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      Walls of verdure stretched on left and right. Now, aloft in the lonely air rose the cliffs of Belceil, and now, before them, framed in circling forests, the Basin of Chambly spread its tranquil mirror, glittering in the sun. The shallop outsailed the canoes. Champlain, leaving his allies behind, crossed the basin and tried to pursue his course; but, as he listened in the stillness, the unwelcome noise of rapids reached his ear, and, by glimpses through the dark foliage of the Islets of St. John he could see the gleam of snowy foam and the flash of hurrying waters. Leaving the boat by the shore in charge of four men, he went with Marais, La Routte, and five others, to explore the wild before him. They pushed their way through the damps and shadows of the wood, through thickets and tangled vines, over mossy rocks and mouldering logs. Still the hoarse surging of the rapids followed them; and when, parting the screen of foliage, they looked out upon the river, they saw it thick set with rocks where, plunging over ledges, gurgling under drift-logs, darting along clefts, and boiling in chasms, the angry waters filled the solitude with monotonous ravings.


      [52] Dablon, on his journey with Allouez in 1670, was delighted with the aspect of the country and the abundance of game along this river. Carver, a century later, speaks to the same effect, saying that the birds rose up in clouds from the wild-rice marshes.


      Much as Myrtale was absorbed in her grief, she felt the importance of the arrangements which would decide her fate. So it was a great relief to her when Polycles said that he was too old to take a young wife and, moreover, had been warned in a dream against marrying again. One night in his sleep he had seen his house decked with garlands as though for a bridal; but when he was leading the bride home the green wreath vanished and, in its place above the door, hung288 an oil-jar, twined with a blue ribbon, as though for an offering at a tomb. The interpreter of dreams being consulted had said that if Polycles married he would die on his wedding day.

      VI.

      I have said that since the middle of the century the religious exaltation of the early missions had sensibly declined. In the nature of things, that grand enthusiasm was too intense and fervent to be long sustained. But the vital force of Jesuitism had suffered no diminution. That marvellous esprit de corps, that extinction of self and absorption of the individual in the Order which has marked the Jesuits from their first existence as a body, was no whit changed or lessened,a principle, which, though [Pg 104] different, was no less strong than the self-devoted patriotism of Sparta or the early Roman Republic.The wretched Philopator, at whom hundreds of throats were yelling, became fairly frantic. He turned deadly pale, tore his hair, and ran to and fro in the level space as though out of his senses. As his voice would have been lost amid the shouts, he threw himself humbly on his knees and extended his arms towards the benches from which echoed the most furious cries. At last the storm subsided and the smiths deep voice said:


      Polycles is right, he said, your name ought to have been MetisU and not Myrtale.... But will not268 Lycon take advantage of the night to steal from me again?

      [4] Lalemant, Relation des Hurons, 1642, 97.The chief condescended to visit La Salle at his camp,a favor which he would by no means have granted, had the visitors been Indians. A master of ceremonies and six attendants preceded him, to clear [Pg 303] the path and prepare the place of meeting. When all was ready, he was seen advancing, clothed in a white robe and preceded by two men bearing white fans, while a third displayed a disk of burnished copper,doubtless to represent the Sun, his ancestor, or, as others will have it, his elder brother. His aspect was marvellously grave, and he and La Salle met with gestures of ceremonious courtesy. The interview was very friendly; and the chief returned well pleased with the gifts which his entertainer bestowed on him, and which, indeed, had been the principal motive of his visit.

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      Gourgues, well pleased, pushed on to attack them. On Monday evening he sent forward the Indians to ambush themselves on both sides of the fort. In the morning he followed with his Frenchmen; and, as the glittering ranks came into view, defiling between the forest and the river, the Spaniards opened on them with culverins from a projecting bastion. The French took cover in the woods with which the hills below and behind the fort were densely overgrown. Here, himself unseen, Gourgues could survey whole extent of the defences, and he presently descried a strong party of Spaniards issuing from their works, crossing the ditch, and advancing to reconnoitre.Captain John Smith had observed the same, several years before, among the tribes of Virginia: "For the Crowne, their heyres inherite not, but the first heyres of the Sisters."True Relation, 43 (ed. Deane).

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      The tent was dragged down and partly covered a yawning hole in the deck, from which rose splinters yards long. Charicleia had felt little Callias hand torn from hers by some terrible, resistless power, and at the same moment, while half buried under the folds of the tent, a warm, sticky stream had spurted over her foot. Though she had not seen it, she well knew what it was.

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      [1] Lalemant, Relation, 1648, 11. The Jesuit Bressani had come down with the Hurons, and was with them in the fight.It was a desolate and lonely scene,the river gliding dark and cold between its banks of rushes; the empty lodges, covered with crusted snow; the vast white meadows; the distant cliffs, bearded with shining icicles; and the hills wrapped in forests, which glittered from afar with the icy incrustations that cased each frozen twig. Yet there was life in the savage landscape. The men saw buffalo wading in the snow, and they killed one of them. More than this: they discovered the tracks of moccasins. They cut rushes by the edge of the river, piled them on the bank, and set them on fire, that the smoke might attract the eyes of savages roaming near.


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