“I believe I understand you, Peter,” observed le Bourdon, finding that his companion paused. “You mean war. War, in the Injin mode of redressing all wrongs; war against man, woman, and child!”
Peter nodded in acquiescence, fixing his glowing eyes on the bee-hunter’s face, as if to read his soul.
“Am I to understand, then, that you and your friends, the chiefs and their followers, that I saw on Prairie Round, mean to begin with us, half-a-dozen whites, of whom two are women, who happen to be here in your power—that our scalps are to be the first taken?”
“First!—no, Bourdon. Peter’s hand has taken a great many, years since. He has got a name for his deeds, and no longer dare go to the white men’s forts. He does not look for Yankees, he looks for pale-faces. When he meets a pale-face on the prairies, or in the woods, he tries to get his scalp. This has he done for years, and many has he taken.”
“This is a bloody account you are giving of yourself, Peter, and I would rather you should not have told it. Some such account I have heard before; but living with you, and eating, and drinking, and sleeping, and travelling in your company, I had not only hoped, but begun to think, it was not true.”
“It is true. My wish is to cut off the pale-faces. This must be done, or the pale-faces will cut off the Injins. There is no choice. One nation or the other must be destroyed. I am a red man; my heart tells me that the pale-faces should die. They are on strange hunting-grounds, not the red men. They are wrong, we are right. But, Bourdon, I have friends among the pale-faces, and it is not natural to scalp our friends. I do not understand a religion that tells us to love our enemies, and to do good to them that do harm to us—it is a strange religion. I am a poor Injin, and do not know what to think! I shall not believe that any do this, till I see it. I understand that we ought to love our friends. Your squaw is my daughter. I have called her daughter—she knows it, and my tongue is not forked, like a snake’s. What it says, I mean. Once I meant to scalp your young squaw, because she was a pale-face squaw, and might be the mother of more. Now I do not mean to scalp her; my hand shall never harm her. My wisdom shall tell her to escape from the hands of red men who seek her scalp. You, too; now you are her husband, and are a great medicine-man of the bees, my hand shall not hurt you, either. Open your ears wide, for big truths must go into them.”
Peter then related in full his attempt to procure a safe passage for le Bourdon and Margery into the settlements, and its total failure. He owned that by his previous combinations he had awakened a spirit among the Indians that his present efforts could not quell. In a word, he told the whole story as it must have been made apparent to the reader, and he now came with his plans to defeat the very schemes that he had himself previously projected.