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 Jogues, Novum Belgium."Then how will you do it?" she lightly asked.
Twelve Frenchmen, well armed, had attended him. Summer was at its height, and as his canoe stole along the bosom of the glassy river, and he gazed about him on the tawny multitude whose fragile craft covered the water like swarms of gliding insects, he thought, perhaps, of his whitewashed cell in the convent of Brouage, of his book, his table, his rosary, and all the narrow routine of that familiar life from which he had awakened to contrasts so startling. That his progress up the Ottawa was far from being an excursion of pleasure is attested by his letters, fragments of which have come down to us.Marie de l'Incarnation, we have seen, was unrelenting in every practice of humiliation; dressed in mean attire, did the servants' work, nursed sick beggars, and, in her meditations, taxed her brain with metaphysical processes of self-annihilation. And yet, when one reads her "Spiritual Letters," the conviction of an enormous spiritual pride in the writer can hardly be repressed. She aspired to that inner circle of the faithful, that aristocracy of devotion, which, while the common herd of Christians are busied with the duties of life, eschews the visible and the present, and claims to live only for God. In her strong maternal affection she saw a lure to divert her from the path of perfect saintship. Love for her child long withheld her from becoming a nun; but at last, fortified by her confessor, she left him to his fate, took the vows, and immured herself with the Ursulines of Tours. The 179 boy, frenzied by his desertion, and urged on by indignant relatives, watched his opportunity, and made his way into the refectory of the convent, screaming to the horrified nuns to give him back his mother. As he grew older, her anxiety increased; and at length she heard in her seclusion that he had fallen into bad company, had left the relative who had sheltered him, and run off, no one knew whither. The wretched mother, torn with anguish, hastened for consolation to her confessor, who met her with stern upbraidings. Yet, even in this her intensest ordeal, her enthusiasm and her native fortitude enabled her to maintain a semblance of calmness, till she learned that the boy had been found and brought back.
The crown passed at length to Francis of Angouleme. There were in his nature seeds of nobleness,seeds destined to bear little fruit. Chivalry and honor were always on his lips; but Francis the First, a forsworn gentleman, a despotic king, vainglorious, selfish, sunk in debaucheries, was but the type of an era which retained the forms of the Middle Age without its soul, and added to a still prevailing barbarism the pestilential vices which hung fog-like around the dawn of civilization. Yet he esteemed arts and letters, and, still more, coveted the eclat which they could give. The light which was beginning to pierce the feudal darkness gathered its rays around his throne. Italy was rewarding the robbers who preyed on her with the treasures of her knowledge and her culture; and Italian genius, of whatever stamp, found ready patronage at the hands of Francis. Among artists, philosophers, and men of letters enrolled in his service stands the humbler name of a Florentine navigator, John Verrazzano.Yet something must be done. The fugitive must be retaken and retained, the rival deported, and, oh, Hilary Kincaid! as she recalled her last moment with you on that firing-line behind Vicksburg, shame and rage outgrew despair, and her heart beat hot in a passion of chagrin and then hotter, heart and brain, in a frenzy of ownership, as if by spending herself she had bought you, soul and body, and if only for self-vindication would have you from all the universe.
As they descended the river, they passed, on the same day, six abandoned camps of the Illinois; and opposite to each was a camp of the invaders. The former, it was clear, had retreated in a body; while [Pg 211] the Iroquois had followed their march, day by day, along the other bank. La Salle and his men pushed rapidly onward, passed Peoria Lake, and soon reached Fort Crvec?ur, which they found, as they expected, demolished by the deserters. The vessel on the stocks was still left entire, though the Iroquois had found means to draw out the iron nails and spikes. On one of the planks were written the words: "Nous sommes tous sauvages: ce 15, 1680,"the work, no doubt, of the knaves who had pillaged and destroyed the fort.
For other descriptions of these rites, see Charlevoix, Bressani, Du Creux, and especially Lafitau, in whose work they are illustrated with engravings. In one form or another, they were widely prevalent. Bartram found them among the Floridian tribes. Traces of a similar practice have been observed in recent times among the Dacotahs. Remains of places of sepulture, evidently of kindred origin, have been found in Tennessee, Missouri, Kentucky, and Ohio. Many have been discovered in several parts of New York, especially near the River Niagara. (See Squier, Aboriginal Monuments of New York.) This was the eastern extremity of the ancient territory of the Neuters. One of these deposits is said to have contained the bones of several thousand individuals. There is a large mound on Tonawanda Island, said by the modern Senecas to be a Neuter burial-place. (See Marshall, Historical Sketches of the Niagara Frontier, 8.) In Canada West, they are found throughout the region once occupied by the Neuters, and are frequent in the Huron district.
Do you feel better, old friend? asked Polycles.La Motte and Hennepin, with sixteen men, went on board the little vessel of ten tons, which lay at Fort Frontenac. The friar's two brethren, Buisset and Ribourde, threw their arms about his neck as they bade him farewell; while his Indian proselytes, learning whither he was bound, stood with their hands pressed upon their mouths, in amazement at the perils which awaited their ghostly instructor. La Salle, with the rest of the party, was to follow as soon as he could finish his preparations. It was a boisterous and gusty day, the eighteenth of November. The sails were spread; the shore receded,the stone walls of the fort, the huge cross that the friar had reared, the wigwams, the settlers' cabins, the group of staring Indians on the strand. The lake was rough; and the men, crowded in so small a craft, grew nervous and uneasy. They hugged the northern shore, to escape the fury of the wind, which blew savagely from the northeast; while the long gray sweep of naked forests on their right betokened that winter was fast closing in. On the twenty-sixth, they reached the neighborhood of the Indian town of [Pg 138] Taiaiagon, not far from Toronto, and ran their vessel, for safety, into the mouth of a river,probably the Humber,where the ice closed about her, and they were forced to cut her out with axes. On the fifth of December, they attempted to cross to the mouth of the Niagara; but darkness overtook them, and they spent a comfortless night, tossing on the troubled lake, five or six miles from shore. In the morning, they entered the mouth of the Niagara, and landed on the point at its eastern side, where now stand the historic ramparts of Fort Niagara. Here they found a small village of Senecas, attracted hither by the fisheries, who gazed with curious eyes at the vessel, and listened in wonder as the voyagers sang Te Deum in gratitude for their safe arrival.