“What a truly noble looking being,” observed Major Montgomerie, as he followed with his eye the receding form of the athletic but graceful Tecumseh. “Do you know, Colonel D’Egville, I could almost forgive your nephew his success of this morning, in consideration of the pleasure he has procured me in this meeting.”
Colonel D’Egville looked the gratification he felt at the avowal. “I am delighted, Major Montgomerie, to hear you say so. My only fear was that, in making those Chieftains my guests, at the same moment with yourself and niece, I might have unconsciously appeared to slight, where slight was certainly not intended. You must be aware, however, of the rank held by them among their respective nations, and of their consequent claim upon the attention of one to whom the Indian interests have been delegated.”
“My dear sir,” interrupted the Major, eager to disclaim, “I trust you have not mistaken me so far, as to have imputed a reserve of speech and manner during dinner, to which I cannot but plead guilty, to a fastidiousness which, situated as I am, (and he bowed to the General, and Commodore,) would have been wholly misplaced. My distraction, pardonable perhaps under all the circumstances, was produced entirely by a recurrence to certain inconveniences which I felt might arise to me from my imprisonment. The captive bird,” he pursued, while a smile for the first time animated his very fine countenance, “will pine within its cage, however gilded the wires which compose it. In every sense, my experience of to-day only leads me to the expression of a hope, that all whom the chances of war may throw into a similar position, may meet with a similar reception.”
“Since,” observed the General, “your private affairs are of the importance you express, Major Montgomerie, you shall depart with your niece. Perhaps I am rather exceeding my powers in this respect, but, however this may be, I shall take the responsibility on myself. You will hold yourself pledged, of course, to take no part against us in the forthcoming struggle, until you have been regularly exchanged for whatever officer of your own rank, may happen to fall into the hands of your countrymen. I shall dispatch an express to the Commander-in-Chief, to intimate this fact, requesting at the same time, that your name may be put down in the first list for exchange.”
Major Montgomerie warmly thanked the General for his kind offer, of which he said he should be glad to avail himself, as he did not like the idea of his niece proceeding without him to Detroit, where she was an entire stranger. This, he admitted, determined as she had appeared to be, was one of the unpleasant subjects of his reflection during dinner.
With a view of turning the conversation, and anxious moreover, to obtain every information on the subject, the General now inquired in what estimation Tecumseh was generally held in the United States.