Le Bourdon, when his dialogue with the Chippewa was over, and after a few words of explanation with Margery, took his own canoe, and paddled through the rice-plants into the open water of the river, to reconnoitre. The breadth of the stream induced him to float down before the wind, until he reached a point where he could again command a view of the hut. What he there saw, and what he next did, must be reserved for a succeeding chapter.
The elfin cast a glance around,
As he lighted down from his courser toad,
Then round his breast his wings he wound,
And close to the river’s brink he strode;
He sprang on a rock, he breathed a prayer,
Above his head his arm he threw,
Then tossed a tiny curve in air,
And headlong plunged in the water blue.
An hour had intervened between the time when le Bourdon had removed the canoes of the Pottawattamies, and the time when he returned alone to the northern side of the river. In the course of that hour the chief of the savages had time to ascertain all the leading circumstances that have just been related, and to collect his people in and around the hut, for a passing council. The moment was one of action, and not of ceremonies. No pipe was smoked, nor any of the observances of the great councils of the tribe attended to; the object was merely to glean facts and to collect opinions. In all the tribes of this part of North America, something very like a principle of democracy is the predominant feature of their politics. It is not, however, that bastard democracy which is coming so much in fashion among ourselves, and which looks into the gutters solely for the “people,” forgetting that the landlord has just as much right to protection as the tenant, the master as the servant, the rich as the poor, the gentleman as the blackguard. The Indians know better than all this. They understand, fully, that the chiefs are entitled to more respect than the loafers in their villages, and listen to the former, while their ears are shut to the latter. They appear to have a common sense, which teaches them to avoid equally the exaggerations of those who believe in blood, and of those who believe in blackguardism. With them the doctrines of “new men” would sound as an absurdity, for they never submit to change for change’s sake. On the contrary, while there is no positive hereditary rank, there is much hereditary consideration; and we doubt if a red man could be found in all America, who is so much of a simpleton as to cite among the qualifications of any man for a situation of trust and responsibility, that he had never been taught how to perform its duties. They are not guilty of the contradiction of elevating men because they are self-taught, while they expend millions on schools. Doubtless they have,