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      Peace, such as it was, with famine, homesickness, and disgust. The rough ramparts and rude buildings of Charlesfort, hatefully familiar to their weary eyes, the sweltering forest, the glassy river, the eternal silence of the lifeless wilds around them, oppressed the senses and the spirits. They dreamed of ease, of home, of pleasures across the sea, of the evening cup on the bench before the cabaret, and dances with kind wenches of Dieppe. But how to escape? A continent was their solitary prison, and the pitiless Atlantic shut them in. Not one of them knew how to build a ship; but Ribaut had left them a forge, with tools and iron, and strong desire supplied the place of skill. Trees were hewn down and the work begun. Had they put forth to maintain themselves at Port Royal the energy and resource which they exerted to escape from it, they might have laid the cornerstone of a solid colony.During two or three succeeding years, the Iroquois contented themselves with harassing the French and Algonquins; but in 1653 they made treaties of peace, each of the five nations for itself, and the colonists and their red allies had an interval of rest. In the following May, an Onondaga orator, on a peace visit to Montreal, said, in a speech 438 to the Governor, "Our young men will no more fight the French; but they are too warlike to stay at home, and this summer we shall invade the country of the Eries. The earth trembles and quakes in that quarter; but here all remains calm." [3] Early in the autumn, Father Le Moyne, who had taken advantage of the peace to go on a mission to the Onondagas, returned with the tidings that the Iroquois were all on fire with this new enterprise, and were about to march against the Eries with eighteen hundred warriors. [4]


      This meeting caused a change of plan. Joliet showed the priests a map which he had made of such parts of the Upper Lakes as he had visited, and gave them a copy of it; telling them, at the same time, of the Pottawattamies and other tribes of that region in grievous need of spiritual succor. The result was a determination on their part to follow the route which he suggested, notwithstanding the remonstrances of La Salle, who in vain reminded them that the Jesuits had preoccupied the field, and would regard them as intruders. They resolved that the Pottawattamies should no longer sit in darkness; while, as for the Mississippi, it could be reached, as they conceived, with less risk by this northern route than by that of the south.


      During the meeting, Raudin, Frontenac's engineer, was tracing out the lines of a fort, after a predetermined plan; and the whole party, under the direction of their officers, now set themselves to construct it. Some cut down trees, some dug the trenches, some hewed the palisades; and with such order and alacrity was the work urged on, that the Indians were lost in astonishment. Meanwhile, Frontenac spared no pains to make friends of the chiefs, some of whom he had constantly at his table. He fondled the Iroquois children, and gave them bread and sweetmeats, and in the evening feasted the squaws to make them dance. The Indians were delighted with these attentions, and conceived a high opinion of the new Onontio.He found his three men safely ensconced upon their island, where they were anxiously looking for his return. After collecting a store of half-burnt corn from the ravaged granaries of the Illinois, the whole party began to ascend the river, and on the sixth of January reached the junction of the Kankakee with the northern branch. On their way downward they had descended the former stream; they now chose the latter, and soon discovered, by the margin [Pg 214] of the water, a rude cabin of bark. La Salle landed and examined the spot, when an object met his eye which cheered him with a bright gleam of hope. It was but a piece of wood; but the wood had been cut with a saw. Tonty and his party, then, had passed this way, escaping from the carnage behind them. Unhappily, they had left no token of their passage at the fork of the two streams; and thus La Salle, on his voyage downward, had believed them to be still on the river below.

      [286] Lettre de Beaujeu au Ministre, 20 Oct., 1684.


      Melitta fastened the purple fillet tighter around her black locks, removed the upper garment worn over her red-bordered dress, and told the slave to carry it into the house; then, leaning forward, she put the swing in motion.The gods know where all this will end.

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      CHAPTER XII.

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      It appears to have been a fortified town of the Onondagas, the central tribe of the Iroquois confederacy, standing, there is some reason to believe, within the limits of Madison County, a few miles south of Lake Oneida. Champlain describes its defensive works as much stronger than those of the Huron villages. They consisted of four concentric rows of palisades, formed of trunks of trees, thirty feet high, set aslant in the earth, and intersecting each other near the top, where they supported a kind of gallery, well defended by shot-proof timber, and furnished with wooden gutters for quenching fire. A pond or lake, which washed one side of the palisade, and was led by sluices within the town, gave an ample supply of water, while the galleries were well provided with magazines of stones.[280] Relation de Henri Joutel (Margry, iii. 98).

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