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adverse to the invigorating and expansive spirit of modern civilization. Yet, full of error and full of danger as was their system, they embraced its serene and smiling falsehoods with the sincerity of martyrs and the self-devotion of saints. We have spoken already of the Hurons, of their populous villages on the borders of the great "Fresh Sea," their trade, their rude agriculture, their social life, their wild and incongruous superstitions, and the sorcerers, diviners, and medicine-men who lived on their credulity.1 Iroquois hostility left open but one avenue to their country, the long and circuitous route which, eighteen years before, had been explored by Champlain,2 — up the river Ottawa, across Lake Nipissing, down French River, and along the shores of the great Georgian Bay of Lake Huron, — a route as difficult as it was tedious. Midway, on Allumette Island, in the Ottawa, dwelt the Algonquin tribe visited by Champlain in 1613, and who, amazed at the apparition of the white stranger, thought that he had fallen from the clouds.3 Like other tribes of this region, they were keen traders, and would gladly have secured for themselves the benefits of an intermediate traffic between the Hurons and the French, receiving the furs of the former in barter at a low rate, and exchanging them with the latter at their full value. From their position, they could at any time close the passage of the Ottawa; but as this would
HURON'S AT QUEBEC. 133 have been a perilous exercise of their rights,1 they were forced to act with discretion. An opportunity for the practice of their diplomacy had lately occurred. On or near the Ottawa, at some distance below them, dwelt a small Algonquin tribe, called La Petite Nation. One of this people had lately killed a Frenchman, and the murderer was now in the hands of Champlain, a prisoner at the fort of Quebec. The savage politicians of Allumette Island contrived, as will soon be seen, to turn this incident to profit. In the July that preceded Le Jeune's wintering with the Montagnais, a Huron Indian, well known to the French, came to Quebec with the tidings that the annual canoe-fleet of his countrymen was descending the St. Lawrence. On the twenty-eighth, the river was alive with them. A hundred and forty canoes, with six or seven hundred savages, landed at the warehouses beneath the fortified rock of Quebec, i Nevertheless, the Hurons always passed this way as a matter of favor, and gave yearly presents to the Algonquins of the island, in acknowledgment of the privilege. (Le Jeune, Relation, 1636, 70.) By the unwritten laws of the Hurons and Algonquins, every tribe had the right, even in full peace, of prohibiting the passage of every other tribe across itsterritory. In ordinary cases, such prohibitions were quietly submitted to.
"Ces Insulaires voudraient bien que les Hurons ne vinssent point aux Francois & que les Francois n'allassent point aux Hurons, afin -I'emporter eux seuls tout le trafic," etc. — Relation, 1633, 205 (Cramoisy), — "desirans eux-mesmes aller recueiller les marchan- dises des peuples circonvoisins pour les apporter aux Francois." This "Nation de l'lsle " has been erroneously located at Montreal. Its true position is indicated on the map of Du Creux, and on an ancient MS. map in the Dipdl des Cartes, of which a fac simile is before me. See also "Pioneers of France."
and set up their huts and camp-sheds on the strand now covered by the lower town. The greater number brought furs and tobacco for the trade; others came as sight-seers; others to gamble, and others to steal,1 — accomplishments in which the Hurons were proficient; their gambling skill being exercised chiefly against each other, and their thieving talents against those of other nations. The routine of these annual visits was nearly uniform. On the first day, the Indians built their huts; on the second, they held their council with the French officers at the fort; on the third and fourth, they bartered their furs and tobacco for kettles, hatchets, knives, cloth, beads, iron arrow-heads, coats, shirts, and other commodities; on the fifth, they were feasted by the French; and at daybreak of the next morning, they embarked and vanished like a flight of birds.2
On the second day, then, the long file of chiefs and warriors mounted the pathway to the fort, — tall, well-moulded figures, robed in the skins of the beaver and the bear, each wild visage glowing with paint and glistening with the oil which the Hurons extracted from the seeds of the sunflower. The lank black hair of one streamed loose upon his shoulders; that 1 "Quelques vns d'entre eux ne viennent a la traite auec les Francois que pour iouer, d'autres pour voir, quelques vns pour derober, et les plus sages et les plus riches pour trafiquer."— Le Jeune, Relation, 1033, 34.
4 "Comme une voice d'oiseaux." — Le Jeune, Relation, 1633, 190 (Cramoisy). The tobacco brought to the French by the Hurons may have been raised by the adjacent tribe of the Tionnontates, who cultivated it largely for sale. See Introduction.
163:3 1 HURONS AT THE MISSION-HOUSE. 135 of another was close shaven, except an upright ridge, which, bristling like the crest of a dragoon's helmet, crossed the crown from the forehead to the neck: while that of a third hung, long and flowing from one side, but on the other was cut short. Sixty chiefs and principal men, with a crowd of younger warriors, formed their council-circle in the fort, those of each village grouped together, and all seated on the ground with a gravity of bearing sufficiently curious to those who had seen the same men in the domestic circle of their lodge-fires. Here, too, were the Jesuits, robed in black, anxious and intent; and here was Champlain, who, as he surveyed the throng, recognized among the elder warriors not a few of those who, eighteen years before, had been his companions in arms on his hapless foray against the Iroquois.1 Their harangues of compliment being made and answered, and the inevitable presents given and received, Champlain introduced to the silent conclave the three missionaries, Bre"beuf, Daniel, and Davost. To their lot had fallen the honors, dangers, and woes of the Huron mission. "These are our fathers," he said. "We love them more than we love ourselves. The whole French nation honors them. They do not go among you for your furs. They have left their friends and their country to show you the way to heaven. If you love the French, as you say you love them, then love and honor these our fathers."2
1 See "Pioneers of France," 346.
a Le Jeune, Relation, 1633, 274 (Cramoisy); Mercure Francois. 1634, 845.
Two chiefs rose to reply, and each lavished all his rhetoric in praises of Champlain and of the French. Bre"beuf rose next, and spoke in broken Huron, — the assembly jerking in unison, from the bottom of their throats, repeated ejaculations of applause. Then they surrounded him, and vied with each other for the honor of carrying him in their canoes. In short, the mission was accepted; and the chiefs of the different villages disputed among themselves the privilege of receiving and entertaining the three priests. On the last of July, the day of the feast of St. Ignatius, Champlain and several masters of tradingvessels went to the house of the Jesuits in quest of indulgences; and here they were soon beset by a crowd of curious Indians, who had finished their traffic and were making a tour of observation. Being excluded from the house, they looked in at the windows of the room which served as a chapel; and Champlain, amused at their exclamations of wonder, gave one of them a piece of citron. The Huron tasted it, and, enraptured, demanded what it was. Champlain replied, laughing, that it was the rind of a French pumpkin. The fame of this delectable production was instantly spread abroad; and, at every window, eager voices and outstretched hands petitioned for a share of the marvellous vegetable. They were at length allowed to enter the chapel, which had lately been decorated with a few hangings, images, and pieces of plate. These unwonted splen