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      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]


      Just at that moment a dazzling flash of lightning darted from the dark sky far away, followed in a few moments by the roll of distant thunder. Three white birds, one small and two large ones, flew with rapid strokes of their long wings over the ship, following each other at precisely the same distance, as though bound together by some invisible chain. They mounted higher and higher as if they wanted to soar into the sky and soon became mere indistinct specks.


      Eight Algonquins, in one of those fits of desperate valor which sometimes occur in Indians, entered at midnight a camp where thirty or forty Iroquois warriors were buried in sleep, and with quick, sharp blows of their tomahawks began to brain them as they lay. They killed ten of them on the spot, and wounded many more. The rest, panic-stricken and bewildered by the surprise and the thick darkness, fled into the forest, leaving all they had in the hands of the victors, including a number of Algonquin captives, of whom one had been unwittingly killed by his countrymen in the confusion. Another captive, a woman, had escaped on a previous night. They had stretched her on her back, with limbs extended, and bound her wrists and ankles to four stakes firmly driven into the earth,their ordinary mode of securing prisoners. Then, as usual, they all fell asleep. She presently became aware that the cord that bound one of her wrists was somewhat loose, and, by long and painful efforts, she freed her hand. To release the other hand and her feet was then comparatively easy. She cautiously rose. Around her, 314 breathing in deep sleep, lay stretched the dark forms of the unconscious warriors, scarcely visible in the gloom. She stepped over them to the entrance of the hut; and here, as she was passing out, she descried a hatchet on the ground. The temptation was too strong for her Indian nature. She seized it, and struck again and again, with all her force, on the skull of the Iroquois who lay at the entrance. The sound of the blows, and the convulsive struggles of the victim, roused the sleepers. They sprang up, groping in the dark, and demanding of each other what was the matter. At length they lighted a roll of birch-bark, found their prisoner gone and their comrade dead, and rushed out in a rage in search of the fugitive. She, meanwhile, instead of running away, had hid herself in the hollow of a tree, which she had observed the evening before. Her pursuers ran through the dark woods, shouting and whooping to each other; and when all had passed, she crept from her hiding-place, and fled in an opposite direction. In the morning they found her tracks and followed them. On the second day they had overtaken and surrounded her, when, hearing their cries on all sides, she gave up all hope. But near at hand, in the thickest depths of the forest, the beavers had dammed a brook and formed a pond, full of gnawed stumps, dead fallen trees, rank weeds, and tangled bushes. She plunged in, and, swimming and wading, found a hiding-place, where her body was concealed by the water, and her head by the masses of dead and living vegetation. Her pursuers were at 315 fault, and, after a long search, gave up the chase in despair. Shivering, naked, and half-starved, she crawled out from her wild asylum, and resumed her flight. By day, the briers and bushes tore her unprotected limbs; by night, she shivered with cold, and the mosquitoes and small black gnats of the forest persecuted her with torments which the modern sportsman will appreciate. She subsisted on such roots, bark, reptiles, or other small animals, as her Indian habits enabled her to gather on her way. She crossed streams by swimming, or on rafts of driftwood, lashed together with strips of linden-bark; and at length reached the St. Lawrence, where, with the aid of her hatchet, she made a canoe. Her home was on the Ottawa, and she was ignorant of the great river, or, at least, of this part of it. She had scarcely even seen a Frenchman, but had heard of the French as friends, and knew that their dwellings were on the banks of the St. Lawrence. This was her only guide; and she drifted on her way, doubtful whether the vast current would bear her to the abodes of the living or to the land of souls. She passed the watery wilderness of the Lake of St. Peter, and presently descried a Huron canoe. Fearing that it was an enemy, she hid herself, and resumed her voyage in the evening, when she soon came in sight of the wooden buildings and palisades of Three Rivers. Several Hurons saw her at the same moment, and made towards her; on which she leaped ashore and hid in the bushes, whence, being entirely without clothing, she would 316 not come out till one of them threw her his coat. Having wrapped herself in it, she went with them to the fort and the house of the Jesuits, in a wretched state of emaciation, but in high spirits at the happy issue of her voyage. [4]

      See also Edits, Ordonnances Royaux, etc., I. 20-26 (Quebec, 1854).Philopator!

      What is to be done? he murmured. Tell me, Maira. You have always been a good wife to me."After having put matters in good trim for trade I [Pg 331] mean to withdraw, though I think it will be very profitable; for I am disgusted to find that I must always be making excuses, which is a part I cannot play successfully. I am utterly tired of this business; for I see that it is not enough to put property and life in constant peril, but that it requires more pains to answer envy and detraction than to overcome the difficulties inseparable from my undertaking."


      Yet it would be false coloring to paint the half-savage coureur de bois as a romantic lover of nature. He liked the woods because they emancipated him from restraint. He liked the lounging ease of the camp-fire, and the license of Indian villages. His life has a dark and ugly side, which is nowhere drawn more strongly than in a letter written by the Jesuit Carheil to the intendant Champigny. It was at a time when some of the outlying forest posts, originally either missions or transient stations of coureurs de bois, had received regular garrisons. Carheil writes from Michillimackinac, and describes the state of things around him like one whom long familiarity with them had stripped of every illusion.Canada was still a mission, and the influence of

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      [202] La Salle, in the following year, with a far better equipment, was more than three months and a half in making the journey. A Mississippi trading-boat of the last generation, with sails and oars, ascending against the current, was thought to do remarkably well if it could make twenty miles a day. Hennepin, if we believe his own statements, must have ascended at an average rate of sixty miles, though his canoe was large and heavily laden.And I knew nothing about it?

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      When her story was ended, preparations were made for a ceremony which the art of those days has represented upon many a vase.

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