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Quebec and Montreal are happy in their founders. Samuel de Champlain and Chomedey de Maisonneuve are among the names that shine with a fair and honest lustre on the infancy of nations. the "Cathedral." Faillon thinks that Maisonneuve's exploit was achieved on this very spot. Marguerite Bourgeoys also describes the affair in her unpublished writings.CHAPTER XIX. 1644, 1645.
Iroquois Prisoners. — Piskarkt: His Exploits. — More Pris-
In the damp and freshness of a midsummer morning, when the sun had not yet risen, but when the river and the sky were red with the glory of approaching day, the inmates of the fort at Three Rivers were roused by a tumult of joyous and exultant voices. They thronged to the shore, — priests, soldiers, traders, and officers, mingled with warriors and shrill-voiced squaws from Huron and Algonquin camps in the neighboring forest. Close at hand they saw twelve or fifteen canoes slowly drifting down the current of the St. Lawrence, manned by eighty young Indians, all singing their songs of victory, and striking their paddles against the edges of their bark vessels in cadence with their voices. Among them three Iroquois prisoners stood upright, singing loud and defiantly, as men not fearing torture or death. A few days before, these young warriors, in part Huron and in part Algonquin, had gone out on the war-path to the river Richelieu, where they had presently found themselves entangled among several bands of Iroquois. They withdrew in the night, after a battle in the dark with an Iroquois canoe, and, as they approached Fort Richelieu, had the good fortune to discover ten of their enemy ambuscaded in a clump of bushes and fallen trees, watching to waylay some of the soldiers on their morning visit to the fishing-nets in the river hard by. They captured three of them, and carried them back in triumph. The victors landed amid screams of exultation. Two of the prisoners were assigned to the Hurons, and the third to the Algonquins, who immediately took him to their lodges near the fort at Three Rivers, and began the usual "caress," by burning his feet with red-hot stones, and cutting off his fingers. Champfleur, the commandant, went out to them with urgent remonstrances, and at length prevailed on them to leave their victim without further injury, until Montmagny, the Governor, should arrive. He came with all despatch, —not wholly from a motive of humanity, but partly in the hope that the three captives might be made instrumental in concluding a peace with their countrymen. A council was held in the fort at Three Rivers. Montmagny made valuable presents to the Algonquins and the Hurons, to induce them to place the prisoners in his hands. The Algonquins complied; 1614.] THE IROQUOIS PRISONERS. 375 and the unfortunate Iroquois, gashed, maimed, and scorched, was given up to the French, who treated him with the greatest kindness. But neither the Governor's gifts nor his eloquence could persuade the Hurons to follow the example of their allies; and they departed for their own country with their two captives, —promising, however, not to burn them, but to use them for negotiations of peace. With this pledge, scarcely worth the breath that uttered it, Montmagny was forced to content himself.1 Thus it appeared that the fortune of war did not always smile even on the Iroquois. Indeed, if there is faith in Indian tradition, there had been a time, scarcely half a century past, when the Mohawks — perhaps the fiercest and haughtiest of the confederate nations — had been nearly destroyed by the Algonquins, whom they now held in contempt.2 This people, whose inferiority arose chiefly from the want of that compact organization in which lay the strength of the Iroquois, had not lost their ancient warlike spirit; and they had one champion of whom even1 Vimont, Relation, 1044, 45-49.
2 Relation, 1660, 6 (anonymous). Both Perrot and La Potherie recount traditions of the ancient superiority of the Algonquins over the Iroquois, who formerly, it is said, dwelt near Montreal and Three Rivers, whence the Algonquins expelled them. They withdrew, first to the neighborhood of Lake Erie, then to that of Lake Ontario, their historic seat. There is much to support the conjecture that the Indians found by Cartier at Montreal in 1535 were Iroquois. (See "Pioneers of France," 211.) That they belonged to the same family of tribes is certain. For the traditions alluded to, see Perrot, 9,12, 79, and La Potherie, i. 288-295
the audacious confederates stood in awe. His name was Piskaret; and he dwelt on that great island in the Ottawa of which Le Borgne was chief. He had lately turned Christian, in the hope of French favor and countenance, — always useful to an ambitious Indian, — and perhaps, too, with an eye to the gun and powder-horn which formed the earthly reward of the convert.1 Tradition tells marvellous stories of his exploits. Once, it is said, he entered an Iroquois town on a dark night. His first care was to seek out a hiding-place, and he soon found one in the midst of a large wood-pile.2 Next he crept into a lodge, and, finding the inmates asleep, killed them with his war-club, took their scalps, and quietly withdrew to the retreat he had prepared. In the morning a howl of lamentation and fury rose from the astonished villagers. They ranged the fields and forests in vain pursuit of the mysterious enemy, who remained all day in the wood-pile, whence, at midnight, he came forth and repeated his former exploit. On the third night, every family placed its sentinels; and Piskaret, stealthily creeping from lodge to lodge, and reconnoitring each through crevices in the bark, saw watchers everywhere. At length he descried a sentinel who had fallen asleep near the entrance of a lodge, though his companion at the other end was 1 "Simon Pieskaret . . . n'estoit Chrestien qu'en apparence et par police." — Lalemant, Relation, 1647,08. He afterwards became a convert in earnest.
2 Both the Iroquois and the Hurons collected great quantities of wood in their villages in the autumn.