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      At dawn of day, marshalled and accoutred, they marched for Hochelaga. An Indian path led them through the forest which covered the site of Montreal. The morning air was chill and sharp, the leaves were changing hue, and beneath the oaks the ground was thickly strewn with acorns. They soon met an Indian chief with a party of tribesmen, or, as the old narrative has it, "one of the principal lords of the said city," attended with a numerous retinue. Greeting them after the concise courtesy of the forest, he led them to a fire kindled by the side of the path for their comfort and refreshment, seated them on the ground, and made them a long harangue, receiving in requital of his eloquence two hatchets, two knives, and a crucifix, the last of which he was invited to kiss. This done, they resumed their march, and presently came upon open fields, covered far and near with the ripened maize, its leaves rustling, and its yellow grains gleaming between the parting husks. Before them, wrapped in forests painted by the early frosts, rose the ridgy back of the Mountain of Montreal, and below, encompassed with its corn-fields, lay the Indian town. Nothing was visible but its encircling palisades. They were of trunks of trees, set in a triple row. The outer and inner ranges inclined till they met and crossed near the summit, while the upright row between them, aided by transverse braces, gave to the whole an abundant strength. Within were galleries for the defenders, rude ladders to mount them, and magazines of stones to throw down on the heads of assailants. It was a mode of fortification practised by all the tribes speaking dialects of the Iroquois.[15] Meules La Barre, 15 July, 1684.

      Remember, child, that the service he has rendered to me is nothing in comparison to the crime he committed. If his own sin had not made me ill, I should never have needed his assistance.Tracy had at first meant to abandon Fort St. Anne; but he changed his mind after returning to Quebec. Meanwhile the season had grown so late that there was no time to send proper supplies to the garrison. Winter closed, and the place was not only ill provisioned, but was left without a priest. Tracy wrote to the superior of the Sulpitians at Montreal to send one without delay; but the request was more easily made than fulfilled, for he forgot to order an escort, and the way was long and dangerous. The stout-hearted Dollier de Casson was told, however, to hold himself ready to go at the first opportunity. His recent campaigning had left him in no condition for braving fresh hardships, for he was nearly disabled by a swelling on one of his knees. By way of cure he resolved to try a severe bleeding, and the Sangrado of Montreal did his work so thoroughly that his patient fainted under his hands. As he returned to consciousness, he became aware that two soldiers had entered the room. They told him that they were going in the morning to Chambly, which was on the way to St. Anne; and they invited him to go with them. Wait till the day after to-morrow, replied the priest, and I will try. The delay was obtained; and, on the day fixed, the party set out by the forest path to Chambly, a distance of about four leagues. When they reached it, Dollier de Casson was nearly spent, but he concealed his plight from the commanding officer, and begged an escort to St. Anne, some twenty leagues farther. As the officer would not give him one, he threatened to go alone, on which ten men and an ensign were at last ordered to conduct him. Thus attended, he resumed his journey after a days rest. One of the soldiers fell through the ice, and none of his comrades dared help him. Dollier de Casson, making the sign of the cross, went to his aid, and, more successful than on the former occasion, caught him and pulled him out. The snow was deep; and the priest, having arrived in the preceding summer, had never before worn snow-shoes, while a sack of clothing, and his portable chapel which he carried at his back, joined to the pain of his knee and the effects of his late bleeding, made the march a purgatory.

      This was Jean Nicollet, interpreter at Three Rivers on the St. Lawrence. He had been some twenty years in Canada, had lived among the savage Algonquins of Allumette Island, and spent eight or nine years among the Nipissings, on the lake which bears their name. Here he became an Indian in all [Pg 4] his habits, but remained, nevertheless, a zealous Catholic, and returned to civilization at last because he could not live without the sacraments. Strange stories were current among the Nipissings of a people without hair or beard, who came from the West to trade with a tribe beyond the Great Lakes. Who could doubt that these strangers were Chinese or Japanese? Such tales may well have excited Nicollet's curiosity; and when, in 1635, or possibly in 1638, he was sent as an ambassador to the tribe in question, he would not have been surprised if on arriving he had found a party of mandarins among them. Perhaps it was with a view to such a contingency that he provided himself, as a dress of ceremony, with a robe of Chinese damask embroidered with birds and flowers. The tribe to which he was sent was that of the Winnebagoes, living near the head of the Green Bay of Lake Michigan. They had come to blows with the Hurons, allies of the French; and Nicollet was charged to negotiate a peace. When he approached the Winnebago town, he sent one of his Indian attendants to announce his coming, put on his robe of damask, and advanced to meet the expectant crowd with a pistol in each hand. The squaws and children fled, screaming that it was a manito, or spirit, armed with thunder and lightning; but the chiefs and warriors regaled him with so bountiful a hospitality that a hundred and twenty beavers were devoured at a single feast. From the Winnebagoes, he passed westward, ascended Fox [Pg 5] River, crossed to the Wisconsin, and descended it so far that, as he reported on his return, in three days more he would have reached the sea. The truth seems to be that he mistook the meaning of his Indian guides, and that the "great water" to which he was so near was not the sea, but the Mississippi.

      The secular motives for the war were in themselves strong enough; for the growth of the colony absolutely demanded the cessation of Iroquois raids, and the French had begun to learn the lesson that, in the case of hostile Indians, no good can come of attempts to conciliate, unless respect is first imposed by a sufficient castigation. It is true that the writers of the time paint Iroquois hostilities in their worst colors. In the innumerable letters which Mother Mary of the Incarnation sent home every autumn, by the returning ships, she spared no means to gain the sympathy and aid of the devout; and, with similar motives, the Jesuits in their printed Relations, took care to extenuate nothing of the miseries which the pious colony endured. Avaugour, too, in urging the sending out of a strong force to fortify and hold the country, had advised that, in order to furnish a pretext and disarm the jealousy of the English and Dutch, exaggerated accounts should be given of danger from the side of the savage confederates. Yet, with every allowance, these dangers and sufferings were sufficiently great.

      * Denonville au Ministre, 13 Nov. 1685.From copies of other documents before me, it appears that in 1659 the reserved portion of the island was also ceded to the Company of Montreal.

      It is unnecessary to specify the authorities for the introductory and subordinate portions of the narrative.This success was followed by a calamity. La Salle had gone up the Niagara to find a suitable place for a ship-yard, when he learned that the pilot in charge of the vessel he had left had disobeyed his orders, and ended by wrecking it on the coast. Little was saved except the anchors and cables destined for the new vessel to be built above the cataract. This loss threw him into extreme perplexity, and, as Hennepin says, "would have made anybody but him give up the enterprise."[121] The whole party were now gathered [Pg 143] at the palisaded house which La Motte had built, a little below the mountain ridge of Lewiston. They were a motley crew of French, Flemings, and Italians, all mutually jealous. La Salle's enemies had tampered with some of the men; and none of them seemed to have had much heart for the enterprise. The fidelity even of La Motte was doubtful. "He served me very ill," says La Salle; "and Messieurs de Tonty and de la Forest knew that he did his best to debauch all my men."[122] His health soon failed under the hardships of these winter journeyings, and he returned to Fort Frontenac, half-blinded by an inflammation of the eyes.[123] La Salle, seldom happy in the choice of subordinates, had, perhaps, in all his company but one man whom he could fully trust; and this was Tonty. He and Hennepin were on indifferent terms. Men thrown together in a rugged enterprise like this quickly learn to know each other; and the vain and assuming friar was not likely to commend himself to La Salle's brave and loyal lieutenant. Hennepin says that it was La Salle's policy to govern through the dissensions of his followers; and, from whatever cause, it is certain that those beneath him were rarely in perfect harmony.


      ** Rglement de Police, 1676. Art. xxxvii.[11] Lettre du P. De Quen au R. P. Lallemant; no date. MS.



      Lycon, who suspected no evil, continued his usual mode of life. One noon he went to the house of a freedman named Opasion, who usually had gay doings in his home, as he lived by entertaining young men. The little peristyle, scarcely ten feet long, was filled with a noisy, laughing party. Half a score of youths in mantles of every hue had formed a circle around two fighting quails.