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      At one step they had entered the civilized world again. Up the river the steamboat blew for a wharf, and they could hear from far-off the barking of a dog, and all those vague little sounds that rise from a peopled land at night. The field was populous with crickets and the wide space was made lovely by myriad fire-flies floating about like vagrant stars. The field was a broad one, and the going rough underfoot. Young pine trees were springing up everywhere.The troops were led back to Fort Roland, where about five hundred regulars and militia were now collected under command of Vaudreuil. On the next day, eighty men from Fort Rmy attempted to join them; but the Iroquois had slept off the effect of their orgies, and were again on the alert. The unfortunate detachment was set upon by a host of savages, and cut to pieces in full sight of Fort Roland. All were killed or captured, except Le Moyne de Longueuil, and a few others, who escaped within the gate of Fort Rmy. [36]

      The before-mentioned scheme of Rmonville for settling the Mississippi country had no result. In the next year the gallant Le Moyne d'Ibervillewho has been called the Cid, or, more fitly, the Jean Bart, of Canadaoffered to carry out the schemes of La Salle and plant a colony in Louisiana.[289] One thing had become clear,France must act at once, or lose the Mississippi. Already there was a movement in London to seize upon it, under a grant to two noblemen. Iberville's offer was accepted; he was ordered to build a fort at the mouth of the great river, and leave a garrison to hold it.[290] He sailed with two frigates, the "Badine" and the "Marin,"[Pg 301] and towards the end of January, 1699, reached Pensacola. Here he found two Spanish ships, which would not let him enter the harbor. Spain, no less than England, was bent on making good her claim to the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico, and the two ships had come from Vera Cruz on this errand. Three hundred men had been landed, and a stockade fort was already built. Iberville left the Spaniards undisturbed and unchallenged, and felt his way westward along the coasts of Alabama and Mississippi, exploring and sounding as he went. At the beginning of March his boats were caught in a strong muddy current of fresh water, and he saw that he had reached the object of his search, the "fatal river" of the unfortunate La Salle. He entered it, encamped, on the night of the third, twelve leagues above its mouth, climbed a solitary tree, and could see nothing but broad flats of bushes and canebrakes.[291]

      [640] Trumbull, Hist. Connecticut, II. 392. "Nabby" (Abigail) was then a common female name in New England.CHAPTER I.

      V1 Hendrick, came to New York with a deputation of the tribe to complain of their wrongs; and finding no redress, went off in anger, declaring that the covenant chain was broken. [174] The authorities in alarm called William Johnson to their aid. He succeeded in soothing the exasperated chief, and then proceeded to the confederate council at Onondaga, where he found the assembled sachems full of anxieties and doubts. "We don't know what you Christians, English and French, intend," said one of their orators. "We are so hemmed in by you both that we have hardly a hunting-place left. In a little while, if we find a bear in a tree, there will immediately appear an owner of the land to claim the property and hinder us from killing it, by which we live. We are so perplexed between you that we hardly know what to say or think." [175] No man had such power over the Five Nations as Johnson. His dealings with them were at once honest, downright, and sympathetic. They loved and trusted him as much as they detested the Indian commissioners at Albany, whom the province of New York had charged with their affairs, and who, being traders, grossly abused their office.[337] Writings of Washington, II. 143.

      [6] The council at Montreal is described at great length by La Potherie, 452 a spectator. There is a short official report of the various speeches, of which a translation will be found in N. Y. Col. Docs., IX. 722. Callires himself gives interesting details. (Callires au Ministre, 4 Oct., 1701.) A great number of papers on Indian affairs at this time will be found in N. Y. Col. Docs., IV.Dummer then denies that France has any claim to[Pg 252] the Abenakis, and declares that the war between them and the English is due to the instigations of Rale and the encouragements given them by Vaudreuil. But he adds that in his wish to promote peace he sends two prominent gentlemen, Colonel Samuel Thaxter and Colonel William Dudley, as bearers of his letter.[269]

      Denonville had recognized the importance of the position, and it was by his orders that Greysolon Du Lhut, in 1686, had occupied it for a time, and built a picket fort near the site of Fort Gratiot.[23]

      "Of course it would have to be a person with a strong mind. For when I say honesty I don't mean all this sickening cant about goodness and unselfishness and meekness that the church hands out. Nobody takes that seriously any more. Man is by nature a rapacious animal. Out for what he can get. Well, his highest function must be to realize his nature. Therefore I say that the highest type of man is the man who gets what he wants regardless."Before she had taken three steps he came after her. Pen broke into a run. He overtook her. Ah! if he had only taken her in his arms! But he only circled about her, spreading out his arms to bar her way.


      278She suddenly whirled around. "He was a gunman!" she cried defiantly. "Make what you like of it! He never asked for the good opinion of the likes of you, and neither do I! He was the coolest head of the lot. He went to his mark like a bulldog, and nothing could shake him off. What have you got to do with the likes of us? What do I care what you think? Both him and me had to fight our way since we were kids. We weren't going to take scraps from the tables of the rich. We were out to get the best there was for ourselves. We were outsiders. Well, the insiders were our enemies, and we went after them!"


      If Pitt had been in office he would have demanded terms that must ruin past redemption the maritime and colonial power of France; but 405The direct and simple narrative of Williams is plainly the work of an honest and courageous man. He was the most important capture of the year; and the governor, hearing that he was at St. Francis, despatched a canoe to request the Jesuits of the mission to send him to Montreal. Thither, therefore, his masters carried him, expecting, no doubt, a good price for their prisoner. Vaudreuil, in fact, bought him, exchanged his tattered clothes for good ones,[Pg 80] lodged him in his house, and, in the words of Williams, "was in all respects relating to my outward man courteous and charitable to admiration." He sent for two of the minister's children who were in the town, bought his eldest daughter from the Indians, and promised to do what he could to get the others out of their hands. His youngest son was bought by a lady of the place, and his eldest by a merchant. His youngest daughter, Eunice, then seven or eight years old, was at the mission of St. Louis, or Caughnawaga. Vaudreuil sent a priest to conduct Williams thither and try to ransom the child. But the Jesuits of the mission flatly refused to let him speak to or see her. Williams says that Vaudreuil was very angry at hearing of this; and a few days after, he went himself to Caughnawaga with the minister. This time the Jesuits, whose authority within their mission seemed almost to override that of the governor himself, yielded so far as to permit the father to see his child, on condition that he spoke to no other English prisoner. He talked with her for an hour, exhorting her never to forget her catechism, which she had learned by rote. Vaudreuil and his wife afterwards did all in their power to procure her ransom; but the Indians, or the missionaries in their name, would not let her go. "She is there still," writes Williams two years later, "and has forgotten to speak English." What grieved him still more, Eunice had forgotten her catechism.


      Close on the fall of Fort William Henry came crazy rumors of disaster, running like wildfire through the colonies. The number and ferocity of the enemy were grossly exaggerated; there was a cry that they would seize Albany and New York itself; [529] while it was reported that Webb, as much frightened as the rest, was for retreating to the Highlands of the Hudson. [530] This was the day after the capitulation, when a part only of the militia had yet appeared. If Montcalm had seized the moment, and marched that afternoon to Fort Edward, it is not impossible that in the confusion he might have carried it by a coup-de-main.The warriors dispersed to their respective haunts; and, when a band of them reached the St. John, Villebon coolly declares that he gave them a prisoner to burn. They put him to death with all their ingenuity of torture. The act, on the part of the governor, was more atrocious, as it had no motive of reprisal, and as the burning of prisoners was not the common practice of these tribes. [23]