The savage to whom this was addressed fairly started with delight. He was eagerly signifying his cheerful assent to the proposal, when Peter quietly interposed, and changed the discourse to himself, in a way that he had, and which would not easily admit of denial. It was apparent to le Bourdon that this mysterious Indian was not content that one so direct and impetuous in his feelings as Bear’s Meat, and who was at the same time so little qualified to manage his portion of an intellectual conversation, should be foremost any longer. For that reason he brought himself more into the foreground, leaving to his friend the capacity of listener and observer, rather than that of a speaker and actor. What took place under this new arrangement, will appear as the narrative proceeds.
—Therefore, go with me;
I’ll give the fairies to attend on thee;
And they shall fetch thee jewels from the deep,
—Peas-blossom! cobweb! moth! and mustard-seed,
As le Bourdon kept moving across the prairie, while the remarks were made that have been recorded in the preceding chapter, he soon reached the new position where he intended to again set up his stand. Here he renewed his operations; Peter keeping nearest his person, in jealous watchfulness of the least movement he made. Bees were caught, and scarce a minute elapsed ere the bee-hunter had two of them on the piece of comb, uncovered and at liberty. The circumstance that the cap was momentarily placed over the insects, struck the savages as a piece of necromancy, in particular. The reader will understand that this is done in order to darken the tumbler, and induce the bee to settle down on the honey so much the sooner. To one who understood the operation and its reason, the whole was simple enough; but it was a very different matter with men as little accustomed to prying into the habits of creatures as insignificant as bees. Had deer, or bisons, or bears, or any of the quadrupeds of those regions, been the subject of the experiment, it is highly probable that individuals could have been found in that attentive and wondering crowd, who could have enlightened the ablest naturalists on the subject of the animals under examination; but when the inquiry descended to the bee, it went below the wants and usages of savage life.
“Where you t’ink dis bee go?” demanded Peter, in English, as soon as le Bourdon raised the tumbler.
“One will go in this direction, the other in that,” answered the bee-hunter, pointing first toward the corner of the woods, then toward the island in the prairie—the two points toward which two of the other bees had flown.