“No,” said he. “You have come here accused of great crimes—of having assisted in taking the lives of some of the defenceless settlers. When you have been tried by the laws of the land, and been proved innocent, then your Father will give you his hand.”
They looked still more serious at this address, as if they thought it indicated that their Father, too, believed them guilty, and stepping back a little, they seated themselves, without speaking, in a row upon the ground, facing their Father and the officers. The other Indians all took seats in a circle around them, except the one-eyed chief, Kau-ray-kau-say-kah (the White Crow), who had been deputed to deliver the prisoners to the Agent.
He made a speech in which he set forth that, “although asserting their innocence of the charges preferred against them, his countrymen were quite willing to be tried by the laws of white men. He hoped they would not be detained long, but that the matter would be investigated soon, and that they would come out of it clear and white.”
In reply he was assured that all things would be conducted fairly and impartially, exactly as if the accused were white men, and the hope was added that they would be found to have been good and true citizens, and peaceful children of their Great Father, the President.
When this was over, White Crow requested permission to transfer the medal he had received as a mark of friendship from the President, to his son, who stood beside him, and who had been chosen by the nation to fill his place as chief, an office he was desirous of resigning. The speeches made upon this occasion, as interpreted by Paquette, the modest demeanor of the young man, and the dignified yet feeling manner of the father throughout, made the whole ceremony highly impressive; and when the latter took the medal from his neck and hung it around that of his son, addressing him a few appropriate words, I think no one could have witnessed the scene unmoved.
I had watched the countenances of the prisoners as they sat on the ground before me, while all these ceremonies were going forward. With one exception they were open, calm, and expressive of conscious innocence. Of that one I could not but admit there might be reasonable doubts. One was remarkably fine-looking—another was a boy of certainly not more than seventeen, and during the transfer of the medal he looked from one to the other, and listened to what was uttered by the speakers, with an air and expression of even childlike interest and satisfaction.
Our hearts felt sad for them as, the ceremonies finished, they were conducted by a file of soldiers and committed to the dungeon of the guard-house until such time as they should be summoned to attend the court appointed to try their cause.
ESCAPE OF THE PRISONERS.