Although le Bourdon could hold a conversation in the tongue of the Ojebways, he was not fond of so doing. He comprehended without difficulty nearly all of what was said by them, and had observed the previous night that the warriors made many allusions to a chief whom they styled Onoah, but who he himself knew was usually called Scalping Peter among the whites of that frontier. This savage had a fearful reputation at all the garrisons, though he never showed himself in them; and he was now spoken of by the Pottawattamies present, as if they expected to meet him soon, and to be governed by his commands or his advice. The bee-hunter had paid great attention whenever this dreaded name was mentioned, for he was fully aware of the importance of keeping clear of an enemy who bore so bad a reputation that it was not considered prudent for a white man to remain long in his company even in a time of peace. His English sobriquet had been obtained from the circumstances of its being reputed that this chief, who seemed to belong to no tribe in particular, while he had great influence with all, had on divers occasions murdered the palefaces who fell in his way, and then scalped them. It was added, that he had already forty notches on his pole, to note that number of scalps taken from the hated whites. In short, this Indian, a sort of chief by birth, though of what tribe no one exactly knew, appeared to live only to revenge the wrongs done his color by the intruders, who had come from toward the rising sun to drive his people into the great salt lake on the other side of the Rocky Mountains. Of course there was a good deal that was questionable in these reports; a rumor in the “openings” and on the prairies, having this general resemblance to those that circulate in town, and in drawing-rooms, and at feasts, that no one of them all can be relied on as rigidly exact. But le Bourdon was still young, and had yet to learn how little of that which we all hear is true, and how very much is false. Nevertheless, as an Indian tradition is usually more accurate than a white man’s written history, so is a rumor of the forest generally entitled to more respect than the ceaseless gossipings of the beings who would be affronted were they not accounted civilized.
The bee-hunter was still on the elevated bit of ground, making his observations, when he was joined by Margery. The girl appeared fresh and handsome, after a night of sleep, and coming from her dressing-room in a thicket, and over a stream of sweet running water; but she was sad and thoughtful. No sooner had le Bourdon shaken her hand, and repeated his thanks for the succor of the past night, than the full heart of Margery poured out its feelings, as the swollen stream overflows its banks, and began to weep.