Leaving the newly-married couple to pursue their way homeward, it is now our province to return to Prairie Round. One accustomed to such scenes would easily have detected the signs of divided opinions and of agitating doubts among the chiefs, though nothing like contention or dispute had yet manifested itself. Peter’s control was still in the ascendant, and he had neglected none of his usual means of securing influence. Perhaps he labored so much the harder, from the circumstance that he now found himself so situated, as to be compelled to undo much that he had previously done.
On the other hand, Ungque appeared to have no particular cause of concern. His manner was as much unoccupied as usual; and to his habit of referring all his influence to sudden and powerful bursts of eloquence, if design of any sort was entertained, he left his success.
We pass over the details of assembling the council. The spot was not exactly on the prairie, but in a bit of lovely “Opening” on its margin, where the eye could roam over a wide extent of that peculiar natural meadow, while the body enjoyed the shades of the wood. The chiefs alone were in the circle, while the “braves” and the “young men” generally formed a group on the outside; near enough to hear what passed, and to profit by it, if so disposed. The pipe was smoked, and all the ordinary customs observed, when Bear’s Meat arose, the first speaker on that momentous occasion.
“Brothers,” he said, “this is the great council on Prairie Round to which we have been called. We have met before, but not here. This is our first meeting here. We have travelled a long path to get here. Some of our brethren have travelled farther. They are at Detroit. They went there to meet our great Canada father, and to take Yankee scalps. How many scalps they have taken I do not know, or I would tell you. It is pleasant to me to count Yankee scalps. I would rather count them, than count the scalps of red men. There are still a great many left. The Yankees are many, and each Yankee has a scalp. There should not be so many. When the buffaloes came in the largest droves, our fathers used to go out to hunt them in the strongest parties. Their sons should do the same. We are the sons of those fathers. They say we look like them, talk like them, live like them—we should act like them. Let another speak, for I have done.”
After this brief address, which bore some resemblance to a chairman’s calling a meeting of civilized men to order, there was more smoking. It was fully expected that Peter would next arise, but he did not. Perceiving this, and willing to allow time to that great chief to arrange his thoughts, Crowsfeather assumed the office of filling the gap. He was far more of a warrior than of an orator, and was listened to respectfully, but less for what he said, than for what he had done. A good deal of Indian boasting, quite naturally, was blended with his discourse.