Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

1633.

LE JEUNE'S SCHOOL.

· 107

An Indian made Le Jeune a present of two small children, greatly to the delight of the missionary, who at once set himself to teaching them to pray in Latin. As the season grew milder, the number of his scholars increased; for when parties of Indians encamped in the neighborhood he would take his stand at the door, and, like Xavier at Goa, ring a bell. At this, a score of children would gather around him; and he, leading them into the refectory, which served as his school-room, taught them to repeat after him the Pater, Ave, and Credo, expounded the mystery of the Trinity, showed them the sign of the cross, and made them repeat an Indian prayer, the joint composition of Pierre and himself; then followed the catechism, the lesson closing with singing the Pater Noster, translated by the missionary into Algonquin rhymes; and when all was over, he rewarded each of his pupils with a porringer of peas, to insure their attendance at his next bell-ringing. 1

It was the end of May, when the priests one morning heard the sound of cannon from the fort, and were gladdened by the tidings that Samuel de Champlain had arrived to resume command at Quebec, bringing with him four more Jesuits, – Brébeuf, Masse, Daniel, and Davost.1 Brébeuf, from the first, turned his eyes towards the distant land of the Hurons, – a field of labor full of peril, but rich in hope and promise. Le Jeune's duties as Superior restrained him from wanderings so remote. His apostleship must be limited, for a time, to the vagabond hordes of Algonquins, who roamed the forests of the lower St. Lawrence, and of whose language he had been so sedulous a student. His difficulties had of late been increased by the absence of Pierre, who had run off as Lent drew near, standing in dread of that season of fasting. Masse brought tidings of him from Tadoussac, whither he had gone, and where a party of English had given him liquor, destroying the last trace of Le Jeune's late exhortations. “God forgive those," writes the Father, “who introduced heresy into this country! If this savage, corrupted as he is by these miserable heretics, had any wit, he would be a great hindrance to the spread of the Faith. It is plain that he was given us, not for the good of his soul, but only that we might extract from him the principles of his language.”2

est bien vray que Dieu ne se laisse point vaincre, et que plus on quitte, plus on trouue: plus on perd, plus on gaigne: mais Dieu se cache par fois, et alors le Calice est bien amer.” – Le Jeune, Relation, 1633, 19.

1“ l'ay commencé à appeller quelques enfans auec vne petite clochette. La premiere fois i'en auois six, puis douze, puis quinze, puis vingt et davantage; ie leur fais dire le Pater, Aue, et Credo, etc. ... Nous finissons par le Pater Noster, que i'ay composé quasi en rimes en leur langue, que ie leur fais chanter: et pour derniere conclusion, ie leur fais donner chacun yne escuellée de pois, qu'ils mangent de bon appetit,etc.- Le Jeune, Relation, 1033, 23.

Pierre had two brothers. One, well known as a hunter, was named Mestigoit; the other was the

1 See “Pioneers of France in the New World.”
2 Relation, 1633, 29.

1633.]

THE WINTER HUNT.

109

most noted “medicine-man,” or, as the Jesuits called him, sorcerer, in the tribe of the Montagnais. Like the rest of their people, they were accustomed to set out for their winter hunt in the autumn, after the close of their eel-fishery. Le Jeune, despite the experience of De Nouë, had long had a mind to accompany one of these roving bands, partly in the hope that in some hour of distress he might touch their hearts, or, by a timely drop of baptismal water, dismiss some dying child to paradise, but chiefly with the object of mastering their language. Pierre had rejoined his brothers; and, as the hunting season drew near, they all begged the missionary to make one of their party, — not, as he thought, out of any love for him, but solely with a view to the provisions with which they doubted not he would be wel] supplied. Le Jeune, distrustful of the sorcerer demurred, but at length resolved to go.

CHAPTER IV.

1633, 1634.
LE JEUNE AND THE HUNTERS.

DE JEUNE JOINS THE INDIANS. — THE FIRST ENCAMPMENT. - THE

A POSTATE. — FOREST LIFE IN WINTER. — THE INDIAN Hut. — THE SORCERER: his PERSECUTION OF THE PRIEST. — Evil Com. PANY.- Magic. — INCANTATIONS. — CHRISTMAS. — STARVATION.HOPES OF CONVERSION. - BACKSLIDING. — PERIL AND ESCAPE OF LE JEUNE: his RETURN.

On a morning in the latter part of October, Le Jeune embarked with the Indians, twenty in all, men, women, and children. No other Frenchman was of the party. Champlain bade him an anxious farewell, and commended him to the care of his red associates, who had taken charge of his store of biscuit, flour, corn, prunes, and turnips, to which, in an evil hour, his friends had persuaded him to add a small keg of wine. The canoes glided along the wooded shore of the Island of Orleans, and the party landed, towards evening, on the small island immediately below. Le Jeune was delighted with the spot, and the wild beauties of the autumnal sunset.

His reflections, however, were soon interrupted. While the squaws were setting up their bark lodges, and Mestigoit was shooting wild-fowl for supper,

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Pierre returned to the canoes, tapped the keg of wine, and soon fell into the mud, helplessly drunk. Revived by the immersion, he next appeared at the camp, foaming at the mouth, threw down the lodges, overset the kettle, and chased the shrieking squaws into the woods. His brother Mestigoit rekindled the fire, and slung the kettle anew; when Pierre, who meanwhile had been raving like a madman along the shore, reeled in a fury to the spot to repeat his former exploit. Mestigoit anticipated him, snatched the kettle from the fire, and threw the scalding contents in his face. “He was never so well washed before in his life,” says Le Jeune; "he lost all the skin of his face and breast. Would to God his heart had changed also!”? He roared in his frenzy for a hatchet to kill the missionary, who therefore thought it prudent to spend the night in the neighboring woods. Here he stretched himself on the earth, while a charitable squaw covered him with a sheet of birch-bark. “Though my bed,” he writes, “had not been made up since the creation of the world, it was not hard enough to prevent me from sleeping."

Such was his initiation into Indian winter life. Passing over numerous adventures by water and land, we find the party, on the twelfth of November, leaving their canoes on an island, and wading ashore at low tide over the flats to the southern bank of the

1“Iamais il ne fut si bien laué, il changea de peau en la face et en tout l'estomach: pleust à Dieu que son ame eust changé aussi bien que son corps !- Relation, 1631. 59.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »