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Stranger, he said, you speak singular words. You have not been half so long under my roof as the water-clock needs to run out, yet you seem to read the wishes of my soul. Who are you, young man? Your voice is strangely familiar, yet no ... you speak the Attic dialect so purely that Phorion, who was born in the city, has no better accent.
Be not angry, Simonides, he added warmly, clasping his hand in both his own, be not angry if, though a stranger, I speak freely of things which do not concern me. Let me, I beg you, talk in your name to these sluggards. Imagine that I am your son and have returned from a long journey. Come! Lean on my arm, let us go about the house and see what the slaves are doing.The next morning the public criers summoned the citizens to a popular assembly, and soon after the streets were filled with young and old, rich and poor, who, amid hubbub, shrieks, and laughter, flocked towards the theatre, the place where popular assemblies were usually held in the smaller cities.
Strybele pressed Byssa to her bosom and mother and daughter, clasped in each others embrace, wept long together."Twenty-two guns in our whole flotilla," the man was saying to Miranda, "and they've got nearly two hundred." The anchor was up. Gently the boat's engines held her against the flood-tide. The man had turned to add some word, when from the land side of Gaines a single columbiad roared and a huge shell screamed off into the investing entrenchments. Then some lighter guns, thirty-twos, twenty-fours, cracked and rang, and the foe replied. His shells burst over and in the fort, and a cloud of white and brown smoke rolled eastward, veiling both this scene and the remoter, seaward, silent, but far more momentous one of Fort Morgan, the fleet, and the Tennessee.
The lazy waters of the St. John's, tinged to coffee color by the exudations of the swamps, curled before the prow of Ottigny's sail-boat as he advanced into the prolific wilderness which no European eye had ever yet beheld. By his own reckoning, he sailed thirty leagues up the river, which would have brought him to a point not far below Palatka. Here, more than two centuries later, the Bartrams, father and son, guided their skiff and kindled their nightly bivouac-fire; and here, too, roamed Audubon, with his sketch-book and his gun. It was a paradise for the hunter and the naturalist. Earth, air, and water teemed with life, in endless varieties of beauty and ugliness. A half-tropical forest shadowed the low shores, where the palmetto and the cabbage palm mingled with the oak, the maple, the cypress, the liquid-ambar, the laurel, the myrtle, and the broad glistening leaves of the evergreen magnolia. Here was the haunt of bears, wild-cats, lynxes, cougars, and the numberless deer of which they made their prey. In the sedges and the mud the alligator stretched his brutish length; turtles with outstretched necks basked on half-sunken logs; the rattlesnake sunned himself on the sandy bank, and the yet more dangerous moccason lurked under the water-lilies in inlets and sheltered coves. The air and the water were populous as the earth. The river swarmed with fish, from the fierce and restless gar, cased in his horny armor, to the lazy cat-fish in the muddy depths. There were the golden eagle and the white-headed eagle, the gray pelican and the white pelican, the blue heron and the white heron, the egret, the ibis, ducks of various sorts, the whooping crane, the black vulture, and the cormorant; and when at sunset the voyagers drew their boat upon the strand and built their camp-fire under the arches of the woods, the owls whooped around them all night long, and when morning came the sultry mists that wrapped the river were vocal with the clamor of wild turkeys.Meanwhile the Onondaga colonists pursued their perilous way. At Montreal they exchanged their heavy boats for canoes, and resumed their journey with a flotilla of twenty of these sylvan vessels. A few days after, the Indians of the party had the satisfaction of pillaging a small band of Mohawk hunters, in vicarious reprisal for their own wrongs. On the 26th of June, as they neared Lake Ontario, they heard a loud and lamentable voice from the edge of the forest; whereupon, having beaten their drum to show that they were Frenchmen, they beheld a spectral figure, lean and covered with scars, which proved to be a pious Huron, one Joachim Ondakout, captured by the Mohawks in their descent on the island of Orleans, five or six weeks before. They had carried him to their village and begun to torture him; after which they tied him fast and lay down to sleep, thinking to resume their pleasure on the morrow. His cuts and burns being only on the surface, he had the good fortune to free himself from his bonds, and, naked as he was, to escape to the woods. He held his course northwestward, through regions even now a wilderness, gathered wild strawberries to sustain life, and, in fifteen days, reached the St. Lawrence, nearly dead with exhaustion. The Frenchmen gave him food and a canoe, and the living skeleton paddled with a light heart for Quebec.
To the mind of the Puritan, heaven was God's throne; but no less was the earth His footstool: and each in its degree and its kind had its demands on man. He held it a duty to labor and to multiply; and, building on the Old Testament quite as much as on the New, thought that a reward on earth as well as in heaven awaited those who were faithful to the law. Doubtless, such a belief is widely open to abuse, and it would be folly to pretend that it escaped abuse in New England; but there was in it an element manly, healthful, and invigorating. On the other hand, those who shaped the character, and in great measure the destiny, of New France had always on their lips the nothingness and the vanity of life. For them, time was nothing but a preparation for eternity, and the highest virtue consisted in a renunciation of all the cares, toils, and interests of earth. That such a doctrine has often been joined to an intense worldliness, all history proclaims; but with this we have at present nothing to do. If all mankind acted on it in good faith, the world would sink into decrepitude. It is the monastic idea carried into the wide field of active life, and is like the error of those 330 who, in their zeal to cultivate their higher nature, suffer the neglected body to dwindle and pine, till body and mind alike lapse into feebleness and disease.When everything was arranged in this way, the284 work of rescue progressed more rapidly than Lycon had expected, and when at last no voice called for aid, the twenty boats had saved the owners of more than twenty houses, besides a large number of slaves.
Having left his offending niece to the devils and bears of the Isles of Demons, Roberval held his course up the St. Lawrence, and dropped anchor before the heights of Cap Rouge. His company landed; there were bivouacs along the strand, a hubbub of pick and spade, axe, saw, and hammer; and soon in the wilderness uprose a goodly structure, half barrack, half castle, with two towers, two spacious halls, a kitchen, chambers, storerooms, workshops, cellars, garrets, a well, an oven, and two watermills. Roberval named it France-Roy, and it stood on that bold acclivity where Cartier had before intrenched himself, the St. Lawrence in front, and on the right the River of Cap Rouge. Here all the colony housed under the same roof, like one of the experimental communities of recent days,officers, soldiers, nobles, artisans, laborers, and convicts, with the women and children in whom lay the future hope of New France.[Pg 387]