“You t’ink dat bee talk?” Peter asked of Margery, in a tone of confidence, as if a newly-awakened principle now existed between them.
“Bourdon must think so, Peter,” the girl evasively answered, “or he would hardly listen to hear what it says.”
“It’s strange, bee should talk! Almos’ as strange as pale-face wish to leave Injin any land! Sartain, bee talk, eh?”
“I never heard one talk, Peter, unless it might be in its buzzing. That may be the tongue of a bee, for anything I know to the contrary.”
By this time le Bourdon seemed to be satisfied, and let the bee go; the savages murmuring their wonder and admiration.
“Do my brothers wish to hunt?” asked the bee-hunter in a voice so loud that all near might hear what he had to say.
This question produced a movement at once. Skill in hunting, next to success on the war-path, constitutes the great merit of an Indian; and it is ever his delight to show that he possesses it. No sooner did le Bourdon throw out his feeler, therefore, than a general exclamation proclaimed the readiness of all the young men, in particular, to join in the chase.
“Let my brothers come closer,” said Ben, in an authoritative manner; “I have something to put into their ears. They see that point of wood, where the dead basswood has fallen on the prairie. Near that basswood is honey, and near that honey are bears. This my bees have told me. Now, let my brothers divide, and some go into the woods, and some stay on the prairie; then they will have plenty of sweet food.”
As all this was very simple, and easily to be comprehended, not a moment was lost in the execution. With surprising order and aptitude, the chiefs led off their parties; one line of dark warriors penetrating the forest on the eastern side of the basswood, and another on its western; while a goodly number scattered themselves on the prairie itself, in its front. In less than a quarter of an hour, signals came from the forest that the battue was ready, and Peter gave the answering sign to proceed.
Down to this moment, doubts existed among the savages concerning the accuracy of le Bourdon’s statement. How was it possible that his bees should tell him where he could find bears? To be sure, bears were the great enemies of bees—this every Indian knew—but could the bees have a faculty of thus arming one enemy against another? These doubts, however, were soon allayed by the sudden appearance of a drove of bears, eight or ten in number, that came waddling out of the woods, driven before the circle of shouting hunters that had been formed within.