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Oak Openings eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 515 pages of information about Oak Openings.
Although the bee-hunter himself was of purely English descent, he came from a State that was in part peopled by these Germans and their descendants; and, by intercourse with them, he had acquired a certain knowledge of their notions on the subject of necromancy, that he now found was of use.  So far as gravity of mien, solemn grimaces, and unintelligible mutterings were concerned, le Bourdon played his part to admiration; and by the time he had led the party half the distance he intended to go, our necromancer, or “medicine-man,” had complete possession of the imaginations of all the savages, the two or three chiefs already mentioned alone excepted.  At this stage of the proceedings occurred a little incident, which goes to prove the disposition of the common mind to contribute in deceiving itself, and which was of considerable assistance to le Bourdon, in maintaining his assumed character.

It will be remembered that the place where the Indians had found their strongest scent was on the hill-side, or the spot where the half-filled barrel had let out most of its contents.  Near this spot their new fire was still brightly blazing, and there Wolfseye remained, regaling one of his senses, at least, with an odor that he found so agreeable.  But the bee-hunter knew that he should greatly increase the wonder of the savages by leading them to a new scent-spot, one to which there was no visible clew, and where the odor was probably much stronger than on the hill-side.  Accordingly he did not approach the fire, but kept around the base of the hill, just enough within the influence of the light to pick his way readily, and yet so distant from it as to render his countenance indistinct and mysterious.  No sooner, however, had he got abreast of the scent-spot known to the savages, than the crowd endeavored to lead him toward it, by gestures and hints, and, finally, by direct intimations that he was going astray.  All this our “medicine-man” disregarded; he held his way steadily and solemnly toward that place at the foot of the hill where he knew that the filled barrel had let out its contents, and where he, reasonably enough, expected to find sufficient traces of the whiskey to answer his purposes.  At first, this pertinacity provoked the crowd, which believed he was going wrong; but a few words from Crowsfeather, the principal chief, caused the commotion to cease.  In a few more minutes le Bourdon stopped, near the place of his destination.  As a fresh scent of whiskey was very perceptible here, a murmur of admiration, not unmixed with delight, passed among the attendants.

“Now, let the young men build a fire for me” said the bee-hunter, solemnly—­“not such a fire as that which is burning on the hill, but a medicine-fire.  I smell the whiskey spring, and want a medicine-light to see it.”

A dozen young men began to collect the brush; in a minute a pile of some size had been accumulated on a flat rock, within twenty feet of the spot where le Bourdon knew that the cask had been dashed to pieces.  When he thought the pile sufficiently large, he told Crowsfeather that it might be lighted by bringing a brand from the other fire.

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