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DEPARTURE OF THE FATHER FROM THE ILINOIS;
OF THE PAINTED MONSTERS WHICH HE SAW UPON THE GREAT RIVER MISSISIPI;
OF THE RIVER PEKITANOUT. CONTINUATION OF THE VOYAGE.
WE take leave of our Illinois at the end of June, about three o'clock in the afternoon. We embark in the sight of all the people, who admire our little Canoes, for they have never seen any like them.
We descend, following the current of the river called Pekitanoui, which discharges into the Mississipy, flowing from the Northwest. I shall have something important to say about it, when I shall have related all that I observed along this river.
While passing near the rather high rocks that line the river, I noticed a simple which seemed to me very Extraordinary. The root is like small turnips fastened together by little filaments, which taste like carrots. From this root springs a leaf as wide As one's hand, and half a finger thick, with spots. From the middle of this leaf spring other leaves, resembling the sconces used for candles in our halls; and each leaf bears Five or six yellow flowers shaped like little Bells.
We found quantities of mulberries, as large as Those of france; and a small fruit which we at first took for olives, but which tasted like oranges; and another fruit as large As a hen's egg. We cut it in halves, and two divisions appeared, in each of which 8 to io fruits were encased; these are shaped like almonds, and are very good when ripe. Nevertheless, The tree that bears them has a very bad odor, and its leaves resemble Those of the walnut-tree. In These prairies there is also a fruit similar to Hazelnuts, but more delicate; The leaves are very large, and grow from a stalk at the end of which is a head similar to That of a sunflower, in which all its Nuts are regularly arranged. These are very good, both Cooked and Raw.82
While Skirting some rocks, which by Their height and Length inspired awe, We saw upon one of them two painted monsters which at first made Us afraid, and upon Which the boldest savages dare not Long rest their eyes. They are as large As a calf; they have Horns on their heads Like those of deer, a horrible look, red eyes, a beard Like a tiger's, a face somewhat like a man's, a body Covered with scales, and so Long A tail that it winds all around the Body, passing above the head and going back between the legs, ending in a Fish's tail. Green, red, and black are the three Colors composing the Picture. Moreover, these 2 monsters are so well painted that we cannot believe that any savage is their author; for good painters in france would find it difficult to paint so well,-and, besides, they are so high up on the rock that it is difficult to reach that place Conveniently to paint them. Here is approximately The shape of these monsters, As we have faithfully Copied It.
While conversing about these monsters, sailing quietly in clear and calm Water, we heard the noise of a rapid, into which we were about to run. I have seen nothing more dreadful. An accumulation of large and entire trees, branches, and floating islands, was issuing from The mouth of The river pekistanoul, with such impetuosity that we could not without great danger risk passing through it. So great was the agitation that the water was very muddy, and could not become clear.
Pekitanoul is a river of Considerable size, coming from the Northwest, from a great Distance; and it discharges into the Missisipi. There are many Villages of savages along this river, and I hope by its means to discover the vermillion or California sea. Judging from The Direction of the course of the Missisipl, if it Continue the same way, we think that it discharges into the mexican gulf. It would be a great advantage to find the river Leading to the southern sea, toward California; and, As I have said, this is what I hope to do by means of the Pekitanour, according to the reports made to me by the savages. From them I have learned that, by ascending this river for 5 or 6 Days, one reaches a fine prairie, 20 or 3o Leagues Long. This must be crossed in a Northwesterly direction, and it terminates at another small river,-on which one may embark, for it is not very difficult to transport Canoes through so fine a country as that prairie. This 2nd River Flows toward The southwest for 10 or 15 Leagues, after which it enters a Lake, small and deep [the source of another deep river -substituted by Dablon], which flows toward the West, where it falls into The sea." I have hardly any doubt that it is The vermillion sea, and I do not despair of discovering It some day, if God grant me the grace and The health to do so, in order that I may preach The Gospel to all The peoples of this new world who have so Long Groveled in the darkness of infidelity.
Let us resume our Route, after Escaping As best We could from the dangerous rapid Caused by The obstruction which I have mentioned.