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      The original design had been to rendezvous at Havana, but with the Adelantado the advantages of despatch outweighed every other consideration. He resolved to push directly for Florida. Five of his scattered ships had by this time rejoined company, comprising, exclusive of officers, a force of about five hundred soldiers, two hundred sailors, and one hundred colonists. Bearing northward, he advanced by an unknown and dangerous course along the coast of Hayti and through the intricate passes of the Bahamas. On the night of the twenty-sixth, the "San Pelayo" struck three times on the shoals; "but," says the chaplain, "inasmuch as our enterprise was undertaken for the sake of Christ and His blessed Mother, two heavy seas struck her abaft, and set her afloat again."Here he found a warm welcome, and little other refreshment. In respect to the commodities of life, the Jesuits were but a step in advance of the Indians. Their house, though well ventilated by numberless crevices in its bark walls, always smelt of smoke, and, when the wind was in certain quarters, was filled with it to suffocation. At their meals, the Fathers sat on logs around the fire, over which their kettle was slung in the Indian fashion. Each had his wooden platter, which, from the difficulty of transportation, was valued, in the Huron country, at the price of a robe of beaver-skin, or a hundred francs. [1] Their food consisted of sagamite, or "mush," made of pounded Indian-corn, boiled with scraps of smoked fish. Chaumonot compares it to the paste used for papering the walls of houses. The repast was occasionally varied by a pumpkin or squash baked in the ashes, or, in the 130 season, by Indian corn roasted in the ear. They used no salt whatever. They could bring their cumbrous pictures, ornaments, and vestments through the savage journey of the Ottawa; but they could not bring the common necessaries of life. By day, they read and studied by the light that streamed in through the large smoke-holes in the roof,at night, by the blaze of the fire. Their only candles were a few of wax, for the altar. They cultivated a patch of ground, but raised nothing on it except wheat for making the sacramental bread. Their food was supplied by the Indians, to whom they gave, in return, cloth, knives, awls, needles, and various trinkets. Their supply of wine for the Eucharist was so scanty, that they limited themselves to four or five drops for each mass. [2]

      [5] "I'admiray la tendresse d'vne femme enuers son pere et ses enfans; elle est fille d'vn Capitaine, qui est mort fort ag, et a est autrefois fort considerable dans le Pa?s: elle luy peignoit sa cheuelure, elle manioit ses os les vns apres les autres, auec la mesme affection que si elle luy eust voulu rendre la vie; elle luy mit aupres de luy son Atsatone8ai, c'est dire son pacquet de buchettes de Conseil, qui sont tous les liures et papiers du Pa?s. Pour ses petits enfans, elle leur mit des brasselets de Pourcelaine et de rassade aux bras, et baigna leurs os de ses larmes; on ne l'en pouuoit quasi separer, mais on pressoit, et il fallut incontinent partir."Brbeuf, Relation des Hurons, 1636, 134.

      In the spring of 1636, the chiefs and elders of the Nation of the Bearthe principal nation of the Confederacy, and that to which Ihonatiria belongedassembled in a general council, to prepare for the great solemnity. There was an unwonted spirit of dissension. Some causes of jealousy had arisen, and three or four of the Bear villages announced their intention of holding their Feast of the Dead apart from the rest. As such a procedure was thought abhorrent to every sense of propriety and duty, the announcement excited an intense feeling; yet Brbeuf, who was present, describes the debate which ensued as perfectly calm, and wholly free from personal abuse or recrimination. The secession, however, took place, and each party withdrew to its villages to gather and prepare its dead.I have recounted the ferocious triumphs of the Iroquois in another volume.[181] Throughout a wide semi-circle around their cantons, they had made the forest a solitude; destroyed the Hurons, exterminated the Neutrals and the Eries, reduced the formidable Andastes to helpless insignificance, swept the borders of the St. Lawrence with fire, spread terror and desolation among the Algonquins of Canada; and now, tired of peace, they were seeking, to borrow their own savage metaphor, new nations to devour. Yet it was not alone their homicidal fury that now impelled them to another war. Strange as it may seem, this war was in no small measure one of commercial advantage. They had long traded with the Dutch and English of New York, who gave them, in exchange for their furs, the guns, ammunition, knives, hatchets, kettles, beads, and brandy which had become indispensable to them. Game was scarce in their country. They must seek their beaver and other skins in the vacant territories of the tribes they had destroyed; but this did not content them. The French of Canada were seeking to secure a monopoly of the furs of the north and west; and, of late, the enterprises of La Salle on the tributaries of the Mississippi had especially roused the jealousy of the Iroquois, fomented, moreover, by Dutch and English traders.[182] These crafty savages would fain [Pg 220] reduce all these regions to subjection, and draw thence an exhaustless supply of furs, to be bartered for English goods with the traders of Albany. They turned their eyes first towards the Illinois, the most important, as well as one of the most accessible, of the western Algonquin tribes; and among La Salle's enemies were some in whom jealousy of a hated rival could so far override all the best interests of the colony that they did not scruple to urge on the Iroquois to an invasion which they hoped would prove his ruin. The chiefs convened, war was decreed, the war-dance was danced, the war-song sung, and five hundred warriors began their march. In their path lay the town of the Miamis, neighbors and kindred of the Illinois. It was always their policy to divide and conquer; and these forest Machiavels had intrigued so well among the Miamis, working craftily on their jealousy, that they induced them to join in the invasion, though there is every reason to believe that they had marked these infatuated allies as their next victims.[183]

      CHAPTER III.Ragueneau, Bressani, and their companions waited in suspense at Sainte Marie. On the one hand, they trembled for Brbeuf and Lalemant; on the other, they looked hourly for an attack: and when at evening they saw the Iroquois scouts prowling along the edge of the bordering forest, their fears were confirmed. They had with them about forty Frenchmen, well armed; but their palisades and wooden buildings were not fire-proof, and they had learned from fugitives the number and ferocity of 383 the invaders. They stood guard all night, praying to the Saints, and above all to their great patron, Saint Joseph, whose festival was close at hand.

      In the spring of 1644, Joseph Bressani, an Italian Jesuit, born in Rome, and now for two years past a missionary in Canada, was ordered by his Superior to go up to the Hurons. It was so early in the season that there seemed hope that he might pass in safety; and as the Fathers in that wild mission had received no succor for three years, Bressani was charged with letters to them, and such 252 necessaries for their use as he was able to carry. With him were six young Hurons, lately converted, and a French boy in his service. The party were in three small canoes. Before setting out, they all confessed and prepared for death.

      Beware, when the day of retribution comes, I shall not content myself with carrying off goats.

      Most of the traditions agree, however, that the spirits, on their journey heavenward, were beset with difficulties and perils. There was a swift river which must be crossed on a log that shook beneath their feet, while a ferocious dog opposed their passage, and drove many into the abyss. This river was full of sturgeon and other fish, which the ghosts speared for their subsistence. Beyond was a narrow path between moving rocks, which each instant crashed together, grinding to atoms the less nimble of the pilgrims who essayed to pass. The Hurons believed that a personage named Oscotarach, or the Head-Piercer, dwelt in a bark house beside the path, and that it was his office to remove the brains from the heads of all who went by, as a necessary preparation for immortality. lxxxiii This singular idea is found also in some Algonquin traditions, according to which, however, the brain is afterwards restored to its owner. [86]


      [268] While the plan, as proposed in the memorial, was clearly impracticable, the subsequent experience of the French in Texas tended to prove that the tribes of that region could be used with advantage in attacking the Spaniards of Mexico, and that an inroad on a comparatively small scale might have been successfully made with their help. In 1689, Tonty actually made the attempt, as we shall see, but failed, from the desertion of his men. In 1697, the Sieur de Louvigny wrote to the Minister of the Marine, asking to complete La Salle's discoveries, and invade Mexico from Texas. (Lettre de M. de Louvigny, 14 Oct., 1697.) In an unpublished memoir of the year 1700, the seizure of the Mexican mines is given as one of the motives of the colonization of Louisiana.


      "Yes, I know, and I know it's not fair to him. Lieutenant--Colonel, I mean, pardon me!--you sha'n't be under odium for my sake or his. As far as I stand accused I must stand alone. The one who must go free is that mere child Victorine, on her pass, to-day, this morning. When I hear the parting gun of that boat down yonder I want to know by it that Victorine is safely on her way to Mobile, as she would be had she not been my messenger yesterday."


      Building of the Fort.Loss of the "Griffin."A Bold Resolution.Another Vessel.Hennepin sent to the Mississippi.Departure of La Salle.In extracts given in the notes, the antiquated orthography and accentuation are preserved.