Oak Openings

by James Fenimore Cooper

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Chapter XXIII.

     Why is that graceful female here
     With yon red hunter of the deer?
     Of gentle mien and shape, she seems
     For civil halls design'd;
     Yet with the stately savage walks,
     As she were of his kind.

The family at Castle Meal saw nothing of any Indian until the day that succeeded the council. Gershom and Dorothy received the tidings of their sister's marriage with very little emotion. It was an event they expected; and as for bride-cake and ceremonies, of one there was none at all, and of the other no more than has been mentioned. The relatives of Margery did not break their hearts on account of the neglect with which they had been treated, but received the young couple as if one had given her away, and the other "had pulled off her glove," as young ladies now express it, in deference to the act that generally gives the coup de grace to youthful female friendships. On the Openings, neither time nor breath is wasted in useless compliments; and all was held to be well done on this occasion, because it was done legally. A question might have been raised, indeed, whether that marriage had taken place under the American, or under the English flag; for General Hull, in surrendering Detroit, had included the entire territory of Michigan, as well as troops present, troops absent, and troops on the march to join him. Had he been in possession of Peter's ruthless secret, which we happen to know he was not, he could not have been more anxious to throw the mantle of British authority around all of his race on that remote frontier, than he proved himself to be. Still, it is to be presumed that the marriage would have been regarded as legal; conquered territories usually preserving their laws and usages for a time, at least. A little joking passed, as a matter of course; for this is de rigueur in all marriages, except in the cases of the most cultivated; and certainly neither the corporal nor Gershom belonged to the elite of human society.

About the hour of breakfast Pigeonswing came in, as if returning from one of his ordinary hunts. He brought with him venison, as well as several wild ducks that he had killed in the Kalamazoo, and three or four prairie hens. The Chippewa never betrayed exultation at the success of his exertions, but on this occasion he actually appeared sad. Dorothy received his game, and as she took the ducks and other fowls, she spoke to him.

"Thank you, Pigeonswing," said the young matron. "No pale-face could be a better provider, and many are not one-half as good."

"What provider mean, eh?" demanded the literal-minded savage. "Mean good; mean bad, eh?"

"Oh! it means good, of course. I could say nothing against a hunter who takes so good care of us all."

"What he mean, den?"

"It means a man who keeps his wife and children well supplied with food."

"You get 'nough, eh?"

"I get enough, Pigeonswing, thanks to your industry, such as it is. Injin diet, however, is not always the best for Christian folk, though a body may live on it. I miss many things, out here in the Openings, to which I have been used all the early part of my life."

"What squaw miss, eh? P'raps Injin find him sometime."

"I thank you, Pigeonswing, with all my heart, and am just as grateful for your good intentions, as I should be was you to do all you wish. It is the mind that makes the marcy, and not always the deed. But you can never find the food of a pale-face kitchen out here in the Openings of Michigan. When a body comes to reckon up all the good things of Ameriky, she don't know where to begin, or where to stop. I miss tea as much as anything. And milk comes next. Then there's buckwheat and coffee--though things may be found in the woods to make coffee of, but tea has no substitute. Then, I like wheaten bread, and butter, and potatoes, and many other such articles, that I was used to all my life, until I came out here, close to sunset. As for pies and custards, I can't bear to think of 'em now!"

Pigeonswing looked intently at the woman, as she carefully enumerated her favorites among the dishes of her home-kitchen. When she had ended, he raised a finger, looked still more significantly at her, and said:

"Why don't go back, get all dem good t'ings? Better for pale-face to eat pale-face food, and leave Injin Injin food."

"For my part, Pigeonswing, I wish such had ever been the law. Venison, and prairie-fowls, and wild ducks, and trout, 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 Jews."

"Don't care any t'ing 'bout it," answered the literal Indian, rising from his kneeling position, and wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. "Don't care wedder Jew, or wedder Indian."

"For my own part, gladly would I have it to say that I am descended from Israel."

"Why don't say him, if he make you grad? Good to be grad. All Injin love to be grad."

"Because I cannot say it with truth. No; I come of the Gentiles, and not of the Hebrews, else would I glory in saying I am a Jew, in the sense of extraction, though not now in the sense of faith. I trust the chiefs will not take offence at my telling them just what I think."

"Tell you he don't care," returned Pigeonswing, a little crustily. "Don't care if Jew--don't care if Injin. Know dat make no difference. Hunting-ground just same--game just same--scalps just same. Make no difference, and don't care."

"I am glad of this--but why did you advise Dorothy to quit the Openings in the hasty manner you did, if all is right with the chiefs? It is not good to start on a journey without preparation and prayer. Why, then, did you give this advice to Dorothy to quit the Openings so soon?"

"Bess for squaw to go home, when Injin dig up hatchet. Openin' full of warrior--prairie full of warrior--wood full of warrior. When dat so, bess for squaw to go home."

"This would be true, were the Indians our enemies. Heaven be praised, they are our friends, and will not harm us. Peter is a great chief, and can make his young men do what he tells them; and Peter is our friend. With Peter to stand by us, and a merciful Providence to direct us where, when, and how to go, we can have nothing to fear. I trust in Divine Providence."

"Who he be?" asked Pigeonswing, innocently, for his knowledge of English did not extend far enough to comprehend a phrase so complicated, though so familiar to ourselves. "He know all paths, eh?"

"Yes; and directs us on all paths--more especially such as are for our good."

"Bess get him to tell you path into Detroit. Dat good path, now, for all pale-faces."

On uttering this advice, which he did also somewhat pointedly, the Chippewa left the spring, and walked toward the kennel of Hive, where the bee-hunter was busy feeding his old companion.

"You're welcome back, Pigeonswing," the last cordially remarked, without pausing in his occupation, however. "I saw that you came in loaded, as usual. Have you left any dead game in the Openings, for me to go and back in with you?"

"You open ear, Bourdon--you know what Injin say," returned the Chippewa, earnestly. "When dog get 'nough come wid me. Got somet'ing to tell. Bess hear it, when he can hear it"

"You'll find me ready enough in a minute. There, Hive, my good fellow, that ought to satisfy any reasonable dog, and I've never found you unreasonable yet. Well, Chippewa, here I am, with my ears wide open--stop, I've a bit of news, first, for your ears. Do you know, Pigeonswing, my good fellow, that I am married?"

"Marry, eh? Got squaw, eh? Where you get him?"

"Here, to be sure--where else should I get her? There is but one girl in these Openings that I would ask to be my wife, and she has been asked, and answered, yes. Parson Amen married us, yesterday, on our way in from Prairie Round; so that puts me on a footing with yourself. When you boast of your squaw that you've left in your wigwam, I can boast of mine that I have here. Margery is a girl to boast of, too!"

"Yes; good squaw, dat. Like dat squaw pretty well. Nebber see better. Bess keep squaw alway in his own wigwam."

"Well, mine is in my own wigwam. Castle Meal is my property, and she does it honor."

"Dat an't what Injin mean. Mean dis. Bess have wigwam at home, dere, where pale-face lives, and bess keep squaw in dat wigwam. Where my squaw, eh? She home, in my wigwam--take care of pappoose, hoe corn, and keep ground good. So bess wid white squaw--bess home, at work."

"I believe I understand what you mean, Pigeon. Well, home we mean to go, before the winter sets in, and when matters have a little settled down between the English and Yankees. It isn't safe travelling, just now, in Michigan--you must own that, yourself, my good fellow."

The Indian appeared at a loss, now, how to express himself further. On one side was his faith to his color, and his dread of Peter and the great chiefs; on the other, his strong regard for the bee- hunter. He pondered a moment, and then took his own manner of communicating that which he wished to say. The fact that his friend was married made no great difference in his advice, for the Indian was much too shrewd an observer not to have detected the bee- hunter's attachment. He had not supposed it possible to separate his friend from the family of Gershom, though he did suppose there would be less difficulty in getting him to go on a path different from that which the missionary and corporal might take. His own great purpose was to serve le Bourdon, and how many or how few might incidentally profit by it he did not care. The truth compels us to own, that even Margery's charms, and nature, and warm-hearted interest in all around her, had failed to make any impression on his marble-like feelings; while the bee-hunter's habits, skill in his craft, and close connection with himself at the mouth of the river, and more especially in liberating him from his enemies, had united him in a comrade's friendship with her husband. It was a little singular that this Chippewa did not fall into Peter's superstitious dread of the bee-hunter's necromancy, though he was aware of all that had passed the previous day on the prairie. Either on account of his greater familiarity with le Bourdon's habits, or because he was in the secret of the trick of the whiskey-spring, or from a closer knowledge of white men and their ways, this young Indian was freer from apprehensions of this nature, perhaps, than any one of the same color and origin within many miles of the spot. In a word, Pigeons-wing regarded the bee-hunter as his friend, while he looked upon the other pale-faces as so many persons thrown by accident in his company. Now that Margery had actually become his friend's squaw, his interest in her was somewhat increased; though she had never obtained that interest in his feelings that she had awakened in the breast of Peter, by her attentions to him, her gentleness, light-hearted gayety, and womanly care, and all without the least design on her own part.

"No," answered the Chippewa, after a moment's reflection, "no very safe for Yankee, or Yankee Injin. Don't t'ink my scalp very safe, if chief know'd I'm Yankee runner. Bess alway to keep scalp safe. Dem Pottawattamie I take care not to see. Know all about 'em, too. Know what he say--know what he do--b'lieve I know what he t'ink."

"I did not see you, Pigeon, among the red young men, yesterday, out on Prairie Round."

"Know too much to go dere. Crowsfeather and Pottawattamie out dere. Bess not go near dem when dey have eye open. Take 'em asleep. Dat bess way wid sich Injin. Catch 'em some time! But your ear open, Bourdon?"

"Wide open, my good friend--what have you to whisper in it?"

"You look hard at Peter when he come in. If he t'ink good deal, and don't say much, when he do speak, mind what he say. If he smile, and very much friend, must hab his scalp."

"Chippewa, Peter is my friend, lives in my cabin, and eats of my bread! The hand that touches him, touches me."

"Which bess, eh--his scalp, or your'n? If he very much friend when he comes in, his scalp muss come off, or your'n. Yes, juss so. Dat de way. Know Injin better dan you know him, Bourdon. You good bee- hunter, but poor Injin. Ebbery body hab his way--Injin got his. Peter laugh and very much friend, when he come home, den he mean to hab your scalp. If don't smile, and don't seem very much friend, but look down, and t'ink, t'ink, t'ink, den he no mean to hurt you, but try to get you out of hand of chiefs. Dat all."

As Pigeonswing concluded, he walked coolly away, leaving his friend to ruminate on the alternative of scalp or no scalp! The bee-hunter now understood the Chippewa perfectly. He was aware that this man had means of his own to ascertain what was passing around him in the Openings, and he had the utmost confidence in his integrity and good wishes. If a red man is slow to forget an injury, he never forgets a favor. In this he was as unlike as possible to most of the pale- faces who were supplanting his race, for these last had, and have, as extraordinary a tenacity in losing sight of benefits, as they have in remembering wrongs.

By some means or other, it was now clear that Pigeonswing foresaw that a crisis was at hand. Had le Bourdon been as disconnected and solitary as he was when he first met the Chippewa, it is not probable that either the words or the manner of his friend would have produced much impression on him, so little accustomed was he to dwell on the hazards of his frontier position. But the case was now altogether changed. Margery and her claims stood foremost in his mind; and through Margery came Dolly and her husband. There was no mistaking Pigeonswing's intention. It was to give warning of some immediate danger, and a danger that, in some way, was connected with the deportment of Peter. It was easy enough to comprehend the allusions to the mysterious chief's smiles and melancholy; and the bee-hunter understood that he was to watch that Indian's manner, and take the alarm or bestow his confidence accordingly.

Le Bourdon was not left long in doubt. Peter arrived about half-an- hour after Pigeonswing had gone to seek his rest; and from the instant he came in sight, our hero discerned the thoughtful eye and melancholy manner. These signs were still more obvious when the tribeless Indian came nearer; so obvious, indeed, as to strike more than one of those who were interested observers of all that this extraordinary being said and did. Among others, Margery was the first to see this change, and the first to let it influence her own manner. This she did, notwithstanding le Bourdon had said nothing to her on the subject, and in defiance of the bashful feelings of a bride; which, under circumstances less marked, might have induced her to keep more in the background. As Peter stopped at the spring to quench his thirst, Margery was, in truth, the first to approach and to speak to him.

"You seem weary, Peter," said the young wife, somewhat timidly as to voice and air, but with a decided and honest manifestation of interest in what she was about. Nor had Margery gone empty-handed. She took with her a savory dish, one of those that the men of the woods love--meat cooked in its own juices, and garnished with several little additions, that her skill in the arts of civilized life enabled her to supply.

"You seem tired, Peter, and if I did not fear to say it, I should tell you that you also seem sad," said Margery, as she placed her dish on a rude table that was kept at the spot, for the convenience of those who seldom respected hours, or regularity of any sort in their meals. "Here is food that you like, which I have cooked with my own hands."

The Indian looked intently at the timid and charming young creature, who came forward thus to contribute to his comforts, and the saddened expression of his countenance deepened. He was fatigued and hungry, and he ate for some time without speaking, beyond uttering a brief expression of his thanks. When his appetite was appeased, however, and she who had so sedulously attended to his wants was about to remove the remains of the dish, he signed with his finger for her to draw nearer, intimating that he had something to say. Margery obeyed without hesitation, though the color flitted in her face like the changes in an evening sky. But so much good will and confidence had been awakened between these two, that a daughter would not have drawn near to a father with more confidence than Margery stood before Peter.

"Medicine-man do what I tell him, young squaw, eh?" demanded Peter, smiling slightly, and for the first time since they had met.

"By medicine-man do you mean Mr. Amen, or Bourdon?" the bride asked in her turn, her whole face reflecting the confusion she felt, scarcely knowing why.

"Bot'. One medicine-man say his prayer; t'odder medicine-man take young squaw's hand, and lead her into his wigwam. Dat what I mean."

"I am married to Bourdon," returned Margery, dropping her eyes to the ground, "if that be what you wish to know. I hope you think I shall have a good husband, Peter."

"Hope so, too--nebber know till time come. All good for little while--Injin good, squaw good. Juss like weadder. Sometime rain-- sometime storm--sometime sunshine. Juss so wid Injin, juss so wid pale-face. No difference. All same. You see dat cloud?--he little now; but let wind blow, he grow big, and you see nuttin' but cloud. Let him have plenty of sunshine, and he go away; den all clear over head. Dat bess way to live wid husband."

"And that is the way which Bourdon and I will always live together. When we get back among our own people, Peter, and are living comfortably in a pale-face wigwam, with pale-face food, and pale- face drinks, and all the other good things of pale-face housekeeping about us, then I hope you will come and see how happy we are, and pass some time with us. Every year I wish you to come and see us, and to bring us venison, and Bourdon will give you powder, and lead, and blankets, and all you may want, unless it be fire-water. Fire- water he has promised never again to give to an Injin."

"No find any more whiskey-spring, eh?" demanded Peter, greatly interested in the young woman's natural and warm-hearted manner of proposing her hospitalities. "So bess--so bess. Great curse for Injin. Plenty honey, no fire-water. All dat good. And I come, if--"

Here Peter stopped, nor could all Margery's questions induce him to complete the sentence. His gaze at the earnest countenance of the bride was such as to give her an indefinite sort of uneasiness, not to say a feeling of alarm.

Still no explanation passed between them. Margery remained near Peter for some time, administering to his wants, and otherwise demeaning herself much as a daughter might have done. At length le Bourdon joined them. The salutations were friendly, and the manner in which the mysterious chief regarded the equally mysterious bee- hunter, was not altogether without a certain degree of awe. Boden perceived this, and was not slow to comprehend that he owed this accession of influence to the scene which had occurred on the prairie.

"Is the great council ended, Peter?" asked the bee-hunter, when the little interval of silence had been observed.

"Yes, it over. No more council, now, on Prairie Round."

"And the chiefs--have they all gone on their proper paths? What has become of my old acquaintance, Crowsfeather? and all the rest of them--Bear's Meat, in particular?"

"All gone. No more council now. Agree what to do and so go away."

"But are red men always as good as their words? do they perform always what they promise?"

"Sartain. Ebbery man ought do what he say. Dat Injin law--no pale- face law, eh?"

"It may be the law, Peter, and a very good law it is; but we white men do not always mind our own laws."

"Dat bad--Great Spirit don't like dat," returned Peter, looking grave, and slowly shaking his head. "Dat very bad. When Injin say he do it, den he do it, if he can. If can't, no help for it. Send squaw away now, Bourdon--bess not to let squaw hear what men say, or will always want to hear."

Le Bourdon laughed, as he turned to Margery and repeated these words. The young wife colored, but she took it in good part, and ran up toward the palisaded lodge, like one who was glad to be rid of her companions. Peter waited a few moments, then turning his head slowly in all directions, to make sure of not being overheard, he began to lay open his mind.

"You been on Prairie Round, Bourdon--you see Injin dere--chief, warrior, young men, hunter, all dere."

"I saw them all, Peter, and a goodly sight it was--what between paint, and medals, and bows and arrows and tomahawks, and all your bravery!"

"You like to see him, eh? Yes; he fine t'ing to look at. Well, dat council call togedder by me--you know dat, too, Bourdon?"

"I have heard you say that such was your intention, and I suppose you did it, chief. They tell me you have great power among your own people, and that they do very much as you tell them to do."

Peter looked graver than ever at this remark; and one of his startling gleams of ferocity passed over his dark countenance. Then he answered with his customary self-command.

"Sometime so," he said; "sometime not so. Yesterday, not so. Dere is chief dat want to put Peter under his foot! He try, but he no do it! I know Peter well, and know dat chief, too."

"This is news to me, Peter, and I am surprised to hear it. I did think that even the great Tecumthe was scarcely as big a chief as you are yourself."

"Yes, pretty big chief; dat true. But, among Injin, ebbery man can speak, and nebber know which way council go. Sometime he go one way; sometime he go tudder. You hear Bough of Oak speak, eh? Tell me dat?"

"You will remember that I heard none of your speakers on Prairie Round, Peter. I do not remember any such orator as this Bough of Oak."

"He great rascal," said Peter, who had picked up some of the garrison expressions among those from whom he acquired the knowledge of English he possessed, such as it was. "Listen, Bourdon. Nebber bess stand too much in Peter's way."

The bee-hunter laughed freely at this remark; for his own success the previous day, and the impression he had evidently made on that occasion, emboldened him to take greater liberties with the mysterious chief than had been his wont.

"I should think that, Peter," cried the young man, gayly--"I should think all that. For one, I should choose to get out of it. The path you travel is your own, and all wise men will leave you to journey along it in your own fashion."

"Yes; dat bess way," answered the great chief, with admirable simplicity. "Don't like, when he says yes, to hear anudder chief say no. Dat an't good way to do business."

These were expressions caught from the trading whites, and were often used by those who got their English from them. "I tell you one t'ing, Bourdon--dat Bough of Oak very foolish Injin if he put foot on my path."

"This is plain enough, Peter," rejoined le Bourdon, who was unconcernedly repairing some of the tools of his ordinary craft. "By the way, I am greatly in your debt, I learn, for one thing. They tell me I've got my squaw in my wigwam a good deal sooner, by your advice, than I might have otherwise done. Margery is now my wife, I suppose you know; and I thank you heartily, for helping me to get married so much sooner than I expected to be."

Here Peter grasped Bourdon by the hand, and poured out his whole soul, secret hopes, fears, and wishes. On this occasion he spoke in the Indian dialect--one of those that he knew the bee-hunter understood. And we translate what he said freely into English, preserving as much of the original idiom as the change of language will permit.

"Listen, hunter of the bee, the great medicine of the pale-faces, and hear what a chief that knows the red men is about to tell you. Let my words go into your ears; let them stay in your mind. They are words that will do you good. It is not wise to let such words come out again by the hole through which they have just entered.

"My young friend knows our traditions. They do not tell us that the Injins were Jews; they tell us that the Manitou created them red men. They tell us that our fathers used these hunting-grounds ever since the earth was placed on the back of the big tortoise which upholds it. The pale-faces say the earth moves. If this be true, it moves as slowly as the tortoise walks. It cannot have gone far since the Great Spirit lifted his hand off it. If it move, the hunting- grounds move with it, and the tribes move with their own hunting- grounds. It may be that some of the pale-faces are lost, but no Injin is lost--the medicine-priest is mistaken. He has looked so often in his book, that he sees nothing but what is there. He does not see what is before his eyes, at his side, behind his back, 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 he taken."

"This is a bloody account you are giving of yourself, Peter, and I would rather you should not have told it. Some such account I have heard before; but living with you, and eating, and drinking, and sleeping, and travelling in your company, I had not only hoped, but begun to think, it was not true."

"It is true. My wish is to cut off the pale-faces. This must be done, or the pale-faces will cut off the Injins. There is no choice. One nation or the other must be destroyed. I am a red man; my heart tells me that the pale-faces should die. They are on strange hunting-grounds, not the red men. They are wrong, we are right. But, Bourdon, I have friends among the pale-faces, and it is not natural to scalp our friends. I do not understand a religion that tells us to love our enemies, and to do good to them that do harm to us--it is a strange religion. I am a poor Injin, and do not know what to think! I shall not believe that any do this, till I see it. I understand that we ought to love our friends. Your squaw is my daughter. I have called her daughter--she knows it, and my tongue is not forked, like a snake's. What it says, I mean. Once I meant to scalp your young squaw, because she was a pale-face squaw, and might be the mother of more. Now I do not mean to scalp her; my hand shall never harm her. My wisdom shall tell her to escape from the hands of red men who seek her scalp. You, too; now you are her husband, and are a great medicine-man of the bees, my hand shall not hurt you, either. Open your ears wide, for big truths must go into them."

Peter then related in full his attempt to procure a safe passage for le Bourdon and Margery into the settlements, and its total failure. He owned that by his previous combinations he had awakened a spirit among the Indians that his present efforts could not quell. In a word, he told the whole story as it must have been made apparent to the reader, and he now came with his plans to defeat the very schemes that he had himself previously projected. One thing, however, that he did not conceal, filled the mind of his listener with horror, and created so strong an aversion to acting in concert with one who could even allude to it so coolly, that there was danger of breaking off all communications between the parties, and placing the result purely on force; a course that must have proved totally destructive to all the whites. The difficulty arose from a naive confession of Peter's, that he did not even wish to save any but le Bourdon and Margery, and that he still desired the deaths of all the others, himself!

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It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.