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      SUCCESS OF LA SALLE.249 Pour some wine into his mouth.

      322, 319.The French re-embarked, bade farewell to Hochelaga, retraced their lonely course down the St. Lawrence, and reached Stadacone in safety. On the bank of the St. Charles, their companions had built in their absence a fort of palisades, and the ships, hauled up the little stream, lay moored before it. Here the self-exiled company were soon besieged by the rigors of the Canadian winter. The rocks, the shores, the pine-trees, the solid floor of the frozen river, all alike were blanketed in snow beneath the keen cold rays of the dazzling sun. The drifts rose above the sides of their ships; masts, spars, and cordage were thick with glittering incrustations and sparkling rows of icicles; a frosty armor, four inches thick, encased the bulwarks. Yet, in the bitterest weather, the neighboring Indians, "hardy," says the journal, "as so many beasts," came daily to the fort, wading, half naked, waist-deep through the snow. At length, their friendship began to abate; their visits grew less frequent, and during December had wholly ceased, when a calamity fell upon the French.

      [6] Relation des Hurons, 1642, 89. The indecencies alluded to were chiefly naked dances, of a superstitious character, and the mystical cure called Andacwandet, before mentioned.

      [29] The Illinois lived at this time beyond the Mississippi, thirty days' journey from La Pointe; whither they had been driven by the Iroquois, from their former abode near Lake Michigan. Dablon (Relation, 1671, 24, 25) says that they lived seven days' journey beyond the Mississippi, in eight villages. A few years later, most of them returned to the east side, and made their abode on the river Illinois.DE LHUT'S EXPLORATIONS.

      [22] Lalemant, Relation, 1646, 9; Marie de l'Incarnation, Lettre, 10 Sept., 1646; Bressani, Relation Abrge, 175.

      The old palace of the Louvre, reared by the "Roi Chevalier" on the site of those dreary feudal towers which of old had guarded the banks of the Seine, held within its sculptured masonry the worthless brood of Valois. Corruption and intrigue ran riot at the court. Factious nobles, bishops, and cardinals, with no God but pleasure and ambition, contended around the throne or the sick-bed of the futile King. Catherine de Medicis, with her stately form, her mean spirit, her bad heart, and her fathomless depths of duplicity, strove by every subtle art to hold the balance of power among them. The bold, pitiless, insatiable Guise, and his brother the Cardinal of Lorraine, the incarnation of falsehood, rested their ambition on the Catholic party. Their army was a legion of priests, and the black swarms of countless monasteries, who by the distribution of alms held in pay the rabble of cities and starving peasants on the lands of impoverished nobles. Montmorency, Conde, and Navarre leaned towards the Reform,doubtful and inconstant chiefs, whose faith weighed light against their interests. Yet, amid vacillation, selfishness, weakness, treachery, one great man was like a tower of trust, and this was Gaspar de Coligny.

      U Prudence, ingenuity.[Pg 239]


      A Change of Plan ? Sainte Marie ? Mission of the Tobacco Nation ? Winter Journeying ? Reception of the Missionaries ? Superstitious Terrors ? Peril of Garnier and Jogues ? Mission of the Neutrals ? Huron Intrigues ? Miracles ? Fury of the Indians ? Intervention of Saint Michael ? Return to Sainte Marie ? Intrepidity of the Priests ? Their Mental Exaltation"If," writes a friend of La Salle," he had preferred gain to glory, he had only to stay at his fort, where he was making more than twenty-five thousand livres a year."[97] He loved solitude and he loved power; and at Fort Frontenac he had both, so far as each consisted with the other. The nearest settlement was a week's journey distant, and he was master of all around him. He had spared no pains to fulfil the conditions on which his wilderness seigniory had been granted, and within two years he had demolished the original wooden fort, replacing it by another much larger, enclosed on the land side by ramparts and bastions of stone, and on the water side by palisades. It contained a range of barracks of squared timber, a guard-house, a lodging for officers, a forge, a well, [Pg 121] a mill, and a bakery. Nine small cannon were mounted on the walls. Two officers and a surgeon, with ten or twelve soldiers, made up the garrison; and three or four times that number of masons, laborers, and canoe-men were at one time maintained at the place.


      When La Salle reached Paris, he went to his old lodgings in Rue de la Truanderie, and, it is likely enough, thought for an instant of the adventures and vicissitudes he had passed since he occupied them before. Another ordeal awaited him. He must confront, not painted savages with tomahawk and knife, butwhat he shrank from morethe courtly throngs that still live and move in the pages of Svign and Saint-Simon.Laudonniere hesitated, and hereupon arose a great clamor. A mob of soldiers and artisans beset his chamber, threatening loudly to desert him, and take passage with Hawkins, unless the offer were accepted. The commandant accordingly resolved to buy the vessel. The generous slaver, whose reputed avarice nowhere appears in the transaction, desired him to set his own price; and, in place of money, took the cannon of the fort, with other articles now useless to their late owners. He sent them, too, a gift of wine and biscuit, and supplied them with provisions for the voyage, receiving in payment Laudonniere's note; "for which," adds the latter, "untill this present I am indebted to him." With a friendly leave taking, he returned to his ships and stood out to sea, leaving golden opinions among the grateful inmates of Fort Caroline.


      The progress of the party was becoming dangerous. They changed their mode of advance and moved only in the night. All day they lay close in the depth of the forest, sleeping, lounging, smoking tobacco of their own raising, and beguiling the hours, no doubt, with the shallow banter and obscene jesting with which knots of Indians are wont to amuse their leisure. At twilight they embarked again, paddling their cautious way till the eastern sky began to redden. Their goal was the rocky promontory where Fort Ticonderoga was long afterward built. Thence, they would pass the outlet of Lake George, and launch their canoes again on that Como of the wilderness, whose waters, limpid as a fountain-head, stretched far southward between their flanking mountains. Landing at the future site of Fort William Henry, they would carry their canoes through the forest to the river Hudson, and, descending it, attack perhaps some outlying town of the Mohawks. In the next century this chain of lakes and rivers became the grand highway of savage and civilized war, linked to memories of momentous conflicts.