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Title: Heroes of the Middle West - The French
Author: Catherwood, Mary Hartwell, 1847-1902
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: Front Cover.]


[Illustration: COUNT FRONTENAC.
From a Statue at Quebec.]



HEROES OF THE MIDDLE WEST

The French

BY

MARY HARTWELL CATHERWOOD


  GINN AND COMPANY

  BOSTON · NEW YORK · CHICAGO · LONDON
  ATLANTA · DALLAS · COLUMBUS · SAN FRANCISCO



  Copyright, 1898
  By MARY HARTWELL CATHERWOOD

  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
  317.8

  The Athenæum Press
  GINN AND COMPANY · PROPRIETORS · BOSTON · U. S. A.



PREFACE.


Let any one who thinks it an easy task attempt to cover the French
discovery and occupation of the middle west, from Marquette and Jolliet
to the pulling down of the French flag on Fort Chartres, vivifying men,
and while condensing events, putting a moving picture before the eye.
Let him prepare this picture for young minds accustomed only to the
modern aspect of things and demanding a light, sure touch. Let him
gather his material--as I have done--from Parkman, Shea, Joutel,
Hennepin, St. Cosme, Monette, Winsor, Roosevelt--from state records,
and local traditions richer and oftener more reliable than history;
and let him hang over his theme with brooding affection, moulding and
remoulding its forms. He will find the task he so lightly set himself
a terribly hard and exhausting one, and will appreciate as he never
before appreciated the labors of those who work in historic fields.



CONTENTS.


                                                              PAGE

    I. The Discoverers of the Upper Mississippi                  1

   II. Bearers of the Calumet                                   19

  III. The Man with the Copper Hand                             44

   IV. The Undespairing Norman                                  71

    V. French Settlements                                      102

   VI. The Last Great Indian                                   117



HEROES OF THE MIDDLE WEST.



I.

THE DISCOVERERS OF THE UPPER MISSISSIPPI.


The 17th of May, 1673, Father Jacques Marquette, the missionary priest
of St. Ignace, on what is now called the north shore of Michigan, and
Louis Jolliet, a trader from Montreal, set out on a journey together.

Huron and Ottawa Indians, with the priest left in charge of them, stood
on the beach to see Marquette embark,--the water running up to their
feet and receding with the everlasting wash of the straits. Behind them
the shore line of St. Ignace was bent like a long bow. Northward, beyond
the end of the bow, a rock rose in the air as tall as a castle. But very
humble was the small mission station which Father Marquette had founded
when driven with his flock from his post on the Upper Lakes by the
Iroquois. A chapel of strong cedar posts covered with bark, his own
hut, and the lodges of his people were all surrounded by pointed
palisades. Opposite St. Ignace, across a league or so of water, rose
the turtle-shaped back of Michilimackinac Island, venerated by the
tribes, in spite of their religious teaching, as a home of mysterious
giant fairies who made gurgling noises in the rocks along the beach or
floated vast and cloud-like through high pine forests. The evergreens
on Michilimackinac showed as if newborn through the haze of undefined
deciduous trees, for it was May weather, which means that the northern
world had not yet leaped into sudden and glorious summer. Though the
straits glittered under a cloudless sky, a chill lingered in the wind,
and only the basking stone ledges reflected warmth. The clear elastic
air was such a perfect medium of sight that it allowed the eye to
distinguish open beach rims from massed forests two or three leagues
away on the south shore, and seemed to bring within stone's throw those
nearer islands now called Round and Bois Blanc.

It must have wrung Marquette's heart to leave this region, which has
an irresistible charm for all who come within its horizon. But he had
long desired to undertake this journey for a double purpose. He wanted
to carry his religion as far as possible among strange tribes, and he
wanted to find and explore that great river of the west, about which
adventurers in the New World heard so much, but which none had seen.

[Illustration: Totem of the Illinois.]

A century earlier, its channel southward had really been taken
possession of by the Spaniards, its first discoverers. But they made no
use of their discovery, and on their maps traced it as an insignificant
stream. The French did not know whether this river flowed into the Gulf
of California--which was called the Red Sea--or to the western ocean,
or through Virginia eastward. Illinois Indians, visiting Marquette's
mission after the manner of roving tribes, described the father of
waters and its tributaries. Count Frontenac, the governor of Canada,
thought the matter of sufficient importance to send Louis Jolliet with
an outfit to join the missionary in searching for the stream.

The explorers took with them a party of five men. Their canoes, we are
told, were of birch bark and cedar splints, the ribs being shaped from
spruce roots. Covered with the pitch of yellow pine, and light enough
to be carried on the shoulders of four men across portages, these canoes
yet had toughness equal to any river voyage. They were provisioned with
smoked meat and Indian corn. Shoved clear of the beach, they shot out
on the blue water to the dip of paddles. Marquette waved his adieu.
His Indians, remembering the dangers of that southern country, scarcely
hoped to see him again. Marquette, though a young man, was of no such
sturdy build as Jolliet. Among descendants of the Ottawas you may still
hear the tradition that he had a "white face, and long hair the color
of the sun" flowing to the shoulders of his black robe.

The watching figures dwindled, as did the palisaded settlement. Hugging
the shore, the canoes entered Lake Michigan, or, as it was then called,
the Lake of the Illinois. All the islands behind seemed to meet and
intermingle and to cover themselves with blue haze as they went down
on the water. Priest and trader, their skins moist with the breath
of the lake, each in his own canoe, faced silently the unknown world
toward which they were venturing. The shaggy coast line bristled with
evergreens, and though rocky, it was low, unlike the white cliffs of
Michilimackinac.

Marquette had made a map from the descriptions of the Illinois Indians.
The canoes were moving westward on the course indicated by his map.
He was peculiarly gifted as a missionary, for already he spoke six
Indian languages, and readily adapted himself to any dialect. Marquette,
the records tell us, came of "an old and honorable family of Laon," in
northern France. Century after century the Marquettes bore high honors
in Laon, and their armorial bearings commemorated devotion to the
king in distress. In our own Revolutionary War it is said that three
Marquettes fought for us with La Fayette. No young man of his time had
a pleasanter or easier life offered him at home than Jacques Marquette.
But he chose to devote himself to missionary labor in the New World,
and had already helped to found three missions, enduring much hardship.
Indian half-breeds, at what is now called the "Soo," on St. Mary's
River, betwixt Lake Huron and Lake Superior, have a tradition that
Father Marquette and Father Dablon built their missionary station on
a tiny island of rocks, not more than two canoe lengths from shore, on
the American side. But men who have written books declare it was on the
bank below the rapids.

[Illustration: Autograph of Jolliet.]

Jolliet had come of different though not less worthy stock. He was
Canadian born, the son of a wagon-maker in Quebec; and he had been well
educated, and possessed an active, adventurous mind. He was dressed for
this expedition in the tough buckskin hunting suit which frontiersmen
then wore. But Marquette retained the long black cassock of the priest.
Their five voyageurs--or trained woodsmen--in more or less stained
buckskin and caps of fur, sent the canoes shooting over the water with
scarcely a sound, dipping a paddle now on this side and now on that,
Indian fashion; Marquette and Jolliet taking turns with them as the
day progressed. For any man, whether voyageur, priest, or seignior,
who did not know how to paddle a canoe, if occasion demanded, was at
sore disadvantage in the New World.

The first day of any journey, before one meets weariness or anxiety and
disappointment, remains always the freshest in memory. When the sun went
down, leaving violet shadows on the chill lake, they drew their boats
on shore; and Pierre Porteret and another Frenchman, named Jacques,
gathered driftwood to make a fire, while the rest of the crew unpacked
the cargo. They turned each canoe on its side, propping the ends with
sticks driven into the ground, thus making canopies like half-roofs to
shelter them for the night.

"The Sieur Jolliet says it is not always that we may light a camp-fire,"
said Pierre Porteret to Jacques, as he struck a spark into his tinder
with the flint and steel which a woodsman carried everywhere.

"He is not likely to have one to-night, even in this safe cove,"
responded Jacques, kneeling to help, and anxious for supper. "Look now
at me; I know the Indian way to start a blaze by taking two pieces of
wood and boring one into the other, rubbing it thus between my palms.
It is a gift. Not many voyageurs can accomplish that."

"Rub thy two stupid heads together and make a blaze," said another
hungry man, coming with a kettle of lake water. But the fire soon
climbed pinkly through surrounding darkness. They drove down two forked
supports to hold a crosspiece, and hung the kettle to boil their hulled
corn. Then the fish which had been taken by trolling during the day were
dressed and broiled on hot coals.

The May starlight was very keen over their heads in a dark blue sky
which seemed to rise to infinite heights, for the cold northern night
air swept it of every film. Their first delicious meal was blessed and
eaten; and stretched in blankets, with their feet to the camp fire, the
tired explorers rested. They were still on the north shore of what we
now call the state of Michigan, and their course had been due westward
by the compass. A cloud of Indian tobacco smoke rose from the lowly roof
of each canoe, and its odor mingled with the sweet acrid breath of
burning wood. Jolliet and the voyageurs had learned to use this dried
brown weed, which all tribes held in great esteem and carried about with
them in their rovings.

"If true tales be told of the water around the Bay of the Puans," one of
the voyageurs was heard to say as he stretched himself under the canoe
allotted to the men, "we may save our salt when we pass that country."

"Have you ever heard, Father," Jolliet inquired of the missionary, "that
the word Puan meant foul or ill-smelling instead of salty?"

"I know," Marquette answered, "that salt has a vile odor to the Indians.
They do not use it with their food, preferring to season that instead
with the sugar they make from the maple tree. Therefore, the bay into
which we are soon to venture they call the Bay of the Fetid, or
ill-smelling salty country, on account of saline water thereabout."

"Then why do the Winnebago tribe on this bay allow themselves to be
called Puans?"

"That has never been explained by the missionaries sent to that post,
though the name seems to carry no reproach. They are well made and tall
of stature. I find Wild Oats a stranger name--the Menomonies are Wild
Oats Indians. Since the gospel has been preached to all these tribes for
some years past, I trust we may find good Christians among them."

"What else have you learned about the country?"

"Father Dablon told me that the way to the head of that river called
Fox, up which we must paddle, is as hard as the way to heaven, specially
the rapids. But when you arrive there it is a natural paradise."

"We have tremendous labor before us," mused Jolliet. "Father, did you
ever have speech with that Jean Nicollet, who, first of any Frenchman,
got intimations of the great river?"

"I never saw him."

"There was a man I would have traveled far to see, though he was long a
renegade among savages, and returned to the settlements only to die."

"Heaven save this expedition from becoming renegade among savages by
forgetting its highest object!" breathed Marquette.

His companion smiled toward the pleasant fire-light. Jolliet had once
thought of becoming a priest himself. He venerated this young apostle,
only half a dozen years his senior. But he was glad to be a free
adventurer, seeking wealth and honor; not foreseeing that though the
great island of Anticosti in the Gulf of St. Lawrence would be given
him for his services, he would die a poor and neglected man.

When, after days of steady progress, the expedition entered the Bay
of Puans, now called Green Bay, and found the nation of Menomonies or
Wild Oats Indians, Marquette was as much interested as Jolliet in the
grain which gave these people their bread. It grew like rice, in marshy
places, on knotted stalks which appeared above the water in June and
rose several feet higher. The grain seed was long and slender and
made plentiful meal. The Indians gathered this volunteer harvest in
September, when the kernels were so ripe that they dropped readily into
canoes pushed among the stalks. They were then spread out on lattice
work and smoked to dry the chaff, which could be trodden loose when the
whole bulk, tied in a skin bag, was put into a hollow in the ground made
for that purpose. The Indians pounded their grain to meal and cooked it
with fat.

The Menomonies tried to prevent Marquette and Jolliet from going
farther. They said the great river was dangerous, full of frightful
monsters that swallowed both men and canoes; that there was a roaring
demon in it who could be heard for leagues; and the heat was so intense
in those southern countries through which it flowed, that if the
Frenchmen escaped all other dangers, they must die of that. Marquette
told them his own life was nothing compared to the good word he wanted
to carry to those southern tribes, and he laughed at the demon and
instructed them in his own religion.

The aboriginal tribes, by common instinct, tried from the first to keep
the white man out of countries which he was determined to overrun and
possess, regardless of danger.

At the end of a voyage of thirty leagues, or about ninety miles, the
explorers reached the head of the Bay of Puans, and a region thickly
settled with Winnebagoes and Pottawotomies between the bay and Winnebago
Lake, Sacs on Fox River, and Mascoutins, Kickapoos, and Miamis. Fox
River, which they followed from the head of the bay, and of which the
lake seemed only an expansion, was a rocky stream. A later traveler has
told us that Fox River in its further extent is very crooked, and while
seeming wide, with a boundary of hills on each hand, it affords but a
slender channel in a marsh full of rushes and wild oats.

The Kickapoos and Mascoutins were rude, coarse-featured Indians. Though
the missionary exhorted them as seriously as he did their gentler
neighbors, he could not help remarking to Jolliet that "the Miamis were
better made, and the two long earlocks which they wore gave them a good
appearance."

It was the seventh day of June when the explorers arrived in this
country of cabins woven of rushes; and they did not linger here.
Frenchmen had never gone farther. They were to enter new lands untrodden
by the white race. They were in what is now called the state of
Wisconsin, where "the soil was good," they noted, "producing much corn;
and the Indians gathered also quantities of plums and grapes." In these
warmer lands the season progressed rapidly.

Marquette and Jolliet called the chiefs together and told them that
Jolliet was sent by the governor to find new countries, and Marquette
had been commissioned of Heaven to preach. Making the chiefs a present,
without which they would not have received the talk seriously, the
explorers asked for guides to that tributary which was said to run into
the great river.

The chiefs responded with the gift of a rush mat for Marquette and
Jolliet to rest on during their journey, and sent two young Miamis with
them. If these kindly Indians disliked to set the expedition further on
its way, they said nothing but very polite things about the hardihood
of Frenchmen, who could venture with only two canoes, and seven in their
party, on unknown worlds.

The young Miamis, in a boat of their own, led out the procession the
tenth morning of June. Taking up paddles, the voyageurs looked back
at an assembled multitude--perhaps the last kindly natives on their
perilous way--and at the knoll in the midst of prairies where hospitable
rush houses stood and would stand until the inmates took them down and
rolled them up to carry to hunting grounds, and at groves dotting those
pleasant prairies where guests were abundantly fed.

Three leagues up the marshy and oats-choked Fox River, constantly
widening to little lakes and receding to a throat of a channel, brought
the explorers to the portage, or carrying place. The canoes then had
to be unloaded, and both cargo and boats carried overland to a bend of
the Miscousing, which was the Indian name for Wisconsin River. "This
portage," says a traveler who afterwards followed that way, "is half a
league in length, and half of that is a kind of marsh full of mud." In
wet seasons the head of Fox River at that time seemed not unlikely to
find the Wisconsin, for Marquette has set it down in his recital that
the portage was only twenty-seven hundred paces.

When the two Miamis had helped to carry the goods and had set the French
on the tributary of the great river, they turned back to their own
country. Before the men entered the boats Marquette knelt down with
them on the bank and prayed for the success of the undertaking. It was
a lovely broad river on which they now embarked, with shining sands
showing through the clear water, making shallows like tumbling discs
of brilliant metal,--a river in which the canoes might sometimes run
aground, but one that deceived the eye pleasantly, with islands all vine
covered, so when a boat clove a way between two it was a guess how far
the Wisconsin spread away on each side to shores of a fertile land.
Oaks, walnuts, whitewood, and thorn trees crowded the banks or fell
apart, showing prairies rolling to wooded hills. Deer were surprised,
stretching their delicate necks down to drink at the margin. They looked
up with shy large eyes at such strange objects moving on their stream,
and shot off through the brush like red-brown arrows tipped with white.
The moose planted its forefeet and stared stolidly, its broad horns set
in defense.

"Sieur Jolliet," said the missionary, once when the canoes drew
together, "we have now left the waters which flow into the great lakes
and are discharged through the St. Lawrence past Quebec to the sea.
We follow those that lead us into strange lands."

"This river Miscousing on which we now are," returned Jolliet, "flows,
as we see by our compass, to the southwestward. We know it is a branch
of the great river. I am becoming convinced, Father, that the great
river cannot discharge itself toward the east, as some have supposed."

The explorers estimated the distance from the country of the Mascoutins
to the portage to be three leagues, and from the portage to the mouth
of the Miscousing forty leagues. This distance they covered in a week.
Drawing their canoes to the shore at night, they pitched camp, varying
the monotony of their stores with fish and game. Perhaps they had
learned that wild grapes then budding were not really fit to eat until
touched by frost. Pierre Porteret said in Marquette's hearing, "the
Indians could make good wine of grapes and plums if they desired."

The 17th of June, exactly one month from the day on which they had left
St. Ignace mission, the explorers paddled into a gentle clear river,
larger than the Miscousing but not yet monstrous in width, which ran
southward. High hills guarded the right-hand shore, and the left spread
away in fair meadows. Its current was broken with many little islands,
like the Miscousing, though on sounding, Jolliet found the water to
be ten fathoms, or sixty feet, deep. The shores receding, and then
drawing in, gave unequal and irregular width to the stream. But it was
unmistakably the great river they had sought, named then as now by the
Indians, Mississippi, though Marquette at once christened it Conception,
and another Frenchman who came after him gave it the name of Colbert.
It was the river of which Nicollet had brought hints from his wanderings
among northwestern tribes: the great artery of the middle continent, or,
as that party of explorers believed, of the entire west. Receiving into
itself tributaries, it rolled, draining a mighty basin, to unknown seas.

The first white men ventured forth upon its upper channel in two birch
canoes. Five hardy voices raised a shout which was thrown back in an
echo from the hills; five caps were whirled as high as paddles could
raise them. But Marquette said, "This is such joy as we cannot express!"
The men in both canoes silenced themselves while he gave thanks for the
discovery.

[Illustration: FATHER JACQUES MARQUETTE.
From a Statue in the Capitol at Washington.]



II.

BEARERS OF THE CALUMET.


Moving down the Mississippi, league after league, the explorers noted
first of all its solitude. Wigwam smoke could not be seen on either
shore. Silence, save the breathing of the river as it rolled on its
course, seemed to surround and threaten them with ambush. Still, day
after day, the sweet and awful presence of the wilderness was their only
company. Once Pierre Porteret dropped his paddle with a yell which was
tossed about by echoing islands. A thing with a tiger's forehead and a
wildcat's whiskered snout, holding ears and entire gray and black head
above the water, swam for the boat. But it dived and disappeared; and
the other voyageurs felt safe in laughing at him. Not long after,
Jacques bellowed aloud as he saw a living tree glide under the canoe,
jarring it from end to end. The voyageurs soon learned to know the huge
sluggish catfish. They also caught plenty of sturgeon or shovel fish
when they cast in their nets.

The river descended from its hilly cradle to a country of level
distances. The explorers, seeing nothing of men, gave more attention to
birds and animals. Wild turkeys with burnished necks and breasts tempted
the hunters. The stag uttered far off his whistling call of defiance to
other stags. And they began to see a shaggy ox, humped, with an enormous
head and short black horns, and a mane hanging over low-set wicked eyes.
Its body was covered with curly rough hair. They learned afterwards from
Indians to call these savage cattle pisikious, or buffaloes. Herds of
many hundreds grazed together, or, startled, galloped away, like thunder
rolling along the ground.

The explorers kindled very little fire on shore to cook their meals,
and they no longer made a camp, but after eating, pushed out and
anchored, sleeping in their canoes. Every night a sentinel was set to
guard against surprise. By the 25th of June they had passed through
sixty leagues of solitude. The whole American continent was thinly
settled by native tribes, many in name indeed, but of scant numbers.
The most dreaded savages in the New World were the Iroquois or Five
Nations, living south of Lake Ontario. Yet they were never able to
muster more than about twenty-two hundred fighting men.

The canoes were skirting the western bank, driven by the current, when
one voyageur called to another:

"My scalp for the sight of an Indian!"

"Halt!" the forward paddler answered. "Look to thy scalp, lad, for here
is the Indian!"

There was no feathered head in ambush, but they saw moccasin prints in
the low moist margin and a path leading up to the prairie.

Marquette and Jolliet held the boats together while they consulted.

"Do you think it wise to pass by without searching what this may mean,
Father?"

"No, I do not. We might thus leave enemies behind our backs to cut off
our return. Some Indian village is near. It would be my counsel to
approach and offer friendship."

"Shall we take the men?" debated Jolliet. "Two of them at least should
stay to guard the canoes."

"Let them all stay to guard the canoes. If we go unarmed and unattended,
we shall not raise suspicion in the savages' minds."

"But we may raise suspicion in our own minds."

Marquette laughed.

"The barbarous people on this unexplored river have us at their mercy,"
he declared, "We can at best do little to defend ourselves."

"Let us reconnoitre," said Jolliet.

Taking some of the goods which they had brought along for presents,
Jolliet bade the men wait their return and climbed the bank with the
missionary. The path led through prairie grass, gay at that season
with flowers. The delicate buttercup-like sensitive plant shrank from
their feet in wet places. Neither Frenchman had yet seen the deadly
rattlesnake of these southern countries, singing as a great fly might
sing in a web, dart out of its spotted spiral to fasten a death bite
upon a victim. They walked in silence, dreading only the human beings
they were going to meet. When they had gone about two leagues, the
path drew near the wooded bank of a little stream draining into the
Mississippi which they had scarcely noticed from the canoes. There
they saw an Indian village, and farther off, up a hill, more groups of
wigwams. They heard the voices of children, and nobody suspected their
approach.

Jolliet and Marquette halted. Not knowing how else to announce their
presence, they shouted together as loud as they could shout. The savages
ran out of their wigwams and darted about in confusion until they saw
the two motionless white men. The long black cassock of Marquette had
instant effect upon them. For their trinkets and a few garments on their
bodies showed that they had trafficked with Europeans.

Four old Indians, slowly and with ceremony, came out to meet the
explorers, holding up curious pipes trimmed with many kinds of feathers.
As soon as they drew near, Marquette called out to them in Algonquin:

"What tribe is this?"

"The Illinois," answered the old man. Being a branch of the great
Algonquin family, which embraced nearly all northern aboriginal nations,
with the notable exception of the Iroquois, these people had a dialect
which the missionary could understand. The name Illinois meant "The
Men."

Marquette and Jolliet were led to the principal lodge. Outside the door,
waiting for them, stood another old Indian like a statue of wrinkled
bronze. For he had stripped himself to do honor to the occasion, and
held up his hands to screen his face from the sun, making graceful and
dignified gestures as he greeted the strangers.

"How bright is the sun when you come to see us, O Frenchmen! Our lodges
are all open to you."

The visitors were then seated in the wigwam, and the pipe, or calumet,
offered them to smoke, all the Indians crowding around and saying:

[Illustration: Calumet.]

"You do well to visit us, brothers."

Obliged to observe this peace ceremony, Marquette put the pipe to his
lips, but Jolliet, used to the tobacco weed, puffed with a good will.

The entire village then formed a straggling procession, gazing at the
Frenchmen, whom they guided farther to the chief's town. He also met
them standing with a naked retinue at his door, and the calumet was
again smoked.

The Illinois lodges were shaped like the rounded cover of an emigrant
wagon, high, and very long, having an opening left along the top for
the escape of smoke. They were made of rush mats, which the women wove,
overlapped as shingles on a framework of poles. Rush mats also carpeted
the ground, except where fires burned in a row along the middle. Each
fire was used by two families who lived opposite, in stalls made of
blankets. The ends of the lodge had flaps to shut out the weather, but
these were left wide open to the summer sun. During visits of ceremony a
guest stood where he could be seen and heard by all who could crowd into
the wigwam. But when the Illinois held important councils they made a
circular inclosure, and built a camp-fire in the center. Many families
and many fires filled a long wigwam, though Jolliet and Marquette were
lodged with the chief, who had one for himself and his household.

Whitening embers were sending threads of smoke towards a strip of blue
sky overhead when the missionary stood up to explain his errand in the
crowded inclosure, dividing his talk into four parts with presents.
By the first gift of cloth and beads he told his listeners that the
Frenchmen were voyaging in peace to visit nations on the river. By the
second he said:

"I declare to you that God, your Creator, has pity on you, since, when
you have been so long ignorant of him, he wishes to become known to you.
I am sent on his behalf with this design. It is for you to acknowledge
and obey him."

By the third gift they were informed that the chief of the French had
spread peace and overcome the Iroquois. And the last begged for all the
information they could give about the sea and intervening nations.

When Marquette sat down, the chief stood up and laid his hand on the
head of a little slave, prisoner from another tribe.

"I thank you, Blackgown," he said, "and you, Frenchman, for taking so
much pains to come and visit us. The earth has never been so beautiful,
nor the sun so bright, as to-day; never has the river been so calm and
free from rocks, which your canoes removed as they passed! Never has our
tobacco had so fine a flavor, nor our corn appeared so beautiful as we
find it to-day. Here is my son. I give him to you that you may know my
heart. Take pity on us and all our nation. You know the Great Spirit who
made all: you speak to him and hear him; ask him to give us life and
health and come and dwell with us."

When the chief had presented his guests with the Indian boy, and again
offered the calumet, he urged them, with belts and garters of buffalo
wool, brilliantly dyed, to go no farther down the great river, on
account of dangers. These compliments being ended, a feast was brought
in four courses. First came a wooden dish of sagamity or corn-meal
boiled in water and grease. The chief took a buffalo-horn spoon and fed
his guests as if they had been little children; three or four spoonfuls
he put in Marquette's mouth and three or four spoonfuls in Jolliet's.
Three fish were brought next, and he picked out the bones with his own
fingers, blew on the food to cool it, and stuffed the explorers with
all he could make them accept. It was their part to open their mouths
as young birds do. The third course was that most delicate of Indian
dishes, a fine dog; but seeing that his guests shrank from this, the
chief ended the meal with buffalo meat, giving them the fattest parts.

The Illinois were at that time on the west side of the Mississippi,
because they had been driven from their own country on the Illinois
River by the Iroquois. The Illinois nation was made up of several united
tribes: Kaskaskias, Peorias, Kahokias, Tamaroas, and Moingona. Flight
scattered them, and these were only a few of their villages. They
afterwards returned to their own land. Their chief wore a scarf or belt
of fur crossing his left shoulder, encircling his waist and hanging in
fringe. Arm and leg bands ornamented him, and he also had knee rattles
of deer hoofs. Paint made of colored clays streaked his face. This
attractive creature sent the Indian crier around, beating a drum of deer
hide stretched over a pot, to proclaim the calumet dance in honor of the
explorers.

Marquette and Jolliet were led out in the prairie to a small grove
which sheltered the assembly from the afternoon sun. Even the women
left their maize fields and the beans, melons, and squashes that they
were cultivating, and old squaws dropped rush braiding, and with
papooses swarming about their knees, followed. The Illinois were nimble,
well-formed people, skillful with bow and arrow. They had, moreover,
some guns among them, obtained from allies who had roved and traded with
the French. Young braves imitated the gravity of their elders at this
important ceremony. The Illinois never ate new fruits or bathed at the
beginning of summer, without first dancing the calumet.

A large gay mat of rushes was spread in the center of the grove, and
the warrior selected to dance put his god, or manitou--some tiny carven
image which he carried around his person and to which he prayed--on
the mat beside a beautiful calumet. Around them he spread his bow and
arrows, his war club, and stone hatchet. The pipe was made of red rock
like brilliantly polished marble, hollowed to hold tobacco. A stick
two feet long, as thick as a cane, formed the stem. For the dance these
pipes were often decked with gorgeous scarlet, green, and iridescent
feathers, though white plumes alone made them the symbol of peace, and
red quills bristled over them for war.

[Illustration: War Club.]

Young squaws and braves who were to sing, sat down on the ground in a
group near the mat; but the multitude spread in a great circle around
it. Men of importance before taking their seats on the short grass, each
in turn lifted the calumet, which was filled, and blew a little smoke
on the manitou. Then the dancer sprang out, and, with graceful curvings
in time to the music, seized the pipe and offered it now to the sun and
now to the earth, made it dance from mouth to mouth along the lines of
spectators, with all its fluttering plumes spread. The hazy sun shone
slanting among branches, tracing a network of flickering leaf shadows
on short grass; and liquid young voices rising and falling chanted,

  "Nanahani, nanahani, nanahani, Naniango!"


[Illustration: Stone Hatchet.]

The singers were joined by the Indian drum; and at that another dancer
sprang into the circle and took the weapons from the mat to fight with
the principal dancer, who had no defense but the calumet. With measured
steps and a floating motion of the body the two advanced and attacked,
parried and retreated, until the man with the pipe drove his enemy from
the ring. Papooses of a dark brick-red color watched with glistening
black eyes the last part of the dance, which celebrated victory. The
names of nations fought, the prisoners taken, and all the trophies
brought home were paraded by means of the calumet.

The chief presented the dancer with a fine fur robe when he ended; and,
taking the calumet from his hand, gave it to an old man in the circle.
This one passed it to the next, and so it went around the huge ring
until all had held it. Then the chief approached the white men.

"Blackgown," he said, "and you, Frenchman, I give you this peace-pipe
to be your safeguard wherever you go among the tribes. It shall be
feathered with white plumes, and displaying it you may march fearlessly
among enemies. It has power of life and death, and honor is paid to it
as to a manitou. Blackgown, I give you this calumet in token of peace
between your governor and the Illinois, and to remind you of your
promise to come again and instruct us in your religion."

The explorers slept soundly all night in the chief's lodge, feeling as
safe as among Christian Indians of the north, who stuck thorns in a
calendar to mark Sundays and holy days. Next morning the chief went with
several hundred of his people to escort them to their canoes; but it
was three o'clock in the afternoon before the voyageurs, dropping down
stream, saw the last of the friendly tribe.

Day after day the boats moved on without meeting other inhabitants.
Mulberries, persimmons, and hazelnuts were found on the shores. They
passed the mouth of the Illinois River without knowing its name, or
that it flowed through lands owned by the tribe that had given them
the peace-pipe. Farther on, the Mississippi made one of its many bends,
carrying them awhile directly eastward, and below great rocks like
castles. As the canoes ran along the foot of this east shore, some of
the voyageurs cried out. For on the face of the cliff far up were two
painted monsters in glaring red, green, and black; each as large as a
calf, with deer horns, blood-colored eyes, tiger beard, a human face,
and a body covered with scales. Coiled twice around the middle, over the
head, and passing between the hind legs of each, extended a tail that
ended like a fish. So startling was this sight, which seemed a banner
held aloft heralding unseen dangers, that the men felt threatened by a
demon. But Marquette laughed at them and beckoned for the canoes to be
brought together.

"What manner of thing is this, Sieur Jolliet?"

"A pair of manitous, evidently. If we had Indians with us, we should see
them toss a little tobacco out as an offering in passing by."

"I cannot think," said Marquette, "that any Indian has been the
designer. Good painters in France would find it hard to do as well.
Besides this, the creatures are so high upon the rock that it was hard
to get conveniently at them to paint them. And how could such colors be
mixed in this wilderness?"

"We have seen what pigments and clays the Illinois used in daubing
themselves. These wild tribes may have among them men with natural skill
in delineating," said Jolliet.

"I will draw them off," Marquette determined, bringing out the papers on
which he set down his notes; and while the men stuck their paddles in
the water to hold the canoes against the current, he made his drawing.

One of the monsters seen by the explorers remained on those rocks until
the middle of our own century. It was called by the Indians the Piasa.
More than two centuries of beating winter storms had not effaced the
brilliant picture when it was quarried away by a stupidly barbarous
civilization. The town of Alton, in the state of Illinois, is a little
south of that rock where the Piasa dragons were seen.

As the explorers moved ahead on glassy waters, they looked back, and the
line of vision changing, they saw that the figures were cut into the
cliff and painted in hollow relief.

They were still talking about the monsters when they heard the roar of a
rapid ahead, and the limpid Mississippi turned southward on its course.
It was as if they had never seen the great river until this instant.
For a mighty flood, rushing through banks from the west, yellow with
mud, noisy as a storm, eddying islands of branches, stumps, whole trees,
took possession of the fair stream they had followed so long. It shot
across the current of the Mississippi in entering so that the canoes
danced like eggshells and were dangerously forced to the eastern bank.
Afterwards they learned that this was the Pekitanoüi, or, as we now call
it, the Missouri River, which flows into the Mississippi not far above
the present city of St. Louis; and that by following it to its head
waters and making a short portage across a prairie, a man might in time
enter the Red or Vermilion Sea of California.

Having slipped out of the Missouri's reach, the explorers were next
threatened by a whirlpool among rocks before they reached the mouth of
Ouaboukigou, the Ohio River. They saw purple, red, and violet earths,
which ran down in streams of color when wet, and a sand which stained
their paddles like blood. Tall canes began to feather the shore, and
mosquitoes tormented them as they pressed on through languors of heat.
Jolliet and Marquette made awnings of sails which they had brought as a
help to the paddles. They were floating down the current of the muddy,
swollen river when they saw Indians with guns on the east shore. The
voyageurs dropped their paddles and seized their own weapons. Marquette
stood up and spoke to the Indians in Huron. They made no answer. He held
up the white calumet. Then they began to beckon, and when the party drew
to land, they made it clear that they had themselves been frightened
until they saw the Blackrobe holding the calumet. A long-haired tribe,
somewhat resembling the Iroquois, but calling themselves Tuscaroras;
they were rovers, and had axes, hoes, knives, beads, and double glass
bottles holding gunpowder, for which they had traded with white people
eastward.

They fed the French with buffalo meat and white plums, and declared it
was but a ten days' journey to the sea. In this they were mistaken, for
it was more than a thousand miles to the Gulf of Mexico.

[Illustration: Wampum Girdle.]

To each tribe as he passed, Marquette preached his faith by the belt of
the prayer. For each he had a wampum girdle to hold while he talked, and
to leave for a remembrance. His words without a witness would be
forgotten.

Three hundred miles farther the explorers ventured, and had nearly
reached the mouth of the Arkansas River, floating on a wide expanse of
water between lofty woods, when they heard wild yelling on the west
shore, and saw a crowd of savages pushing out huge wooden canoes to
surround them. Some swam to seize the Frenchmen, and a war club was
thrown over their heads. Marquette held up the peace-pipe, but the wild
young braves in the water paid no attention to it. Arrows were ready
to fly from all sides, and Marquette held the peace-pipe on high and
continually prayed. At once old Indians restrained the young ones. In
their turmoil they had not at first seen the calumet; but two chiefs
came directly out to bring the strangers ashore.

Not one of the missionary's six languages was understood by these
Indians. He at last found a man who spoke a little Illinois, and Jolliet
and he were able to explain their errand. He preached by presents, and
obtained a guide to the next nation.

On that part of the river where the French came to a halt, the Spanish
explorer De Soto was said to have died two hundred years before. In this
region the Indians had never seen snow, and their land yielded three
crops a year. Their pots and plates were of baked earth, and they kept
corn in huge gourds, or in baskets woven of cane fibers. They knew
nothing of beaver skins; their furs were the hides of buffaloes.
Watermelons grew abundantly in their fields. Though they had large
wigwams of bark, they wore no clothing, and hung beads from their
pierced noses and ears.

These Akamsea, or Arkansas Indians showed traits of the Aztecs under
Spanish dominion; for what is now the state of Texas was then claimed
by Spain. Marquette and Jolliet held a council. They were certain that
the great river discharged itself into the Gulf of Mexico. If they
ventured farther, they might fall into the hands of Spaniards, who would
imprison them; or they might be killed by fiercer tribes than any yet
encountered, and in either case their discoveries would be lost. So they
decided to turn back.

All day the Arkansas feasted them with merciless savage hospitality, and
it was not polite to refuse food or the attention of rocking. Two stout
Indians would seize a voyageur between them and rock him back and forth
for hours. If the motion nauseated him, that was his misfortune.

Pierre Porteret crept out behind one of the bark lodges looking very
miserable in the fog of early morning. His companion on many a long
journey, never far out of his shadow, sat down to compare experiences.

"Did they rock thee all night, Pierre?"

"They rocked me all night, Jacques. I can well endure what most men can,
but this is carrying politeness too far."

"I was not so favored. They would have saved you if they had killed the
rest of us. And they would have saved the good father, no doubt, since
the chief came and danced the calumet before him."

"Were these red cradle-rockers intending to make an end of us in the
night?"

"So the chief says; but he broke up the council, and will set us safely
on our journey up river to-day."

"I am glad of that," said Pierre. "Father Marquette hath not the
strength of the Sieur Jolliet for such rude wanderings. These southern
mists, and torturing insects, and clammy heats, and the bad food have
worked a great change in him."

"We have been gone but two months from the Mission of St. Ignace," said
Jacques. "They have the bigness of years."

"And many more months that have the bigness of years will pass before we
see it again."

They grew more certain of this, when, after toiling up the current
through malarial nights and sweltering days, the explorers left the
Mississippi and entered the river Illinois. There, above Peoria Lake,
another Illinois town of seventy-four lodges was found, and these
Kaskaskias so clung to the Blackrobe that he promised to come back
and teach them. From the head waters of the Illinois a portage was
made to Lake Michigan, and the French returned to the Bay of the Puans
alongshore. They had traveled over twenty-five hundred miles, and
accomplished the object of their journey.

Jolliet, with his canoe of voyageurs, his maps and papers, and the young
Indian boy given him by the Illinois chief, went on to Montreal. His
canoe was upset in the rapids of Lachine just above Montreal, and he
lost two men, the Indian boy, his papers, and nearly everything except
his life. But he was able to report to the governor all that he had seen
and done.

Marquette lay ill, at the Bay of the Puans, of dysentery, brought on by
hardship; and he was never well again. Being determined, however, to go
back and preach to the tribe on the Illinois River, he waited all winter
and all the next summer to regain his strength. He carefully wrote out
and sent to Canada the story of his discoveries and labors. In autumn,
with Pierre Porteret and the voyageur Jacques, he ventured again to the
Illinois. Once he became so ill they were obliged to stop and build him
a cabin in the wilderness, at the risk of being snowed in all winter.
It was not until April that he reached what he called his Mission of the
Immaculate Conception, on the Illinois River, through snow, and water
and mud, hunger and misery. He preached until after Easter, when, his
strength being exhausted, Pierre and Jacques undertook to carry him home
to the Mission of St. Ignace. Marquette had been two years away from his
palisaded station on the north shore, and nine years in the New World.

It was the 19th of May, and Pierre and Jacques were paddling their canoe
along the east side of that great lake known now as Michigan. A creek
parted the rugged coast, and dipping near its shallow mouth they looked
anxiously at each other.

"What shall we do?" whispered Jacques.

"We must get on as fast as we can," answered Pierre.

They were gaunt and weather-beaten themselves from two years' tramping
the wilderness. But their eyes dwelt most piteously on the dying man
stretched in the bottom of the canoe. His thin fingers held a cross.
His white face and bright hair rested on a pile of blankets. Pierre and
Jacques felt that no lovelier, kinder being than this scarcely breathing
missionary would ever float on the blue water under that blue sky.

He opened his eyes and saw the creek they were slipping past, and a
pleasant knoll beside it, and whispered:--

"There is the place of my burial."

"But, Father," pleaded Pierre, "it is yet early in the day. We can take
you farther."

"Carry me ashore here," he whispered again.

So they entered the creek and took him ashore, building a fire and
sheltering him as well as they could. There a few hours afterward he
died, the weeping men holding up his cross before him, while he thanked
the Divine Majesty for letting him die a poor missionary. When he could
no longer speak, they repeated aloud the prayers he had taught them.

They left him buried on that shore with a large cross standing over his
grave. Later his Indians removed his bones to the Mission of St. Ignace,
with a procession of canoes and a priest intoning. They were placed
under the altar of his own chapel. If you go to St. Ignace, you may see
a monument now on that spot, and people have believed they traced the
foundation of the old bark chapel. But the spot where he first lay was
long venerated.

A great fur trader and pioneer named Gurdon Hubbard made this record
about the place, which he visited in 1818:--

"We reached Marquette River, about where the town of Ludington now
stands on the Michigan shore. This was where Father Marquette died,
about one hundred and forty years before, and we saw the remains of a
red-cedar cross, erected by his men at the time of his death to mark his
grave; and though his remains had been removed to the Mission, at Point
St. Ignace, the cross was held sacred by the voyageurs, who, in passing,
paid reverence to it, by kneeling and making the sign of the cross. It
was about three feet above the ground, and in a falling condition. We
reset it, leaving it out of the ground about two feet, and as I never
saw it after, I doubt not that it was covered by the drifting sands of
the following winter, and that no white man ever saw it afterwards."



III.

THE MAN WITH THE COPPER HAND.


One day at the end of August, when Marquette's bones had lain under
his chapel altar nearly two years and a half, the first ship ever seen
upon the lakes was sighted off St. Ignace. Hurons and Ottawas, French
traders, and coureurs de bois, or wood-rangers, ran out to see the
huge winged creature scudding betwixt Michilimackinac Island and Round
Island. She was of about forty-five tons' burden. Five cannon showed
through her port-holes, and as she came nearer, a carved dragon was seen
to be her figurehead; she displayed the name Griffin and bore the white
flag of France. The priest himself felt obliged to receive her company,
for three Récollet friars, in the gray robe of St. Francis, appeared on
the deck. But two men, one in a mantle of scarlet and gold, and the
other in white and gold French uniform, were most watched by all eyes.

[Illustration: THE BUILDING OF THE GRIFFIN.
From the Original Engraving in Father Hennepin's "Nouvelle Découverte,"
Amsterdam, 1704.]

The ship fired a salute, and the Indians howled with terror and started
to run; then turned back to see her drop her sails and her anchor, and
come up in that deep crescent-shaped bay. She had weathered a hard storm
in Lake Huron; but the men who handled her ropes were of little interest
to coureurs de bois on shore, who watched her masters coming to land.

[Illustration: La Salle.]

"It is the Sieur de la Salle in the scarlet mantle," one coureur de bois
said to another. "And this is the ship he hath been building at Niagara.
First one hears that creditors have seized his fort of Frontenac, and
then one beholds him sailing here in state, as though naught on earth
could daunt him."

"I would like service with him," said the other coureur de bois.

His companion laughed.

"Service with La Salle means the hardest marching and heaviest labor
a voyageur ever undertook. I have heard he is himself tough as iron. But
men hereabouts who have been in his service will take to the woods when
they hear he has arrived; traders that he sent ahead with goods. If he
gets his hand on them after he finds they have squandered his property,
it will go hard with them."

"He has a long gray-colored face above his broad shoulders. I have heard
of this Sieur Robert Cavelier de la Salle ever since he came to the
province more than ten years ago, but I never saw him before. Is it true
that Count Frontenac is greatly bound to him?"

"So true that Sieur de la Salle thereby got favor at court. It was at
court that a prince recommended to him yon swart Italian in white and
gold that he brought with him on his last voyage from France. Now, there
is a man known already throughout the colony by reason of his hand."

"Which hand?"

"The right one."

"I see naught ailing that. He wears long gauntlets pulled well over both
wrists."

"His left hand is on his sword hilt. Doth he not hold the right a little
stiffly?"

"It is true. The fingers are not bent."

"They never will be bent. It is a hand of copper."

"How can a man with a copper hand be of service in the wilderness?"

The first ranger shrugged. "That I know not. But having been maimed in
European wars and fitted with a copper hand, he was yet recommended to
Sieur de la Salle."

"But why hath an Italian the uniform of France?"

"He is a French officer, having been exiled with his father from his own
country."

The coureur de bois, who had reached the settlement later than his
companion, grunted.

"One would say thou wert of the Griffin crew thyself, with the latest
news from Quebec and Montreal."

"Not I," laughed the first one. "I have only been in the woods with
Greysolon du Lhut, who knows everything."

"Then he told thee the name of this Italian with the copper hand?"

"Assuredly. This Italian with the copper hand is Sieur Greysolon du
Lhut's cousin, and his name is Henri de Tonty."

"I will say this for Monsieur Henri de Tonty: a better made man never
stepped on the strand at St. Ignace."

[Illustration: Autograph of Tonty.]

Greysolon du Lhut was the captain of coureurs de bois in the northwest.
No other leader had such influence with the lawless and daring. When
these men were gathered in a settlement, spending what they had earned
in drinking and gaming, it was hard to restrain them within civilized
bounds. But when they took service to shoulder loads and march into the
wilderness, the strongest hand could not keep them from open rebellion
and desertion. There were few devoted and faithful voyageurs, such
as Pierre Porteret and Jacques had proved themselves in following
Marquette. The term of service was usually two years; but at the first
hardship some might slip away in the night, even at the risk of
perishing before they reached the settlements.

St. Ignace made a procession behind La Salle's party and followed them
into the chapel to hear mass--French traders, Ottawas, Hurons, coureurs
de bois, squaws, and children. When the priest turned from the altar, he
looked down on complexions ranging from the natural pallor of La Salle
to the black-red of the most weather-beaten native.

[Illustration: Totem of the Hurons.]

The Hurons then living at St. Ignace, whom Father Marquette had led
there from his earlier mission, afterwards wandered to Detroit and
Sandusky, the priests having decided to abandon St. Ignace and burn the
chapel. In our own day we hear of their descendants as settled in the
Indian Territory, the smallest but wealthiest band of all transplanted
Indians.

Having entered the lake region with impressive ceremonies, which he
well knew how to employ before ignorant men and savages, La Salle threw
aside his splendor, and, with his lieutenant, put on the buckskins for
marching and canoe journeying into the wilderness. Some of the men he
had sent up the lakes with goods nearly a year before had collected
a large store of furs, worth much money; and these he determined to
send back to Canada on the Griffin, to satisfy his creditors and to give
him means for carrying on his plans. He had meant, after sending Tonty
on to the Illinois country, to return to Canada and settle his affairs.
But it became necessary, as soon as he landed at St. Ignace, to divide
his party and send Tonty with some of the men to Sault Ste. Marie after
plunderers who had made off with his goods. The others would doubtless
desert if left any length of time without a leader. It was a risk also
to send his ship back to the colony without standing guard over its
safety himself. But he greatly needed the credit which its load of furs
would give him. So he determined to send it manned as it was, with
orders to return to the head of Lake Michigan as soon as the cargo was
safely landed; while he voyaged down the west side of the lake, and
Tonty, returning from the Sault, came by the east shore. The reunited
party would then have the Griffin as a kind of floating fort or refuge,
and by means of it keep easily in communication with the settlements.

La Salle wanted to build a chain of forts from Niagara to the mouth of
the Mississippi, when that could be reached. Around each of these, and
protected by them, he foresaw settlements of French and Indians, and
a vast trade in furs and the products of the undeveloped west. Thus
France would acquire a province many times its own size. The undertaking
was greater than conquering a kingdom. Nobody else divined at that time
the wonderful promise of the west as La Salle pictured it. Little
attention had been paid to the discoveries of Marquette and Jolliet.
France would have got no benefit from them had not La Salle so soon
followed on the track of missionary and trader, verified what had been
done, and pushed on.

He had seen Jolliet twice. The first time they met near Niagara, when
both were exploring; the second time, Jolliet is said to have stopped
with his maps and papers before they were lost at Fort Frontenac, on
his return from his Mississippi voyage. La Salle, then master of Fort
Frontenac, must have examined these charts and journals with interest.
It does not appear that the two men were ever very friendly. Jolliet
was too easily satisfied to please La Salle; he had not the ability to
spread France's dominion over the whole western wilderness, and that was
what La Salle was planning to do before Marquette and Jolliet set out
for the Mississippi.

St. Ignace became once more the starting point of an important
expedition, though La Salle, before sending the Griffin back, sailed in
her as far as the Bay of Puans, where many of his furs were collected.
He parted with this good ship in September. She pointed her prow
eastward, and he turned south with fourteen men in four canoes, carrying
tools, arms, goods, and even a blacksmith's forge.

Through storm, and famine, and peril with Indians they labored down the
lake, and did not reach the place where they were to meet Tonty until
the first of November. La Salle had the three Récollet friars with him.
Though one was a man sixty-four years old, he bore, with his companions,
every hardship patiently and cheerfully. The story of priests who helped
to open the wilderness and who carried religion to savages is a
beautiful chapter of our national life.

Tonty was not at the place where they were to meet him. This was the
mouth of the St. Joseph River, which La Salle named the Miamis. The men
did not want to wait, for they were afraid of starving if they reached
the Illinois country after the Indians had scattered to winter hunting
grounds. But La Salle would not go on until Tonty appeared. He put the
men to work building a timber stockade, which he called Fort Miamis;
thus beginning in the face of discouragement his plan of creating a line
of fortifications.

Tonty, delayed by lack of provisions and the need of hunting, reached
Fort Miamis with his men in twenty days. But the Griffin did not come
at all. More than time enough had passed for her to reach Fort Niagara,
unload her cargo, and return. La Salle watched the lake constantly for
her sails. He began to be heavy-hearted for her, but he dared wait no
longer; so, sending two men back to meet and guide her to this new post,
he moved on.

Eight canoes carried his party of thirty-three people. They ascended the
St. Joseph River to find a portage to the head waters of the Illinois.
This brought them within the present state of Indiana; and when they had
reached that curve of the river where South Bend now stands, they left
St. Joseph to grope for the Theakiki, or Kankakee, a branch called by
some Indians the Illinois itself.

La Salle became separated from the party on this portage, eagerly and
fearlessly scouring the woods for the river's beginning. Tonty camped
and waited for him, fired guns, called, and searched; but he was gone
all night and until the next afternoon. The stars were blotted overhead,
for a powder of snow thickened the air, weirdly illuminating naked trees
in the darkness, but shutting in his vision. It was past midnight when
he came in this blind circle once more to the banks of the St. Joseph,
and saw a fire glinting through dense bushes.

"Now I have reached camp," thought La Salle, and he fired his gun to let
his people know he was approaching. Echoes rolled through the woods.
Without waiting for a shot in reply he hurried to the fire. No person
was near it. The descending snow hissed, caught in the flames. Here was
a home hearth prepared in the wilderness, and no welcome to it but
silence. La Salle called out in every Indian language he knew. Dead
branches grated, and the stream rustled betwixt its edges of ice. A heap
of dry grass was gathered for a bed under a tree by the fire, and its
elastic top showed the hollow where a man had lain. La Salle put some
more wood on the fire, piled a barricade of brush around the bed, and
lay down in a place left warm by some strolling Indian whom his gun had
frightened away. He slept until morning. In the afternoon he found his
own camp.

From the first thread of the Kankakee oozing out of swamps to the Indian
town on the Illinois River where Marquette had done his last missionary
work, was a long canoe journey. It has been said the rivers of the New
World made its rapid settlement possible; for they were open highways,
even in the dead of winter guiding the explorer by their frozen courses.

The Illinois tribe had scattered to their hunting, and the lodges stood
empty. La Salle's men were famished for supplies, so he ventured to open
the covered pits in which the Indians stored their corn. Nothing was
more precious than this hidden grain; but he paid for what he took when
he reached the Indians. This was not until after New Year's day. He had
descended the river as far as that expansion now called Peoria Lake.

The Illinois, after their first panic at the appearance of strange white
men, received La Salle's party kindly, fed all with their own fingers,
and, as they had done with Jolliet and Marquette when those explorers
passed them on the Mississippi, tried to coax their guests to go no
farther. They and other Indians who came to the winter camp told such
tales of danger on that great river about which the French knew so
little, that six of La Salle's men deserted in one night.

This caused him to move half a league beyond the Illinois camp,
where, on the southern bank, he built a palisaded fort and called it
Crèvecoeur. He was by this time convinced that the Griffin was lost.
Whether she went down in a storm, or was scuttled and sunk by those to
whom he intrusted her, nothing was ever heard of her again. The furs he
had sent to pay his creditors never in any way reached port. If they
escaped shipwreck, they were stolen by the men who escaped with them.

Nothing could bend La Salle's resolution. He meant in some way to
explore the west through which the southern Mississippi ran. But the
loss of the Griffin hurt him sorely. He could not go on without more
supplies; and having no vessel to bring them, the fearful necessity was
before him of returning on foot and by canoe to Fort Frontenac to bring
them himself.

He began to build another ship on the Illinois River, and needed cables
and rigging for her. This vessel being partly finished by the first of
March, he left her and Fort Crèvecoeur in Tonty's charge, and, taking
four Frenchmen and a Mohegan hunter, set out on the long and terrible
journey to Fort Frontenac.

The Italian commandant with the copper hand could number on its metal
fingers the only men to be trusted in his garrison of fifteen. One
Récollet, Father Louis Hennepin, had been sent with two companions by
La Salle to explore the upper Mississippi. Father Ribourde and Father
Membré remained. The young Sieur de Boisrondet might also be relied
on, as well as a Parisian lad named Étienne Renault, and their servant
L'Esperance. As for the others, smiths, shipwrights, and soldiers were
ready to mutiny any moment. They cared nothing about the discovery of
the west. They were afraid of La Salle when he was with them; and,
though it is said no man could help loving Tonty, these lawless fellows
loved their own wills better.

The two men that La Salle had sent to look for the Griffin arrived at
Fort Crèvecoeur, bearing a message from him, having met him on the
way. They had no news, but he wrote a letter and sent them on to Tonty.
He urged Tonty to take part of the garrison and go and fortify a great
rock he had noticed opposite the Illinois town. Whatever La Salle wanted
done Tonty was anxious to accomplish, though separating himself from
Crèvecoeur, even for a day, was a dangerous experiment. But he took
some men and ascended the river to the rock. Straight-way smiths,
shipwrights, and soldiers in Crèvecoeur, seizing powder, lead, furs,
and provisions, deserted and made their way back to Canada. Boisrondet,
the friars, and L'Esperance hurried to tell Tonty; and thus Fort
Crèvecoeur and the partly finished ship had to be abandoned. Tonty
dispatched four men to warn La Salle of the disaster. He could neither
hold this position nor fortify the rock in the midst of jealous savages
with two friars, one young officer, a lad, and one servant. He took the
forge, and tools, and all that was left in Crèvecoeur into the very
heart of the Indian village and built a long lodge, shaped like the
wigwams of the Illinois. This was the only way to put down their
suspicion. Seeing that the Frenchmen had come to dwell among them, the
Indians were pleased, and their women helped with poles and mats to
build the lodge.

For by this time, so long did it take to cover distances in the
wilderness, spring and summer were past, and the Illinois were dwelling
in their great town, nearly opposite the rock which La Salle desired to
have fortified. Tonty often gazed at it across the river, which flows
southwestward there, with a ripple that does not break into actual
rapids. The yellow sandstone height, rising like a square mountain out
of the shore, was tufted with ferns and trees. No man could ascend it
except at the southeast corner, and at that place a ladder or a rope was
needed by the unskillful. It had a flat, grassy top shut in by trees,
through which one could see the surrounding country as from a tower.
A ravine behind it was banked and floored with dazzling white sand, and
walled at the farther side by a timbered cliff rising to a prairie.
With a score of men Tonty could have held this natural fortress against
any attack. Buckets might be rigged from overhanging trees to draw up
water from the river. Provisions and ammunition only were needed for a
garrison. This is now called Starved Rock, and is nearly opposite the
town of Utica. Some distance up the river is a longer ridge, yet known
as Buffalo Rock, easy of ascent at one end, up which the savages are
said to have chased buffaloes; and precipitous at the other, down which
the frightened beasts plunged to death.

The tenth day of September a mellow autumn sun shone on maize fields
where squaws labored, on lazy old braves sprawled around buffalo robes,
gambling with cherry stones, and on peaceful lodges above which the blue
smoke faintly wavered. It was so warm the fires were nearly out. Young
warriors of the tribes were away on an expedition; but the populous
Indian town swarmed with its thousands.

Father Ribourde and Father Membré had that morning withdrawn a league up
the river to make what they called a retreat for prayer and meditation.
The other Frenchmen were divided between lodge and garden.

Near this living town was the town of the dead, a hamlet of scaffolds,
where, wrapped in skins, above the reach of wolves, Illinois Indians of
a past generation slept their winters and summers away. Crows flapped
across them and settled on the corn, causing much ado among the papooses
who were set to shout and rattle sticks for the protection of the crop.

Suddenly a man ran into camp, having just leaped from the canoe which
brought him across the river. When he had talked an instant old braves
bounded to their feet with furious cries, the tribes flocked out of
lodges, and women and children caught the panic and came screeching.

"What is the matter?" exclaimed Tonty, unable to understand their rapid
jargon. The Frenchmen drew together with the instinct of uniting in
peril, and, led by old men, the Indian mob turned on them.

"What is it?" cried Tonty.

"The Iroquois are coming! The Iroquois are coming to eat us up! These
Frenchmen have brought the Iroquois upon us!"

"Will you stand off!" Tonty warned them. And every brave in the town
knew what they called the medicine hand in his right gauntlet, powerful
and hard as a war club. They stood in awe of it as something more than
human. He put his followers behind him. The Frenchmen crowded back to
back, facing the savage crowd. Hampered by his imperfect knowledge of
their language, he hearkened intently to the jangle of raging voices,
his keen dark eyes sweeping from face to face. Tonty was a man of
impressive presence, who inspired confidence even in Indians. They held
back from slaying him and his people, but fiercely accused him. Young
braves dragged from the French lodge the goods and forge saved from Fort
Crèvecoeur, and ran yelling to heave everything into the river.

"The Iroquois are your friends! The Iroquois are at peace with the
French! But they are marching here to eat us up!"

"We know nothing about the Iroquois!" shouted Tonty. "If they are coming
we will go out with you to fight them!"

Only half convinced, but panic-stricken from former encounters with a
foe who always drove them off their land, they turned from threatening
Tonty and ran to push out their canoes. Into these were put the women
and children, with supplies, and all were paddled down river to an
island, where guards could be set. The warriors then came back and
prepared for fighting. They greased their bodies, painted their faces,
made ready their weapons, and danced and howled to excite one another
to courage. All night fires along shore, and leaping figures, were
reflected in the dark river.

About dawn, scouts who had been sent to watch the Iroquois came running
with news that the enemy were almost in sight across the prairie on the
opposite side, slipping under cover of woods along a small branch of the
Illinois River. They had guns, pistols, and swords, and carried bucklers
of rawhide. The scouts declared that a Jesuit priest and La Salle
himself led them.

The Frenchmen's lives seemed hardly a breath long. In the midst of
maddened, screeching savages Tonty and his men once more stood back to
back, and he pushed off knives with his copper hand.

"Do you want to kill yourselves?" he shouted. "If you kill us, the
French governor will not leave a man of you alive! I tell you Monsieur
de la Salle is not with the Iroquois, nor is any priest leading them!
Do you not remember the good Father Marquette? Would such men as he
lead tribes to fight one another? If all the Iroquois had stolen French
clothes, you would think an army of Jesuits and Messieurs de la Salle
were coming against you!"

"But some one has brought the Iroquois upon us!"

"I told you before we know nothing about the Iroquois! But we will go
with you now to fight them!"

At that the Illinois put their knives in their belts and ran shouting to
throw themselves into the canoes. Warfare with American Indians was
always the rush of a mob, where every one acted for himself without
military order.

"It is well the good friars are away making their retreat," said Tonty
to Boisrondet and Étienne Renault while they paddled as fast as they
could across the river with the Illinois. "Poor old L'Esperance must be
making a retreat, too."

"I have not myself seen him since last night," Boisrondet remembered.

"He put out in a canoe when the Indians were embarking their women and
children," said Étienne Renault. "I saw him go."

And so it proved afterwards. But L'Esperance had slipped away to bring
back Father Membré and Father Ribourde to tend the wounded and dying.

[Illustration: Long House of the Iroquois.]

Having crossed the river and reached the prairie, Tonty and his allies
saw the Iroquois. They came prancing and screeching on their savage
march, and would have been ridiculous if they had not been appalling.
These Hodenosaunee, or People of the Long House, as they called
themselves, were the most terrible force in the New World. Tonty saw
at once it would go hard with the Illinois nation. Never at any time
as hardy as their invaders, who by frequent attacks had broken their
courage, and weakened by the absence of their best warriors, they
wavered in their first charge.

He put down his gun and offered to carry a peace belt to the Iroquois to
stop the fight. The Illinois gladly gave him a wampum girdle and sent a
young Indian with him. Boisrondet and Étienne Renault also walked at his
side into the open space between two barbaric armies. The Iroquois did
not stop firing when he held up and waved the belt in his left hand.
Bullets spattered on the hummocky sod of the prairie around him.

"Go back," Tonty said to Boisrondet and Renault and the young Indian.
"What need is there of so many? Take the lad back, Boisrondet."

They hesitated to leave him.

"Go back!" he repeated sharply, so they turned, and he ran on alone. The
Iroquois guns seemed to flash in his face. It was like throwing himself
among furious wolves. Snarling lips and snaky eyes and twisting sinuous
bodies made nightmares around him. He felt himself seized; a young
warrior stabbed him in the side. The knife glanced on a rib, but blood
ran down his buckskins and filled his throat.

"Stop!" shouted an Iroquois chief. "This is a Frenchman; his ears are
not pierced."

Tonty's swarthy skin was blanching with the anguish of his wound, which
turned him faint. His black hair clung in rings to a forehead wet with
cold perspiration. But he held the wampum belt aloft and spat the blood
out of his mouth.

"Iroquois! The Illinois nation are under the protection of the French
king and Governor Frontenac! I demand that you leave them in peace!"

A young brave snatched his hat and lifted it on the end of a gun.
At that the Illinois began a frenzied attack, thinking he was killed.
Tonty was spun around as in a whirlpool. He felt a hand in his hair and
a knife at his scalp.

"I never," he thought to himself, "was in such perplexity in my life!"

"Burn him!" shouted some.

"But he is French!" others cried. "Let him go!"

Through all the uproar he urged the peace belt and threatened them with
France. The wholesome dread which Governor Frontenac had given to that
name had effect on them. Besides, they had not surprised the Illinois,
and if they declared a truce, time would be gained to consider their
future movements.

The younger braves were quieted, and old warriors gave Tonty a belt
to carry back to the Illinois. He staggered across the prairie. Father
Ribourde and Father Membré, who had just reached the spot, ran to meet
him, and supported him as he half fainted from loss of blood.

Tonty and his allies withdrew across the river. But the Iroquois,
instead of retreating, followed. Seeing what must happen, Tonty thought
it best for the Illinois to give up their town and go to protect their
women and children, while he attempted as long as possible to keep the
invaders at bay. Lodges were set on fire, and the Illinois withdrew
quietly down river, leaving some of their men in the bluffs less than a
league from the town, to bring them word of the result. The Frenchmen,
partially rebuilding their own lodge, which had been wrecked when their
goods were thrown in the river, stood their ground in the midst of
insulting savages.

For the Iroquois, still determined on war and despoiling, opened maize
pits, scattering and burning the grain; trampled corn in the fields; and
even pulled the dead off their scaffolds. They were angry at the French
for threatening them with that invisible power of France, and bent on
chasing the Illinois. Yet Tonty was able to force a kind of treaty
between them and the retreating nation, through the men left in the
bluffs. As soon as they had made it, however, they began canoes of elm
bark, to follow the Illinois down river.

Two or three days passed, while the Frenchmen sat covering the invaded
tribe's retreat. They scarcely slept at night. Their enemies prowled
around their lodge or celebrated dances on the ruins of the town.
The river flowed placidly, and the sun shone on desolation and on
the unaltered ferny buttresses of the great rock and its castellated
neighbors. Tonty heard with half delirious ears the little creatures
which sing in the grass and fly before man, but return to their singing
as soon as he passes by. The friars dressed and tended his fevered
wound, and when the Iroquois sent for him to come to a council, Father
Membré went with him.

Within the rude fort of posts and poles saved from ruined lodges, which
the Iroquois had built for themselves, adding a ruff of freshly chopped
trees, the two white men sat down in a ring of glowering savages. Six
packs of beaver skins were piled ready for the oration; and the orator
rose and addressed Tonty.

With the first two the Indian spokesman promised that his nation would
not eat Count Frontenac's children, those cowardly Illinois.

The next was a plaster to heal Tonty's wound.

The next was oil to anoint him and the Récollets, so their joints would
move easily in traveling.

The next said that the sun was bright.

And the sixth and last pack ordered the French to get up and leave
the country.

When the speaker sat down, Tonty came to his feet and looked at the
beaver skins piled before them. Then he looked around the circle of hard
weather-beaten faces and restless eyes, and thanked the Iroquois for
their gift.

"But I would know," said Tonty, "how soon you yourselves intend to
leave the country and let the Illinois be in peace?"

There was a growl, and a number of the braves burst out with the
declaration that they intended to eat Illinois flesh first.

Tonty raised his foot and kicked the beaver skins from him. In that very
way they would have rejected a one-sided treaty themselves. Up they
sprang with drawn knives and drove him and Father Membré from the fort.

All night the French stood guard for fear of being surprised and
massacred in their lodge. At daybreak the chiefs ordered them to go
without waiting another hour, and gave them a leaky boat.

Tonty had protected the retreat of the Illinois as long as he could.
With the two Récollets, Boisrondet, young Renault, and L'Esperance, and
with little else, he set out up the river.

[Illustration: SITE OF FORT ST. LOUIS OF THE ILLINOIS.
From a Recent Photograph.]



IV.

THE UNDESPAIRING NORMAN.


"The northward current of the eastern shore of Lake Michigan and
the southward current of the western shore," says a writer exact in
knowledge, "naturally made the St. Joseph portage a return route to
Canada, and the Chicago portage an outbound one." But though La Salle
was a careful observer and must have known that what was then called the
Chekago River afforded a very short carrying to the Desplaines or upper
Illinois, he saw fit to use the St. Joseph both coming and going.

His march to Fort Frontenac he afterwards described in a letter to one
of the creditors interested in his discoveries.

"Though the thaws of approaching spring greatly increased the difficulty
of the way, interrupted as it was everywhere by marshes and rivers, to
say nothing of the length of the journey, which is about five hundred
leagues in a direct line, and the danger of meeting Indians of four or
five different nations, through whose country we were to pass, as well
as an Iroquois army which we knew was coming that way; though we must
suffer all the time from hunger; sleep on the open ground, and often
without food; watch by night and march by day, loaded with baggage, such
as blanket, clothing, kettle, hatchet, gun, powder, lead, and skins to
make moccasins; sometimes pushing through thickets, sometimes climbing
rocks covered with ice and snow; sometimes wading whole days through
marshes where the water was waist deep or even more,--all this did not
prevent me from going to Fort Frontenac to bring back the things we
needed and to learn myself what had become of my vessel."

Carrying their canoes where the river was frozen, and finally leaving
them hidden near where the town of Joliet now stands, La Salle and his
men pushed on until they reached the fort built at the mouth of the St.
Joseph. Here he found the two voyageurs he had sent to search for the
Griffin. They said they had been around the lake and could learn nothing
of her. He then directed them to Tonty, while he marched up the eastern
shore. This Michigan region was debatable ground among the Indians,
where they met to fight; and he left significant marks on the trees, to
make prowlers think he had a large war party. A dozen or twenty roving
savages, ready to pounce like ferocious wildcats on a camp, always
peeled white places on the trees, and cut pictures there of their totem,
or tribe mark, and the scalps and prisoners they had taken. They
respected a company more numerous than themselves, and avoided it.

Stopping to nurse the sick when some fell ill of exposure, or to build
canoes when canoes were needed, La Salle did not reach Fort Niagara
until Easter, and it was May when Fort Frontenac came into view.

No man ever suffered more from treachery. Before he could get
together the supplies he needed, trouble after trouble fell upon him.
The men that Tonty had sent to tell him about the destruction of Fort
Crèvecoeur were followed by others who brought word that the deserters
had destroyed his forts at the St. Joseph River and Niagara, and carried
off all the goods. The Griffin was certainly lost. And before going back
to the Illinois country he was obliged to chase these fellows and take
from them what could be recovered. But when everybody else seemed
to be against him, it was much comfort to remember he had a faithful
lieutenant while the copper-handed Italian lived.

La Salle gathered twenty-five men of trades useful to him, and another
outfit with all that he needed for a ship, having made new arrangements
with his creditors; and going by way of Michilimackinac, he reached the
St. Joseph early in November.

Whenever, in our own day, we see the Kankakee still gliding along its
rocky bed, or the solemn Illinois spreading betwixt wooded banks, it is
easy to imagine a birch canoe just appearing around a bend, carrying La
Salle or Tonty, and rowed by buckskin-clad voyageurs. On the Kankakee
thousands of buffaloes filled the plains, and La Salle's party killed
many, preparing the flesh in dried flakes by smoking it.

The buffaloes were left behind when they approached the great town on
the Illinois. La Salle glanced up at the rock he wanted fortified, but
no palisade or Frenchman was to be seen.

"It seems very quiet," he said to the men in his canoe, "and we have not
passed a hunter. There--there is the meadow where the town stood; but
where is the town?"

Heaps of ashes, charred poles, broken scaffolds, wolves prowling where
papooses had played, crows whirling in black clouds or sitting in rows
on naked branches, bones,--a horrible waste plain had taken the place of
the town.

The Frenchmen scattered over it, eagerly seeking some trace of Tonty and
his companions. They labored all day, until the sun set, among dreadful
sights which they could never forget, without finding any clue to his
fate.

They piled charred wood together and made a fire and camped among ruins.
But La Salle lay awake all night, watching the sharp-pointed autumn
stars march overhead, and suffering what must have seemed the most
unendurable of all his losses.

Determined not to give up his friend, he rose next morning and helped
the men hide their heavy freight in the rocks, leaving two of them to
hide with and guard it, and went on down the Illinois River. On one bank
the retreat of the invaded tribe could be traced, and on the other the
dead camp-fires of the Iroquois who had followed them. But of Tonty and
his Frenchmen there was still no sign.

La Salle saw the ruins of Fort Crèvecoeur and his deserted vessel. And
so searching he came to the mouth of the Illinois and saw for the first
time that river of his ambitions, the Mississippi. There he turned back,
leaving a letter tied to a tree, on the chance of its sometime falling
into the hands of Tonty. There was nothing to do but to take his men and
goods from among the rocks near the destroyed town and return to Fort
Miamis, on the St. Joseph, which some of his followers had rebuilt. The
winter was upon them.

La Salle never sat and brooded over trouble. He was a man of action.
Shut in with his men and goods, and obliged to wait until spring
permitted him to take the next step, he began at once to work on Indian
hunters, and to draw their tribes towards forming a settlement around
the rock he meant to fortify on the Illinois. Had he been able to attach
turbulent voyageurs to him as he attached native tribes, his heroic life
would have ended in success even beyond his dreams. Tonty could better
deal with ignorant men, his military training standing him in good
stead; yet Tonty dared scarcely trust a voyageur out of his sight.

While Tonty and La Salle were passing through these adventures, the
Récollet father, Louis Hennepin, and his two companions, sent by La
Salle, explored the upper Mississippi. One of these was named Michael
Ako; the other, Du Gay, a man from Picardy in France.

They left Fort Crèvecoeur on the last day of February, twenty-four
hours before La Salle started northward, and entered the Mississippi on
the 12th of March. The great food-stocked stream afforded them plenty of
game, wild turkeys, buffaloes, deer, and fish. The adventurers excused
themselves from observing the Lenten season set apart by the Church for
fasting; but Father Hennepin said prayers several times a day. He was
a great robust Fleming, with almost as much endurance as that hardy
Norman, La Salle.

They had paddled about a month up river through the region where
Marquette and Jolliet had descended, when one afternoon they stopped to
repair their canoe and cook a wild turkey. Hennepin, with his sleeves
rolled back, was daubing the canoe with pitch, and the others were busy
at the fire, when a war whoop, followed by continuous yelling, echoed
from forest to forest, and a hundred and twenty naked Sioux or Dacotah
Indians sprang out of boats to seize them. It was no use for Father
Hennepin to show a peace-pipe or offer fine tobacco. The Frenchmen were
prisoners. And when these savages learned by questioning with signs, and
by drawing on the sand with a stick, that the Miamis, whom they were
pursuing to fight, were far eastward out of their reach, three or four
old warriors laid their hands on Hennepin's shaven crown and began to
cry and howl like little boys.

[Illustration: Totem of the Sioux.]

The friar in his long gray capote or hooded garment, which fell to his
feet, girt about the waist by a rope called the cord of St. Francis,
stood, with bare toes showing on his sandals, inclining his fat head
with sympathy. He took out his handkerchief and wiped the old men's
faces. Du Gay and Ako, in spite of the peril, laughed to see him daub
the war paint.

"The good father hath no suspicion that these old wretches are dooming
him to death," said Ako to Du Gay.

It appeared afterwards that this was what the ceremony meant. For
several days the Frenchmen, carried northward in their captors' boats,
expected to die. No calumet was smoked with them; and every night one
of the old chiefs, named Aquipaguetin, who had lost a son in war and
formed a particular intention of taking somebody's scalp for solace,
sat by the prisoners stroking them and howling by the hour. One night
when the Frenchmen were forced to make their fire at the end of the
camp, Aquipaguetin sent word that he meant to finish them without more
delay. But they gave him some goods out of the store La Salle had sent
with them, and he changed his mind and concluded to wait awhile. He
carried the bones of one of his dead relations, dried and wrapped in
skins gaily ornamented with porcupine-quill work; and it was his custom
to lay these bones before the tribe and request that everybody blow
smoke on them. Of the Frenchmen, however, he demanded hatchets, beads,
and cloth. This cunning old Sioux wanted to get all he could before the
party reached their villages, where the spoil would be divided.

Nineteen days after their capture the prisoners were brought to a place
which is now the site of St. Paul in the state of Minnesota, where the
Sioux disbanded, scattering to their separate towns. They had finally
smoked the peace-pipe with the Frenchmen; and now, fortunately without
disagreement, portioned their white captives and distributed the goods.
Father Hennepin was given to Aquipaguetin, who promptly adopted him
as a son. The Flemish friar saw with disgust his gold-embroidered
vestments, which a missionary always carried with him for the impressive
celebration of mass, displayed on savage backs and greatly admired.

The explorers were really in the way of seeing as much of the
upper Mississippi as they could desire. They were far north of the
Wisconsin's mouth, where white men first entered the great river.
The young Mississippi, clear as a mountain stream, gathered many small
tributaries. St. Peter's joined it from a blue-earth channel. This
rugged northern world was wonderfully beautiful, with valleys and
heights and rocks and waterfalls.

The Sioux were tall, well-made Indians, and so active that the smaller
Frenchmen could hardly keep up with them on the march. They sometimes
carried Du Gay and Ako over streams, but the robust friar they forced to
wade or swim; and when he lagged lame-footed with exhaustion across the
prairies, they set fire to grass behind him, obliging him to take to his
heels with them or burn. By adoption into the family of Aquipaguetin
he had a large relationship thrust upon him, for the old weeper had
many wives and children and other kindred. Hennepin indeed felt that
he was not needed and might at any time be disposed of. He never had
that confidence in his father Aquipaguetin which a son should repose
in a parent.

He was separated from Ako and Du Gay, who were taken to other villages.
By the time he reached father Aquepaguetin's house he was so exhausted,
and his legs, cut by ice in the streams, were so swollen that he fell
down on a bear robe. The village was on an island in a sheet of water
afterwards called Lake Buade. Hennepin was kindly received by his new
family, who fed him as well as they were able, for the Sioux had little
food when they were not hunting. Seeing him so feeble, they gave him an
Indian sweating bath, which he found good for his health. They made a
lodge of skins so tight that it would hold heat, and put into it stones
baked to a white heat. On these they poured water and shut Hennepin in
the steam until he sweated freely.

The Sioux had two kinds of lodges--one somewhat resembling those of the
Illinois, the other a cone of poles with skins stretched around, called
a tepee.

Father Hennepin did little missionary work among these Indians. He
suffered much from hunger, being a man who loved good cheer. But the
tribes went on a buffalo hunt in July and killed plenty of meat. All
that northern world was then clothed in vivid verdure. Honeysuckles and
wild grapevines made the woods fragrant. The gentian, which jealously
closes its blue-fringed cup from the human eye, grew close to the lakes.
Captive though the Frenchmen were, they could not help enjoying the
evening camp-fire with its weird flickerings against the dark of savage
forests, the heat-lightning which heralded or followed storms, the
waters, clear, as if filtered through icebergs, dashing in foam over
mossy rocks.

They met during the buffalo hunt, and it was about this time that some
"spirits," or white men, were heard of, coming from Lake Superior. These
proved to be the great ranger Greysolon du Lhut and four other
Frenchmen.

This man, cousin to Tonty, passed nearly his whole life in the woods,
going from Indian town to Indian town, or planting outposts of his
own in the wilderness. Occasionally he went to France, and the king's
magnificence at Versailles was endured by him until he could gain some
desired point from the colonial minister and hurry back. The government
relied on him to keep lawless coureurs de bois within bounds, and he
traded with nearly all the western tribes. When Greysolon du Lhut
appeared, the Sioux treated their prisoners with deference; and from
that time Hennepin, Du Gay, and Ako went where they pleased.

They seemed to have had no thought of returning to Fort Crèvecoeur.
In those days when each man took his individual life in his hands and
guarded it in ways which seemed best to him, it was often expedient to
change one's plan of action. About the time that Tonty was obliged to
abandon Fort Crèvecoeur, Hennepin and his companions set off eastward
with Greysolon du Lhut's party. Hennepin sailed for France as soon as he
could and wrote a book about his adventures. It was one of La Salle's
misfortunes that this friar should finally even lay claim to discovering
the mouth of the Mississippi, adding the glory of that to these real
adventures on its upper waters.

The first of March, La Salle, with a number of the men he had gathered,
started from Fort Miamis to the Illinois country. The prairies were one
dazzling expanse of snow, and as the party slid along on the broad,
flat snowshoes to which their feet were strapped, some of them were
so blinded that the pain in their eyes became unendurable. These were
obliged to camp in the edge of some woods, while the rest went on.

La Salle himself was sitting in darkness while the spring sun struck a
million sparkles from a world yet locked in winter. The wind chilled
his back, and he spread his hands to the camp blaze. In the torment
of snow-blindness he wondered whether Tonty was treading these white
wastes, seeking him, or lying dead of Indian wounds under the snow
crust. The talk of the other snow-blinded men, sitting about or
stretched with their feet to the fire, was lost on his ear. Yet his one
faithful servant, who went with him on all his journeys, could not see
anything but calm fortitude on his face as he lifted it at the approach
of snowshoes.

"I cannot see you, Hunaut," said La Salle. "Did you find some pine
leaves?"

"I found some, monsieur."

"Steep them as soon as you can for the men's eyes."

"I wish to tell you, monsieur," the man said as he went about his task
with a snow-filled kettle, "that I found also a party of Fox Indians
from Green Bay, and they gave me news of Monsieur de Tonty."

Hunaut looked at the long, pale face of his master and saw the under lip
tremble and twitch.

"You know I am much bound to Monsieur de Tonty. Is he alive?"

"He is alive, monsieur. He has been obliged to pass the winter at Green
Bay. Father Hennepin has also passed through that country on his way to
Montreal."

La Salle felt his troubles melt with the unlocking of winter. The brief
but agonizing snow-blindness passed away with a thaw; and, overtaking
his other men, he soon met the returning Illinois tribe and began the
Indian settlement around the rock he intended to fortify.

Already the Miami tribe was following him, and he drew them into an
alliance with the Illinois, impressively founding the principality soon
to grow there. This eloquent Norman Frenchman had gifts in height and
the large bone and sinew of Normandy, which his Indian allies always
admired. And he well knew where to impress his talk with coats, shirts,
guns, and hunting-knives. As his holdings of land in Canada were made
his stepping-stones toward the west, so the footing he gained at Fort
Miamis and in the Illinois country was to be used in discovering the
real course of the Mississippi and taking possession of its vast basin.

It was the end of May before he met Tonty at St. Ignace; Italian and
Frenchman coming together with outstretched arms and embracing. Tonty's
black eyes were full of tears, but La Salle told his reverses as calmly
as if they were another man's.

"Any one else," said Father Membré, who stood by, "would abandon the
enterprise, but Monsieur de la Salle has no equal for constancy of
purpose."

"But where is Father Ribourde?" La Salle inquired, missing the other
Récollet.

Tonty told him sorrowfully how Father Ribourde had gone into the woods
when his party camped, after being driven up river in a leaky boat by
the Iroquois; how they had waited and searched for him, and were finally
made aware that a band of prowling Kickapoos had murdered him.

Tonty had aimed at Green Bay by the Chicago portage, and tramped along
the west shore of Lake Michigan, having found it impossible to patch the
boat.

"We were nearly starved," he said; "but we found a few ears of corn and
some frozen squashes in a deserted Indian town. When we reached the bay
we found an old canoe and mended it; but as soon as we were on the water
there rose a northwest wind with driving snow, which lasted nearly five
days. We ate all our food, and, not knowing what to do, turned back to
the deserted town to die by a warm fire in one of the wigwams. On the
way the bay froze. We camped to make moccasins out of Father Membré's
cloak. I was angry at Étienne Renault for not finishing his; but he
excused himself on account of illness, having a great oppression of the
stomach, caused by eating a piece of an Indian rawhide shield which he
could not digest. His delay proved our salvation, for the next day, as I
was urging him to finish the moccasins, a party of Ottawas saw the smoke
of our fire and came to us. We gave them such a welcome as never was
seen before. They took us into their canoes and carried us to an Indian
village only two leagues off. All the Indians took pleasure in sending
us food; so, after thirty-four days of starvation, we found our famine
turned to abundance."

Tonty and La Salle, with their followers, paddled the thousand miles to
Fort Frontenac, to make another start into the wilderness.

La Salle was now determined to keep his men together. He set down many
of his experiences and thoughts in letters which have been kept; so we
know at this day what was in the great explorer's mind, and how dear he
held "Monsieur de Tonty, who is full of zeal."

On his return to the wilderness with another equipment, he went around
the head of Lake Michigan and made the short Chicago portage to the
Desplaines River. Entering by this branch the frozen Illinois, they
dragged their canoes on sledges past the site of the town and reached
open water below Peoria Lake. La Salle gave up the plan of building a
ship, and determined to go on in his canoes to the mouth of the
Mississippi.

So, pausing to hunt when game was needed, his company of fifty-four
persons entered the great river, saw the Missouri rushing into it--muddy
current and clear northern stream flowing alongside until the waters
mingled. They met and overawed the Indians on both shores, building
several stockades. The broad river seemed to fill a valley, doubling and
winding upon itself with innumerable curves, in its solemn and lonely
stretches. Huge pieces of low-lying bank crumbled and fell in with
splashes, for the Mississippi ceaselessly eats away its own shore.

A hundred leagues below the mouth of the Arkansas they came to a swamp
on the west side. Behind this swamp, they had been told, might be found
the Arkansas tribe's great town. La Salle sent Tonty and Father Membré,
with some voyageurs, to make friends with the Indians and bring him word
about the town.

Tonty had seen nothing like it in the New World. The houses were large
and square, of sun-baked brick, with a dome of canes overhead. The two
largest were the chief's house and the temple. Doors were the only
openings. Tonty and the friar were taken in where the chief sat on a
bedstead with his squaws, and sixty old men, in white mulberry bark
cloaks, squatted by with the dignity of a council. The wives, in order
to honor the sovereign, yelled.

The temple was a place where dead chiefs' bones were kept. A mud wall
built around it was ornamented with skulls. The inside was very rough.
Something like an altar stood in the center of the floor; and a fire of
logs was kept burning before it, and never allowed to go out, filling
the place with smoke, and irritating the eyes of two old Indians who
tended it in half darkness. The Frenchmen were not allowed to look into
a secret place where the temple treasure was kept. But, hearing it
consisted of pearls and trinkets, Tonty conjectured the Indians had got
it from the Spanish. This tribe was not unlike the Aztecs of Mexico.
The chief came in barbaric grandeur to visit La Salle, dressed in white,
having fans carried before him, and a plate of burnished copper to
represent the sun, for these lower Mississippians were sun-worshipers.

With gifts and the grave consideration which instantly won Indians, La
Salle moved from tribe to tribe towards the Gulf. Red River pulsed upon
the course like a discharging artery. The sluggish alligator woke from
the ooze and poked up his snout at the canoes. "He is," says a quaint
old writer who made that journey afterwards, "the most frightful
master-fish that can be seen. I saw one that was as large as half a
hogshead. There are some, they say, as large as a hogshead and twelve
to fifteen feet long. I have no doubt they would swallow up a man if
they caught him."

[Illustration: La Salle at the Mouth of the Mississippi.]

In April La Salle reached his goal. He found that the Mississippi
divided its current into three strands and entered the Gulf through
three mouths. He separated his party; La Salle took the west passage,
and Tonty and another lieutenant the middle and the east. At the Gulf of
Mexico they came together again, and with solemn ceremonies claimed for
France all the country along the great river's entire length, and far
eastward and westward, calling it Louisiana, in honor of King Louis XIV.
A metal plate, bearing the arms of France, the king's name, and the date
of the discovery, was fixed on a pillar in the shifting soil.

Hardy as he was, La Salle sometimes fell ill from the great exposures
he endured. And more than once he was poisoned by some revengeful
voyageur. It was not until the December following his discovery of the
Mississippi's mouth that he realized his plan of fortifying the rock
on the Illinois River. He and Tonty delighted in it, calling it Fort
St. Louis of the Illinois. Storehouses and quarters for a garrison rose
around its edges, protected by a palisade. A windlass was rigged to draw
water from the river below. On the northeast corner of the rock a low
earthwork remains to this day.

Around this natural castle the Indian tribes gathered to La Salle, as to
a sovereign,--Miamis, Abenakis, and Shawanoes, from countries eastward,
and the Illinois returned to spread over their beloved meadow. Instead
of one town, many towns of log, or rush, or bark lodges could be seen
from the summit of the Rock. Years afterwards the French still spoke of
this fortress as Le Rocher. A little principality of twenty thousand
inhabitants, strong enough to repel any attack of the Iroquois, thus
helped to guard it. La Salle meant to supply his people with goods and
give them a market for their furs. At this time he could almost see the
success of his mighty enterprise assured; he could reasonably count on
strengthening his stockades along the Mississippi, and on building near
its mouth a city which would protect the entire west and give an outlet
to the undeveloped wealth of the continent.

[Illustration: Louis XIV., King of France.]

In the flush of his discovery and success La Salle went back to France,
leaving Tonty in charge of the Rock and the gathering Indian nations,
and laid his actual achievements before the king, asking for help. This
was made necessary by the change in the colonial government, which had
removed his friend Count Frontenac and left him at the mercy of enemies.

The king was not slow to see the capacity of this wonderful man, so shy
of civilization that he lodged in a poor street, carrying with him the
very breath of the wilderness. La Salle asked for two ships; the king
gave him four; and many people and supplies were gathered to colonize
and stock the west.

It was La Salle's intention to sail by way of the West Indies, cross the
Gulf of Mexico, and enter the mouth of the Mississippi. But the Gulf of
Mexico is rimmed with low marshy land, and he had never seen the mouth
of the Mississippi from seaward. His unfamiliarity with the coast, or
night, or fog cheated him of his destination, and the colony was landed
four hundred miles west of it, in a place called Matagorda Bay, in
Texas, which then belonged to the Spaniards. Although at the time of
discovery he had taken the latitude of that exact spot where he set the
post, he had been unable to determine the longitude; any lagoon might be
an opening of the triple mouth he sought.

La Salle's brother, a priest, who sailed with him on this voyage,
testified afterwards that the explorer died believing he was near the
mouth of the Mississippi. Whatever may have been his thoughts, the
undespairing Norman grappled with his troubles in the usual way.
One of his vessels had been captured by the Spanish. Another had been
wrecked in the bay by seamen who were willing to injure him. These
contained supplies most needed for the colony. The third sailed away and
left him; and his own little ship, a gift of the king for his use along
the coast, was sunk by careless men while he was absent searching
northward for the Mississippi.

Many of the colonists fell sick and died. Men turned sullen and tried to
desert. Some went hunting and were never seen again. Indians, who dare
not openly attack, skulked near and set the prairie on fire; and that
was a sight of magnificence, the earth seeming to burn like a furnace,
or, far as the eye could follow them, billows of flame rushing as across
a fire sea. But La Salle was wise, and cut the grass close around his
powder and camp.

[Illustration: La Salle's Map of Texas.]

Water, plains, trees combined endlessly, like the pieces of a
kaleidoscope, to confuse him in his search. Tonty was not at hand to
take care of the colony while he groped for the lost river. He moved his
wretched people from their camp, with all goods saved off the wreck in
the bay, to a better site for a temporary fort, on rising ground. The
carpenters proved good for nothing. La Salle himself planned buildings
and marked out mortises on the logs. First a large house roofed with
hides, and divided into apartments, was finished to shelter all.
Separate houses were afterwards built for the women and girls, and
barracks or rougher cells for the men. A little chapel was finally
added. And when high-pointed palisades surrounded the whole, La Salle,
perhaps thinking of his invincible rock on the Illinois and the
faithfulness of his copper-handed lieutenant guarding it, called this
outpost also Fort St. Louis. Cannon were mounted at the four corners of
the large house. As the balls were lost, they were loaded with bullets
in bags.

Behind, the prairies stretched away to forests. In front rolled the bay,
with the restless ever-heaving motion of the Mexican Gulf. A delicious
salty air, like the breath of perpetual spring, blew in, tingling the
skin of the sulkiest adventurer with delight in this virgin world.
Fierce northers must beat upon the colonists, and the languors of summer
must in time follow; and they were homesick, always watching for sails.
Yet they had no lack of food. Oysters were so plentiful in the bay that
they could not wade without cutting their feet with the shells. Though
the alligator pushed his ugly snout and ridgy back out of lagoons, and
horned frogs frightened the children, and the rattlesnake was to be
avoided where it lay coiled in the grass, game of all kinds abounded.
Every man was obliged to hunt, and every woman and child to help smoke
the meat. Even the priests took guns in their hands. Father Membré
had brought some buffalo traditions from the Illinois country. He was
of Father Hennepin's opinion that this wild creature might be trained
to draw the plow, and he had faith that benevolence was concealed
behind its wicked eyes.

As Father Membré stalked along the prairie with the hunters, his capote
tucked up out of his way on its cord, one of the men shot a buffalo and
it dropped. The buffaloes rarely fell at once, even when wounded to
death, unless hit in the spine. Father Membré approached it curiously.

"Come back, Father!" shouted the hunters.

Father Membré touched it gently with his gun.

"Run, Father, run!" cried the hunters.

"It is dead," asserted Father Membré. "I will rest my gun across its
carcass to steady my aim at the other buffaloes."

He knelt to rest his gun across its back.

The great beast heaved convulsively to its feet and made a dash at the
Récollet. It sent him revolving heels over head. But Father Membré got
up, and, spreading his capote in both hands, danced in front of the
buffalo to head it off from escaping. At that, with a bellow, the shaggy
creature charged over him across the prairie, dropping to its knees and
dying before the frightened hunters could lift the friar from the ground.

"Are you hurt, Father?" they all asked, supporting him, and finding it
impossible to keep from laughing as he sat up, with his reverend face
skinned and his capote nearly torn off.

"Not unto death," responded Father Membré, brushing grass and dirty hoof
prints from his garment. "But it hath been greatly impressed on my mind
that this ox-savage is no fit beast for the plow. Nor will I longer
counsel our women to coax the wild cows to a milking. It is well to
adapt to our needs the beasts of a country," said Father Membré, wiping
blood from his face. "But this buffalo creature hath disappointed me!"

La Salle was prostrated through the month of November. But by Christmas
he was able to set out on a final search from which he did not intend
to return until he found the Mississippi. All hands in the fort were
busied on the outfit necessary for the party. Clothes were made of sails
recovered from one of the wrecked vessels. Eighteen men were to follow
La Salle, among them his elder brother, the Abbé Cavelier. Some had on
the remains of garments they had worn in France, and others were dressed
in deer or buffalo skins. He had bought five horses of the Indians to
carry the baggage.

At midnight on Christmas Eve everybody crowded into the small fortress
chapel. The priests, celebrating mass, moved before the altar in such
gold-embroidered vestments as they had, and the light of torches
illuminated the rough log walls. Those who were to stay and keep the
outpost, literally lost in the wilderness, were on their knees weeping.
Those who were to go knelt also, with the dread of an awful uncertainty
in their minds. The faithful ones foresaw worse than peril from forests
and waters and savages, for La Salle could not leave behind all the
villains with whom he was obliged to serve himself. He alone showed the
composure of a man who never despairs. If he had positively known that
he was setting out upon a fatal journey,--that he was undertaking his
last march through the wilderness,--the mass lights would still have
shown the firm face of a man who did not turn back from any enterprise.
The very existence of these people who had come out to the New World
with him depended on his success. Whatever lay in the road he had to
encounter it. The most splendid lives may progress and end through what
we call tragedy; but it is better to die in the very stress of achievement
than to stretch a poor existence through a century. The contagion of his
hardihood stole out like the Christmas incense and spread through the
chapel.



V.

FRENCH SETTLEMENTS.


"It was the establishment of military posts throughout this vast valley
that eventually brought on a life struggle between the English and the
French," says a historian.

At first the only spot of civilization in boundless wilderness was
Tonty's little fort on the Illinois. Protected by it, the Indians went
hunting and brought in buffalo skins and meat; their women planted
and reaped maize; children were born; days came and went; autumn haze
made the distances pearly; winter snow lay on the wigwams; men ran on
snowshoes; and papooses shouted on the frozen river. Still no news came
from La Salle.

[Illustration: MAP OF THE FRENCH SETTLEMENTS.]

Tonty had made a journey to the mouth of the Mississippi to meet him,
after he landed with his colony, searching thirty leagues in each
direction along the coast. La Salle was at that time groping through a
maze of lagoons in Texas. Tonty, with his men, waded swamps to their
necks, enduring more suffering than he had ever endured in his life
before. This was in February of the year 1686. Finding it impossible to
reach La Salle, who must be wandering somewhere on the Gulf of Mexico,
Tonty wrote a letter to him, intrusting it to the hands of an Indian
chief, with directions that it be delivered when the explorer appeared.
He also left a couple of men who were willing to wait in the Arkansas
villages to meet La Salle.

Two years passed before those men brought positive proof of the
undespairing Norman's fate. The remnant of the party that started with
La Salle from Fort St. Louis of Texas spent one winter at Fort St. Louis
of the Illinois, bringing word that they had left their leader in good
health on the coast. The Abbé Cavelier even collected furs in his
brother's name, and went on to France, carrying his secret with him.

La Salle had been assassinated on the Trinity River, soon after setting
out on his last determined search for the Mississippi. The eighteenth
day of March, 1687, some of his brutal voyageurs hid themselves in
bushes and shot him.

So slowly did events move then, and so powerless was man, an atom in the
wilderness, that the great-hearted Italian, weeping aloud in rage and
grief, realized that La Salle's bones had been bleaching a year and a
half before the news of his death reached his lieutenant. It was not
known that La Salle received burial. The wretches who assassinated him
threw him into some brush. It was a satisfaction to Tonty that they all
perished miserably afterwards; those who survived quarrels among
themselves being killed by the Indians.

The undespairing Norman died instantly, without feeling or admitting
defeat. And he was not defeated. Though his colony--including Father
Membré, who had been so long with him--perished by the hands of the
Indians in Texas, in spite of Tonty's second journey to relieve them,
his plan of settlements from the great lakes to the mouth of the
Mississippi became a reality.

Down from Canada came two of the eleven Le Moyne brothers, D'Iberville
and Bienville, fine fighting sons of a powerful colonial family, with
royal permission to found near the great river's mouth that city which
had been La Salle's dream. Fourteen years after La Salle's death, while
D'Iberville was exploring for a site, the old chief, to whom Tonty had
given a letter for La Salle, brought it carefully wrapped and delivered
it into the hands of La Salle's more fortunate successor.

Tonty was associated with Le Moyne D'Iberville in these labors around
the Gulf.

[Illustration: Autograph of Le Moyne D'Iberville.]

A long peninsula betwixt the Mississippi and Kaskaskia Rivers, known
since as the American Bottom, lured away Indians from the great town on
the Illinois. The new settlement founded on this peninsula was called
Kaskaskia, for one of the tribes. As other posts sprung into existence,
Fort St. Louis was less needed. "As early as 1712," we are told, "land
titles were issued for a common field in Kaskaskia. Traders had already
opened a commerce in skins and furs with the remote post of Isle
Dauphine in Mobile Bay." Settlements were firmly established. By 1720
the luxuries of Europe came into the great tract taken by La Salle in
the name of King Louis and called Louisiana.

Twelve years after La Salle's death a missionary named St. Cosme (Sant'
Come) journeyed from Canada in a party guided by Tonty. St. Cosme has
left this record of the man with the copper hand:--

"He guided us as far as the Arkansas and gave us much pleasure on the
way, winning friendship of some savages and intimidating others who from
jealousy or desire to plunder opposed the voyage; not only doing the
duty of a brave man but that of a missionary. He quieted the voyageurs,
by whom he was generally loved, and supported us by his example in
devotion."

On the Chicago portage a little boy, given to the missionary perhaps
because he was an orphan and the western country offered him the best
chances in life, started eagerly ahead, though he was told to wait. The
rest of the party, having goods and canoes to carry from the Chicago
River to the Desplaines, lost sight of him, and he was never seen again.
Autumn grass grew tall over the marshy portage, but they dared not set
it afire, though his fate was doubtless hidden in that grass. The party
divided and searched for him, calling and firing guns. Three days they
searched, and daring to wait no longer, for it was November and the
river ready to glaze with ice, they left him to some French people at
the post of Chicago. But the child was not found. He disappeared and no
one ever knew what became of him.

Like this is Henri de Tonty's disappearance from history. The records
show him working with Le Moyne D'Iberville and Le Moyne de Bienville to
found New Orleans and Mobile, pushing the enterprises which La Salle had
begun. He has been blamed with the misbehavior of a relative of his,
Alphonse de Tonty, who got into disgrace at the post of Detroit. Little
justice has been done to the memory of this man, who should not be
forgotten in the west. So quietly did he slip out of life that his
burial place is unknown. Some people believe that he came back to the
Rock long after its buildings were dismantled and it had ceased to be
Fort St. Louis of the Illinois. Others say he died in Mobile. But it is
probable that both La Salle and Tonty left their bodies to the
wilderness which their invincible spirits had conquered.

After the settlement of Kaskaskia a strong fortress was built sixteen
miles above, on the same side of the Mississippi. The king of France
spent a million crowns strengthening this place, which was called Fort
Chartres. Its massive walls, inclosing four acres, and its buildings and
arched gateway were like some medieval stronghold strangely transplanted
from the Old World. White uniformed troops paraded. A village sprang up
around it. Fort Chartres was the center of government until Kaskaskia
became the first capital of the Illinois territory. Applications for
land had to be made at this post. Indians on the Mississippi, for it was
a little distance from the shore, heard drumbeat and sunset gun, and
were proud of going in and out of its mighty gateway under the white
flag of France.

Other villages began on the eastern bank of the river--Cahokia, opposite
the present city of St. Louis, and Prairie du Rocher, nearer Kaskaskia.
Ste. Genevieve also was built in what is now the state of Missouri, on
land which then was claimed by the Spaniards. There was a Post of
Natchitoches on the Red River, as well as a Post of Washita on the
Washita River. Settlements were also founded upon La Fourche and Fausse
Rivière above New Orleans.

"The finest country we have seen," wrote one of the adventurers in those
days, "is all from Chicago to the Tamaroas. It is nothing but prairie
and clumps of wood as far as you can see. The Tamaroas are eight leagues
from the Illinois." Chicago was a landing place and portage from the
great lakes long before a stockade with a blockhouse was built called
Fort Dearborn.

"Monjolly," wrote the same adventurer, "or Mount Jolliet, is a mound of
earth on the prairie on the right side of the Illinois River as you go
down, elevated about thirty feet. The Indians say at the time of the
great deluge one of their ancestors escaped, and this little mountain is
his canoe which he turned over there."

La Salle had learned from the Iroquois about the Ohio River. But the
region through which it flowed to the Mississippi remained for a long
while an unbroken wilderness. The English settlements on their strip of
Atlantic coast, however, and the French settlements in the west, reached
gradually out over this territory and met and grappled. Whichever power
got and kept the mastery of the west would get the mastery of the
continent.

The territory of Kentucky, like that of Michigan, was owned by no tribe
of Indians. "It was the common hunting and fighting ground of Ohio
tribes on the north and Cherokees and Chickasaws on the south."

There was indeed one exception to the uninhabited state of all that land
stretching betwixt the Alleghanies and the Mississippi. Vincennes, now
a town of Indiana, was, after Kaskaskia, the oldest place in the west.
This isolated post is said to have been founded by French soldiers and
emigrants. Five thousand acres were devoted to the common field. De
Vincennes, for whom it was named, was a nephew of Louis Jolliet. And
while it is not at all certain that he founded the post, he doubtless
sojourned there in the Indiana country during his roving life. A small
stockade on the site of the town of Fort Wayne is said to have been
built by him.

French settlements began to extend southward from Lake Erie to the head
waters of the Ohio, like a chain to check the English. Presqu' Isle, now
Erie, Pennsylvania, was founded about the same time as Vincennes.

A French settler built his house in an inclosure of two or three acres.
The unvarying model was one story high, with porches or galleries
surrounding it. Wooden walls were filled and daubed with a solid mass of
what was called cat-and-clay, a mixture of mortar and chopped straw or
Spanish moss. The chimney was of the same materials, shaped by four long
corner posts, wide apart below, and nearer together at the top.

As fast as children grew up and married they built their cottages
in their father's yard; and so it went on, until with children and
grandchildren and great-grandchildren, a small village accumulated
around one old couple.

The French were not anxious to obtain grants of the rich wild land.
Every settlement had its common field, large or small, as was desired.
A portion of this field was given to each person in the village for his
own, and he was obliged to cultivate it and raise food for his family.
If a man neglected his ground, it was taken from him. A large tract of
land called the common pasture was also inclosed for everybody's cattle
to graze in.

Sometimes houses were set facing one court, or center, like a camp, for
defense. But generally the French had little trouble with their savage
neighbors, who took very kindly to them. The story of western settlement
is not that dreadful story of continual wars with Indians which reddens
the pages of eastern colonies. The French were gay people. They loved to
dance and hunt and spend their time in amusements. While the serious,
stubborn English were grubbing out the foundations of great states on
the Atlantic coast, it must be confessed these happy folks cared little
about developing the rich Mississippi valley.

During all its early occupation this hospitable land abounded with game.
Though in November the buffaloes became so lean that only their tongues
were eaten, swans, geese, and ducks were always plentiful, and the fish
could not be exhausted.

On a day in February, people from Kaskaskia hurried over the road which
then stretched a league to the Mississippi, for the town was on the
Kaskaskia River bank. There were settlers in blanket capotes, shaped
like friars' frocks, with hoods to draw over their heads. If it had
been June instead of February, a blue or red kerchief would have covered
the men's heads. The dress of an ordinary frontiersman in those days
consisted of shirt, breech-cloth, and buckskin leggins, with moccasins,
and neips, or strips of blanket wrapped around the feet for stockings.
The voyageur so equipped could undertake any hardship. But in the
settlements wooden shoes were worn instead of moccasins, and garments of
texture lighter than buckskin. The women wore short gowns, or long, full
jackets, and petticoats; and their moccasins were like those of squaws,
ornamented with beautiful quill-work. Their outer wraps were not unlike
the men's; so a multitude of blanket capotes flocked toward the
Mississippi bank, which at that time had not been washed away, and rose
steeply above the water. They had all run to see a procession of boats
pass by from Fort Chartres.

A little negro had brought the news that the boats were in sight. Black
slaves were owned by some of the French; and Indian slaves, sold by
their captors to the settlers, had long been members of these
patriarchal households. Many of them had left their work to follow their
masters to the river; the negroes pointing and shouting, the Indians
standing motionless and silent.

The sun flecked a broad expanse of water, and down this shining track
rushed a fleet of canoes; white uniforms leading, and brick-colored
heads above dusky-fringed buckskins following close after. This little
army waved their hands and fired guns to salute the crowd on shore. The
crowd all jangled voices in excited talk, no man listening to what
another said.

"See you--there are Monsieur Pierre D'Artaguette and the Chevalier De
Vincennes and excellent Father Senat in the first boat."

"The young St. Ange and Sieur Lalande follow them."

"How many of our good Indians have thrown themselves into this
expedition! The Chickasaw nation may howl when they see this array!
They will be taught to leave the boats from New Orleans alone!"

"But suppose Sieur De Bienville and his army do not meet the Commandant
D'Artaguette when he reaches the Chickasaw country?"

"During his two years at Fort Chartres has Sieur D'Artaguette made
mistakes? The expedition will succeed."

"The saints keep that beautiful boy!--for to look at him, though he is
so hardy, Monsieur Pierre D'Artaguette is as handsome as a woman. I have
heard the southern tribes sacrifice their own children to the sun. This
is a fair company of Christians to venture against such devils."

The Chickasaws, occupying a tract of country now stretching across
northern Mississippi and western Tennessee, were friendly to the English
and willing to encroach on the French. They interrupted river traffic
and practiced every cruelty on their prisoners. D'Artaguette knew
as well as the early explorers that in dealing with savages it is a
fatal policy to overlook or excuse their ill-behavior. They themselves
believed in exact revenge, and despised a foe who did not strike back,
their insolence becoming boundless if not curbed. So he had planned with
Le Moyne de Bienville a concerted attack on these allies of the English.
Bienville, bringing troops up river from New Orleans, was to meet him in
the Chickasaw country on a day and spot carefully specified.

[Illustration: Autograph of Bienville.]

The brilliant pageant of canoes went on down the river, seeming to grow
smaller, until it dwindled to nothingness in the distance.

But in the course of weeks only a few men came back, sent by the
Chickasaws, to tell about the fate of their leaders. The troops from
New Orleans did not keep the appointment, arriving too late and then
retreating. D'Artaguette, urged by his Indians, made the attack with
such force as he had, and his brave array was destroyed. He and the
Chevalier Vincennes, with Laland, Father Senat, and many others, a circle
of noble human torches, perished at the stake. People lamented aloud in
Kaskaskia and Cahokia streets, and the white flag of France slipped down
to half-mast on Fort Chartres.

This victory made the Chickasaw Indians so bold that scarcely a French
convoy on the river escaped them. There is a story that a young girl
reached the gate of Fort Chartres, starving and in rags, from wandering
through swamps and woods. She was the last of a family arrived from
France, and sought her sister, an officer's wife, in the fort. The
Chickasaws had killed every other relative; she, escaping alone, was
ready to die of exposure when she saw the flag through the trees.

But another captain of Fort Chartres, no bolder than young Pierre
D'Artaguette, but more fortunate, named Neyon de Villiers, twenty years
afterwards led troops as far east as the present state of Pennsylvania,
and helped his brother, Coulon de Villiers, continue the struggle
betwixt French and English by defeating, at Fort Necessity, the English
commanded by a young Virginia officer named George Washington.

[Illustration: INDIAN GAME OF BALL.
After Catlin.]



VI.

THE LAST GREAT INDIAN.


The sound of the Indian drum was heard on Detroit River, and humid May
night air carried it a league or more to the fort. All the Pottawatomies
and Wyandots were gathered from their own villages on opposite shores
to the Ottawas on the south bank, facing Isle Cochon. Their women and
children squatted about huge fires to see the war dance. The river
strait, so limpidly and transparently blue in daytime, that dipping a
pailful of it was like dipping a pailful of the sky, scarcely glinted
betwixt darkened woods.

In the center of an open space, which the camp-fires were built to
illuminate, a painted post was driven into the ground, and the warriors
formed a large ring around it. Their moccasined feet kept time to the
booming of the drums. With a flourish of his hatchet around his head, a
chief leaped into the ring and began to chase an imaginary foe, chanting
his own deeds and those of his forefathers. He was a muscular rather
than a tall Indian, with high, striking features. His dark skin was
colored by war paint, and he had stripped himself of everything but
ornaments. Ottawa Indians usually wore brilliant blankets, while
Wyandots of Sandusky and Detroit paraded in painted shirts, their heads
crowned with feathers, and their leggins tinkling with little bells.
The Ojibwas, or Chippewas, of the north carried quivers slung on their
backs, holding their arrows.

The dancer in the ring was the Ottawa chief, Pontiac, a man at that
time fifty years old, who had brought eighteen savage nations under his
dominion, so that they obeyed his slightest word. With majestic sweep of
the limbs he whirled through the pantomime of capturing and scalping an
enemy, struck the painted post with his tomahawk, and raised the awful
war whoop. His young braves stamped and yelled with him. Another leaped
into the ring, sung his deeds, and struck the painted post, warrior
after warrior following, until a wild maze of sinewy figures swam and
shrieked around it. Blazing pine knots stuck in the ground helped to
show this maddened whirl, the very opposite of the peaceful, floating
calumet dance. Boy papooses, watching it, yelled also, their black eyes
kindling with full desire to shed blood.

Perhaps no Indian there, except Pontiac, understood what was beginning
with the war dance on that May night of the year 1763. He had been
laying his plans all winter, and sending huge black and purple wampum
belts of war, and hatchets dipped in red, to rouse every native tribe.
All the Algonquin stock and the Senecas of the Iroquois were united with
him. From the small oven-shaped hut on Isle Cochon, where he lived with
his squaws and children, to Michilimackinac, from Michilimackinac to the
lower Mississippi, and from the eastern end of Lake Erie down to the
Ohio, the messengers of this self-made emperor had secretly carried and
unfolded his plan, which was to rise and attack all the English forts on
the same day, and then to destroy all the English settlers, sparing no
white people but the French.

Two years before, an English army had come over to Canada and conquered
it. That was a deathblow to French settlements in the middle west.
They dared no longer resist English colonists pushing on them from
the east. All that chain of forts stretching from Lake Erie down to the
Ohio--Presqu' Isle, Le Boeuf, Venango, Ligonier--had been given up to
the English, as well as western posts--Detroit, Fort Miami, Ouatanon on
the Wabash, and Michilimackinac. The settlements on the Mississippi,
however, still displayed the white flag of France. So large was the
dominion in the New World which England now had the right to claim,
that she was unable to grasp it all at once.

[Illustration: The White Flag of France.]

The Indians did not like the English, who treated them with contempt,
would not offer them presents, and put them in danger of starvation
by holding back the guns and ammunition, on which they had learned to
depend, instead of their bows and arrows. For two years they had borne
the rapid spread of English settlements on land which they still
regarded as their own. These intruders were not like the French, who
cared nothing about claiming land, and were always ready to hunt or
dance with their red brethren.

All the tribes were, therefore, eager to rise against the English, whom
they wanted to drive back into the sea. Pontiac himself knew this could
not be done; but he thought it possible, by striking the English forts
all at once, to restore the French power and so get the French to help
him in fighting back their common foe from spreading into the west.

Pontiac was the only Indian who ever seemed to realize all the dangers
which threatened his race, or to have military skill for organizing
against them. His work had been secret, and he had taken pains to appear
very friendly to the garrison of Detroit, who were used to the noise of
Indian yelling and dancing. This fort was the central point of his
operations, and he intended to take it next morning by surprise.

Though La Motte Cadillac was the founder of a permanent settlement on
the west shore of Detroit River, it is said that Greysolon du Lhut set
up the first palisades there. About a hundred houses stood crowded
together within the wooden wall of these tall log pickets, which were
twenty-five feet high. The houses were roofed with bark or thatched with
straw. The streets were mere paths, but a wide road went all around the
town next to the palisades. Detroit was almost square in shape, with
a bastion, or fortified projection, at each corner, and a blockhouse
built over each gate. The river almost washed the front palisades, and
two schooners usually anchored near to protect the fort and give it
communication with other points. Besides the homes of settlers, it
contained barracks for soldiers, a council-house, and a little church.

About a hundred and twenty English soldiers, besides fur traders and
Canadian settlers, were in this inclosure, which was called the fort, to
distinguish it from the village of French houses up and down the shore.
Dwellers outside had their own gardens and orchards, also surrounded by
pickets. These French people, who tried to live comfortably among the
English, whom they liked no better than the Indians did, raised fine
pears and apples and made wine of the wild grapes.

The river, emptying the water of the upper lakes into Lake Erie, was
about half a mile wide. Sunlight next morning showed this blue strait
sparkling from the palisades to the other shore, and trees and gardens
moist with that dewy breath which seems to exhale from fresh-water seas.
Indians swarmed early around the fort, pretending that the young men
were that day going to play a game of ball in the fields, while Pontiac
and sixty old chiefs came to hold a council with the English. More than
a thousand of them lounged about, ready for action. The braves were
blanketed, each carrying a gun with its barrel filed off short enough
to be concealed under his blanket.

About ten o'clock Pontiac and his chiefs crossed the river in birch
canoes and stalked in Indian file, every man stepping in the tracks
of the man before him, to the fort gates. The gates on the water side
usually stood open until evening, for the English, contemptuously
careless of savages, let squaws and warriors come and go at pleasure.
They did not that morning open until Pontiac entered. He found himself
and his chiefs walking betwixt files of armed soldiers. The gates were
shut behind him.

Pontiac was startled as if by a sting. He saw that some one had betrayed
his plan to the officers. Even fur traders were standing under arms.
To this day it is not known who secretly warned the fort of Pontiac's
conspiracy; but the most reliable tradition declares it to have been a
young squaw named Catherine, who could not endure to see friends whom
she loved put to death.

It flashed through Pontiac's mind that he and his followers were now
really prisoners. The captain of Detroit was afterwards blamed for not
holding the chief when he had him. The tribes could not rush through
the closed gates at Pontiac's signal, which was to be the lifting of a
wampum belt upside down, with all its figures reversed. But the cunning
savage put on a look of innocence and inquired:--

"My father," using the Indian term of respect, "why are so many of your
young men standing in the street with their guns?"

"They have been ordered out for exercise and discipline," answered the
officer.

A slight clash of arms and the rolling of drums were heard by the
surprised tribes waiting in suspense around the palisades. They did not
know whether they would ever see their leader appear again. But he came
out, after going through the form of a council, mortified by his failure
to seize the fort, and sulkily crossed the river to his lodge. All his
plans to bring warriors inside the palisades were treated with contempt
by the captain of Detroit. Pontiac wanted his braves to smoke the
calumet with his English father.

"You may come in yourself," said the officer, "but the crowd you have
with you must remain outside."

"I want all my young men," urged Pontiac, "to enjoy the fragrance of the
friendly calumet."

"I will have none of your rabble in the fort," said the officer.

Raging like a wild beast, Pontiac then led his people in assault.
He threw off every pretense of friendliness, and from all directions
the tribes closed around Detroit in a general attack. Though it had
wooden walls, it was well defended. The Indians, after their first
fierce onset, fighting in their own way, behind trees and sheltered by
buildings outside the fort, were able to besiege the place indefinitely
with comparatively small loss to themselves; while the garrison, shut
in almost without warning, looked forward to scarcity of provisions.

All English people caught beyond the walls were instantly murdered. But
the French settlers were allowed to go about their usual affairs unhurt.
Queer traditions have come down from them of the pious burial they gave
to English victims of the Indians. One old man stuck his hands out of
his grave. The French covered them with earth. But next time they passed
that way they saw the stiff, entreating hands, like pale fungi, again
thrust into view. At this the horrified French settlers hurried to their
priest, who said the neglected burial service over the grave, and so put
the poor Englishman to rest, for his hands protruded no more.

One of the absent schooners kept for the use of the fort had gone down
river with letters and dispatches. Her crew knew nothing of the siege,
and she narrowly escaped capture. A convoy of boats, bringing the usual
spring supplies, was taken, leaving Detroit to face famine. Yet it
refused to surrender, and, in spite of Pontiac's rage and his continual
investment of the place, the red flag of England floated over that
fortress all summer.

Other posts were not so fortunate in resisting Pontiac's conspiracy.
Fort Sandusky, at the west end of Lake Erie; Fort Ouatanon, on the
Wabash, a little south of where Lafayette, in the state of Indiana, now
stands; Fort Miami, Presqu' Isle, Le Boeuf, Venango, on the eastern
border, and Michilimackinac, on the straits, were all taken by the
Indians.

At Presqu' Isle the twenty-seven soldiers went into the blockhouse of
the fort and prepared to hold it, lining and making it bullet-proof.

A blockhouse was built of logs, or very thick timber, and had no
windows, and but one door in the lower story. The upper story projected
several feet all around, and had loopholes in the overhanging, floor,
through which the men could shoot down. Loopholes were also fixed in the
upper walls, wide within, but closing to narrow slits on the outside.
A sentry box or lookout was sometimes put at the top of the roof. With
the door barred by iron or great beams of wood, and food and ammunition
stored in the lower room, men could ascend a ladder to the second story
of a blockhouse and hold it against great odds, if the besiegers did not
succeed in burning them out.

Presqu' Isle was at the edge of Lake Erie, and the soldiers brought
in all the water they could store. But the attacking Indians made
breastworks of logs, and shot burning arrows on the shingle roof.
All the water barrels were emptied putting out fires. While some men
defended the loopholes, others dug under the floor of the blockhouse and
mined a way below ground to the well in the fort where Indians swarmed.
Buildings in the inclosure were set on fire, but the defenders of the
blockhouse kept it from catching the flames by tearing off shingles
from the roof when they began to burn. The mining party reached the well,
and buckets of water were drawn up and passed through the tunnel to the
blockhouse. Greatly exhausted, the soldiers held out until next day,
when, having surrendered honorably, they were all taken prisoners as
they left the scorched and battered log tower. For savages were such
capricious and cruel victors that they could rarely be depended upon to
keep faith. Pontiac himself was superior to his people in such matters.
If he had been at Presqu' Isle, the garrison would not have been seized
after surrendering on honorable terms. However, these soldiers were not
instantly massacred, as other prisoners had been in war betwixt French
and English, when savage allies could not be restrained.

Next to Detroit the most important post was Michilimackinac.

This was not the island in the straits bearing that name, but a
stockaded fort on the south shore of Michigan, directly across the
strait from St. Ignace. To this day, searching along a beach of deep,
yielding sand, so different from the rocky strands of the islands,
you may find at the forest edge a cellar where the powder house stood,
and fruit trees and gooseberry bushes from gardens planted there more
than two hundred years ago.

Michilimackinac, succeeding St. Ignace, had grown in importance, and was
now a stockaded fort, having French houses both within and outside it,
like Detroit. After Father Marquette's old mission had been abandoned
and the buildings burned, another small mission was begun at L'Arbre
Croche, not far west of Fort Michilimackinac, such of his Ottawas as
were not scattered being gathered here. The region around also was full
of Chippewas or Ojibwas.

All these Indians hated the English. Some came to the fort and said to a
young English trader named Alexander Henry, who arrived after the white
flag was hauled down and the red one about to be hoisted:--

"Englishman, although you have conquered the French, you have not
conquered us. We are not your slaves. These lakes, these woods and
mountains were left to us by our ancestors. They are our inheritance,
and we will part with them to none!"

Though these Ottawas and Chippewas were independent of those about
Detroit, they had eagerly taken hold of Pontiac's war belt. The
missionary priest was able for a while to restrain the Ottawas. The
Chippewas, gathered in from their winter's hunting, determined to strike
the first blow.

On the fourth day of June, which was the English king's birthday, they
came and invited the garrison to look at a game of ball, or baggattaway,
which they were going to play on the long sandy beach, against some
Sac Indians. The fortress gates stood open. The day was very warm and
discipline was relaxed. Nobody noticed that squaws, flocking inside the
fort, had tomahawks and scalping knives hidden under their blankets,
though a few Englishmen afterward remembered that the squaws were
strangely huddled in wrappings on a day hot for that climate.

The young English trader, Alexander Henry, has left a careful account of
the massacre at Fort Michilimackinac. He did not go out to see the ball
game, because he had important letters to write and send by a canoe just
starting to Canada. Officers and men, believing the red tribes friendly,
lounged about unarmed. Whitewashed French houses shone in the sun, and
the surge of the straits sounded peacefully on the beach. Nobody could
dream that when the shouting Indians drove the ball back from the
farthest stake, their cries would suddenly change to war whoops.

At that horrid yell Henry sprang up and ran to a window of his house.
He saw Chippewas filling the fort, and with weapons snatched from the
squaws, cutting down and scalping Englishmen. He caught his own gun from
its rack, expecting to hear the drum beat to arms. But the surprised
garrison were unable even to sound an alarm.

Seeing that not a Frenchman was touched, Henry slipped into the house of
his next neighbor, a Canadian named Langlade. The whole family were at
the front windows, looking at the horrible sights in the fort; but an
Indian slave, a Pani, or Pawnee woman, beckoned to him and hid him in
the attic, locking the door and carrying away the key.

The attic probably had one or two of those tunnel-like dormer windows
built in the curving roof of all French houses. Henry found a place
where he could look out. He saw his countrymen slaughtered without being
able to help them, and it was like a frightful nightmare from which
there was to be no awakening. Presently the cry rose:--

"All is finished!"

Then the Indians crowded into Langlade's house and inquired whether any
Englishmen were hid there. So thin was the attic floor of planks laid
across joists, that Henry could hear every word.

"I cannot say," answered the Frenchman. "You may examine for
yourselves."

Henry looked around the attic for some place to hide in. Moccasined feet
were already coming upstairs. Savage hands shook the attic door, and
impatient guttural voices demanded the key. While some one went for the
key, Henry crept into a kind of tunnel made by a heap of birch-bark
vessels, used in the maple-sugar season. The door was opening before he
could draw himself quite out of sight, and though the pile was in a dark
corner, he dreaded displacing some of the birch troughs and making a
noise.

The Indians trod so close to him he thought they must hear him breathe.
Their bodies were smeared with blood, which could be seen through the
dusk; and while searching they told Monsieur Langlade how many
Englishmen they had killed and the number of scalps they had taken.

Not finding any one, they went away and the door was again locked.
Henry crept out of hiding. There was a feather bed on the floor and he
stretched himself on it, so worn out by what he had seen and endured
that he fell asleep.

He was roused by the door opening again. Madame Langlade came in, and
she was surprised and frightened at finding him. It was nearly night and
a fierce summer rain beat upon the roof, dripping through cracks of the
heat-dried bark. Madame Langlade had come to stop a leak. She told Henry
that all the English except himself were killed, but she hoped he would
escape. She brought him some water to drink.

As darkness came on, he lay thinking of his desperate state. He was four
hundred miles from Detroit, which he did not then know was besieged,
and with all his stores captured or destroyed by the Indians, he had no
provisions. He could not stay where he was, and if he ventured out, the
first red man who met him would kill him.

By morning the Indians came to the house inquiring for Henry, whom they
had missed. Madame Langlade was in such fear that they might kill her
children if they found Henry sheltered in the house, that she told her
husband where he was and begged to have him given up. This the Frenchman
at first refused to do; but he finally led the Indians again to the
attic.

Henry stood up, expecting to die.

The Indians were all partially drunk and had satisfied themselves with
slaughter. One of them seized Henry by the collar and lifted a knife to
plunge into his breast. White man and red man looked intently at each
other, and the savage, perhaps moved by the fearless despair in the
young Englishman's eyes, concluded to take him prisoner. Henry began
to think he could not be killed.

He found that the captain and lieutenant of Michilimackinac were also
alive and prisoners like himself. The missionary priest was doing all
he could to restrain his maddened flock. At a council held between
Chippewas and Ottawas, Henry was bought with presents by a Chippewa
chief named Wawatam, who loved him, and who had been absent the day of
the attack Wawatam put Henry in his canoe, carried him across the strait
to Michilimackinac Island, and hid him in a cave, which is now called
Skull Rock by the islanders, because Henry found ancient skulls and bones
in the bottom of it. As the island was held sacred by the Indians, this
was probably one of their old sepulchres. Its dome top is smothered in a
tangle of evergreens and brush. There is a low, triangular entrance, and
the hollow inside is shaped like an elbow. More than one island boy has
since crept back to the dark bend where Henry lay hidden on the skulls,
but only a drift of damp leaves can be found there now.

The whole story of Alexander Henry's adventures, before he escaped and
returned safely to Canada, is a wonderful chapter in western history.

The Indians were not guilty of all the cruelties practiced in this war.
Bounties were offered for savage scalps. One renegade Englishman, named
David Owen, came back from adoption and marriage into a tribe, bringing
the scalps of his squaw wife and her friends.

Through the entire summer Pontiac was successful in everything except
the taking of Detroit. He besieged it from May until October. With
autumn his hopes began to dwindle. He had asked the French to help him,
and refused to believe that their king had made a treaty at Paris,
giving up to the English all French claims in the New World east of
the Mississippi. His cause was lost. He could band unstable warriors
together for a common good, but he could not control politics in Europe,
nor defend a people given up by their sovereign, against the solidly
advancing English race.

[Illustration: North America at Close of French Wars, 1763.]

But he was unwilling to own himself defeated while the French flag waved
over a foot of American ground. This clever Indian, needing supplies to
carry on his war, used civilized methods to get them on credit. He gave
promissory notes written on birch bark, signed with his own totem, or
tribe-mark--a picture of the otter. These notes were faithfully paid.

When he saw his struggle becoming hopeless eastward, he drew off to the
Illinois settlements to fight back the English from taking possession of
Fort Chartres, the last French post. They might come up the Mississippi
from New Orleans, or they might come down the Ohio. The Iroquois had
always called the Mississippi the Ohio, considering that river which
rose near their own country the great river, and the northern branch
merely a tributary.

Pontiac ordered the Illinois Indians to take up arms and stand by him.

"Hesitate not," he said, "or I will destroy you as fire does the prairie
grass! These are the words of Pontiac."

They obeyed him. He sent more messengers down as far as New Orleans,
keeping the tribes stirred against the English. He camped with his
forces around Fort Chartres, cherishing it and urging the last French
commandant, St. Ange de Bellerive, to take up arms with him, until that
poor captain, tormented by the savage mob, and only holding the place
until its English owners received it, was ready to march out with his
few soldiers and abandon it.

It is told that while Pontiac was leading his forlorn hope, he made his
conquerors ridiculous. Major Loftus with a detachment of troops came up
the Mississippi to take possession according to treaty. Pontiac turned
him back. Captain Pittman came up the river. Pontiac turned him back.
Captain Morris started from Detroit, and Pontiac squatted defiantly in
his way. Lieutenant Frazer descended the Ohio. Pontiac caught him and
shipped him to New Orleans by canoe. Captain Croghan was also stopped
near Detroit. Both French and Spanish people roared with laughter at
the many failures of the coming race to seize what had so easily been
obtained by treaty.

Two years and a half passed between Pontiac's attack on Detroit and
the formal surrender of Fort Chartres. The great war chief's heart, with
a gradual breaking, finally yielded before the steadily advancing and
all-conquering people that were to dominate this continent.

The second day of winter, late in the afternoon, Pontiac went into
the fort unattended by any warrior, and without a word sat down near
St. Ange de Bellerive in the officers' quarters. Both veteran soldier
and old chief knew that Major Farmar, with a large body of troops,
was almost in sight of Fort Chartres, coming from New Orleans. Perhaps
before the low winter sun was out of sight, cannon mounted on one of
the bastions would have to salute the new commandant. Sentinels on
the mound of Fort Chartres could see a frosty valley, reaching to the
Mississippi, glinting in the distance. That alluvial stretch was, in
the course of years, to be eaten away by the river even to the bastions.
The fort itself, built at such expense, would soon be abandoned by
its conquerors, to sink, piecemeal, a noble and massive ruin. The
dome-shaped powder house and stone quarters would be put to ignoble
uses, and forest trees, spreading the spice of walnut fragrance, or the
dense shadow of oaks, would grow through the very room where St. Ange
and Pontiac sat. Indians, passing by, would camp in the old place,
forgetting how the last hope of their race had clung to it.

The Frenchman partly foresaw these changes, and it was a bitter hour to
him. He wanted to have it over and to cross the Mississippi, to a town
recently founded northward on the west shore, where many French settlers
had collected, called St. Louis. This was then considered Spanish
ground. But if the French king deserted his American colonies, why
should not his American colonists desert him?

"Father," spoke out Pontiac, with the usual Indian term of respect,
"I have always loved the French. We have often smoked the calumet
together, and we have fought battles together against misguided Indians
and the English dogs."

St. Ange de Bellerive looked at the dejected chief and thought of Le
Moyne de Bienville, now an old man living in France, who was said to
have wept and implored King Louis on his knees not to give up to the
English that rich western domain which Marquette and Jolliet and La
Salle and Tonty and many another Frenchman had suffered to gain, and
to secure which he himself had given his best years.

"The chief must now bury the hatchet," he answered quietly.

"I have buried it," said Pontiac. "I shall lift it no more."

"The English are willing to make peace with him, if he recalls all his
wampum belts of war."

Pontiac grinned. "The belts are more than one man can carry."

"Where does the chief intend to go when he leaves this post?"

Pontiac lifted his hand and pointed east, west, north, south.
He would have no settled abode. It was a sign that he relinquished the
inheritance of his fathers to an invader he hated. His race could not
live under the civilization of the Anglo-Saxon. He would have struck
out to the remotest wilderness, had he foreseen to what a burial place
his continual clinging to the French would bring him. For Pontiac was
assassinated by an Illinois Indian, whom an English trader had bribed,
and his body lies somewhere to-day under the pavements of St. Louis,
English-speaking men treading constantly over him. But if the dead
chief's ears could hear, he would catch also the sound of the beloved
French tongue lingering there.

A cannon thundered from one of the bastions. St. Ange stood up, and
Pontiac stood up with him.

"The English are in sight," said St. Ange de Bellerive. "That salute is
the signal for the flag of France to be lowered on Fort Chartres."

       *       *       *       *       *



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INTRODUCTION TO AMERICAN HISTORY

EUROPEAN BEGINNINGS

By Alice M. Atkinson

12mo, cloth, xvi + 303 Pages, illustrated, 75 cents.


This volume has been prepared to meet the need of the sixth grade
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FROM TRAIL TO RAILWAY THROUGH THE APPALACHIANS

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12mo, cloth, 188 pages, with maps and illustrations, 50 cents.


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  Collins: History of Vermont                             .80

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  Faris: Real Stories from Our History                    .60

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