As no one very strenuously opposed the scheme, the question was soon decided, and Ungque was commissioned to communicate the result to the captives. One exception, however, was to be made in favor of the missionary. His object appeared to be peaceful, and it was determined that he should be led a short distance into the surrounding thicket, and be there put to death, without any attempt to torture, or aggravate his sufferings. As a mark of singular respect, it was also decided not to scalp him.
As Ungque, and those associated with him, led the missionary to the place of execution, the former artfully invited Peter to follow. This was done simply because the Weasel saw that it would now be unpleasant to the man he hated—hated merely because he possessed an influence that he coveted for himself.
“My father will see a pleasant sight,” said the wily Weasel, as he walked at Peter’s side, toward the indicated spot; “he will see a pale-face die, and know that his foot has been put upon another worm.”
No answer was made to this ironical remark, but Peter walked in silence to the place where the missionary was stationed, surrounded by a guard. Ungque now advanced and spoke.
“It is time for the medicine-priest of the pale-faces to start after the spirits of his people who have gone before him,” he said. “The path is long, and unless he walks fast, and starts soon, he may not overtake them. I hope he will see some of them that helped to kill the Son of his Great Spirit, starving, and foot-sore, on the way.”
“I understand you,” returned the missionary, after a few moments passed in recovering from the shock of this communication. “My hour is come. I have held my life in my hand ever since I first put foot in this heathen region, and if it be the Creator’s will that I am now to die, I bow to the decree. Grant me a few minutes for prayer to my God.”
Ungque signed that the delay should be granted. The missionary uncovered his head, knelt, and again lifted up his voice in prayer. At first the tones were a little tremulous; but they grew firmer as he proceeded. Soon they became as serene as usual. He first asked mercy for himself, threw all his hopes on the great atonement, and confessed how far he was from that holiness which alone could fit him to see God. When this duty was performed, he prayed for his enemies. The language used was his mother tongue, but Peter comprehended most of that which was said. He heard his own people prayed for; he heard his own name mentioned, as the condemned man asked the mercy of the Manitou in his behalf. Never before was the soul of this extraordinary savage so shaken. The past seemed like a dream to him, while the future possessed a light that was still obscured by clouds. Here was an exemplification in practice of that divine spirit of love and benevolence which had struck him, already, as so very wonderful. There could be no mistake. There was the kneeling captive, and his words, clear, distinct, and imploring, ascended through the cover of the bushes to the throne of God.