At times he stood and looked out from the door of the palisade, when the prairie mists were rising in the morning at the mandate of the sun, and to his eyes these waving seas of grasses all seemed beckoning fields of corn. These smokes, coming from the broken tepees of the timid tribesmen, surely they arose from the roofs of happy and contented homes! These wreaths and wraiths of the twisting and wide-stalking mists, surely these were the captains of a general husbandry! Ah, John Law, John Law! Had God given thee the right feeling and contented heart, happy indeed had been these days in this new land of thine own, far from ignoble strivings and from fevered dreams, far from aimless struggles and unregulated avarice, far from oppression and from misery, far from bickerings, heart-burnings and envyings! Ah, John Law! Had God but given thee the pure and well-contented heart! For here in the Messasebe, that Mind which made the universe and set man to be one of its little inhabitants—surely that Mind had planned that man should come and grow in this place, tall and strong, and fruitful, useful to all the world, even as this swift, strong growing of the maize.
THE BRINK OF CHANGE
The breath of autumn came into the air. The little flowers which had dotted the grassy robe of the rolling hills had long since faded away under the ardent sun, and now there appeared only the denuded stalks of the mulleins and the flaunting banners of the goldenrod. The wild grouse shrank from the edges of the little fields and joined their numbers into general bands, which night and morn crossed the country on sustained and strong-winged flight. The plumage of the young wild turkeys, stalking in droves among the open groves, began to emulate the iridescent splendors of their elders. The marshes above the village became the home of yet more numerous thousands of clamoring wild fowl, and high up against the blue there passed, on the south-bound journey, the harrow of the wild geese, wending their way from North to South across an unknown empire.
A chill came into the waters of the river, so that the bass and pike sought out the deeper pools. The squirrels busily hoarded up supplies of the nuts now ripening. The antlers of the deer and the elk which emerged from the concealing thickets now showed no longer ragged strips of velvet, and their tips were polished in the preliminary fitting for the fall season of love and combat. There came nights when the white frost hung heavy upon all the bending grasses and the broad-leafed plants, a frost which seared the maize leaves and set aflame the foliage of the maples all along the streams, and decked in a hundred flamboyant tones the leaves of the sumach and all the climbing vines.
As all things now presaged the coming winter, so there approached also the time when the little party, so long companions upon the Western trails, must for the first time know division. Du Mesne, making ready for the return trip over the unknown waterways back to the Lakes, as had been determined to be necessary, spoke of it as though the journey were but an affair of every day.