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praise as La Tour in censure. Both of them wrote in the next
La Salle felt deeply the dangers of such a step. His men were uneasy, discontented, and terrified by the stories with which the jealous Illinois still constantly filled their ears, of the whirlpools and the monsters of the Mississippi. He dreaded lest, in his absence, they should follow the example of their comrades, and desert. In the midst of his anxieties, a lucky accident gave him the means of disabusing them. He was hunting, one day, near the fort, when he met a young Illinois on his way home, half-starved, from a distant war excursion. He had been absent so long that he knew nothing of what had passed between his countrymen and the French. La Salle gave him a turkey he had shot, invited him to the fort, fed him, and made him presents. Having thus warmed his heart, he questioned him, with apparent carelessness, as to the countries he had visited, and especially as to the Mississippi,on which the young warrior, seeing no reason to disguise the truth, gave him all the information he required. La Salle now made him the present of a hatchet, to [Pg 184] engage him to say nothing of what had passed, and, leaving him in excellent humor, repaired, with some of his followers, to the Illinois camp. Here he found the chiefs seated at a feast of bear's meat, and he took his place among them on a mat of rushes. After a pause, he charged them with having deceived him in regard to the Mississippi; adding that he knew the river perfectly, having been instructed concerning it by the Master of Life. He then described it to them with so much accuracy that his astonished hearers, conceiving that he owed his knowledge to "medicine," or sorcery, clapped their hands to their mouths in sign of wonder, and confessed that all they had said was but an artifice, inspired by their earnest desire that he should remain among them. On this, La Salle's men took heart again; and their courage rose still more when, soon after, a band of Chickasa, Arkansas, and Osage warriors, from the Mississippi, came to the camp on a friendly visit, and assured the French not only that the river was navigable to the sea, but that the tribes along its banks would give them a warm welcome.Fellow citizens, he said, I am no professional orator like Philopator yonder, but perhaps you will listen to me, since I wish to speak to you of a man who came to us in an evil time and who, within a few days, has become dear to the whole city.
He is also stated to have declared that Louis Joliet was an impostor, and a donn of the Jesuits,that [Pg 119] is, a man who worked for them without pay; and, further, that when he, La Salle, came to court to ask for privileges enabling him to pursue his discoveries, the Jesuits represented in advance to the minister Colbert that his head was turned, and that he was fit for nothing but a mad-house. It was only by the aid of influential friends that he was at length enabled to gain an audience.When Ottigny was about twenty leagues from Fort Caroline, his two Indian guides, who were always on the watch, descried three canoes, and in great excitement cried, "Thimagoa! Thimagoa!" As they drew near, one of them snatched up a halberd and the other a sword, and in their fury they seemed ready to jump into the water to get at the enemy. To their great disgust, Ottigny permitted the Thimagoas to run their canoes ashore and escape to the woods. Far from keeping Laudonniere's senseless promise to light them, he wished to make them friends; to which end he now landed with some of his men, placed a few trinkets in their canoes, and withdrew to a distance to watch the result. The fugitives presently returned, step by step, and allowed the French to approach them; on which Ottigny asked, by signs, if they had gold or silver. They replied that they had none, but that if he would give them one of his men they would show him where it was to be found. One of the soldiers boldly offered himself for the venture, and embarked with them. As, however, he failed to return according to agreement, Ottigny, on the next day, followed ten leagues farther up the stream, and at length had the good luck to see him approaching in a canoe. He brought little or no gold, but reported that he had heard of a certain chief, named Mayrra, marvellously rich, who lived three days' journey up the river; and with these welcome tidings Ottigny went back to Fort Caroline.
** Ministre a Duchesneau, 15 Mai, 1678To return to the Richelieu. The towns and villages which have since grown upon its banks and along the adjacent shores of the St. Lawrence owe their names to these officers of Carignan, ancient lords of the soil: Sorel, Chambly, Saint Ours,
Menendez broke into a rage, and gave the order to board. The men slipped the cables, and the sullen black hulk of the "San Pelayo" drifted down upon the "Trinity." The French did not make good their defiance. Indeed, they were incapable of resistance, Ribaut with his soldiers being ashore at Fort Caroline. They cut their cables, left their anchors, made sail, and fled. The Spaniards fired, the French replied. The other Spanish ships had imitated the movement of the "San Pelayo;" "but," writes the chaplain, Mendoza, "these devils are such adroit sailors, and maneuvred so well, that we did not catch one of them." Pursuers and pursued ran out to sea, firing useless volleys at each other.
THE ILLINOIS TOWN.La Salle brought a tale of disaster. His enemies, bent on ruining the enterprise, had given out that he was embarked on a harebrained venture, from which he would never return. His creditors, excited by rumors set afloat to that end, had seized on all his property in the settled parts of Canada, though his seigniory of Fort Frontenac alone would have more than sufficed to pay all his debts. There was no remedy. To defer the enterprise would have been to give his adversaries the triumph that they sought; and he hardened himself against the blow with his usual stoicism.