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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 515 pages of information about Oak Openings.

CHAPTER III.

—­Ho! who’s here? 
If anything that’s civil, speak; if savage,
Take, or lend—­

Cymbeline

Not another syllable did le Bourdon utter to the Chippewa, or the Chippewa to him, in that sitting, touching the important event just communicated.  Each carefully avoided manifesting any further interest in the subject, but the smoking continued for some time after the sun had set.  As the shades of evening began to gather, the Pottawattamie arose, shook the ashes from his pipe, gave a grunt, and uttered a word or two, by way of announcing his disposition to retire.  On this hint, Ben went into the cabin, spread his skins, and intimated to his guests that their beds were ready for them.  Few compliments pass among border men on such occasions, and one after another dropped off, until all were stretched on the skins but the master of the place.  He remained up two hours later, ruminating on the state of things; when, perceiving that the night was wearing on, he also found a nest, and sought his repose.

Nothing occurred to disturb the occupants of “Castle Meal,” as le Bourdon laughingly called his cabin, until the return of day.  If there were any bears scenting around the place, as often occurred at night, their instinct must have apprised them that a large reinforcement was present, and caused them to defer their attack to a more favorable opportunity.  The first afoot next morning was the bee-hunter himself, who arose and left his cabin just as the earliest streaks of day were appearing in the east.  Although dwelling in a wilderness, the “openings” had not the character of ordinary forests.  The air circulates freely beneath their oaks, the sun penetrates in a thousand places, and grass grows, wild but verdant.  There was little of the dampness of the virgin woods; and the morning air, though cool, as is ever the case, even in midsummer, in regions still covered with trees, was balmy; and, at that particular spot, it came to the senses of le Bourdon loaded with the sweets of many a wide glade of his favorite white clover.  Of course, he had placed his cabin near those spots where the insect he sought most abounded; and a fragrant site it proved to be, in favorable conditions of the atmosphere.  Ben had a taste for all the natural advantages of his abode, and was standing in enjoyment of its placid beauties when some one touched his elbow.  Turning, quick as thought, he perceived the Chippewa at his side.  That young Indian had approached with the noiseless tread of his people, and was now anxious to hold a private communication with him.

“Pottawattamie got long ear—­come fudder—­” said Pigeonswing; “go cook-house—­t’ink we want breakfast.”

Ben did as desired; and the two were soon side by side at the spring, in the outlet of which they made their ablutions—­the redskin being totally without paint.  When this agreeable office was performed, each felt in better condition for a conference.

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