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IROQUOIS FEROCITY. shattered palisades which they had so valiantly defended. Fatuity, not cowardice, was the ruin of the Huron nation.
The lamps burned all night at Sainte Marie, and its defenders stood watching till daylight, musket in hand. The Jesuits prayed without ceasing, and Saint Joseph was besieged with invocations. “Those of us who were priests,” writes Ragueneau, “each made a vow to say a mass in his honor every month, for the space of a year; and all the rest bound themselves by vows to divers penances.” The expected onslaught did not take place. Not an Iroquois appeared. Their victory had been bought too dear, and they had no stomach for more fighting. All the next day, the eighteenth, a stillness like the dead lull of a tempest followed the turmoil of yesterday,
- as if, says the Father Superior, “the country were waiting, palsied with fright, for some new disaster."
On the following day, — the journalist fails not to mention that it was the festival of Saint Joseph, — Indians came in with tidings that a panic had seized the Iroquois camp; that the chiefs could not control it; and that the whole body of invaders was retreating in disorder, possessed with a vague terror that the Hurons were upon them in force. They had found time, however, for an act of atrocious cruelty. They planted stakes in the bark houses of St. Ignace, and bound to them those of their prisoners whom they meant to sacrifice, — male and female, from old age to infancy, husbands, mothers, and children, side by side. Then, as they retreated, they set the town on fire, and laughed with savage glee at the shrieks of anguish that rose from the blazing dwellings.1
They loaded the rest of their prisoners with their baggage and plunder, and drove them through the forest southward, braining with their hatchets any who gave out on the march. An old woman, who had escaped out of the midst of the flames of St. Ignace, made her way to St. Michel, a large town not far from the desolate site of St. Joseph. Here she found about seven hundred Huron warriors, hastily mustered. She set them on the track of the retreating Iroquois, and they took up the chase, — but evidently with no great eagerness to overtake their dangerous enemy, well armed as he was with .Dutch guns, while they had little besides their bows and arrows. They found, as they advanced, the dead bodies of prisoners tomahawked on the march, and others bound fast to trees and half burned by the fagots piled hastily around them. The Iroquois pushed forward with such headlong speed that the pursuers could not, or would not, overtake them; and, after two days, they gave over the attempt.
i The site of St. Ignace still bears evidence of the catastrophe, in the ashes and charcoal that indicate the position of the houses, and the fragments of broken pottery and half-consumed bone, together with trinkets of stone, metal, or glass, which have survived the lapse of two centuries and more. The place has been minutely examined by Dr. Taché.
THE RUINS OF ST. IGNACE. — THE RELICS FOUND. — BRÉBEUF AT
THE STAKE: his UNCONQUERABLE FORTITUDE. — LALEMANT, -
On the morning of the twentieth, the Jesuits at Sainte Marie received full confirmation of the reported
retreat of the invaders; and one of them, with seven . armed Frenchmen, set out for the scene of havoc.
They passed St. Louis, where the bloody ground was strewn thick with corpses, and, two or three miles farther on, reached St. Ignace. Here they saw a spectacle of horror; for among the ashes of the burnt town were scattered in profusion the half-consumed bodies of those who had perished in the flames. Apart from the rest, they saw a sight that banished all else from their thoughts; for they found what they had come to seek, — the scorched and mangled relics of Brébeuf and Lalemant.1
1 " Ils y trouuerent yn spectacle d'horreur, les restes de la cruauté mesme, ou plus tost les restes de l'amour de Dieu, qui seul triomphe dans la mort des Martyrs.” — Ragueneau, Relation des Hurons 1649, 13.
They had learned their fate already from Huron prisoners, many of whom had made their escape in the panic and confusion of the Iroquois retreat. They described what they had seen, and the condition in which the bodies were found confirmed their story
On the afternoon of the sixteenth, — the day when the two priests were captured, — Brébeuf was led apart, and bound to a stake. He seemed more concerned for his captive converts than for himself, and addressed them in a loud voice, exhorting them to suffer patiently, and promising heaven as their reward. The Iroquois, incensed, scorched him from head to foot, to silence him; whereupon, in the tone of a master, he threatened them with everlasting flames for persecuting the worshippers of God. As he continued to speak, with voice and countenance unchanged, they cut away his lower lip and thrust a red-hot iron down his throat. He still held his tall form erect and defiant, with no sign or sound of pain; and they tried another means to overcome him. They led out Lalemant, that Brébeuf might see him tortured. They had tied strips of bark, smeared with pitch, about his naked body. When he saw the condition of his Superior, he could not hide his agitation, and called out to him, with a broken voice, in the words of Saint Paul, “We are made a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men.” Then he threw himself at Brébeuf's feet; upon which the Iroquois seized him, made him fast to a stake, and 1649.] CHARACTER OF BRÉBEUF. 491 set fire to the bark that enveloped him. As the fame rose, he threw his arms upward, with a shriek of supplication to Heaven. Next they hung around Brébeuf's neck a collar made of hatchets heated redhot; but the indomitable priest stood like a rock. A Huron in the crowd, who had been a convert of the mission, but was now an Iroquois by adoption, called out, with the malice of a renegade, to pour hot water on their heads, since they had poured so much cold water on those of others. The kettle was accordingly slung, and the water boiled and poured slowly on the heads of the two missionaries. “We baptize you,” they cried, “ that you may be happy in heaven; for nobody can be saved without a good baptism." Brébeuf would not flinch; and, in a rage, they cut strips of flesh from his limbs, and devoured them before his eyes. Other renegade Hurons called out to him, “You told us that the more one suffers on earth, the happier he is in heaven. We wish to make you happy; we torment you because we love you; and you ought to thank us for it.” After a succession of other revolting tortures, they scalped him; when, seeing him nearly dead, they laid open his breast, and came in a crowd to drink the blood of so valiant an enemy, thinking to imbibe with it some portion of his courage. A chief then tore out his heart, and devoured it.