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THE JESUITS THWARTED. 137 dors filled them with admiration. They asked if the dove over the altar was the bird that makes the thunder, and, pointing to the images of Loyola and Xavier, inquired if they were okies, or spirits; nor was their perplexity much diminished by Brdbeuf's explanation of their true character. Three images of the Virgin next engaged their attention; and, in answer to their questions, they were told that they were the mother of Him who made the world. This greatly amused them, and they demanded if he had three mothers. "Oh!" exclaims the Father Superior, "had we but images of all the holy mysteries of our faith! They are a great assistance, for they speak their own lesson."1 The mission was not doomed long to suffer from a dearth of these inestimable auxiliaries. The eve of departure came. The three priests packed their baggage, and Champlain paid their passage, or, in other words, made presents to the Indians who were to carry them in their canoes. They lodged that night in the storehouse of the fur company, around which the Hurons were encamped; and Le Jeune and De Noue stayed with them to bid them farewell in the morning. At eleven at night, they were aroused by a loud voice in the Indian camp, and saw Le Borgne, the one-eyed chief of Allumette Island, walking round among the huts, haranguing as he went. Brtfbeuf, listening, caught the import of his words. "We have begged the
l Relation. 1033. 38.
French captain to spare the life of the Algonquin of the Petite Nation whom he keeps in prison; but he will not listen to us. The prisoner will die. Then his people will revenge him. They will try to kill the three black robes whom you are about to carry to your country. If you do not defend them, the French will be angry, and charge you with their death. But if you do, then the Algonquins will make war on you, and the river will be closed. If the French captain will not let the prisoner go, then leave the three black-robes where they are; for if you take them with you, they will bring you to trouble." Such was the substance of Le Borgne's harangue. The anxious priests hastened up to the fort, gained admittance, and roused Champlain from his slumbers. He sent his interpreter with a message to the Hurons that he wished to speak to them before their departure; and, accordingly, in the morning an Indian crier proclaimed through their camp that none should embark till the next day. Champlain convoked the chiefs, and tried persuasion, promises, and threats; but Le Borgne had been busy among them with his intrigues, and now he declared in the council, that, unless the prisoner were released, the missionaries would be murdered on their way, and war would ensue. The politic savage had two objects in view. On the one hand, he wished to interrupt the direct intercourse between the French and the Hurons; and, on the other, he thought to gain credit and influence with the nation of the prisoner by effecting J634.] THE JESUITS THWARTED 139
his release. His first point was won. Champlain would not give up the murderer, knowing those with whom he was dealing too well to take a course which would have proclaimed the killing of a Frenchman a venial offence. The Hurons thereupon refused to carry the missionaries to their country; coupling the refusal with many regrets and many protestations of love, partly, no doubt, sincere, —for the Jesuits had contrived to gain no little favor in their eyes. The council broke up, the Hurons embarked, and the priests returned to their convent. Here, under the guidance of Bre"beuf, they employed themselves, amid their other avocations, in studying the Huron tongue. A year passed, and again the Indian traders descended from their villages. In the mean while, grievous calamities had befallen the nation. They had suffered deplorable reverses at the hands of the Iroquois; while a pestilence, similar to that which a few years before had swept off the native populations of New England, had begun its ravages among them. They appeared at Three Rivers — this year the place of trade — in small numbers, and in a miserable state of dejection and alarm. Du Plessis Bochart, commander of the French fleet, called them to a council, harangued them, feasted them, and made them presents; but they refused to take the Jesuits. In private, however, some of them were gained over, then again refused; then, at the eleventh hour, a second time consented. On the eve of embarkation, they once more wavered. All was confusion, doubt, and uncertainty, when Bre"beuf bethought him of a vow to St. Joseph. The vow was made. At once, he says, the Indians became tractable; the Fathers embarked, and, amid salvos of cannon from the ships, set forth for the wild scene of their apostleship. They reckoned the distance at nine hundred miles; but distance was the least repellent feature of this most arduous journey. Barefoot, lest their shoes should injure the frail vessel, each crouched in his canoe, toiling with unpractised hands to propel it. Before him, week after week, he saw the same lank, unkempt hair, the same tawny shoulders, and long, naked arms ceaselessly plying the paddle. The canoes were soon separated; and, for more than a month, the Frenchmen rarely or never met. Bre"beuf spoke a little Huron, and could converse with his escort; but Daniel and Davost were doomed to a silence unbroken save by the occasional unintelligible complaints and menaces of the Indians, of whom many were sick with the epidemic, and all were terrified, desponding, and sullen. Their only food was a pittance of Indian corn, crushed between two stones and mixed with water. The toil was extreme. Bre"beuf counted thirty-five portages, where the canoes were lifted from the water, and carried on the shoulders of the voyagers around rapids or cataracts. More than fifty times, besides, they were forced to wade in the raging current, pushing up their empty barks, or dragging them with ropes. Bre"beuf tried to do his (6:34.] THE JOURNEY TO THE HURONS. 141
part; but the boulders and sharp rocks wounded his naked feet, and compelled him to desist. He and his companions bore their share of the baggage across the portages, sometimes a distance of several miles. Four trips, at the least, were required to convey the whole. The way was through the dense forest, incumbered with rocks and logs, tangled with roots and underbrush, damp with perpetual shade, and redolent of decayed leaves and mouldering wood.1 The Indians themselves were often spent with fatigue. Brébeuf, a man of iron frame and a nature unconquerably resolute, doubted if his strength would sustain him to the journey's end. He complains that he had no moment to read his breviary, except by the moonlight or the fire, when stretched out to sleep on a bare rock by some savage cataract of the Ottawa, or in a damp nook of the adjacent forest. All the Jesuits, as well as several of their countrymen who accompanied them, suffered more or less at the hands of their ill-humored conductors.2 Davost's 1 "Adioustez à ces difficultez, qu'il faut coucher sur la terre nue, eu sur quelque dure roche, faute de trouuer dix ou douze pieds de terre en quarré pour placer vne chetiue cabane; qu'il faut sentir incessamment la puanteur des Sauuages recreus, marcher dans les eaux, dans les fanges, dans l'obscurité et l'embarras des forest, où les piqueures d'vne multitude infinie de mousquilles et cousms vous importunent fort." — Brébeuf, Relation des Hlirons, 1U3Ô, 25, 20.
- "En ce voyage, il nous a fallu tous commencer par ces experiences a porter la Croix que Nostre Seigneur nous presente pour son honneur, et pour le salut de ces pauures Barbares. Certes ie me suis trouué quelquesfois si las, que le corps n'en pouuoit plus. Mais d'ailleurs mon âme ressentoit de tres-grands contentemens, considerant que ie souffrois pour Dieu: nul ne le scait, s'il ne l'ex