As soon as the voice of the missionary was mute, the mysterious chief bowed his head and moved away. He was then powerless. No authority of his could save the captive, and the sight that so lately would have cheered his eyes was now too painful to bear. He heard the single blow of the tomahawk which brained the victim, and he shuddered from head to foot. It was the first time such a weakness had ever come over him. As for the missionary, in deference to his pursuits, his executioners dug him a grave, and buried him unmutilated on the spot where he had fallen.
Brutal alike in deed and word,
With callous heart and hand of strife.
How like a fiend may man be made,
Plying the foul and monstrous trade
Whose harvest-field is human life.
A veil like that of oblivion dropped before the form of the missionary. The pious persons who had sent him forth to preach to the heathen, never knew his fate; a disappearance that was so common to that class of devoted men, as to produce regret rather than surprise. Even those who took his life felt a respect for him; and, strange as it may seem, it was to the eloquence of the man who now would have died to save him, that his death was alone to be attributed. Peter had awakened fires that he could not quench, and aroused a spirit that he could not quell. In this respect, he resembled most of those who, under the guise of reform, or revolution, in moments of doubt, set in motion a machine that is found impossible to control, when it is deemed expedient to check exaggeration by reason. Such is often the case with even well-intentioned leaders, who constantly are made to feel how much easier it is to light a conflagration, than to stay its flames when raging.
Corporal Flint was left seated on the log, while the bloody scene of the missionary’s death was occurring. He was fully alive to all the horrors of his own situation, and comprehended the nature of his companion’s movements. The savages usually manifested so much respect for missionaries, that he was in no degree surprised. Parson Amen had been taken apart for his execution, and when those who had caused his removal returned, the corporal looked anxiously for the usual but revolting token of his late companion’s death. As has been said, however, the missionary was suffered to lie in his wild grave, without suffering a mutilation of his remains.
Notwithstanding this moderation, the Indians were getting to be incited by this taste of blood. The principal chiefs became sterner in their aspects, and the young men began to manifest some such impatience as that which the still untried pup betrays, when he first scents his game. All these were ominous symptoms, and were well understood by the captive.