« FöregåendeFortsätt »
easy. She cautiously rose. Around her, breathing in deep sleep, lay stretched the dark forms of the unconscious warriors, scarcely visible in the gloom. She stepped over them to the entrance of the hut; and here, as she was passing out, she descried a hatchet on the ground. The temptation was too strong for her Indian nature. She seized it, and struck again and again, with all her force, on the skull of the Iroquois who lay at the entrance. The sound of the blows and the convulsive struggles of the victim roused the sleepers. They sprang up, groping in the dark, and demanding of each other what was the matter. At length they lighted a roll of birch-bark, found their prisoner gone and their comrade dead, and rushed out in a rage in search of the fugitive. She, meanwhile, instead of running away, had hid herself in the hollow of a tree, which she had observed the evening before. Her pursuers ran through the dark woods, shouting and whooping to each other; and when all had passed, she crept from her hiding-place, and fled in an opposite direction. In the morning they found her tracks and followed them. On the second day they had overtaken and surrounded her, when, hearing their cries on all sides, she gave up all hope. But near at hand, in the thickest depths of the forest, the beavers had dammed a brook and formed a pond, full of gnawed stumps, dead fallen trees, rank weeds, and tangled bushes. She plunged in, and, swimming and wading, found a hiding-place, where her bodj 1647.] THE FUGITIVE SQUAW. 413 was concealed by the water, and her head by the masses of dead and living vegetation. Her pursuers were at fault, and, after a long search, gave up the chase in despair. Shivering, naked, and half-starved, she crawled out from her wild asylum, and resumed her flight. By day, the briers and bushes tore her unprotected limbs; by night, she shivered with cold, and the mosquitoes and small black gnats of the forest persecuted her with torments which the modern sportsman will appreciate. She subsisted on such roots, bark, reptiles, or other small animals, as her Indian habits enabled her to gather on her way. She crossed streams by swimming, or on rafts of driftwood lashed together with strips of linden-bark, and at length reached the St. Lawrence, where, with the aid of her hatchet, she made a canoe. Her home was on the Ottawa, and she was ignorant of the great river, or, at least, of this part of it. She had scarcely even seen a Frenchman, but had heard of the French as friends, and knew that their dwellings were on the banks of the St. Lawrence. This was her only guide; and she drifted on her way, doubtful whether the vast current would bear her to the abodes of the living or to the land of souls. She passed the watery wilderness of the Lake of St. Peter, and presently descried a Huron canoe. Fearing that it was an enemy, she hid herself, and resumed her voyage in the evening, when she soon came in sight of the wooden buildings and palisades of Three Rivers. Several Hurons saw her at the same moment, and made towards her; on which she leaped ashore and hid in the bushes, whence, being entirely without clothing, she would not come out till one of them threw her his coat. Having wrapped herself in it, she went with them to the fort and the house of the Jesuits, in a wretched state of emaciation, but in high spirits at the happy issue of her voyage.1 Such stories might be multiplied; but these will suffice. Nor is it necessary to dwell further on the bloody record of inroads, butcheries, and tortures. We have seen enough to show the nature of the scourge that now fell without mercy on the Indians and the French of Canada. There was no safety but in the imprisonment of palisades and ramparts. A deep dejection sank on the white and red men alike; but the Jesuits would not despair. "Do not imagine," writes the Father Superior, "that the rage of the Iroquois, and the loss of many Christians and many catechumens, can bring to nought the mystery of the cross of Jesus Christ and the efficacy of his blood. We shall die; we shall be captured, burned, butchered; be it so. Those who die in their beds do not always die the best death. I see none of our company cast down. On the contrary, they ask leave to go up to the Hurons-- and some of them protest that the fires of the Iroquois are one of their motives for the journey."2
CHAPTER XXII. 1645-1651. PRIEST AND PURITAN.
Miscou. — Tadoussac. — Journeys Of De Quen.— Druilletes. His Winter With The Montagnais.— Influence Of The MisSions.— The Abenakis. — Druilletes On The Kennebec: His Embassy To Boston. — Gibbons. — Dudley. — Bradford.— Eliot. — Endicott.— French And Puritan Colonization.— Failure Of Deuilletes's Embassy.— New Regulations.— New-year's Day At Quebec.
Before passing to the closing scenes of this wilderness drama, we will touch briefly on a few points aside from its main action, yet essential to an understanding of the scope of the mission. Besides their establishments at Quebec, Sillery, Three Rivers, and the neighborhood of Lake Huron, the Jesuits had an outlying post at the island of Miscou on the Gulf of St. Lawrence, near the entrance of the Bay of Chaleurs, where they instructed the wandering savages of those shores, and confessed the French fishermen. The island was unhealthy in the extreme. Several of the priests sickened and died; and scarcely one convert repaid their toils. There was a more successful mission at Tadoussac, or Sadilege, as the neighboring Indians called it. In winter, this place was a solitude; but in summer, when the Montagnais gathered from their hunting-grounds to meet the French traders, Jesuits came yearly from Quebec to instruct them in the Faith. Sometimes they followed them northward, into wilds where at this day a white man rarely penetrates. Thus, in 1646, De Quen ascended the Saguenay, and, by a series of rivers, torrents, lakes, and rapids, reached a Montagnais horde called the "Nation of the Porcupine," where he found that the teachings at Tadoussac had borne fruit, and that the converts had planted a cross on the borders of the savage lake where they dwelt. There was a kindred band, the Nation of the White Fish, among the rocks and forests north of Three Rivers. They proved tractable beyond all others, threw away their "medicines," or fetiches, burned their magic drums, renounced their medicine-songs, and accepted instead rosaries, crucifixes, and versions of Catholic hymns. In a former chapter, we followed Father Paul Le Jeune on his winter roamings, with a band of Montagnais, among the forests on the northern boundary of Maine. Now Father Gabriel Druilletes sets forth on a similar excursion, but with one essential difference. Le Jeune's companions were heathen, who persecuted him day and night with their gibes and sarcasms. Those of Druilletes were all converts, who looked on him as a friend and a father. There were prayers, confessions, masses, and invocations of St. Joseph. They built their bark chapel at every