The predictions might or might not prove true. If they did, the effect must be great; if they did not, the failure would soon be forgotten in matters of more interest. Our hero, therefore, risked but little, while he had the chance of gaining a very great advantage. By a fortunate coincidence, the result completely justified the prediction. A bee rose, made its circles around the stand, and away it went toward the island-like copse in the prairie; while its companion soon imitated its example, but taking the other prescribed direction. This time Peter watched the insects so closely that he was a witness of their movements, and with his own eyes he beheld the flight, as well as the direction taken by each.
“You tell bee do dis?” demanded Peter, with a surprise that was so sudden, as well as so great, that it overcame in some slight degree his habitual self-command.
“To be sure I did,” replied le Bourdon, carelessly. “If you wish to see another, you may.”
Here the young man coolly took another bee, and put it on the comb. Indifferent as he appeared, however, he used what was perhaps the highest degree of his art in selecting this insect. It was taken from the bunch of flowers whence one of his former captives had been taken, and there was every chance of its belonging to the same hive as its companion. Which direction it might take, should it prove to be a bee from either of the two hives of which the positions were now known, it altogether exceeded Boden’s art to tell, so he dexterously avoided committing himself. It was enough that Peter gazed attentively, and that he saw the insect dart away, disappearing in the direction of the island. By this time more of the savages were on the alert, and now knowing how and where to look for the bee, they also saw its course.
“You tell him ag’in go dere?” asked Peter, whose interest by this time was so manifest, as to defy all attempts at concealment.
“To be sure I did. The bees obey me, as your young men obey you. I am their chief, and they know me. I will give you further proof of this. We will now go to that little bit of wood, when you shall all see what it contains. I have sent three of my bees there; and here, one of them is already back, to let me know what he has seen.”
Sure enough, a bee was buzzing around the head of le Bourdon, probably attracted by some fragment of comb, and he cunningly converted it into a messenger from the copse! All this was wonderful to the crowd, and it even greatly troubled Peter. This man was much less liable to the influence of superstition than most of his people; but he was very far from being altogether above it. This is the fact with very few civilized men; perhaps with no man whatever, let his philosophy and knowledge be what they may; and least of all, is it true with the ignorant. There is too much of the uncertain, of the conjectural in our condition as human beings, to raise us altogether