« FöregåendeFortsätt »
wams in the neighborhood, sat in a ring around. Mestigoit, the sorcerer's brother, then brought in the charm, consisting of a few small pieces of wood, some arrow-heads, a broken knife, and an iron hook, which he wrapped in a piece of hide. The woman next rose, and walked around the hut, behind the company. Mestigoit and the sorcerer now dug a large hole with two pointed stakes, the whole assembly singing, drumming, and howling meanwhile with a deafening uproar. The hole made, the charm, wrapped in the hide, was thrown into it. Pierre, the Apostate, then brought a sword and a knife to the sorcerer, who, seizing them, leaped into the hole, and with furious gesticulation hacked and stabbed at the charm, yelling with the whole force of his lungs. At length he ceased, displayed the knife and sword stained with blood, proclaimed that he had mortally wounded his enemy, and demanded if none present had heard his death-cry. The assembly, more occupied in making noises than in listening for them, gave no reply, till at length two young men declared that they had heard a faint scream, as if from a great distance; whereat a shout of gratulation and triumph rose from all the company.1
i "Le magicien tout glorieux dit que son homme est frappe, qu'il mourra bien tost, demande si on n'a point entendu ses cris: tout le monde dit que non, horsmis deux ieunes homines ses parens, qui disent auoir ouy des plaintes fort sourdes, et comme de loing. O qu'ils le tirent aise! Se tournant vers moy, il se mit a rire, disunt: Voyez cette robe noire, qui nous vient dire qu'il ne faut tuer personne. Comme ie regardois attentiuement l'espee et le-poignard, il me les tit presenter: Regarde, dit-il, qu'est eela? C'est du sang, 1633-34.] INCANTATIONS. 123 There was a young prophet, or diviner, in one of the neighboring huts, of whom the sorcerer took counsel as to the prospect of his restoration to health. The divining-lodge was formed, in this instance, of five or six upright posts planted in a circle and covered with a blanket. The prophet ensconced himself within; and after a long interval of singing, the spirits declared their presence by their usual squeaking utterances from the recesses of the mystic tabernacle. Their responses were not unfavorable; and the sorcerer drew much consolation from the invocations of his brother impostor.1 Besides his incessant endeavors to annoy Le Jeune, the sorcerer now and then tried to frighten him. On one occasion, when a period of starvation had been followed by a successful hunt, the whole party assembled for one of the gluttonous feasts usual with them at such times. While the guests sat expectant, and the squaws were about to ladle out the banquet, the sorcerer suddenly leaped up, exclaiming that he had lost his senses, and that knives and hatchets must be kept out of his way, as he had a mind to kill somebody. Then, rolling his eyes towards Le Jeune, he began a series of frantic gestures and outcries, — then stopped abruptly and stared into vacancy, silent repartis-ie. De qui 1 De quelque Orignac ou d'autre animal. I1b se mocquerent de moy, disants que c'estoit du sang de ce Sorcier de Uaspe. Comment, dis-je, il est ii plus de cent lieues d'icy 1 II est vray, font-ils, mais c'est le Manitou, c'est a dire le Diable, qu apporte son sang pardessous In terre."— Relation, 21. 1 See Introduction. Also, " Pioneers of France," 351.
and motionless, — then resumed his former clamor, raged in and out of the hut, and, seizing some of its supporting poles, broke them, as if in an uncontrollable frenzy. The missionary, though alarmed, sat reading his breviary as before. When, however, on the next morning, the sorcerer began again to play the maniac, the thought occurred to him that some stroke of fever might in truth have touched his brain. Accordingly, he approached him and felt his pulse, which he found, in his own words, "as cool as a fish." The pretended madman looked at him with astonishment, and, giving over the attempt to frighten him, presently returned to his senses.1 Le Jeune, robbed of his sleep by the ceaseless thumping of the sorcerer's drum and the monotonous cadence of his medicine-songs, improved the time in attempts to convert him. "I began," he says, "by evincing a great love for him, and by praises, which I threw to him as a bait whereby I might catch him in the net of truth."2 But the Indian, though pleased with the Father's flatteries, was neither caught nor conciliated. 1 The Indians, it is well known, ascribe mysterious and supernatural powers to the insane, and respect them accordingly. The Neutral Nation (see Introduction, 33) was full of pretended madmen, who raved about the villages, throwing firebrands, and making other displays of frenzy.
2 "Ie commencay par vn te'moignage de grand amour en son endroit, et par des loiianges que ie luy iettay comme vne amorce pour le prendre dans les filets de la verite. Ie luy fis entendre que si vn esprit, capable des choses grandes comme le sien, cognoissoit Dieu, que tous les Sauuages induis par son exemple le voudroient aussi cognoistre."—Relation, 1634, 71.
Nowhere was his magic in more requisition than in procuring a successful chase to the hunters, —a point of vital interest, since on it hung the lives of the whole party. They often, however, returned empty-handed; and for one, two, or three successive days no other food could be had than the bark of trees or scraps of leather. So long as tobacco lasted, they found solace in their pipes, which seldom left their lips. "Unhappy infidels," writes Le Jeune, "who spend their lives in smoke, and their eternity in flames!"
As Christmas approached, their condition grew desperate. Beavers and porcupines were scarce, and the snow was not deep enough for hunting the moose. Night and day the medicine-drums and medicinesongs resounded from the wigwams, mingled with the wail of starving children. The hunters grew weak and emaciated; and as after a forlorn march the wanderers encamped once more in the lifeless forest, the priest remembered that it was the eve of Christmas. "The Lord gave us for our supper a porcupine, large as a sucking pig, and also a rabbit. It was not much, it is true, for eighteen or nineteen persons; but the Holy Virgin and St. Joseph, her glorious spouse, were not so well treated, on this very day, in the stable of Bethlehem."1
i "Pour nostre souper, N. S. nous donna vn Porc-espic gros comme vn cochon de lait, et vn lieure; c'estoit peu pour dix-huit ou vingt personnes que nous estions, il est vray, mais la saincte Vierge et son glorieux Espoux sainct Ioseph ne furent pas si bien traictez a mesme iour dans l'esiable de Bethleem." — Relation, 1634,74.
On Christmas Day, the despairing hunters, again unsuccessful, came to pray succor from Le Jeune. Even the Apostate had become tractable, and the famished sorcerer was ready to try the efficacy of an appeal to the deity of his rival. A bright hope possessed the missionary. He composed two prayers, which, with the aid of the repentant Pierre, he translated into Algonquin. Then he hung against the side of the hut a napkin which he had brought with him, and against the napkin a crucifix and a reliquary, and, this done, caused all the Indians to kneel before them, with hands raised and clasped. He now read one of the prayers, and required the Indians to repeat the other after him, promising to renounce their superstitions and obey Christ, whose image they saw before them, if he would give them food and save them from perishing. The pledge given, he dismissed the hunters with a benediction. At night they returned with game enough to relieve the immediate necessity. All was hilarity. The kettles were slung, and the feasters assembled. Le Jeune rose to speak, when Pierre, who having killed nothing was in ill humor, said, with a laugh, that the crucifix and the prayer had nothing to do with their good luck; while the sorcerer, his jealousy reviving as he saw his hunger about to be appeased, called out to the missionary, "Hold your tongue! You have no sense!" As usual, all took their cue from him. They fell to their repast with ravenous jubilation, and the disappointed priest sat dejected and silent.