Crevecoeur, in the description of his journey in Upper Pennsylvania, tells us how accurately the native sagacity of the wiser Indians could discriminate between their own characteristics and those of the white strangers, and foresee the consequences that must follow.
“Seest thou,” said one of them, “that the whites subsist on grain, while we depend on flesh; that the flesh requires more than thirty moons to mature, and is often scarce; that each of those wonderful grains which they deposit in the ground gives back more than a hundredfold in return; that the meat whereon we subsist has four legs to run away, while we have only two to catch it; and that the seeds planted by the strangers remain and increase, and never run away? That is the reason why they have so many children, and live longer than we do. I say unto each one of you who will listen, that, before the cedars of our village shall die of age, and the maple-trees of the valley cease to yield sugar, that the race of the sowers of little seeds will have exterminated the race of the flesh-eaters, provided our hunters do not also resolve to sow.”
Through the vast solitude, impressive by its silence and its loneliness, guiding their course by day by the position of the sun and the mosses on the trunks of the trees, and at night by the stars, the three men pursued their way. On the afternoon of the third day, the Knight, after a conversation with their guide, came to the conclusion that it was better the Aberginian should return, as they had now approached too nearly to the haunts of the Taranteens to suppose that they should long remain undiscovered. Accordingly, the Indian took his departure, leaving to the white men all the dangers of a further advance, and to find their way as best they might.
“Mery it was in the grene forest,
Amonge the leves grene;
Whereas men hunt east and west,
Wyth bowes and arrowes kene.”
BALLAD OF ADAM BELL, “Clym of the Clough, and William of Cloudesly”.
As the Knight, with confident steps, led the way, Arundel expressed surprise at the skill which he displayed.
“You forget that I may be said to be half an Indian myself,” said Sir Christopher, “and am therefore entitled to a knowledge of the woods. I know not how many times I have accompanied the natives in their distant hunting expeditions, and it would be strange if the experience were thrown away.”
“But surely you could never have penetrated so far in the direction of this fierce tribe?”
“Farther, my young friend. I have wandered more than a week’s journey to every quarter of the compass from my lodge; and it is the knowledge of the country thus derived, and intimacy with Indian character, that inspire me with resolution in our enterprise. It might be considered a perilous accomplishment,” he added, with a smile, “since it recommended me to the consideration of the Council, to whom, moreover, the life of one not of the congregation is of less value.”