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      [266] ] Mmoire du Sr. de la Salle sur l'Entreprise qu'il a propos Monseigneur le Marquis de Seignelay sur une des provinces de Mexique.



      Nowhere was his magic in more requisition than in procuring a successful chase to the hunters,a point of vital interest, since on it hung the lives of the whole party. They often, however, returned empty-handed; and, for one, two, or three successive days, no other food could be had than the bark of trees or scraps of leather. So long as tobacco lasted, they found solace in their pipes, which seldom left their lips. "Unhappy infidels," writes Le Jeune, "who spend their lives in smoke, and their eternity in flames!"

      Yes, yes!Uncertain as was the basis of this conjecture, and feeble as was the hope it afforded, it determined him to push forward, in order to learn more. When daylight returned, he told his purpose to his followers, and directed three of them to await his return near the ruined village. They were to hide themselves on an island, conceal their fire at night, make no smoke by day, fire no guns, and keep a close [Pg 210] watch. Should the rest of the party arrive, they, too, were to wait with similar precautions. The baggage was placed in a hollow of the rocks, at a place difficult of access; and, these arrangements made, La Salle set out on his perilous journey with the four remaining men, Dautray, Hunaut, You, and the Indian. Each was armed with two guns, a pistol, and a sword; and a number of hatchets and other goods were placed in the canoe, as presents for Indians whom they might meet.

      On New Year's Day they anchored three leagues from the shore. La Salle, with the engineer Minet, went to explore it, and found nothing but a vast marshy plain, studded with clumps of rushes. Two days after there was a thick fog, and when at length it cleared, the "Joly" was nowhere to be seen. La Salle in the "Aimable," followed closely by the little frigate "Belle," stood westward along the coast. When at the mouth of the Mississippi in 1682, he had taken its latitude, but unhappily could not determine its longitude; and now every eye on board was strained to detect in the monotonous lines [Pg 374] of the low shore some tokens of the great river. In fact, they had already passed it. On the sixth of January, a wide opening was descried between two low points of land; and the adjacent sea was discolored with mud. "La Salle," writes his brother Cavelier, "has always thought that this was the Mississippi." To all appearance, it was the entrance of Galveston Bay.[288] But why did he not examine it? Joutel says that his attempts to do so were frustrated by the objections of the pilot of the "Aimable," to which, with a facility very unusual with him, he suffered himself to yield. Cavelier declares, on the other hand, that he would not enter the opening because he was afraid of missing the "Joly." But he might have entered with one of his two vessels, while the other watched outside for the absent ship. From whatever cause, he lay here five or six days, waiting in vain for Beaujeu;[289] till, at last, thinking that he must have passed westward, he resolved to follow. The "Aimable" and the "Belle" again spread their sails, and coasted the shores of Texas. Joutel, with a boat's crew, tried to land; but the sand-bars and breakers repelled him. A party of Indians swam out through the surf, and were taken on board; but La Salle could learn nothing from them, as their language was unknown to him. [Pg 375] Again Joutel tried to land, and again the breakers repelled him. He approached as near as he dared, and saw vast plains and a dim expanse of forest, buffalo running with their heavy gallop along the shore, and deer grazing on the marshy meadows.[239] Tonty, 1684, 1693. In the spurious narrative, published in Tonty's name, the account is embellished and exaggerated. Compare Membr in Le Clerc, ii. 227. La Salle's statements in the Relation of 1682 (Thomassy, 12) sustain those of Tonty.


      His enterprise had been a complete success. He had gained every point, and, in spite of the dangerous navigation, had not lost a single canoe. Thanks to the enforced and gratuitous assistance of the inhabitants, the whole had cost the King only about ten thousand francs, which Frontenac had advanced on his own credit. Though in a commercial point of view the new establishment was of very questionable benefit to the colony at large, the governor had, nevertheless, conferred an inestimable blessing on all Canada by the assurance he had gained of a long [Pg 96] respite from the fearful scourge of Iroquois hostility. "Assuredly," he writes, "I may boast of having impressed them at once with respect, fear, and good-will."[68] He adds that the fort at Cataraqui, with the aid of a vessel now building, will command Lake Ontario, keep the peace with the Iroquois, and cut off the trade with the English; and he proceeds to say that by another fort at the mouth of the Niagara, and another vessel on Lake Erie, we, the French, can command all the Upper Lakes. This plan was an essential link in the schemes of La Salle; and we shall soon find him employed in executing it.

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      And now, that we may better know the aspect and condition of the infant colony and incipient mission, we will follow the priest on his way. Mounting the steep path, he reached the top of the cliff, some two hundred feet above the river and the warehouses. On the left lay the fort built by Champlain, covering a part of the ground now forming Durham Terrace and the Place d'Armes. Its ramparts were of logs and earth, and within was a turreted building of stone, used as a barrack, as officers' quarters, and for other purposes. [1] Near the fort stood a small chapel, newly built. The 3 surrounding country was cleared and partially cultivated; yet only one dwelling-house worthy the name appeared. It was a substantial cottage, where lived Madame Hbert, widow of the first settler of Canada, with her daughter, her son-in-law Couillard, and their children, good Catholics all, who, two years before, when Quebec was evacuated by the English, [2] wept for joy at beholding Le Jeune, and his brother Jesuit, De Nou?, crossing their threshold to offer beneath their roof the long-forbidden sacrifice of the Mass. There were inclosures with cattle near at hand; and the house, with its surroundings, betokened industry and thrift."What! am I driving you from your house?"

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      Follow this man, said Phanos, pointing to Acestor, and dont lose sight of him. When he has quitted Athens, report to me.DOMINIQUE DE GOURGUES.

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