“I have them all, though my rifle is a short distance behind me, and a little down the hill.”
“Dat bad—nebber let go rifle on war-path. Well, you tomahawk him— I scalp him—dat’ll do.”
“I shall kill no man, Chippewa, unless there is great occasion for it. If there is no other mode of getting you off, I shall choose to cut this last thong, and leave you to take care of yourself.”
“Give him tomahawk, den—give him knife, too.”
“Not for such a purpose. I do not like to shed blood without a good reason for it.”
“No call war good reason, eh? Bess reason in world Pottawattamie dig up hatchet ag’in’ Great Fadder at Wash’ton—dat no good reason why take his scalp, eh?”
In whispering these last words the Chippewa used so much energy, that the dogs again raised their heads from between their forepaws and growled. Almost at that instant the chief and his few remaining wakeful companions laid themselves down to sleep, and the young warrior designated as the sentinel left the hut and came slowly toward the prisoner. The circumstances admitted of no delay; le Bourdon pressed the keen edge of his knife across the withe that bound the Indian to the tree; first giving him notice, in order that he might be prepared to sustain his own weight. This done, the bee-hunter dropped on the ground, crawling away out of the light; though the brow of the hill almost immediately formed a screen to conceal his person from all near the hut. In another instant he had regained his rifle, and was descending swiftly toward the crossing at the marsh.
We call them savage—oh,
Their outraged feelings scan;
A voice comes forth, ’tis from the dust—
The savage was a man!
As soon as le Bourdon reached the commencement of that which might be called his path across the marsh, he stopped and looked backward. He was now sufficiently removed from the low acclivity to see objects on its summit, and had no difficulty in discerning all that the waning fire illuminated. There stood the Chippewa erect against the tree as if still bound with thongs, while the sentinel was slowly approaching him. The dogs were on their feet, and gave two or three sharp barks, which had the effect to cause five or six of the savages to lift their heads in their lairs. One arose even and threw an armful of dried branches on the fire, producing a bright blaze, that brought everything around the hut, and which the light could touch, into full view.