Perhaps it would not have been possible, in the whole range of human feelings, to find two men under influences more widely opposed to each other than were the missionary and the corporal, in this, their last scene on earth. The manner of Parson Amen’s death has been described. He died in humble imitation of his Divine Master, asking for blessings on those who were about to destroy him, with a heart softened by Christian graces, and a meekness that had its origin in the consciousness of his own demerits. On the other hand, the corporal thought only of vengeance. Escape he knew to be impossible, and he would fain take his departure like a soldier, or as he conceived a soldier should die, in the midst of fallen foes.
Corporal Flint had a salutary love of life, and would very gladly escape, did the means offer; but, failing of these, all his thoughts turned toward revenge. Some small impulses of ambition, or what it is usual to dignify with that term, showed themselves even at that serious moment. He had heard around the camp-fires, and in the garrisons, so many tales of heroism and of fortitude manifested by soldiers who had fallen into the hands of the Indians, that a faint desire to enroll his own name on the list of these worthies was beginning to arise in his breast. But truth compels us to add that the predominant feeling was the wish to revenge his own fate, by immolating as many of his foes as possible. To this last purpose, therefore, his thoughts were mainly directed, during that interval which his late companion had employed in prayers for those under whose blows he was about to fall. Such is the difference in man, with his heart touched, or untouched, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
It was, however, much easier for the corporal to entertain designs of the nature mentioned than to carry them out: unarmed, surrounded by watchful enemies, and totally without support of any sort, the chances of effecting his purpose were small indeed. Once, for a minute only, the veteran seriously turned his thoughts to escape. It occurred to him, that he might possibly reach the castle, could he get a little start; and should the Indians compel him to run the gauntlet, as was often their practice, he determined to make an effort for life in that mode. Agreeably to the code of frontier warfare, a successful flight of this nature was scarcely less creditable than a victory in the field.
Half an hour passed after the execution of the missionary before the chiefs commenced their proceedings with the corporal. The delay was owing to a consultation, in which The Weasel had proposed despatching a party to the castle, to bring in the family, and thus make a common destruction of the remaining pale-faces known to be in that part of the Openings. Peter did not dare to oppose this scheme, himself; but he so managed as to get Crowsfeather to do it, without bringing himself into the foreground. The influence of the Pottawattamie prevailed, and it was decided to torture this one captive, and to secure his scalp, before they proceeded to work their will on the others. Ungque, who had gained ground rapidly by his late success, was once more commissioned to state to the captive the intentions of his captors.