Among the Red Indians: Chapter 9

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 6
MANY of the Indians not only listened with great attention to the preaching of the gospel whenever Mr. Young visited their fishing or hunting grounds, but received the word with gladness, and showed by their changed lives that for them "old things had passed away." Upon his first visit to a tribe who lived so far from the mission house that it was not possible to visit them oftener than twice a year, in summer by canoe and in winter by dog-train, he became interested in a very aged man, with snow-white hair, who, though he at first opposed the missionary, and was angry with him for going amongst his people, soon became an earnest and attentive listener, and said he wished very much to become a Christian. He never seemed to tire of listening to simple Bible teaching or having the way of salvation more fully explained to him. He would follow Mr. Young from place to place like his shadow. If he taught the children, preached the gospel to the older people, or visited among the wigwams, it made no difference to the old man, he was always by his side.
Sometimes, when after a long day's work in preaching and visiting, the tired missionary, before wrapping himself in his blanket and lying down upon his bed of leaves and twigs, would kneel for a short time in silent prayer, a quiet voice, close to his ear, would whisper, "Missi, pray in Indian, and pray very loud that poor Indian can hear you." When the visit, that was all too short, came to an end, he would say, "Come back very soon, yes, very soon. I am an old man, and I cannot remember all you have told me about the great Spirit and His Son Jesus Christ. I want to hear it all again many, many times that I may not forget it.”
It was the old man's farewell—they were not to meet again on earth. On his next visit to his village, quite a crowd gathered round the missionary to bid him welcome. Long and anxiously, but in vain, he looked for the old man with snow-white hair. The first gospel service was held only an hour after his arrival. At its close he asked, "Where is the grandfather, the old man with hair like the snowdrift?”
The people, among whom were quite a number of his sons and grandsons, looked sadly at each other, but no one spoke. The Red Indians, until as Christians they have learned that through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ death is a conquered foe, will not, if they can in any way avoid doing so, speak of any of the friends or relations they have lost through death. But Mr. Young continued, "Tell me why he is not here. What have you done with him? Tell me quickly, for I must know.”
After what seemed a long silence, one of the sons rose, and said, "Our father with the snowy hair is no longer among the living.”
The answer left no doubt as to the old man's death. "Tell me why he left you. I very much wish to know.”
“Come with us to our wigwam, and we will tell you," they said. The account of the old man's death is best given in their own words.
"Soon after you left us last summer, missionary, the grandfather got very sick, and after some weeks he seemed to know that he must soon leave us. He called us all to him, and said a great many words to us. I cannot remember all that he said, but I do remember that he said, ‘Oh, how I wish Missi would soon come again to talk to me and comfort me! But he is far away, and my memory is bad. I forget what he said to me, and many of the words he read to me out of the great book. My body is getting weak, and so is my mind. Tell him his coming was like the sunshine on the waters; but he came so seldom that many of the good things he used to tell us about the great Spirit and His Son seemed to have slipped away from me. Tell him how, as long as I was able, I used to go day after day to the point and look over the lake to watch for his canoe returning. And when the winter set in I would go out to the rocks and listen for the sound of his sleigh-bells. But, alas! I heard them not. Oh, that he were here now; he would help me, he would comfort me. But he is far away, so get me my old drum, for I must die as my fathers have done.
But you are young, and your memories are not bad; you can remember all the missionary has said to you. Listen to his words. Do not let them slip from your minds. Serve the great Spirit, love His great book, and then you will not die as I am dying, in the dark. But you must give up all our old heathen Indian ways. You must be Christians.'
“Soon after that he spoke no more, and we thought he was asleep. But when we could not hear him breathe, we went near and touched his hand. It was cold, and we knew he was not among the living. But we do not forget his words, and we want you to stay till you have taught us how to become disciples of Jesus Christ.”