The Spirit of the Border HTML version

Chapter 12.
"The Groves Were God's First Temples."
From dawn until noon on Sunday bands of Indians arrived at the Village of Peace.
Hundreds of canoes glided down the swift stream and bumped their prows into the pebbly
beach. Groups of mounted warriors rode out of the forests into the clearing; squaws with
papooses, maidens carrying wicker baskets, and children playing with rude toys, came
trooping along the bridle-paths.
Gifts were presented during the morning, after which the visitors were feasted. In the
afternoon all assembled in the grove to hear the preaching.
The maple grove wherein the service was to be conducted might have been intended by
Nature for just such a purpose as it now fulfilled. These trees were large, spreading, and
situated far apart. Mossy stones and the thick carpet of grass afforded seats for the
Heckewelder--a tall, spare, and kindly appearing man--directed the arranging of the
congregation. He placed the converted Indians just behind the knoll upon which the
presiding minister was to stand. In a half circle facing the knoll he seated the chieftains
and important personages of the various tribes. He then made a short address in the
Indian language, speaking of the work of the mission, what wonders it had accomplished,
what more good work it hoped to do, and concluded by introducing the young
While Heckewelder spoke, Jim, who stood just behind, employed the few moments in
running his eye over the multitude. The sight which met his gaze was one he thought he
would never forget. An involuntary word escaped him.
"Magnificent!" he exclaimed.
The shady glade had been transformed into a theater, from which gazed a thousand dark,
still faces. A thousand eagle plumes waved, and ten thousand bright-hued feathers
quivered in the soft breeze. The fantastically dressed scalps presented a contrast to the
smooth, unadorned heads of the converted redmen. These proud plumes and defiant
feathers told the difference between savage and Christian.
In front of the knoll sat fifty chiefs, attentive and dignified. Representatives of every tribe
as far west as the Scioto River were numbered in that circle. There were chiefs renowned
for war, for cunning, for valor, for wisdom. Their stately presence gave the meeting
tenfold importance. Could these chiefs be interested, moved, the whole western world of
Indians might be civilized.