Was Beaujeu deliberately a traitor, or was his conduct merely a result of jealousy and pique? There can be little doubt that he was guilty of premeditated bad faith. There is evidence that he knew the expedition to have passed the true mouth of the Mississippi, and that, after leaving La Salle, he sailed in search of it, found it, and caused a map to be made of it. [Footnote: This map, the work of the engineer Minet, bears the date of May, 1685. La Salle's last letter to the minister, which he sent home by Beaujeu, is dated March 4th. Hence, Beaujeu, in spite of his alleged want of provisions, seems to have remained some time in the Gulf. The significance of the map consists in two distinct sketches of the mouth of the Mississippi, which is styled "La Riviere du Sr. de la Salle." Against one of these sketches are written the words "Embouchure de la riviere comme M. de la Salle la marque dans sa carte." Against the other, "Costes et lacs par la hauteur de sa riviere, comme nous les avons trouves." The italics are mine. Both sketches plainly represent the mouth of the Mississippi, and the river as high as New Orleans, with the Indian villages upon it. The coast line is also indicated as far east as Mobile Bay. My attention was first drawn to this map by M. Margry. It is in the Archives Scientifiques de la Marine.]
A lonely sea, a wild and desolate shore, a weary waste of marsh and prairie; a rude redoubt of drift-wood, and the fragments of a wreck; a few tents, and a few wooden hovels; bales, boxes, casks, spars, dismounted cannon, Indian canoes, a pen for fowls and swine, groups of dejected men and desponding, homesick women,—this was the forlorn reality to which the air-blown fabric of an audacious enterprise had sunk. Here were the conquerors of New Biscay; they who were to hold for France a region as large as the half of Europe. Here was the tall form and the fixed calm features of La Salle. Here were his two nephews, the hot-headed Moranget, still suffering from his wound, and the younger Cavelier, a mere school- boy. Conspicuous only by his Franciscan garb was the small slight figure of Zenobe Membre. His brother friar, Anastase Douay; the trusty Joutel, a man of sense and observation; the Marquis de la Sablonniere, a debauched noble whose patrimony was his sword; and a few of less mark,—comprised the leaders of the infant colony. The rest were soldiers, recruited from the scum of Rochelle and Rochefort; and artisans, of whom the greater part knew nothing of their pretended vocation. Add to these the miserable families and the infatuated young women, who had come to tempt fortune in the swamps and cane-brakes of the Mississippi.
La Salle set out to explore the neighborhood. Joutel remained in command of the so-called fort. He was beset with wily enemies, and often at night the Indians would crawl in the grass around his feeble stockade, howling like wolves; but a few shots would put them to flight. A strict guard was kept, and a wooden horse was set in the enclosure, to punish the sentinel who should sleep at his post. They stood in daily fear of a more formidable foe, and once they saw a sail, which they doubted not was Spanish; but she happily passed without discovering them. They hunted on the prairies, and speared fish in the neighboring pools. On Easter day, the Sieur le Gros, one of the chief men of the company, went out after the service to shoot snipes; but, as he walked barefoot through the marsh, a snake bit him, and he soon after died. Two men deserted, to starve on the prairie, or to become savages among savages. Others tried to escape, but were caught; and one of them was hung. A knot of desperadoes conspired to kill Joutel; but one of them betrayed the secret, and the plot was crushed.
La Salle returned from his journey. He had made an ominous discovery; for he had at length become convinced that he was not, as he had fondly hoped, on an arm of the Mississippi. The wreck of the "Aimable" itself was not pregnant with consequences so disastrous. A deep gloom gathered around the colony. There was no hope but in the energies of its unconquerable chief.
CHAPTER XXV. 1685-1687. ST. LOUIS OF TEXAS.
THE FORT.—MISERY AND DEJECTION.—ENERGY OF LA SALLE.—HIS JOURNEY OF EXPLORATION.—DUHAUT.—INDIAN MASSACRE.—RETURN OF LA SALLE. —A NEW CALAMITY.—A DESPERATE RESOLUTION.—DEPARTURE FOR CANADA. —WRECK OF THE "BELLE."—MARRIAGE.—SEDITION.—ADVENTURES OF LA SALLE'S PARTY.—THE CENIS.—THE CAMANCHES.—THE ONLY HOPE.—THE LAST FAREWELL.
Of what avail to plant a colony by the mouth of a petty Texan river? The Mississippi was the life of the enterprise, the condition of its growth and of its existence. Without it, all was futile and meaningless; a folly and a ruin. Cost what it might, the Mississippi must be found. But the demands of the hour were imperative. The hapless colony, cast ashore like a wreck on the sands of Matagorda Bay, must gather up its shattered resources, and recruit its exhausted strength, before it essayed anew its desperate pilgrimage to the "fatal river." La Salle during his explorations had found a spot which he thought well fitted for a temporary establishment. It was on the river which he named the La Vache, [Footnote: Called by Joutel Riviere aux Boeufs.] now the Lavaca, which, enters the head of Matagorda Bay; and thither he ordered all the women and children, and most of the men, to remove; while the remnant, thirty in number, remained with Joutel at the fort near the mouth of the bay. Here they spent their time in hunting, fishing, and squaring the logs of drift-wood, which the sea washed up in abundance, and which La Salle proposed to use in building his new station on the Lavaca. Thus the time passed till midsummer, when Joutel received orders to abandon his post, and rejoin the main body of the colonists. To this end, the little frigate "Belle" was sent down the bay to receive him and his men. She was a gift from the king to La Salle, who had brought her safely over the bar, and regarded her as a main-stay of his hopes. She now took Joutel and his men on board, together with the stores which had remained in their charge, and conveyed them to the site of the new fort on the Lavaca. Here Joutel found a state of things that was far from cheering. Crops had been sown, but the drought and the cattle had nearly destroyed them. The colonists were lodged under tents and hovels; and the only solid structure was a small square enclosure of pickets, in which the gunpowder and the brandy were stored. The site was good, a rising ground by the river; but there was no wood within the distance of a league, and no horses or oxen to drag it. Their work must be done by men. Some felled and squared the timber; and others dragged it by main force over the matted grass of the prairie, under the scorching Texan sun. The gun-carriages served to make the task somewhat easier; yet the strongest men soon gave out under it. Joutel went down in the "Belle" to the first fort, and brought up the timber collected there, which proved a most seasonable and useful supply. Palisades and buildings began to rise. The men labored without spirit, yet strenuously; for they labored under the eye of La Salle. The carpenters brought from Rochelle proved worthless, and he himself made the plans of the work, marked out the tenons and mortises, and directed the whole. [Footnote: Joutel, 108. Proces Verbal fait au poste de St. Louis le 18 Avril, 1686, MS.]
Death, meanwhile, made a withering havoc among his followers; and under the sheds and hovels that shielded them from the sun lay a score of wretches slowly wasting away with the diseases contracted at St. Domingo. Of the soldiers enlisted for the expedition by La Salle's agents, many are affirmed to have spent their lives in begging at the church doors of Rochefort, and were consequently incapable of discipline. It was impossible to prevent either them or the sailors from devouring persimmons and other wild fruits to a destructive excess. [Footnote: Ibid.] Nearly all fell ill; and, before the summer had passed, the graveyard had more than thirty tenants. [Footnote: Joutel, 109. Le Clercq, who was not present, says a hundred.] The bearing of La Salle did not aid to raise the drooping spirits of his followers. The results of the enterprise had been far different from his hopes; and, after a season of flattering promise, he had entered again on those dark and obstructed paths which seemed his destined way of life. The present was beset with trouble; the future, thick with storms. The consciousness quickened his energies; but it made him stern, harsh, and often unjust to those beneath him.
Joutel was returning to camp one afternoon with the master-carpenter, when they saw game, and the carpenter went after it. He was never seen again. Perhaps he was lost on the prairie, perhaps killed by Indians. He knew little of his trade, but they nevertheless, had need of him. Le Gros, a man of character and intelligence, suffered more and more from the bite of the snake received in the marsh oil Easter Day. The injured limb was amputated, and he died, La Salle's brother, the priest, lay ill; and several others among the chief persons of the colony were in the same condition.
Meanwhile, the work was urged on. A large building was finished, constructed of timber, roofed with boards and raw hides, and divided into apartments, for lodging and other uses. La Salle gave to the new establishment his favorite name of Fort St. Louis, and the neighboring bay was also christened after the royal saint. [Footnote: The Bay of St. Louis, St. Bernard's Bay, or Matagorda Bay,—for it has borne all these names,—was also called Espiritu Santo Bay, by the Spaniards, in common with several other bays in the Gulf of Mexico. An adjoining bay still retains the name.] The scene was not without its charms. Towards the south-east stretched the bay with its bordering meadows; and on the north- east the Lavaca ran along the base of green declivities. Around, far and near, rolled a sea of prairie, with distant forests, dim in the summer haze. At times, it was dotted with the browsing buffalo, not yet scared from their wonted pastures; and the grassy swells were spangled with the bright flowers for which Texas is renowned, and which now form the gay ornaments of our gardens.
And now, the needful work accomplished, and the colony in some measure housed and fortified, its indefatigable chief prepared to renew his quest of the "fatal river," as Joutel repeatedly calls it. Before his departure, he made some preliminary explorations, in the course of which, according to the report of his brother the priest, he found evidence that the Spaniards had long before had a transient establishment at a spot about fifteen leagues from Fort St. Louis. [Footnote: Cavelier, in his report to the minister, says: "We reached a large village enclosed with a kind of wall made of clay and sand, and fortified with little towers at intervals, where we found the arms of Spain engraved on a plate of copper, with the date of 1588, attached to a stake. The inhabitants gave us a kind welcome, and showed us some hammers and an anvil, two small pieces of iron cannon, a small brass culverin, some pike-heads, some old sword-blades, and some books of Spanish comedy; and thence they guided us to a little hamlet of fishermen about two leagues distant, where they showed us a second stake, also with the arms of Spain, and a few old chimneys. All this convinced us that the Spaniards had formerly been here."—Cavelier, Relation du Voyage que mon frere entreprit pour decouvrir l'embouchure du fleuve de Missisipy, MS. The above is translated from the original draft of Cavelier, which is in my possession. It was addressed to the colonial minister, after the death of La Salle. The statement concerning the Spaniards needs confirmation.]
It was the first of November, when La Salle set out on his great journey of exploration. His brother Cavelier, who had now recovered, accompanied him with thirty men, and five cannon-shot from the fort saluted them as they departed. They were lightly equipped, but La Salle had a wooden corselet as a protection against arrows. Descending the Lavaca, they pursued their course eastward on foot along the margin of the bay, while Joutel remained in command of the fort. It stood on a rising ground, two leagues above the mouth of the river. Between the palisades and the stream lay a narrow strip of marsh, the haunt of countless birds, and at a little distance it deepened into ponds full of fish. The buffalo and the deer were without number; and, in truth, all the surrounding region swarmed with game,—hares, turkeys, ducks, geese, swans, plover, snipe, and partridges. They shot them in abundance, after necessity and practice had taught them the art. The river supplied them with fish, and the bay with oysters. There were land-turtles and sea-turtles; and Joutel sometimes amused himself with shooting alligators, of which he says that he once killed one twenty feet long. He describes, too, with perfect accuracy, that curious native of the south-western prairies, the "horned frog," which, deceived by its uninviting aspect, he erroneously supposed to be venomous. [Footnote: Joutel devotes many pages to an account of the animals and plants of the country, most of which may readily be recognized from his description.]
He suffered no man to be idle. Some hunted; some fished; some labored at the houses and defences. To the large building made by La Salle he added four lodging-houses for the men, and a fifth for the women, besides a small chapel. All were built with squared timber, and roofed like the first with boards and buffalo-hides; while a palisade and ditch, defended by eight pieces of cannon, enclosed the whole. [Footnote: Compare Joutel with the Spanish account in Carta en que se da noticia de tin viaje hecho a la bahia de Espiritu Santo y de la poblacion que tenian ahi los Franceses: Coleccion de Varios Documentos, 25.] Late one evening in January, when all were gathered in the principal building, conversing perhaps, or smoking, or playing at games of hazard, or dozing by the fire in homesick dreams of France, one of the men on guard came in to report that he had heard a voice in the distance without. All hastened into the open air; and Joutel, advancing towards the river whence the voice came, presently descried a man in a canoe, and saw that he was Duhaut, one of La Salle's chief followers, and perhaps the greatest villain of the company. La Salle had directed that none of his men should be admitted into the fort, unless he brought a pass from him; and it would have been well, had the order been obeyed to the letter. Duhaut, however, told a plausible and possibly a true story. He had stopped on the march to mend a shoe which needed repair, and on attempting to overtake the party had become bewildered on a prairie intersected with the paths of the buffalo. He fired his gun in vain, as a signal to his companions; saw no hope of rejoining them, and turned back, travelling only in the night, from fear of Indians, and lying hid by day. After a month of excessive hardship, he reached his destination; and, as the inmates of Fort St. Louis
[Transcriber's note: missing page in original]
worn and ragged. [Footnote: Joutel, 136, 137. The date of the return is from Cavelier.] Their story was a brief one. After losing Duhaut, they had wandered on through various savage tribes, with whom they had more than one encounter, scattering them like chaff by the terror of their fire-arms. At length, they found a more friendly band, and learned much touching the Spaniards, who were, they were told, universally hated by the tribes of that country. It would be easy, said their informants, to gather a host of warriors and lead them over the Rio Grande; but La Salle was in no condition for attempting conquests, and the tribes in whose alliance he had trusted had, a few days before, been at blows with him. The invasion of New Biscay must be postponed to a more propitious day. Still advancing, he came to a large river, which he at first mistook for the Mississippi; and, building a fort of palisades, he left here several of his men. [Footnote: Cavelier says that he actually reached the Mississippi; but, on the one hand, he did not know whether the river in question was the Mississippi or not; and, on the other, he is somewhat inclined to mendacity. Le Clercq says that La Salle thought he had found the river. Joutel says that he did not reach it.] The fate of these unfortunates does not appear. He now retraced his steps towards Fort St. Louis; and, as he approached it, detached some of his men to look for his vessel, the "Belle," for whose safety, since the loss of her pilot, he had become very anxious.
On the next day, these men appeared at the fort, with downcast looks. They had not found the "Belle" at the place where she had been ordered to remain, nor were any tidings to be heard of her. From that hour, the conviction that she was lost possessed the mind of La Salle.
Surrounded as he was, and had always been, with traitors, the belief now possessed him that her crew had abandoned the colony, and made sail for the West Indies or for France. The loss was incalculable. He had relied on this vessel to transport the colonists to the Mississippi, as soon as its exact position could be ascertained; and, thinking her a safer place of deposit than the fort, he had put on board of her all his papers and personal baggage, besides a great quantity of stores, ammunition, and tools. [Footnote: Proces Verbal fait au poste de la Baie St. Louis, le 18 Avril, 1686, MS.] In truth, she was of the last necessity to the unhappy exiles, and their only resource for escape from a position which was fast becoming desperate.
La Salle, as his brother tells us, fell dangerously ill; the fatigues of his journey, joined to the effects upon his mind of this last disaster, having overcome his strength though not his fortitude. "In truth," writes the priest, "after the loss of the vessel, which deprived us of our only means of returning to France, we had no resource but in the firmness and conduct of my brother, whose death each of us would have regarded as his own." [Footnote: Cavelier, Relation du Voyage pour decouvrir l'embouchure du Fleuve de Missisipy, MS.]
La Salle no sooner recovered than he embraced a resolution which could be the offspring only of a desperate necessity. He determined to make his way by the Mississippi and the Illinois to Canada, whence he might bring succor to the colonists, and send a report of their condition to France. The attempt was beset with uncertainties and dangers. The Mississippi was first to be found; then followed through all the perilous monotony of its interminable windings to a goal which was to be but the starting-point of a new and not less arduous journey. Cavelier, his brother, Moranget, his nephew, the friar, Anastase Douay, and others, to the number of twenty, offered to accompany him. Every corner of the magazine was ransacked for an outfit. Joutel generously gave up the better part of his wardrobe to La Salle and his two relatives. Duhaut, who had saved his baggage from the wreck of the "Aimable," was required to contribute to the necessities of the party; and the scantily furnished chests of those who had died were used to supply the wants of the living. Each man labored with needle and awl to patch his failing garments, or supply their place with buffalo or deer skins. On the twenty-second of April, after mass and prayers in the chapel, they issued from the gate, each bearing his pack and his weapons; some with kettles slung at their backs, some with axes, some with gifts for Indians. In this guise, they held their way in silence across the prairie while anxious eyes followed them from the palisades of St. Louis, whose inmates, not excepting Joutel himself, seem to have been ignorant of the extent and difficulty of the undertaking. [Footnote: Joutel, 140; Anastase Douay, in Le Clercq, ii. 303; Cavelier, Relation, MS. The date is from Douay. It does not appear from his narrative that they meant to go further than the Illinois. Cavelier says that after resting here they were to go to Canada. Joutel supposed that they would go only to the Illinois. La Salle seems to have been even more reticent than usual.]
It was but a few days after, when a cry of Qui vive, twice repeated, was heard from the river. Joutel went down to the bank, and saw a canoe full of men, among whom he recognized Chedeville, a priest attached to the expedition, the Marquis de la Sablonniere, and others of those who had embarked in the "Belle." His first greeting was an eager demand what had become of her, and the answer confirmed his worst fears. Chedeville and his companions were conducted within the fort, where they told their dismal story. The murder of the pilot and his boat's crew had been followed by another accident, no less disastrous. A boat which had gone ashore for water had been swamped in returning, and all on board were lost. Those who remained in the vessel, after great suffering from thirst, had left their moorings, contrary to the orders of La Salle, and endeavored to approach the fort. But they were few, weak, and unskilful. A wind rose, and the "Belle" was wrecked on a sand-bar at the farther side of the bay. All perished but eight men, who escaped on a raft, and, after long delay, found a stranded canoe, in which they made their way to St. Louis, bringing with them some of La Salle's papers and baggage, saved from the wreck.
Thus clouds and darkness thickened around the hapless colonists, whose gloom was nevertheless lighted by a transient ray of hilarity. Among their leaders was the Sieur Barbier, a young man, who usually conducted the hunting-parties. Some of the women and girls often went out with them to aid in cutting up the meat. Barbier became enamoured of one of the girls; and, as his devotion to her was the subject of comment, he asked Joutel for leave to marry her. The commandant, after due counsel with the priests and friars, vouchsafed his consent, and the rite was duly solemnized; whereupon, fired by the example, the Marquis de la Sablonniere begged leave to marry another of the girls. Joutel, the gardener's son, concerned that a marquis should so abase himself, and anxious, at the same time, for the morals of the fort, not only flatly refused, but, in the plenitude of his authority, forbade the lovers all farther intercourse. [Footnote: Joutel, 146, 147.]
The Indians hovered about the fort with no good intent, sent a flight of arrows among Barbier's hunting-party, and prowled at night around the palisades. One of the friars was knocked down by a wounded buffalo, and narrowly escaped; another was detected in writing charges against La Salle. Joutel seized the paper, and burned it; but the clerical character of the reverend offender saved him from punishment. The colonists were beginning to murmur; and their discontent was fomented by Duhaut, who, with a view to some ulterior design, tried to ingratiate himself with the malcontents, and become their leader. Joutel detected the mischief, and, with a lenity which he afterwards deeply regretted, contented himself with a severe rebuke to the ring-leader, and words of reproof and exhortation to his dejected band. And, lest idleness should beget farther evil, he busied them in such superfluous tasks as mowing grass, that a better crop might spring up, and cutting down trees which obstructed the view. In the evening, he gathered them in the great hall, and encouraged them to forget their cares in songs and dances.
On the seventeenth of October, [Footnote: This is Douay's date. Joutel places it in August, but this is evidently an error. He himself says that, having lost all his papers, he cannot be certain as to dates.] Joutel saw a band of men and horses, descending the opposite bank of the Lavaca, and heard the familiar voice of La Salle shouting across the water. He and his party were soon brought over in canoes, while the horses swam the river. Twenty men had gone out with him, and eight had returned. Of the rest, four had deserted, one had been lost, one had been devoured by an alligator; and the rest, giving out on the march, had probably perished in attempting to regain the fort. The travellers told of a rich country, a wild and beautiful landscape, woods, rivers, groves, and prairies; but all availed nothing, and the acquisition of five horses was but an indifferent return for the loss of twelve men. The story of their adventures was soon told.
After leaving the fort, they had journeyed towards the north-east, over plains green as an emerald with the young verdure of April, till at length they saw, far as the eye could reach, the boundless prairie alive with herds of buffalo. The animals were in one of their tame, or stupid moods; and they killed nine or ten of them without the least difficulty, drying the best parts of the meat. They crossed the Colorado on a raft, and reached the banks of another river, where one of the party named Hiens, a German of Wuertemberg, and an old buccaneer, was mired and nearly suffocated in a mud-hole. Unfortunately, as will soon appear, he managed to crawl out; and, to console him, the river was christened with his name. The party made a bridge of felled trees, on which they crossed in safety. La Salle now changed their course, and journeyed eastward, when the travellers soon found themselves in the midst of a numerous Indian population, where they were feasted and caressed without measure. At another village, they were less fortunate. The inhabitants were friendly by day, and hostile by night. They came to attack the French in their camp, but withdrew, daunted by the menacing voice of La Salle, who had heard them approaching through the cane-brake.
La Salle's favorite Shawanoe hunter, Nika, who had followed him from Canada to France, and from France to Texas, was bitten by a rattlesnake; and, though he recovered, the accident detained the party for several days. At length they resumed their journey, but were arrested by a large river, apparently the Brazos. La Salle and Cavelier, with a few others, tried to cross on a raft, which, as it reached the channel, was caught by a current of marvellous swiftness. Douay and Moranget, watching the transit from the edge of the canebrake, beheld their commander swept down the stream, and vanishing, as it were, in an instant. All that day they remained with their companions on the bank, lamenting in an abyss of despair for the loss of their guardian angel, for so Douay calls La Salle. [Footnote: "Ce fut une desolation extreme pour nous tous qui desesperions de revoir jamais nostre Ange tutelaire, le Sieur de la Salle... Tout le jour se passa en pleurs et en larmes."—Douay, in Le Clercq, ii. 315.] It was fast growing dark, when, to their unspeakable relief, they saw him advancing with his party along the opposite bank, having succeeded, after great exertion, in guiding the raft to land. How to rejoin him was now the question. Douay and his companions, who had tasted no food that day, broke their fast on two young eagles which they knocked out of their nest, and then spent the night in rueful consultation as to the means of crossing the river. In the morning, they waded into the marsh, the friar with his breviary in his hood, to keep it dry, and hacked among the caries till they had gathered enough to make another raft, on which, profiting by La Salle's experience, they safely crossed, and rejoined him.
Next, they became entangled in a cane-brake, where La Salle, as usual with him in such cases, took the lead, a hatchet in each hand, and hewed out a path for his followers. They soon reached the villages of the Cenis Indians, on and near the River Trinity, a tribe then powerful, but long since extinct. Nothing could surpass the friendliness of their welcome. The chiefs came to meet them, bearing the calumet, and followed by warriors in shirts of embroidered deer-skin. Then the whole village swarmed out like bees, gathering around the visitors with offerings of food, and all that was precious in their eyes. La Salle was lodged with the great chief; but he compelled his men to encamp at a distance, lest the ardor of their gallantry might give occasion of offence. The lodges of the Cenis, forty or fifty feet high, and covered with a thatch of meadow- grass, looked like huge beehives. Each held several families, whose fire was in the middle, and their beds around the circumference. The spoil of the Spaniards was to be seen on all sides; silver lamps and spoons, swords, old muskets, money, clothing, and a Bull of the Pope dispensing the Spanish colonists of New Mexico from fasting during summer. [Footnote: Douay, in Le Clercq, ii. 321; Cavelier, Relation, MS.] These treasures, as well as their numerous horses, were obtained by the Cenis from their neighbors and allies, the Camanches, that fierce prairie banditti, who then, as now, scourged the Mexican border with their bloody forays. A party of these wild horsemen was in the village. Douay was edified at seeing them make the sign of the cross, in imitation of the neophytes of one of the Spanish missions. They enacted, too, the ceremony of the mass; and one of them, in his rude way, drew a sketch of a picture he had seen in some church which he had pillaged, wherein the friar plainly recognized the Virgin weeping at the foot of the cross. They invited the French to join them on a raid into New Mexico; and they spoke with contempt, as their tribesmen will speak to this day, of the Spanish creoles, saying that it would be easy to conquer a nation of cowards who make people walk before them with fans to cool them in hot weather. [Footnote: Douay, in Le Clercq, ii. 324, 325.]
Soon after leaving the Cenis villages, both La Salle and his nephew, Moranget, were attacked by a fever. This caused a delay of more than two months, during which the party seem to have remained encamped on the Neches, or, possibly, the Sabine. When at length the invalids had recovered sufficient strength to travel, the stock of ammunition was nearly spent, some of the men had deserted, and the condition of the travellers was such, that there seemed no alternative but to return to Fort St. Louis. This they accordingly did, greatly aided in their march by the horses bought from the Cenis, and suffering no very serious accident by the way, excepting the loss of La Salle's servant, Dumesnil, who was seized by an alligator while attempting to cross the Colorado.
The temporary excitement caused among the colonists by their return soon gave place to a dejection bordering on despair. "This pleasant land," writes Cavelier, "seemed to us an abode of weariness and a perpetual prison." Flattering themselves with the delusion, common to exiles of every kind, that they were objects of solicitude at home, they watched daily, with straining eyes, for an approaching sail. Ships, indeed, had ranged the coast to seek them, but with no friendly intent. Their thoughts dwelt, with unspeakable yearning, on the France they had left behind; and which, to their longing fancy, was pictured as an unattainable Eden. Well might they despond; for of a hundred and eighty colonists, besides the crew of the "Belle," less than forty-five remained. The weary precincts of Fort St. Louis, with its fence of rigid palisades, its area of trampled earth, its buildings of weather-stained timber, and its well-peopled graveyard without, were hateful to their sight. La Salle had a heavy task to save them from despair. His composure, his unfailing cheerfulness, his words of sympathy and of hope, were the breath of life to this forlorn company; for, self-contained and stern as was his nature, he could soften, in times of extremity, to a gentleness that strongly appealed to the hearts of those around him; and though he could not impart, to minds of less adamantine temper, the audacity of hope with which he still clung to the final accomplishment of his purposes, the contagion of his courage touched, nevertheless, the drooping spirits of his followers. [Footnote: "L'egalite d'humeur du Chef rassuroit tout le monde; et il trouvoit des resources a tout par son esprit qui relevoit les esperances les plus abatues."—Joutel, 152.
"Il seroit difficile de trouver dans l'Histoire un courage plus intrepide et plus invincible que celuy du Sieur de la Salle dans les evenemens contraires; il ne fut jamais abatu, et il esperoit toujours avec le secours du Ciel de venir a bout de son entreprise malgre tous les obstacles qui se presentoient."—Douay, in Le Clercq, ii. 327.]
The journey to Canada was clearly their only hope; and, after a brief rest, La Salle prepared to renew the attempt. He proposed that Joutel should, this time, be of the party; and should proceed from Quebec to France, with his brother Cavelier, to solicit succors for the colony. A new obstacle was presently interposed. La Salle, whose constitution seems to have suffered from his long course of hardships, was attacked in November with hernia. Joutel offered to conduct the party in his stead; but La Salle replied that his own presence was indispensable at the Illinois. He had the good fortune to recover, within four or five weeks, sufficiently to undertake the journey; and all in the fort busied themselves in preparing an outfit. In such straits were they for clothing, that the sails of the "Belle" were cut up to make coats for the adventurers. Christmas came, and was solemnly observed. There was a midnight mass in the chapel, where Membre, Cavelier, Douay, and their priestly brethren, stood before the altar, in vestments strangely contrasting with the rude temple and the ruder garb of the worshippers. And as Membre elevated the consecrated wafer, and the lamps burned dim through the clouds of incense, the kneeling group drew from the daily miracle such consolation as true Catholics alone can know. When Twelfth Night came, all gathered in the hall, and cried, after the jovial old custom, "The King drinks," with hearts, perhaps, as cheerless as their cups, which were filled with cold water.
On the morrow, the band of adventurers mustered for the fatal journey. [Footnote: I follow Douay's date, who makes the day of departure the seventh of January, or the day after Twelfth Night. Joutel thinks it was the twelfth of January, but professes uncertainty as to all his dates at this time, as he lost his notes.] The five horses, bought by La Salle of the Indians, stood in the area of the fort, packed for the march; and here was gathered the wretched remnant of the colony, those who were to go, and those who were to stay behind. These latter were about twenty in all: Barbier, who was to command in the place of Joutel; Sablonniere, who, despite his title of Marquis, was held in great contempt; [Footnote: He had to be kept on short allowance, because he was in the habit of bargaining away every thing given to him. He had squandered the little that belonged to him at St. Domingo in amusements "indignes de sa naissance," and, in consequence, was suffering from diseases which disabled him from walking.—Proces Verbal, 18 Avril, 1686, MS.] the friars, Membre and Le Clercq, [Footnote: Maxime le Clercq, a relative of the author of l'Etablissement de la Foi.] and the priest, Chedeville, besides a surgeon, soldiers, laborers, seven women and girls, and several children, doomed, in this deadly exile, to wait the issues of the journey, and the possible arrival of a tardy succor. La Salle had made them a last address, delivered, we are told, with that winning air, which, though alien from his usual bearing, seems to have been at times, a natural expression of this unhappy man. [Footnote: "Il fit une Harangue pleine d'eloquence et de cet air engageant qui luy estoit si naturel: toute la petite Colonie y estoit presente et en fut touchee jusques aux larmes, persuadee de la necessite de son voyage et de la droiture de ses intentions."—Douay, in Le Clercq, ii. 330.] It was a bitter parting; one of sighs, tears, and embracings; the farewell of those on whose souls had sunk a heavy boding that they would never meet again. [Footnote: "Nous nous separames les uns des autres, d'une maniere si tendre et si triste qu'il sembloit que nous avions tons le secret pressentiment que nous ne nous reverrions jamais."—Joutel, 158.] Equipped and weaponed for the journey, the adventurers filed from the gate, crossed the river, and held their slow march over the prairies beyond, till intervening woods and hills had shut Fort St. Louis for ever from their sight.
CHAPTER XXVI. 1687. ASSASSINATION OF LA SALLE.
HIS FOLLOWERS.—PRAIRIE TRAVELLING.—A HUNTER'S QUARREL.—THE MURDER OF MORANGET.—THE CONSPIRACY.—DEATH OF LA SALLE.—HIS CHARACTER.
The travellers were crossing a marshy prairie towards a distant belt of woods, that followed the course of a little river. They led with them their five horses, laden, with their scanty baggage, and with what was of no less importance, their stock of presents for Indians. Some wore the remains of the clothing they had worn from France, eked out with deer- skins, dressed in the Indian manner; and some had coats of old sail-cloth. Here was La Salle, in whom one would have known, at a glance, the chief of the party; and the priest, Cavelier, who seems to have shared not one of the high traits of his younger brother. Here, too, were their nephews, Moranget and the boy Cavelier, now about seventeen years old; the trusty soldier, Joutel, and the friar, Anastase Douay. Duhaut followed, a man of respectable birth and education; and Liotot, the surgeon of the party. At home, they might, perhaps, have lived and died with a fair repute; but the wilderness is a rude touchstone, which often reveals traits that would have lain buried and unsuspected in civilized life. The German Hiens, the ex-buccaneer, was also of the number. He had probably sailed with an English crew, for he was sometimes known as Gemme Anglais or "English Jem." [Footnote: Tonty also speaks of him as "un flibustier anglois." In another document he is called "James."] The Sieur de Marie; Teissier, a pilot; l'Archeveque, a servant of Duhaut; and others, to the number in all of about twenty,—made up the party, to which is to be added Nika, La Salle's Shawanoe hunter, who, as well as another Indian, had twice crossed the ocean with him, and still followed his fortunes with an admiring though undemonstrative fidelity.
They passed the prairie, and neared the forest. Here they saw buffalo; and the hunters approached, and killed several of them. Then they traversed the woods; found and forded the shallow and rushy stream, and pushed through the forest beyond, till they again reached the open prairie. Heavy clouds gathered over them, and it rained all night; but they sheltered themselves under the fresh hides of the buffalo they had killed.
It is impossible, as it would be needless, to follow the detail of their daily march. [Footnote: Of the three narratives of this journey, those of Joutel, Cavelier, and Anastase Douay, the first is by far the best. That of Cavelier seems the work of a man of confused brain and indifferent memory. Some of his statements are irreconcilable with those of Joutel and Douay, and known facts of his history justify the suspicion of a wilful inaccuracy. Joutel's account is of a very different character, and seems to be the work of an honest and intelligent man. Douay's account is brief, but it agrees with that of Joutel in most essential points.] It was such an one, though, with unwonted hardships, as is familiar to the memory of many a prairie traveller of our own time. They suffered greatly from the want of shoes, and found for a while no better substitute than a casing of raw buffalo-hide, which they were forced to keep always wet, as, when dry, it hardened about the foot like iron. At length, they bought dressed deer- skin from the Indians, of which they made tolerable moccasons. The rivers, streams, and gulleys filled with water were without number; and, to cross them, they made a boat of bull-hide, like the "bull boat" still used on the Upper Missouri. This did good service, as, with the help of their horses, they could carry it with them. Two or three men could cross in it at once, and the horses swam after them like dogs. Sometimes they traversed the sunny prairie; sometimes dived into the dark recesses of the forest, where the buffalo, descending daily from their pastures in long files to drink at the river, often made a broad and easy path for the travellers. When foul weather arrested them, they built huts of bark and long meadow-grass; and, safely sheltered, lounged away the day, while their horses, picketed near by, stood steaming in the rain. At night, they usually set a rude stockade about their camp; and here, by the grassy border of a brook, or at the edge of a grove where a spring bubbled up through the sands, they lay asleep around the embers of their fire, while the man on guard listened to the deep breathing of the slumbering horses, and the howling of the wolves that saluted the rising moon as it flooded the waste of prairie with pale mystic radiance.
They met Indians almost daily; sometimes a band of hunters, mounted or on foot, chasing buffalo on the plains; sometimes a party of fishermen; sometimes a winter camp, on the slope of a hill or under the sheltering border of a forest. They held intercourse with them in the distance by signs; often they disarmed their distrust, and attracted them into their camp; and often they visited them in their lodges, where, seated on buffalo-robes, they smoked with their entertainers, passing the pipe from hand to hand, after the custom still in use among the prairie tribes. Cavelier says that they once saw a band of a hundred and fifty mounted Indians attacking a herd of buffalo with lances pointed with sharpened bone. The old priest was delighted with the sport, which he pronounces "the most diverting thing in the world." On another occasion, when the party were encamped near the village of a tribe which Cavelier calls Sassory, he saw them catch an alligator about twelve feet long, which they proceeded to torture as if he were a human enemy, first putting out his eyes, and then leading him to the neighboring prairie, where, having confined him by a number of stakes, they spent the entire day in tormenting him. [Footnote: Cavelier, Relation, MS.]
Holding a north-easterly course, the travellers crossed the Brazos, and reached the waters of the Trinity. The weather was unfavorable, and on one occasion they encamped in the rain during four or five days together. It was not an harmonious company. La Salle's cold and haughty reserve had returned, at least for those of his followers to whom he was not partial. Duhaut and the surgeon Liotot, both of whom were men of some property, had a large pecuniary stake in the enterprise, and were disappointed and incensed at its ruinous result. They had a quarrel with young Moranget, whose hot and hasty temper was as little fitted to conciliate as was the harsh reserve of his uncle. Already, at Fort St. Louis, Duhaut had intrigued among the men; and the mild admonition of Joutel had not, it seems, sufficed to divert him from his sinister purposes. Liotot, it is said, had secretly sworn vengeance against La Salle, whom he charged with having caused the death of his brother, or, as some will have it, his nephew. On one of the former journeys, this young man's strength had failed; and, La Salle having ordered him to return to the fort, he had been killed by Indians on the way.
The party moved again as the weather improved; and, on the fifteenth of March, encamped within a few miles of a spot which La Salle had passed on his preceding journey, and where he had left a quantity of Indian corn and beans in cache; that is to say, hidden in the ground, or in a hollow tree. As provisions were falling short, he sent a party from the camp to find it. These men were Duhaut, Liotot, [Footnote: Called Lanquetot by Tonty.] Hiens the buccaneer, Teissier, l'Archeveque, Nika the hunter, and La Salle's servant, Saget. They opened the cache, and found the contents spoiled; but, as they returned from their bootless errand, they saw buffalo; and Nika shot two of them. They now encamped on the spot, and sent the servant to inform La Salle, in order that he might send horses to bring in the meat. Accordingly, on the next day, he directed Moranget and De Marie, with the necessary horses, to go with Saget to the hunters' camp. When they, arrived, they found that Duhaut and his companions had already cut up the meat, and laid it upon scaffolds for smoking, though it was not yet so dry as, it seems, this process required. Duhaut and the others had also put by, for themselves, the marrow-bones and certain portions of the meat, to which, by woodland custom, they had a perfect right. Moranget, whose rashness and violence had once before caused a fatal catastrophe, fell into a most unreasonable fit of rage, berated and menaced Duhaut and his party, and ended by seizing upon the whole of the meat, including the reserved portions. This added fuel to the fire of Duhaut's old grudge against Moranget and his uncle. There is reason to think that he had nourished in his vindictive heart deadly designs, the execution of which was only hastened by the present outbreak. He, with his servant, l'Archeveque, Liotot, Hiens, and Teissier, took counsel apart, and resolved to kill Moranget that night. Nika, La Salle's devoted follower, and Saget, his faithful servant, must die with him. All were of one mind except the pilot, Teissier, who neither aided nor opposed the plot.
Night came; the woods grew dark; the evening meal was finished, and the evening pipes were smoked. The order of the guard was arranged; and, doubtless by design, the first hour of the night was assigned to Moranget, the second to Saget, and the third to Nika. Gun in hand, each stood his watch in turn over the silent but not sleeping forms around him, till, his time expiring, he called the man who was to relieve him, wrapped himself in his blanket, and was soon buried in a slumber that was to be his last. Now the assassins rose. Duhaut and Hiens stood with their guns cocked ready to shoot down any one of the destined victims who should resist or fly. The surgeon, with an axe, stole towards the three sleepers, and struck a rapid blow at each in turn. Saget and Nika died with little movement; but Moranget started spasmodically into a sitting posture, gasping, and unable to speak; and the murderers compelled De Marie, who was not in their plot, to compromise himself by despatching him.
The floodgates of murder were open, and the torrent must have its way. Vengeance and safety alike demanded the death of La Salle. Hiens. or "English Jem," alone seems to have hesitated; for he was one of those to whom that stern commander had always been partial. Meanwhile, the intended victim was still at his camp, about six miles distant. It is easy to picture, with sufficient accuracy, the features of the scene,—the sheds of bark and branches, beneath which, among blankets and buffalo-robes, camp-utensils, pack-saddles, rude harness, guns, powder-horns, and bullet- pouches, the men lounged away the hour, sleeping, or smoking, or talking among themselves; the blackened kettles that hung from tripods of poles over the fires; the Indians strolling about the place, or lying, like dogs in the sun, with eyes half shut, yet all observant; and, in the neighboring meadow, the horses grazing under the eye of a watchman.
It was the nineteenth of March, and Moranget had been two days absent. La Salle began to show a great anxiety. Some bodings of the truth seem to have visited him; for he was heard to ask several of his men, if Duhaut, Liotot, and Hiens had not of late shown signs of discontent. Unable longer to endure his suspense, he left the camp in charge of Joutel, with a caution to stand well on his guard; and set out in search of his nephew, with the friar, Anastase Douay, and two Indians. "All the way," writes the friar, "he spoke to me of nothing but matters of piety, grace, and predestination; enlarging on the debt he owed to God, who had saved him from so many perils during more than twenty years of travel in America. Suddenly," Douay continues, "I saw him overwhelmed with a profound sadness, for which he himself could not account. He was so much moved that I scarcely knew him." He soon recovered his usual calmness; and they walked on till they approached the camp of Duhaut, which was, however, on the farther side of a small river. Looking about him with the eye of a woodsman, La Salle saw two eagles, or, more probably, turkey-buzzards, circling in the air nearly over him, as if attracted by carcasses of beasts or men. He fired both his pistols, as a summons to any of his followers who might be within hearing. The shots reached the ears of the conspirators. Rightly conjecturing by whom they were fired, several of them, led by Duhaut, crossed the river at a little distance above, where trees, or other intervening objects, hid them from sight. Duhaut and the surgeon crouched like Indians in the long, dry, reed-like grass of the last summer's growth, while l'Archeveque stood in sight near the bank. La Salle, continuing to advance, soon, saw him; and, calling to him, demanded where was Moranget. The man, without lifting his hat, or any show of respect, replied in an agitated and broken voice, but with a tone of studied insolence, that Moranget was along the river. La Salle rebuked and menaced him. He rejoined with increased insolence, drawing back, as he spoke, towards the ambuscade, while the incensed commander advanced to chastise him. At that moment, a shot was fired from the grass, instantly followed by another; and, pierced through the brain, La Salle dropped dead.
The friar at his side stood in an ecstasy of fright, unable to advance or to fly; when Duhaut, rising from his ambuscade, called out to him to take courage, for he had nothing to fear. The murderers now came forward, and with wild looks gathered about their victim. "There thou liest, great Bashaw! There thou liest!" [Footnote: "Te voila grand Bacha, te voila!"— Joutel, 203.] exclaimed the surgeon Liotot, in base exultation over the unconscious corpse. With mockery and insult, they stripped it naked, dragged it into the bushes, and left it there, a prey to the buzzards and the wolves.
Thus, in the vigor of his manhood, at the age of forty-three, died Robert Cavelier de la Salle, "one of the greatest men," writes Tonty, "of this age;" without question one of the most remarkable explorers whose names live in history. His faithful officer Joutel thus sketches his portrait: "His firmness, his courage, his great knowledge of the arts and sciences, which made him equal to every undertaking, and his untiring energy, which enabled him to surmount every obstacle, would have won at last a glorious success for his grand enterprise, had not all his fine qualities been counterbalanced by a haughtiness of manner which often made him insupportable, and by a harshness towards those under his command, which drew upon him an implacable hatred, and was at last the cause of his death." [Footnote: Journal Historique, 202.]
The enthusiasm of the disinterested and chivalrous Champlain was not the enthusiasm of La Salle; nor had he any part in the self-devoted zeal of the early Jesuit explorers. He belonged not to the age of the knight- errant and the saint, but to the modern world of practical study and practical action. He was the hero, not of a principle nor of a faith, but simply of a fixed idea and a determined purpose. As often happens with concentred and energetic natures, his purpose was to him a passion and an inspiration; and he clung to it with a certain fanaticism of devotion. It was the offspring of an ambition vast and comprehensive, yet acting in the interest both of France and of civilization. His mind rose immeasurably above the range of the mere commercial speculator; and, in all the invective and abuse of rivals and enemies, it does not appear that his personal integrity ever found a challenger.
He was capable of intrigue, but his reserve and his haughtiness were sure to rob him at last of the fruits of it. His schemes failed, partly because they were too vast, and partly because he did not conciliate the good-will of those whom he was compelled to trust. There were always traitors in his ranks, and his enemies were more in earnest than his friends. Yet he had friends; and there were times when out of his stern nature a stream of human emotion would gush, like water from the rock.
In the pursuit of his purpose, he spared no man, and least of all himself. He bore the brunt of every hardship and every danger; but he seemed to expect from all beneath him a courage and endurance equal to his own, joined with an implicit deference to his authority. Most of his disasters may be ascribed, in some measure, to himself; and Fortune and his own fault seemed always in league to ruin him.
It is easy to reckon up his defects, but it is not easy to hide from sight the Roman virtues that redeemed them. Beset by a throng of enemies, he stands, like the King of Israel, head and shoulders above them all. He was a tower of adamant, against whose impregnable front hardship and danger, the rage of man and of the elements, the southern sun, the northern blast, fatigue, famine, and disease, delay, disappointment, and deferred hope, emptied their quivers in vain. That very pride, which, Coriolanus-like, declared itself most sternly in the thickest press of foes, has in it something to challenge admiration. Never, under the impenetrable mail of paladin or crusader, beat a heart of more intrepid mettle than within the stoic panoply that armed the breast of La Salle. To estimate aright the marvels of his patient fortitude, one must follow on his track through the vast scene of his interminable journeyings, those thousands of weary miles of forest, marsh, and river, where, again and again, in the bitterness of baffled striving, the untiring pilgrim pushed onward towards the goal which he was never to attain. America owes him an enduring memory; for in this masculine figure, cast in iron, she sees the heroic pioneer who guided her to the possession of her richest heritage. [Footnote: On the assassination of La Salle, the evidence is fourfold: 1st, The narrative of Douay, who was with him at the time. 2d, That of Joutel, who learned the facts immediately after they took place, from Douay and others, and who parted from La Salle an hour or more before his death. 3d, A document preserved in the Archives de la Marine, entitled "Relation de la Mort du Sr. de la Salle suivant le rapport d'un nomine Couture a qui M. Cavelier l'apprit en passant au pays des Akansa, avec toutes les circonstances que le dit Couture a apprises d'un Francais que M. Cavelier avoit laisse aux dits pays des Akansa, crainte qu'il ne gardat pas le secret," 4th, The authentic memoir of Tonty, of which a copy from the original is before me, and which has recently been printed by Margry.
The narrative of Cavelier unfortunately fails us several weeks before the death of his brother, the remainder being lost. On a study of these various documents, it is impossible to resist the conclusion that neither Cavelier nor Douay always wrote honestly. Joutel, on the contrary, gives the impression of sense, intelligence, and candor throughout. Charlevoix, who knew him long after, says that he was "un fort honnete homme, et le seul de la troupe de M. de la Salle, sur qui ce celebre voyageur put compter." Tonty derived his information from the survivors of La Salle's party. Couture, whose statements are embodied in the Relation de la Mort de M. de la Salle, was one of Tonty's men, who, as will be seen hereafter, were left by him at the mouth of the Arkansas, and to whom Cavelier told the story of his brother's death. Couture also repeats the statements of one of La Salle's followers, undoubtedly a Parisian boy named Barthelemy, who was violently prejudiced against his chief, whom he slanders to the utmost of his skill, saying that he was so enraged at his failures that he did not approach the sacraments for two years; that he nearly starved his brother Cavelier, allowing him only a handful of meal a day; that he killed with his own hand "quantite de personnes" who did not work to his liking; and that he killed the sick in their beds without mercy, under the pretence that they were counterfeiting sickness, in order to escape work. These assertions certainly have no other foundation than the undeniable strictness and rigor of La Salle's command. Douay says that he confessed and made his devotions on the morning of his death, while Cavelier always speaks of him as the hope and the staff of the colony.
Douay declares that La Salle lived an hour after the fatal shot; that he gave him absolution, buried his body, and planted a cross on his grave. At the time, he told Joutel a different story; and the latter, with the best means of learning the facts, explicitly denies the friar's printed statement. Couture, on the authority of Cavelier himself, also says that neither he nor Douay were permitted to take any step for burying the body. Tonty says that Cavelier begged leave to do so, but was refused. Douay, unwilling to place upon record facts from which the inference might easily be drawn that he had been terrified from discharging his duty, no doubt invented the story of the burial, as well as that of the edifying behavior of Moranget, after he had been struck in the head with an axe.]
The locality of La Salle's assassination is sufficiently clear from a comparison of the several narratives; and it is also indicated on a contemporary manuscript map, made on the return of the survivors of the party to France. The scene of the catastrophe is here placed on a southern branch of the Trinity.
La Salle's debts, at the time of his death, according to a schedule presented in 1701 to Champigny, Intendant of Canada, amounted to 106,831 livres, without reckoning interest. This cannot be meant to include all, as items are given which raise the amount much higher. In 1678 and 1679 alone, he contracted debts to the amount of 97,184 livres, of which 46,000 were furnished by Branssac, fiscal attorney of the Seminary of Montreal. This was to be paid in beaver-skins. Frontenac, at the same time, became his surety for 13,623 livres. In 1684, he borrowed 34,825 livres from the Sieur Pen, at Paris. These sums do not include the losses incurred by his family, which, in the memorial presented by them to the king, are set down at 500,000 livres for the expeditions between 1678 and 1683, and 300,000 livres for the fatal Texan expedition of 1684. These last figures are certainly exaggerated.
CHAPTER XXVII. 1687, 1688. THE INNOCENT AND THE GUILTY.
TRIUMPH OF THE MURDERERS.—JOUTEL AMONG THE CENTS.—WHITE SAVAGES. —INSOLENCE OF DUHAUT AND HIS ACCOMPLICES.—MURDER OF DUHAUT AND LIOTOT.—HIENS, THE BUCCANEER.—JOUTEL AND HIS PARTY.—THEIR ESCAPE. —THEY REACH THE ARKANSAS.—BRAVERY AND DEVOTION OF TONTY.—THE FUGITIVES REACH THE ILLINOIS.—UNWORTHY CONDUCT OF CAVELIER.—HE AND HIS COMPANIONS RETURN TO FRANCE.
Father Anastase Douay returned to the camp, and, aghast with grief and terror, rushed into the hut of Cavelier. "My poor brother is dead!" cried the priest, instantly divining the catastrophe from the horror-stricken face of the messenger. Close behind came the murderers, Duhaut at their head. Cavelier, his young nephew, and Douay himself, all fell on their knees, expecting instant death. The priest begged piteously for half an hour to prepare for his end; but terror and submission sufficed, and no more blood was shed. The camp submitted without resistance; and Duhaut was lord of all.
Joutel, at the moment, chanced to be absent; and l'Archeveque, who had a kindness for him, went quietly to seek him. He found him 011 a hillock, looking at the band of horses grazing on the meadow below. "I was petrified," says Joutel, "at the news, and knew not whether to fly or remain where I was; but at length, as I had neither powder, lead, nor any weapon, and as l'Archeveque assured me that my life would be safe if I kept quiet and said nothing, I abandoned myself to the care of Providence, and went back in silence to the camp. Duhaut, puffed up with the new authority which his crime had gained for him, no sooner saw me than he cried out that each ought to command in turn; to which I made no reply. We were all forced to smother our grief, and not permit it to be seen; for it was a question of life and death; but it may be imagined with what feelings the Abbe Cavelier and his nephew, Father Anastase, and I regarded these murderers, of whom we expected to be the victims every moment." [Footnote: Journal Historique, 205.] They succeeded so well in their dissembling, that Duhaut and his accomplices seemed to lose all distrust of their intentions; and Joutel says that they might easily have avenged the death of La Salle by that of his murderers, had not the elder Cavelier, through scruple or cowardice, opposed the design.
Meanwhile, Duhaut and Liotot seized upon all the money and goods of La Salle, even to his clothing, declaring that they had a right to them, in compensation for the losses in which they had been involved by the failure of his schemes. [Footnote: According to the Relation de la Mart du Sr. de la Salle, the amount of property remaining was still very considerable. The same document states that Duhaut's interest in the expedition was half the freight of one of the four vessels, which was, of course, a dead loss to him.] They treated the elder Cavelier with great contempt, disregarding his claims to the property, which, indeed, he dared not urge; and compelling him to listen to the most violent invectives against his brother. Hiens, the buccaneer, was greatly enraged at these proceedings of his accomplices; and thus the seeds of a quarrel were already sown.
On the second morning after the murder, the party broke up their camp, packed their horses, of which the number had been much increased by barter with the Indians, and began their march for the Cenis villages, amid a drenching rain. Thus they moved onward slowly till the twenty-eighth, when they reached the main stream of the Trinity, and encamped on its borders. Joutel, who, as well as his companions in misfortune, could not lie down to sleep with an assurance of waking in the morning, was now directed by his self-constituted chiefs to go in advance of the party to the great Cenis village for a supply of food. Liotot himself, with Hiens and Teissier, declared that they would go with him; and Duhaut graciously supplied him with goods for barter. Joutel thus found himself in the company of three murderers, who, as he strongly suspected, were contriving an opportunity to kill him; but, having no choice, he dissembled his doubts, and set out with his ill-omened companions. His suspicions seem, to have been groundless; and, after a ride of ten leagues, the travellers neared the Indian town, which, with its large thatched lodges, looked like a cluster of huge haystacks. Their approach had been made known, and they were received in solemn state. Twelve of the elders came to meet them in their dress of ceremony, each with his face daubed red or black, and his head adorned with painted plumes. From. their shoulders hung deer-skins wrought and fringed with gay colors. Some carried war-clubs; some, bows and arrows; some, the blades of Spanish rapiers, attached to wooden, handles decorated with hawk's-bells and bunches of feathers. They stopped before the honored guests, and, raising their hands aloft, uttered howls so extraordinary, that Joutel had much ado to preserve the gravity which the occasion demanded. Having next embraced the Frenchmen, the elders conducted them into the village, attended by a crowd of warriors and young men; ushered them into their town-hall, a large lodge devoted to councils, feasts, dances, and other public assemblies; seated them on mats, and squatted in a ring around them. Here they were regaled with sagamite, or Indian porridge, corncake, beans, and bread made of the meal of parched corn. Then the pipe was lighted, and all smoked together. The four Frenchmen proposed to open a traffic for provisions, and their entertainers grunted assent.
Joutel found a Frenchman in the village. He was a young man from Provence, who had deserted from La Salle on his last journey, and was now, to all appearance, a savage like his adopted countrymen, being naked like them, and affecting to have forgotten his native language. He was very friendly, however, and invited the visitors to a neighboring village, where he lived, and where, as he told them, they would find a better supply of corn. They accordingly set out with him, escorted by a crowd of Indians. They saw lodges and clusters of lodges scattered along their path at intervals, each with its field of corn, beans, and pumpkins, rudely cultivated with a wooden hoe. Reaching their destination, which was not far off, they were greeted with the same honors as at the first village; and, the ceremonial of welcome over, were lodged in the abode of the savage Frenchman. It is not to be supposed, however, that he and his squaws, of whom he had a considerable number, dwelt here alone; for these lodges of the Cenis often contained fifteen families or more. They were made by firmly planting in a circle tall straight young trees, such as grew in the swamps. The tops were then bent inward and lashed together; great numbers of cross-pieces were bound on, and the frame thus constructed was thickly covered with thatch, a hole being left at the top for the escape of the smoke. The inmates were ranged around the circumference of the structure, each family in a kind of stall, open in front, but separated from those adjoining it by partitions of mats. Here they placed their beds of cane, their painted robes of buffalo and deer skin, their cooking utensils of pottery, and other household goods; and here, too, the head of the family hung his bow, quiver, lance, and shield. There was nothing in common but the fire, which burned in the middle of the lodge, and was never suffered to go out. These dwellings were of great size, and Joutel declares that he has seen one sixty feet in diameter. [Footnote: The lodges of the Florida Indians were somewhat similar. The winter lodges of the now nearly extinct Mandans, though not so high in proportion to their width, and built of more solid materials, as the rigor of a northern climate requires, bear a general resemblance to those of the Cenis.
The Cenis tattooed their faces and some parts of their bodies by pricking powdered charcoal into the skin. The women tattooed the breasts; and this practice was general among them, notwithstanding the pain of the operation, as it was thought very ornamental. Their dress consisted of a sort of frock, or wrapper of skin, from the waist to the knees. The men, in summer, wore nothing but the waist-cloth.]
It was in one of the largest that the four travellers were now lodged. A place was assigned to them where to bestow their baggage; and they took possession of their quarters amid the silent stares of the whole community. They asked their renegade countryman, the Provencal, if they were safe. He replied that they were; but this did not wholly reassure them, and they spent a somewhat wakeful night. In the morning, they opened their budgets, and began a brisk trade in knives, awls, beads, and other trinkets, which they exchanged for corn and beans. Before evening, they had acquired a considerable stock; and Joutel's three companions declared their intention of returning with it to the camp, leaving him to continue the trade. They went, accordingly, in the morning; and Joutel was left alone. On the one hand, he was glad to be rid of them; on the other, he found his position among the Cenis very irksome, and, as he thought, insecure. Besides the Provencal, who had gone with Liotot and his companions, there were two, other French deserters among this tribe, and Joutel was very desirous to see them, hoping that they could tell him the way to the Mississippi; for he was resolved to escape, at the first opportunity, from the company of Duhaut and his accomplices. He therefore made the present of a knife to a young Indian, whom he sent to find the two Frenchmen, and invite them, to come to the village. Meanwhile, he continued his barter, but under many difficulties; for he could only explain himself by signs, and his customers, though friendly by day, pilfered his goods by night. This, joined to the fears and troubles which burdened his mind, almost deprived him of sleep, and, as he confesses, greatly depressed his spirits. Indeed, he had little cause for cheerfulness, in the past, present, or future. An old Indian, one of the patriarchs of the tribe, observing his dejection, and anxious to relieve it, one evening brought him a young wife, saying that he made him a present of her. She seated herself at his side; "but," says Joutel, "as my head was full of other cares and anxieties, I said nothing to the poor girl. She waited for a little time; and then, finding that I did not speak a word, she went away."
Late one night, he lay, between sleeping and waking, on the buffalo-robe that covered his bed of canes. All around the great lodge, its inmates were buried in sleep; and the fire that still burned in the midst cast ghostly gleams on the trophies of savage chivalry, the treasured scalp- locks, the spear and war-club, and shield of whitened bull-hide, that hung by each warrior's resting-place. Such was the weird scene that lingered on the dreamy eyes of Joutel, as he closed them at last in a troubled sleep. The sound of a footstep soon wakened him; and, turning, he saw at his side, the figure of a naked savage, armed with a bow and arrows. Joutel spoke, but received no answer. Not knowing what to think, he reached out his hand for his pistols; on which the intruder withdrew, and seated himself by the fire. Thither Joutel followed; and, as the light fell on his features, he looked at him closely. His face was tattooed, after the Cenis fashion, in lines drawn from the top of the forehead and converging to the chin; and his body was decorated with similar embellishments. Suddenly, this supposed Indian rose, and threw his arms around Joutel's neck, making himself known, at the same time, as one of the Frenchmen who had deserted from La Salle, and taken refuge among the Cenis. He was a Breton sailor named Ruter. His companion, named Grollet, also a sailor, had been afraid to come to the village, lest he should meet La Salle. Ruter expressed surprise and regret when he heard of the death of his late commander. He had deserted him but a few months before. That brief interval had sufficed to transform him into a savage; and both he and his companion found their present reckless and ungoverned way of life greatly to their liking. He could tell nothing of the Mississippi; and on the next day he went home, carrying with him a present of beads for his wives, of which last he had made a large collection.
In a few days he reappeared, bringing Grollet with him. Each wore a bunch of turkey-feathers dangling from his head, and each had wrapped his naked body in a blanket. Three men soon after arrived from Duhaut's camp, commissioned to receive the corn which Joutel had purchased. They told him that Duhaut and Liotot, the tyrants of the party, had resolved to return to Fort St. Louis, and build a vessel to escape to the West Indies; "a visionary scheme," writes Joutel, "for our carpenters were all dead; and, even if they had been alive, they were so ignorant, that they would not have known how to go about the work; besides, we had no tools for it. Nevertheless, I was obliged to obey, and set out for the camp with the provisions."
On arriving, he found a wretched state of affairs. Douay and the two Caveliers, who had been treated by Duhaut with great harshness and contempt, had made their mess apart; and Joutel now joined them. This separation restored them their freedom of speech, of which they had hitherto been deprived; but it subjected them to incessant hunger, as they were allowed only food enough to keep them from famishing. Douay says that quarrels were rife among the assassins themselves, the malcontents being headed by Hiens, who was enraged that Duhaut and Liotot should have engrossed all the plunder. Joutel was helpless, for he had none to back him but two priests and a boy.
He and his companions talked of nothing around their solitary camp-fire but the means of escaping from the villanous company into which they were thrown. They saw no resource but to find the Mississippi, and thus make their way to Canada, a prodigious undertaking in their forlorn condition; nor was there any probability that the assassins would permit them to go. These, on their part, were beset with difficulties. They could not return to civilization without manifest peril of a halter; and their only safety was to turn buccaneers or savages. Duhaut, however, still held to his plan of going back to Fort St. Louis; and Joutel and his companions, who, with good reason, stood in daily fear of him, devised among themselves a simple artifice to escape from his company. The elder Cavelier was to tell him that they were too fatigued for the journey, and wished to stay among the Cenis; and to beg him to allow them a portion of the goods, for which Cavelier was to give his note of hand. The old priest, whom a sacrifice of truth, even on less important occasions, cost no great effort, accordingly opened the negotiation; and to his own astonishment, and that of his companions, gained the assent of Duhaut. Their joy, however, was short; for Ruter, the French savage, to whom Joutel had betrayed his intention, when inquiring the way to the Mississippi, told it to Duhaut, who, on this, changed front, and made the ominous declaration that he and his men would also go to Canada. Joutel and his companions were now filled with alarm; for there was no likelihood that the assassins would permit them, the witnesses of their crime, to reach the settlements alive. In the midst of their trouble, the sky was cleared as by the crash of a thunderbolt.
Hiens and several others had gone, some time before, to the Cenis villages to purchase horses; and here they had been retained by the charms of the Indian women. During their stay, Hiens heard of Duhaut's new plan of going to Canada by the Mississippi; and he declared to those with him that he would not consent. On a morning early in May, he appeared at Duhaut's camp, with Ruter and Grollet, the French savages, and about twenty Indians. Duhaut and Liotot, it is said, were passing the time by practising with bows and arrows in front of their hut. One of them called to Hiens, "Good-morning;" but the buccaneer returned a sullen answer. He then accosted Duhaut, telling him that he had no mind to go up the Mississippi with him, and demanding a share of the goods. Duhaut replied that the goods were his own, since La Salle had owed him money. "So you will not give them to me?" returned Hiens. "No," was the answer. "You are a wretch!" exclaimed Hiens. "You killed my master;" [Footnote: "Tu es un miserable. Tu as tue mon maistre."—Tonty, Memoire, MS. Tonty derived his information from some of those present. Douay and Joutel have each left an account of this murder. They agree in essential points, though Douay says that, when it took place, Duhaut had moved his camp beyond the Cenis villages, which is contrary to Joutel's statement.] and, drawing a pistol from his belt, he fired at Duhaut, who staggered three or four paces, and fell dead. Almost at the same instant, Ruter fired his gun at Liotot, shot three balls into his body, and stretched him on the ground mortally wounded.
Douay and the two Caveliers stood in extreme terror, thinking that their turn was to come next. Joutel, no less alarmed, snatched his gun to defend himself; but Hiens called to him to fear nothing, declaring that what he had done was only to avenge the death of La Salle, to which, nevertheless, he had been privy, though not an active sharer in the crime. Liotot lived long enough to make his confession, after which Ruter killed him by exploding a pistol loaded with a blank charge of powder against his head. Duhaut's myrmidon, l'Archeveque, was absent, hunting, and Hiens was for killing him on his return; but the two priests and Joutel succeeded in dissuading him.
The Indian spectators beheld these murders with undisguised amazement, and almost with horror. What manner of men were these who had pierced the secret places of the wilderness to riot in mutual slaughter? Their fiercest warriors might learn a lesson in ferocity from these heralds of civilization. Joutel and his companions, who could not dispense with the aid of the Cenis, were obliged to explain away, as they best might, the atrocity of what they had witnessed. [Footnote: Joutel, 248.]
Hiens, and others of the French, had before promised to join the Cenis on an expedition against a neighboring tribe with whom they were at war; and the whole party, having removed to the Indian village, the warriors and their allies prepared to depart. Six Frenchmen went with Hiens; and the rest, including Joutel, Douay, and the Caveliers, remained behind, in the same lodge in which Joutel had been domesticated, and where none were now left but women, children, and old men. Here they remained a week or more, watched closely by the Cenis, who would not let them leave the village; when news at length arrived of a great victory, and the warriors soon after returned with forty-eight scalps. It was the French guns that won the battle, but not the less did they glory in their prowess; and several days were spent in ceremonies and feasts of triumph. [Footnote: These are described by Joutel. Like nearly all the early observers of Indian manners, he speaks of the practice of cannibalism.]
When, all this hubbub of rejoicing had subsided, Joutel and his companions broke to Hiens their plan of attempting to reach home by way of the Mississippi. As they had expected, he opposed it vehemently, declaring that, for his own part, he would not run such a risk of losing his head; but at length he consented to their departure, on condition that the elder Cavelier should give him a certificate of his entire innocence of the murder of La Salle, which the priest did not hesitate to do. For the rest, Hiens treated his departing fellow-travellers with the generosity of a successful freebooter; for he gave them a good share of the plunder which he had won by his late crime, supplying them with hatchets, knives, heads, and other articles of trade, besides several horses. Meanwhile, adds Joutel, "we had the mortification and chagrin of seeing this scoundrel walking about the camp in a scarlet coat laced with gold which had belonged to the late Monsieur de la Salle, and which lie had seized upon, as also upon all the rest of his property." A well-aimed shot would have avenged the wrong, but Joutel was clearly a mild and moderate person; and the elder Cavelier had constantly opposed all plans of violence. Therefore they stifled their emotions, and armed themselves with patience.
Joutel's party consisted, besides himself, of the Caveliers, uncle and nephew, Anastase Douay, De Marie, Teissier, and a young Parisian named Barthelemy. Teissier, an accomplice in the murders of Moranget and La Salle, had obtained a pardon, in form, from the elder Cavelier. They had six horses and three Cenis guides. Hiens embraced them at parting, as did the ruffians who remained with him. Their course was north-east, towards the mouth of the Arkansas, a distant goal, the way to which was beset with so many dangers that their chance of reaching it seemed small. It was early in June, and the forests and prairies were green with the verdure of opening summer. They soon reached the Assonis, a tribe near the Sabine, who received them well, and gave them guides to the nations dwelling towards Red River. On the twenty-third, they approached a village, the inhabitants of which, regarding them as curiosities of the first order came out in a body to see them; and, eager to do them honor, required them to mount on their backs, and thus make their entrance in procession. Joutel, being large and heavy, weighed down his bearer, insomuch that two of his countrymen were forced to sustain him, one on each side. On arriving, an old chief washed their faces with warm water from an earthen pan, and then invited them to mount on a scaffold of canes, where they sat in the hot sun listening to four successive speeches of welcome, of which they understood not a word. [Footnote: These Indians were a portion of the Cadodaquis, or Caddoes, then living on Red River. The travellers afterwards visited other villages of the same people. Tonty was here two years afterwards, and mentions the curious custom of washing the faces of guests.] At the village of another tribe, farther on their way, they met with a welcome still more oppressive. Cavelier, the unworthy successor of his brother, being represented as the chief of the party, became the principal victim of their attentions. They danced the calumet before him; while an Indian, taking him, with an air of great respect, by the shoulders, as he sat, shook him in cadence with the thumping of the drum. They then placed two girls close beside him, as his wives; while, at the same time, an old chief tied a painted feather in his hair. These proceedings so scandalized him, that, pretending to be ill, he broke off the ceremony; but they continued to sing all night with so much zeal, that several of them were reduced to a state of complete exhaustion.
At length, after a journey of about two months, during which they lost one of their number, De Marle, accidentally drowned while bathing, the travellers approached the River Arkansas, at a point not far above its junction with the Mississippi. Led by their Indian guides, they traversed a rich district of plains and woods, and stood at length on the borders of the stream. Nestled beneath the forests of the farther shore, they saw the lodges of a large Indian town; and here, as they gazed across the broad current, they presently descried an object which nerved their spent limbs, and thrilled their homesick hearts with joy. It was a tall wooden cross; and near it was a small house, built evidently by Christian hands. With one accord, they fell on their knees, and raised their hands to Heaven in thanksgiving. Two men, in European dress, issued from the door of the house, and fired their guns to salute the excited travellers, who, on their part, replied with a volley. Canoes put out from the farther shore, and ferried them to the town, where they were welcomed by Couture and De Launay, two of Tonty's followers.
That brave, loyal, and generous man, always vigilant and always active, beloved and feared alike by white men and by red, [Footnote: Journal de St. Cosme, 1699, MS. This journal has been printed by Mr. Shea, from the copy in my possession. St. Cosme, who knew Tonty well, speaks of him in the warmest terms of praise.] had been ejected, as we have seen, by the agent of the Governor, La Barre, from the command of Fort St. Louis of the Illinois. An order from the king had reinstated him; and he no sooner heard the news of La Salle's landing on the shores of the Gulf, and of the disastrous beginnings of his colony, [Footnote: In the autumn of 1685, Tonty made a journey from the Illinois to Michillimackinac, to seek news of La Salle. He there learned, by a letter of the new Governor, Denonville, just arrived from France, of the landing of La Salle, and the loss of the "Aimable," as recounted by Beaujeu on his return. He immediately went back on foot to Fort St. Louis of the Illinois, and prepared to descend the Mississippi; "dans l'esperance de lui donner secours."—Lettre de Tonty au Ministre, 24 Aoust, 1686, and Memoire de Tonty, MS.] than he prepared, on his own responsibility, and at his own cost, to go to his assistance. He collected twenty-five Frenchmen, and five Indians, and set out from his fortified rock on the thirteenth of February, 1686; [Footnote: The date is from the letter cited above. In the Memoire, hastily written, long after, he falls into errors of date.] descended the Mississippi, and reached its mouth in Holy Week. All was solitude, a voiceless desolation of river, marsh, and sea. He despatched canoes to the east and to the west; searching the coast for some thirty leagues on either side. Finding no trace of his friend, who at that moment was ranging the prairies of Texas in no less fruitless search of his "fatal river," Tonty wrote for him a letter, which he left in the charge of an Indian chief, who preserved it with reverential care, and gave it, fourteen years after, to Iberville, the founder of Louisiana. [Footnote: Iberville sent it to France, and Charlevoix gives a portion of it.— Histoire de la Nouvelle France, ii. 259. Singularly enough, the date, as printed by him, is erroneous, being 20 April, 1685, instead of 1686. There is no doubt, whatever, from its relations with concurrent events, that this journey was in the latter year.] Deeply disappointed at his failure, Tonty retraced his course, and ascended the Mississippi to the villages of the Arkansas, where some of his men volunteered to remain. He left six of them; and of this number were Couture and De Launay. [Footnote: Tonty, Memoire, MS.; Ibid., Lettre a Monseigneur de Ponchartraint, 1690, MS.; Joutel, 301.]
Cavelier and his companions, followed by a crowd of Indians, some carrying their baggage, some struggling for a view of the white strangers, entered the log cabin of their two hosts. Rude as it was, they found in it an earnest of peace and safety, and a foretaste of home. Couture and De Launay were moved even to tears by the story of their disasters, and of the catastrophe that crowned them. La Salle's death was carefully concealed from the Indians, many of whom had seen him on his descent of the Mississippi, and who regarded him with a prodigious respect. They lavished all their hospitality on his followers; feasted them on corn- bread, dried buffalo-meat, and watermelons, and danced the calumet before them, the most august of all their ceremonies. On this occasion, Cavelier's patience failed him again; and pretending, as before, to be ill, he called on his nephew to take his place. There were solemn dances, too, in which the warriors—some bedaubed with white clay, some with red, and some with both; some wearing feathers, and some the horns of buffalo; some naked, and some in painted shirts of deer-skin fringed with scalp- locks, insomuch, says Joutel, that they looked like a troop of devils— leaped, stamped, and howled from sunset till dawn. All this was partly to do the travellers honor, and partly to extort presents. They made objections, however, when asked to furnish guides; and it was only by dint of great offers, that four were at length procured. With these, the travellers resumed their journey in a wooden canoe, about the first of August, [Footnote: Joutel says that the Parisian boy Barthelemy was left behind. It was this youth who afterwards uttered the ridiculous defamation of La Salle mentioned in a preceding note (see ante, p. 367). The account of the death of La Salle, taken from the lips of Couture (ibid.), was received by him from Cavelier and his companions during their stay at the Arkansas. Couture was by trade a carpenter, and was a native of Rouen.] descended the Arkansas, and soon reached the dark and inexorable river, so long the object of their search, rolling like a destiny through its realms of solitude and shade. They launched forth on its turbid bosom, plied their oars against the current, and slowly won their way upward, following the writhings of this watery monster through cane-brake, swamp, and fen. It was a hard and toilsome journey under the sweltering sun of August. now on the water, now knee-deep in mud, dragging their canoe through the unwholesome jungle. On the nineteenth, they passed the mouth of the Ohio; and their Indian guides made it an offering of buffalo-meat. On the first of September, they passed the Missouri, and soon after saw Marquette's pictured rock, and the line of craggy heights on the east shore, marked on old French maps as "the Ruined Castles." Then, with a sense of relief, they turned from the great river into the peaceful current of the Illinois. They were eleven days in ascending it, in their large and heavy wooden canoe, when, at length, on the afternoon of the fourteenth of September, they saw, towering above the forest and the river, the cliff crowned with the palisades of Fort St. Louis of the Illinois. As they drew near, a troop of Indians, headed by a Frenchman, descended from the rock, and fired their guns to salute them. They landed, and followed the forest path that led towards the fort, when they were met by Boisrondet, Tonty's comrade in the Iroquois war, and two other Frenchmen, who no sooner saw them than they called out, demanding where was La Salle. Cavelier, fearing lest he and his party would lose the advantages which they might derive from his character of representative of his brother, was determined to conceal his death; and Joutel, as he himself confesses, took part in the deceit. Substituting equivocation for falsehood, they replied that he had been with them nearly as far as the Cenis villages, and that, when they parted, he was in good health. This, so far as they were concerned, was, literally speaking, true; but Douay and Teissier, the one a witness and the other a sharer in his death, could not have said so much, without a square falsehood, and therefore evaded the inquiry.
Threading the forest path, and circling to the rear of the rock, they climbed the rugged height and reached the top. Here they saw an area, encircled by the palisades that fenced the brink of the cliff, and by several dwellings, a storehouse, and a chapel. There were Indian lodges, too; for some of the red allies of the French made their abode with, them. [Footnote: The condition of Fort St. Louis at this time may be gathered from several passages of Joutel. The houses, he says, were built at the brink of the cliff, forming, with the palisades, the circle of defence. The Indians lived in the area.] Tonty was absent, fighting the Iroquois; but his lieutenant, Bellefontaine, received the travellers, and his little garrison of bush-rangers greeted them with a salute of musketry, mingled with the whooping of the Indians. A Te Deum followed at the chapel; "and, with all our hearts," says Joutel, "we gave thanks to God who had preserved and guided us." At length, the tired travellers were among countrymen and friends. Bellefontaine found a room for the two priests; while Joutel, Teissier, and young Cavelier were lodged in the storehouse.
The Jesuit Allouez was lying ill at the fort; and Joutel, Cavelier, and Douay went to visit him. He showed great anxiety when told that La Salle was alive, and on his way to the Illinois; asked many questions, and could not hide his agitation. When, some time after, he had partially recovered, he left St. Louis, as if to shun a meeting with the object of his alarm. [Footnote: Joutel adds that this was occasioned by "une espece de conspiration qu'on a voulu faire contre les interests de Monsieur de la Salle."
La Salle always saw the influence of the Jesuits in the disasters that befell him. His repeated assertion, that they wished to establish themselves in the Valley of the Mississippi, receives confirmation from, a document entitled, Memoire sur la proposition a faire parles R. Peres Jesuites pour la decouverte des environs de la riviere du Mississipi et pour voir si elle est navigable jusqu'a la mer. It is a memorandum of propositions to be made to the minister Seignelay, and was apparently put forward as a feeler, before making the propositions in form. It was written after the return of Beaujeu to France, and before La Salle's death became known. It intimates that the Jesuits were entitled to precedence in the Valley of the Mississippi, as having first explored it. It affirms that La Salle had made a blunder and landed his colony, not at the mouth of the river, but at another place, and it asks permission to continue the work in which he has failed. To this end it petitions for means to build a vessel at St. Louis of the Illinois, together with canoes, arms, tents, tools, provisions, and merchandise for the Indians; and it also asks for La Salle's maps and papers, and for those of Beaujeu. On their part, it pursues, the Jesuits will engage to make a complete survey of the river, and return an exact account of its inhabitants, its plants, and its other productions.
How did the Jesuits learn that La Salle had missed the mouths of the Mississippi? He himself did not know it when Beaujeu left him; for he dated his last letter to the minister from the "Western Mouth of the Mississippi." I have given the proof that Beaujeu, after leaving him, found the true mouth of the river, and made a map of it (ante, p. 380, note). Now Beaujeu was in close relations with the Jesuits, for he mentions in one of his letters that his wife was devotedly attached to them. These circumstances, taken together, may justify the suspicion that Jesuit influence had some connection with Beaujeu's treacherous desertion of La Salle; and that this complicity had some connection with the uneasiness of Allouez when told that La Salle was on his way to the Illinois.] Once before, in 1679, Allouez had fled from the Illinois on hearing of the approach of La Salle.
The season was late, and they were eager to hasten forward that they might reach Quebec in time to return, to France in the autumn ships. There was not a day to lose. They bade farewell to Bellefontaine, from whom, as from all others, they had concealed the death of La Salle, and made their way across the country to Chicago. Here they were detained a week by a storm; and when at length they embarked in a canoe furnished by Bellefontaine, the tempest soon forced them to put back. On this, they abandoned their design, and returned to Fort St. Louis, to the astonishment of its inmates.
It was October when they arrived; and, meanwhile, Tonty had returned from the Iroquois war, where he had borne a conspicuous part in the famous attack on the Senecas, by the Marquis de Denonville. [Footnote: Tonty, Du Laut, and Durantaye came to the aid of Denonville with hundred and seventy Frenchmen, chiefly coureurs de bois, and three hundred Indians from the upper country. Their services were highly appreciated, and Tonty especially is mentioned in the despatches of Denonville with great praise.] He listened with deep interest to the mournful story of his guests. Cavelier knew him well. He knew, so far as he was capable of knowing, his generous and disinterested character, his long and faithful attachment to La Salle, and the invaluable services he had rendered him. Tonty had every claim on his confidence and affection. Yet he did not hesitate to practise on him the same deceit which he had practised on Bellefontaine. He told him that he had left his brother in good health on the Gulf of Mexico; and, adding fraud to meanness, drew upon him in La Salle's name for an amount stated by Joutel at about four thousand livres, in furs, besides a canoe and a quantity of other goods, all of which were delivered to him by the unsuspecting victim. [Footnote: "Monsieur Tonty, croyant M. de la Salle vivant, ne fit pas de diffiulte de Luy donner pour environ quatre mille liv. de pelleterie, de castors, loutres, un canot, et autres effets."—Joutel, 349.
Tonty himself does not make the amount so great: "Sur ce qu'ils m'assuroient qu'il etoit reste au golfe de Mexique en bonne sante, je les recus comme si c'avoit este lui mesmo et luy prestay (a Cavelier) plus de 700 francs."—Tonty, Memoire.
Cavelier must have known that La Salle was insolvent. Tonty had long served without pay. Douay says that he made the stay of the party at the fort very agreeable, and speaks of him, with some apparent compunction, as "ce brave Gentilhomme, toujours inseparablement attache aux interets du sieur de la Salle, doet nous luy avons cache la deplorable destinee."
Couture, from the Arkansas, brought word to Tonty, several months after, of La Salle's death, adding that Cavelier had concealed it, with no other purpose than that of gaining money or supplies from him (Tonty), in his brother's name.]
This was at the end of the winter, when the old priest and his companions had been living for months on Tonty's hospitality. They set out for Canada on the twenty-first of March, reached Chicago on the twenty-ninth, and thence proceeded to Michillimackinac. Here Cavelier sold some of Tonty's furs to a merchant, who gave him in payment a draft on Montreal, thus putting him in funds for his voyage home. The party continued their journey in canoes by way of French River and the Ottawa, and safely reached Montreal on the seventeenth of July. Here they procured the clothing of which they were wofully in need, and then descended the river to Quebec, where they took lodging, some with the Recollet friars, and some with the priests of the Seminary, in order to escape the questions of the curious. At the end of August, they embarked for France, and early in October arrived safely at Rochelle. None of the party were men of especial energy or force of character; and yet, under the spur of a dire necessity, they had achieved one of the most adventurous journeys on record.