Oak Openings by James Fenimore Cooper
Nearer the mount stood Moses; in his hand The rod which blasted with strange plagues the realm Of Misraim, and from its time-worn channels Upturned the Arabian sea. Fair was his broad High front, and forth from his soul-piercing eye Did legislation look; which full he fixed Upon the blazing panoply undazzled. --HILLHOUSE.
It often happens in the recesses of the wilderness, that, in the absence of men, the animals hunt each other. The wolves, in particular, following their instincts, are often seen in packs, pressing upon the heels of the antelope, deer, and other creatures of that family, which depend for safety more on their speed than on their horns. On the present occasion, a fine buck, with a pack of fifty wolves close after it, came bounding through the narrow gorge that contained the rill, and entered the amphitheatre of the bottom- land. Its headlong career was first checked by the sight of the fire; then arose a dark circle of men, each armed and accustomed to the chase. In much less time than it has taken to record the fact, that little piece of bottom-land was crowded with wolves, deer, and men. The headlong impetuosity of the chase and flight had prevented the scent from acting, and all were huddled together, for a single instant, in a sort of inextricable confusion. Brief as was this melee, it sufficed to allow of a young hunter's driving his arrow through the heart of the buck, and enabled others among the Indians to kill several of the wolves; some with arrows, others with knives, etc. No rifle was used, probably from a wish not to give an alarm.
The wolves were quite as much astonished at this unexpected rencontre, as the Indians. They were not a set of hungry and formidable beasts, that famine might urge to any pass of desperation; but a pack hunting, like gentlemen, for their own amusement. Their headlong speed was checked less by the crowd of men, than by the sight of fire. In their impetuosity, it is probable that they would have gone clean through five hundred men, but no wild beast will willingly encounter fire. Three or four of the chiefs, aware of this dread, seized brands, and throwing themselves, without care, into the midst of the pack, the animals went howling off, scattering in all directions. Unfortunately for its own welfare, one went directly through the circle, plunged into the thicket beyond, and made its way quite up to the fallen tree, on which the bee-hunter and the corporal had taken their stations. This was altogether too much for the training, or for the philosophy of Hive. Perceiving a recognized enemy rushing toward him. that noble mastiff met him in a small cleared spot, open-mouthed, and for a few moments a fierce combat was the consequence. Dogs and wolves do not fight in silence, and loud were the growls and yells on this occasion. In vain did le Bourdon endeavor to drag his mastiff off; the animal was on the high-road to victory, when it is ever hard to arrest the steps of the combatant. Almost as a matter of course, some of the chiefs rushed toward the spot, when the presence of the two spectators first became known to them. At the next moment the wolf lay dead at the feet of Hive; and the parties stood gazing at each other, equally taken by surprise, and equally at a loss to know what to do next.
It was perhaps fortunate for the bee-hunter, that neither Crowsfeather, nor any other of the Pottawattamies, was present at this first rencontre, or he might have fallen on the spot, a victim to their disappointed hopes of drinking at a whiskey-spring. The chiefs present were strangers to le Bourdon, and they stared at him, in a way to show that his person was equally unknown to them. But it was necessary, now, to follow the Indians back to their circle, where the whole party soon collected again, the wolves having gone off on their several routes, to put up some other animal, and run him to death.
During the whole of that excited and tumultuous scene, which would probably now be termed a "stampede" in the Mexican-Americo-English of the day, Peter had not stirred. Familiar with such occurrences, he felt the importance of manifesting an unmoved calm, as a quality most likely to impress the minds of his companions with a profound sense of his dignity and self-command. While all around him was in a tumult, he stood in his tracks, motionless as a statue. Even the fortitude of the worthy missionary was shaken by the wild tempest that momentarily prevailed; and the good man forgot the Jews in his alarm at wolves, forgot the mighty past in his apprehensions for the uncomfortable and ill-boding present time. All this, however, was soon over, and order, and quiet, and a dignified calm once more reigned in the circle. Fagots were thrown on the fire; and the two captives, or spectators, stood as near it, the observed of all observers, as the heat rendered comfortable. It was just then that Crowsfeather and his companions first recognized the magician of the whiskey-spring.
Peter saw the discovery of the two spectators with some uneasiness. The time had not come when he intended to strike his blow; and he had seen signs among those Pottawattamies, when at the mouth of the river, which had told him how little they were disposed to look with favor on one who had so grievously trifled with their hopes. His first care, therefore, was to interpose his authority and influence between le Bourdon and any project of revenge, which Crowsfeather's young men might be apt to devise, as soon as they, too, laid eyes on the offender. This was done in a characteristic and wily manner.
"Does my brother love honey?" asked the tribeless chief of the leader of the Pottawattamies present, who sat near him, gazing on le Bourdon much as the cat looks upon the mouse, ere it makes it its prey. "Some Injins are fond of that sweet food: if my brother is one of that sort, I can tell him how to fill his wigwam with honey with little trouble."
At this suggestion, coming from such a source, Crowsfeather could not do less than express his thanks, and his readiness to hear what further might be in reserve for him. Peter then alluded to le Bourdon's art, describing him as being the most skilful bee-hunter of the West. So great was his art in that way, that no Indian had ever yet seen his equal. It was Peter's intention to make him exercise his craft soon, for the benefit of the chiefs and warriors present, who might then return to their village, carrying with them stores of honey to gladden the hearts of their squaws and pappooses. This artifice succeeded; for the Indians are not expert in taking this article of food, which so much abounds in the forests, both on account of the difficulty they find in felling the trees, and on account of the "angle-ing" part of the process, which much exceeds their skill in mathematics. On the other hand, the last is just the sort of skill a common white American would be likely to manifest, his readiness and ingenuity in all such processes almost amounting to an instinct.
Having thus thrown his mantle around le Bourdon for the moment, Peter then deemed it the better course to finish the historical investigation in which the council had been so much interested, when the strange interruption by the wolves occurred. With this view, therefore, he rose himself, and recalled the minds of all present to this interesting subject, by a short speech. This he did, especially to prevent any premature attack on the person of le Bourdon.
"Brothers," said this mysterious chief, "it is good for Injins to learn. When they learn a thing, they know it; then they may learn another. It is in this way that the pale-faces do; it makes them wise, and puts it in their power to take away our hunting-grounds. A man that knows nothing is only a child that has grown up too fast. He may be big--may take long steps--may be strong enough to carry burdens--may love venison and buffaloes' humps; but his size is only in the way; his steps he does not know where to direct; his burdens he does not know how to choose; and he has to beg food of the squaws, instead of carrying it himself to their wigwams. He has not learned how to take game. We must all learn. It is right. When we have learned how to take game, and how to strike the enemy, and how to keep the wigwam filled, then we may learn traditions. Traditions tell us of our fathers. We have many traditions. Some are talked of, even to the squaws. Some are told around the fires of the tribes. Some are known only to the aged chiefs. This is right, too. Injins ought not to say too much, nor too little. They should say what is wise--what is best. But my brother, the medicine-man of the pale- faces, says that our traditions have not told us everything. Something has been kept back. If so, it is best to learn that too. If we are Jews, and not Injins, we ought to know it. If we are Injins, and not Jews, our brother ought to know it, and not call us by a wrong name. Let him speak. We listen."
Here Peter slowly resumed his seat. As the missionary understood all that had been said, he next arose, and proceeded to make good, as far as he was able, and in such language as his knowledge of Indian habits suggested, his theory of the lost tribes.
"I wish my children to understand," resumed the missionary, "that it is an honor to be a Jew. I have not come here to lessen the red men in their own eyes, but to do them honor. I see that Bear's Meat wishes to say something; my ears are open, and my tongue is still."
"I thank my brother for the opportunity to say what is on my mind," returned the chief mentioned. "It is true I have something to say; it is this: I wish to ask the medicine-man if the pale-faces honor and show respect to the Jews?"
This was rather an awkward question for the missionary, but he was much too honest to dissemble. With a reverence for truth that proceeded from his reverence for the Father of all that is true, he replied honestly, though not altogether without betraying how much he regretted the necessity of answering at all. Both remained standing while the dialogue proceeded; or in parliamentary language, each may be said to have had the floor at the same time.
"My brother wishes to know if the pale-faces honor the Jews," returned the missionary. "I wish I could answer 'yes'; but the truth forces me to say 'no.' The pale-faces have traditions that make against the Jews, and the judgments of God weigh heavy on the children of Israel. But all good Christians, now, look with friendly eyes on this dispersed and persecuted people, and wish them well. It will give the white men very great pleasure to learn that I have found the lost tribes of Israel in the red men of America."
"Will my brother tell us why this will give his people pleasure? Is it because they will be glad to find old enemies, poor, living on narrow hunting-grounds, off which the villages and farms of the pale-faces begin to push them still nearer to the setting sun; and toward whom the small-pox has found a path to go, but none to come from?"
"Nay, nay, Bear's Meat, think not so unkindly of us of the white race! In crossing the great salt lake, and in coming to this quarter of the world, our fathers were led by the finger of God. We do but obey the will of the Great Spirit, in pressing forward into this wilderness, directed by his wisdom how to spread the knowledge of his name among those who, as yet, have never heard it; or, having heard, have not regarded it. In all this, the wisest men are but babes; not being able to say whither they are to go, or what is to be done."
"This is strange," returned the unmoved Indian. "It is not so with the red men. Our squaws and pappooses do know the hunting-ground of one tribe from the hunting-ground of another. When they put their feet on strange hunting-grounds, it is because they intended to go there, and to steal game. This is sometimes right. If it is right to take the scalp of an enemy, it is right to get his deer and his buffalo, too. But we never do this without knowing it. If we did, we should be unfit to go at large, unfit to sit in council. This is the first time I have heard that the pale-faces are so weak, and they have such feeble minds, too, that they do not know where they go."
"My brother does not understand me. No man can see into the future-- no man can say what will happen to-morrow. The Great Spirit only can tell. It is for him, then, to guide his children in their wanderings. When our fathers first came out of their canoes upon the land, on this side of the great salt lake, not one among them knew anything of this country between the great lakes of sweet water. They did not know that red men lived here. The Great Spirit did know, and intended then, that I should this night stand up in this council, and speak of his power and of his name, and do him reverence. It was the Great Spirit that put it into my mind to come among the Indians; and it is the Great Spirit who has led me, step by step, as warriors move toward the graves of their fathers, to make the discovery, that the Indians are, in truth, the children of Israel, a part of his own chosen and once much-favored people. Let me ask my friends one or two questions. Do not your traditions say that your fathers once came from a far-off land?"
Bear's Meat now took his seat, not choosing to answer a question of this nature, in the presence of a chief so much respected as Peter. He preferred to let the last take up the dialogue where he now saw fit to abandon it. As the other very well understood the reason of this sudden movement, he quietly assumed the office of spokesman; the whole affair proceeding much as if there had been no change.
"Our traditions do tell us that our fathers came from a far-off land," answered Peter, without rising.
"I thought so!--I thought so!" exclaimed the simple-minded and confiding missionary. "How wonderful are the ways of God! Yes, my brother, Judea is a far-off land, and your traditions say that your fathers came from such a distance! This, then, is something proved. Do not your traditions say, that once your tribes were more in favor with the Great Spirit than they are now?"
"Our traditions do say this: once our tribes did not see the face of the Manitou looking dark upon them, as it now does. That was before the pale-faces came in their big canoes, across the great salt lake, to drive the Indians from their hunting-grounds. It was when the small-pox had not found the path to their villages. When fire-water was unknown to them, and no Indian had ever burned his throat with it."
"Oh, but I speak of a time much more distant than that. Of a time when your prophets stood face to face with God, and talked with the Creator. Since that day a great change has come over your people. Then your color was light, like that of the fairest and handsomest of the Circassian race; now, it has become red. When even the color is changed, it is not wonderful that men should no longer be the same in other particulars. Yes; once all the races of men were of the same color and origin."
"This is not what our traditions say. We have heard from our fathers that the Great Spirit made men of different colors; some he made light, like the pale-faces; some red, like the Injins; some black, like the pale-faces' slaves. To some he gave high noses; to some low noses: to some flat noses. To the pale-faces he gave eyes of many colors. This is the reason why they see so many things, and in so many different ways. To the red men he gave eyes of the same color, and they always see things of the same color. To a red man there is no change. Our fathers have always been red. This we know. If them Jews, of whom my brother speaks, were ever white, they have not been our fathers. We tell this to the medicine-man, that he may know it, too. We do not wish to lead him on a crooked path, or to speak to him with a forked tongue. What we have said, is so. Now, the road is open to the wigwam of the pale-faces, and we wish them safe on their journey home. We Injins have a council to hold around this fire, and will stay longer."
At this plain intimation that their presence was no longer desirable, it became necessary for them to depart. The missionary, filled with zeal, was reluctant to go, for, in his eyes, the present communications with the savages promised him not only the conversion of pagans, but the restoration of the Jews! Nevertheless, he was compelled to comply; and when le Bourdon and the corporal took their departure, he turned, and pronounced in solemn tone the Christian benediction on the assembly. The meaning of this last impressive office was understood by most of the chiefs, and they rose as one man, in acknowledgment.
The three white men, on retiring from the circle, held their way toward Castle Meal. Hive followed his master, having come out of the combat but little injured. As they got to a point where a last look could be had of the bottom-land of the council, each turned to see what was now in the course of proceeding. The fire glimmered just enough to show the circlet of dark faces, but not an Indian spoke or moved. There they all sat, patiently waiting for the moment when the "strangers" might "withdraw" to a sufficient distance, to permit them to proceed with their own private affairs without fear of interruption.
"This has been to me a most trying scene," observed the missionary, as the three pursued their way toward the garrison. "How hard it is to convince men against their wishes. Now, I am as certain as a man can be, that every one of these Injins is in fact a Jew; and yet, you have seen how small has been my success in persuading them to be of the right way of thinking, on this subject."
"I have always noticed that men stick even to their defects, when they're nat'ral," returned the bee-hunter. "Even a nigger will stand up for his color, and why shouldn't an Injin? You began wrong, parson. Had you just told these chiefs that they were Jews, they might have stood that, poor creatures, for they hardly know how mankind looks upon a Jew; but you went to work to skin them, in a lump, making so many poor, wishy-washy pale-faces of all the red- skins, in a body. You and I may fancy a white face better than one of any other color; but nature colors the eye when it colors the body, and there's not a nigger in America who doesn't think black the pink of beauty."
"Perhaps it was proceeding too fast to say anything about the change of color, Bourdon. But what can a Christian minister do, unless he tell the truth? Adam could have been but of one color; and all the races on earth, one excepted, must have changed from that one color."
"Aye, and my life on it, that all the races on 'arth believe that one color to have been just that which has fallen to the luck of each partic'lar shade. Hang me if I should like to be persuaded out of my color, any more than these Injins. In America, color goes for a great deal; and it may count for as much with an Injin as among us whites. No, no, parson; you should have begun with persuading these savages into the notion that they're Jews; if you could get along with that, the rest might be all the easier."
"You speak of the Jews, not as if you considered them a chosen people of the Lord, but as a despised and hateful race. This is not right, Bourdon. I know that Christians are thus apt to regard them; but it does not tell well for their charity or their knowledge."
"I know very little about them, Parson Amen; not being certain of ever having seen a Jew in my life. Still, I will own that I have a sort of grudge against them, though I can hardly tell you why. Of one thing I feel certain--no man breathing should ever persuade me into the notion that I'M a Jew, lost or found; ten tribes or twenty. What say you, corporal, to this idea?"
"Just as you say, Bourdon. Jews, Turks, and infidels, I despise: so was I brought up, and so I shall remain."
"Can either of you tell me why you look in this uncharitable light, on so many of your fellow-creatures? It cannot be Christianity, for such are not its teachings or feelings. Nor is either of you very remarkable for his observance of the laws of God, as they have been revealed to Christian people. My heart yearns toward these Injins, who are infidels, instead of entertaining any of the feelings that the corporal has just expressed."
"I wish there were fewer of them, and that them few were farther from Castle Meal," put in le Bourdon, with point. "I have known all along that Peter meant to have a great council; but will own, now that I have seen something of it, I do not find it quite as much to my mind as I had expected it would be."
"There's a strong force on 'em," said the corporal, "and a hard set be they to look at. When a man's a young soldier, all this paint, and shaving of heads, and rings in noses and ears, makes some impression; but a campaign or two ag'in' the fellows soon brings all down to one color and one uniform, if their naked hides can be so called. I told 'em off, Bourdon, and reconn'itred 'em pretty well, while they was a making speeches; and, in my judgment, we can hold good the garrison ag'in' 'em all, if so be we do not run short of water. Provisions and water is what a body may call fundamentals, in a siege."
"I hope we shall have no need of force--nay, I feel persuaded there will not be," said Parson Amen. "Peter is our friend; and his command over these savages is wonderful! Never before have I seen red men so completely under the control of a chief. Your men at Fort Dearborn, corporal, were scarcely more under the orders of their officers, than these red-skins are under the orders of this chief!"
"I will not go to compare rig'lars with Injins, Mr. Parson," answered the corporal, a little stiffly. "They be not of the same natur' at all, and ought not to be put on a footing, in any particular. These savages may obey their orders, after a fashion of their own; but I should like to see them manoeuvre under fire. I've fit Injins fourteen times, in my day, and have never seen a decent line, or a good, honest, manly, stand-up charge, made by the best among 'em, in any field, far or near. Trees and covers is necessary to their constitutions, just as sartain as a deer chased will take to water to throw off the scent. Put 'em up with the baggonet, and they'll not stand a minute."
"How should they, corporal," interrupted le Bourdon laughing, "when they've no baggonets of their own to make a stand with? You put one in mind of what my father used to say. He was a soldier in revolution times, and sarved his seven years with Washington. The English used to boast that the Americans wouldn't 'stand up to the rack,' if the baggonet was set to work; 'but this was before we got our own toothpicks,' said the old man. 'As soon as they gave us baggonets, too, there was no want of standing up to the work.' It seems to me, corporal, you overlook the fact that Injins carry no baggonets."
"Every army uses its own weapons. If an Injin prefers his knife and his tomahawk to a baggonet, it is no affair of mine. I speak of a charge as I see it; and the soldier who relies on a tomahawk instead of a baggonet, should stand in his tracks, and give tomahawk play. No, no, Bourdon, seeing is believing. These red-skins can do nothing with our people, when our people is properly regimented, well officered, and thoroughly drilled. They're skeary to new beginners-- that I must acknowledge--but beyond that I set them down as nothing remarkable as military men."
"Good or bad, I wish there were fewer of them, and that they were farther off. This man Peter is a mystery to me: sometimes he seems quite friendly; then, ag'in, he appears just ready to take all our scalps. Do you know much of his past history, Mr. Amen?"
"Not as much as I wish I did," the missionary replied. "No one can tell me aught concerning Peter, beyond the fact of his being a sort of a prophet, and a chief of commanding influence. Even his tribe is unknown; a circumstance that points us to the ancient history of the Jews for the explanation. It is my own opinion that Peter is of the race of Aaron, and that he is designed by Divine Providence to play an important part in the great events on which we touch. All that is wanting is, to persuade him into this belief, himself. Once persuade a man that he is intended to be something, and your work is half done to your hands. But the world is so full of ill-digested and random theories, that truth has as much as it can do to obtain a sober and patient hearing!"
Thus is it with poor human nature. Let a man get a crotchet into his head--however improbable it may be, however little supported by reason or fact, however ridiculous, indeed--and he becomes indisposed to receive any evidence but that which favors his theory; to see any truths but such as he fancies will harmonize with his truths; or to allow of any disturbing causes in the great workings of his particular philosophy. This notion of Parson Amen's concerning the origin of the North American savage, did not originate with that simple-minded enthusiast, by any means. In this way are notions formed and nurtured. The missionary had read somewhat concerning the probability that the American Indians were the lost tribes of Israel; and possessed with the idea, everything he saw was tortured into evidence in support of his theory. There is just as much reason for supposing that any, and all, of the heathen savages that are scattered up and down the earth have this origin, as to ascribe it to our immediate tribes; but to this truth the good parson was indifferent, simply because it did not come within the circle of his particular belief.
Thus, too, was it with the corporal. Unless courage, and other military qualities, were manifested precisely in the way in which he had been trained, they were not courage and military qualities at all. Every virtue has its especial and conventional accessories, according to this school of morals; nothing of the sort remaining as it came from above, in the simple abstract qualities of right and wrong. On such feelings and principles as these, do men get to be dogmatical, narrow-minded, and conceited!
Our three white men pursued their way back to the "garrison," conversing as they went, much in the manner they did in the dialogue we have just recorded. Neither Parson Amen nor the corporal seemed to apprehend anything, not-withstanding the extraordinary scene in which one had been an actor, and of which the other had been a witness. Their wonder and apprehensions, no doubt, were much mitigated by the fact, that it was understood Peter was to meet a large collection of the chiefs in the Openings, and the minds of all were, more or less, prepared to see some such assemblage as had that night got together. The free manner in which the mysterious chief led the missionary to the circle, was, of itself, some proof that he did not desire concealment; and even le Bourdon admitted, when they came to discuss the details, that this was a circumstance that told materially in favor of the friendliness of his intentions. Still, the bee-hunter had his doubts; and most sincerely did he wish that all in Castle Meal, Blossom in particular, were safe within the limits of civilized settlements.
On reaching the "garrison," all was safe. Whiskey Centre watched the gate--a sober man, now, perforce, if not by inclination; for being in the Openings, in this respect, is like being at sea with an empty spirit-room. He was aware that several had passed out, but was surprised to learn that Peter was of the number. That gate Peter had not passed, of a certainty; and how else he could quit the palisades was not easily understood. It was possible to climb over them, it is true; but the feat would be attended with so great an exertion, and would be so likely to lead to a noise which would expose the effort, that all had great difficulty in believing a man so dignified and reserved in manner as this mysterious chief would be apt to resort to such means of quitting the place.
As for the Chippewa, Gershom reported his return a few minutes before; and the bee-hunter entered, to look for that tried friend, as soon as he learned the fact. He found Pigeonswing laying aside his accoutrements, previously to lying down to take his rest.
"So, Chippewa, you have come back, have you?" exclaimed le Bourdon. "So many of your red-skin brethren are about, that I didn't expect to see you again for these two or three days."
"No want to eat, den, eh? How you all eat, if hunter don't do he duty? S'pose squaw don't cook vittles, you no like it, eh? Juss so wid hunter--no kill vittles, don't like it nudder."
"This is true enough. Still, so many of your people are about, just now, that I thought it probable you might wish to remain outside with them for a day or two."
"How know red man about, eh? You see him--you count him eh?"
"I have seen something like fifty, and may say I counted that many. They were chiefs, however, and I take it for granted, a goodly number of common warriors are not far off. Am I right, Pigeonswing?"
"S'pose don't know--den, can't tell? Only tell what he know."
"Sometimes an Injin guesses, and comes as near the truth as a white man who has seen the thing with his own Pigeonswing made no answer; though le Bourdon fancied, from his manner, that he had really something on his mind, and that, too, of importance, which he wished to communicate.
"I think you might tell me some news that I should like to hear, Chippewa, if you was so minded."
"Why you stay here, eh?" demanded the Indian, abruptly. "Got plenty honey--bess go home, now. Always bess go home, when hunt up. Home good place, when hunter well tired."
"My home is here, in the Openings, Pigeonswing. When I go into the settlements, I do little but loaf about among the farm-houses on the Detroit River, having neither squaw nor wigwam of my own to go to. I like this place well enough, if your red brethren will let me keep it in peace."
"Dis bad place for pale-face, juss now. Better go home, dan stay in Openin'. If don't know short path to Detroit, I show you. Bess go, soon as can; and bess go alone. No good to be trouble wid squaw, when in hurry."
The countenance of le Bourdon changed at this last intimation; though the Indian might not have observed it in the darkness. After a brief pause, the first answered in a very determined way.
"I believe I understand you, Chippewa," he said. "I shall do nothing of the sort, however. If the squaws can't go, too, I shall not quit them. Would you desert your squaws because you thought them in trouble?"
"An't your squaw yet. Bess not have squaw at all, when Openin' so full of Injin. Where you t'ink is two buck I shoot dis mornin', eh? Skin 'em, cut 'em up, hang 'em on tree, where wolf can't get 'em. Well, go on after anudder; kill him, too. Dere he is, inside of palisade, but no tudder two. He bot' gone, when I get back to tree. Two good buck as ever see! How you like dat, eh?"
"I care very little about it, since we have food enough, and are not likely to want. So the wolves got your venison from the trees, after all your care; ha! Pigeonswing."
"Wolf don't touch him--wolf can't touch him. Moccasin been under tree. See him mark. Bess do as I tell you; go home, soon as ever can. Short path to Detroit; an't two hundred pale-face mile."
"I see how it is, Pigeonswing; I see how it is, and thank you for this hint, while I honor your good faith to your own people. But I cannot go to Detroit, in the first place, for that town and fort have fallen into the hands of the British. It might be possible for a canoe to get past in the night, and to work its way through into Lake Erie, but I cannot quit my friends. If you can put us all in the way of getting away from this spot, I shall be ready to enter into the scheme. Why can't we all get into the canoe, and go down stream, as soon as another night sets in? Before morning we could be twenty miles on our road."
"No do any good," returned Pigeonswing, coldly. "If can't go alone, can't go at all. Squaw no keep up when so many be on trail. No good to try canoe. Catch you in two days--p'raps one. Well, I go to sleep--can't keep eye open all night."
Hereupon, Pigeonswing coolly repaired to his skins, lay down, and was soon fast asleep. The bee-hunter was fain to do the same, the night being now far advanced; but he lay awake a long time, thinking of the hint he had received, and pondering on the nature of the danger which menaced the security of the family. At length, sleep asserted its power over even him, and the place lay in the deep stillness of night.