"The tomahawks of your young men have been very red."
"It is so; but they are now bright and dull; for the Yengeese are dead, and the Delawares are our neighbors."
"Does my prisoner give trouble to my brothers?"
"She is welcome."
"She is welcome," returned the chief of the latter nation, still more emphatically.
The baffled Magua continued silent several minutes, apparently indifferent, however, to the repulse he had received in this his opening effort to regain possession of Cora.
"Do my young men leave the Delawares room on the mountains for their hunts?" he at length continued.
"The Lenape are rulers of their own hills," returned the other a little haughtily.
"It is well. Justice is the master of a red-skin. Why should they brighten their tomahawks and sharpen their knives against each other? Are not the pale faces thicker than the swallows in the season of flowers?"
"Good!" exclaimed two or three of his auditors at the same time.
Magua waited a little, to permit his words to soften the feelings of the Delawares, before he added:
"Have there not been strange moccasins in the woods? Have not my brothers scented the feet of white men?"
"Let my Canada father come," returned the other, evasively; "his children are ready to see him."
"When the great chief comes, it is to smoke with the Indians in their wigwams. The Hurons say, too, he is welcome. But the Yengeese have long arms, and legs that never tire! My young men dreamed they had seen the trail of the Yengeese nigh the village of the Delawares!"
"They will not find the Lenape asleep."
"It is well. The warrior whose eye is open can see his enemy," said Magua, once more shifting his ground, when he found himself unable to penetrate the caution of his companion. "I have brought gifts to my brother. His nation would not go on the warpath, because they did not think it well, but their friends have remembered where they lived."
When he had thus announced his liberal intention, the crafty chief arose, and gravely spread his presents before the dazzled eyes of his hosts. They consisted principally of trinkets of little value, plundered from the slaughtered females of William Henry. In the division of the baubles the cunning Huron discovered no less art than in their selection. While he bestowed those of greater value on the two most distinguished warriors, one of whom was his host, he seasoned his offerings to their inferiors with such well-timed and apposite compliments, as left them no ground of complaint. In short, the whole ceremony contained such a happy blending of the profitable with the flattering, that it was not difficult for the donor immediately to read the effect of a generosity so aptly mingled with praise, in the eyes of those he addressed.
This well-judged and politic stroke on the part of Magua was not without instantaneous results. The Delawares lost their gravity in a much more cordial expression; and the host, in particular, after contemplating his own liberal share of the spoil for some moments with peculiar gratification, repeated with strong emphasis, the words:
"My brother is a wise chief. He is welcome."
"The Hurons love their friends the Delawares," returned Magua. "Why should they not? they are colored by the same sun, and their just men will hunt in the same grounds after death. The red-skins should be friends, and look with open eyes on the white men. Has not my brother scented spies in the woods?"
The Delaware, whose name in English signified "Hard Heart," an appellation that the French had translated into "le Coeur-dur," forgot that obduracy of purpose, which had probably obtained him so significant a title. His countenance grew very sensibly less stern and he now deigned to answer more directly.
"There have been strange moccasins about my camp. They have been tracked into my lodges."
"Did my brother beat out the dogs?" asked Magua, without adverting in any manner to the former equivocation of the chief.
"It would not do. The stranger is always welcome to the children of the Lenape."
"The stranger, but not the spy."
"Would the Yengeese send their women as spies? Did not the Huron chief say he took women in the battle?"
"He told no lie. The Yengeese have sent out their scouts. They have been in my wigwams, but they found there no one to say welcome. Then they fled to the Delawares - for, say they, the Delawares are our friends; their minds are turned from their Canada father!"
This insinuation was a home thrust, and one that in a more advanced state of society would have entitled Magua to the reputation of a skillful diplomatist. The recent defection of the tribe had, as they well knew themselves, subjected the Delawares to much reproach among their French allies; and they were now made to feel that their future actions were to be regarded with jealousy and distrust. There was no deep insight into causes and effects necessary to foresee that such a situation of things was likely to prove highly prejudicial to their future movements. Their distant villages, their hunting-grounds and hundreds of their women and children, together with a material part of their physical force, were actually within the limits of the French territory. Accordingly, this alarming annunciation was received, as Magua intended, with manifest disapprobation, if not with alarm.
"Let my father look in my face," said Le Coeur-dur; "he will see no change. It is true, my young men did not go out on the war-path; they had dreams for not doing so. But they love and venerate the great white chief."