General Boden."
This matter of "generals" at the West is a little overdone, as all
ranks and titles are somewhat apt to be in new countries. It causes
one often to smile, at the East; and no wonder that an Eastern habit
should go down in all its glory, beneath the "setting sun." In
after-days, generals will not be quite as "plenty as blackberries."

No sooner did Mrs. Boden, or Margery, to use her familiar name,
learn that we were the very individual to whom the "general" had
sent the notes relative to his early adventures, which had been
prepared by the "Rev. Mr. Varse," of Kalamazoo, than she became as
friendly and communicative as we could possibly desire.

Her own life had been prosperous, and her marriage happy. Her
brother, however, had fallen back into his old habits, and died ere
the war of 1812 was ended. Dorothy had returned to her friends in
Massachusetts, and was still living, in a comfortable condition,
owing to a legacy from an uncle. The bee-hunter had taken the field
in that war, and had seen some sharp fighting on the banks of the
Niagara. No sooner was peace made, however, than he returned to his
beloved Openings, where he had remained, "growing with the country,"
as it is termed, until he was now what is deemed a rich man in
Michigan. He has a plenty of land, and that which is good; a
respectable dwelling, and is out of debt. He meets his obligations
to an Eastern man just as promptly as he meets those contracted at
home, and regards the United States, and not Michigan, as his
country. All these were good traits, and we were glad to learn that
they existed in one who already possessed so much of our esteem. At
Detroit we found a fine flourishing town, of a healthful and natural
growth, and with a population that was fast approaching twenty
thousand. The shores of the beautiful strait on which it stands, and
which, by a strange blending of significations and languages, is
popularly called the "Detroit River," were alive with men and their
appliances, and we scarce know where to turn to find a more
agreeable landscape than that which was presented to us, after
passing the island of "Bobolo" (Bois Blanc), near Maiden.
Altogether, it resembled a miniature picture of Constantinople,
without its Eastern peculiarities.

At Detroit commenced our surprise at the rapid progress of Western
civilization. It will be remembered that at the period of our tale,
the environs of Detroit excepted, the whole peninsula of Michigan
lay in a state of nature. Nor did the process of settlement commence
actively until about twenty years since; but, owing to the character
of the country, it already possesses many of the better features of
a long-inhabited region. There are stumps, of course, for new fields
are constantly coming into cultivation; but on the whole, the
appearance is that of a middle-aged, rather than that of a new

We left Detroit on a railroad, rattling away toward the setting sun,
at a good speed even for that mode of conveyance. It seemed to us
that our route was well garnished with large villages, of which we
must have passed through a dozen, in the course of a few hours'
"railing," These are places varying in size from one to three
thousand inhabitants. The vegetation certainly surpassed that of
even West New York, the trees alone excepted. The whole country was
a wheat-field, and we now began to understand how America could feed
the world. Our road lay among the "Openings" much of the way, and we
found them undergoing the changes which are incident to the passage
of civilized men. As the periodical fires had now ceased for many
years, underbrush was growing in lieu of the natural grass, and in
so much those groves are less attractive than formerly; but one
easily comprehends the reason, and can picture to himself the aspect
that these pleasant woods must have worn in times of old.

We left the railroad at Kalamazoo--an unusually pretty village, on
the banks of the stream of that name. Those who laid out this place,
some fifteen years since, had the taste to preserve most of its
trees; and the houses and grounds that stand a little apart from the
busiest streets--and they are numerous for a place of rather more
than two thousand souls--are particularly pleasant to the eye, on
account of the shade, and the rural pictures they present. Here Mrs.
Boden told us we were within a mile or two of the very spot where
once had stood Castle Meal (Chateau au Miel), though the "general"
had finally established himself at Schoolcraft, on Prairie Ronde.

The first prairie we had ever seen was on the road between Detroit
and Kalamazoo; distant from the latter place only some eight or nine
miles. The axe had laid the country open in its neighborhood; but
the spot was easily to be recognized by the air of cultivation and
age that pervaded it. There was not a stump on it, and the fields
were as smooth as any on the plains of Lombardy, and far more
fertile, rich as the last are known to be. In a word, the beautiful
perfection of that little natural meadow became apparent at once,
though seated amid a landscape that was by no means wanting in
interest of its own.

We passed the night at the village of Kalamazoo; but the party of
females, with old Peter, proceeded on to Prairie Round, as that
particular part of the country is called in the dialect of Michigan,
it being a corruption of the old French name of la prairie ronde.
The Round Meadow does not sound as well as Prairie Round, and the
last being quite as clear a term as the other, though a mixture of
the two languages, we prefer to use it. Indeed, the word "prairie"
may now be said to be adopted into the English; meaning merely a
natural instead of an artificial meadow, though one of peculiar and
local characteristics. We wrote a note to General Boden, as I found
our old acquaintance Ben Boden was universally termed, letting him
know I should visit Schoolcraft next day; not wishing to intrude at
the moment when that charming family was just reunited after so long
a separation.

The next day, accordingly, we got into a "buggy" and went our way.
The road was slightly sandy a good part of the twelve miles we had
to travel, though it became less so as we drew near to the
celebrated prairie. And celebrated, and that by an abler pen than
ours, does this remarkable place deserve to be! We found all our
expectations concerning it fully realized, and drove through the
scene of abundance it presented with an admiration that was not
entirely free from awe.

To get an idea of Prairie Round, the reader must imagine an oval
plain of some five-and-twenty or thirty thousand acres in extent, of
the most surpassing fertility, without an eminence of any sort--
almost without an inequality. There are a few small cavities,
howevers in which there are springs that form large pools of water
that the cattle will drink. This plain, so far as we saw it, is now
entirely fenced and cultivated. The fields are large, many
containing eighty acres, and some one hundred and sixty; most of
them being in wheat. We saw several of this size in that grain.
Farm-houses dotted the surface, with barns, and the other
accessories of rural life. In the centre of the prairie is an
"island" of forest, containing some five or six hundred acres of the
noblest native trees we remember ever to have seen. In the centre of
this wood is a little lake, circular in shape, and exceeding a
quarter of a mile in diameter. The walk in this wood-which is not an
Opening, but an old-fashioned virgin forest--we found delightful of
a warm summer's day. One thing that we saw in it was characteristic
of the country. Some of the nearest farmers had drawn their manure
into it, where it lay in large piles, in order to get it out of the
way of doing any mischief. Its effect on the land, it was thought,
would be to bring too much straw!

On one side of this island of wood lies the little village or large
hamlet of Schoolcraft. Here we were most cordially welcomed by
General Boden, and all of his fine descendants. The head of this
family is approaching seventy, but is still hale and hearty. His
head is as white as snow, and his face as red as a cherry. A finer
old man one seldom sees. Temperance, activity, the open air, and a
good conscience, have left him a noble ruin; if ruin he can yet be
called. He owes the last blessing, as he told us himself, to the
fact that he kept clear of the whirlwind of speculation that passed
over this region some ten or fifteen years since. His means are
ample; and the harvest being about to commence, he invited me to the

The peculiar ingenuity of the American has supplied the want of
laborers, in a country where agriculture is carried on by wholesale,
especially in the cereals, by an instrument of the most singular and
elaborate construction. This machine is drawn by sixteen or eighteen
horses, attached to it laterally, so as to work clear of the
standing grain, and who move the whole fabric on a moderate but
steady walk. A path is first cut with the cradle on one side of the
field, when the machine is dragged into the open place. Here it
enters the standing grain, cutting off its heads with the utmost
accuracy as it moves. Forks beneath prepare the way, and a rapid
vibratory motion of a great number of two-edged knives effect the
object. The stalks of the grain can be cut as low or as high as one
pleases, but it is usually thought best to take only the heads.
Afterward the standing straw is burned, or fed off, upright.

The impelling power which causes the great fabric to advance also
sets in motion the machinery within it As soon as the heads of the
grain are severed from the stalks, they pass into a receptacle,
where, by a very quick and simple process, the kernels are separated
from the husks. Thence all goes into a fanning machine, where the
chaff is blown away. The clean grain falls into a small bin, whence
it is raised by a screw elevator to a height that enables it to pass
out at an opening to which a bag is attached. Wagons follow the slow
march of the machine, and the proper number of men are in
attendance. Bag after bag is renewed, until a wagon is loaded, when
it at once proceeds to the mill, where the grain is soon converted
into flour. Generally the husbandman sells to the miller, but
occasionally he pays for making the flour, and sends the latter off,
by railroad, to Detroit, whence it finds its way to Europe,
possibly, to help feed the millions of the old world. Such, at
least, was the course of trade the past season. As respects this
ingenious machine, it remains only to say that it harvests, cleans,
and bags from twenty to thirty acres of heavy wheat, in the course
of a single summer's day! Altogether it is a gigantic invention,
well adapted to meet the necessities of a gigantic country.

Old Peter went afield with us that day. There he stood, like a
striking monument of a past that was still so recent and wonderful.
On that very prairie, which was now teeming with the appliances of
civilization, he had hunted and held his savage councils. On that
prairie had he meditated, or consented to the deaths of the young
couple, whose descendants were now dwelling there, amid abundance,
and happy. Nothing but the prayers of the dying missionary, in
behalf of his destroyers, had prevented the dire consummation.

We were still in the field, when General Boden's attention was drawn
toward the person of another guest. This, too, was an Indian, old
like himself, but not clad like Peter, in the vestments of the
whites. The attire of this sinewy old man was a mixture of that of
the two races. He wore a hunting-shirt, moccasins, and a belt; but
he also wore trousers, and otherwise had brought himself within the
habits of conventional decency. It was Pigeonswing, the Chippewa,
come to pay his annual visit to his friend, the bee-hunter, The
meeting was cordial, and we afterward ascertained that when the old
man departed, he went away loaded with gifts that would render him
comfortable for a twelvemonth.

But Peter, after all, was the great centre of interest with us. We
could admire the General's bee-hives, which were numerous and
ingenious; could admire his still handsome Margery, and all their
blooming descendants; and were glad when we discovered that our old
friend--made so by means of a knowledge of his character, if not by
actual acquaintance--was much improved in mind, was a sincere
Christian, and had been a Senator of his own State; respected and
esteemed by all who knew him. Such a career, however, has nothing
peculiar in America; it is one of every-day occurrence, and shows
the power of man when left free to make his own exertions; while
that of the Scalping Peter indicated the power of God. There he was,
living in the midst of the hated race, loving and beloved; wishing
naught but blessings on all colors alike; looking back upon his
traditions and superstitions with a sort of melancholy interest, as
we all portray in our memories the scenes, legends, and feelings of
an erring childhood.

We were walking in the garden, after dinner, and looking at the
hives. There were the general, Margery, Peter, and ourselves. The
first was loud in praise of his buzzing friends, for whom it was
plain he still entertained a lively regard. The old Indian, at
first, was sad. Then he smiled, and, turning to us, he spoke
earnestly and with some of his ancient fire and eloquence.

"Tell me you make a book," he said. "In dat book tell trut'. You see
me--poor old Injin. My fadder was chief--I was great chief, but we
was children. Knowed nuttin'. Like little child, dough great chief.
Believe tradition. T'ink dis 'arth flat--t'ink Injin could scalp all
pale-face--t'ink tomahawk, and war-path, and rifle, bess t'ings in
whole world. In dat day, my heart was stone. Afraid of Great Spirit,
but didn't love him. In dat time I t'ink General could talk wid bee.
Yes; was very foolish den. Now, all dem cloud blow away, and I see
my Fadder dat is in heaven. His face shine on me, day and night, and
I never get tired of looking at it. I see him smile, I see him
lookin' at poor ole Injin, as if he want him to come nearer;
sometime I see him frown and dat scare me. Den I pray, and his frown
go away.

"Stranger, love God. B'lieve his blessed Son, who pray for dem dat
kill him. Injin don't do that. Injin not strong enough to do so good
t'ing. It want de Holy Spirit to strengthen de heart, afore man can
do so great t'ing. When he got de force of de Holy Spirit, de heart
of stone is changed to de heart of woman, and we all be ready to
bless our enemy and die. I have spoken. Let dem dat read your book


Book of the day: