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V1 Isle St. Jean declares that they are dying of hunger.  Girard, the priest who had withdrawn to this island rather than break his oath to the English, writes: "Many of them cannot protect themselves day or night from the severity of the cold. Most of the children are entirely naked; and when I go into a house they are all crouched in the ashes, close to the fire. They run off and hide themselves, without shoes, stockings, or shirts. They are not all reduced to this extremity but nearly all are in want."  Mortality among them was great, and would have been greater but for rations supplied by the French Government.Still greater marvels followed. First, a Christian Algonquin squaw, described as innocent, simple, and sincere, being seated erect in bed, wide awake, by the side of her husband, in the night between the fourth and fifth of February, distinctly heard a voice saying, Strange things will happen to-day; the earth will quake! In great alarm she whispered the prodigy to her husband, who told her that she lied. This silenced her for a time; but when, the next morning, she went into the forest
V1 my officers think we have travelled more. All I can say is, that the nations of these countries are very ill-disposed towards the French, and devoted entirely to the English."  If his expedition had done no more, it had at least revealed clearly the deplorable condition of French interests in the West.Prideaux safely reached Niagara, and laid siege to it. It was a strong fort, lately rebuilt in regular form by an excellent officer, Captain Pouchot, of the battalion of Barn, who commanded it. It stood where the present fort stands, in the angle formed by the junction of the River Niagara with Lake Ontario, and was held by about six hundred men, well supplied with provisions and munitions of war.  Higher up the river, a mile and a half above the cataract, there was another fort, called Little Niagara, built of wood, and commanded by 244
For other proofs concerning this locality, see ante, 239. soldiers were maintained by the king during a year, while
The seizure of a king's fort by planting cannon against it and threatening it with destruction was in his eyes a beginning of hostilities on the part of the French; and henceforth both he and Washington acted much as if war had been declared. From their station at Wills Creek, the distance by the traders' path to Fort Duquesne was about a hundred and forty miles. Midway was a branch of the Monongahela called Redstone Creek, at the mouth of which the Ohio Company had built 145The languor of commerce made agriculture languish. It is of no use now, writes Meules,
 Winslow to Shirley, 21 Aug. 1756.