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      XIII.[Pg 238]


      Look! whispered Lycon, pointing to the boy, fortune favors us. The sentinel is slumbering at his post. We shall come upon them unawares.


      came into possession of persons on very humble degrees of the social scale. A seigniory could be bought and sold, and a trader or a thrifty habitant might, and often did become the buyer. * If the Canadian noble was always a seignior, it is far from being true that the Canadian seignior was always a noble.

      I have him! murmured Hipyllos smiling, as he took hold of the handle on top shaped like an owl, the sacred bird of Athens. When he had removed the basket, Acestor sat crouching before him with half-closed eyes, panting and groaning, almost fainting. The sulphur under the clothes had nearly smothered him, and Hipyllos found it difficult to lift him upon his legs.No wonder that a year or two of bush-ranging spoiled them for civilization. Though not a very valuable member of society, and though a thorn in the side of princes and rulers, the coureur de bois had his uses, at least from an artistic point of view; and his strange figure, sometimes brutally savage, but oftener marked with the lines of a dare-devil courage, and a reckless, thoughtless gayety, will always be joined to the memories of that grand world of woods which the nineteenth century is fast civilizing out of existence. At least, he is picturesque, and with his red-skin companion serves to animate forest scenery. Perhaps he could sometimes feel, without knowing that he felt them, the charms of the savage nature that had adopted him. Rude as he was, her voice may not always have been meaningless for one who knew her haunts so well; deep recesses where, veiled in foliage, some wild shy rivulet steals with timid music through breathless caves of verdure; gulfs where feathered crags rise like castle walls, where the noonday sun pierces with keen rays athwart the torrent, and the mossed arms of fallen pines cast wavering shadows on the illumined foam; pools of liquid crystal turned emerald in the reflected green of impending woods; rocks on whose rugged front the gleam of sunlit waters dances in quivering light; ancient trees hurled headlong by the storm to dam the raging stream with their forlorn and savage ruin; or the stern depths of immemorial forests, dim and silent as a cavern, columned with innumerable trunks, each like an Atlas upholding its world of leaves, and sweating perpetual moisture down its dark and channelled rind; some strong in youth, some grisly with decrepit age, nightmares of strange distortion, gnarled and knotted with wens and goitres; roots intertwined beneath like serpents petrified in an agony of contorted strife; green and glistening mosses carpeting the rough ground, mantling the rocks, turning pulpy stumps to mounds of verdure, and swathing fallen trunks as bent in the impotence of rottenness, they lie outstretched over knoll and hollow, like mouldering reptiles of the primeval world, while around, and on and through them, springs the young growth that battens on their decay,the forest devouring its own dead. Or, to turn from its funereal shade to the light and life of the open woodland, the sheen of sparkling lakes, and mountains basking in the glory of the summer noon, flecked by the shadows of passing clouds that sail on snowy wings across the transparent azure.

      Add to all this the rarity of communication with the distant colony. The ships from France arrived at Quebec in July, August, or September, and returned in November. The machine of Canadian government, wound up once a year, was expected to run unaided at least a twelvemonth. Indeed, it was often left to itself for two years, such was sometimes the tardiness of the overburdened government in answering the despatches of its colonial agents. It is no matter of surprise that a writer well versed in its affairs calls Canada the country of abuses. *


      The woman with the lantern was dressed in a strange, outlandish costume. Over her head a blue cloth wrought with silver stars was drawn in long folds, two of which hung down on her breast, and on her hair above the brow, in place of a clasp, glittered a135 gold sun. She wore a blue robe, and across her bosom and shoulder passed a broad white band upon which were embroidered golden suns, crescents, and stars.

      his followers saved Canada from a disastrous invasion. TheWhen he reached Quebec, his tidings cheered for a while the anxious hearts of its tenants; but an unwonted incident soon told them how hollow was the ground beneath their feet. Le Moyne, accompanied by two Onondagas and several Hurons and Algonquins, was returning to Montreal, when he and his companions were set upon by a war-party

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      Now came another series of presents, seven in number,to restore the voices of all the missionaries,to invite the men in their service to forget the murder,to appease the Governor when he should hear of it,to light the fire at Sainte Marie,to open the gate,to launch the ferry-boat in which the Huron visitors crossed the river,and to give back the paddle to the boy who had charge of the boat. The Fathers, it seems, had the right of exacting two more presents, to rebuild their house and church,supposed to have been shaken to the earth by the late calamity; but they forbore to urge the claim. Last of all were three gifts to confirm all the rest, and to entreat the Jesuits to cherish an undying love for the Hurons. Canadian geology is well known, tells me that the shores of

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      61 There was no lack of visitors, for the house of the black-robes contained marvels [2] the fame of which was noised abroad to the uttermost confines of the Huron nation. Chief among them was the clock. The guests would sit in expectant silence by the hour, squatted on the ground, waiting to hear it strike. They thought it was alive, and asked what it ate. As the last stroke sounded, one of the Frenchmen would cry "Stop!"and, to the admiration of the company, the obedient clock was silent. The mill was another wonder, and they were never tired of turning it. Besides these, there was a prism and a magnet; also a magnifying-glass, wherein a flea was transformed to a frightful monster, and a multiplying lens, which showed them the same object eleven times repeated. "All this," says Brbeuf, "serves to gain their affection, and make them more docile in respect to the admirable and incomprehensible mysteries of our Faith; for the opinion they have of our genius and capacity makes them believe whatever we tell them." [3]

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      A roving band of Montagnais had built their huts near the buildings, and were busying themselves with their autumn eel-fishery, on which they greatly relied to sustain their miserable lives through the winter. Their slimy harvest being gathered, and duly smoked and dried, they gave it for safe-keeping to Champlain, and set out to hunt beavers. It was deep in the winter before they came back, reclaimed their eels, built their birch cabins again, and disposed themselves for a life of ease, until famine or their enemies should put an end to their enjoyments. These were by no means without alloy. While, gorged with food, they lay dozing on piles of branches in their smoky huts, where, through the crevices of the thin birch bark, streamed in a cold capable at times of congealing mercury, their slumbers were beset with nightmare visions of Iroquois forays, scalpings, butcherings, and burnings. As dreams were their oracles, the camp was wild with fright. They sent out no scouts and placed no guard; but, with each repetition of these nocturnal terrors, they came flocking in a body to beg admission within the fort. The women and children were allowed to enter the yard and remain during the night, while anxious fathers and jealous husbands shivered in the darkness without.


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