Here the missionary took his seat, wisely awaiting a demonstration on the part of the council, ere he ventured to proceed any further. This was the first occasion on which he had ever attempted to broach, in a direct form, his favorite theory of the “lost tribes.” Let a man get once fairly possessed of any peculiar notion, whether it be on religion, political economy, morals, politics, arts, or anything else, and he sees little beside his beloved principle, which he is at all times ready to advance, defend, demonstrate, or expatiate on. Nothing can be simpler than the two great dogmas of Christianity, which are so plain that all can both comprehend them and feel their truth. They teach us to love God, the surest way to obey him, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Any one can understand this; all can see how just it is, and how much of moral sublimity it contains. It is Godlike, and brings us near the very essence of the Divinity, which is love, mercy, and truth. Yet how few are content to accept the teachings of the Saviour in this respect, without embarrassing them with theories that have so much of their origin in human fancies. We do not mean by this, however, that Parson Amen was so very wrong in bestowing a part of his attention on that wonderful people, who, so early set apart by the Creator as the creatures of his own especial ends, have already played so great a part in the history of nations, and who are designed, so far as we can penetrate revelation, yet to enact their share in the sublime drama of human events.
As for the council, its members were moved by more than ordinary curiosity to hear what further the missionary might have to say, though all present succeeded admirably in suppressing the exhibition of any interest that might seem weak and womanly. After a decent delay, therefore, Bear’s Meat intimated to the parson that it would be agreeable to the chiefs present to listen to him further.
“My children, I have a great tradition to tell you,” the missionary resumed, as soon as on his feet again; “a very great and divine tradition; not a tradition of man’s, but one that came direct from the Manitou himself. Peter has spoken truth; there is but one Great Spirit; he is the Great Spirit of all colors, and tribes, and nations. He made all men of the same clay.” Here a slight sensation was perceptible among the audience, most of whom were very decidedly of a different opinion, on this point of natural history. But the missionary was now so far warmed with his subject as to disregard any slight interruption, and proceeded as if his listeners had betrayed no feeling. “And he divided them afterward into nations and tribes. It was then he caused the color of his creatures to change. Some he kept white, as he had made them. Some he put behind a dark cloud, and they became altogether black. Our wise men think that this was done in punishment for their sins. Some he painted red, like the nations on this continent.” Here Peter raised a finger, in sign that he would ask a question; for, without permission granted, no Indian would interrupt the speaker. Indeed, no one of less claims than Peter would hardly have presumed to take the step he now did, and that because he saw a burning curiosity gleaming in the bright eyes of so many in the dark circle.