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[ Introduction ] [ Part 1 ] [Part 2 ] [Part 3 ] [ Part 4 ] [ Part 5 ]
[ Part 6 ] [ Part 7 ] [ Part 8 ] [ Part 9 ] [ Part 10 ]
OF THE NEW COUNTRIES DISCOVERED BY THE FATHER.
VARIOUS PARTICULARS. MEET ING WITH SOME SAVAGES.
FIRST NEWS OF THE SEA AND OF EUROPEANS.
GREAT DANGER AVOIDED BY MEANS OF THE CALUMET.
After proceeding about 2o Leagues straight to the south, and a little less to the southeast, we found ourselves at a river called ouaboukigou, The mouth of which is at the 46th degree of latitude. Before reaching it, we passed by a Place that is dreaded by the Savages, because they believe that a manitou is there,-that is to say, a demon,-that devours travelers; and The savages, who wished to divert us from our undertaking, warned us against it. This is the demon: there is a small cove, surrounded by rocks 20 feet high, into which The whole Current of the river rushes; and, being pushed back against the waters following It, and checked by an Island near by, the Current is Compelled to pass through a narrow Channel. This is not done without a violent Struggle between all these waters, which force one another back, or without a great din, -which inspires terror in the savages, who fear everything. But this did not prevent us from passing, and arriving at Waboukigou.Im This river flows from the lands of the Bast, where dwell the people called Chaouanons in so great numbers that in one district there are as many as 23 villages, and 15 in another, quite near one another. They are not at all warlike, and are the nations whom the Iroquois go so far to seek, and war against without any rea. son; and, because these poor people cannot defend themselves, they allow themselves to be captured and taken Like flocks of sheep; and, innocent though they are, they nevertheless sometimes experience The barbarity of the Iroquois, who cruelly bum Them.
A short distance above the river of which I have just spoken are cliffs, on which our frenchmen noticed an iron mine, which they consider very rich. There are several veins of ore, and a bed a foot thick, and one sees large masses of it united with Pebbles. A sticky earth is found there, of three different colors -purple, violet, and Red. The water in which the latter is washed assumes a bloody tinge. There is -also very heavy, red sand. I placed some on a paddle, which was dyed with its color -so deeply that The water could not wash it away during the 15 days while I used it for paddling.
Here we Began to see Canes, or large reeds, which grow on the bank of the river; their color is a very pleasing green; all the nodes are marked by a Crown of Long, narrow, and pointed leaves. They are very high, and grow so thickly that The wild cattle have some difficulty in forcing their way through them.
Hitherto, we had not suffered any inconvenience from mosquitoes; but we were entering into their home, as it were. This is what the savages of this quarter do to protect themselves against them. They erect a 'scaffolding, the floor of which consists only of poles, so that it is open to the air in order that the smoke of the fire made underneath may pass through, and drive away those little creatures, which cannot endure it; the savages lie down upon the poles, over which bark is spread to keep off rain. These scaffoldings also serve them as protection against The excessive and Unbearable heat of this country; for they lie in the shade, on the floor below, and thus protect themselves against the sun's rays, enjoying the cool breeze that circulates freely through the scaffolding.
With the same object, we were compelled to erect a sort of cabin on The water, with our sails as a protection against the mosquitoes and the rays of the sun. While drifting down with The current, in this condition, we perceived on land some savages armed with guns, who awaited us. I at once offered them my plumed calumet, while our frenchmen prepared for defense, but delayed firing, that The savages might be the first to discharge their guns. I spoke to them in huron, but they answered me by a word which seemed to me a declaration of war against us. However, they were as frightened as we were; and what we took for a signal for battle was an Invitation that they gave us to draw near, that they might give us food. We therefore landed, and entered their Cabins, where they offered us meat from wild cattle and bear's grease, with white plums, which are very good. They have guns, hatchets, hoes, Knives, beads, and flasks of double glass, in which they put Their powder. They wear Their hair long, and tattoo their bodies after the hiroquois fashion. The women wear head-dresses and garments like those of the huron women. They assured us that we were no more than ten days' journey from The sea; that they bought cloth and all other goods from the Europeans who lived to The east, that these Europeans had rosaries and pictures; that they played upon Instruments; that some of them looked Like me, and had been received by these savages kindly. Nevertheless, I saw none who seemed to have received any instruction in the faith; I gave Them as much as I could, with some medals.
This news animated our courage, and made us paddle with Fresh ardor. We thus push forward, and no longer see so many prairies, because both shores of The river are bordered with lofty trees. The cottonwood, elm, and basswood trees there are admirable for Their height and thickness. The great numbers of wild cattle, which we heard bellowing, lead us to believe that The prairies are near. We also saw Quail on the water's edge. We killed a little parroquet, one half of whose head was red, The other half and The Neck yellow, and The whole body green. We had gone down to near the 33rd degree of latitude having proceeded nearly all the time in a southerly direction, when we perceived a village on The water's edge called Mitchigamea.38 We had recourse to our Patroness and guide, The Blessed VIRGIN IMMACULATE; and we greatly needed 'her assistance, For we heard from afar The savages who were inciting one another to the Fray by their Continual yells. They were armed with bows, arrows, hatchets, clubs, and shields. They prepared to attack us, on both land and water; part of them embarked in great wooden canoes-some to ascend, others to descend the river, in order to Intercept us and surround us on all sides. Those who were on land came and went, as if to commence The attack. In fact, some Young men threw themselves into The water, to come and seize my Canoe; but the current compelled Them to return to land. One of them then hurled his club, which passed over without striking us. In vain I showed The calumet, and made them signs that we were not coming to war against them. The alarm continued, and they were already preparing to pierce us with arrows from all sides, when God suddenly touched the hearts of the old men, who were standing at the water's edge. This no doubt happened through the sight of our Calumet, which they had not clearly distinguished from afar; but as I did not cease displaying it, they were influenced by it, and checked the ardor of their Young men. Two of these elders even,-after casting into our canoe, as if at our feet, Their bows and quivers, to reassure us-entered the canoe, and made us approach the shore, whereon we landed, not without fear on our part. At first, we had to speak by signs, because none of them understood the six languages which I spoke. At last, we found an old man who could speak a little Ilinois.
We informed them, by our presents, that we were going to the sea. They understood very well what we wished to say to Them, but I know not whether they apprehended what I told them about God, and about matters pertaining to their salvation. This is a seed cast into the ground, which will bear fruit in its time. We obtained no other answer than that we would learn all that we desired at another large village, called Akamsea, which was only 8 or 10, leagues lower down. They offered us sagamit6 and fish, and we passed The night among them, with some anxiety.