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It seems, that, before attacking the great fort of the Eries, the Iroquois had made a promise to worship the new God of the French, if He would give them the victory. This promise, and the success which followed, proved of great advantage to the mission.Conops opened it without a word.
This attempt, which was not, as we shall see, the only one of the kind made against La Salle, is alluded to by him in a letter to a friend at Paris, [Pg 117] written in Canada when he was on the point of departure on his great expedition to descend the Mississippi. The following is an extract from it:
Meanwhile the fugitives of St. Louis, joined by other bands as terrified and as helpless as they, were struggling through the soft snow which clogged the forests towards Lake Huron, where the treacherous ice of spring was still unmelted. One fear expelled another. They ventured upon it, and pushed forward all that day and all the following night, shivering and famished, to find refuge in the towns of the Tobacco Nation. Here, when they arrived, they spread a universal panic.
The rope-maker, Socles, rose. He was a small, stout man, with big, prominent eyes and a wide half open mouth, which gave him an extremely foolish air. "Ce fut alors que nous fusmes contraints de voir des squeletes mourantes, qui soustenoient vne vie miserable, mangeant iusqu'aux ordures et les rebuts de la nature. Le gland estoit la pluspart, ce que seroient en France les mets les plus exquis. Les charognes mesme deterres, les restes des Renards et des Chiens ne faisoient point horreur, et se mangeoient, quoy qu'en cachete: car quoy que les Hurons, auant que la foy leur eust donn plus de lumiere qu'ils n'en auoient dans l'infidelit, ne creussent pas commettre aucun pech de manger leurs ennemis, aussi peu qu'il y en a de les tuer, toutefois ie puis dire auec verit, qu'ils n'ont pas moins d'horreur de manger de leurs compatriotes, qu'on peut auoir en France de manger de la chair humaine. Mais la necessit n'a plus de loy, et des dents fameliques ne discernent plus ce qu'elles mangent. Les mres se sont repeu?s de leurs enfans, des freres de leurs freres, et des enfans ne reconnoissoient plus en vn cadaure mort, celuy lequel lors qu'il viuoit, ils appelloient leur Pere."Ragueneau, Relation des Hurons, 1650, 4. Compare Bressani, Relation Abrge, 283.
Some of these inferior courts appear to have needed a lodging quite as much as the council. The watchful Meules informs the minister that the royal judge for the district of Quebec was accustomed in winter, with a view to saving fuel, to hear causes and pronounce judgment by his own fireside, in the midst of his children, whose gambols disturbed the even distribution of justice. **
Monseigneur de Tracy et a Messieurs le Gouverneur etxxii Landing at Boston, three years before a solitude, let the traveller push northward, pass the River Piscataqua and the Penacooks, and cross the River Saco. Here, a change of dialect would indicate a different tribe, or group of tribes. These were the Abenaquis, found chiefly along the course of the Kennebec and other rivers, on whose banks they raised their rude harvests, and whose streams they ascended to hunt the moose and bear in the forest desert of Northern Maine, or descended to fish in the neighboring sea.