Oak Openings eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 515 pages of information about Oak Openings.
reached in sufficient season; and each night the fugitives were ready for the start as the day shut in.  In this manner, most of the river was descended, until a distance that could be easily overcome in a couple of hours of paddling alone remained between the party and the mouth of the stream.  Extreme caution was now necessary, for signs of Indians in the neighborhood had been detected at several points in the course of the last night’s work.  On one occasion, indeed, the escape was so narrow as to be worth recording.

It was at a spot where the stream flowed through a forest denser than common, that Pigeonswing heard voices on the river, ahead of him.  One Indian was calling to another, asking to be set across the stream in a canoe.  It was too late to retreat, and so much uncertainty existed as to the nearness, or distance, of the danger, that the Chippewa deemed it safest to bring all three of his canoes together, and to let them float past the point suspected, or rather known, to be occupied by enemies.  This was done, with the utmost care.  The plan succeeded, though not without running a very great risk.  The canoes did float past unseen, though there was a minute of time when le Bourdon fancied by the sounds that savages were talking to each other, within a hundred feet of his ears.  Additional security, however, was felt in consequence of the circumstance, since the pursuers must imagine the river below them to be free from the pursued.

The halt that morning was made earlier than had been the practice previously.  This was done because the remaining distance was so small that, in continuing to advance, the party would have incurred the risk of reaching the mouth of the river by daylight.  This was to be avoided on every account, but principally because it was of great importance to conceal from the savages the direction taken.  Were the chiefs certain that their intended victims were on Lake Michigan, it would be possible for them to send parties across the isthmus, that should reach points on Lake Huron, days in advance of the arrival of the bee-hunter and his friends in the vicinity of Saginaw, or Pointe aux Barques, for instance, and where the canoes would be almost certain to pass near the shore, laying their ambushes to accomplish these ends.  It was thought very material, therefore, to conceal the movements, even after the lake might be reached, though le Bourdon had not a doubt of his canoes much outsailing those of the savages.  The Indians are not very skilful in the use of sails, while the bee-hunter knew how to manage a bark canoe in rough water, with unusual skill.  In the common acceptation, he was no sailor; but, in his own peculiar craft, there was not a man living who could excel him in dexterity or judgment.

The halting-place that morning was not in a swamp, for none offered at a suitable distance from the mouth of the river.  On the contrary, it was in a piece of Opening, that was tolerably well garnished with trees, however, and through which ran a small brook that poured its tribute into the Kalamazoo.  The Chippewa had taken notice of this brook, which was large enough to receive the canoes, where they might be concealed in the rushes.  A favorable copse, surrounded with elders, afforded a covered space on shore, and these advantages were improved for an encampment.

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Oak Openings from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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