The Settlers in Canada
Chapter XXXIV Malachi and the Indian
It was in the first week of June that Malachi, when he
was out in the woods, perceived an Indian, who came to wards him. He was
a youth of about twenty or twenty-one years old, tall and slightly made;
he carried his bow and arrows and his tomahawk, but had no gun. Malachi
was at that time sitting down on the trunk of a fallen tree; he was not
more than two miles from the house, and had gone out with his rifle
without any particular intent, unless it was that, as he expected he
should soon receive some communication from the Indians, he wished to
give them an opportunity of speaking to him alone. The Indian came up to
where Malachi was, and took a seat by him, without saying a word.
Is my son from the West? said Malachi, in the Indian tongue, after a
silence of one or two minutes.
The Young Otter is from the West, replied the Indian. The old men
have told him of the Grey Badger, who has lived the life of a snake, and
who has hunted with the fathers of those who are now old. Does my father
live with the white man?
He lives with the white man, replied Malachi; he has no Injun blood
in his veins.
Has the white man many in his lodge? said the Indian.
Yes; many young men and many rifles, replied Malachi.
The Indian did not continue this conversation, and there was a silence,
of some minutes. Malachi was convinced that the young Indian had been
sent to intimate that Percival was alive and in captivity, and he
resolved to wait patiently till he brought up the subject.
Does not the cold kill the white man? said the Indian at last.
No; the white man can bear the winters ice as well as an Injun. He
hunts as well, and brings home venison.
Are all who came here with him now in the white mans lodge?
No, not all; one white child slept in the snow, and is in the land of
spirits, replied Malachi.
Here there was a pause in the conversation for some minutes; at last the
young Indian said, A little bird sang in my ear, and it said, The
white mans child is not dead; it wandered about in the woods and was
lost, and the Indian found him, and took him to his wigwam in the Far
Did not the little bird lie to the Young Otter? replied Malachi.
No; the little bird sung what was true, replied the Indian. The white
boy is alive and in the lodge of the Indian.
There are many white men in the country who have children, replied
Malachi; and children are often lost. The little bird may have sung of
the child of some other white man.
The white boy had a rifle in his hand, and snow-shoes on his feet.
So have all they who go out to hunt in the winters snow, replied
But the white boy was found near to the white mans lodge.
Then why was not the boy taken back to the white man by the Indians who
They were going to their own wigwams and could not turn aside; besides,
they feared to come near to the white mans lodge after the sun was
down; as my father says he has many young men and many rifles.
But the white man does not raise his rifle against the Injun, whether
he comes by day or by night, replied Malachi. At night he kills the
prowling wolf when he comes near to the lodge.
The Indian again stopped and was silent. He knew by the words of Malachi
that the wolfs skin, with which the Indian had been covered when he was
crawling to the palisades and had been shot by John, had been
discovered; Malachi, after a while, renewed the conversation.
Is the Young Otter of a near tribe?
The lodges of our tribe are twelve days journey to the westward,
replied the Indian.
The chief of the Young Otters band is a great warrior?
He is, replied the Indian.
Yes, replied Malachi. The Angry Snake is a great warrior. Did he send
the Young Otter to me to tell me that the white boy was alive and in his
The Indian again paused. He perceived that Malachi knew where he came
from, and from whom. At last he said, It is many moons since the Angry
Snake has taken care of the white boy, and has fed him with venison;
many moons that he has hunted for him to give him food; and the white
boy loves the Angry Snake as a father, and the Angry Snake loves the boy
as his son. He will adopt him, and the white boy will be the chief of
the tribe. He will forget the white men, and become red as an Indian.
The boy is forgotten by the white man, who has long numbered him with
the dead, replied Malachi.
The white man has no memory, replied the Indian, to forget so soon;
but it is not so. He would make many presents to him who would bring
back the boy.
And what presents could he make? replied Malachi; the white man is
poor, and hunts with his young men as the Injun does. What has the white
man to give that the Injun covets? He has no whisky.
The white man has powder, and lead, and rifles, replied the Indian;
more than he can use, locked up in his store-house.
And will the Angry Snake bring back the white boy if the white man
gives him powder, and lead, and rifles? inquired Malachi.
He will make a long journey, and bring the white boy with him, replied
the Indian; but first let the white man say what presents he will
He shall be spoken to, replied Malachi, and his answer shall be
brought, but the Young Otter must not go to the white mans lodge. A
red-skin is not safe from the rifles of the young men. When the moon is
at the full I will meet the Young Otter after the sun is down, at the
eastern side of the long prairie. Is it good?
Good, replied the Indian, who rose, turned on his heel, and walked
away into the forest.
When Malachi returned to the house, he took an opportunity of
communicating to Alfred what had taken place. After some conversation,
they agreed that they would make Captain Sinclair, who had that morning
arrived from the fort, their confidant as to what had occurred, and
decide with him upon what steps should be taken. Captain Sinclair was
very much surprised, and equally delighted, when he heard that Percival
was still alive, and warmly entered into the subject.
The great question is, whether it would not be better to accede to the
terms of this scoundrel of an Indian chief, observed Captain Sinclair.
What are a few pounds of powder, and a rifle or two, compared with the
happiness which will be produced by the return of Percival to his
parents, who have so long lamented him as dead?
Its not that, sir, replied Malachi. I know that Mr Campbell would
give his whole store-room to regain his boy, but we must consider what
will be the consequence if he does so. One thing is certain, that the
Angry Snake will not be satisfied with a trifling present; he will ask
many rifles, perhaps more than we have at the farm, and powder and shot
in proportion; for he has mixed much with white people, especially when
the French were here, and he knows how little we value such things, and
how much we love our children. But, sir, in the first place, you supply
him and his band with arms to use against us at any other time, and
really make them formidable; and in the next place, you encourage him to
make some other attempt to obtain similar presentsfor he will not be
idle. Recollect, sir, that we have in all probability killed one of
their band, when he came to reconnoitre the house in the skin of a wolf,
and that will never he forgotten, but revenged as soon as it can be.
Now, sir, if we give him arms and ammunition, we shall put the means of
revenge in his hands, and I should not be surprised to find us one day
attacked by him and his band, and it may be, overpowered by means of
these rifles which you propose to give him.
There is much truth and much good sense in what you say,
Malachiindeed, I think it almost at once decides the point, and that we
must not consent to his terms; but then what must we do to recover the
That is the question which puzzles me, replied Alfred, for I
perfectly agree with Malachi, that we must not give him arms and
ammunition, and I doubt if he would accept of any thing else.
No, sir, that he will not, depend upon it, replied Malachi. I think
there is but one way that will give us any chance.
What, then, is your idea, Malachi?
The Angry Snake with his band were tracking us, and had we not been too
strong, would have attacked and murdered us all, that is dear. Not
daring to do that, he has stolen Percival, and detains him, to return
him at his own price. Now, sir, the Young Otter has come to us, and
offers to come again. We had given him no pledge of safe conduct, and,
therefore, when he comes again, we must have an ambush ready for him and
make him prisoner; but then you see, sir, we must have the assistance of
the Colonel, for he must be confined at the fort; we could not well keep
him at the farm. In the first place, it would be impossible then to
withhold the secret from Mr and Mrs Campbell; and, in the next, we
should have to be on the look-out for an attack every night for his
rescue; but if the Colonel was to know the whole circumstances, and
would assist us, we might capture the Injun lad, and hold him as a
hostage for Master Percival, till we could make some terms with the
like your idea very much, Malachi, replied Captain Sinclair, and if,
Alfred, you agree with me, I will acquaint the Colonel with the whole of
what has passed when I return to-night, and see if he will consent to
our taking such a step. When are you to meet the Indian, Malachi?
In three days, that is on Saturday; it will be the full of the moon,
and then I meet him at night at the end of the prairie nearest to the
fort, so that there will be no difficulty in doing all we propose
without Mr and Mrs Campbell being aware of any thing that has taken
think we cannot do better than you have proposed, said Alfred.
Be it so, then, said Captain Sinclair. I will be here again
to-morrowno, not to-morrow, but the day after will be better, and then
I will give you the reply of the Colonel, and make such arrangements as
may be necessary.
Thats all right, sir, replied Malachi; and now all we have to do is
to keep our own secret; so, perhaps, Captain Sinclair, you had better go
back to the young ladies, for Miss Mary may imagine that it must be
something of very great importance which can have detained you so long
from her presence; and Malachi smiled as he finished his remark.
Theres good sense in that observation, Malachi, said Alfred,
laughing. Come, Sinclair.
Captain Sinclair quitted in the evening, and went back to the fort. He
returned at the time appointed, and informed them that the Colonel fully
approved of their plan of holding the young Indian as a hostage, and
that he would secure him in the fort as soon as he was brought in.
Now, do we want any assistance from the fort? Surely not, to capture an
Indian ladat least, so I said to the Colonel, continued Captain
No, sir, we want no assistance, as you say. I am his match myself, if
that were all; but it is not strength which is required. He is as lithe
and supple as an eel, and as difficult to hold, that I am certain of. If
we were to use our rifles there would be no difficulty; but to hold him
will give some trouble to two of us, and if once he breaks loose he
would be too fleet for any of us.
Well, then, Malachi, how shall we proceed?
Why, sir, I must meet him, and you and Mr Alfred and Martin must be hid
at a distance, and gradually steal near to us. Martin shall have his
deer-thongs all ready, and when you pounce upon him he must bind him at
once. Martin is used to them, and knows how to manage it.
Well, if you think that we three cannot manage him, let us have
It isnt strength, sir, replied Malachi, but he will slip through
your fingers if not well tied in half a minute. Now, we will just walk
down to where I intend to meet him, and survey the place, and then Ill
show you where you must be, for we must not be seen together in that
direction to-morrow, for he may be lurking about, and have some
They then walked to the end of the prairie nearest the fort, which was
about a mile from the house, and Malachi having selected his ground, and
pointed out to them where to conceal themselves, they returned to the
house, Alfred having made arrangements when and where he and Martin
would meet Captain Sinclair on the day appointed.
The next day passed, and Malachi, as the sun sank behind the lake,
walked out to the end of the prairie. He had not been there ten minutes
when the young Indian stood before him. He was armed as before with his
tomahawk and bow and arrows; but Malachi had come out expressly without
Malachi, as soon as he perceived the Indian, sat down, as is the usual
custom among them when they hold a talk, and the Young Otter followed
Has my father talked to the white man? said the Indian after a short
The white man grieves for the loss of his boy, and his squaw weeps,
replied Malachi. The Angry Snake must bring the boy to the white mans
lodge and receive presents.
Will the white man be generous? continued the Indian.
He has powder, and lead, and rifles, and tobacco: will such presents
please the Angry Snake?
The Angry Snake had a dream, replied the Indian, and he told me his
dream. He dreamt that the white boy was put into his mothers arms, who
wept for joy, and the white man gave to the Angry Snake ten rifles, and
two kegs of powder, and as much lead as four men could carry away.
Twas a good dream, replied Malachi, and it will come true when the
white boy comes back to his mother.
The Angry Snake had another dream. He dreamt that the white man
received his child, and pushed the Angry Snake out from the door of his
That was bad, replied Malachi. Look at me, my son; say, did you ever
hear that the Grey Badger said a lie? And Malachi laid hold of the
Indians arm as he spoke.
This was the signal agreed upon between Malachi and the party concealed,
who rushed forward and seized the Indian.
The Young Otter sprang up in spite of their endeavours to keep him, and
would certainly have escaped, for he had got his tomahawk clear, and was
about to wield it around his head, had not Martin already passed one of
the deer-thongs round his ankle, by which the Indian was thrown again to
the ground. His arms were then secured behind his back with other
deer-skin thongs, and another passed round his ankle, and given to
You were right, Malachi, said Captain Sinclair. How he contrived to
twist himself out of our grasp I cannot imagine; but he certainly would
have been off, and probably have broken our heads before he went.
know the nature of these Injuns, sir, replied Malachi; theyre never
safe, even when tied, if the thong does not cut into the bone; but you
have him now, sir, fast enough, and the sooner you get to the fort the
better. You have your rifles in the bush?
Yes, replied Martin, youll find them behind the large oak tree.
Ill fetch them; not that I think theres much danger of a rescue.
We have not far to take him, said Captain Sinclair, for, as I wished
you and Alfred not to be so long away as to induce questions to be
asked, I have a file of men and a corporal about half a mile off,
concealed in the bush. But Malachi, it is as well to let the Indian know
that he is only detained as a hostage, and, will be returned as soon as
the boy is sent back.
Malachi addressed the Indian in his own tongue, and told him what
Captain Sinclair requested.
Tell him that there are several Indian women about the fort, who will
take any message he may send to the Angry Snake.
The Young Otter made no reply to anything said by Malachi, but looked
around him very impatiently.
Be off as fast as you can, said Malachi, for, depend upon it, the
Angry Snake was to meet him after his talk with me; I see it by his
wandering eye, and his looking round for assistance. I will go with you,
and return with Alfred and Martin, for I have no rifle.
You can take mine, Malachi, as soon as we come up to the soldiers.
This was done in a few minutes. Captain Sinclair then took charge of the
Indian, and set off with his party for the fort. Malachi, Alfred, and
Martin returned to the house, and before they entered the prairie,
Martin detected the tall figure of an Indian at a short distance, in the
shade of the trees.
Yes, I was sure of it, said Malachi. It was well that I did not go
back without you. After all, in the woods, a mans no man without his
This comment system requires
you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an
account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or
Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these
companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All
comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator
has approved your comment.