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      Crows? repeated Myrtale in surprise.We return now to La Salle, only to find ourselves involved in mist and obscurity. What did he do after he left the two priests? Unfortunately, a definite answer is not possible; and the next two years of his life remain in some measure an enigma. That he was busied in active exploration, and that he made important discoveries, is certain; but the extent and character of these discoveries remain wrapped in doubt. He is known to have kept journals and made maps; and these were in existence, and in possession of his niece, Madeleine Cavelier, then in advanced [Pg 29] age, as late as the year 1756; beyond which time the most diligent inquiry has failed to trace them. Abb Faillon affirms that some of La Salle's men, refusing to follow him, returned to La Chine, and that the place then received its name, in derision of the young adventurer's dream of a westward passage to China.[17] As for himself, the only distinct record of his movements is that contained in a paper, entitled "Histoire de Monsieur de la Salle." It is an account of his explorations, and of the state of parties in Canada previous to the year 1678,taken from the lips of La Salle himself, by a person whose name does not appear, but who declares that he had ten or twelve conversations with him at Paris, whither he had come with a petition to the Court. The writer himself had never been in America, and was ignorant of its geography; hence blunders on his part might reasonably be expected. His statements, however, are in some measure intelligible; and the following is the substance of them.


      [49] Nothing was known of Joliet till Shea investigated his history. Ferland, in his Notes sur les Registres de Notre-Dame de Qubec; Faillon, in his Colonie Fran?aise en Canada; and Margry, in a series of papers in the Journal Gnral de l'Instruction Publique,have thrown much new light on his life. From journals of a voyage made by him at a later period to the coast of Labrador, given in substance by Margry, he seems to have been a man of close and intelligent observation. His mathematical acquirements appear to have been very considerable."Oh, not as an office, I hope?"


      Twelve Frenchmen, well armed, had attended him. Summer was at its height, and as his canoe stole along the bosom of the glassy river, and he gazed about him on the tawny multitude whose fragile craft covered the water like swarms of gliding insects, he thought, perhaps, of his whitewashed cell in the convent of Brouage, of his book, his table, his rosary, and all the narrow routine of that familiar life from which he had awakened to contrasts so startling. That his progress up the Ottawa was far from being an excursion of pleasure is attested by his letters, fragments of which have come down to us.


      [60] Marquette says that it consisted at this time of seventy-four lodges. These, like the Huron and Iroquois lodges, contained each several fires and several families. This village was about seven miles below the site of the present town of Ottawa.

      There was another council, between which and that of the subordinate chiefs the line of demarcation seems not to have been very definite. The Jesuit Lafitau calls it "the senate." Familiar with the Iroquois at the height of their prosperity, he describes it as the central and controlling power, so far, at least, as the separate nations were concerned. In its character it was essentially popular, but popular in the best sense, and one which can find its application only in a small community. Any man took part in it whose age and experience qualified him to do so. It was merely the gathered wisdom of the nation. lviii Lafitau compares it to the Roman Senate, in the early and rude age of the Republic, and affirms that it loses nothing by the comparison. He thus describes it: "It is a greasy assemblage, sitting sur leur derrire, crouched like apes, their knees as high as their ears, or lying, some on their bellies, some on their backs, each with a pipe in his mouth, discussing affairs of state with as much coolness and gravity as the Spanish Junta or the Grand Council of Venice." [49]But, instead of taking her seat on the edge, Maira remained standing before him, gazing steadily into his face. Xenocles scarcely believed his eyes. It was the first time during the twenty years of their married life that his wife had not instantly done whatever he requested.

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      With interest of a different kind she read in a later issue another passage, handed her by the grandmother with the remark, "to warn you, my dear." The matter was a frothy bit of tragical romancing, purporting to have been gathered from two detectives out of their own experience of a year or so before, about a gift made to the Bazaar by Captain Kincaid, which had--"met our gaze jealously guarded under glass amid a brilliant collection of reliques, jewels, and bric--brac; a large, evil-looking knife still caked with the mud of the deadly affray, but bearing legibly in Italian on its blade the inscription, 'He who gets me in his body never need take a medicine,' and with a hilt and scabbard encrusted with gems."

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      Then a thundering roar echoed from the approaching mass of water, it buried the quay in snowy foam, raised one boat after another,not without partially filling themand bore them with furious speed up the Street of the Bakers, which lay straight before the landing-place.

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      Lalemant, physically weak from childhood, and slender almost to emaciation, was constitutionally unequal to a display of fortitude like that of his colleague. When Brbeuf died, he was led back to the house whence he had been taken, and tortured there all night, until, in the morning, one of the Iroquois, growing tired of the protracted entertainment, killed him with a hatchet. [3] It was said, that, at times, he seemed beside himself; then, rallying, with hands uplifted, he offered his 391 sufferings to Heaven as a sacrifice. His robust companion had lived less than four hours under the torture, while he survived it for nearly seventeen. Perhaps the Titanic effort of will with which Brbeuf repressed all show of suffering conspired with the Iroquois knives and firebrands to exhaust his vitality; perhaps his tormentors, enraged at his fortitude, forgot their subtlety, and struck too near the life.


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