Meanwhile, Pierre was dreaming, too. But his dream was not pleasant. In fact, he was having a nightmare about his close brush with death at the hands of his Mohawk capturers. Scenes of scalding, joint amputations, beatings and molesting flashed across his dream-scape like demons in the night. He relived his pain and suffering; he re-witnessed the cutting out of a fetus from a French woman’s womb – when the Mohawk tried to make the woman eat the body, she promptly died; he re-felt his terror of death, for he had been positive that he would die by their hands, having seen them dispatch others around him, with lightning speed sometimes, and other times with agonizing torture.
His heart was pounding furiously when a hand touched his arm and broke his sleep.
“What?!!” he shouted as he jumped to his feet.
“Calm down, Ovinha,” Ahmik said soothingly, “you were thrashing about in your sleep, moaning deeply about something that was bothering you. I felt it best to bring you back from the shadow of night into the sunlight of day.”
Taking a deep breath, Pierre stilled the beating of his heart and sat down with a small sigh escaping his lips.
“I’ve had that dream many times before, but each time does not make it any easier to bear. I wish I could lay the terror to rest forever.”
“It is disturbing to me to see such a strong man as you, shaken by the fears of the past. Would it not be better to look forward to the bright future and banish the tortured past to faded memory?”
“Yes, Ahmik, you are right. It is time for me to grow up. Mistakes have been made, but I must learn something positive from them and get on with my life. It’s just that my having killed three Mohawk, and then almost being executed by their people, has left a distaste for death and murder. For the rest of my days, I vow, before you and my God, that, if it is at all possible, I shall avoid hurting others physically and shall never, nor cause others to, murder anyone around me.”
“Ovidha, are you sure that you want to go that far in your oath? There are many hated, and hating, people who would not hesitate to slay you, if it served to better their position.”
“I am aware of that, but I do not want any more death on my conscience. From now onward, to the end of time, I shall use my abilities of speech and understanding to solve conflicts and desperate situations. There will be no problem too difficult to resolve if I set my mind to it.”
“I admire your stand, but I cannot help thinking that you are being blind to the potential misuse of your vow, by others who will not hesitate to take advantage of your intentions.”
“Ahmik, someone must stop this senseless killing and it might as well stop with me as anyone else. I’m not a strict believer in the Church, but I’ve learned that we are to love our neighbour as ourselves, no matter what colour his skin is or what nation he comes from. I love you as a brother, even though we’ve only just met, and if I take the same attitude into dealings with all men, I cannot, in good conscience, cause anyone’s death.”
“But what would happen if, in your trading, you run into an obstacle, such as a rival? What if this rival were a ruthless cut-throat? What would you do?”
“I’d have to outsmart the fox to trap it in its own trick, wouldn’t I?”
“Yes, but how?”
“I would use my understanding of how people think, and work on their insecurities, fears, greed, whatever weakness I found, to motivate them to do as I want.”
“May Kitche Manito smile on your endeavour, Ovinha, for you have set a hard task before yourself.”
“I’m sure He will. Now, what must a fellow do to get fed around here, I’m starving.”