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[See larger version]For a year or two, the settlers initiation was a rough one; but when he had a few acres under tillage he could support himself and his family on the produce, aided by hunting, if he knew how to use a gun, and by the bountiful profusion of eels which the St. Lawrence never failed to yield in their season, and which, smoked or salted, supplied his larder for months. In winter he hewed timber, sawed planks, or split shingles for the market of Quebec, obtaining in return such necessaries as he required. With thrift and hard work he was sure of comfort at last; but the former habits of the military settlers and of many of the others were not favorable to a routine of dogged industry. The sameness and solitude of their new life often became insufferable; nor, married as they had been, was the domestic hearth likely to supply much consolation. Yet, thrifty or not, they multiplied apace.
Faillon, Colonie Fran?aise, III.
He lost no time in lamentation. Of the few men at his command he chose nine of the trustiest, embarked with them in canoes, and went to meet the marauders. After passing the Bay of Quint, he took his station with five of his party at a point of land suited to his purpose, and detached the remaining four to keep watch. In the morning, two canoes were discovered approaching without suspicion, one of them far in advance of the other. As the foremost drew near, La Salle's canoe darted out from under the leafy shore,two of the men handling the paddles, while he, with the remaining two, levelled their guns at the deserters, and called on them to surrender. Astonished and dismayed, they yielded at once; while two more, who were in the second canoe, hastened to follow their example. La Salle now returned to the fort with his prisoners, placed [Pg 201] them in custody, and again set forth. He met the third canoe upon the lake at about six o'clock in the evening. His men vainly plied their paddles in pursuit. The mutineers reached the shore, took post among rocks and trees, levelled their guns, and showed fight. Four of La Salle's men made a circuit to gain their rear and dislodge them, on which they stole back to their canoe and tried to escape in the darkness. They were pursued, and summoned to yield; but they replied by aiming their guns at their pursuers, who instantly gave them a volley, killed two of them, and captured the remaining three. Like their companions, they were placed in custody at the fort, to await the arrival of Count Frontenac.MISERY AND DEJECTION.
Mzy, had, as before mentioned, orders to inquire with greatCHAPTER XVII.
That brave, loyal, and generous man, always vigilant and always active, beloved and feared alike by [Pg 454] white men and by red, had been ejected, as we have seen, by the agent of the governor, La Barre, from the command of Fort St. Louis of the Illinois. An order from the King had reinstated him; and he no sooner heard the news of La Salle's landing on the shores of the Gulf, and of the disastrous beginnings of his colony, than he prepared, on his own responsibility and at his own cost, to go to his assistance. He collected twenty-five Frenchmen and eleven Indians, and set out from his fortified rock on the thirteenth of February, 1686; descended the Mississippi, and reached its mouth in Holy Week. All was solitude, a voiceless desolation of river, marsh, and sea. He despatched canoes to the east and to the west, searching the coast for some thirty leagues on either side. Finding no trace of his friend, who at that moment was ranging the prairies of Texas in no less fruitless search of his "fatal river," Tonty wrote for him a letter, which he left [Pg 455] in the charge of an Indian chief, who preserved it with reverential care, and gave it, fourteen years after, to Iberville, the founder of Louisiana. Deeply disappointed at his failure, Tonty retraced his course, and ascended the Mississippi to the villages of the Arkansas, where some of his men volunteered to remain. He left six of them; and of this number were Couture and De Launay.
THE MANSION HOUSE, LONDON, IN 1760. Vimont, Relation, 1642, 45.