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      V2 victory or ruin; for if he should be overwhelmed by a combined attack, retreat would be hopeless. His feelings no man can know; but it would be safe to say that hesitation or doubt had no part in them.The straitdtroitwhich connects Lake Huron with Lake Erie was the most important of all the western passes. It was the key of the three upper lakes, with the vast countries watered by their tributaries, and it gave Canada her readiest access to the valley of the Mississippi. If the French held it, the English would be shut out from the northwest; if, as seemed likely, the English should seize it, the Canadian fur-trade would be ruined.[22] The possession of it by the French would be a constant curb and menace to the Five Nations, as well as a barrier between those still formidable tribes and the western Indians, allies of Canada; and when the intended French establishment at the mouth of the Mississippi should be made, Detroit would be an indispensable link of communication between Canada and Louisiana.

      [1] Relation de Bnac, 1691; Relation de ce qui s'est pass de plus considrable en Canada, 1690, 1691; La Potherie, III. 134; Relation de 1682-1712; Champigny au Ministre, 12 May, 1691. The name of Bienville was taken, after his death, by one of his brothers, the founder of New Orleans.

      When her breast quieted down she sternly reminded herself that this was but slim evidence on which to build a case. She might be mistaken altogether. She might be merely reading into the item what she desired to find there. She determined to put it to the test. But she had to wait awhile before she dared trust her voice.

      "Get in," he said. "I'll paddle you back to the wharf."[271] Public Documents of Nova Scotia, 228.

      V1 and doubtful character. He owed his place to the notorious Intendant, Bigot, who, it is said, was in his debt for disreputable service in an affair of gallantry, and who had ample means of enabling his friends to enrich themselves by defrauding the King. Beausjour was one of those plague-spots of official corruption which dotted the whole surface of New France. Bigot, sailing for Europe in the summer of 1754, wrote thus to his confederate: "Profit by your place, my dear Vergor; clip and cutyou are free to do what you pleaseso that you can come soon to join me in France and buy an estate near me." [248] Vergor did not neglect his opportunities. Supplies in great quantities were sent from Quebec for the garrison and the emigrant Acadians. These last got but a small part of them. Vergor and his confederates sent the rest back to Quebec, or else to Louisbourg, and sold them for their own profit to the King's agents there, who were also in collusion with him.

      [260] Knox, Campaigns in North America, I. 114, note. Knox, who was stationed in Nova Scotia, says that Le Loutre left behind him "a most remarkable character for inhumanity."

      The king on his part, in vindicating the civil power, had shown a studious regard to the sensibilities of the bishop and his allies. The lieutenant-general Tracy, a zealous devotee, and the intendant Talon, who at least professed to be one, were not men to offend the clerical party needlessly. In the choice of Courcelle, the governor, a little less caution had been shown. His chief business was to fight the Iroquois, for which he was well fitted, but he presently showed signs of a willingness to fight the Jesuits also. The colonists liked him for his lively and impulsive speech; but the priests were of a different mind, and so, too, was his colleague Talon, a prudent person who studied the amenities of life and knew how to pursue his ends with temper and moderation. On the subject of the clergy he and the governor substantially agreed, but the ebullitions of the one and the smooth discretion of the other were mutually repugnant to both. Talon complained of his colleagues impetuosity; and Colbert directed him to use his best efforts to keep Courcelle within bounds and prevent him from publicly finding fault with the bishop and the Jesuits.* Next we find the minister writing to Courcelle himself to soothe his ruffled temper, and enjoining him to act discreetly, because, said Colbert, as the colony grows the kings authority will grow with it, and the authority of the priests will be brought back in time within lawful bounds. **


      Canada was the prey of official jackals,true lion's providers, since they helped to prepare a way for the imperial beast, who, roused at last from his lethargy, was gathering his strength to seize her for his own. Honesty could not be expected from a body of men clothed with arbitrary and ill-defined powers, ruling with absolute sway an unfortunate people who had no voice in their own destinies, and answerable only to an apathetic master three thousand miles away. Nor did the Canadian Church, though supreme, check the corruptions that sprang up and flourished under its eye. The Governor himself was charged with sharing the plunder; and though he was acquitted on his trial, it is certain that Bigot had him well in hand, that he was intimate with the chief robbers, and that they found help in his weak compliances and wilful blindness. He put his stepson, Le Verrier, in command at 31On the next day Bourgmont displayed to his hosts the marvellous store of gifts he had brought for them,guns, swords, hatchets, kettles, gunpowder, bullets, red cloth, blue cloth, hand-mirrors, knives, shirts, awls, scissors, needles, hawks' bells, vermilion, beads, and other enviable commodities, of the like of which they had never dreamed. Two hundred savages gathered before the French tents, where Bourgmont, with the gifts spread on the ground before him, stood with a French flag in his hand, surrounded by his officers and the Indian chiefs of his party, and harangued the admiring auditors.


      [764] Letters in Boston Post Boy, No. 97, and Boston Evening Post, No. 1,258.


      "Do I look soft?" challenged Pen.