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      Turning from these eccentricities of the "noble savage" [17] to the zealots who were toiling, according to their light, to snatch him from the clutch of Satan, we see the irrepressible Jesuits roaming from town to town in restless quest of subjects for baptism. In the case of adults, they thought some little preparation essential; but their efforts to this end, even with the aid of St. Joseph, whom they constantly invoked, [18] were not always successful; and, 96 cheaply as they offered salvation, they sometimes railed to find a purchaser. With infants, however, a simple drop of water sufficed for the transfer from a prospective Hell to an assured Paradise. The Indians, who at first had sought baptism as a cure, now began to regard it as a cause of death; and when the priest entered a lodge where a sick child lay in extremity, the scowling parents watched him with jealous distrust, lest unawares the deadly drop should be applied. The Jesuits were equal to the emergency. Father Le Mercier will best tell his own story.


      "No, no!" he called as she moved away, and again, with a darkening brow, "no, no!"


      In those days it was not well to be the bearer of evil tidings. Lyrcus outbursts of fury were well known; it was also known how passionately he loved Byssa, and no one felt the courage to tell him what had40 happened. Yet it was necessary that he should hear it.2 Now, embarked in the canoe of some Montagnais Indian, let him cross the St. Lawrence, land at the pier, and, passing the cluster of buildings, climb the pathway up the cliff. Pausing for rest and breath, he might see, ascending and descending, the tenants of this outpost of the wilderness: a soldier of the fort, or an officer in slouched hat and plume; a factor of the fur company, owner and sovereign lord of all Canada; a party of Indians; a trader from the upper country, one of the precursors of that hardy race of coureurs de bois, destined to form a conspicuous and striking feature of the Canadian population: next, perhaps, would appear a figure widely different. The close, black cassock, the rosary hanging from the waist, and the wide, black hat, looped up at the sides, proclaimed the Jesuit,Father Le Jeune, Superior of the Residence of Quebec.

      FOOTNOTES:"Do not imagine," writes the Father Superior, "that the rage of the Iroquois, and the loss of many Christians and many catechumens, can bring to nought the mystery of the cross of Jesus Christ, and the efficacy of his blood. We shall die; we shall be captured, burned, butchered: be it so. Those who die in their beds do not always die the best death. I see none of our company cast down. On the contrary, they ask leave to go up to the Hurons, and some of them protest that the fires of the Iroquois are one of their motives for the journey." [5]

      For the medical practices of the Hurons, see also Champlain, Brbeuf, Lafitau, Charlevoix, and other early writers. Those of the Algonquins were in some points different. The doctor often consulted the spirits, to learn the cause and cure of the disease, by a method peculiar to that family of tribes. He shut himself in a small conical lodge, and the spirits here visited him, manifesting their presence by a violent shaking of the whole structure. This superstition will be described in another connection.


      All turned with longing eyes towards the mission of the Hurons; for here the largest harvest promised to repay their labor, and here hardships and dangers most abounded. Two Jesuits, Pijart and Le Mercier, had been sent thither in 1635; and in midsummer of the next year three more arrived,Jogues, 86 Chatelain, and Garnier. When, after their long and lonely journey, they reached Ihonatiria one by one, they were received by their brethren with scanty fare indeed, but with a fervor of affectionate welcome which more than made amends; for among these priests, united in a community of faith and enthusiasm, there was far more than the genial comradeship of men joined in a common enterprise of self-devotion and peril. [2] On their way, they had met Daniel and Davost descending to Quebec, to establish there a seminary of Huron children,a project long cherished by Brbeuf and his companions.

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      176 Acestor started from his couch.[20] The Governors of Montreal and Three Rivers, when present, had also seats in the Council.

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      When this winter of misery had worn away, and the ships were thawed from their icy fetters, Cartier prepared to return. He had made notable discoveries; but these were as nothing to the tales of wonder that had reached his ear,of a land of gold and rubies, of a nation white like the French, of men who lived without food, and of others to whom Nature had granted but one leg. Should he stake his credit on these marvels? It were better that they who had recounted them to him should, with their own lips, recount them also to the King, and to this end he resolved that Donnacona and his chiefs should go with him to court. He lured them therefore to the fort, and led them into an ambuscade of sailors, who, seizing the astonished guests, hurried them on board the ships. Having accomplished this treachery, the voyagers proceeded to plant the emblem of Christianity. The cross was raised, the fleur-de-lis planted near it, and, spreading their sails, they steered for home. It was the sixteenth of July, 1536, when Cartier again cast anchor under the walls of St. Malo.

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      The travellers now held counsel as to what course they should take. They had gone far enough, as they thought, to establish one important point,that [Pg 74] the Mississippi discharged its waters, not into the Atlantic or sea of Virginia, nor into the Gulf of California or Vermilion Sea, but into the Gulf of Mexico. They thought themselves nearer to its mouth than they actually were, the distance being still about seven hundred miles; and they feared that if they went farther they might be killed by Indians or captured by Spaniards, whereby the results of their discovery would be lost. Therefore they resolved to return to Canada, and report what they had seen.Yet private enterprise was not quite benumbed. In 1506, one Denis of Honfleur explored the Gulf of St. Lawrence; 2 two years later, Aubert of Dieppe followed on his track; and in 1518, the Baron de Lery made an abortive attempt at settlement on Sable Island, where the cattle left by him remained and multiplied.


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