“Ne-ka-tunch nee-zusts,” (six moons), replied the Indian, holding up six fingers.
“Will the chief tell me what he pleases about him?” said the young man, whose ingenuous nature revolted at any attempt by insidious questions to extract from the savage a knowledge which he desired to conceal. It appeared unworthy of himself, and a wrong to both his friends. “I know little of Soog-u-gest, and would like to learn more.”
The fine, bold face of the Indian looked pleased at the frankness of Arundel, and, it is probable, that he was more communicative than if he had been adroitly questioned. His native subtlety might then have taken alarm, and cunning been met by cunning. But Sassacus felt no desire, on his own account, for concealment. The two young men had been strongly attached to each other from the first, and on the side of the Indian, at least, was springing up a friendship for the other, more like that which Plato celebrates among the Greeks, or Cicero dilates upon, than the feeling of modern times.
“Listen, my brother,” said the chief. “It is more than six moons since Soog-u-gest came into the woods. Sassacus was laughing when he said that six moons only had lighted the path betwixt him and Soog-u-gest, but he is not laughing now. The white chief built his wigwam in the woods because he loves the Indians and the sound of their language, and Sassacus loves him for that reason, and because he has sat in the lodge on the pleasant bank of the Pequot river, and ate venison with Sassacus from the same fire. All Indians love to hear him tell how great and happy they might be. He knows more of the tribes than any other white man, and has been far toward the setting sun, even beyond the country of the Maquas. Soog-u-gest is very wise, and his eyes pierce far into the darkness. And now let my brother bend down his head, so that not one of my words may be lost. Soog-u-gest has promised to teach the Indians to become wise and powerful like the white men. Perhaps now that my brother knows that, he will help.”
“But Governor Winthrop and the ministers will teach all that can be taught you, and so will all the English.”
“My brother is mistaken,” said Sassacus, earnestly. “Sachem Winthrop’s men are jealous of their great Manito, and do not wish to teach the Indians how to talk with him, lest he should like us better than themselves. Now, we want to know how to talk with the Manito who instructed them in so many things. If they are good for Owanux, they may be good for us too.”
“Certain am I, Sassacus,” said Arundel, “nothing would delight the noble heart of the Governor more than to have you Christians.”
“Sassacus wishes not to be a Christian. He was born an Indian, and will live and die true to the traditions of his race. Christian is good for Owanux, but is very bad for the red men. The beavers build dams in the streams, while the eagle flies among the clouds. The English are beavers, but Sassacus is an eagle.”