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It soon became evident that it was easier to make a convert than to keep him. Many of the Indians clung to the idea that baptism was a safeguard against pestilence and misfortune; and when the fallacy of this notion was made apparent, their zeal cooled. Their only amusements consisted of feasts, dances, and games, many of which were, to a greater or less degree, of a superstitious character; and as the Fathers could rarely prove to their own satisfaction the absence of the diabolic element in any one of them, they proscribed the whole indiscriminately, to the extreme disgust of the neophyte. His countrymen, too, beset him with dismal prognostics, — as "You will kill no more game;" "All your hair will come out before spring;" and so forth. Various doubts also assailed him with regard to the substantial advantages of his new profession; and several converts were filled with anxiety in view of the probable want of tobacco in Heaven, saying that they could not do without it.1 Nor was it pleasant to these incipient Christians, as they sat in class listening to the instructions of their teacher, to find them- This year you have been all through our country, and found scarcely any one who would do what God commands; therefore the pestilence is everywhere." After premises so hopeful, the Fathers looked for a satisfactory conclusion; but the Indian proceeded: "My opinion is that we ought to shut you out from all the houses, and stop our ears when you speak of God, so that we cannot hear. Then we shall not be so guilty of rejecting the truth, and he will not punish us so cruelly." — Lalemant, Relation des Huront, 1640, 80.
» Ibid., 1639, 80.
selves and him suddenly made the targets of a shower of sticks, snowballs, corn-cobs, and other rubbish, flung at them by a screeching rabble of vagabond boys.1 Yet while most of the neophytes demanded an anxious and diligent cultivation, there were a few of excellent promise; and of one or two especially, the Fathers, in the fulness of their satisfaction, assure us again and again "that they were savage only in name. *
As the town of Ihonatiria, where the Jesuits had made their first abode, was ruined by the pestilence, the mission established there, and known by the name of St. Joseph, was removed, in the summer of 1638, to Teanaustaye\ — a large town at the foot of a range of hills near the southern borders of the Huron territory. The Hurons, this year, had had unwonted successes in their war with the Iroquois, and had taken, at various times, nearly a hundred prisoners. Many of these were brought to the seat of the new mission of St. Joseph, and put to death with fright
1 Lalemant, Relation des Hurons, 1639, 78.
3 From June, 1639, to June, 1640, about a thousand persons were baptized. Of these, two hundred and sixty were infants, and many more were children. Very many died soon after baptism. Of the whole number, less than twenty were baptized in health, — a number much below that of the preceding year.
'Die following is a curious case of precocious piety. It is that of a child at St. Joseph: "Elle n'a que deux ans, et fait joliment le signe de la croix, et prend elle-mSme de l'eau benite; et une fois se mit a crier, sortant de la Chapelle, a cause que sa mere qui la portoit ne lui avoit donné le loisir d'en prendre. II l'a fallu reporter en prendre." — Lettres de (Snrnier, MSS.
1638-40.] THE CANNIBALS AT 81. JOSEPH. 229 ful tortures, though not before several had been converted and baptized. The torture was followed, in spite of the remonstrances of the priests, by those cannibal feasts customary with the Hurons on such occasions. Once, when the Fathers had been strenuous in their denunciations, a hand of the victim, duly prepared, was flung in at their door, as an invitation to join in the festivity. As the owner of the severed member had been baptized, they dug a hole in their chapel, and buried it with solemn rites of sepulture.1 1 Lalemant, Relation des Hurons, 1639, 70.
CHAPTER XII. 1639, 1640. THE TOBACCO NATION. —THE NEUTRALS. 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. — Furt Of The Indians. — Intervention Of Saint Michael. — Return To Sainte Marie. — Intrepidity Of The Priests. — Their Mental Exaltation.
It had been the first purpose of the Jesuits to form permanent missions in each of the principal Huron towns; but before the close of the year 1639 the difficulties and risks of this scheme had become fully apparent. They resolved, therefore, to establish one central station, to be a base of operations, and, as it were, a focus, whence the light of the Faith should radiate through all the wilderness around. It was to serve at once as residence, fort, magazine, hospital, and convent. Hence the priests would set forth on missionary expeditions far and near; and hither they might retire, as to an asylum, in times of sickness or extreme peril. Here the neophytes could be gathered together, safe from perverting influences; and here in time a Christian settlement, Kurons
mingled with Frenchmen, might spring up and thrive under the shadow of the cross. The site of the new station was admirably chosen. The little river Wye flows from the southward into the Matchedash Bay of Lake Huron, and at about a mile from its mouth passes through a small lake. The Jesuits made choice of the right bank of the Wye, where it issues from this lake; gained permission to build from the Indians, though not without difficulty, and began their labors with an abundant energy and a very deficient supply of workmen and tools. The new establishment was called Sainte Marie. The house at Teanaustaye" and the house and chapel at Ossossane" were abandoned, and all was concentrated at this spot. On one hand, it had a short water communication with Lake Huron; and on the other, its central position gave the readiest access to every part of the Huron territory. During the summer before, the priests had made a survey of their field of action, visited all the Huron towns, and christened each of them with the name of a saint. This heavy draft on the calendar was followed by another, for the designation of the nine towns of the neighboring and kindred people of the Tobacco Nation.1 The Huron towns were portioned into four districts, while those of the Tobacco Nation formed a fifth, and each district was assigned to the charge of two or more priests. In November and December, they began their missionary excursions, 1 See Introduction, 32.