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ing the indispensable document in Indian diplo
macy & string of wampum.
The chiefs, according to etiquette, sat for some moments silent after he had concluded, as if rumitating on what had been said, or to give him te for further remark.
The halfking then rose and spoke in behalf
Washington remonstrated against such delay;
that and must be waited for.
of civilized life. He soon found that to urge a more speedy departure would be offensive to Indian dignity and decorum, so he was fain to await the gathering together of the different chiefs with their speech-belts.
In fact there was some reason for all this caution. Tidings had reached the sachems that Captain Joncaire had called a meeting at Venango, of the Mingoes, Delawares, and other tribes, and made them a speech, informing them that the French, for the present, had gone into winter quarters, but intended to descend the river in great force, and fight the English in the spring. He had advised them, therefore, to stand aloof, for should they interfere, the French and English would join, cut them all off, and divide their land between them.
With these rumors preying on their minds, the half-king and three other chiefs waited on Washington in his tent in the evening, and after representing that they had complied with all the requisitions of the Governor of Virginia, endeavored to draw from the youthful ambassador the true purport of his mission to the French commandant. Washington had anticipated an inquiry of the kind, knowing how natural it was that these poor people should regard with anxiety and distrust every movement of two formidable powers thus pressing upon them from opposite sides; he managed, however, to answer them in such a manner as to allay their solicitude without transcending the bounds of diplomatic secrecy.
for an answer to the letter of which he was the bearer.
In the mean time, he invited Washington and his party to a supper at head-quarters. It proved a jovial one, for Joncaire appears to have been somewhat of a boon companion, and there is always ready though rough hospitality in the wilderness. It is true, Washington, for so young a man, may not have had the most convivial air, but there may have been a moist look of promise in the old soldier Van Braam.
Joncaire and his brother officers pushed the bottle briskly. "The wine," says Washington, "as they dosed themselves pretty plentifully with it, soon banished the restraint which at first appeared in their conversation, and gave a license to their tongues to reveal their sentiments more freely. They told me that it was their absolute design to take possession of the Ohio, and by G-they would do it; for that although they were sensible the English could raise two men for their one, yet they knew their motions were too slow and dilatory to prevent any undertaking. They pretend to have an unbounded right to the river from a discovery made by one La Salle sixty years ago, and the rise of this expedition
16 prevent our settling on the river or the wafit, as they heard of some families moving order thereto."
gton retained his sobriety and his comghout all the rodomontade and bacgenk of the mercurial Frenchmen ; of pledging them to his master
THE TWO DIPLOMATISTS.
of fence, Van Braam, who was not a man to flinch from potations. He took careful note, however, of all their revelations, and collected a variety of information concerning the French forces; how and where they were distributed; the situations and distances of their forts, and their means and mode of obtaining supplies. If the veteran diplomatist of the wilderness had intended this revel for a snare, he was completely foiled by his youthful competitor.
On the following day there was no travelling on account of excessive rain. Joncaire, in the mean time, having discovered that the half-king was with the mission, expressed his surprise that he had not accompanied it to his quarters, on the preceding day. Washington, in truth, had feared to trust the sachem within the reach of the politic Frenchman. Nothing would do now but Joncaire must have the sachems at head-quarters. Here his diplomacy was triumphant. He received them with open arms. He was enrap
tured to see them. His Indian brothers! could they be so near without coming to visit him? He made them presents; but, above all, plied them so potently with liquor, that the poor half-king, Jeskakake, and White Thunder forgot all about their wrongs, their speeches, their speech-belts, and all the business they had come upon; paid no heed to the cautions of their English friends, and were soon in a complete state of frantic extravagance or drunken oblivion.
The next day the half-king made his appearance at Washington's tent, perfectly sober and
Having announced his errand through his interpreter, Van Braam, Washington offered his credentials and the letter of Governor Dinwiddie, and was disposed to proceed at once to business with the prompt frankness of a young man unhackneyed in diplomacy. The chevalier, how ever, politely requested him to retain the documents in his possession until his predecessor, Captain Reparti, should arrive, who was hourly expected from the next post.
At two o'clock the captain arrived. The letter and its accompanying documents were then offered again, and received in due form, and the chevalier and his officers retired with them into a private apartment, where the captain, who understood a little English, officiated as translator. The translation being finished, Washington was requested to walk in and bring his translator Van Braam, with him, to peruse and correct it, which he did.
In this letter, Dinwiddie complained of the intrusion of French forces into the Ohio country, erecting forts and making settlements in the western parts of the colony of Virginia, so notoriously known to be the property of the crown of Great Britain. He inquired by whose authority nd instructions the French Commander-general nad marched this force from Canada, and made this invasion; intimating that his own action would be regulated by the answer he should receive, and the tenor of the commission with which he was honored. At the same time he required of the commandant his peaceable depar