René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle

A Trip toward Mexico.

Though La Salle was now more than four hundred miles west of the Mississippi River, he was still under the impression that he was east of that point. He therefore, in his blind search, directed his steps toward the setting sun. Father Douay, who accompanied this expedition, has given a detailed account of its adventures.

After religious ceremonies in the chapel of the fort, the party, consisting of twenty persons, set out, on the 22d of April, 1686. They took, for the journey, four pounds of powder, four pounds of lead, two axes, two dozen knives, two kettles, and a few awls and beads.

On the third day out they entered one of the most beautiful prairies they had ever seen. To their astonishment they saw, on the plain, a large number of people, some on foot and some on horseback. Several of these came galloping toward them, booted and spurred, and seated on saddles. They were Indians who were in a high state of civilization, having long held intimate relations with the Spaniards. They gave the Frenchmen an earnest invitation to visit them, in their village, which was about twenty miles distant. But as this would take them quite out of their course, the invitation was declined. Continuing their tour, they encamped at night, being careful to throw up around them entrenchments which would protect them from attack. The next two days they continued their journey over the prairie, until they reached a river, which La Salle named Robek. The amount of wild cattle seen was prodigious. Many of the herds numbered thousands. In a few moments they shot ten. The meat they cut into very thin slices, and dried in the blazing sun, over the smoke of a smouldering fire. Thus they were provided with nutritious food for four or five days.

Crossing the Robek in a hastily constructed raft, after marching about five miles they came to another very beautiful river, wider and deeper than the Seine at Paris. It was skirted by a magnificent forest, with no underbrush, presenting a park such as the hand of man never planted. In this Eden-like grove there were many trees laden with rich fruit.

This river, which La Salle named La Maligne, they also crossed upon a raft. Passing through the forest beyond, they entered upon another extensive prairie. Continuing their tour through a country which they describe as full of enchantments, with blooming plains skirted with vines, fruit trees, and groves, they came to a river which they called Hiens, from one of their party, a German, who, in endeavoring to ford it, got stuck fast in the mud. Two men swam across with axes on their backs. They then cut down the largest trees, on each side, so that their branches met in the middle. By this bridge the party crossed. More than thirty times, during this trip, they resorted to this measure for crossing streams.

"After several days' march," writes Father Douay, "in a pretty fine country, we entered a delightful territory, where we found a numerous tribe, who received us with all possible friendship; even the women coming to embrace our men. They made us sit down on well-made mats, at the upper end of the wigwam, near the chiefs, who presented us with the calumet, adorned with feathers of every hue, which we had to smoke in turn."

The Indians feasted them abundantly, with the best of their fare, and presented them with some excellently tanned buffalo skins, for moccasins. La Salle gave them, in return, some beads, with which they seemed to be greatly delighted. Father Douay writes:

"During our stay, Chevalier La Salle so won them by his manners, and insinuated so much of the glory of our king, telling them that he was greater and higher than the sun, that they were all ravished with astonishment."

Continuing their journey, they crossed several rivers, until they came to a large Indian village of three hundred cabins. Just as they were approaching the village they came upon a herd of deer and shot one. The Indians, who heard the report and saw the deer fall dead, were terror-stricken. In a mass they fled to the neighboring forest. La Salle, to avoid surprise, entered the village in military array.

Entering the largest cabin, which proved to be that of the chief, they found a very aged woman, the wife of the chief, who, from her infirmities, was unable to fly. La Salle treated the terrified woman with the greatest kindness, and by signs assured her that he intended no harm. Three grown-up sons of the chief, who were watching the progress of events with great solicitude, seeing no indication of hostile measures, cautiously returned. La Salle met there with friendly signs, and accepted the presented calumet. The young chiefs then called to their people in the distance, and all returned. The evening was passed in feasting, dancing, and all kinds of semi-barbarian festivities.

Still La Salle did not venture to sleep in the wigwams, where his party would be entirely in the power of those who might prove treacherous. He returned to encamp in a dense cane-brake, where no foe could approach without giving warning. In the night, some thought they heard approaching footsteps. But La Salle made it manifest that they were all on the alert, and the foe, if there were any foe approaching, drew off.

The alarm was doubtless groundless. The next morning there was a repetition of all the tokens of friendship which were manifested the evening before. Continuing their route about thirty miles, they came to another Indian village. The savages seemed to have no suspicions whatever of the strangers. A party, seeing them approaching in the distance, came out to meet them as if they were old friends. They seemed to be quite gentlemanly men in their courteous and polished demeanor. They gave the strangers an earnest invitation to visit their village.

These Indians had heard of the Spaniards, and of the atrocities of which they were guilty farther west. They were quite overjoyed when told that the French were at war with the Spaniards; and were quite eager to raise an army and march with the French to attack them. La Salle entered into a cordial alliance with these Indians, who were called the Kironas. He promised that he would eventually, if it were in his power, return with more numerous troops.

It would appear that La Salle was now convinced that he would not find the Mississippi by journeying further west; for he turned his steps toward the northeast. There was a large river near the village, across which the hospitable Indians paddled them in their boats. As they were crossing a beautiful prairie, their Indian companion, whose name was Nika, called out suddenly, "I am dead! I am dead."

A venomous snake had bitten him, and the limb began instantly to throb and swell. In rude surgery, they, with their pocket-knives, cut out the flesh around. Deep gashes were cut near the wound hoping that the poison would be carried away in the free flowing of the blood. They applied poultices of herbs, which they had been told were available in such cases. After much suffering, which the Indian bore with wonderful stoicism, he recovered from the perilous wound.

Journeying on, day after day, they at length reached a broad river, whose current was so rapid that they saw, at once, that it would be very difficult to effect a passage. This was probably the Colorado, many miles above the point where they had touched it in one of their previous excursions. They made a raft. Most of the company were afraid to attempt to cross upon it. La Salle, with his brother Cavalier and one or two others, got on. As soon as they pushed out from the shore, into the middle of the stream, the swiftly rushing torrent seized them, whirled the raft around, and swept it down the stream with resistless velocity. In a few moments it disappeared, as the foaming flood bore it around a bend in the stream.

"It was a moment," writes Father Douay, "of extreme anguish for us all. We despaired of ever again seeing our guardian angel the Chevalier de la Salle." Several hours passed away. The men left upon the bank were in utter bewilderment. They knew not what to do. "The day was spent," it is written, "in tears and weeping."

Just before nightfall, to their great joy, they saw La Salle and his party on the opposite side of the river. It subsequently appeared that the raft struck a large tree, which had been torn from the banks, and was almost stationary in the middle of the stream; its roots, heavy with earth and stone, dragging on the bottom. By seizing the branches they dragged themselves out of the current, and by grasping the branches of other trees, overhanging the water, they at length, through a thousand perils, succeeded in gaining the eastern bank, several miles below the point where they had constructed the raft. One of the men was swept from the raft and swam ashore.

The party was now divided, with the foaming and apparently impassable torrent rushing between them. On both sides the night was spent in great anxiety. Many were the plans suggested and abandoned, to form a reunion. In the morning, La Salle shouted to them across the river, that they must build two light rafts, of the very buoyant canes, and cross on them, promising them that he would send several strong swimmers into the river to aid them.

One such raft was constructed. With fear and trembling five men ventured upon it. The raft was so light that it barely supported its burden. With long poles they succeeded in reaching the centre of the stream. Then two men from the opposite side swam out, and by their aid, with vigorous paddling, they safely reached the land, after drifting far down the stream.

The most timid ones were left behind. They dared not venture the passage. La Salle, seeing their hesitation, ordered his men to pack up and continue their march, leaving them behind. The greater peril overcame the less. To be abandoned there they deemed sure destruction. They shouted across the river, begging for delay. Inspired by the energies of almost despair, they vigorously built their raft, and by noon all were happily reassembled to press on their way.

For two days they moved slowly and laboriously along, cutting their way, with the two axes, through an immense forest of cane-brakes. On the third day an incident occurred which peculiarly illustrates the sagacity and endurance of the Indians. Their Indian hunter, Nika, who, as we have said, accompanied La Salle from Canada, left the party the day before they reached the river, in search of game. They had heard nothing from him since. It was in vain to search for him, and the party could not delay its march to wait for his return.

On the evening of the fourth day after his absence, as the men were gathered around the camp fire, little expecting to see Nika again, he came quietly into the camp as composed as if nothing unusual had occurred. He had on his shoulders a large amount of the choicest cuts of venison, which he had dried in the sun, and nearly the whole of a deer which he had just killed. He had probably swum the stream, floating the venison across on a log by his side. And all this he had done, notwithstanding his wound from the bite of a snake and all the cruel surgery he had undergone. La Salle was so overjoyed to see again his faithful attendant and friend, that he ordered several guns to be fired in salute of his safe return.

"Still marching east," writes Father Douay, "we entered countries more beautiful than any we yet had passed. Here we found native tribes who had nothing barbarous about them but the name. Among others we met a very honest Indian returning from the chase with his wife and family. He presented Chevalier de la Salle with one of his horses, and some meat. He also invited all our party to his cabin. To induce us to visit him, he left his wife, children, and game with us as pledges, and galloped off to his village to announce our coming and to secure for us a cordial welcome."

Nika, and another of the attendants of La Salle, accompanied him. The village was at some distance, so that two days passed before their return. The hospitable Indian came back with two horses laden with provisions. Several chiefs and warriors came back with him on horseback. They were all neatly and even beautifully dressed, in softly tanned deer-skins, tastefully fringed, and with head-dresses of waving plumes. In picturesque beauty their attire would favorably compare with the court dresses of most of the European monarchies.

The principal chief rode forward, bearing conspicuously the plumed calumet of peace. La Salle had been slowly advancing, and the two parties met about nine miles from the village. After cordial greetings, the united band continued its march. When but a short distance from the cluster of native dwellings, an immense concourse of people was seen flocking out to meet the strangers. The young men were quite imposingly marshalled in military array. But the reception was so cordial, and the indications of sincerity so unquestionable, that no one entertained the slightest apprehension of treachery.

La Salle and his party remained three days, enjoying the good cheer of this truly hospitable people. This very prudent commander encamped three or four miles outside of the village. He had no fear of the natives, but he had not full confidence in his own men. Any impropriety of the members of his party toward the females of the village, might suddenly turn their friendly relations into bitter hostility. There were apparently many pleasant families. The young maidens were generally of pleasing features, and graceful as sylphs in form. La Salle purchased several horses, which proved to be of inestimable value to him.

The region which the explorers had reached was probably not far from Austin County, in the present State of Texas. It was a more highly civilized and more densely inhabited country than any they had hitherto passed through, in any portion of the continent. For a distance of sixty miles they found a continuous series of villages, but a few miles apart, all prosperous, harmonious, and happy.

Their cabins were large and commodious, frequently forty or fifty feet high, with dome-like roofs, in the shape of the old-fashioned bee-hives. They were made by planting very tall saplings in the ground, in the form of a circle. Their tops were bent down and bound together. This whole framework was very neatly and effectually thatched with the long grass of the prairie. The beds, consisting of soft mats, were ranged around the cabin, raised about three feet from the ground. The fire, seldom needed except for cooking, in that warm latitude, was in the middle. Each cabin usually accommodated two families.

These Indians were called the Coenis nation. It was very evident that they had held some intercourse with the Spaniards. La Salle found among them silver coins, silver spoons, and various kinds of European clothes. Horses were abundant. A horse was readily exchanged for an axe. La Salle could only converse with them by signs. They said no Spaniards had ever yet visited them, though there was a settlement of them at the distance of about six days' journey west. Several of their most intelligent men drew a map of the country upon some bark. They delineated a large river many days journey to the east, which La Salle had no doubt was the Mississippi.

"The Chevalier La Salle," writes Father Douay, "who perfectly understood the art of gaining the Indians of all nations, filled these with admiration at every moment. He told them that the chief of the French was the greatest chief in the world; that he was as far above the Spaniards as the sun is above the earth. On his recounting the victories of our monarch they burst into exclamations of astonishment. I found them very docile and tractable. They comprehended well enough what we told them of the truth of a God."

After the refreshment of this delightful visit, the explorers continued their journey. After travelling about thirty miles, four of the men, during a night's encampment, deserted and went back to cast in their lot for life with the Indians. They were houseless and homeless adventurers, with no ties to bind them to the cares, toils, and restraints of civilized life. It is not surprising that they should have been charmed with the ease, abundance, and freedom of life in the wigwam. They probably became incorporated in the tribes, took Indian wives, and were heard of no more.

At this encampment La Salle and his nephew, M. Moranget, were both attacked with a violent fever. They had frequent relapses, so that two weary months passed before the march could be resumed. During this long delay they did not suffer for food, for there was abundance of game, and of great variety. Their powder, however, began to fail them. According to their estimate, they were about four hundred and fifty miles, in a straight line, from their settlement. It was resolved now to hasten back. Their horses, which found abundant pasturage on the rich prairies, did them good service, bearing the sick upon their backs and the burdens of all.

They came to a river which it was necessary to cross by a raft. Indeed every few leagues they encountered such a stream. They generally swam their horses over. In this case, La Salle, with one or two of his men, was upon a light raft of canes. Suddenly an enormous crocodile, twenty feet in length, raised his head out of the water, and with one snap of his horrid jaws grasped one of the men by the waist and drew him under. As the monster sank, there was one short, wild shriek from the victim, a slight crimson tinge of the waves, and a small circling whirlpool marking the spot where the huge beast had gone down. Thus, in an instant, as by the lightning's flash, another of the terrible tragedies of this tragic world had come and gone.

On the 17th of October this wearied and diminished party reached the camp, after an absence of six months. Of the twenty who left, but eight returned. The meeting was one of joy and of sadness. Both parties had narratives to give of disaster; and gloom impenetrable still hung over the feeble colony, so rapidly wasting away. In commenting upon this enterprise, Father Douay writes:

"It would be difficult to find in history, courage more intrepid or more invincible than that of the Chevalier de la Salle. In adversity he was never cast down. He always hoped, with the help of heaven, to succeed in his enterprises, despite all the obstacles that rose against it."

The Great Enterprise Accomplished.

For several days La Salle and his party remained with their hospitable friends the Arkansas Indians. On the 14th of March, 1682, La Salle took possession of the country in the name of the king of France. He invested the ceremony with all the pomp he could command. An immense cross was raised in the centre of the village; and the Christian's God was recognized with anthems, prayers and imposing religious rites. Thousands of savages gathered around, gazing with delight upon the scene so novel to them. They had no conception of its significance. They supposed it a festival got up for their entertainment, as they would got up a war-dance to please their guests. As the cross was raised, Father Membré made some attempt to teach them the significance of this emblem of the way of salvation through faith in an atoning Saviour. He writes:

"During this time they showed that they relished what I said by raising their eyes to heaven, and kneeling as if to adore. We also saw them rubbing their hands over their bodies, after rubbing them over the cross. In fine, on our return from the sea, we found that they had surrounded the cross with a palisade."

On the 17th of the month, the explorers reëmbarked, and continued their voyage down the river about eighteen miles, when they came to two other villages of the Arkansas tribe. Here they were again received with the utmost hospitality. Continuing their sunny voyage beneath cloudless skies and upon a glassy stream for four days, they came to quite a large lake formed by an expansion of the river. This sheet of water seemed to be fringed with villages. There were forty on the east side of the lake, and thirty-four on the west side, upon its banks. All were picturesquely situated and, in the distance, presented an aspect of much beauty.

The houses were well built, of clay mixed with straw baked in the sun. The roofs were constructed of canes quite gracefully bent in the form of a dome. Their beds or mats were raised on wooden bedsteads, and they had many convenient articles of household furniture. The bark of a tree furnished very fine white fibres, which they braided into blankets and other articles of dress. The head chief was an absolute sovereign, having the property and the lives of his subjects entirely at his disposal. A retinue of slaves attended him. He was luxuriously clothed, fed, and housed.

The village of the chief was at a little distance from the banks of the lake. La Salle was quite sick, and unable to go up to the palace to pay his respects to the monarch. He encamped upon the borders of the expanded stream, and beneath the shade of his roof sought repose upon his mat. He, however, sent Lieutenant Tonti and Father Membré with presents to the chief. In return, several men were sent to La Salle, munificently laden with provisions and other gifts. Soon after, the king himself appeared in regal state. First came a master of ceremonies, with six pioneers, to remove every obstruction from the way, and to make the path level for the feet of royalty. They selected a spot upon which the monarch was to give audience to his guests. The ground was carefully smoothed, and carpeted with beautiful mats.

The monarch soon made his appearance. He was richly dressed in white robes. Two officers preceded him, bearing plumes of gorgeously colored feathers. He was followed by another official, bearing two large plates of copper, highly polished. The king had the bearing of a gentleman. He was grave, dignified, and courteous. Having ever been accustomed to absolute command, he had that peculiar air of self-possession and authority which seems to be the inheritance of those who can boast a long line of illustrious ancestry.

It was the 22d day of March, 1682. The scene presented was in the highest degree picturesque and beautiful. The widely expanded lake glittered in the sunlight as placid as a mirror. The villages of the Indians, clustered so thickly along the shores, were composed of substantial dwellings, whose roofs of curved canes, thatched with thick mats, were rounded into graceful domes. The barbarian splendor assumed by the monarch, the group of French adventurers, with their Indian companions, gathered near by, the thousands of the Taensa tribe, men, women, and children, standing at a respectful distance, silently gazing upon the scene, the little fleet of canoes upon the beach, and the encampment hastily thrown up—these combined to open to the eye a picture of peace and loveliness, which the pencil of the most skilful artist might in vain attempt to rival.

It did indeed seem then and there, as though God had intended this for a happy world—for a world where his children might live together in paternal love, and with the interchange of the kindliest sympathies. Though in the early spring, the foliage beneath those sunny skies was in full leaf, and the flowers in full bloom.

"The whole country," writes Father Membré, "is covered with palm trees, laurels of two kinds, plums, peaches, mulberry, apple, and pear trees of every variety. There are also five or six kinds of nut trees, some of which bear nuts of extraordinary size. They also gave us several kinds of dried fruit to taste. We found them large and good. They have also many varieties of fruit trees which I never saw in Europe. The season was however too early to allow us to see the fruit. We observed vines already out of blossom."

The interview between the monarch and La Salle passed off very pleasantly. It was conducted mainly by signs. Smiles and presents were interchanged. For four days the voyagers remained the guests of these friendly people. They rambled through their villages, entered their dwellings, and were abundantly feasted. The natives seemed very amiable, quite intelligent, and were far in advance, in civilization, of the nations or tribes farther north. Father Membré was much pleased with their candor, and with the clearness with which he thought they comprehended his instructions. They readily accepted his teaching of God; and apparently comprehended, without any difficulty, the plan of salvation through an atoning Saviour.

In truth, this doctrine is apparently the most simple and the most powerful which can be presented to the savage. All over the world, the necessity of an atonement for sin seems to be implanted in the human breast. And when the missionary teaches the savage that God, our Heavenly Father, in the person of His Son has borne our sins in His own body on the tree, the most ignorant can comprehend it, and the most wicked can be moved by it.

On the 26th of March, La Salle and his companions, greatly refreshed by their delightful visit, resumed their voyage down the river. They descended very rapidly, by the aid of the current and the paddle. Having sailed about forty miles, they saw in the distance below them, a large wooden boat containing a number of Indians. The savages seemed alarmed as they caught sight of the fleet of canoes coming down so rapidly upon them. They plied their paddles with all diligence, and run into the eastern shore.

La Salle, with his usual caution, landed upon the opposite bank. The two parties gazed at each other across the rolling flood, a mile in width. La Salle sent Lieutenant Tonti, in a canoe with several Indians, to carry to the boatmen the calumet of peace. While the Indians plied their paddles, he stood up in the canoe, waving toward the boatmen the plumed badge of fraternity. As Lieutenant Tonti was crossing the river, a large number of Indians were seen running in, from various directions, and crowding the banks. When within arrow-shot of the shore, he stopped, still presenting the calumet, which all the tribes seemed to recognize and respect.

All suspicion was allayed. The savages, unapprehensive of any treachery, crowded their periagua, and the boat and the canoe, with the inmates on terms of the kindest fellowship, passed over to the French on the western bank. The two parties blended as brothers. The Indians were fishermen of the Natches tribe. They had a large village about nine miles inland, east of the river. Without any hesitancy La Salle, Father Membré, and a few others, accepted an invitation to accompany them to their village.

There are some men so frank, genial, kind-hearted that they win affection at sight. La Salle was such a man. With no special effort to make friends, his nature was such that the savage and the civilized man alike were immediately won by the fascination of his presence. Father Membré gives frequent testimony to these peculiar attractions of the chivalric pioneer. On this occasion he writes:

"We slept in the wigwams of these savages. They gave us as kindly a welcome as we could desire. The Chevalier La Salle, whose very air, engaging manners, and captivating mind, everywhere commanded respect and love, so impressed the hearts of these Indians that they did not know how to treat us well enough. They would gladly have kept us with them permanently."

For three days La Salle and his companions enjoyed the hospitality of these friendly natives. About thirty miles below the Natches Indians, there was another powerful tribe called the Koroas. They were friends and allies of the Natches. A courier was despatched to inform the chief of the Koroas of the arrival of the distinguished strangers, and to invite him to come and share in giving them a suitable welcome. He hastened to Natches with an imposing retinue of his head men. They also paid prompt homage to the dignity and the attractions of La Salle.

Again a cross was erected, while admiring multitudes gazed admiringly upon the religious and civil pomp with which the ceremony was invested. A plate was attached to the cross, upon which was engraved the arms of Louis XIV. The Indians were delighted with the show, and with the memorial thus left of the visit; though they could not comprehend the significance of the rite as taking possession of their country in the name of the King of France.

La Salle and his companions returned to their canoes. The Chickasaw Indian who had accompanied them from their encampment near the mouth of the Ohio, and which they had named Camp Prudhomme, from the man who had been lost and found there, remained at the village of the Natches Indians. The journey of a few days would take him to his own tribe.

The chief of the Koroas, having invited La Salle to visit his village, embarked with his suite, in their wooden boats, and descended the river in company with the French in their birch canoes. A sail of about four hours swept them down to the village, which was called Akoroa. It was beautifully situated on an eminence, commanding a view of a wide-spread and exceedingly fertile prairie, with large fields of corn, whose spear-like leaves were already waving in the gentle breeze.

The Indians were fond of ceremony. They held a council, presented the calumet, smoked the pipe of fraternity, made speeches which were but poorly understood, and exchanged presents. After a short tarry, the voyage was again resumed. The chief furnished them with a pilot, telling them that it would still require a voyage of ten days to reach the sea, and that the river broke into several channels or independent streams as it approached the Gulf. As the Indians considered thirty or forty miles a good day's voyage in descending the river, it was estimated that there was a journey of between three and four hundred miles still before them. They were also informed that there were numerous tribes upon the lower river, but that they were generally well-disposed.

On the 2d of April, when the canoes had descended the river about eighteen miles below Akoroa, the river branched into two arms or channels, with an island between, which they estimated to be one hundred and eighty miles in length. They had been directed to take the channel on the left. But it so chanced that there was a heavy river fog, and they did not see it. La Salle's canoe was in the advance, and the canoe which held the guide happened to be far in the rear. Though the keen eyes of the Indian pierced the fog, and he did all in his power by signs to show them that they were wrong, the whole fleet followed its leader, and were swept along in the channel on the right.

The reason why they were cautioned to take the left branch, was that the eight or ten tribes on the western banks were friendly, and would make them no trouble, while those upon the eastern branch were ferocious, and would be likely to attack them. They soon experienced the wisdom of the advice which had been given them.

On the 2d of April, when they had descended the river about one hundred and twenty miles, they saw a number of Indians on the bank of the river, fishing. The moment the savages caught sight of the fleet of canoes they fled. Immediately the forest seemed filled with the clamor of hideous war-whoops the beating of drums, and all other sounds of hostility. The branch of the river which they were descending, was here compressed into a narrow channel. A dense forest fringed both banks. It was evident that there were populous villages near by, for the warriors were seen rapidly gathering, as they ran from tree to tree to get good positions to overwhelm the canoes with their arrows.

The bows were very strong. The muscular arms of the Indians would throw an arrow with almost the velocity and precision of a rifle bullet. These barbed weapons would tear their way through the birch bark of the canoes as if they were but sheets of brown paper. With appalling suddenness this cloud of war was marshalling its forces. It was sufficiently menacing to alarm the bravest heart.

La Salle ordered all the boats to stop. He then sent one canoe forward, with four Frenchmen, to present the calumet of peace. They received orders not to fire upon the savages under any emergence. As soon as the canoe came within arrow-shot, the savages, regardless of the calumet, let fly a shower of arrows upon them. Fortunately, they nearly all fell a little short, and no one was hit. With the utmost precipitation, the Frenchmen paddled back to their companions. La Salle then sent another canoe, with four Indians, bearing the calumet. They advanced with great caution, and met with the same hostile reception.

He then directed the canoes to press as near the opposite bank as possible, to ply their paddles with all energy, and thus hurry by the point of peril. Humanely he ordered not a gun to be fired. He had no wish to engage in a battle in which nothing was to be gained. Very easily his sharp-shooters could cause many of those savage warriors to bite the dust, and thus lamentation and woe would be sent to many of those wigwams. But this would do no good. It would not subdue the savages; it would only exasperate them. He also remembered that he was to return, and that if the savages had received no harm at his hands, their spirit of revenge would not be aroused, and it would be much less difficult to establish friendly relations with them.

Though the savages yelled, and ran franticly along the shore, and threw their arrows with their utmost strength, the canoes, swept along by the rapid current, and the sinewy strength of the paddles, all passed in safety. The kind-hearted La Salle must have congratulated himself that none were left behind to mourn. He afterwards learned that this inhospitable tribe was called the Quinnipissa.

They had paddled down the stream but about six miles, when they came to other and still more deplorable evidences of man's inhumanity to man. They found upon the banks the smouldering remains of a large village, which had recently been sacked and burned. It was evident that the inhabitants had been given up to indiscriminate massacre, with the exception of those who had been carried away into slavery, or to add to the revelry of a gala day, in the endurance of demoniac torture. The ground was covered with the bodies of men, women, and children, in all the loathsome stages of decay. Sadly the voyagers rambled through these awful scenes for an hour, meeting with no living being, and then hurried on their way. This village, it was subsequently ascertained, was called Tangibao.

Still they continued descending the river four days longer, without meeting any incident of importance. Their day's sail averaged about thirty miles. It was always necessary to land for the night's encampment. They had made, as they estimated, about one hundred and twenty miles from Quinnipissa when they came to the delta of the Mississippi. Here the majestic river divided into four branches. At this point they landed, and encamped in the midst of a dense and almost tropical forest, upon the bank, but slightly elevated above the surface of the water.

In the morning La Salle divided his fleet into three bands, one to descend each of these three branches. He took the one on the extreme right, or the western branch. Lieutenant Tonti, with Father Membré, took the middle. The eastern branch, on the left, was assigned to Mr. Dautray. Upon reaching the sea, the canoes on the right and left were to turn toward the centre until they should meet the party of Lieutenant Tonti, whose route to the sea, it was supposed, would be a little shorter than that of either of the other two.

They all found the water deep and brackish, and the current very slow. After sailing a few miles they tasted the salt of the ocean. Soon their eyes were gladdened with the sight of the open sea. It was mild, serene, beautiful summer weather. The region, as far as the eye could reach, was low and marshy, with no landmarks. The fleets were, however, all reunited in safety. La Salle having heard the report respecting the middle and eastern channels, decided to return to the western, by which he had descended.

They then ascended this branch before they could find any dry and solid ground, suitable to afford a permanent foundation for the cross of Christ and the arms of France. On the ninth of April, they were all assembled on a ridge slightly elevated, for the celebration of this all-important ceremony. First, they raised a massive column, at the foot of which they buried a leaden plate, bearing an inscription in Latin, to the following purport:

"Louis the Great Reigns. Robert, Cavalier, with Lord Tonti, Ambassador, Zenobia Membré, Ecclesiastic, and twenty Frenchmen, first navigated this river from the country of the Illinois, and passed through this mouth on the ninth of April, sixteen hundred and eighty-two."

The names of all the Frenchmen of the party were attached to this plate. La Salle then made a speech, which was carefully worded, and seems to have been recorded at that time. It was in substance as follows:

"In the name of Louis the Great, and in virtue of the commission I hold in my hand, I take possession of this country of Louisiana, its seas, harbors, ports, bays, and adjacent straits; and also of all the nations, people, provinces, cities, towns, villages, mines, minerals, fisheries, streams, and rivers, comprised in the extent of the said Louisiana, from the mouth of the great river called the Ohio, and this with the consent of the people dwelling therein, with whom we have made alliance; and also of the rivers which discharge themselves therein, from the sources of the Mississippi to its mouth in the sea; upon the assurance of all these nations that we are the first Europeans who have descended or ascended the said Mississippi. I hereby protest against all those who may in future undertake to invade any of these countries, to the prejudice of the right of his Majesty, acquired by the consent of all the nations herein named. Of this I take to witness all those who hear me, and demand an act of the Notary as required by law."

To this the whole assembly responded with shouts of Vive le Roi and with a salute of fire-arms.

The civic ceremony being thus ended, the transaction was now to be ratified with religious rites. By the side of the column, a massive cross had been erected. The devout La Salle, who was earnestly a religious man, took his position at the foot of the cross, and said:

"His Majesty, Louis the Great, the eldest son of the Church, will annex no country to his crown without making it his chief care to establish the Christian religion therein. Its symbol must now be recognized." Several Christian hymns were then chanted. The sublime strains of the Te Deum resounded through the arches of the forest; and other ceremonies of the Catholic Church were performed with all the pomp which the circumstances would allow.

Thus the great achievement was accomplished. According to the then existing law of nations, the whole valley of the Mississippi was annexed to France. It was indeed a magnificent acquisition. It is estimated that the kingdom of France comprises an extent not quite three hundred thousand square miles. It is judged that the valley of the Mississippi drains a region of one million square miles. Thus the pioneer, La Salle, conferred upon France a territory more than three times as large as the kingdom of France itself.

The Return Voyage.

There was no game to be taken in the vast swamps at the mouth of the river. The provisions of the voyagers were nearly exhausted. They, however, chanced to find an abandoned Indian camp, where there was a small quantity of strips of the flesh of some animal, dried in the sun. As they were eagerly eating it, the Indians who accompanied them informed them that it was human flesh. It is needless to say that they could eat no more; though the savages, who devoured it with much gusto, declared that it was exceedingly delicate and savory.

On the 10th of April, the next day after the ceremony of annexation, they commenced their toilsome ascent of the river on their voyage back. Enormous alligators were often met with, sunning themselves on the sand-bars. The sharp-shooters soon learned where the bullet would strike a vulnerable point. For several days they lived mainly on wild potatoes and the flesh of alligators. The country was so low, and so bordered with almost impenetrable canes, that they could not hunt without making long delays. At length they reached the blackened ruins and the mouldering dead of Tangibao. The desolation remained complete. None had returned.

It was a matter of the utmost importance, apparently of absolute necessity, that they should lay in a store of corn. There was so much uncertainty as to hunting, that they might be many days without food, and thus perish. But a pint of corn, pounded into meal and baked in the ashes, would afford a hungry man a very nutritious dinner. And if so successful as to take some game, this bread gave great additional zest to the repast.

On the thirteenth day, as they were slowly paddling against the stream, they saw, far away in the north, a great smoke, apparently from Indian fires. It was evidently not far from the region where the Quinnipissa Indians had so fiercely attacked them, but a few days before. Much apprehension was felt lest they should again be assailed. The passage against the rapid current was necessarily very slow. The Indians had large wooden boats, which they could fill with warriors, and being above them on the river, could completely cut off their retreat.

La Salle sent one of the canoes forward to reconnoitre. As his Indian boatmen were paddling cautiously along beneath the dense foliage of the banks, they caught sight of four women. Under the perilous circumstances, it was thought best to capture them, if possible, and hold them as hostages for the good behavior of the tribe. This was not doing evil that good might come, for the measure was fully justifiable, in view of the attack which had been made upon them, and as the only means of preventing the effusion of blood.

The men landed, and the swift runners caught the women and took them back to the fleet. It was then learned that the Quinnipissa Indians, a peculiarly warlike and ferocious race, had a large village but a little distance farther up the river. This village it was necessary to pass. There could be no doubt that the savages would fiercely assail them. As they could probably bring many hundred warriors into the conflict, and could make the attack not only from their capacious periaguas, but also from the shelter of the trees on the bank, the situation of the French seemed quite desperate.

La Salle, in this emergence, drew his canoes to the shore, a little below the village, and on the opposite bank. He hoped, by the aid of his captives, to open some communication with the foe. But the Indians had already learned of his approach. Again the hideous clamor of demoniac war was heard, as the noise of their rude drums and savage yells fell upon the ear.

It was early in the afternoon of a day of almost tropical warmth and serenity, when all the voices of nature seemed to invite man to love and help his brother. Soon quite a fleet of massive boats was seen, descending the river, each boat crowded with twenty or thirty warriors, plumed and painted, and armed with bows and arrows, javelins, and clubs. They were yelling like demons, as if expecting by noise to rouse their courage to the highest point.

La Salle himself, with two or three picked companions, pushed out in a canoe, and advanced to meet them. Though one or two guns were in the bottom of the canoe, to be used in case of absolute necessity, they appeared entirely unarmed—a single canoe advancing to meet a fleet. La Salle stood up and waved the calumet, the sacred emblem of peace and friendship. The savages, thirsty for blood, paid no heed to this appeal. They redoubled their yells, and like a band of desperate villains as they were, shot a volley of arrows toward the one canoe with its three or four unarmed occupants. With new vigor the savages plied their paddles, being now sure of the capture of the strangers.

The moment for prompt and decisive action had come. The guns were heavily loaded. One of the boats, larger and more richly ornamented than the rest, contained evidently the head chief. He was a man of herculean frame, dressed in the most gorgeous of barbaric attire. As he stood up in his boat, giving orders, he presented just the target, though at a great distance, to which a sharp-shooter might direct unerring aim. La Salle ordered one of his marksmen to strike him down. After a moment's pause, there was a flash, a slight puff of smoke, a loud report, and the invisible bullet pierced the heart of the chief. The blood gushed forth in a torrent, and the warrior dropped dead in the bottom of the boat.

The warriors were appalled, terrified. Never before had they heard the report of a gun. They knew not what had struck down their chief. No missile had been seen. None could be found. The savages were very superstitious. They thought this must be the work of witchcraft; that they were attacked by evil spirits, whose power was invincible. They had seen the lightning flash, and the rising, vanishing cloud. They had heard the thunder peal. Their chief had been struck dead by some resistless bolt, at twice the distance to which any arrow could be thrown. It was folly to contend against such a foe. The next instant every one might be stricken down. They were seized with a panic. Instantly, heading the bows of their boats up the river, they fled with the utmost precipitation.

La Salle returned to his companions, conscious that he had secured a truce only. He had still the village to pass; and the current was so strong that he must pass very slowly. It was probable that the Indians would so far recover from their consternation, that some of the boldest would again assail his boats, from behind sheltering rocks and trees. The frail canoes might easily be pierced by their missiles, and the inmates thrown into the water. The savages would soon become accustomed to the report of the guns. Finding that rocks and trees protected them from the invisible bolt, they would all be emboldened; and thus a general and prolonged attack, following them up the river, would cause their entire destruction.

The utmost wisdom was still requisite, to rescue the party from these perils. La Salle loaded one of the women with rich presents of axes, knives, and beads, and sent her across the river in one of his canoes. By signs he told her to inform her tribe that he wished for friendship with them; that if they would be friendly, and bring him in a supply of corn, he would liberate his three other captives, and pay liberally for the corn, in articles which would be of great value to the Indians.

The next morning a large number of Indian warriors were seen approaching the encampment, where the Frenchmen had thrown up defences which would enable them to sell their lives dearly, were the savages determined upon their destruction. La Salle, as bold as he was humane, advanced alone to meet them, presenting the calumet. The Indians assumed a friendly attitude, entered into a treaty of peace, and invited La Salle, with his party, to visit their village. They also brought him a considerable store of corn. Though their manner was such as to lead La Salle greatly to doubt their sincerity, he accepted their invitation, first exacting hostages to remain in the camp until his return. He took with him Father Membré, his invariable companion on such occasions. The mild, fearless, heroic missionary writes:

"We went up to the village where these Indians had prepared us a feast in their fashion. They had notified their allies and neighbors; so that when we went to enjoy the banquet, in a large square, we saw a confused mass of armed savages arrive, one after another. We were however welcomed by the chiefs; but, having ground for suspicion, each kept his gun ready, and the Indians, seeing it, durst not attack us."

Toward evening, La Salle and his companion returned to the camp, still apprehensive that the Indians meditated treachery. They released the three women, whom they made very happy, with rich presents. A careful watch was kept through the night. Before the dawn of the next morning the sentinels reported that they heard a noise, as if a multitude of men were stealthily gathering in a dense growth of canes, but a short distance from the encampment. All were instantly summoned to arms.

It was a gloomy morning, very dark, with moaning wind and gathering clouds and falling rain. The men had but just taken their stations, behind the intrenchments which had been so prudently raised, when the shrill war-whoop burst from apparently hundreds of savage lips; and from the impenetrable darkness a shower of arrows came whizzing through the air. They all fell harmless in and around the spot where the men stood, behind their ramparts, with muskets loaded and primed.

Though the savages kept up an incessant yell, and threw their arrows almost at random into the narrow enclosure, they were so concealed by the darkness and the thick cane-brake, that not one was to be seen. The French kept perfect silence. Not a loud word was spoken. Not a musket was fired. It was very important that every bullet should accomplish its mission and lay a warrior dead in his blood. The Indians were to be taught that every flash and peal was the sure precursor of the death or the serious wound of one of their number.

Soon the day began to dawn. With the increasing light the savages were revealed, as they dodged from point to point. There was no random firing of the guns. Deliberate aim was taken. The savages were very cautious in exposing themselves. The Frenchmen were perfectly protected from their arrows by the rampart of logs. For two hours this strange battle raged—twenty Frenchmen against hundreds of savages. Ten Indians were shot dead. Many others were dreadfully wounded with shattered bones. It is probable that every bullet hit its mark. Not an arrow of the savage had drawn blood.

As the sun rose, revealing the deadly fire of the guns and the utter impotence of the missiles of the Indians, the savages were again thrown into a panic, and fled precipitately. La Salle, with nearly all his force, pursued them up to the village, where, with axes, he speedily demolished all their boats, so that they could not pursue, as he should continue his voyage. His men urged him to burn the village of his treacherous foes. But he refused, saying that he would inflict no farther injury upon them than was absolutely necessary in self-defence.

At the close of this day of gloom, battle, and blood, another night came, of darkness and rain. Enveloped in the shades of night, the French reëmbarked. Silently they passed the village. Not a savage "opened his mouth or peeped." The storm passed away. And when the sun of another lovely morning shone down upon them, the voyagers were far beyond the reach of their cruel foes. Father Membré returned thanks to God that He had borne them, unharmed, through such great peril, and had restrained them from the exercise of any unchristian revenge. It was the morning of the 19th of April.

For twelve days they continued breasting the current of the stream, as they laboriously paddled their way upward. Anxious to return to Quebec as soon as possible, with the tidings of their glorious achievement, they made no tarry at the many villages which were scattered along the banks. They often saw assemblages of Indians, who seemed to assume a hostile attitude. No attack was, however, made upon them.

In descending the river they had a good supply of corn, and stored away quite a quantity in a cache. They found it, on their return, in good condition, and it furnished them with a very opportune supply. They were surprised to see how rapidly the corn in the fields matured. Fields were passed on the 29th of March, where the tender blades were just sprouting from the ground. And now, in less than four weeks, the corn was fit to roast. They were told that, in fifty days from planting, it often ripened.

A short tarry was made at the friendly village of the Taensa Indians, where they were again very hospitably entertained. On the 1st of May they resumed their slow and laborious voyage, and reached the Arkansas Indians about the 15th of the month. On the 16th La Salle took two light canoes, propelled by sturdy Indian rowers, and pushed on in advance of the rest of the party. He gave directions for the other canoes to follow as fast as they could. But he was taken dangerously sick on the way.

A birch canoe, in which one is exposed to the rays of the noonday sun, to the chill dews of morning and evening, to drenching showers and dreary days of clouds and rain, presents but few comforts to a man in sickness and suffering. He, however, succeeded, after a toilsome voyage of about ten days, in reaching his old encampment, which he had named Prudhomme, near the mouth of the Ohio River.

Here his malady grew so alarming that he could go no farther. His party landed, drew their canoes up upon the grass of the prairie, repaired their camp, so as to make it an effectual protection from sun and rain, spread mats upon the ground, and made the sick man, who they feared was soon to die, as comfortable as possible.

In such cases a camp was generally built in the form of a shed, with the front entirely open. This camp was on the eastern side of the river, facing the majestic stream and the splendors of the setting sun. La Salle had no physician, no medicine, no tender nursing, no delicate food to tempt a failing appetite. He could only lie patiently upon his mat, and await the progress of the disease, whether it were for life or for death. The silence and solitude of the river, the prairie, and the forest surrounded him.

Strange must have been his reflections in those solemn hours, when he was anticipating the speedy approach of death, upon the banks of that wonderful stream which his enterprise had caused to be explored from its sources to its mouth. As in languor and suffering he reclined upon his couch, all the beauty and bloom of May, in a delightful clime, were spread around him. The silent flood swept by, rushing down a distance of countless leagues in the north, until, after a serpentine course of more than a thousand miles, through the most wonderful scenes of nature, and fringed with the villages of innumerable savage tribes, it was lost in the great Mexican gulf. The Indians moved about in silence, seldom exchanging a word with each other. They brought in game, and were continually cooking and eating at the fire, which was kept in a constant blaze in front of the camp.

Two days and nights were thus passed, when, on the 2d of June, the remaining canoes of the fleet were seen in the distance, approaching the encampment. They soon landed; and the whole party, over fifty in number, presented to the eye a new scene of bustle and activity. La Salle was sinking, in the ever-increasing languor of something like typhoid fever. It was manifest that many days must elapse before he could leave that spot, and it was probable, in his own judgment as well as in that of all his companions, that he would there sink into that last sleep from which there is no earthly waking.

In these trying hours, his serenity and trust in God did not forsake him. He called Lieutenant Tonti to the side of his couch, and directed him to take several canoes, with the larger part of the company, and make his way, as vigorously as possible, up the river three hundred miles to the mouth of the Illinois River. Then, ascending that, and its upper branch, the Kaskaskias, he was to cross by the portage to a tributary of the St. Joseph's, and paddle down those streams to Fort Miami, where the St. Joseph empties into Lake Michigan. Thence by the lake he was to make his way to Mackinac. This required a journey of over a thousand miles. M. Tonti was furnished with documents addressed to Count Frontenac, Governor of Canada, giving a detailed account of the explorations and discoveries which La Salle had so successfully accomplished. Father Membré, with several others of the party, remained with the sick man.

For more than a month the burning fever raged, and La Salle was brought to the verge of the grave. The fever then left him. For some time it was doubtful whether there was sufficient strength remaining for him to recover. Slowly he gained. After a detention of forty days, they placed him carefully upon mats, in the bottom of a canoe, and, by short stages, resumed their voyage. They left Fort Prudhomme, and, following the same track which Tonti had pursued, did not reach Fort Miami, at the mouth of the St. Joseph's River, until the end of September. But July and August were months of delightful weather. The scenery, rich with forest grandeur and prairie flowers, was varied and enchanting. Game was abundant. Ripe fruit hung on many boughs. Hospitable villages were scattered along the way, where the general voyagers were invariably received with kindness truly fraternal.

The motion of the canoe, as the Indians, with brawny arms, paddled over the mirrored surface of the stream, was soothing and grateful to the languid, yet convalescent patient. In the cool of the beautiful mornings they could glide along the stream for a few leagues, then shelter themselves in some shady grove from the rays of the noonday sun, and in the cool of the serene evenings, resume their voyage till the deepening twilight admonished them to seek their night's encampment.

Thus pleasantly journeying, La Salle rapidly regained strength; and when he reached Fort Miami he was restored to almost his customary vigor. He found the habitation called Fort Miami quite renovated by Lieutenant Tonti, and a few men left in garrison to receive him upon his arrival. Quite a cluster of Indian wigwams had also been reared there, giving a very animated and cheerful aspect to the spot. Father Membré, in describing the scenery through which they passed, in this ascent of the Mississippi and the Illinois, writes:

"The banks of the Mississippi, for twenty or thirty leagues from its mouth, are covered with a dense growth of canes, except in fifteen or twenty places where there are very pretty hills and spacious, convenient landing-places. Behind this fringe of marshy land you see the finest country in the world.

"Our hunters, both French and Indian, were delighted with it. For an extent of six hundred miles in length, and as much in breadth, we were told there are vast fields of excellent land, diversified with pleasing hills, lofty woods, groves through which you might ride on horseback, so clear and unobstructed are the paths.

"These little forests also line the rivers which intersect the country in various places, and which abound in fish. The crocodiles are dangerous here; so much so, that, in some places, no one would venture to expose himself, or even to put his hand out of his canoe. The Indians told us that these animals often dragged in their people, where they could anywhere get hold of them.

"The fields are full of all kinds of game, wild cattle, does, deer, stags, bears, turkeys, partridges, parrots, quails, woodcock, wild pigeons, and ringdoves. There are also beaver, otters, and martens. The cattle of this country surpass ours in size. Their head is monstrous, and their look is frightful, on account of the long, black hair with which it is surrounded, and which hangs below the chin. The hair is fine, and scarce inferior to wool. The Indians wear their skins, which they dress very neatly. They assured us that, inland, toward the west, there are animals on which men ride, and which carry very heavy loads. They described them as horses, and showed two feet, which were actually hoofs of horses.

"We observed wood fit for every use. There were the most beautiful cedars in the world. There was one kind of tree which shed an abundance of gum, as pleasant to burn as the best French pastilles. We also saw fine hemlocks, and other large trees with white bark. The cotton-wood trees were very large. Of these, the Indians dug out canoes forty or fifty feet long. Sometimes there were fleets of a hundred and fifty at their villages. We saw every kind of tree fit for ship-building. There is also plenty of hemp for cordage, and tar could be made in abundance.

"Prairies are seen everywhere. Sometimes they are fifty or sixty miles in length on the river front, and many leagues in depth. They are very rich and fertile, without a stone or a tree to obstruct the plough. These prairies are capable of sustaining an immense population. Beans grow wild, and the stalks last several years, bearing fruit. The bean vines are thicker than a man's arm, and run to the top of the highest trees. Peach trees are abundant, and bear fruit equal to the best which can be found in France. They are often so loaded, in the gardens of the Indians, that they have to prop up the branches. There are whole forests of mulberries, whose ripened fruit we began to eat in the month of May. Plums are found in great variety, many of which are not known in Europe. Grapevines and pomegranates are common. Three or four crops of corn can be raised in a year.

"The Indian tribes, though savage, seem generally amiable, affable, and obliging. They have no true idea of religion by a regular worship. Tribes separated by not more than thirty miles, speak a different language. And yet they manage to understand each other. There is always some interpreter of one nation residing in another, when they are allies, and who acts as a kind of consul. They are very different from our Canada Indians, in their houses, dress, manners, inclinations, and customs. They have large public squares, games, assemblies. They seem mirthful and full of vivacity. Their chiefs have absolute authority. No one would dare to pass between the chief and the cane torch which burns in his cabin, and is carried before him when he goes out. All make a circuit around it with some ceremony.

"The chiefs have servants and officers, who follow them and wait upon them everywhere. The chiefs distribute their favors at will. In a word, we generally found them to be men. We saw none who knew the use of fire-arms. They had no iron or steel articles, using only stone knives and hatchets."

This wonderful expedition was accomplished without the loss of a single life, on the part of the voyagers. Not one was even wounded. Father Membré attributes this, next to God's goodness, to the tact and wisdom manifested by La Salle. As to the missionary fruits of this enterprise, the devoted ecclesiastic writes:

"I will say nothing here of conversions. Formerly the apostles had but to enter a country, when on the first publication of the Gospel, conversions were seen. I am but a miserable sinner, infinitely destitute of the merits of the apostles. We must acknowledge that these miraculous ways of grace are not attached to the exercise of our ministry. God employs an ordinary and common way, following which, I contented myself with announcing, as well as I could, the principal truths of Christianity to the nations I met. The Illinois language served me for about three hundred miles down the river. I made the rest understand by gestures, and some term in their dialect which I insensibly picked up. But I cannot say that my feeble efforts produced certain fruits. With regard to these people, perhaps some one, by a secret effect of grace, has profited, God only knows. All we have done has been to see the state of these tribes, and to open the way to the Gospel, and to missionaries."

The Last Days of La Salle.

La Salle was now fully convinced that he was west of the Mississippi River. He resolved to set out on a journey across the country to Canada, a distance of probably not less than two thousand miles. His design was to send tidings to France of his disasters, and thus to secure aid to be sent thence to his suffering and expiring colony.

By pursuing his route toward the northeast, he was sure of eventually striking the Mississippi. He would then feel quite at home. Following up that stream and the Illinois, he could easily pass over to the lakes, and then reach Canada through regions with which he was quite familiar. More than two months were spent in strengthening the defences of the settlement, and in laying in stores of provisions for those who were to be left behind.

At midnight of the 7th of January, 1687, the whole company met in the little chapel for a solemn religious service, to implore God's blessing upon the enterprise. The scene was very affecting. Nearly all were in tears. There were but few chances that those then bidding each other adieu would ever meet again. Those who left, and those who remained, were alike exposed. La Salle selected twenty men to accompany him. Among those, were his brother, his ever-faithful Indian attendant, M. Douay, to whose pen we are indebted for the record of the last expedition, and M. Joutel, who kept a daily journal of the events of this journey. M. Douay wrote also quite a minute account of the expedition. Both of their narratives now lie before me. We have no reason to doubt the accuracy of either. There were but twenty French left behind, including seven women and children. La Salle gave them a parting address. Father Douay writes:

"He made an address full of eloquence, with that engaging way so natural to him. The whole colony was present, and were all moved to tears. They were alike persuaded of the necessity of his voyage and the uprightness of his intentions."

The property left with the colonists consisted of seventy pigs, large and small, twenty hens and chickens, a few barrels of corn, which was carefully kept for the sick, a considerable quantity of powder and lead, and eight cannons, but without balls.

The heroic and devout Father Membré remained as the spiritual guide. M. Barbier was left with the secular command. La Salle drew up very minute directions for the administration of affairs during his absence.

"We parted," writes M. Joutel, "in a manner so tender, so sorrowful, that it would seem that we had a secret presentiment that we should never again see each other. Father Membré was deeply affected. He said to me that never before had he experienced a parting so painful."

It was the 12th of January, 1689, when this truly forlorn hope set out upon its long journey. They took with them the five horses, bearing some articles of food and such things as they would need for their night's encampment. The second day of their journey they came to a plain about six miles wide, which seemed to be covered with buffaloes, deer, flocks of wild turkeys, and every variety of game. Beyond the plain there was a splendid growth of trees. Upon entering the grove, they found that it fringed a small river. Concealed by these trees, they succeeded in shooting five buffaloes which had come to the river to drink. They crossed the river on a raft, and camped a mile and a half beyond, in a drenching rain. The skins and meat of these animals were packed upon the horses. The skins, easily tanned, were of immense value in their subsequent lodgings.

The next morning, the 14th, the sun rose in a cloudless sky. The prairie seemed spread out for leagues before them, covered with herds of buffaloes and deer, while immense flocks of turkeys and other birds of the prairie rose before them. About noon they saw, in the distance, an immense herd of buffaloes rushing over the plains as if mad. They conjectured at once that some Indian hunters were pursuing them. Their conjecture proved correct.

Soon they saw a savage, on the full run, and very flat-footed, pursuing the herd. Hastily the load was thrown from one of the horses, a man was mounted upon him, and galloping over the plain soon overtook the Indian, and led him back to the company. When the poor man saw himself surrounded by a group of white men, such as he had seen before, he was greatly terrified. And he had cause to be frightened. La Salle's associates infamously urged that he should be put to death, in revenge for the murder of their companions by some unknown Indian band. The humane, magnanimous leader found it necessary to present to his reckless followers such motives as they could appreciate. He said to them:

"We are but few in number. We have before us a journey of hundreds of miles through a region crowded with Indian tribes. If we rouse the vengeance of the savages, we shall all be cut off. Let us treat them with kindness, and thus we shall secure for ourselves kind treatment in return."

The cordial smiles and friendly signs of this truly good man soon dispelled apparently the great alarm of the stranger. A fire was built. After abundantly feeding their hungry guest, and smoking with him the friendly pipe, La Salle, assuring him of his desire to do harm to none, but good to all, dismissed him with presents which to the savage must have seemed almost like celestial gifts. Still the cautious Indian, accustomed to treachery, was evidently uncertain as to the fate which awaited him. As he withdrew, he cast anxious glances around, until he had attained the distance of a few rods, when he took to flight, with almost the rapidity of a deer.

The travellers continued their route, and after an hour or two, overtook another Indian hunter. They caught him, and lavished upon him the same acts of kindness. As evening was approaching, they saw a large band of savages in the distance. Their attitude was somewhat menacing. When they caught sight of the little cluster of strangers, they separated into two parties, and advanced on the right and left, as if to surround them. When the two bands had come within musket-shot, La Salle ordered a halt. The savages halted also. For a few moments they attentively regarded each other, no movement being made on either side.

Then La Salle, laying aside his arms, walked slowly forward toward the party where the head chief seemed to be, making signs for the chief to come and meet him. The chief was a tall man of powerful frame, and richly decorated. He came cautiously forward, while the rest of his party followed slowly at a little distance behind. As soon as it was seen that the two chiefs met cordially, all came running together in the interchange of caresses and every mark of friendly greeting.

Fires were built, food was cooked, pipes were smoked. There was feasting and dancing and shouting. It was a marvellous spectacle which was then and there presented of semi-civilized and full barbarian jollification.

The savages were evidently delighted with their reception. They examined their presents with astonishment. With unfeigned joy they learned that La Salle intended to return and settle in their country; and that he would bring an abundance of his treasures, which he would exchange with them for such articles as they had to part with. It was now the hour of evening twilight. The two parties separated, each going its own way. About a mile and a half in advance, there was a beautiful grove and a running stream. La Salle encamped there. With his customary prudence he threw up intrenchments, and established sentinels as if he were in the enemy's country.

They had but just established their camp, when they saw six savages approaching, following each other in single file. They came forward without any hesitation, as if visiting old friends. By signs they said that they had heard of the kind treatment their fellow countrymen had met with, and that they were brothers, not enemies. After a short and pleasant visit they retired, and the camp was left to undisturbed repose.

In the morning, at an early hour, the march was resumed. There was before them a stream too deep to be forded. Not wishing to lose time in constructing a raft, they followed up the west bank of the stream for several miles. Their route led through an enchanting region of lawn-like prairies and park-like groves. The river was fringed with trees of every variety, without any underbrush. There were many pretty little creeks to be crossed, which ran into the main stream. The water was pure, sweet, and clear as crystal. Occasionally they came to a cane-brake, through which they cut their way with axes. Their appetites were fed with abundance of game.

The next day, the 19th, they made but a short journey, and experienced great fatigue in fording streams and cutting their way through cane-brakes. They came across a few deserted cabins of the Indians. During the slow progress of the day, their skilful Indian hunter Nika killed eight buffaloes. The most tender cuts were taken from them, and they there crossed the river by a ford.

After traversing a few leagues, they came to another river, flowing through a low plain, elevated but slightly above the stream. A dense fog set in, accompanied by a deluging rain. Here they encamped in the woods which bordered the river. They passed a comfortless night, and the storm detained them all the next day.

On the 19th the rain ceased, but the fog continued. Their path led through marshy ground thoroughly soaked with rain, so that they often sank to their knees in the mire. Their feet were shod with moccasins made of the hide of buffaloes. These being alternately wet and dried, became stiff, and blistered their feet cruelly. Fortunately, they struck upon one of the "streets" made by the buffaloes, as in thousands they followed one after the other, crushing their way through the cane-brakes. These animals were, by instinct, good engineers, and invariably selected the most favorable routes. Still the voyagers were often compelled to wade through deep mire, and their sufferings were at times severe.

On the night of the 19th, they fortunately came upon a ridge, where they could enjoy a dry encampment. They built a roaring fire, cooked a savory supper, nursed their blistered feet, and during a few hours of refreshing sleep forgot their toils. As they awoke the next morning the river was again falling. Still they pressed on, entering upon another vast prairie covered with herds of buffaloes. At night they encamped upon the banks of a river too deep to be forded. On the 21st they ascended the banks of the stream, hoping to find a shallow spot where they could cross. Instead of this, they came to a place where the river flowed through a narrow and deep channel, with large trees on each side. They cut down two of these trees, so that their branches met in the middle, crossed on this bridge, and swam their horses over.

On the other side, a beautiful country, of elevated, undulating prairie, opened before them. As they were preparing to encamp in the shelter of a grove, they heard voices, and soon beheld fifteen Indians approaching. The savages manifested no alarm, but in token of peace laid aside their bows and arrows, and came into the camp. They ate, smoked, exchanged presents, and went on their way rejoicing, promising to visit the camp again.

The horses, as well as the men, were quite exhausted. They therefore remained, for a day of rest, on their very pleasant camping ground. During the day a band of twenty-two Indians came to them. They had shields impervious to arrows, made of the hide of buffaloes. They were at war with another tribe. They said that there were other white men, at the distance of ten days' journey on the west, doubtless referring to the Spaniards. The interview was mutually pleasant, and La Salle obtained some important information in reference to the continuance of his route.

Onward they pressed, day after day, with alternate sunshine and storm, through marsh and forest, over prairies and across rivers, without encountering any adventure of much importance until the 1st of February. That day they discovered, at a distance, an Indian village. La Salle, leaving M. Joutel in charge of the camp, took his brother and seven men, and set out to reconnoitre. They came to a village of twenty-five wigwams, very pleasantly situated. Each wigwam contained four or five men, besides quite a number of women and children. The Indians received their guests very hospitably, conducted them to the dwelling of their chief, and seated them upon mats of buffalo skins. A great crowd gathered within and around the cabin. The chief, after feeding them abundantly upon buffalo steaks, informed them that he had been expecting their arrival. Other Indians had told him that they were in the country, and that they were on a route which would lead them near his village.

Perfect harmony prevailed. Presents were exchanged. The Indians were eager to give a nicely tanned buffalo robe for a knife or almost any trinket in the hands of the white men. But La Salle had no means of transporting the robes, which would prove so valuable in European markets. They continued their journey, often meeting with Indians, who were always friendly. At times a brotherly band would accompany them during the march of a whole day. By the aid of the Indians, the very light frame of a canoe was constructed, which was easily packed and carried. By stretching over it the skin of a buffalo, from which the hair had been removed, they were furnished with a very buoyant boat, with which to cross the rivers. The horses could easily swim the streams.

On the 10th of February, they saw before them a vast plain which had been swept by the flames. Thinking that they might not find game there, they made a halt of two days, to lay in a store of jerked meat. Resuming their journey, they soon passed the scathed region and entered again upon a country of bloom and verdure. On the evening of the 15th, they camped on the borders of a stream, where they saw evidences that a band of savages had recently passed that way.

The next morning La Salle took his brother and seven men, and followed a well-trodden Indian trail in search of a village. After a short walk, they came upon a cluster of fifty or sixty cabins. His reception was, as usual, cordial in the extreme. The leading men of the village were courteous in their bearing and intelligent in reference to matters relating to their own country. They gave the names of twenty tribes or nations, through whose territories La Salle had already passed from his settlement, which he called St. Louis. On the 17th, one of the horses fell, and sprained his shoulder, so that he had to be left behind.

For several days the journey was somewhat monotonous. They made about twenty or twenty-five miles a day. Indian hunters were continually met with, and Indian villages entered with essentially the same rites of friendship and hospitality. From some of these Indians they heard tidings of those Frenchmen who had deserted. They were living in a very friendly manner among the Indians. On the 1st of March they came to an immense marsh, partially submerged in water. The intricate passage across it was very difficult to find, and required the services of a guide. Several of the Indians volunteered, and with great tenderness led them safely across.

Passing the morass caused a delay of four or five days, as it could not be undertaken in a drenching rain which chanced then to be falling. On the 15th they emerged from this gloomy region and entered a country which, from the contrast, appeared to them remarkably beautiful. Here they encamped for a brief rest. Nika brought in word that he had killed two buffaloes, and wished to have a couple of horses sent to bring in the meat. A party of five was sent out, led by M. Moranget, who was a rash and irritable man. There were three men who had accompanied the hunter, and who were cutting up and drying the meat, in preparation for transporting it to the camp. At the same time they were cooking for themselves some of the choicest pieces.

When Moranget reached the place and found the men feasting, as he thought, rather than jerking the meat, he reprimanded them, in his accustomed tones of severity. The men chanced to be the very worst and most desperate in the camp. Moranget accompanied his denunciations with still more irritating actions. He took from them the delicious morsels which they cooked. Four men, for another had joined them, greatly enraged, sullenly abandoned their work, and retiring a short distance agreed to avenge themselves by killing Moranget, and also by killing Nika and another man who was the valet of La Salle. Both of these men were friends and supporters of Moranget.

They waited till night. All took their supper together. It was the night of the 17th of March. Though in that genial climate the weather was serene and mild, a rousing fire was found very grateful in protecting them from the chill of the night air. With the fading twilight the stars shone down brightly upon them, and, surrounded by the silence and solemnity of the prairie and the forest, they were soon apparently all asleep.

One of the murderers, Liotot, cautiously arose as by agreement, and with a hatchet in his hand, creeping toward Moranget, with one desperate blow split open his skull from crown to chin. The deed was effectually done. And yet with sinewy arm blow followed blow, till the head was one mass of clotted gore. The other two were despatched in the same way. The three remaining conspirators stood, with their guns cocked and primed, to shoot down either of the victims who might succeed in making any resistance. There is some slight discrepancy in the detail of these murders. It is said that Moranget, upon receiving the first blow, made a convulsive movement, as if to rise; but that the valet and the Indian did not stir.

One crime always leads to another. The conspirators, having perpetrated these murders, now consulted together as to what was next to be done. Moranget was the nephew of La Salle. The valet and the Indian were his devoted friends. Their death could not be concealed. It was certain that La Salle would not allow it to go unavenged. Though punishment might be postponed until they should emerge from their long and perilous journey through the wilderness, there could be no doubt that as soon as they should reach a French military post they would all die upon the scaffold.

They decided to return to the camp, enlist a few others on their side, kill La Salle, and others of his prominent friends, when unsuspicious of danger; and thus involving all the rest in their own criminality, effectually prevent any witnesses from rising against them. Probably in some degree tortured by remorse, and trembling in view of the task which they had undertaken, they remained for two days, the 18th and 19th, where they were, ostensibly employed in jerking the meat.

La Salle, not knowing how to account for this long absence, became uneasy. He decided to go himself, taking a few others with him, to ascertain the cause. To his friends he expressed serious apprehensions that some great calamity had happened. M. Joutel was left in charge of the camp, and La Salle, with Father Douay and another companion, set out in search of the lost ones.

Father Douay gives the following account of the tragic scene which ensued:

"All the way La Salle conversed with me of matters of piety, grace, and predestination. He expatiated upon all his obligations to God, for having saved him from so many dangers during the last twenty years that he had traversed America. He seemed to me to be peculiarly penetrated with a grateful sense of God's kindness to him. Suddenly I saw him plunged into a deep melancholy, for which he himself could not account. He was so troubled that he no longer seemed like himself. As this was an unusual state of mind with him, I endeavored to rouse him from his lethargy.

"Two leagues after, we found the bloody cravat of his valet. He perceived two eagles flying over his head. At the same time he discerned some of his people on the edge of the river. He approached them, asking what had become of his nephew. They answered incoherently, pointing to a spot where they said we should find him. We proceeded some steps along the bank, to the fatal spot where two of his murderers were hidden in the grass, one on each side, with guns cocked. One missed Monsieur de la Salle. The one firing at the same time shot him in the head. He died an hour after, on the 19th of March 1687.

"I expected the same fate. But this danger did not occupy my thoughts, penetrated with grief at so cruel a spectacle. I saw him fall, a step from me, his face all full of blood. He had confessed and performed his devotions just before we started. During his last moments he manifested the spirit of a good Christian, especially in the act of pardoning his murderers.

"Thus died our wise commander, constant in adversity, intrepid, generous, engaging, dexterous, skilful, capable of everything. He, who for twenty years had softened the fierce temper of countless savage tribes, was massacred by the hands of his own domestics, whom he had loaded with caresses. He died in the prime of life, in the midst of his enterprises, without having seen their success. I could not leave the spot where he had expired, without having buried him as well as I could. After which I raised a cross over his grave."

In reference to the burial, Joutel gives a little different account. He says: "The shot which killed La Salle was the signal for the accomplices of the assassin to rush to the spot. With barbarous cruelty they stripped him of his clothing, even to his shirt. The poor dead body was treated with every indignity. The corpse was left, entirely naked, to the voracity of wild beasts."

Both of these accounts may be essentially true. The barbarities practised by the assassins may have preceded or followed the hasty burial of Douay. Father Douay, in his account, continues:

"Occupied with these thoughts, which La Salle had a thousand times suggested to us, while relating the events of the new discoveries, I unceasingly adored the inscrutable designs of God in this conduct of His Providence, uncertain still what fate He reserved for us, as our desperadoes plotted nothing less than our destruction. We at last entered the place where Monsieur Cavalier was. The assassins entered the cabin unceremoniously, and seized all that was there. I had arrived a moment before them. I had no need to speak; for as soon as Cavalier beheld my countenance, all bathed in tears, he exclaimed aloud:

"'Ah, my poor brother is dead.'

"This holy ecclesiastic, whose virtue has been so often tried in the apostolic labors of Canada, fell at once on his knees. I myself, and some others did the same, to prepare to die the same death. But the murderers, touched by some sentiment of compassion at the sight of the venerable old man, and besides half-penitent for the murders they had committed, resolved to spare us, on condition that we should never return to France. But as they were still undecided, and many of them wished to go home to France, we heard them often say to one another, that they must get rid of us; that otherwise we should accuse them before the tribunals, if we once had them in the kingdom.

"The leader of these desperadoes, a wretch by the name of Duhaut, at once assumed the supreme command. The company now consisted of but seventeen. The timid ones, trembling for their lives, feigned entire devotion to the cause of the assassins. Duhaut ruled with an iron hand. It was manifest that the least indication of an insubordinate spirit would lead to instant death. Some of the best men were for organizing a conspiracy to assassinate the assassins. But the priest Cavalier continually said no, repeating the words, 'Vengeance is mine. I will repay, saith the Lord.'"

It is impossible to determine the precise spot where the murder of La Salle and his companions took place. We know that it was several days' journey west of the Cenis Indians, whose territory extended along the banks of Trinity River, which empties into Galveston Bay. It is therefore conjectured that it must have been near one of the streams flowing into the Brazos, in the heart of Texas, probably not far from where Washington now is.

Lost in the Wilderness.

The altercation between La Salle and Beaujeu still continued. The chevalier feared that the captain designed to abandon him and return to France. Parties were formed, and the dispute on board the vessels was bitter. La Salle was convinced that he had passed the Mississippi. Others argued that they had not reached it. In fact they were beyond Matagorda Bay, in the southwestern part of Texas, and were within a hundred miles of the Rio Grande. A dense fog prevented the landing of the boat's crew. La Salle insisting upon a return, the vessels coasted slowly along, a distance of about thirty miles, till they came to an inlet, which the fog had prevented them from seeing before, and which proved to be Matagorda Bay.

The expedition was now in serious trouble. Their provisions were nearly exhausted. They had thus far seen no settlement, on the American coast, from which they could obtain supplies. A large party was landed on the western entrance of the bay. They threw up a camp, and while some explored the prairie with their guns, others followed up the stream with their fishing rods. An ample supply of game, of great variety, was taken, and also an abundance of fish. All who could be spared from the ships hastened to the shore. The weather was delightful; the scenery enchanting; and the whole ship's company, after so long an imprisonment in the crowded vessels, revelled in feasting and joy.

"Uneasy lies the head which wears a crown." La Salle, feeling keenly his responsibility for the success of the expedition, was heavily oppressed by care. One of the boats was sent up the bay, seven or eight miles, in search of a river or brook; but their search was in vain. A few springs of tolerably good water were found, from which they replenished their empty barrels. Ducks and other water-fowl were met in great abundance.

The vessels were all anchored in the bay, near the shore, and for several days, in this sunny region, beneath cloudless skies, the voyagers generally enjoyed all the pleasures of the most delightful picnic party. La Salle saw increasing evidence that Beaujeu was intending to desert him. He was anxious to lay in supplies for a long voyage. La Salle wished to delay only to obtain provisions for fifteen days. He was satisfied that it would not take longer than that to return to the point where he now believed the mouth of the Mississippi to be.

In this emergence he decided to have the vessels coast along near the shore, while he sent a chosen party of one hundred and thirty men, to march along upon the land. The adventurous band commenced its journey in a fog so dense that those in the rear could not see those in front. M. Joutel, the historian of the expedition from the time it sailed from France until its close, led this party.

The march was commenced on the 5th of February. Each man carried his pack upon his own shoulders. They kept along as near as possible to the sea. The first night they encamped on a slight eminence, where a large fire was built to signalize to the vessels their position. For a week they thus journeyed along, through marsh and prairie and forest, building each night their signal fires. During all this time they caught no sight of their vessels. On the 13th they came to the banks of a wide creek or bayou, which they had no means of crossing.

The carpenters were immediately set to work in building a boat. The next day, while thus employed, the Joli and the Belle hove in sight. The short twilight of the tropics was then passing into night. A signal-fire was built, and seen by those on the ships. The next morning, the slow-sailing Aimable, which bore La Salle and his companions, appeared. La Salle landed and visited the encampment. Having sounded the creek, he decided to bring the three vessels in, and to send a boat to explore inland, hoping that the creek might prove to be the mouth of some river. The channel was carefully staked out for the entrance of the vessels, safe anchorage chosen, and orders were issued for the three to enter at the next high tide. La Salle would give the signal from the shore, when they were to move.

Captain Beaujeu sent back the insolent answer, "I can manage my own vessel without any instructions from Monsieur La Salle."

As this message arrived, a party of the ship's company, who had been at some distance from the camp, came running in, much alarmed, saying that quite an army of savages was approaching. La Salle instantly called all his force to arms, that he might be prepared for any emergence. Though earnestly desirous of peace, he yet deemed it important to show a bold front. In imposing military array, with muskets loaded, and the beating of drums, he led his band of about one hundred and fifty men, to meet the Indians.

Both parties halted and faced each other, neither knowing whether the other wished for peace or war. La Salle directed ten of his men to lay down their arms, and advance toward the Indians, making friendly signs, and endeavoring to invite an unarmed party to meet them. The whole body at once threw down their arms, consisting of bows and javelins, and ran forward joyously, caressing the Europeans, according to their custom, by rubbing their hands first over their own breasts and arms, and then over the breasts and arms of their newly found friends.

Six or seven accompanied a party of the French back to their encampment. La Salle, with the rest, accepted an invitation to visit the Indian village, which they represented as distant about five miles. Just as they were starting, La Salle turned his eyes toward the bay, when he saw, much to his consternation, that their store-ship the Aimable, which was left under the care of Captain Beaujeu, instead of following the channel marked out by the stakes, was paying no regard to them. He was greatly alarmed; but there was nothing which he could do to repel the danger.

He therefore, though in great perturbation, followed the savages to their village. It consisted of about fifty wigwams, erected upon an eminence but slightly elevated above the level prairie. The huts were built of mats or of the tanned skins of the buffalo. Just as they were entering the village, a cannon was fired from one of the ships. The savages were greatly terrified, and simultaneously threw themselves upon the ground, burying their faces in the grass. But La Salle reassured them, stating that it was merely a signal to him that one of his ships had come to anchor.

Though La Salle was very vigilant to guard against any treachery, still the hospitality manifested by the Indians seemed sincere and cordial. The Indians feasted them abundantly with fresh buffalo steaks, and jerked meat consisting of thin slices of flesh dried in the sun and smoked. Their village was near the creek, and La Salle counted forty large boats, made of logs hollowed out, such as he had seen on the Mississippi.

Upon returning to the camp, La Salle found his worst fears realized. The Aimable was driven aground, and under circumstances which rendered it almost certain that it had been done through the treachery of Captain Beaujeu. La Salle had marked out the channel by stakes, had sent the vessel a pilot, whom Beaujeu had refused to receive, and had stationed a man at the mast-head, who had given a loud warning, but whose cry was entirely disregarded.

"Those who witnessed the manœuvre," writes Joutel, "were convinced, by irresistible evidence, that the vessel was wrecked by design, which was one of the blackest and most detestable crimes which can enter into the human heart."

The vessel was run upon the shore at the highest tide. All efforts to float her again were unavailing. The calamity was irretrievable. The Aimable contained all the ammunition, the mechanic tools, and the farming and household utensils. But La Salle, ever rising superior to the blows of misfortune, still retained his firmness. Diligently he engaged in removing the stores from the wrecked ship. One of the shallops had been, as it was believed, treacherously destroyed.

With the one shallop which remained, he succeeded, that afternoon, in removing from the ship to an encampment on the shore, the ammunition, a considerable portion of the mechanic tools, the farming and domestic utensils, and a few barrels of provisions. During the night a storm arose. The vessel was dashed to pieces. In the morning the bay was covered with barrels, chests, bales, and other débris of the wreck. While affairs were in this deplorable state, the savages, about one hundred and twenty in number, made another visit to the camp. The shores were strewed with articles of inestimable value to these poor Indians. Sentinels were stationed to prevent any robbery; but the Indians manifested no disposition to perpetrate any acts of violence.

La Salle was in great want of more boats. The Indians had some, which were dug out from immense trunks of trees, of graceful form and rich carving, capable of carrying twenty or thirty men. As all the work on these boats had been performed with stone hatchets, almost an infinity of labor had been expended upon them, and they were deemed very valuable.

La Salle sent two trusty men to the village of the Indians, to purchase, if they could, two of the boats. When they entered the wigwams, they found that a bale of blankets, which had drifted along the bay, had been picked up by the Indians, and divided among them. They made no attempt at concealment. Not having any clear views of the rights of property, they had no thought that they had done anything wrong in taking goods which they had found drifting in the water. The officers returned to La Salle with this report.

Suffering from shipwreck and great destitution, it was necessary for him to economize, as much as possible, in his expenditures. He therefore decided to send some men to the Indians, to endeavor to obtain two boats in exchange for the blankets and a few other articles which they had picked up. M. Hamel, one of Beaujeu's officers, volunteered to go on this mission, with a boat's crew, in the shallop of the Joli. He was an impetuous young fellow, with more bravery than prudence. Assuming that the Indians had stolen the blankets, and that they were to be browbeaten and forced to make restitution by the surrender of two of their boats, he advanced, upon his landing, in such menacing military array as to frighten the Indians. Most of them fled into the woods.

He entered the deserted cabins, picked up all the blankets he could find, stole a number of very nicely tanned deer skins, and then, seizing two of the best boats, put men on board of each, and commenced his return to the ship. He was quite elated with his performance, thinking it a heroic achievement. As they were paddling slowly down the bay, the wind rose strongly against them. Night came on cold and dark. It became necessary to land and wait for the morning.

They built a large fire. Wrapped in blankets, they threw themselves upon the grass around, with their feet toward the glowing coals, and soon all fell asleep. Sentinels had been stationed at a short distance from the fire, but they slept also.

The Indians returned to their wigwams. They found their treasures gone and two of their best boats stolen. As night came, they saw in the distance the light of a camp fire, and understood full well what it signified. With silent tread, and breathing vengeance, they crept through the forest upon their sleeping foes. At a given signal, the forest resounded with the dreadful war-whoop, and a shower of arrows fell upon the sleepers. Two were killed outright; two were severely wounded. The rest sprung to their arms, while some fled in terror.

The Indians, aware of the terrible power of the white man's musket, did not wait for a battle. Having inflicted this deed of revenge, they suddenly disappeared. One of the men, M. Moranget, a nephew of La Salle, succeeded in reaching the encampment of his friends, though faint and bleeding. One arrow had inflicted a terrible wound, almost cutting its way through his shoulder. Another had cut a deep gash along his bosom.

La Salle immediately sent an armed party to the spot. He was exceedingly chagrined by the cruel blunder perpetrated by his envoy. Though he could not blame the Indians, he knew full well that, their vengeance being thus aroused, they would, if they could, doom all to indiscriminate slaughter. It was necessary for him therefore to take the most decisive action in self-defence. The dead were buried. One man, helplessly wounded, was brought back to the camp. The others returned unharmed. This disaster took place in the night of the 5th of March, 1685.

These calamities operated fearfully against La Salle. Beaujeu took advantage of them, and lost no opportunity of proclaiming them as evidence that La Salle was utterly incompetent to conduct such an enterprise as that in which he was engaged. Quite a number, who had formerly been friends of La Salle, ranged themselves on the side of Beaujeu, who now openly proclaimed his intention of abandoning the enterprise and returning to France. Still he continued to do everything in his power to embarrass the operations of La Salle. There were several pieces of cannon on board the Belle. But nearly all the cannon balls were in the hold of the Joli. Beaujeu, on the eve of his departure, refused to give them up, saying that it was inconvenient for him to get at them.

About the 14th of March, Captain Beaujeu spread the sails of the Joli, and disappeared over the horizon of the sea, on his voyage to France. He took with him sixty or seventy of the company, and many stores which were deemed essential in the establishment of a colony. La Salle was left with about two hundred men, encamped upon the banks of an unknown inlet, and with one single small vessel, the Belle, anchored in the bay. To add to the gloom of his situation, the Indians were justly exasperated against him.

The first thing to be done was to build a fort for defence. Thinking it not impossible that the broad creek he had entered might prove to be one of the mouths of the Mississippi, he decided to set out on an exploring tour up the river for some distance into the interior. Five boats, containing a well-armed party of about fifty persons, embarked upon this enterprise. La Salle himself took the command. About one hundred and forty persons were left behind in the fort, under the control of M. Joutel. Those who were left in garrison, were to employ their time in strengthening the fort, and in building a large boat on the European plan.

The savages came frequently around the encampment at night, barking like dogs and howling like wolves. They did not venture upon any attack. Upon one occasion, however, a few men were at work at a little distance from the encampment, when they saw a large band of savages approaching. The workmen fled to the fort, leaving all their tools behind them. The savages gathered them up and retired. It was not safe to wander far for game. But fish was taken in great abundance from the bay.

Early in April, the garrison was alarmed by the sight of a distant sail. It was feared that it was a war-ship of the hostile Spaniards, coming to destroy them. The vessel, however, passed by, without apparently seeing the encampment. Several tragic incidents ensued. One man was bitten by a rattlesnake. After suffering dreadful agonies he died. Another, who was fishing, was swept away by the current and was drowned. Fortunately, beds of excellent salt were found, formed by the evaporation of salt water in basins on the land.

It must be confessed that the savages manifested much of a Christian disposition. They frequently came near the fort, and made signs indicative of their desire that friendly relations might be restored. But La Salle, fearing treachery, and not having full confidence in the prudence of those he left behind, gave orders that no intercourse should be opened with the savages until his return.

Early in May, quite a large party of Indians appeared near the fort. Three of them, laying aside their weapons, came forward and made signs that they wished for a conference. M. Joutel, instead of sending three unarmed men to meet them, invited them to come into the fort. Though they thus placed themselves entirely in his power, they, without the slightest hesitation, entered the enclosure. They quietly sat down, and, by signs, said that hunters from the fort had often been near them, so that they could easily have killed them. But they refrained from doing them any injury. M. Moranget, who had been so severely wounded, urged that they should be terribly punished, in revenge for the attack upon the camp. This infamous proposal M. Joutel rejected.

But his conduct was inexcusable. He gave them a very unfriendly reception; and soon ordered them to depart. They had scarcely left the entrance gate, when he ordered several muskets to be fired, as if at them. They thought that they were treacherously fired upon, and fled precipitately. He then ordered several cannon-shot to be thrown to the eminence, where the large party was peacefully assembled. This scattered them. Such was the response to the Indians' appeal for friendship. Thus insanely did the garrison establish open hostilities between the two parties, when it was evident that the Indians desired friendship.

La Salle, in ascending the river, found a prairie region far more rich and beautiful than that occupied by the encampment at the mouth of the creek. He sent back two boats, with directions that about thirty of the most able-bodied men should remain to garrison the fort, while the rest, including all the women and children, were to embark, under M. Moranget, for the new location. Early in July another messenger came with instructions for all the remaining garrison to embark, with all the stores they could carry, in the Belle, and ascend the river many leagues, to join their companions in the new settlement, and to bury, in careful concealment, all the goods which could not be removed.

But sorrows and troubles without number came. The blazing sun of summer withered them. Many were sick. All were languid, discontented, disheartened. The wood to build their huts had to be drawn three miles by hand. There was no heart for the work. Discontented men always quarrel. Even La Salle lost hope, and no longer displayed his customary energy and sagacity. Those who had professed to be good house-carpenters, were found to be totally ignorant of their business. Food became scarce. More than thirty in a few weeks died. These funeral scenes spread gloom over the whole encampment, and all wished themselves back in France.

La Salle could intrust weighty responsibilities to no one. He was compelled to superintend everything, and even to devote himself to the minutest details.

La Salle called this river La Vache, or Cow River, in consequence of the vast number of buffalo cows in which he saw grazing upon the banks. The spot chosen for the village or encampment, if we can judge from the description of M. Joutel, must have been quite enchanting. There was an elevated expanse, smooth and fertile, raised many feet above the level of the stream. An undulating prairie, covered with waving grass and flowers, spread far away for leagues toward the north and the west, bordered, in the distance, by forest-covered hills. The river flowed placidly upon the east, entering into the long and wide bay upon the south. Nothing could exceed the beauty of the prairie, waving in the richest bloom of flowers of every variety of tint.

A large cellar was dug, that the ammunition and other valuables might be stored beneath the ground, as a protection against fire. La Salle, with a few companions, made several excursions of fifteen or twenty miles into the country, hoping to find the Mississippi, or some Indians who could give him information upon that point. Failing in all these, he decided upon a more extensive exploration.

The property at the settlement now consisted of only two hundred muskets, two hundred swords, one hundred kegs of powder, three thousand pounds of bullets, three hundred pounds of lead, several bars of steel and of iron to be hammered into nails, and a tolerable supply of farming and mechanic tools. They had no ploughs, horses, or oxen. Without these, farming could be carried on only upon a very limited scale. They had, however, twenty barrels of flour, a puncheon and a half of wine, a few gallons of brandy, one or two swine, and one cock and hen.

The exploring party of fifty set out in two bands, in October, from the bay, which he had named St. Louis. M. Joutel was left in command at the settlement, with the strictest injunctions to have no intercourse with the Indians. One band ascended the river in boats. The other followed along upon the shore. Having ascended the river many leagues, and being fully convinced that it was not a branch of the Mississippi, they drew their boats upon the eastern shore, and all commenced their march, over the boundless prairies, with packs upon their backs, toward the rising sun.

Ere long they saw in the distance an Indian village, consisting of a cluster of thirty or forty wigwams. It was delightfully situated. The Indians, in locating their villages, ever had a keen sense of landscape beauty. It is difficult to account for the fact that, under the leadership of La Salle, there should have been a battle. But it was so. We have no explanation of the circumstances. After a brief conflict, the savages fled, many being wounded and probably some killed, for they were accustomed to carry their dead with them on a retreat.

La Salle and his party entered the abandoned village. They found, cowering in one of the wigwams, a woman who had been struck by a bullet in the neck, and who was dying. A young girl was with her. Just after this, La Salle sent a party of six men to explore a stream. After a toilsome day the party encamped for the night. They built their fire, cooked their supper, and, without establishing any watch, wrapped themselves in their blankets for sleep.

The next day they did not return. La Salle's anxieties were roused. He set out in search of them. The dead bodies of the six were found, pierced with arrows, scalped, and half devoured by wolves. The details of this midnight tragedy were never known. Saddened by this calamity, yet striving to maintain cheerful spirits, the party pressed on their way. After many days' march they came to another large river, which proved to be that which is now known as the Colorado, which empties into Matagorda Bay, more than four hundred miles west of the mouths of the Mississippi.

As they were journeying along, one of the men, with blistered feet, stopped to adjust his shoes. When he resumed his march, he found that the party was out of sight, and he could not overtake them. The grass of the prairie was higher than the men's heads, and there were many tracks through it which were called buffalo streets. It was impossible for him to tell which path the men had taken. He was hopelessly lost. To follow either one of them might lead him farther and farther from his companions, where he would perish miserably.

Night came. He fired his gun several times, but could get no response. He threw himself upon the grass. In the intensity of his anxiety, he could not sleep. All the next day and the next night, he remained upon the spot, hoping that his companions might come back in search for him. They did not return. He had been reprimanded the preceding day for some misconduct, and it was supposed that he had deserted.

Almost in despair he retraced his steps, travelling mostly by night, through fear that he might encounter the savages. After a month of toil and suffering, ragged and emaciate he at midnight reached the settlement. Many weeks passed away, and no tidings whatever were heard of the exploring party. One morning early in March, M. Joutel chanced to be upon the roof of a hut, when he saw far away on the prairie, eight men approaching. He immediately took a well-armed party and advanced to meet them. They proved to be a portion of the exploring band. They said that others were returning by another route. They were all in a deplorable condition. Their clothes were in tatters. Most of them were without hats. Their shirts were entirely worn out.

All were rejoiced to see La Salle again. But he had no tidings to give of the long-sought-for river. The situation in which the colonists, with their greatly diminished numbers, now found themselves was appalling. They were utterly lost in the boundless wilderness of this new world. All communication with their friends in France was cut off. There was no hope that any French vessel would ever search for them; or could find them, even if such search were undertaken. The Indians were hostile. Death would gradually diminish their numbers, and finally the remnant would either be exterminated or carried into captivity by the savages.

To add to the affliction of La Salle, the Belle, the only vessel remaining to him, was wrecked and utterly lost. Several of the sailors were drowned; and stores of inestimable value were destroyed. Father Le Clercq, in describing this untoward event, writes:

"We leave the reader to imagine the grief and the affliction felt by the Chevalier La Salle, at an accident which completely ruined all his measures. His great courage even could not have borne him up, had not God aided his virtue by the help of extraordinary grace."

Until the loss of the Belle, he had been sustained by the hope that, in the last extremity, the remnant of his company might find their way back to St. Domingo, and thence to France. This hope was now extinguished.

Under these circumstances La Salle resolved to undertake another exploring tour. Having refreshed himself and his men, and obtained new articles of clothing, mainly by distributing the garments of the dead among the living, early in May, 1686, the party again set forth. Those who remained behind employed themselves in strengthening the fortifications; in unsuccessfully cultivating the soil, for most of the seeds would not sprout, and in the chase, laying in a store of jerked meat. They had several hostile rencontres with the Indians, in which the savages were invariably beaten, in consequence of the superiority of the weapons of the Europeans.

But there was no harmony in the settlement. Loud murmurs ascended continually. Some denounced La Salle. Some defended him. The antagonistic parties were almost ready to draw their swords against each other.

La Salle's Second Exploring Tour.

It will be remembered that late in February, 1680, La Salle left Crèvecœur for Frontenac, to obtain supplies. We have no record of the details of that wonderful journey of four hundred leagues through the wilderness. He reached the post after a long and exhausting journey. There he encountered tidings of disaster sufficient to crush the stoutest heart. The Griffin had foundered, when but a few days out from Green Bay. All on board perished; and the whole of La Salle's fortune, consisting of ten thousand dollars' worth of furs, had gone down into the bottom of the lake.

The rumor reached Frontenac that La Salle had perished in his vessel. He had sent quite a fleet of canoes, laden with articles for the Indian trade, to purchase all the furs they could along the northern and southern shores of Lake Ontario. The canoe men heard the rumor of the death of La Salle, and treacherously appropriated to themselves all the goods with which they had been intrusted. Before setting out on his first excursion, he had sent to France for more goods, to the amount of five thousand dollars; a very considerable sum in those days. The vessel laden with these articles, after having safely crossed the Atlantic, was driven upon one of the islands of St. Peter, and everything was lost. There was no insurance in those days; La Salle did indeed experience the truth of the adage that "sorrows come in troops."

Still the enterprise, energy, and noble character of the man was such that friends came to the rescue. The Governor was very desirous of continuing the exploration, to the mouth of the Mississippi, which La Salle had begun. It was his great ambition there to unfurl the banner of France, and there, in the name of his king, to take possession of the most majestic valley on this globe.

Another small fleet of canoes was soon prepared, freighted with such articles, for use and traffic, as he would need on the expedition. The canoes, eight or ten in number, were large and strong. The party consisted of twenty-three Frenchmen and thirty-one Indians; fifty-four, in all. The statement seems almost incredible that, of these Indians, ten were women, and three were children. But Father Zenobe, who accompanied the expedition, mentions that the Indians insisted upon taking the women, as servants, to cook their food, and to perform the drudgery at their several encampments. Some of these women had children whom they could not leave behind.

It was indeed an imposing spectacle, when, at an early hour of a still, sultry summer morning, this gayly decorated fleet of canoes pushed out from the little harbor at the fort, upon the mirrored surface of Lake Ontario. It was, to a considerable degree, a national expedition. The banners of France fluttered in the gentle breeze over all the battlements of the fort. The forests and the hills resounded with the roar of the salute from her heavy guns. Hundreds of Indians crowded the shore to witness the departure. The Frenchmen returned the salute by a discharge of their muskets and by three cheers. The canoes speedily disappeared behind a headland, as the voyagers, with their paddles, pressed forward upon one of the most extraordinary expeditions ever undertaken by man.

The voyage along the southern shore of the lake proved to be very stormy. Again and again the gale and the surging billows drove them ashore. To the Indians, and to the Canadian boatmen generally, there was no hardship in this. It was the customary life of these men; and to the Indians, the life to which they had been inured from infancy, and the only life they had ever known. Indeed the crew generally had no more thought of yesterday or tomorrow than the few dogs who accompanied them. The weight of responsibility rested only upon the minds of La Salle and his gentlemanly, highly educated ecclesiastical companions.

When landing, for an encampment at night, or forced to take shelter from the storm, they easily drew their canoes up upon the greensward; turned them over to protect the freight from the rain, entered a little distance, the dense, primeval forest, which from time immemorial had fringed the shores of the lake, and there speedily reared a shelter which, to them, presented all the comforts which the palatial mansion offers to its lord. They spread their mats upon the floor. They built their camp fires, whose brilliant blaze enlivened the scene. They cooked their suppers, of corn-bread and venison steaks, which health and hunger rendered luxurious. They sang songs, told stories, cracked jokes, and enjoyed perhaps as much as the mere animal man is capable of enjoying.

This is indeed the sunny side of such a life. But it is a real side. For such men it has a real charm; charms so great that they reluctantly relinquish them for all that civilization can offer. But it must be evident to every reader of these pages, that this wandering, homeless life, has also its shady side. They, like all other men, had often occasion to say in the beautiful verse of Longfellow:

"The day is cold, and dark, and dreary,

It rains, and the wind is never weary,

The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,

At every gust the dead leaves fall,

And the day is dark and dreary."

La Salle left Fort Frontenac on the 23d of July, 1680, about two months before the abandonment of Crèvecœur by Tonti. In consequence of the series of storms, he was nearly three weeks in reaching the western extremity of Lake Ontario. The canoes and the goods were then carried around the falls, to the station called Fort Conti, which had been established at the head of Niagara River. He did not reach this station until about the middle of August.

Fort Conti had become quite a resort of the neighboring Indian tribes for trade. Here La Salle intended to lay in fresh supplies of corn. The season had been an unfavorable one. The small crop annually raised by the thoughtless, indolent savages, was still smaller than usual, affording but a scant supply for the winter. The Indians were not disposed to sell. Many days passed away, and but little had been brought in. La Salle had quite a store of French brandy. He offered to exchange brandy for corn. The poor Indians, who would sell the clothes from their backs for intoxicating liquors, brought the corn in so abundantly, that the canoes were immediately filled. In one day sixty sacks were urged upon him.

On the 28th of August, 1680, the voyagers reëmbarked in their canoes, and beneath sunny skies and with a smooth expanse of water before them, paddled joyously along the northern shores of Lake Erie, ascended the Detroit River, crossed Lake St. Clair, passed through the Straits of St. Clair, and coasted along the eastern and northern shores of Lake Huron, a distance of two or three hundred miles, until they reached the station at Mackinac, the latter part of September.

The voyage from the head of Niagara River had occupied nearly a month. When the little fleet of birch canoes entered the harbor at Mackinac, Lieutenant Tonti had just abandoned his dilapidated birch canoe on the Illinois River, in his retirement from the fort, and, with his few companions, was struggling on foot through the wilderness west of Lake Michigan, seeking also the same refuge.

La Salle, entirely unconscious of the disasters which had overtaken his garrison at Crèvecœur, reëmbarked, on the 4th of October. Following the same course he had pursued before, he paddled down the eastern coast of Lake Michigan, to the River St. Joseph. At the head of which river, it will be remembered, he had erected Fort Miami, on territory inhabited by the Miami Indians. It was a long voyage, with many obstructions from the autumnal storms, which seemed to be incessantly sweeping that bleak and harborless lake. After the tempestuous voyage of a month, he reached Fort Miami on the 3d of November.

Eleven months before, on the 3d of December, 1679, he had left that station, on his route to the Illinois River. Le Clercq says that four men were left in charge there. This is not sustained by other accounts. It is not probable that so small a number would have been left in a position so greatly exposed. But, however this may be, he found the Miami village in ashes, and all who dwelt in it dispersed. His log fort was also in utter ruin. It was a melancholy scene which met his eye; another indication of man's inhumanity to man.

The St. Joseph's River takes its rise in Indiana. For nearly a hundred miles before it empties its flood into Lake Michigan, it flows in a course of narrow windings, almost directly from the south. By paddling up this stream, in a canoe voyage of three or four days, or about seventy miles of our measurement, they came to a portage, five or six miles in length, by which they could reach the Kankakee River.

This was an important tributary of the Illinois River. It will be remembered that it was by this stream that La Salle and his party, more than a year before, prosecuted their voyage to Lake Peoria. It was then, for much of its distance, rather a dismal stream, sluggishly winding through marshes lined with alders. Rapidly they paddled on, day after day, through a country of silence and solitude, until they entered the broader, deeper waters of Illinois River.

Still, as they descended this beautiful stream, which presented as attractive situations for happy homes as perhaps earth could afford, they passed no Indian villages, no solitary wigwam, no sign whatever of human life. They came to the site where the Indian village had formerly stood in its picturesque beauty, with six or eight thousand inhabitants swarming around, in the various costumes, and engaged in the diversified employments of savage life. Naught remained but smouldering ruins and trampled harvests. Man bitterest foe, his brother man, had been there, and had left behind but the traces of desolation, blood and woe. Neither wolf nor bear could have been more merciless, or could have left behind them ravages so dreadful.

The dispersion of the garrison, and the destruction of all the works commenced and the stores deposited at Crèvecœur, was another blow upon the head and the heart of La Salle, apparently frustrating all his plans. He must have experienced emotions of the keenest anguish. But this remarkable man, invincible by the reverses of fortune, presented to his companions only a smiling aspect, and addressed them only with cheerful words. Having lost everything which he had expected to find at Crèvecœur, it became necessary for him to return to Mackinac. This required a journey by river, forest, prairie, and lake, of nearly five hundred miles.

Immediately he reëmbarked his whole force, in his canoes, and commenced the laborious ascent of the stream he had just descended so pleasantly, borne along by the aid of the current. When they reached the mouth of the Kankakee, instead of following up that stream, they struck across the country, by a portage directly north, until they reached the Chicago River. Here they again launched their canoes and followed down the windings of the stream until they came to its entrance into Lake Michigan, where Chicago now stands.

At this port La Salle found fragments of many war-scathed tribes, in a half-starving condition. They informed him that the terrible Iroquois; composed of five united savage nations, and whose central power was in the vast territory south of Lake Ontario, had in overwhelming numbers invaded the valley of the Illinois. Many of their warriors were armed with guns purchased from the French. The feeble tribes fled in terror before them. The ferocious bands wandered in all directions. By day and by night the hideous war-whoop resounded. Villages were burned, captives were seized, women and children were slaughtered, and thousands of fugitives, war-bereaved, woe-stricken, fled to the western side of the Mississippi to seek protection by being incorporated into friendly tribes in those apparently limitless realms.

Around the lovely shores of Lake Peoria there had been seventeen flourishing Indian villages. These were all destroyed, in awful scenes of conflagration and massacre. The survivors fled beyond the Mississippi, six hundred miles from their desolated homes. And even to these regions the ferocious Iroquois pursued them, thirsting for blood and scalps.

La Salle was a Christian. He was interested in the religious welfare of the poor Indians, as the only instrumentality by which they could secure for themselves pleasant homes on earth, and happy homes in heaven. He agreed with the missionaries, that if they wished to establish missions in those parts, with any hope of seeing Christianity make progress among the natives, they must secure them immunity from the horrors of war. This could only be done by uniting the remaining tribes in a firm union for a common defence.

At the mouth of the Chicago River, La Salle was, as he thought, by the route he had taken, about one hundred and twenty miles from Lake Peoria. He reached this point probably some time in January 1681. The lake, for some distance from the shore, was encumbered with ice. Fierce wintry storms swept the bleak prairies, and piled the snow in drifts. It was almost impossible to journey, either by land or water. La Salle and his party went into encampment upon the banks of the Chicago River, to wait a few weeks until the severity of winter was over. At the same time, though he knew not of it, the few remaining members of the garrison which he had left at Crèvecœur were seeking shelter from these piercing blasts, about a hundred miles north, in the wigwams of the friendly Pottawattomies.

La Salle and his ecclesiastical companions improved these few weeks of leisure in seeking interviews with the chiefs of the various tribes in the vicinity, and in endeavoring to unite them in a strong confederacy. He assured them that if they would thus be true to themselves, the French would become their allies and send them efficient aid. It was not until the 22d of May that he was able to launch his canoes upon the lake. There was then a voyage of about two hundred and sixty miles before him.

About the middle of June his fleet of canoes was seen, coming around a point of land, as the boatmen rapidly paddled into the harbor at Michilimackinac. Here La Salle met Lieutenant Tonti, Father Membré, and their associates, as we have mentioned in the last chapter. The good Father Membré writes:

"I leave you to conceive our mutual joy, damped though it was by the narrative he made us of all his misfortunes, and of that we made him of our tragical adventures. Though La Salle related to us all his calamities, yet never did I remark in him the least alteration. He always maintained his ordinary coolness and self-possession. Any other person would have abandoned the enterprise. But La Salle, by a firmness of mind and constancy almost unequalled, was more resolute than ever to carry out his discovery. We therefore left, to return to Fort Frontenac with his whole party, to adopt new measures, to resume and complete our course, with the help of heaven, in which we put all our trust."

We have no detailed account of the long voyage back to Frontenac, or of the return voyage to the mouth of the Chicago River. In the meagre narratives which have descended to us, there are slight discrepancies which it is impossible to reconcile. Entering Lake Michigan at its northern extremity through the Straits of Mackinac, they paddled down the eastern coast, passed the mouth of St. Joseph's River, rounded the southern curvature of the lake, and reached the mouth of the Chicago River on the 4th of January, 1682. The winter in that region was short, but very severe. The Chicago River presented a solid surface of ice.

Sledges were constructed, upon which the canoes were placed, and dragged by the men over the ice of the river. This journey in mid-winter, over a bleak and often treeless expanse, was slow and toilsome. Having reached the point where the portage commenced, they dragged their sledges, laden with the canoes, baggage, and provisions, across the portage to the Illinois River. They reached this point on the 29th of the month, having spent twenty-three days in the exhausting journey. They were, at that point, according to Father Membré's estimate, two hundred and forty miles from the mouth of the Illinois where it enters into the Mississippi.

Drawing their sledges upon the ice, they day after day followed down the lonely and silent stream, whose banks war had desolated. They passed the smouldering sites of many former villages, where only melancholy scenes of devastation met the eye. They reached Crèvecœur about the 1st of February. It would seem that La Salle, on his previous visit, had repaired the ruins there, so as to provide a temporary home for his party upon its arrival. He found all things as he had left them.

The river below Crèvecœur was free from ice. Having rested for about a week, in the enjoyment of warm fires, in their log-cabins, they launched their canoes into the Illinois River, and on the 6th of February reached the mouth of the river. They found the swollen flood of the Mississippi full of vast masses of ice, pouring down from the distant regions of the north. This detained them till the 13th of the month. They encamped at the same point where Father Hennepin had tarried. A short voyage of a day bore them to the mouth of turbid and turbulent Missouri.

Here they landed at an Indian village, where they seem to have been very kindly received. It will be remembered that La Salle was still intent upon finding some short passage across the continent, of whose width he knew nothing, to the Pacific Ocean. He was much excited by the strange tidings he heard from the Indians here. They assured him that by ascending the river ten or twelve days he would come to a range of mountains where the river took its rise; that numerous and populous Indian villages were scattered all the way along the banks of the river; that by ascending one of the mountain eminences, he would have a view of the vast and boundless sea where great ships were sailing. We cannot now tell whether this was the mere fabrication of some imaginative savage, or whether such was the general opinion of the tribe.

The next day, after a sail of about thirty miles, they reached another Indian village on the bank of the river. Here again they landed peacefully, and warmed the hearts of the savages by a few presents which were to them of priceless value. They journeyed slowly. They could not, in their crowded canoes, carry a large amount of provisions. Consequently they were under the necessity of making frequent stops to catch fish or to hunt for game. Not long after this visit of La Salle, a mission was established in this little village, which was called Marou. It is said that most of them were converted to, at least, nominal Christianity.

Continuing their voyage one hundred and twenty miles down the river, they came to the mouth of the Ohio. Here they made another stop to lay in fresh supplies. The friendly Indians there informed them they could find no suitable camping ground for a distance of nearly one hundred and fifty miles, the banks were so low and so encumbered with rushes and dense brush.

The voyagers remained at the mouth of the Ohio ten days, sending out parties in various directions. One of the Frenchmen, Peter Prudhomme, wandering from his companions, did not return. There were many fears that he had been captured by the Indians, as some of the party had seen fresh Indian trails. The heroic La Salle was not disposed to abandon the man. He threw up some entrenchments for the protection of his company, and despatched several well-armed Frenchmen, with Indian guides, to follow vigorously the trail of the savages, for the recovery of the captive if he had been taken by them. For four days La Salle tarried in his encampment at the mouth of the Ohio.

On the 1st of March the detachment, sent in pursuit of the lost one, returned. They had seen and heard nothing of Peter. Five Indians, however, had been seen, two of whom were caught and brought into the camp. They knew nothing of the lost man. Receiving only friendly treatment, they seemed quite anxious that La Salle should visit their village, which they falsely assured La Salle was distant but a day and a half's journey from the point where they then were. These Indians belonged to the Chickasaw tribe, which subsequently became quite prominent in the history of our land.

With the Indians a day's journey was about thirty miles. La Salle and Father Membré set out to visit the village, guided by the Indians. They do not appear to have had any hesitation in thus placing themselves entirely in the hands of the savages. But after having travelled day and a half through a country diversified with forest, prairie, and mountain, they became satisfied that the Indians were deceiving them, and charged them with it.

They confessed the deception, made some lame apologies for it, and confessed that their village was still at the distance of three days' journey. Without any apparent reluctance they accompanied La Salle and Membré back to the camp. La Salle then sent one of the Indians to the Chickasaw village, with several presents, and to invite the chiefs to meet him, some hundred miles below, as he descended in his canoes. The other Indian consented to remain, and accompany his party down the river.

Just as the voyagers were reëmbarking, the missing man appeared. He had been lost in the forest and for nine days had wandered in the unavailing search for his companions. Fortunately, the weather was mild, game abundant, and, as he had his gun with him, he did not want for food. Cheered by his return, they rejoicingly entered their canoes, and, with cloudless skies overarching them, pushed out into the rapid current, to be swept along through realms to them entirely unknown, and to a point they knew not where.

It was a singular and a beautiful spectacle, which was presented by this flock of large birch canoes, eight or ten in number, filled with Indians, and Frenchmen in Indian costume, gliding down the broad, swift current of the river. The paddles glistened with the reflected rays of the sun. All were in health. There was no toil. New scenes of marvellous desolation, or beauty, or grandeur, were continually opening before them. They were well fed. The mind was kept in a state of delightful excitement. The French are proverbially good-natured and mirthful. Each night's encampment presented a scene of feasting, bonfires and innocent joyous revel. These were indeed sunny days, and this was the poetry of travelling.

The 3d of March, 1682, came. They had then descended the river, as they judged, about one hundred and twenty miles below the mouth of the Ohio. They were approaching, though they knew it not, a large village of the Arkansas Indians, situated on the western banks of the Mississippi. It was concealed from them by a bluff, and by a turn in the stream. An Indian, upon the lookout on the bluff, caught sight of the formidable looking fleet, far up the river, and, supposing it to be filled with hostile savages on the war-path, gave the alarm.

The whole village was instantly thrown into a state of great excitement. The women and children fled back into the forest. The warriors grasped their arms and rallied for battle. As the fleet drew near, all unconscious of the commotion it had excited, the voyagers, not seeing a single Indian, were surprised to hear, on the other side of the bluff, the yells of apparently hundreds of savages. Their piercing war-whoops were blended with the loud beatings of a kind of drum which they had fabricated.

Warned by these hostile demonstrations, La Salle guided his canoes to the other side of the river, which was here about a mile in width. He landed in direct view of the village. With his customary caution, he immediately threw up some intrenchments, behind which his men, with their guns, could beat off almost any number of savages. He knew not but that hundreds of warriors would cross the river in their canoes, to make an impetuous assault upon him.

Having thus guarded against surprise, and afforded the Indians a little time to recover from their first alarm, he then, unarmed, advanced to the water's edge, and by friendly signs endeavored to invite some of the chiefs to come over to meet him.

Several of the chiefs entered a large boat, called a periagua. It was made of the trunk of an immense tree, hollowed out, and carved and decorated with immense labor. Such a wooden canoe was capable of holding a large number of warriors. The chiefs crossed the river until they came to within a quarter of a mile of the shore, and then they stopped, and beckoned the strangers to come and meet them.

La Salle sent one Frenchman, we infer from the narrative that it must have been Father Membré, in a canoe, to meet them. Two of his Indians paddled the boat, until they came alongside of the periagua of the natives. Father Membré, familiar as he was with several Indian dialects, could not speak their language. He however held out to them the calumet of peace, which at once won their confidence; and he found no difficulty in communicating with them by signs. He invited the chiefs to accompany him back to the encampment. They were six in number. Retaining him with them, in the large periagua, they speedily paddled ashore, followed by Membré's canoe, with the two Indian boatmen.

Without any hesitancy, the six Indian chiefs entered into the redoubt which La Salle had thrown up. They appeared frank, unsuspicious, and cordial, and were made very happy by several presents which La Salle placed in their hands. They invited the whole party to cross the river to their village. The canoes were launched, and all crossed the stream, led by the chieftains in their wooden boat. The whole adult male population of the village crowded the banks to receive them; and with every demonstration of friendship. But the timid women and children kept cautiously in the distance.

Eight or ten large birch canoes, from which more than fifty persons landed upon the beach, presented a very imposing appearance. They were nearly all armed with guns, not for aggressive warfare, but for hunting and protection.

The natives crowded around the strangers, conducted them up to their wigwams, which were very pleasantly situated on a rich and tolerably well cultivated plain extending back from the river. The guests were regaled with the greatest profusion of barbarian hospitality. These Indians had attained a very considerable degree of civilization. They had quite a large number of slaves, whom they had captured from tribes with whom they were at war. The fertile fields around were quite well cultivated with corn, beans, melons, and a variety of fruits. Peaches were abundant. Large flocks of turkeys and other domestic fowls crowded their doors. They were a very handsome race; and it was observed that, while the northern Indians were generally moody and taciturn, these savages, beneath more sunny skies, were frank, generous, and gay in the extreme.

Sea Voyage to the Gulf of Mexico.

Father Membré's journal abruptly terminates with the arrival of the party at Fort Miami. We have no detailed account of the adventures of La Salle during the next eight or ten months. We learn incidentally, that Father Membré was sent to Quebec, and thence to France, to convey to the court the tidings of the great discovery, and of the annexation of truly imperial realms to the kingdom of Louis XIV. On the 8th of October, Father Membré left Fort Miami for Quebec. Thence he sailed with Governor Frontenac for France, where he arrived before the close of the year. La Salle remained with the Miami and the Illinois Indians, probably retrieving his fallen fortunes by extensive traffic in furs, of which he had, at the time, a monopoly conferred upon him by the king.

At length, in the autumn of 1683, he also returned to Quebec, and sailed for France, landing at Rochelle on the 13th of December. No man can, in this world, accomplish great results without exposing himself to malignant attacks. Bitter enemies assailed La Salle with venomous hostility. Their hostility was excited by the monopoly of the fur trade, which he enjoyed over all the vast regions he had explored. They despatched atrocious charges against him to the government, denouncing him as a robber, and denying the discoveries which he professed to have made. But Governor Frontenac and Father Membré were both at Versailles, and La Salle's cause was not seriously injured by these malignant charges.

It was the chevalier's object, in this his return to France, to organize a colony to form a settlement in the earthly paradise which he thought that he had discovered on the banks of the Mississippi. He designed to arrange an expedition of such magnitude as would enable him to establish several permanent settlements, and also to explore more extensively the newly discovered country.

The king and the court entered eagerly into plans, which promised to redound greatly to the glory of France. The reputation of La Salle, the grandeur of the undertaking, and a natural curiosity to visit scenes so full of novelty and wonders, induced several gentlemen of distinction and intelligence to embark in the enterprise. Among them was a younger brother of La Salle, with an ecclesiastic called M. Cavalier, and also a nephew. The king conferred a new commission upon La Salle, investing him with the powers almost of viceroyalty. The whole valley of the Mississippi, from Lake Michigan to the Gulf, was called Louisiana, in honor of the then reigning king. The sway of La Salle embraced the whole of this almost limitless region. Seven missionaries accompanied the expedition, under the general supervision of Father Membré, whose virtues and eminent qualification for the station all alike recognized.

Four vessels were equipped for the expedition. The first, called the Joli, was a man-of-war armed with thirty-six guns. The second was a frigate called the Belle. The king made a present of this vessel to La Salle. He had furnished it with a very complete outfit, and with an armament of six guns. The third, called the Aimable, was a merchant-ship of about three hundred tons. It was heavily laden with all those implements and goods which it was deemed would be most useful in the establishment of a colony. The fourth was a light, swift-sailing yacht, called the St. Francis, of but thirty tons. This vessel was also laden with munitions, supplies, and goods for traffic with the Indians. The whole number who embarked, including one hundred soldiers and seven or eight families of women and children, amounted to two hundred and eighty. Care was taken to select good mechanics for the various trades. But, unfortunately, soldiers and seamen were engaged without apparently any reference to character. Thus some of the worst vagabonds of earth were gathered from the seaports of France to colonize the New World.

Nothing with the quarrelsome race of man ever goes smoothly for any considerable length of time. Captain Beaujeu, a Norman seaman of great valor and extensive experience, was commander of the man-of-war, and, as such, was intrusted with the general direction and supervision of the vessels. He was a proud man, accustomed to authority, and he regarded La Salle and his party as passengers, whom he was conveying to their destination, and who, while on board his vessels, were to be subservient to his will.

On the other hand, La Salle regarded Beaujeu as one of his officers, who was to be implicitly obedient to his directions. The idea never occurred to him that Beaujeu was to be taken into partnership, or consulted even, in regard to any of his measures, any farther than La Salle might deem it expedient to consult him or any other of his subordinates. With views so different, a speedy quarrel was inevitable. Beaujeu is represented as a man full of conceit, of narrow mind, and very irritable. La Salle was reserved, self-reliant, keeping his own counsel. Scarcely had the two men met, before they found themselves in antagonism. Before the vessels sailed, Beaujeu wrote to the king's minister as follows:

"You have ordered me, sir, to afford this enterprise every facility in my power. I shall do so. But permit me to say that I take great credit to myself for consenting to obey the orders of La Salle. I believe him to be a worthy man, but he has never served in war except against savages, and has no military rank. I, on the contrary, have been thirteen years captain of a vessel, and have served thirty years by sea and land.

"He tells me that, in case of his death, the command devolves on Chevalier de Tonti. This is certainly hard for me to bear. Though I am not now acquainted with the country, I must be a dull scholar not to obtain an adequate knowledge of it in a month after my arrival. I beg you therefore to give me a share in the command, so that no military operation may be undertaken without consulting me. Should we be attacked by the Spaniards, I am persuaded that men who have never commanded in war could not resist them, as another could do, who had been taught by experience."

Three weeks later, he wrote: "The Joli is prepared for sea. I hope to sail down the river to-morrow. It remains for M. La Salle to sail when he is ready. He has said nothing to me of his designs. As he is constantly changing his plans, I know not whether the provisions will be enough for the enterprise. He is so jealous, and so fearful that some one may penetrate his secrets, that I have refrained from asking him any questions.

"I have already informed you how disagreeable it was for me to be under the orders of M. de la Salle, who has no military rank. I shall however obey him, without repugnance, if you send me orders to that effect. But I beg that they may be such that he can impute no fault to me should he fail to execute what he has undertaken. I am induced to say this because he has intimated that it was my design to thwart his plans. I wish you would inform me what is to be done in regard to the soldiers. He pretends that, on our arrival, they are to be put under his charge. My instructions do not authorize this pretence. I am to afford all the aid in my power, without endangering the safety of the vessels."

The ministry paid no attention to these complaints. They probably decided to leave the commanders to settle such questions among themselves. The four vessels sailed from Rochelle on the 24th of July, 1684. They had advanced but about one hundred and fifty miles when a violent tempest overtook them. The Joli lost her bowsprit. Consequently the little squadron returned to Rochefort. Having repaired damages, the fleet again set sail, on the 1st of August.

La Salle and his suite, if we may so speak of his chosen companions, were on board the Joli, which Captain Beaujeu commanded. On the 8th of August the fleet passed Cape Finisterre, the extreme northwestern point of Spain. On the 20th they reached the island of Madeira. Captain Beaujeu wished to land here, to take in a fresh supply of provisions. La Salle said, emphatically, "No!"

"We have," he said, "an ample supply of both food and water. To anchor there will cause us a delay of six or eight days. It will reveal our enterprise to the Spaniards. It was not the intention of the king that we should touch at that point."

Beaujeu was compelled to submit. But he was very angry and sullen. His sub-officers and sailors were also angry. Time was nothing to them, and they were anticipating grand carousals in port. Sharp words were interchanged, and the quarrel became more bitter. On the 24th they reached the influence of the trade winds, which blow continually from east to west. On the 6th of September they reached the Tropic of Cancer. In crossing this line a custom had long prevailed of performing a rite called baptism upon all on shipboard who then crossed for the first time. The indignity was inflicted upon all alike, without any regard to character or rank. But, by giving the sailors a rich treat, one could secure for himself a little more moderation in the performance of the revolting ceremony.

A very stout sailor, generally the most gigantic man of the crew, grotesquely dressed to represent Father Neptune, would come up over the bows of the vessel and seize his victim. First he would catechize him very closely respecting his object in crossing the line; then he would exact an oath that he would never permit any one, when he was present, to enter the tropics without subjecting him to baptism. Then he would dash several bucketsful of salt water upon his head. This was the mildest form of performing the rite. If the subject for the baptism were, for any reason, obnoxious to the sailors, his treatment was much more severe. He was greased and tarred and shampooed, and shaved with an iron hoop, and treated, in all respects, very roughly.

On board this fleet, the passengers, including one hundred well-armed soldiers, greatly exceeded the number of sailors. La Salle, learning that the sailors were making great preparations for this baptism, resolved that he would not submit to such an indignity, and that his companions and followers should not be subjected to it. He therefore issued orders prohibiting the ceremony. This exasperated the sailors. Beaujeu openly advocated their cause. The seamen were compelled to submit. The antagonism between the two commanders was embittered.

On the 11th of September they reached the latitude of St. Domingo. A dead calm soon ensued. The ships floated as upon a sea of glass. One of the soldiers died. After imposing religious rites, his body was consigned to its ocean sepulchre. The calm was succeeded by a storm. In the darkness and tumult of this tropical tempest the vessels lost sight of each other. Gradually the storm abated. The change of climate had caused much sickness. Fifty were in hospital on board the Joli, including La Salle and both of the surgeons. On the 20th, the grand mountains of St. Helena hove in sight, and the majestic bay of Samana opened before them.

It still required a sail of five days before they reached the Port de Paix, on the northwestern extremity of the island. Here there was a very fine harbor, and here the French governor of the neighboring isle of Tortue had his residence. La Salle had letters to this governor, M. de Cussy, directing him to supply the fleet with everything it might need, and which it was in his power to give. For some unexplained reason Beaujeu silently declined obeying these orders. In the night he sailed directly by the Port de Paix, and doubling Cape St. Nicholas, a hundred miles distant at the western extremity of the island, circled around to the southern shore, and on the 27th cast anchor in a small harbor called the Petit Guave. The voyage thus far, from Rochelle, had occupied fifty-eight days.

This unaccountable change of place for the rendezvous of the scattered vessels caused much embarrassment. We do not know what were the remonstrances of La Salle, or what was the defence of Beaujeu. The Joli had scarcely cast anchor in this remote and silent bay, when a large sail-boat, containing twenty men, who had caught sight of the ship, entered the port, and informed La Salle that not only Governor Cussy was at the Port de Paix, but also the Marquis of Laurent, who was governor-general of all the French West India Islands. This greatly increased the chagrin of La Salle for an interview with them would have greatly facilitated his operations.

Religious ceremonies were, in a remarkable degree, blended with all these explorations. The next day after the Joli cast anchor, all the ship's company was assembled for divine worship, to return thanks to God for their prosperous voyage. La Salle, being convalescent, went ashore with a boat's crew to obtain some refreshments, and to send intelligence across the island, to the governor, of his arrival at Port de Paix. In this message he expressed intense regret that he had not been able to stop at Port de Paix, and entreated the governor, if it were in his power, to visit his ship at Guave.

In consequence of the number of sick on board, they were all landed, shelters were reared for them, and they were refreshed with fresh vegetables, fruit, and exercise in the open air. La Salle was still very feeble. A slow fever was consuming him. The conduct of Beaujeu caused him the greatest embarrassment. We should infer from the narrative of M. Joutel that there was no European settlement at the spot, and but very few native inhabitants, though all the natives were friendly.

In a few days two of the vessels which had been separated from the Joli by the storm, entered the bay, having probably learned from the natives, as they coasted along the shore, where the ship was. The whole of the eastern portion of the island was then held by Spain. As the three vessels were sailing along, two large boats, filled with armed Spaniards, pushed out from the shore and seized the smallest of the vessels—the St. Francis—and carried it off as a prize, with all its crew. This was a very heavy loss, as it deprived the expedition of supplies of which it stood greatly in need. The chagrin of La Salle was increased by the reflection that had Beaujeu obeyed orders and entered Port de Paix, the fleet would have rendezvoused there in perfect safety. The governor very loudly expressed his indignation, in view of the conduct of Captain Beaujeu.

The state of mind of the captain may be inferred from the following extracts from a letter to the French minister, which he wrote at that place:

"Were it not the sickness of Chevalier La Salle, I should have no occasion to write to you, as I am charged only with the navigation and he with the secret. We have arrived here almost all sick. La Salle has been attacked by a violent fever, which affects not more his body than his mind. His brother requested me to take charge of his affairs. I excused myself because I know that when restored to health he would not approve of what I had done.

"It is said that the Spaniards have, in these seas, six men-of-war, each carrying sixty guns. It is true that if the Chevalier de la Salle should not recover, I shall pursue different measures from those which he has adopted, which I do not approve. I cannot comprehend how a man should dream of settling a country surrounded by Spaniards and Indians, with a company of workmen and women, without soldiers.

"If you will permit me to express my opinion, the Chevalier de la Salle should have contented himself with the discovery of his river, without attempting to conduct three vessels and troops across the ocean through seas utterly unknown to him. He is a man of great learning, who has read much, and has some knowledge of navigation. But there is a great difference between theory and practice. The ability to transport canoes through lakes and rivers is very different from that which is required to conduct vessels and troops over remote seas."

After a short delay in this lonely harbor, the fleet, now consisting of but three vessels, again spread its sails. It was agreed to direct their course to Cape St. Antoine, about nine hundred miles distant, at the extreme western point of the island of Cuba. Should the vessels be separated by a storm, they were to rendevous at that place.

As the Aimable, a heavily laden merchantman, was the slowest sailer, it was decided that she should take the lead, the other two following. La Salle, with his brother, Father Membré, and some others, transferred their quarters from the Joli to the Aimable. This movement was also probably influenced by La Salle's desire to escape from the uncongenial companionship of Captain Beaujeu. It was on the 25th of November, 1684, that the voyage was resumed.

Two days' sail brought the fleet within sight of the magnificent island of Cuba. They ran along its southern shore, generally in sight of its towering mountains and its luxuriant foliage, but having the enchanting scenery occasionally veiled from their view by dense fogs. On the 1st of December they caught sight, far away in the south, of the grand island of Cayman. On the 4th of December, they cast anchor in a sheltered bay of the beautiful Island of Pines, but a few miles south of the Cuban coast.

La Salle, with his companions, took a boat and went on shore. Several of the ship's crew rowed the boat. As they approached the sandy beach, they saw an immense crocodile, apparently asleep, enjoying the blaze of a tropical sun. The boatmen drew near as noiselessly as they could. La Salle took deliberate aim and fired. Fortunately the bullet struck a vulnerable point. The monster, after a few convulsive struggles, was dead. The sailors, eager for a taste of fresh meat, kindled a fire and roasted the flesh, which they found tender and palatable. There were no inhabitants at that point. The party separated in small groups, and wandered in all directions, lured by the beauty of the region, and feasting upon the rich tropical fruits which grew in spontaneous abundance.

When about to reëmbark, two of the sailors were missing. Several guns were fired as signals for the lost men, but in vain. The boat returned to the ship. The next morning, at sunrise, a boat's crew of thirty men was sent to search for the wanderers. At length they were found, thoroughly frightened, having passed a very uncomfortable night. The beauty of this island charmed all who beheld it. They were lavish in their praises of its luxuriance, its fruits, its game, and its birds of brilliant plumage.

Again the fleet weighed anchor and, on the 11th, reached Cape Corrientes, one of the most prominent southwestern points of Cuba. Here again they ran into a solitary bay, which, in clustering fruits and vine-draped bowers, and birds on the wing, presented an aspect of almost Eden loveliness. They tarried but a day. Then, taking advantage of a breeze fresh and fair, they passed from the Caribbean Sea into the Gulf of Mexico They had proceeded but about fifteen miles when the wind changed, and became adverse. For two days, by beating, they worked their way slowly against it.

Captain Beaujeu took a boat, and came on board the Aimable, and insisted that the vessels should put back to Cape Antoine, and ride at anchor there until the wind should prove favorable. La Salle could not consider this measure judicious. But, weary of contention and anxious to agree with Beaujeu whenever he could, he reluctantly gave his consent. They ran back to the land, cast anchor, remained two days in a dead calm, when suddenly a tropical tempest arose, which was almost a tornado. The Belle dragged her anchor, and was driven violently against the Aimable, carrying away her bowsprit, and greatly injuring much of her rigging. The Aimable would have been sunk had she not cut her cable and escaped. The anchor was lost.

On the 18th, the wind became fair. Having repaired damages as far as was in their power, the fleet again set sail. It was ten o'clock in the morning of a very delightful day. Directing their course northwesterly, they sailed, with a gentle breeze and occasional calms, nine days' without seeing land or encountering any event of importance. On the 28th, land was discovered. It was but a few miles distant. It was evidently the continent of North America, and consisted of a long reach of low land, fringed with a dense forest, and elevated but a few feet above the level of the Gulf.

A shallop was speedily equipped, and La Salle, with a few of his chosen companions and a boat's crew, all well-armed, repaired to the shore to reconnoitre. Another boat, also similarly equipped, was ordered soon to follow. The Belle was directed to keep up careful soundings, and to range along the coast as near the shore as was safe.

La Salle's party soon reached the shore, and landed upon a very beautiful meadow. But they had no time for exploration. The freshening wind rolled in such a surf that there was great danger that their boat would be swamped. They were compelled hastily to reëmbark, and return to the ship. Slowly the vessels coasted along the uninviting shore, looking in vain for any inlet or any river's mouth.

On the 2d of January, 1685, a dense fog settled down over the sea and the land, so enveloping the ships that no object could be seen at the distance of a few yards.

La Salle ordered cannon occasionally to be fired on board the Aimable, to let the other two vessels know where he was. As there was scarcely a breath of wind, there was no necessity that the fleet should be scattered. When the fog the next day was dissipated, the Joli was not in sight. Toward evening, however, the ship was again seen. In a few days they discovered an inlet, which La Salle carefully examined from the mast-head. He judged it to be the Bay of Appalachicola, then called Espiritu Santo, on the Florida coast. They therefore pressed on westerly, hoping soon to reach the Mississippi.

To make it sure that he should not pass the mouth of the river, which, flowing through very low and marshy soil, was designated by no landmark, La Salle desired to send a party of thirty men ashore to follow along the coast. But the wind rose, and the surf dashed so violently upon the muddy banks, that a landing could not be effected. Slowly the fleet moved along until the 13th, when it was found necessary to land to take in water. A shallop was sent ashore, with five or six seamen, well-armed. There was no inlet, and no creek to afford any protection, and the surf still rolled in heavily.

Though the dense forest spread its gloom far and wide around, there opened before them a small meadow of but a few acres, green, treeless and smooth as a floor. The boat was directed toward that spot. When within a gun-shot of the land, a troop of about a dozen savages, tall, stalwart men, entirely naked, emerged from the forest, and came down to the water's edge. The surf was so high that there was much danger that the boat would be swamped in an attempt to land. The seamen therefore cast anchor, to consider what was to be done.

When the savages saw that they were at a standstill, they made friendly signs, inviting the strangers to land. They waded out into the surf and beckoned to them. Apparently the boat could not pass safely through the surf. There was a large amount of drift-wood lining the shore. Several of the savages selected a large smooth log. This they pushed through the surf. Ranging themselves on each side, they clung to the log with one arm, while, with the other, they paddled. Without any hesitancy, unarmed and helpless, they clambered into the boat.

When five were in, the seamen motioned to the others to go to another boat which was then approaching, and which conveyed La Salle. The savages seemed not to entertain the slightest suspicion of danger. La Salle was very glad to receive them. He hoped that they could give him some information respecting the river he sought. But all his efforts were in vain. Though he spoke several Indian languages, he could not make them understand him. They were all taken on board the vessel. With much curiosity they examined its wonders. They were feasted, and seemed quite at home in smoking the pipe of fragrant tobacco. The sheep, the swine, and the poultry, they had evidently never seen before. But when they were shown the skin of a cow, which had recently been killed, they seemed much delighted, and indicated that they had seen such animals before, doubtless referring to the buffaloes.

Having received many presents, a boat was sent to carry them as near the shore as it was safe to go. The savages bound their presents upon their heads, and letting themselves gently down into the water, swam to the land. Marvellous must have been the stories which they narrated that night, in their wigwams, to admiring crowds. Quite a large group of Indians was seen gathered upon the shore to greet them, as they came back.

La Salle had found it impossible to understand their signs. But his apprehensions were somewhat excited by the thought that they might have endeavored to indicate to him that he had already passed the mouth of the Mississippi.

That evening the wind rose fresh and fair. Raising their anchors, and keeping near the shore, with frequent soundings, they pressed on toward the southwest. The next day came a dead calm. Each vessel floated on the glassy sea, "like a painted ship on a painted ocean." Thus they moved along, day after day, encountering calms, when not a ripple was to be seen on the mirrored expanse, and fresh breezes, which tossed the ocean in billowy foam, and storms which threatened to tear the masts from the hulls.

On the 14th of January they attempted again to effect a landing in the boats. But the surf prevented. They saw, however, upon a beautiful prairie, extending with its waving grass and gorgeous flowers as far as the eye could reach, vast herds of wild horses and buffaloes. All on board the vessels were greatly excited by this spectacle. They were eager to land, that they might enjoy the pleasure of an encampment and the excitement of hunting and the chase.

The land was now found trending more and more to the south. They had reached a latitude considerably below that of the mouth of the Mississippi, as ascertained by La Salle, upon his first visit. The whole aspect of the country seemed changed. There were immense treeless prairies continually opening before them, crowded with game, and especially with immense herds of horses and buffaloes.

At length they came to apparently the mouth of a small river. A boat was sent on shore, with orders to kindle a fire, as a signal, should they find a good place for landing. La Salle stood upon the deck of the Aimable, eagerly watching. Soon he saw the smoke curling up through the clear air of the prairie. Just as La Salle was entering his boat for the shore, the wind freshened and tumbled in such billows from the open sea that the boat, which had already landed, was compelled precipitately to return. The next morning the wind abated La Salle felt himself lost. He resolved to land, with a strong party, and make a thorough exploration of the region, that he might, by observation or by communication with such inhabitants as he might discover, find out where he was. He had many apprehensions that he had passed the mouth of the Mississippi, and that he was far in the west, skirting the coast of Mexico.

Life upon the St. Lawrence and the Lakes Two Hundred Years Ago.

About two hundred years ago, a young man, by the name of Robert de la Salle, crossed the Atlantic to seek his fortune in the wilds of Canada. He was born on the 22d of November, 1643, in the city of Rouen, the ancient capital of Normandy,[1] France. He was the child of one of the most distinguished families, and enjoyed all the advantages of social and educational culture which the refinement and scholarship of those times could confer. He was by nature a thoughtful, pensive young man, whose soul was profoundly moved by the unsearchable mystery of this our earthly being. In very early life he found, in the religion of Jesus, a partial solution of the sublime drama of conflict, sin, and sorrow which is being enacted on this globe, and which has no solution whatever but in the revelations of the Bible.

Born almost beneath the shadow of the great cathedral of Rouen, and of an ancestry which from time immemorial had been the children of the Catholic Church, and instructed from infancy by revered ecclesiastics of that communion he almost as a matter of necessity accepted Christianity as presented to him in the ritual of the Church of Rome. Nature had endowed him with a restless, enterprising spirit, which led him eagerly to plunge into those wild and perilous adventures from which most persons would have turned with dismay.

La Salle received an accomplished education in one of the best seminaries in Europe. Upon graduating, he received from the professors a testimonial of his high intellectual attainments and his unblemished moral character. About the year 1669 he sailed from France for Canada. His object probably was to accumulate a fortune by the barter of European commodities for the furs and skins obtained by the Indians. He pushed forward to the frontiers, established trading houses, and in the well-freighted birch canoe, explored remote lakes and rivers.

At that time the whole of the great northwest of this country was an entirely unknown land. No one knew whether the continent was one thousand or ten thousand miles in breadth. It was the general impression that the waves of the Pacific were dashing against the rocks a few miles west of the chain of great lakes which fringed the southern shores of Canada. La Salle was meditating an expedition up the St. Lawrence, through the majestic chain of lakes to Lake Superior, from the western end of which he confidently expected to find easy communication with the Pacific Ocean. There he would again spread his adventurous sail, having discovered a new route to China and the Indies.

There was grandeur in this conception. It would entirely change the thoroughfare of the world's commerce. It would make the French possessions in the New World valuable beyond conception. This all-important route, between Europe and Asia, would be under the control of the French crown.

M. Frontenac, an ambitious and energetic Frenchman, was then governor-general of Canada. He entered cordially into the plans of La Salle, conferred frequently with him upon the subject, and was sanguine in the expectation that, by this great discovery, his own name would be immortalized, and he would secure the highest applause from the Grande Monarque, Louis XIV.

As early as the year 1660, the Indians had reported, at Quebec, that many leagues west of the great lakes there was a wonderful river, the Great River, the Father of Waters, the most majestic stream in the world, flowing from the unexplored solitudes of the wilderness in the north, far away into the unknown regions of the south.

One day a birch canoe, with a little band of hardy, wayworn voyagers, French and Indians, came paddling down the swift current of the St. Lawrence and ran their boat upon the beach where the little cluster of dwellings stood, called Quebec. They brought the startling intelligence that Father Marquette, a great and good man whom all knew, had discovered the Great River, which the Indians called the Mississippi, and had followed down its majestic current for hundreds of leagues, until he had reached the thirty-third degree of latitude. He had ascertained, beyond all question, that it emptied its flood into the Gulf of Mexico. This important discovery, it was claimed, gave to the French, according to the received law of nations, the whole valley of the Mississippi and its tributaries, however great that valley might prove to be.

This intelligence was received with every demonstration of public rejoicing. It gave, as it was supposed, to France a new world of boundless resources. The garrison band played its most exultant airs. Salvos of artillery echoed along the majestic cliffs. There was feasting, dancing, and singing, and the spacious church was thronged with worshippers praising God with the national anthems of Te Deum.

This great event gave a new impulse and a new direction to the ambition of La Salle. He at once conceived the idea of establishing a series of military and trading posts along the whole length of the lakes, and upon all the important points of the great river and its tributaries. But even then he was but little aware how magnificent was the realm which these tributaries watered. He would thus, however, in the name of the King of France, take military possession of the whole territory.

Governor Frontenac gave his most cordial approval to the gigantic plan. His own mind was greatly excited by the thought of the grandeur of a chain of forts extending from the mouth of the St. Lawrence to the Gulf of Mexico. He urged La Salle to go immediately to France, seek an audience with the king, lay the plan before him, and seek the royal patronage. The renowned Colbert was then minister of finance and marine. The governor furnished La Salle with letters to the minister which would secure for him a respectful reception.

La Salle, a penniless adventurer, recrossed the ocean. It was the year 1675. His plan at once attracted attention, and he was cordially received by both minister and king. The courtiers rallied around him with much enthusiasm. The king, having honored him with the title of chevalier, authorized him to rebuild, on the shores of Lake Ontario, Fort Frontenac, which was falling to decay, and invested him with the office of seignory or governorship of the fort and its adjacent territory.

The sublime plan which La Salle thus proposed, could only be carried into execution by the continuous labors of many years. La Salle returned to Canada full of bright dreams for the future. For more than two years he was employed in rearing the walls of Fort Frontenac and improving the region around. This important post occupied a commanding position near the eastern extremity of Lake Ontario.

At the close of the year 1677 he again returned to France, to report the progress he had made. His reception by the court was even more cordial than before, and he received from the king new honors and more extended privileges. On the 14th of July, 1678, he sailed from Rochelle for Quebec. He took with him an Italian gentleman, by the name of Tonti, as his lieutenant, and a party of thirty men. After a two months' voyage, they landed at Quebec on the 15th of September. Then, paddling up the swift current of the St. Lawrence, they passed the little cluster of log-cabins surrounded with Indian wigwams at Montreal, and after a voyage of between three and four hundred miles reached Fort Frontenac.

This was indeed a post far away in the wilderness. It was strongly built, with four bastions on the northern side of the entrance to the lake, at the head of a snug forest-fringed bay, where quite a fleet of small vessels could be sheltered from the winds.

It was a very curious spectacle which was then witnessed upon this remote frontier of civilization. The unbroken wilderness, where wolves howled and bears roamed, spread in apparently unbroken gloom in all directions. The fort rose in quite massive proportions, enclosing within its palisades a number of cabins, which the garrison occupied, and which were stored with goods suitable for traffic with the natives. There was a small green meadow spread around, which was covered with wigwams of every picturesque variety. Groups of Indians, of various tribes, were moving about. The warriors were painted and plumed, and many of them very gorgeously attired. Women, young and graceful girls, and little children, were clustered around the camp fires, some with busy hands usefully employed; others shouting and sporting in all the varieties of barbaric pastimes.

It was an instructive scene, emblematic of this fallen world. The frowning fort, with its threatening armament, proclaimed that sin had entered the world with its war and blood and misery, making man the direful foe of his brother man. The crystal stream and lake; the azure of the overarching skies; the bright, serene autumnal day; the foliage, the verdure, the picturesque wigwams; the peaceful employments of the women, and the sports and shouts of the merry children, showed that our ruined Eden still retained some of those glories which embellished it before man rebelled against his Maker.

La Salle, on his return from Europe, in the autumn of 1678, had brought with him a select company of sailors, carpenters, and other mechanics. At Quebec a number of Canadian boatmen joined him. These men he sent forward to Fort Frontenac, which was now virtually his castle, with the surrounding territory his estate. The boats were heavily laden with all articles for trading with the Indians, and with all the essentials for building and rigging vessels. He soon followed them, in an open birch canoe, with one or two companions. It was a long and perilous river voyage, paddling up the swift current of the St. Lawrence between its thousand islands, struggling against its rapids, and seeking for the eddies along its lonely forest-fringed shores. Several times they came near being wrecked, with inevitable death.

At the close of the day it was always necessary to run the canoe ashore, to land and encamp. But with hardy men, fond of adventure, these were pleasures rather than pains. With their axes, in half an hour they could construct a sheltering camp. A brilliant fire would dispel all gloom, with its wide-spreading illumination. The fragrant twigs of the hemlock furnished a soft couch. Here they cooked their suppers, sang their songs, told their stories, and, free from all care, probably experienced at least as much pleasure as is usually found in parlors the most sumptuous.

Indian villages were quite profusely scattered along the banks of this majestic river. The scene was often quite exciting as the canoe of the voyagers approached one of these clusters of picturesque wigwams in the evening twilight. The Indians were fond of the song, and the dance, and the blaze of the bonfire. The whole expanse of river, cliff, and forest, would be lighted up. Shouts of barbaric revelry echoed through the sublime solitudes. And the warrior, the squaw, and the pappoose, flitted about in all the varied employments of savage life.

In these Indian wigwams, at night, the voyagers almost invariably found hospitable refuge. The Indians were generally friendly. The traffic which the French traders introduced was of inestimable value to the poor savages. And even those who were disposed to look with suspicion upon the encroachments of the white men, were overawed by the thunderings and lightnings of their death-dealing muskets. There were fishes of delicious flavor in the stream, and game in great variety upon the banks. These viands, with the food they took with them, furnished breakfasts and suppers which they deemed even sumptuous.

The fort was reached in safety. On the 18th of November, La Salle sent a small vessel of ten tons burden, with a deck, to go to the farther end of Lake Ontario, a distance of about two hundred miles, and to ascend the Niagara River until the falls were reached. The vessel contained about thirty workmen, with provisions and implements for erecting a fort and building a vessel beyond the falls at the extreme eastern end of Lake Erie. Having ascended the river as far as possible, they were to transport their effects along an Indian trail, in the wilderness, several miles above the falls and the rapids, until they reached comparatively still water at the opening of the lake. Here, in mid-winter, they were to construct their fortified magazine, and build a vessel for their vast inland tour through almost unknown seas, in search of the distant Mississippi.

Even then this continent was so little known that many supposed that the Mississippi emptied into the Pacific Ocean, and that thus the long-sought-for route to China would be found.

Only about ten years before, in the year 1669, La Salle, on an exploring tour with a party of missionaries in birch canoes, had discovered these falls. M. Galinee, in his journal of the expedition, writes:

"We found a river one eighth of a league broad, and extremely rapid, forming the outlet from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. The depth is extraordinary, for we found close to the shore, fifteen or sixteen fathoms of water. This outlet is forty miles long. It has, from ten to twelve miles above its embouchure into Lake Ontario, one of the finest cataracts in the world. All the Indians say that the river falls from a rock higher than the tallest pines. We heard the roar at the distance of ten or twelve miles. The fall gives such momentum to the water, that its current prevented our ascending, except with great difficulty. The current above the falls is so rapid, that it often sucks in deer and stags, elk and roebuck, endeavoring to cross the river, and overwhelms them in its frightful abyss."

This is the earliest description of the falls on record. At this time nearly the whole of the present State of New York was a dense, unbroken wilderness. It is very evident, that among the Indians there were, as in every community, good men and bad men. But on the whole, the condition of humanity among the savages must have been dreadful. What are we to think of a state of society in which every man's reputation and distinction depended upon the number of human scalps, torn from the slain victims by his own hands, with which he could fringe his garments?

On this tour La Salle visited the Seneca Indians in Western New York, where the beautiful cities of civilization and Christianity now adorn the landscape. Here they witnessed one of the most tragic spectacles of savage life.

Some warriors arrived in one of the villages with a prisoner. He was a finely formed young man, about nineteen years of age, from the Shawnee tribe residing near the Scioto River. They had clothed their victim for the sacrifice. Anxious that he should endure the torture as long as possible, they had treated him tenderly, that his bodily strength might not be weakened. He had been given, according to their custom, to an aged Indian woman, in place of her son who had been killed. It was at her option to adopt him or to cause him to be put to death by torture. She chose the torture.

The young man was taken into a cabin adjoining that which was occupied by La Salle and Galinee. The two Frenchmen visited him in the evening. Three women were wailing the death of their relative who had been killed, and were heaping imprecations upon the victim through whose tortures they hoped to avenge the death of the one who had been slain. The Christians pleaded earnestly for him, and offered large rewards to obtain him as a guide to conduct them to the Ohio. All was in vain.

At the earliest dawn of the next morning, a group came rushing into La Salle's cabin to announce that the torture was about to commence. They went out and found the victim entirely stripped of his clothing, and so bound to a stake that he could move for a distance of two or three feet. The whole band—men, women, and children—were gathered exultingly around, to enjoy the cruel pastime. The poor boy well knew what he had to undergo, for he had probably often assisted in similar scenes.

M. Galinee was slightly acquainted with the Algonquin language; he could hold some conversation with the captive. The victim, pale and terror-stricken, entreated the Frenchmen to intercede for him, that his execution might be postponed until the next day. Again they renewed their efforts to save the boy. They offered to pay a large amount of their most valuable effects for his ransom. But the Indians shook their heads and said, "It is our custom: he must die."

A large fire had been kindled near by. In it there was a long gun-barrel heated to a red heat. An Indian warrior, a staid, sober man, came forward with much dignity of manner, and taking the red-hot gun-barrel pressed it upon the soles of the victim's feet, and moved it slowly up his legs. The skin and flesh smoked and crackled under the terrible infliction. The agony was such that the poor boy could not refrain from loud shrieks, and he was thrown into the most convulsive contortions.

The savages—the stern men, the women, the girls, the boys—were delighted. As they listened to the shrieks and witnessed the agonizing struggles of their victim, they clapped their hands, and danced and shouted in fiend-like exultation. The heated iron was passed over his whole body, from the sole of his feet to the crown of his head. There was not a spot left which was not blistered and roasted. And still they carefully avoided touching any vital point, that the horrible torture might be continued as long as possible.

For six hours this poor creature endured every variety of agony which diabolical ingenuity could inflict. I will not continue the narration. It is too harrowing to be contemplated. But it is needful to go thus far to show what the Indians were without the Gospel. Galinee writes:

"At length they knocked him down with a stone, and throwing themselves upon him, cut his body in pieces. One carried off his head, another an arm, a third some other member, which they put in the pot to boil for a feast. Many offered some to the Frenchmen, telling them there was nothing in the world better to eat; but no one desired to try the experiment.

"In the evening all assembled in the public place, each with a stick in his hand, with which they began to beat the cabins on all sides, making a very loud noise, to chase away, they said, the soul of the deceased, which might be concealed in some corner to do them injury."

This scene took place in Western New York, a mile and a half west of Boughton Hill, but about two hundred years ago. Surely the religion of Jesus has improved the condition of humanity.

La Salle and Galinee, unable to endure the spectacle, retired, in anguish of spirit, to their cabin. "As I was praying to God," writes Galinee, "and very sad, La Salle came and told me that from the excitement he saw prevailing, he was apprehensive that the Indians might insult us, and that we had better return to the canoes." Hastily they retired.

But let us return from this digression. La Salle joined his companions at the head of Niagara River, on the borders of Lake Erie, on the 29th of January, 1679. The river, above the falls, was a sheet of ice, resembling a plain paved with fine polished marble. While many of his men had been employed building a vessel to be launched upon the lake, others had boldly explored all the surrounding region, purchasing of the Indians furs and skins. The winter was intensely cold, and the snow was deep. There was a small cluster of Indian wigwams on the Niagara River below the Falls.

The Indians, men, women and children, received La Salle and his party even affectionately. They took the strangers into their warm cabins, spread bear-skin couches for them, to sleep with their feet toward the fire, and fed them with their daintiest bits of game. White-fish were taken in great abundance at that place, and were deemed in flavor equal to the golden brook-trout. The floating ice endangered their brigantine. The Indians aided with infinite labor in dragging it to a safe place upon the beach, just below those towering cliffs which fringe so large a portion of this wild river. This spot was near the present site of Queenstown, on the western side of the stream.

All the goods were to be transported through a trail of the forest, encumbered with snow, around the falls, a distance of about twenty miles, on the shoulders of men. The Indians, with fraternal kindness, aided in these herculean labors, and were amply repaid for days of toil, by a knife, a hatchet, or a few trinkets, as valuable to them as are diamonds and pearls to a duchess. La Salle constructed a fortified dépôt at this place, to serve as a base for future operations. Here he could store such additional supplies as he might order from Fort Frontenac. Strange as it may seem, it appears that he could leave priceless treasure in a frail log-hut, thus far away in the wilderness, under the protection of the Indians themselves. And yet these very men and women, had La Salle been captured in battle, would have shouted and leaped for joy in seeing him writhing and shrieking beneath fiend-like tortures. Such is fallen man. He is the ruin of a once noble fabric. But many fragments of his former grandeur still remain. There is no philosophy, save the religion of the Bible, which can explain these discordances.

On the 20th of January, 1679, La Salle, with his long train of heavily laden men in single file, reached his large log-cabin and ship-yard in the midst of a dense forest on the shore of Lake Erie. They brought upon their backs provisions, merchandise, ammunition, and materials for rigging the vessel. The dock-yard—it could hardly be called a fort—was about six miles above Niagara Falls, on the western side of the river, at the outlet of a little stream called Chippewa Creek.

The men there had been employed in erecting their hut, cutting ship timber, and preparing the ground for building their vessel. There were many Indians continually visiting them. La Salle, the very week of his arrival, laid the keel of his vessel, and with his own hand drove the first bolt. He had no thought of encroaching upon the lands of the Indians, or of erecting any forts in antagonism to them. The object of his expedition was solely to make discoveries in the name of France, to establish trading stations for the purchase of valuable furs of the Indians, and to erect throughout the region he traversed military posts, over which the banners of France might float, which would prove that by the right of discovery, the region belonged to France and not to England. The foe to be guarded against was the British Government, not the Indian tribes.

With characteristic sagacity, La Salle summoned a council of the chiefs of all the neighboring tribes, and addressed them in substance as follows:

"I come to you as a friend and a brother. I wish to buy your furs. I will pay you for them in guns and powder, knives, hatchets, kettles, beads, and such other articles as you want. Thus you can do me good, and I can do you good. We can be brothers. I am building a vessel, that I may visit other tribes, purchase their furs, and carry to them our goods. Let us smoke the pipe of friendship, and shake hands. The Great Spirit will be pleased to see us, His children, love one another and help each other. I wish to establish a trading-post here, where I can collect my furs, where you can come to sell them. And here you will find mechanics who will mend your guns, knives, and kettles, when they get out of order."

These were honest words. They were convincing. All smoked the pipe and grasped hands in token of fraternity. The Frenchman was a benefactor, not an enemy. His life was to be carefully protected. Should he, from unkind treatment, refuse to come to their country, they could buy no more guns, or knives, or kettles. Henceforth every wigwam welcomed the entrance of a Frenchman.

La Salle, while engaged in building his vessel, despatched several canoes along each shore of Lake Erie, to visit every Indian village and purchase their furs. Indian friends paddled the canoes and acted as interpreters. The arrival of one of these canoes at an Indian village was an occasion of universal rejoicing. Happy was the chief who could be honored by entertaining the white trader in his wigwam. The Frenchman was in no more danger in moving about amid their dwellings and forests, than he would have been in traversing the boulevards in Paris.

A poor Indian would bring in some rich furs, to him scarcely of any value, but worth ten dollars in London or Paris. He would receive in exchange a strong, keen-edged pocket-knife, worth in London or Paris perhaps half a dollar, but to him worth ten times ten dollars. He would go home to his wigwam so happy that he could scarcely sleep. He would show his almost priceless treasure to his wife, his children, his neighbors. Accustomed to shave down his bow and arrows only with such an edge as a hard stone could afford, he was filled with inexpressible delight as the keenly cutting steel performed its wondrous work.

The young lady of wealthy parents may rejoice when the grand piano first enters her father's parlor. The fashionable matron may feel some degree of exultation as she regards the splendor of her newly furnished reception-room. But their joy was as nothing compared with the delight with which an Indian woman, for the first time in her life, hung a stout iron kettle over her cabin fire.

La Salle named his vessel the "Griffin," as that animal was one of the emblems on his family coat-of-arms. During the winter, while the vessel was on the stocks, circumstances required the presence of La Salle at Fort Frontenac. Promptly he set out for a journey on foot of three hundred miles through the snow and the woods. Two men accompanied him. A strong dog dragged a portion of the baggage on a sled. Wherever night overtook them they hastily constructed their camp, built their fire, cooked their supper, wrapped themselves in furs, and fell asleep. He seemed to think no more of such a journey than a gentleman does now of a trip, in cushioned cars, from Boston to New Orleans. But nothing in this world ever goes smoothly a long time. In every man's life it may be said,

"Storm after storm rises dark o'er my way."

Several boats laden with supplies bound from Frontenac to Niagara were lost in tempests on the lake. This caused great embarrassment. Provisions even became scarce. The laborers would have suffered for food but for the services of Indian hunters who brought in deer and other game. The fur trade was becoming a matter of great importance. There were many private traders and companies engaged in the traffic, who were alarmed in view of the magnitude of the operations contemplated by La Salle, and of the monopoly which had been granted to him by the king. Here again we see the dark side of human nature. These men, Frenchmen, nominal Christians, endeavored to rouse the Indians against La Salle, even to burnings and massacres. They said to the savages:

"La Salle wishes to take possession of your whole country. He is building a fort at Niagara, and another at Erie. He is building a large vessel, that he may explore all your distant lakes and large rivers. He will erect his strong forts upon every commanding spot. These forts he will garrison with armed men, well provided with muskets, and big guns whose roar is like that of thunder. Then he will take your lands and bring in white men by thousands, and you will all be killed or driven away.

"Your only safety is in destroying the forts at Niagara and Erie, and in burning the vessel he is building, before it is launched. We will not trespass on your lands. We will build no forts. We will bring to your villages, in our canoes, all the goods you want and will buy all your furs. Thus you will be in no danger."

These plausible representations alarmed the Indians. Some of them visited the encampment, and with a suspicious eye watched all the movements. There were two parties formed, the friendly and the unfriendly. La Salle was embarrassed. He might be attacked. His little handful of men would need a strong fortress for their protection. But to strengthen his works would confirm the fears of his foes and add to their number. An Indian woman revealed to him a plot to set fire to his brigantine on the stocks.

He kept a careful watch, ordered all his men to be secretly ready for a surprise, and pushed forward the building of the vessel with all vigor. Early in April the vessel was launched. The sublime Te Deum resounded through the solitudes of the forest as thanksgivings were offered to God for the success of the enterprise thus far. Prayers were breathed forth that God would guide and bless the vessel and its crew. The vessel was moored at a safe distance from the shore. All the men swung their hammocks on board their floating fortress, and were quite secure from any intrusion of the savages.



1   De La Salle among the Senecas, in 1669. By O. H. Marshall, Buffalo Historical Society.