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Talks to the Indians

Wednesday, 30.—I hoped a door was opened for going up immediately to the Choctaws, the least polished, that is, the least corrupted, of all the Indian nations. But upon my informing Mr. Oglethorpe of our design, he objected, not only the danger of being intercepted or killed by the French there; but much more, the inexpediency of leaving Savannah destitute of a minister. These objections I related to our brethren in the evening, who were all of opinion, “We ought not to go yet.”

Thursday, July 1.—The Indians had an audience; and another on Saturday, when Chicali, their head man, dined with Mr. Oglethorpe. After dinner, I asked the grey-headed old man what he thought he was made for. He said, “He that is above knows what He made us for. We know nothing. We are in the dark. But white men know much. And yet white men build great houses, as if they were to live forever. But white men cannot live forever.  In a little time, white men will be dust as well as I.” I told him, “If red men will learn the Good Book, they may know as much as white men. But neither we nor you can understand that Book unless we are taught by Him that is above: and He will not teach you unless you avoid what you already know is not good.” He answered, “I believe that. He will not teach us while our hearts are not white. And our men do what they know is not good: they kill their own children. And our women do what they know is not good: they kill the child before it is born. Therefore He that is above does not send us the Good Book.”

Monday, 26.—My brother and I set out for Charleston, in order to his embarking for England; but the wind being contrary, we did not reach Port Royal, forty miles from Savannah, till Wednesday evening. The next morning we left it. But the wind was so high in the afternoon, as we were crossing the neck of St. Helena’s sound, that our oldest sailor cried out, “Now everyone must take care of himself.” I told him, “God will take care for us all.” Almost as soon as the words were spoken, the mast fell. I kept on the edge of the boat, to be clear of her when she sank (which we expected every moment), though with little prospect of swimming ashore against such a wind and sea. But “How is it that thou hadst no faith?” The moment the mast fell, two men caught it and pulled it into the boat; the other three rowed with all their might, and “God gave command to the wind and seas”; so that in an hour we were safe on land.

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