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      Here, under the guidance of Brbeuf, they employed themselves, amid their other avocations, in studying the Huron tongue. A year passed, and again the Indian traders descended from their villages. In the meanwhile, grievous calamities had befallen the nation. They had suffered deplorable reverses at the hands of the Iroquois; while a pestilence, similar to that which a few years before had swept off the native populations of New England, had begun its ravages among them. They appeared at Three Riversthis year the place of tradein small numbers, and in a miserable state of dejection and alarm. Du Plessis Bochart, commander of the French fleet, called them to a council, harangued them, feasted them, and made them presents; but they refused to take the Jesuits. In private, however, some of them were gained over; then again refused; then, at the eleventh hour, a second time consented. On the eve of embarkation, they once more wavered. All was confusion, doubt, and uncertainty, when Brbeuf bethought him of a vow to St. Joseph. The vow was made. At once, he says, the Indians became tractable; the Fathers embarked, and, amid salvos of cannon from the ships, set forth for the wild scene of their apostleship.LXIII THE IRON-CLAD OATH

      Difficulty of knowing him: his Detractors; his Letters; vexations of his Position; his Unfitness for Trade; risks of Correspondence; his Reported Marriage; alleged Ostentation; motives of Action; charges of Harshness; intrigues against him; unpopular Manners; a Strange Confession; his Strength and his Weakness; contrasts of his Character.

      After reaching the Mississippi, the whole party encamped together opposite to the mouth of Rum River, pitching their tents of skin, or building their bark-huts, on the slope of a hill by the side of the water. It was a wild scene, this camp of savages [Pg 266] among whom as yet no traders had come and no handiwork of civilization had found its way,the tall warriors, some nearly naked, some wrapped in buffalo-robes, and some in shirts of dressed deer-skin fringed with hair and embroidered with dyed porcupine quills, war-clubs of stone in their hands, and quivers at their backs filled with stone-headed arrows; the squaws, cutting smoke-dried meat with knives of flint, and boiling it in rude earthen pots of their own making, driving away, meanwhile, with shrill cries, the troops of lean dogs, which disputed the meal with a crew of hungry children. The whole camp, indeed, was threatened with starvation. The three white men could get no food but unripe berries,from the effects of which Hennepin thinks they might all have died, but for timely doses of his orvietan.

      Lycon shaded his eyes with his hand and looked out towards the bay. The mass of water was moving across the cove like a rampart nine or ten ells high, the crest and bottom white with foam, and at a velocity greater than that of a man running at full speed. He saw the billow roll under the craft resting on the ground, raise them aloft, and sweep them onward in its own mad course.

      [2] During his captivity, he wrote, on a beaver-skin, a letter to the Dutch in French, Latin, and English.So this was Melitta, the irresistibly pretty Melitta.


      As Christmas approached, their condition grew 38 desperate. Beavers and porcupines were scarce, and the snow was not deep enough for hunting the moose. Night and day the medicine-drums and medicine-songs resounded from the wigwams, mingled with the wail of starving children. The hunters grew weak and emaciated; and, as after a forlorn march the wanderers encamped once more in the lifeless forest, the priest remembered that it was the eve of Christmas. "The Lord gave us for our supper a porcupine, large as a sucking pig, and also a rabbit. It was not much, it is true, for eighteen or nineteen persons; but the Holy Virgin and St. Joseph, her glorious spouse, were not so well treated, on this very day, in the stable of Bethlehem." [13]192 Thuphrastos passed his hand thoughtfully over his beard.


      [5] "Enfin aprs avoir longtemps implor les lumires du ciel, il remit toute l'affaire entre les mains de son directeur et de quelques amis intimes. Tous, d'un commun accord, lui dclarrent que la gloire de Dieu y tait interesse, et qu'il devait accepter."Ibid., 244.TONTY'S MEDIATION.


      "She carried nothing but a message?"