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was the Iroquois on their retreat with their prisoners, some of whom were defiantly singing their war-songs, after the Indian custom. Chabanel waked his companions, who instantly took flight. He tried to follow, but could not keep pace with the light-footed savages, who returned to St. Matthias, and told what had occurred. They said, however, that Chabanel had left them and taken an opposite direction, in order to reach Isle St. Joseph. His brother priests were for some time ignorant of what had befallen him. At length a Huron Indian, who had been converted, but afterward apostatized, gave out that he had met him in the forest, and aided him with his canoe to cross a river which lay in his path. Some supposed that he had lost his way, and died of cold and hunger; but others were of a different opinion. Their suspicion was confirmed some time afterwards by the renegade Huron, who confessed that he had killed Chabanel and thrown his body into the river, after robbing him of his clothes, his hat, the blanket or mantle which was strapped to his shoulders, and the bag in which he carried his books and papers. He declared that his motive was hatred of the Faith, which had caused the ruin of the Hurons.1 The priest had prepared himself for a worse fate. Before leaving Sainte Marie on the Wye, to go to his post in the Tobacco Nation, he had written to his brother to regard him as a victim destined to the fires of the 1 Mimoires tonchant la Mort et les Vertus des Peres, etc. MS.
Iroquois.1 He added, that, though he was naturally timid, he was now wholly indifferent to danger; and he expressed the belief that only a superhuman power could have wrought such a change in him.2 Garreau and Grelon, in their mission of St. Matthias, were exposed to other dangers than those of the Iroquois. A report was spread, not only that they were magicians, but that they had a secret understanding with the enemy. A nocturnal council was called, and their death was decreed. In the morning, a furious crowd gathered before a lodge which they were about to enter, screeching and yelling after the manner of Indians when they compel a prisoner to run the gantlet. The two priests, 1 Abrege de la Vie du P. Noil Chabanel. MS.
2 "Ie suis fort apprehensif de mon naturel; toutefois, maintenant que ie vay au plus grand danger et qu'il me semble que la mort n'est pas esloignee, ie ne sens plus de crainte. Cette disposition ne vient pas de moy." — Relation des Hurons, 1650, 18. The following is the vow made by Chabanel, at a time when hit disgust at the Indian mode of life beset him with temptations to ask to be recalled from the mission. It is translated from the Latin original: —
"My Lord Jesus Christ, who, in the admirable disposition of thy paternal providence, hast willed that I, although most unworthy, should be a co-laborer with the holy Apostles in this vineyard of the Hurons, — I, Noel Chabanel, impelled by the desire of fulfilling thy holy will in advancing the conversion of the savages of this land to thy faith, do vow, in the presence of the most holy sacrament of thy precious body and blood, which is God's tabernacle among men, to remain perpetually attached to this mission of the Hurons, understanding all things according to the interpretation and disposal of the Superiors of the Society of Jesus. Therefore I entreat thee to receive me as the perpetual servant of this mission, and to render me worthy of so sublime a ministry. Amen. This twentieth day of June, 1647." giving no sign of fear, passed through the crowd and entered the lodge unharmed. Hatchets were brandished over them, but no one would be the first to strike. Their converts were amazed at their escape, and they themselves ascribed it to the interposition of a protecting Providence. The Huron missionaries were doubly in danger, — not more from the Iroquois than from the blind rage of those who should have been their friends.1 1 Ragueneau, Relation des Hurons, 1050, 20.
One of these two missionaries, Garreau, was afterwards killed by the Iroquois, who shot him through the spine, in 1056, near Montreal. De Quen, Relation, 1066, 41.
CHAPTER XXXI. 1650-1652.
Famine And The Tomahawk. — A New Asylum. — Voyage ot Ihe Refugees To Quebec. — Meeting With Bressani.— DesFerate Courage Of The Iroquois. — Inroads And Battles.— Death Of Buteux.
As spring approached, the starving multitude on Isle St. Joseph grew reckless with hunger. Along the main shore, in spots where the sun lay warm, the spring fisheries had already begun, and the melting snow was uncovering the acorns in the woods. There was danger everywhere, for bands of Iroquois were again on the track of their prey.1 The miserable Hurons, gnawed with inexorable famine, stood in the dilemma of a deadly peril and an assured death. They chose the former; and, early in March, began 1 "Mais le Printemps estant venu, les Iroquois nous furent encore plus cruels; et ce sont eux qui vrayement ont ruiné toutes nos esperances, et qui ont fait vn lieu d'horreur, vne terre de sang et de carnage, vn theatre de cruauté et vn sepulchre de carcasses décharnées par les langueurs d'vne longue famine, d'vn pais de benediction, d'vne terre de Sainteté et d'vn lieu qui n'auoit plus rien de barbare, depuis que le sang respandu pour son amour auoit rendu tout son peuple Chrestien." — Ragueneau, Relation des Hurons, lfWO. 23
to leave their island and cross to the main-land, to gather what sustenance they could. The ice was still thick, but the advancing season had softened it; and as a body of them were crossing, it broke under their feet. Some were drowned; while others dragged themselves out, drenched and pierced with cold, to die miserably on the frozen lake, before they could reach a shelter. Other parties, more fortunate, gained the shore safely, and began their fishing, divided into companies of from eight or ten to a hundred persons. But the Iroquois were in wait for them. A large band of warriors had already made their way, through ice and snow, from their towns in central New York. They surprised the Huron fishermen, surrounded them, and cut them in pieces without resistance, — tracking out the various parties of their victims, and hunting down fugitives with such persistency and skill, that, of all who had gone over to the main, the Jesuits knew of but one who escaped.1
i "Le iour de l'Annonciation, vingt-cinquiesme de Mars, vne armée d'Iroquois ayans marché prez de deux cents lieuës de pais, à trailers les glaces et les neges, trauersans les montagnes et les forests pleines d'horreur, surprirent au commencement de la nuit le camp de nos Chrestiens, et en firent vne cruelle boucherie. 11 sembloit que le Ciel conduisit toutes leurs demarches et qu'ils eurent vn Ange pour guide: car ils diuiserent leurs troupes auec tant de bonheur, qu'ils trouuerent en moins de deux iours, toutes les bandes de nos Chrestiens qui estoient dispersées ça et là, esloignées les vnes des autres de six, sept et huit lieuës, cent personnes en vn lieu, en vn autre cinquante; et mesme il y auoit quelques familles solitaires, qui s'estoient escartées en des lieux moins connus et hors de tout chemin. Chose estrange! de tout ce monde dissipé, vn seul homme