“Say on, Peter,” answered the missionary to this sign; “I will reply.”
“Let my brother say why the Great Spirit turned the Indian to a red color. Was he angry with him? or did he paint him so out of love?”
“This is more than I can tell you, friends. There are many colors among men, in different parts of the world, and many shades among people of the same color. There are pale-faces fair as the lily, and there are pale-faces so dark, as scarcely to be distinguished from blacks. The sun does much of this; but no sun, nor want of sun, will ever make a pale-face a red-skin, or a red skin a pale-face.”
“Good—that is what we Indians say. The Manitou has made us different; he did not mean that we should live on the same hunting-grounds,” rejoined Peter, who rarely failed to improve every opportunity in order to impress on the minds of his followers the necessity of now crushing the serpent in its shell.
“No man can say that,” answered Parson Amen. “Unless my people had come to this continent, the word of God could not have been preached by me, along the shores of these lakes. But I will now speak of our great tradition. The Great Spirit divided mankind into nations and tribes. When this was done, he picked out one for his chosen people. The pale-faces call that favorite, and for a long time much-favored people, Jews. The Manitou led them through a wilderness, and even through a salt lake, until they reached a promised land, where he permitted them to live for many hundred winters. A great triumph was to come out of that people—the triumphs of truth and of the law, over sin and death. In the course of time—”
Here a young chief rose, made a sign of caution, and crossing the circle rapidly, disappeared by the passage through which the rill flowed. In about a minute he returned, showing the way into the centre of the council to one whom all present immediately recognized as a runner, by his dress and equipments. Important news was at hand; yet not a man of all that crowd either rose or spoke, in impatience to learn what it was!
Who will believe that, with a smile
Would, like the patriarch’s, soothe a dying hour;
With voice as low, as gentle, and caressing
As e’er won maiden’s lips in moonlight bower;
With look like patient Job’s,
With motions graceful as the birds in air;
Thou art, in sober truth, the veriest devil
That e’er clinched fingers in a captive’s hair?
Although the arrival of the runner was so totally unexpected, it scarcely disturbed the quiet of that grave assembly. His approaching step had been heard, and he was introduced in the manner mentioned, when the young chief resumed his seat, leaving the messenger standing near the centre of the circle, and altogether within the influence of the light. He was an Ottawa, and had evidently travelled far and fast. At length he spoke; no one having put a single question to him, or betrayed the least sign of impatient curiosity.