When le Bourdon reached the point whence he could get a good view of the door of the hut, which was still illuminated by the fire within, he ceased using the paddle beyond the slight effort necessary to keep the canoe nearly stationary. He was quite within the range of a rifle, but trusted to the darkness of the night for his protection. That scouts were out, watching the approaches to the hut, he felt satisfied; and he did not doubt that some were prowling along the margin of the Kalamazoo, either looking for the lost boats, or for those who had taken them away. This made him cautious, and he took good care not to place his canoe in a position of danger.
It was very apparent that the savages were in great uncertainty as to the number of their enemies. Had not the rifle been fired, and their warrior killed and scalped, they might have supposed that their prisoner had found the means of releasing his limbs himself, and thus effected his escape; but they knew that the Chippewa had neither gun nor knife, and as all their own arms, even to those of the dead man, were still in their possession, it was clear that he had been succored from without. Now, the Pottawattamies had heard of both the bee-hunter and Whiskey Centre, and it was natural enough for them to ascribe some of these unlooked-for feats to one or the other of these agents. It is true, the hut was known to have been built three or four years earlier, by an Indian trader, and no one of the party had ever actually seen Gershom and his family in possession; but the conjectures on this head were as near the fact, as if the savages had passed and repassed daily. There was only one point on which these close calculators of events were at fault. So thoroughly had everything been removed from the chiente, and so carefully the traces of its recent occupation concealed, that no one among them suspected that the family had left the place only an hour before their own arrival. The bee-hunter, moreover, was well assured that the savages had not yet blundered on the hiding-place of the furniture. Had this been discovered, its contents would have been dragged to light, and seen around the fire; for there is usually little self-restraint among the red men, when they make a prize of this sort.