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FEROCITY OF THE IROQUOIS.
party recognized their companions in misery. They all kneeled in the midst of their savage conquerors, and one of the men, a noted convert, after a few words of exhortation, repeated in a loud voice a prayer, to which the rest responded. Then they sang an Algonquin hymn, while the Iroquois, who at first had stared in wonder, broke into laughter and derision, and at length fell upon them with renewed fury. One was burned alive on the spot. Another tried to escape, and they burned the soles of his feet that he might not repeat the attempt. Many others were maimed and mangled; and some of the women who afterwards escaped, affirmed that in ridicule of the converts they crucified a small child by nailing it with wooden spikes against a thick sheet of bark.
The prisoners were led to the Mohawk towns; and it is needless to repeat the monotonous and revolting tale of torture and death. The men, as usual, were burned; but the lives of the women and children were spared, in order to strengthen the conquerors by their adoption, — not, however, until both, but especially the women, had been made to endure the extremes of suffering and indignity. Several of them from time to time escaped, and reached Canada with the story of their woes. Among these was Marie, the wife of Jean Baptiste, one of the principal Algonquin converts captured and burned with the rest. Early in June, she appeared in a canoe at Montreal, where Madame d'Ailleboust, to whom she was well known, received her with great kindness. and led her to her room in the fort. Here Marie was overcome with emotion. Madame d'Ailleboust spoke Algonquin with ease; and her words of sympathy, joined to the associations of a place where the unhappy fugitive, with her murdered husband and child, had often found a friendly welcome, so wrought upon her that her voice was smothered with sobs.
She had once before been a prisoner of the Iroquois, at the town of Onondaga. When she and her companions in misfortune had reached the Mohawk towns, she was recognized by several Onondagas who chanced to be there, and who, partly by threats and partly by promises, induced her to return with them to the scene of her former captivity, where they assured her of good treatment. With their aid, she escaped from the Mohawks, and set out with them for Onondaga. On their way, they passed the great town of the Oneidas; and her conductors, fearing that certain Mohawks who were there would lay claim to her, found a hiding-place for her in the forest, where they gave her food, and told her to wait their return. She lay concealed all day, and at night approached the town, under cover of darkness. A dull red glare of flames rose above the jagged tops of the palisade that encompassed it; and, from the pandemonium within, an uproar of screams, yells, and bursts of laughter told her that they were burning one of her captive countrymen. She gazed and listened, shivering with cold and aghast with horror. The thought possessed her that she would soon share his fate, and she
1647.1 ADVENTURES OF MARIE. 409 resolved to fly. The ground was still covered with snow, and her footprints would infallibly have betrayed her, if she had not, instead of turning towards home, followed the beaten Indian path westward. She journeyed on, confused and irresolute, and tortured between terror and hunger. At length she approached Onondaga, a few miles from the present city of Syracuse, and hid herself in a dense thicket of spruce or cedar, whence she crept forth at night, to grope in the half-melted snow for a few ears of corn, left from the last year's harvest. She saw many Indians from her lurking-place, and once a tall savage, with an axe on his shoulder, advanced directly towards the spot where she lay; but in the extremity of her fright she murmured a prayer, on which he turned and changed his course. The fate that awaited her if she remained, — for a fugitive could not hope for mercy, — and the scarcely less terrible dangers of the pitiless wilderness between her and Canada, filled her with despair, for she was half dead already with hunger and cold. She tied her girdle to the bough of a tree, and hung herself from it by the neck. The cord broke. She repeated. the attempt with the same result, and then the thought came to her that God meant to save her life. The snow by this time had melted in the forests, and she began her journey for home, with a few handfuls of corn as her only provision. She directed her course by the sun, and for food dug roots, peeled the soft inner bark of trees, and sometimes caught tor
toises in the muddy brooks. She had the good fortune to find a hatchet in a deserted camp, and with it made one of those wooden implements which the Indians used for kindling fire by friction. This saved her from her worst suffering; for she had no covering but a thin tunic, which left her legs and arms bare, and exposed her at night to tortures of cold. She built her fire in some deep nook of the forest, warmed herself, cooked what food she had found, told her rosary on her fingers, and slept till daylight, when she always threw water on the embers, lest the rising smoke should attract attention. Once she discovered a party of Iroquois hunters; but she lay concealed, and they passed without seeing her. She followed their trail back, and found their bark canoe, which they had hidden near the bank of a river. It was too large for her use; but, as she was a practised canoe-maker, she reduced it to a convenient size, embarked in it, and descended the stream. At length she reached the St. Lawrence, and paddled with the current towards Montreal. On islands and rocky shores she found eggs of water-fowl in abundance; and she speared fish with a sharpened pole, hardened at the point with fire. She even killed deer, by driving them into the water, chasing them in her canoe, and striking them on the head with her hatchet. When she landed at Montreal, her canoe had still a good store of eggs and dried venison.
1 This story is taken from the Relation of 1647, and the letter of Marie de l’Incarnation to her son, before cited. The woman muss have descended the great rapids of Lachine in her canoe,-a feat demanding no ordinary nerve and skill.
1647.] THE CAPTIVE ALGONQUIN. 411
Her journey from Onondaga had occupied about two months, under hardships which no woman but a squaw could have survived. Escapes not less remarkable of several other women are chronicled in the records of this year; and one of them, with a notable feat of arms which attended it, calls for a brief notice.
Eight Algonquins, in one of those fits of desperate valor which sometimes occur in Indians, entered at midnight a camp where thirty or forty Iroquois warriors were buried in sleep, and with quick, sharp blows of their tomahawks began to brain them as they lay. They killed ten of them on the spot, and wounded many more. The rest, panic-stricken and bewildered by the surprise and the thick darkness, fed into the forest, leaving all they had in the hands of the victors, including a number of Algonquin captives, of whom one had been unwittingly killed by his countrymen in the confusion. Another captive, a woman, had escaped on a previous night. They had stretched her on her back, with limbs extended, and bound her wrists and ankles to four stakes firmly driven into the earth, — their ordinary mode of securing prisoners. Then, as usual, they all fell asleep. She presently became aware that the cord that bound one of her wrists was somewhat loose, and, by long and painful efforts, she freed her hand. To release the other hand and her feet was then comparatively