“The unknown chief has answered,” he said, “I am glad. I love to hear his words. My ears are always open when he speaks, and my mind is stronger. I now see that it is good he should not have a tribe. He may be a Cherokee, and then our warriors would wish him ill.” This was a home-thrust, most artfully concealed; a Cherokee being the Indian of all others the most hated by the chiefs present;—the Carthaginians of those western Romans. “It is better he should not have a tribe, than be a Cherokee. He might better be a weasel.
“Brothers, we have been told to kill all the pale-faces. I like that advice. The land cannot have two owners. If a pale-face owns it, an Injin cannot. If an Injin owns it, a pale-face cannot. But the chief without a tribe tells us not to kill all. He tells us to kill all but the bee-hunter and his squaw. He thinks this bee-hunter is a medicine bee-hunter, and may do us Injins great harm. He wishes to let him go.
“Brothers, this is not my way of thinking. It is better to kill the bee-hunter and his squaw while we can, that there may be no more such medicine bee-hunters to frighten us Injins. If one bee-hunter can do so much harm, what would a tribe of bee-hunters do? I do not want to see any more. It is a dangerous thing to know how to talk with bees. It is best that no one should have that power. I would rather never taste honey again, than live among pale-faces that can talk with bees.
“Brothers, it is not enough that the pale-faces know so much more than the red men, but they must get the bees to tell them where to find honey, to find bears, to find warriors. No; let us take the scalp of the bee-talker, and of his squaw, that there may never be such a medicine again. I have spoken.”
Peter did not rise again. He felt that his dignity was involved in maintaining silence. Various chiefs now uttered their opinions, in brief, sententious language. For the first time since he began to preach his crusade, the current was setting against the mysterious chief. The Weasel said no more, but the hints he had thrown out were improved on by others. It is with savages as with civilized men; a torrent must find vent. Peter had the sagacity to see that by attempting further to save le Bourdon and Margery, he should only endanger his own ascendancy, without effecting his purpose. Here he completely overlaid the art of Ungque, turning his own defeat into an advantage. After the matter had been discussed for fully an hour, and this mysterious chief perceived that it was useless to adhere to his new resolution, he gave it up with as much tact as the sagacious Wellington himself could manifest in yielding Catholic emancipation, or parliamentary reform; or, just in season to preserve an appearance of floating in the current, and with a grace that disarmed his opponents.
“Brothers,” said Peter, by way of closing the debate, “I have not seen straight. Fog sometimes gets before the eyes, and we cannot see. I have been in a fog. The breath of my brother has blown it away. I now see clearly. I see that bee-hunters ought not to live. Let this one die—let his squaw die, too!”