One evening Maskepetoon was deeply moved by the missionary’s address on our Lord’s dying prayer. “Father, forgive them.” The next day a band of Indians was approaching, in which was the man who had murdered Maskepetoon’s only son. His son, sent into a secluded valley, had never returned; and the son’s companion said that he had fallen over a precipice, though in fact he had murdered him. Unknown to the murderer, the tragedy had been witnessed by some Indians who later reported it to the bereaved chief.
When the two bands were within a few hundred yards of each other, the eagle eye of the old chief detected the murderer, and, drawing his tomahawk from his belt, he rode up till he was face to face with the man who had murdered his son.
Maskepetoon, with a voice tremulous with suppressed feeling, yet with an admirable command over himself, looking the man full in the eyes said: “You deserve to die. I sent him with you, his trusted companion. You betrayed my trust and cruelly killed my only son! You have done me and.my tribe the greatest injury that is possible. You deserve to die; but for what I heard from the missionary at the camp fire last nigh, I would already have killed you! The missionary told us that, if we expected God to forgive, we must forgive the greatest wrong.
“You have been my worst enemy, and deserve to die!” With deep emotion he continued, “As I hope God will forgive me, I forgive you.” Then, hastily pulling his war bonnet over his face, Maskepetoon bowed down over his horse’s neck and gave way to an agony of tears.
For years Maskepetoon lived a devoted Christian life. He preached to others. And after influencing many of his own tribe to turn from killing their enemies, the Blackfeet, he gave them no other weapon but the “Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”
But a bloodthirsty chief of that vindictive tribe, remembering some of their fierce conflicts of other days, and, perhaps, having lost by Maskepetoon’s own prowess some of his relatives in those conflicts, seized his gun, and, in defiance of all rules of humanity, coolly shot down the converted chieftain.
Who can say that forgiveness is not a costly thing? Maskepetoon suffered a broken heart to forgive the murderer of his son. Then it cost him his life to forgive his enemies, to go to them unarmed and preach to them forgiveness of sin.