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France and England in North America, a Series of Historical Narratives, Part Third by Francis Parkman

Part 5 out of 6

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Indians. Such was his position, when reports came to Fort St. Louis that
the Iroquois were at hand. The Indian hamlets were wild with terror,
beseeching him for succor which he had no power to give. Happily, the
report proved false. No Iroquois appeared; the threatened attack was
postponed, and the summer passed away in peace. But La Salle's position,
with the Governor his declared enemy, was intolerable and untenable; and
there was no resource but in the protection of the court. Early in the
autumn, he left Tonty in command of the Rock, bade farewell to his savage
retainers, and descended to Quebec, intending to sail for France.

On his way, he met the Chevalier de Baugis, an officer of the king's
dragoons, commissioned by La Barre to take possession of Fort St. Louis,
and bearing letters from the Governor, ordering La Salle to come to
Quebec; a superfluous command, as he was then on his way thither. He
smothered his wrath, and wrote to Tonty to receive De Baugis well. The
Chevalier and his party proceeded to the Illinois, and took possession of
the fort; De Baugis commanding for the Governor, while Tonty remained as
representative of La Salle. The two officers spent the winter
harmoniously; and, with the return of spring, each found himself in sore
need of aid from the other. Towards the end of March, the Iroquois
attacked their citadel, and besieged it for six days, but at length
withdrew, discomfited, carrying with them a number of Indian prisoners,
most of whom escaped from their clutches. [Footnote: Tonty, Ménoire, MS.;
Lettre de La Barre, au Ministre, 5 Juin, 1684; Ibid., 9 Juillet, 1684,

Meanwhile, La Salle had sailed for France, and thither we will follow him.



From the wilds of the Illinois,--crag, forest, and prairie, squalid
wigwams, and naked savages,--La Salle crossed the sea; and before him rose
the sculptured wonders of Versailles, that world of gorgeous illusion and
hollow splendor, where Louis the Magnificent held his court. Amid its pomp
of weary ceremonial, its glittering masquerade of vice and folly, its
carnival of vanity and pride, stood the man whose home for sixteen years
had been the wilderness, his bed the earth, his roof the sky, and his
companions a rude nature and ruder men. In all that throng of hereditary
nobles, there was none of a prouder spirit than the son of the burgher of

He announced what he had achieved in words of energetic simplicity, more
impressive than all the tinsel of rhetoric. [Footnote: Witness the
following. He speaks of himself in the third person. "To acquit himself of
the commission with which he was charged, he has neglected all his private
affairs, because they were alien to his enterprise; he has omitted nothing
that was needful to its success, notwithstanding dangerous illness, heavy
losses, and all the other evils he has suffered, which would have overcome
the courage of any one who had not the same zeal and devotion for the
accomplishment of this purpose. During five years he has made five
journeys, of more, in all, than five thousand leagues, for the most part
on foot, with extreme fatigue, through snow and through water, without
escort, without provisions, without bread, without wine, without
recreation, and without repose. He has traversed more than six hundred
leagues of country hitherto unknown, among savage and cannibal nations,
against whom he must daily make fight, though accompanied only by thirty-
six men, and consoled only by the hope of succeeding in an enterprise
which he thought would be agreeable to his Majesty."

See the original, as printed by Margry, _Journal Général de I'Instruction
Publique,_ xxxi. 699.] He had friends near the court,--Count Frontenac was
one of them,--and he gained the ear of the colonial minister. There was a
wonderful change in the views of the court towards him. The great Colbert
had lately died, bequeathing to his son Seignelay, his successor in the
control of the Marine and Colonies, some of his talents, and all of his
harshness and violence. Seignelay entered with vigor into the schemes of
La Salle, and commended them to the king, his master. The memorial, in
which these schemes are set forth, is still preserved, as well as another
memorial designed to prepare the way for it; and the following is the
substance of them. The preliminary document states that the late
Monseigneur Colbert was of opinion that it was important for the service
of his Majesty to discover a port in the Gulf of Mexico; that to this end
the memorialist, La Salle, made five journeys of upwards of five thousand
leagues, in great part on foot; and traversed more than six hundred
leagues of unknown country, among savages and cannibals, at the cost of a
hundred and fifty thousand crowns. He now proposes to return by way of the
Gulf of Mexico to the countries he has discovered, whence great benefits
may be expected; first, the cause of God may be advanced by the preaching
of the gospel to many Indian tribes; and, secondly, great conquests may be
effected for the glory of the king, by the seizure of provinces rich in
silver mines, and defended only by a few indolent and effeminate
Spaniards. The Sieur de la Salle, pursues the memorial, binds himself to
accomplish this enterprise within one year after his arrival on the spot;
and he asks for this purpose only one vessel and two hundred men, with
their arms, munitions, pay, and maintenance. When Monseigneur shall direct
him, he will give the details of what he proposes. The memorial then
describes the boundless extent, the fertility and resources of the country
watered by the River Colbert, or Mississippi; the necessity of guarding it
against foreigners, who will be eager to seize it now that La Salle's
discovery has made it known; and the ease with which it may be defended by
one or two forts at a proper distance above its mouth, which would form
the key to an interior region eight hundred leagues in extent. "Should
foreigners anticipate us," he adds, "they will complete the ruin of New
France, which they already hem in by their establishments of Virginia,
Pennsylvania, New England, and Hudson's Bay." [Footnote: _Memoire du Sr.
de la Salle, pour rendre compte a Monseigneur de Seignelay de la
decouverte qu'il a faite par l'ordre de sa Majesté_, MS.]

The second memorial is more explicit. The place, it says, which the Sieur
de la Salle proposes to fortify, is on the River Colbert, or Mississippi,
sixty leagues above its mouth, where the land is very fertile, the climate
very mild, and whence we, the French, may control the continent; since,
the river being narrow, we could defend ourselves by means of fire-ships
against a hostile fleet, while the position is excellent both for
attacking an enemy or retreating in case of need. The neighboring Indians
detest the Spaniards, but love the French, having been won over by the
kindness of the Sieur de la Salle. We could form of them an army of more
than fifteen thousand savages, who, supported by the French and Abenakis,
followers of the Sieur de la Salle, could easily subdue the province of
New Biscay (the most northern province of Mexico), where there are but
four hundred Spaniards, more fit to work the mines than to fight. On the
north of New Biscay lie vast forests, extending to the River Seignelay
[Footnote: This name, also given to the Illinois, is used to designate Red
River on the map of Franquelin, where the forests above mentioned are
represented.] (Red River), which is but forty or fifty leagues from the
Spanish province. This river affords the means of attacking it to great

In view of these facts, pursues the memorial, the Sieur de la Salle
offers, if the war with Spain continues, to undertake this conquest with
two hundred men from France. He will take on his way fifty buccaneers at
St. Domingo, and direct the four thousand Indian warriors at Fort St.
Louis of the Illinois to descend the river and join him. He will separate
his force into three divisions, and attack on the same day the centre and
the two extremities of the province. To accomplish this great design, he
asks only for a vessel of thirty guns, a few cannon for the forts, and
power to raise in France two hundred such men as he shall think fit, to he
armed, paid, and maintained at the king's charge, for a term not exceeding
a year, after which they will form a self-sustaining colony. And if a
treaty of peace should prevent us from carrying our conquest into present
execution, we shall place ourselves in a favorable position for effecting
it on the outbreak of the next war with Spain. [Footnote: _Mémoire du Sr.
de la Salle sur I'Entreprise qu'il a proposé à Monseigneur le Marquis de
Seignelay sur une des provinces de Mexique_, MS.]

Such, in brief, was the substance of this singular proposition. And,
first, it is to be observed that it is based on a geographical blunder,
the nature of which is explained by the map of La Salle's discoveries made
in this very year. Here, the River Seignelay, or Red River, is represented
as running parallel to the northern border of Mexico, and at no great
distance from it; the region now called Texas being almost entirely
suppressed. According to the map, New Biscay might be reached from this
river in a few days; and, after crossing the intervening forests, the
coveted mines of Ste. Barbe, or Santa Barbara, would be within striking
distance. [Footnote: Both the memorial and the map represent the banks of
Red River, as inhabited by Indians, called Terliquiquimechi, and known to
the Spaniards as _Indios bravos_, or _Indios de guerra_. The Spaniards, it
is added, were in great fear of them, as they made frequent inroads into
Mexico. La Salle's Mexican geography was in all respects confused and
erroneous; nor was Seignelay better informed. Indeed, Spanish jealousy
placed correct information beyond their reach.] That La Salle believed in
the possibility of invading the Spanish province of New Biscay from the
Red River, there can he no doubt; neither can it reasonably be doubted
that he hoped at some future day to make the attempt; and yet it is
incredible that he proposed his plan of conquest with the serious
intention of attempting to execute it at the time and in the manner which
he indicates. He was a bold schemer, but neither a madman nor a fool. The
project, as set forth in his memorial, bears all the indications of being
drawn up with the view of producing a certain effect on the minds of the
king and the minister. Ignorant as they were of the nature of the country
and the character of its inhabitants, they could see nothing impracticable
in the plan of mustering and keeping together an army of fifteen thousand
Indians. [Footnote: While the plan, as proposed in the memorial, was
clearly impracticable, the subsequent experience of the French in Texas
tended to prove that the tribes of that region could be used with
advantage in attacking the Spaniards of Mexico, and that an inroad, on a
comparatively small scale, might have been successfully made with their
help. In 1689, Tonty actually made the attempt, as we shall see, but
failed from the desertion of his men. In 1697, the Sieur de Louvigny wrote
to the Minister of the Marine, asking to complete La Salle's discoveries,
and invade Mexico from Texas.--_Lettre de M. de Louvigny_, 14 _Oct._ 1697,
MS. In an unpublished memoir of the year 1700, the seizure of the Mexican
mines is given as one of the motives of the colonization of Louisiana.]

La Salle's immediate necessity was to obtain from the court the means for
establishing a fort and a colony within the mouth of the Mississippi. This
was essential to his own commercial plans; nor did he in the least
exaggerate the value of such an establishment to the French nation, and
the importance of anticipating other powers in the possession of it. But
he needed a more glittering lure to attract the eyes of Louis and
Seignelay; and thus, it would appear, he held before them, in a definite
and tangible form, the project of Spanish conquest which had haunted his
imagination from youth, trusting that the speedy conclusion of peace,
which actually took place, would absolve him from the immediate execution
of the scheme, and give him time, with the means placed at his disposal,
to mature his plans and prepare for eventual action. Such a procedure may
be charged with indirectness; but it was in accordance with the wily and
politic element from which the iron nature of La Salle was not free, but
which was often defeated in its aims by other elements of his character.

Even with this madcap enterprise lopped off, La Salle's scheme of
Mississippi trade and colonization, perfectly sound in itself, was too
vast for an individual; above all, for one crippled and crushed with debt.
While he grasped one link of the great chain, another, no less essential,
escaped from his hand; while he built up a colony on the Mississippi, it
was reasonably certain that evil would befall his distant colony of the
Illinois. The glittering project which he now unfolded found favor in the
eyes of the king and the minister; for both were in the flush of an
unparalleled success, and looked in the future, as in the past, for
nothing but triumphs. They granted more than the petitioner asked, as
indeed they well might, if they expected the accomplishment of all that he
proposed to attempt. La Forest, La Salle's lieutenant, ejected from Fort
Frontenac by La Barre, was now at Paris; and he was despatched to Canada,
empowered to reoccupy, in La Salle's name, both Fort Frontenac and Fort
St. Louis of the Illinois. The king himself wrote to La Barre in a strain
that must have sent a cold thrill through the veins of that official. "I
hear," he says, "that you have taken possession of Fort Frontenac, the
property of the Sieur de la Salle, driven away his men, suffered his land
to run to waste, and even told the Iroquois that they might seize him as
an enemy of the colony." He adds, that, if this is true, he must make
reparation for the wrong, and place all La Salle's property, as well as
his men, in the hands of the Sieur de la Forest, "as I am satisfied that
Fort Frontenac was not abandoned, as you wrote to me that it had been."
[Footnote:_Lettre du Roy à la Barre, Versailles, 10 Avril, 1684,_ MS.]
Four days later, he wrote to the Intendant of Canada, De Meules, to the
effect that the bearer, La Forest, is to suffer no impediment, and that La
Barre is to surrender to him, without reserve, all that belongs to La
Salle. [Footnote:_Lettre du Roy à De Mettles, Versailles, 14 Avril, 1684._
Selgnelay wrote to De Meules to the same effect.] Armed with this letter,
La Forest sailed for Canada. [Footnote: On La Forest's mission,--_Memoire
pour representer à Monseigneur le Marquis de Seignelay la nécessité
d'envoyer le Sr. de la Forest en diligence à la Nouvelle France,_ MS.;
_Lettre du Roy à la Barre, 14 Avril, 1684,_ MS.; _Ibid., 31 Oct. 1684,_

There is before me a promissory note of La Salle to La Forest, of 5,200
livres, dated at Rochelle, 17 July, 1684. This seems to be pay due to La
Forest, who had served as La Salle's officer for nine years. A memorandum,
is attached, signed by La Salle, to the effect, that it is his wish that
La Forest reimburse himself, "_par préférence_," out of any property of
his, La Salle's, in France or Canada.]

La Salle had asked for two vessels, [Footnote: _Le Sieur de la Salle
demande_, MS. This is the caption of the memorial, in which he states what
is required; viz., a war vessel of thirty guns, pay and maintenance of two
hundred men for a year at farthest, tools, munitions, cannon for the
forts, a small vessel in pieces, the furniture of two chapels, a forge,
with a supply of iron, weapons for his followers and allies, medicines,
&c.] and four were given to him. Agents were sent to Rochelle and
Rochefort to gather recruits. A hundred soldiers were enrolled, besides
mechanics and laborers; and thirty volunteers, including gentlemen and
burghers of condition, joined the expedition. And, as the plan was one no
less of colonization than of war, several families embarked for the new
land of promise, as well as a number of girls, lured by the prospect of
almost certain matrimony. Nor were missionaries wanting. Among them was La
Salle's brother, Cavelier, and two other priests of St. Sulpice. Three
Récollets were added: Zenobe Membré, who was then in France; Anastase
Douay, and Maxime Le Clercq. Including soldiers, sailors, and colonists of
all classes, the number embarked was about two hundred and eighty. The
principal vessel was the "Joly," belonging to the royal navy, and carrying
thirty-six guns. Another armed vessel of six guns was added, together with
a store-ship and a ketch. In an evil hour, the naval command of the
expedition was given to Beaujeu, a captain of the royal navy, who was
subordinated to La Salle in every thing but the management of the vessels
at sea. [Footnote: _Letter de Cachet a Mr. de la Salle, Versailles, 12
Avril, 1684, signé, Louis_, MS.] He had his full share of the arrogant and
scornful spirit which marked the naval service of Louis XIV., joined to
the contempt for commerce which belonged to the _noblesse_ of France, but
which did not always prevent them from dabbling in it when they could do
so with secrecy and profit. He was unspeakably galled that a civilian
should be placed over him, and he, too, a burgher recently ennobled. La
Salle was far from being the man to soothe his ruffled spirit. Bent on his
own designs, asking no counsel, and accepting none; detesting a divided
authority, impatient of question, cold, reserved, and impenetrable,--he
soon wrought his colleague to the highest pitch of exasperation. While the
vessels still lay at Rochelle; while all was bustle and preparation; while
stores, arms, and munitions were embarking; while faithless agents were
gathering beggars and vagabonds from the streets to serve as soldiers and
artisans,--Beaujeu was giving vent to his disgust in long letters to the

He complains that the vessels are provisioned only for six months, and
that the voyage to the liver which La Salle claims to have discovered, and
again back to France, cannot be made in that time. If La Salle had told
him at the first what was to be done, he could have provided accordingly;
but now it is too late. "He says," pursues the indignant commander, "that
there are fourteen passengers, besides the Sieur Minet, [Footnote: One of
the engineers of the expedition.] to sit at my table. I hope that a fund
will be provided for them, and that I shall not be required to support

"You have ordered me, Monseigneur," he continues, "to give all possible
aid to this undertaking, and I shall do so to the best of my power; but
permit me to take great credit to myself, for I find it very hard to
submit to the orders of the Sieur de la Salle, whom I believe to be a man
of merit, but who has no experience of war, except with savages, and who
has no rank, while I have been captain of a ship thirteen years, and have
served thirty, by sea and land. Besides, Monseigneur, he has told me that,
in case of his death, you have directed that the Sieur de Tonty shall
succeed him. This, indeed, is very hard; for, though I am not acquainted
with that country, I should be very dull, if, being on the spot, I did not
know, at the end of a month, as much of it as they do. I beg, Monseigneur,
that I may at least share the command with them; and that, as regards war,
nothing may be done without my knowledge and concurrence; for, as to their
commerce, I neither intend nor desire to know any thing about it."
[Footnote:_Lettre de Beaujau au Ministre, Rochelle_, 30 _Mai_, 1684, MS.]

In another letter, he says: "He [La Salle] is so suspicious, and so
fearful that somebody will penetrate his secrets, that I dare not ask him
any thing." And, again, he complains of being placed in subordination to a
man "who never commanded anybody but school-boys." [Footnote: "Qui n'a
jamais commandé qu'a des écoliers."--_Lettre de Beaujeu au Ministre_, 21
_Juin_, 1684, MS. It appears from Hennepin that La Salle was very
sensitive to any allusion to a "_pédant_," or pedagogue.] "I pray," he
continues, "that my orders may be distinct and explicit, that I may not be
held answerable for what may happen in consequence of the Sieur de la
Salle's exercising command."

He soon fell into a dispute with him with respect to the division of
command on board the "Joly," Beaujeu demanding, and it may be thought with
good reason, that, when at sea, his authority should include all on board;
while La Salle insisted that only the sailors, and not the soldiers,
should be under his orders. "Though this is a very important matter,"
writes Beaujeu, "we have not quarrelled, but have referred it to the
Intendant." [Footnote: _Lettre de Beaujeu au Ministre_, 25 _Juin_, 1684,
MS. Arnoult, the Intendant at Rochelle, had received the king's orders to
aid the enterprise. In a letter to La Salle, dated 14 April, and enclosing
his commission, the king tells him that Beaujeu is to command the working
of the ship, _la manoeuvre_, subject to his direction. Louis XIV. seems to
have taken no little interest in the enterprise. He tells La Barre in one
of his letters that La Salle is a man whom he has taken under his special

While these ill-omened bickerings went on, the various members of the
expedition were mustering at Rochelle. Joutel, a fellow-townsman of La
Salle, returning to his native Rouen, after sixteen years of service in
the army, found all astir with the new project. His father had been
gardener to La Salle's uncle, Henri Cavelier; [Footnote: At the modest
wages of fifty francs a year and his maintenance.--Family papers found by
Margry.] and, being of an adventurous spirit, he was induced to volunteer
for the enterprise, of which he was to become the historian. With La
Salle's brother, the priest, and two of his nephews, of whom one was a boy
of fourteen, besides several others of his acquaintance, Joutel set out
for Rochelle, where all were to embark together for their promised land.
[Footnote: Joutel, _Journal Historique_, 12.]



The four ships sailed on the twenty-fourth of July; but the "Joly" soon
broke her bowsprit, and they were forced to put back. [Footnote: La Salle
believed that this mishap, which took place in good weather, was
intentional.--_Mémoire autographe de l'Abbé Jean Cavelier sur la Voyage
de_ 1684, MS. Compare Joutel, 15.] On the first of August, they again set
sail. La Salle, with the principal persons of the expedition, and a crowd
of soldiers, artisans, and women, the destined mothers of Louisiana, were
all on board the "Joly." Beaujeu wished to touch at Madeira: La Salle, for
excellent reasons, refused; and hence there was great indignation among
passengers and crew. The surgeon of the ship spoke with insolence to La
Salle, who rebuked him, whereupon Beaujeu took up the word in behalf of
the offender, saying that the surgeon was, like himself, an officer of the
king. [Footnote: "Le capitaine du batiment, qui avait en deux autres
occasions assez fait connoitre qu'il étoit mécontent de ce que son
autorité étoit partagée, prit la parole, disant au dit Sr. de la Salle que
le chirurgien étoit officier du roi comme lui."--_Memoire autographe de
l'Abbé Jean Cavelier,_ MS.] When they crossed the tropic, the sailors made
ready a tub on deck to baptize the passengers, after the villanous
practice of the time; but La Salle refused to permit it, to the
disappointment and wrath of all the crew, who had expected to extort a
bountiful ransom, in money and liquor, from their victims. There was an
incessant chafing between the two commanders; and when at length, after a
long and wretched voyage, they reached St. Domingo, Beaujeu showed clearly
that he was, to say the least, utterly indifferent to the interests of the
expedition. La Salle wished to stop at Port de Paix, where he was to meet
the Marquis de St. Laurent, Lieutenant-General of the Islands; Begon, the
Intendant; and De Cussy, Governor of the Island of La Tortue,--who had
orders from the king to supply him with provisions, and give him all
possible assistance. Beaujeu had consented to stop here; [Footnote: "C'est
la (au Port de Paix) ou Mr. de Beaujeu était convenu de s'arreter."--
_Memoire autographe de l'Abbé Jean Cavelier,_ Joutel says that this was
resolved on at a council held on board the "Joly," and that a Procès
Verbal to that effect was drawn up.--_Journal Historique,_ 22.] but he
nevertheless ran by the place in the night, and, to the extreme vexation
of La Salle, cast anchor on the twenty-seventh of September, at Petit
Goave, on the other side of the island.

The "Joly" was alone; the other vessels had lagged behind. She had more
than fifty sick men on board, and La Salle was of the number. He
despatched a messenger to St. Laurent, Begon, and Cussy, begging them to
join him, commissioned Joutel to get the sick ashore, suffocating as they
were in the hot and crowded ship, and caused the soldiers to be landed on
a small island in the harbor. Scarcely had the voyagers sung _Te Deum_ for
their safe arrival, when two of the lagging vessels appeared, bringing the
disastrous tidings that the third, the ketch "St. François," had been
taken by the Spaniards. She was laden with munitions, tools, and other
necessaries for the colony; and the loss was irreparable. Beaujeu was
answerable for it; for, had he followed his instructions, and anchored at
Port de Paix, it would not have occurred. The Lieutenant-General, with
Begon and Cussy, who had arrived, on La Salle's request, plainly spoke
their minds to him. [Footnote: Joutel, _Journal Historique_, 28.]

Meanwhile, La Salle's illness rose to a violent fever. He lay delirious in
a wretched garret in the town, attended by his brother, and one or two
others who stood faithful to him. A goldsmith of the neighborhood, moved
at his deplorable condition, offered the use of his house; and the Abbé
Cavelier had him removed thither. But there was a tavern hard by, and the
patient was tormented with daily and nightly riot. At the height of the
fever, a party of Beaujeu's sailors spent a night in singing and dancing
before the house; and, says Cavelier, "The more we begged them to be
quiet, the more noise they made." La Salle lost reason and well-nigh life;
but at length his mind resumed its balance, and the violence of the
disease abated. A friendly Capucin friar offered him the shelter of his
roof; and two of his men supported him thither on foot, giddy with
exhaustion and hot with fever. Here he found repose, and was slowly
recovering, when some of his attendants rashly told him of the loss of the
ketch "St. François;" and the consequence was a critical return of the
disease. [Footnote: The above particulars are from the unpublished memoir
of La Salle's brother, the Abbé Cavelier, already cited.]

There was no one to fill his place; Beaujeu would not; Cavelier could not.
Joutel, the gardener's son, was apparently the most trusty man of the
company; but the expedition was virtually without a head. The men roamed
on shore, and plunged into every excess of debauchery, contracting
diseases which eventually killed them.

Beaujeu, in the extremity of ill humor, resumed his correspondence with
Seignelay. "But for the illness of the Sieur de la Salle," he writes, "I
could not venture to report to you the progress of our voyage, as I am
charged only with the navigation, and he with the secrets; but as his
malady has deprived him of the use of his faculties, both of body and
mind, I have thought myself obliged to acquaint you with what is passing,
and of the condition in which we are."

He then declares that the ships freighted by La Salle were so slow, that
the "Joly" had continually been forced to wait for them, thus doubling the
length of the voyage; that he had not had water enough for the passengers,
as La Salle had not told him that there were to be any such till the day
they came on hoard; that great numbers were sick, and that he had told La
Salle there would be trouble, if he filled all the space between decks
with his goods, and forced the soldiers and sailors to sleep on deck; that
he had told him he would get no provisions at St. Domingo, but that he
insisted on stopping; that it had always been so; that, whatever he
proposed, La Salle would refuse, alleging orders from the king; "and now,"
pursues the ruffled commander, "everybody is ill; and he himself has a
violent fever, as dangerous, the surgeon tells me, to the mind as to the

The rest of the letter is in the same strain. He says that a day or two
after La Salle's illness began, his brother Cavelier came to ask him to
take charge of his affairs; but that he did not wish to meddle with them,
especially as nobody knows any thing about them, and as La Salle has sold
some of the ammunition and provisions; that Cavelier tells him that he
thinks his brother keeps no accounts, wishing to hide his affairs from
everybody; that he learns from buccaneers that the entrance of the
Mississippi is very shallow and difficult, and that this is the worst
season for navigating the Gulf; that the Spaniards have in these seas six
vessels of from thirty to sixty guns each, besides row-galleys; but that
he is not afraid, and will perish, or bring back an account of the
Mississippi. "Nevertheless," he adds, "if the Sieur de la Salle dies, I
shall pursue a course different from that which he has marked out; for his
plans are not good."

"If," he continues, "you permit me to speak my mind, M. de la Salle ought
to have been satisfied with discovering his river, without undertaking to
conduct three vessels with troops two thousand leagues through so many
different climates, and across seas entirely unknown to him. I grant that
he is a man of knowledge; that he has reading, and even some tincture of
navigation; but there is so much difference between theory and practice,
that a man who has only the former will always be at fault. There is also
a great difference between conducting canoes on lakes and along a river,
and navigating ships with troops on distant oceans." [Footnote: "Si vous
me permettez de dire mon sentiment, M. de la Salle devait se contenter
d'avoir découvert sa riviére, sans se charger de conduire trois vaisseaux
et des troupes à deux mille lieues au travers de tant de climats
différents et par des mers qui lui étaient tout à fait inconnues. Je
demeure d'accord qu'il est savant, qu'il a de la lecture, et même quelque
teinture de la navigation. Mais il y a tant de différence entre la théorie
et la pratique, qu'un homme qui n'aura que celle-là s'y trompera toujours.
Il y a aussi bien de la difference entre conduire des canots sur des lacs
et le long d'une rivière et mener des vaisseaux et des troupes dans des
mers si éloignées."--_Lettre de Beaujeu au Ministre_, 20 _Oct_. 1684, MS.]

It was near the end of November before La Salle could resume the voyage.
Beaujeu had been heard to say, that he would wait no longer for the
storeship "Amiable," and that she might follow as she could. [Footnote:
_Mémoire autographe de l'Abbé Jean Cavelier_, MS.] La Salle feared that he
would abandon her; and he therefore embarked in her himself, with his
friend Joutel, his brother Cavelier, Membré, Douay, and others, the
trustiest of his followers. On the twenty-fifth, they set sail; the "Joly"
and the little frigate "Belle" following. They coasted the shore of Cuba,
and landed at the Isle of Pines, where La Salle shot an alligator, which
the soldiers ate; and the hunters brought in a wild pig, half of which he
sent to Beaujeu. Then they advanced to Cape St. Antoine, where bad weather
and contrary winds long detained them. A load of cares oppressed the mind
of La Salle, pale and haggard with recent illness, wrapped within his own
thoughts, seeking sympathy from none. The feud of the two commanders still
rankled beneath the veil of formal courtesy with which men of the world
hide their dislikes and enmities.

At length, they entered the Gulf of Mexico, that forbidden sea, whence by
a Spanish decree, dating from the reign of Philip II., all foreigners were
excluded on pain of extermination. [Footnote: _Letter of Don Luis de Onis
to the Secretary of State, American State Papers_, xii. 27, 31.] Not a man
on board knew the secrets of its perilous navigation. Cautiously feeling
their way, they held a northerly course, till, on the twenty-eighth of
December, a sailor at the mast-head of the "Aimable" saw land. La Salle
and all the pilots had been led to form an exaggerated idea of the force
of the easterly currents; and they therefore supposed themselves near the
Bay of Appalache, when, in fact, they were much farther westward. At their
right lay a low and sandy shore, washed by breakers, which made the
landing dangerous. La Salle had taken the latitude of the mouth of the
Mississippi, but could not determine the longitude. On the sixth of
January, the "Aimable" seems to have been very near it; but his attempts
to reconnoitre the shore were frustrated by the objections of the pilot of
the vessel, to which, with a fatal facility, very unusual with him, he
suffered himself to yield. [Footnote: Joutel, 45. He places the date on
the tenth, but elsewhere corrects himself. La Salle himself says, "La
hauteur nous a fait remarquer... que ce que nous avons vue, le sixième
janvier, estoit en effet la principale entrée de la rivière que nous
cherchions."--_Lettre de la Salle au Ministre_, 4 _Mars_, 1685.] Still
convinced that the Mississippi was to the westward, he coasted the shores
of Texas. As Joutel, with a boat's crew, was vainly trying to land, a
party of Indians swam out through the surf, and were taken on board; but
La Salle could learn nothing from them, as their language was wholly
unknown to him. The coast began to trend southward. They saw that they had
gone too far. Joutel again tried to land, but the surf that lashed the
sand-bars deterred him. He approached as near as he dared, and, beyond the
intervening breakers, saw vast plains and a dim expanse of forests; the
shaggy buffalo running with their heavy gallop along the shore, and troops
of deer grazing on the marshy meadows.

A few days after, he succeeded in reaching the shore at a point not far
south of Matagorda Bay. The aspect of the country was not cheering; sandy
plains and shallow ponds of salt water, full of wild ducks and other fowl.
The sand was thickly marked with, the hoof-prints of deer and buffalo; and
they saw them in the distance, but could kill none. They had been for many
days separated from the "Joly," when at length, to La Salle's great
relief, she hove in sight; but his joy was of short duration. Beaujeu sent
D'Aire, his lieutenant, on board the "Aimable," to charge La Salle with
having deserted him. The desertion in fact was his own; for he had stood
out to sea, instead of coasting the shore, according to the plan agreed
on. Now ensued a discussion as to their position. Had they in fact passed
the mouth of the Mississippi; and, granting that they had, how far had
they left it behind? La Salle was confident that they had passed it on the
sixth of January, and he urged Beaujeu to turn back with him in quest of
it. Beaujeu replied that he had not provisions enough, and must return to
France without delay, unless La Salle would supply him from his own
stores. La Salle offered him provisions for fifteen days, which was more
than enough for the additional time required; but Beaujeu remained
perverse and impracticable, and would neither consent nor refuse. La
Salle's men beguiled the time with hunting on shore; and he had the
courtesy, very creditable under the circumstances, to send a share of the
game to his colleague.

Time wore on. La Salle grew impatient, and landed a party of men, under
his nephew Moranget and his townsman Joutel, to explore the adjacent
shores. They made their way on foot northward and eastward for several
days, till they were stopped by a river too wide and deep to cross. They
encamped, and were making a canoe, when, to their great joy, for they were
famishing, they descried the ships, which had followed them along the
coast. La Salle landed, and became convinced--his wish, no doubt,
fathering the thought--that the river was no other than the stream now
called Bayou Lafourche, which forms a western mouth of the Mississippi.
[Footnote: La Salle dates his letter to Seignelay, of the fourth of March:
"_A l'embouchure occidentals dufleuve Colbert_" (Mississippi). He says,
"La saison étant très-avancée, et voyant qu'il me restoit fort peu de
temps pour achever l'entreprise don't j'estois charge, je resolus de
remonter ce canal du fleuve Colbert, plus tost que de retourner au plus
considérable, éloigné de 25 à 30 lieues d'icy vers le nord-est, que nous
avions remarqué dès le sixième janvier, mais que nous n'avions pu
reconnoistre, croyant sur le rapport des pilotes du vaisseau de sa Majesté
et des nostres, n'avoir pas encore passé la baye du Saint-Esprit" (Mobile
Bay). He adds that the difficulty of returning to the principal mouth of
the Mississippi had caused him "prendre le party de remonter le fleuve par
icy." This fully explains the reason of La Salle's landing on the coast of
Texas, which would otherwise have been a postponement, not to say an
abandonment, of the main object of the enterprise. He believed himself at
the western mouth of the Mississippi; and lie meant to ascend it, instead
of going by sea to the principal mouth. About half the length of Bayou
Lafourche is laid down on Franquelin's map of 1684; and this, together
with La Salle's letter and the statements of Joutel, plainly shows the
nature of his error.] He thought it easier to ascend by this passage than
to retrace his course along the coast, against the winds, the currents,
and the obstinacy of Beaujeu. Eager, moreover, to be rid of that
refractory commander, he resolved to disembark his followers, and.
despatch the "Joly" back to France.

The Bay of St. Louis, now Matagorda Bay, [Footnote: The St. Bernard's Bay
of old maps. La Salle, in his letter to Seignelay of 4 March, says, that
it is in latitude twenty-eight degrees and eighteen or twenty minutes.
This answers to the entrance of Matagorda Bay.

In the Archives de la Marine is preserved a map made by an engineer of the
expedition, inscribed _Minuty del_, and entitled _Entrée du lac où on a
laissé le Sieur de la Salle_. It represents the entrance of Matagorda Bay,
the camp of La Salle on the left, the Indian camps on the borders of the
bay, the "Belle" lying safely at anchor within, the "Aimable" stranded
near the island at the entrance, and the "Joly" anchored in the open sea.

At Versailles, Salle des Marines, there is a good modern picture of the
landing of La Salle in Texas.] forms a broad and sheltered harbor,
accessible from the sea by a narrow passage, obstructed by sand-bars, and
by the small island now called Pelican Island. La Salle prepared to
disembark on the western shore, near the place which now bears his name;
and, to this end, the "Aimable" and the "Belle" must be brought over the
bar. Boats were sent to sound and buoy out the channel, and this was
successfully accomplished on the sixteenth of February. The "Aimable" was
ordered to enter; and, on the twentieth, she weighed anchor. La Salle was
on shore watching her. A party of men, at a little distance, were cutting
down a tree to make a canoe. Suddenly, some of them ran towards him with
terrified faces, crying out that they had been set upon by a troop of
Indians, who had seized their companions and carried them off. La Salle
ordered those about him to take their arms, and at once set out in
pursuit. He overtook the Indians, and opened a parley with them; but when
he wished to reclaim his men, he discovered that they had been led away
during the conference to the Indian camp, a league and a half distant.
Among them was one of his lieutenants, the young Marquis de la
Sablonnière. He was deeply vexed, for the moment was critical; but the men
must be recovered, and he led his followers in haste towards the camp. Yet
he could not refrain from turning a moment to watch the "Aimable," as she
neared the shoals; and he remarked with deep anxiety to Joutel, who was
with him, that if she held that course she would soon be aground.

They hurried on till they saw the Indian huts. About fifty of them, oven-
shaped, and covered with mats and hides, were clustered on a rising
ground, with their inmates gathered among and around them. As the French
entered the camp, there was the report of a cannon from the seaward. The
startled savages dropped flat with terror. A different fear seized La
Salle, for he knew that the shot was a signal of disaster. Looking back,
he saw the "Aimable" furling her sails, and his heart sank with the
conviction that she had struck upon the reef. Smothering his distress,--
she was laden with all the stores of the colony,--he pressed forward among
the filthy wigwams, whose astonished inmates swarmed about the band of
armed strangers, staring between curiosity and fear. La Salle knew those
with whom he was dealing, and, without ceremony, entered the chief's lodge
with his followers. The crowd closed around them, naked men and half-naked
women, described by Joutel as of a singular ugliness. They gave buffalo-
meat and dried porpoise to the unexpected guests; but La Salle, racked
with anxiety, hastened to close the interview; and, having without
difficulty recovered the kidnapped men, he returned to the beach, leaving
with the Indians, as usual, an impression of good-will and respect.

When he reached the shore, he saw his worst fears realized. The "Aimable"
lay careened over on the reef, hopelessly aground. Little remained but to
endure the calamity with firmness, and to save, as far as might be, the
vessel's cargo. This was no easy task. The boat which hung at her stern
had been stove in,--it is said, by design. Beaujeu sent a boat from the
"Joly," and one or more Indian pirogues were procured. La Salle urged on
his men with stern and patient energy; a quantity of gunpowder and flour
was safely landed; but now the wind blew fresh from the sea, the waves
began to rise, a storm came on, the vessel, rocking to and fro on the
sand-bar, opened along her side, the ravenous waves were strewn with her
treasures; and, when the confusion was at its height, a troop of Indians
came down to the shore, greedy for plunder. The drum was beat; the men
were called to arms; La Salle set his trustiest followers to guard the
gunpowder, in fear, not of the Indians alone, but of his own countrymen.
On that lamentable night, the sentinels walked their rounds through the
dreary bivouac among the casks, bales, and boxes which the sea had yielded
up; and here, too, their fate-hunted chief held his drearier vigil,
encompassed with treachery, darkness, and the storm.

Those who have recorded the disaster of the "Aimable" affirm that she was
wilfully wrecked, [Footnote: This is said by Joutel and Le Clercq, and by
La Salle himself, in his letter to Seignelay, 4 March, 1685, as well as in
the account of the wreck drawn up officially.--_Procès verbal du Sieur de
la Salle sur le naufraqe de la flûte l'Aimable à l'embouchure du Fleuve
Colbert_, MS. He charges it, as do also the others, upon Aigron, the pilot
of the vessel, the same who had prevented him from exploring the mouth of
the Mississippi on the sixth of January. The charges are supported by
explicit statements, which render them probable. The loss was very great,
including nearly all the beef and other provisions, 60 barrels of wine, 4
pieces of cannon, 1,620 balls, 400 grenades, 4,000 pounds of iron, 5,000
pounds of lead, most of the blacksmith's and carpenter's tools, a forge, a
mill, cordage, boxes of arms, nearly all the medicines, most of the
baggage of the soldiers and colonists, and a variety of miscellaneous
goods.] an atrocious act of revenge against a man whose many talents often
bore for him no other fruit than the deadly one of jealousy and hate.

The neighboring Bracamos Indians still hovered about them, with very
doubtful friendship: and, a few days after the wreck, the prairie was seen
on fire. As the smoke and name rolled towards them before the wind, La
Salle caused all the grass about the camp to be cut and carried away, and
especially around the spot where the powder was placed. The danger was
averted; but it soon became known that the Indians had stolen a number of
blankets and other articles, and carried them to their wigwams. Unwilling
to leave his camp, La Salle sent his nephew Moranget and several other
volunteers, with a party of men, to reclaim them. They went up the bay in
a boat, landed at the Indian camp, and, with more mettle than discretion,
marched into it, sword in hand. The Indians ran off, and the rash
adventurers seized upon several canoes as an equivalent for the stolen
goods. Not knowing how to manage them, they made slow progress on their
way back, and were overtaken by night before reaching the French camp.
They landed, made a fire, placed a sentinel, and lay down on the dry grass
to sleep. The sentinel followed their example; when suddenly they were
awakened by the war-whoop and a shower of arrows. Two volunteers, Oris and
Desloges, were killed on the spot; a third, named Gayen, was severely
wounded; and young Moranget received an arrow through the arm. He leaped
up and fired his gun at the vociferous but invisible foe. Others of the
party did the same, and the Indians fled.

This untoward incident, joined to the loss of the store-ship, completed
the discouragement of some among the colonists. Several of them, including
one of the priests and the engineer Minet, declared their intention of
returning home with Beaujeu, who apparently made no objection to receiving
them. He now declared that since the Mississippi was found, his work was
done, and he would return to France. La Salle desired that he would first
send on shore the cannon-balls and stores embarked for the use of the
colony. Beaujeu refused, on the ground that they were stowed so deep in
the hold that to take them out would endanger the ship. The excuse is
itself a confession of gross mismanagement. Remonstrance would have
availed little. Beaujeu spread his sails and departed, and the wretched
colony was left to its fate.

Was Beaujeu deliberately a traitor, or was his conduct merely a result of
jealousy and pique? There can be little doubt that he was guilty of
premeditated bad faith. There is evidence that he knew the expedition to
have passed the true mouth of the Mississippi, and that, after leaving La
Salle, he sailed in search of it, found it, and caused a map to be made of
it. [Footnote: This map, the work of the engineer Minet, bears the date of
_May_, 1685. La Salle's last letter to the minister, which he sent home by
Beaujeu, is dated March 4th. Hence, Beaujeu, in spite of his alleged want
of provisions, seems to have remained some time in the Gulf. The
significance of the map consists in two distinct sketches of the mouth of
the Mississippi, which is styled "La Rivière du Sr. de la Salle." Against
one of these sketches are written the words "Embouchure de la rivière
comme M. de la Salle la marque dans sa carte." Against the other, "Costes
et lacs par la hauteur de sa rivière, _comme nous les avons trouvés_." The
italics are mine. Both sketches plainly represent the mouth of the
Mississippi, and the river as high as New Orleans, with the Indian
villages upon it. The coast line is also indicated as far east as Mobile
Bay. My attention was first drawn to this map by M. Margry. It is in the
Archives Scientifiques de la Marine.]

A lonely sea, a wild and desolate shore, a weary waste of marsh and
prairie; a rude redoubt of drift-wood, and the fragments of a wreck; a few
tents, and a few wooden hovels; bales, boxes, casks, spars, dismounted
cannon, Indian canoes, a pen for fowls and swine, groups of dejected men
and desponding, homesick women,--this was the forlorn reality to which the
air-blown fabric of an audacious enterprise had sunk. Here were the
conquerors of New Biscay; they who were to hold for France a region as
large as the half of Europe. Here was the tall form and the fixed calm
features of La Salle. Here were his two nephews, the hot-headed Moranget,
still suffering from his wound, and the younger Cavelier, a mere school-
boy. Conspicuous only by his Franciscan garb was the small slight figure
of Zenobe Membré. His brother friar, Anastase Douay; the trusty Joutel, a
man of sense and observation; the Marquis de la Sablonnière, a debauched
noble whose patrimony was his sword; and a few of less mark,--comprised
the leaders of the infant colony. The rest were soldiers, recruited from
the scum of Rochelle and Rochefort; and artisans, of whom the greater part
knew nothing of their pretended vocation. Add to these the miserable
families and the infatuated young women, who had come to tempt fortune in
the swamps and cane-brakes of the Mississippi.

La Salle set out to explore the neighborhood. Joutel remained in command
of the so-called fort. He was beset with wily enemies, and often at night
the Indians would crawl in the grass around his feeble stockade, howling
like wolves; but a few shots would put them to flight. A strict guard was
kept, and a wooden horse was set in the enclosure, to punish the sentinel
who should sleep at his post. They stood in daily fear of a more
formidable foe, and once they saw a sail, which they doubted not was
Spanish; but she happily passed without discovering them. They hunted on
the prairies, and speared fish in the neighboring pools. On Easter day,
the Sieur le Gros, one of the chief men of the company, went out after the
service to shoot snipes; but, as he walked barefoot through the marsh, a
snake bit him, and he soon after died. Two men deserted, to starve on the
prairie, or to become savages among savages. Others tried to escape, but
were caught; and one of them was hung. A knot of desperadoes conspired to
kill Joutel; but one of them betrayed the secret, and the plot was

La Salle returned from his journey. He had made an ominous discovery; for
he had at length become convinced that he was not, as he had fondly hoped,
on an arm of the Mississippi. The wreck of the "Aimable" itself was not
pregnant with consequences so disastrous. A deep gloom gathered around the
colony. There was no hope but in the energies of its unconquerable chief.



Of what avail to plant a colony by the mouth of a petty Texan river? The
Mississippi was the life of the enterprise, the condition of its growth
and of its existence. Without it, all was futile and meaningless; a folly
and a ruin. Cost what it might, the Mississippi must be found. But the
demands of the hour were imperative. The hapless colony, cast ashore like
a wreck on the sands of Matagorda Bay, must gather up its shattered
resources, and recruit its exhausted strength, before it essayed anew its
desperate pilgrimage to the "fatal river." La Salle during his
explorations had found a spot which he thought well fitted for a temporary
establishment. It was on the river which he named the La Vache, [Footnote:
Called by Joutel Rivière aux Boeufs.] now the Lavaca, which, enters the
head of Matagorda Bay; and thither he ordered all the women and children,
and most of the men, to remove; while the remnant, thirty in number,
remained with Joutel at the fort near the mouth of the bay. Here they
spent their time in hunting, fishing, and squaring the logs of drift-wood,
which the sea washed up in abundance, and which La Salle proposed to use
in building his new station on the Lavaca. Thus the time passed till
midsummer, when Joutel received orders to abandon his post, and rejoin the
main body of the colonists. To this end, the little frigate "Belle" was
sent down the bay to receive him and his men. She was a gift from the king
to La Salle, who had brought her safely over the bar, and regarded her as
a main-stay of his hopes. She now took Joutel and his men on board,
together with the stores which had remained in their charge, and conveyed
them to the site of the new fort on the Lavaca. Here Joutel found a state
of things that was far from cheering. Crops had been sown, but the drought
and the cattle had nearly destroyed them. The colonists were lodged under
tents and hovels; and the only solid structure was a small square
enclosure of pickets, in which the gunpowder and the brandy were stored.
The site was good, a rising ground by the river; but there was no wood
within the distance of a league, and no horses or oxen to drag it. Their
work must be done by men. Some felled and squared the timber; and others
dragged it by main force over the matted grass of the prairie, under the
scorching Texan sun. The gun-carriages served to make the task somewhat
easier; yet the strongest men soon gave out under it. Joutel went down in
the "Belle" to the first fort, and brought up the timber collected there,
which proved a most seasonable and useful supply. Palisades and buildings
began to rise. The men labored without spirit, yet strenuously; for they
labored under the eye of La Salle. The carpenters brought from Rochelle
proved worthless, and he himself made the plans of the work, marked out
the tenons and mortises, and directed the whole. [Footnote: Joutel, 108.
_Procès Verbal fait au poste de St. Louis le 18 Avril, 1686,_ MS.]

Death, meanwhile, made a withering havoc among his followers; and under
the sheds and hovels that shielded them from the sun lay a score of
wretches slowly wasting away with the diseases contracted at St. Domingo.
Of the soldiers enlisted for the expedition by La Salle's agents, many are
affirmed to have spent their lives in begging at the church doors of
Rochefort, and were consequently incapable of discipline. It was
impossible to prevent either them or the sailors from devouring persimmons
and other wild fruits to a destructive excess. [Footnote: Ibid.] Nearly
all fell ill; and, before the summer had passed, the graveyard had more
than thirty tenants. [Footnote: Joutel, 109. Le Clercq, who was not
present, says a hundred.] The bearing of La Salle did not aid to raise the
drooping spirits of his followers. The results of the enterprise had been
far different from his hopes; and, after a season of flattering promise,
he had entered again on those dark and obstructed paths which seemed his
destined way of life. The present was beset with trouble; the future,
thick with storms. The consciousness quickened his energies; but it made
him stern, harsh, and often unjust to those beneath him.

Joutel was returning to camp one afternoon with the master-carpenter, when
they saw game, and the carpenter went after it. He was never seen again.
Perhaps he was lost on the prairie, perhaps killed by Indians. He knew
little of his trade, but they nevertheless, had need of him. Le Gros, a
man of character and intelligence, suffered more and more from the bite of
the snake received in the marsh oil Easter Day. The injured limb was
amputated, and he died, La Salle's brother, the priest, lay ill; and
several others among the chief persons of the colony were in the same

Meanwhile, the work was urged on. A large building was finished,
constructed of timber, roofed with boards and raw hides, and divided into
apartments, for lodging and other uses. La Salle gave to the new
establishment his favorite name of Fort St. Louis, and the neighboring bay
was also christened after the royal saint. [Footnote: The Bay of St.
Louis, St. Bernard's Bay, or Matagorda Bay,--for it has borne all these
names,--was also called Espiritu Santo Bay, by the Spaniards, in common
with several other bays in the Gulf of Mexico. An adjoining bay still
retains the name.] The scene was not without its charms. Towards the
south-east stretched the bay with its bordering meadows; and on the north-
east the Lavaca ran along the base of green declivities. Around, far and
near, rolled a sea of prairie, with distant forests, dim in the summer
haze. At times, it was dotted with the browsing buffalo, not yet scared
from their wonted pastures; and the grassy swells were spangled with the
bright flowers for which Texas is renowned, and which now form the gay
ornaments of our gardens.

And now, the needful work accomplished, and the colony in some measure
housed and fortified, its indefatigable chief prepared to renew his quest
of the "fatal river," as Joutel repeatedly calls it. Before his departure,
he made some preliminary explorations, in the course of which, according
to the report of his brother the priest, he found evidence that the
Spaniards had long before had a transient establishment at a spot about
fifteen leagues from Fort St. Louis. [Footnote: Cavelier, in his report to
the minister, says: "We reached a large village enclosed with a kind of
wall made of clay and sand, and fortified with little towers at intervals,
where we found the arms of Spain engraved on a plate of copper, with the
date of 1588, attached to a stake. The inhabitants gave us a kind welcome,
and showed us some hammers and an anvil, two small pieces of iron cannon,
a small brass culverin, some pike-heads, some old sword-blades, and some
books of Spanish comedy; and thence they guided us to a little hamlet of
fishermen about two leagues distant, where they showed us a second stake,
also with the arms of Spain, and a few old chimneys. All this convinced us
that the Spaniards had formerly been here."--Cavelier, _Relation du Voyage
que mon frère entreprit pour découvrir l'embouchure du fleuve de
Missisipy_, MS. The above is translated from the original draft of
Cavelier, which is in my possession. It was addressed to the colonial
minister, after the death of La Salle. The statement concerning the
Spaniards needs confirmation.]

It was the first of November, when La Salle set out on his great journey
of exploration. His brother Cavelier, who had now recovered, accompanied
him with thirty men, and five cannon-shot from the fort saluted them as
they departed. They were lightly equipped, but La Salle had a wooden
corselet as a protection against arrows. Descending the Lavaca, they
pursued their course eastward on foot along the margin of the bay, while
Joutel remained in command of the fort. It stood on a rising ground, two
leagues above the mouth of the river. Between the palisades and the stream
lay a narrow strip of marsh, the haunt of countless birds, and at a little
distance it deepened into ponds full of fish. The buffalo and the deer
were without number; and, in truth, all the surrounding region swarmed
with game,--hares, turkeys, ducks, geese, swans, plover, snipe, and
partridges. They shot them in abundance, after necessity and practice had
taught them the art. The river supplied them with fish, and the bay with
oysters. There were land-turtles and sea-turtles; and Joutel sometimes
amused himself with shooting alligators, of which he says that he once
killed one twenty feet long. He describes, too, with perfect accuracy,
that curious native of the south-western prairies, the "horned frog,"
which, deceived by its uninviting aspect, he erroneously supposed to be
venomous. [Footnote: Joutel devotes many pages to an account of the
animals and plants of the country, most of which may readily be recognized
from his description.]

He suffered no man to be idle. Some hunted; some fished; some labored at
the houses and defences. To the large building made by La Salle he added
four lodging-houses for the men, and a fifth for the women, besides a
small chapel. All were built with squared timber, and roofed like the
first with boards and buffalo-hides; while a palisade and ditch, defended
by eight pieces of cannon, enclosed the whole. [Footnote: Compare Joutel
with the Spanish account in _Carta en que se da noticia de tin viaje hecho
à la bahia de Espiritu Santo y de la poblacion que tenian ahi los
Franceses: Coleccion de Varios Documentos_, 25.] Late one evening in
January, when all were gathered in the principal building, conversing
perhaps, or smoking, or playing at games of hazard, or dozing by the fire
in homesick dreams of France, one of the men on guard came in to report
that he had heard a voice in the distance without. All hastened into the
open air; and Joutel, advancing towards the river whence the voice came,
presently descried a man in a canoe, and saw that he was Duhaut, one of La
Salle's chief followers, and perhaps the greatest villain of the company.
La Salle had directed that none of his men should be admitted into the
fort, unless he brought a pass from him; and it would have been well, had
the order been obeyed to the letter. Duhaut, however, told a plausible and
possibly a true story. He had stopped on the march to mend a shoe which
needed repair, and on attempting to overtake the party had become
bewildered on a prairie intersected with the paths of the buffalo. He
fired his gun in vain, as a signal to his companions; saw no hope of
rejoining them, and turned back, travelling only in the night, from fear
of Indians, and lying hid by day. After a month of excessive hardship, he
reached his destination; and, as the inmates of Fort St. Louis

[Transcriber's note: missing page in original]

worn and ragged. [Footnote: Joutel, 136, 137. The date of the return is
from Cavelier.] Their story was a brief one. After losing Duhaut, they
had wandered on through various savage tribes, with whom they had more
than one encounter, scattering them like chaff by the terror of their
fire-arms. At length, they found a more friendly band, and learned much
touching the Spaniards, who were, they were told, universally hated by the
tribes of that country. It would be easy, said their informants, to gather
a host of warriors and lead them over the Rio Grande; but La Salle was in
no condition for attempting conquests, and the tribes in whose alliance he
had trusted had, a few days before, been at blows with him. The invasion
of New Biscay must be postponed to a more propitious day. Still advancing,
he came to a large river, which he at first mistook for the Mississippi;
and, building a fort of palisades, he left here several of his men.
[Footnote: Cavelier says that he actually reached the Mississippi; but, on
the one hand, he did not know whether the river in question was the
Mississippi or not; and, on the other, he is somewhat inclined to
mendacity. Le Clercq says that La Salle thought he had found the river.
Joutel says that he did not reach it.] The fate of these unfortunates does
not appear. He now retraced his steps towards Fort St. Louis; and, as he
approached it, detached some of his men to look for his vessel, the
"Belle," for whose safety, since the loss of her pilot, he had become very

On the next day, these men appeared at the fort, with downcast looks. They
had not found the "Belle" at the place where she had been ordered to
remain, nor were any tidings to be heard of her. From that hour, the
conviction that she was lost possessed the mind of La Salle.

Surrounded as he was, and had always been, with traitors, the belief now
possessed him that her crew had abandoned the colony, and made sail for
the West Indies or for France. The loss was incalculable. He had relied on
this vessel to transport the colonists to the Mississippi, as soon as its
exact position could be ascertained; and, thinking her a safer place of
deposit than the fort, he had put on board of her all his papers and
personal baggage, besides a great quantity of stores, ammunition, and
tools. [Footnote: _Procès Verbal fait au poste de la Baie St. Louis, le_
18 _Avril_, 1686, MS.] In truth, she was of the last necessity to the
unhappy exiles, and their only resource for escape from a position which
was fast becoming desperate.

La Salle, as his brother tells us, fell dangerously ill; the fatigues of
his journey, joined to the effects upon his mind of this last disaster,
having overcome his strength though not his fortitude. "In truth," writes
the priest, "after the loss of the vessel, which deprived us of our only
means of returning to France, we had no resource but in the firmness and
conduct of my brother, whose death each of us would have regarded as his
own." [Footnote: Cavelier, _Relation du Voyage pour découvrir l'embouchure
du Fleuve de Missisipy_, MS.]

La Salle no sooner recovered than he embraced a resolution which could be
the offspring only of a desperate necessity. He determined to make his way
by the Mississippi and the Illinois to Canada, whence he might bring
succor to the colonists, and send a report of their condition to France.
The attempt was beset with uncertainties and dangers. The Mississippi was
first to be found; then followed through all the perilous monotony of its
interminable windings to a goal which was to be but the starting-point of
a new and not less arduous journey. Cavelier, his brother, Moranget, his
nephew, the friar, Anastase Douay, and others, to the number of twenty,
offered to accompany him. Every corner of the magazine was ransacked for
an outfit. Joutel generously gave up the better part of his wardrobe to La
Salle and his two relatives. Duhaut, who had saved his baggage from the
wreck of the "Aimable," was required to contribute to the necessities of
the party; and the scantily furnished chests of those who had died were
used to supply the wants of the living. Each man labored with needle and
awl to patch his failing garments, or supply their place with buffalo or
deer skins. On the twenty-second of April, after mass and prayers in the
chapel, they issued from the gate, each bearing his pack and his weapons;
some with kettles slung at their backs, some with axes, some with gifts
for Indians. In this guise, they held their way in silence across the
prairie while anxious eyes followed them from the palisades of St. Louis,
whose inmates, not excepting Joutel himself, seem to have been ignorant of
the extent and difficulty of the undertaking. [Footnote: Joutel, 140;
Anastase Douay, in Le Clercq, ii. 303; Cavelier, _Relation_, MS. The date
is from Douay. It does not appear from his narrative that they meant to go
further than the Illinois. Cavelier says that after resting here they were
to go to Canada. Joutel supposed that they would go only to the Illinois.
La Salle seems to have been even more reticent than usual.]

It was but a few days after, when a cry of _Qui vive_, twice repeated, was
heard from the river. Joutel went down to the bank, and saw a canoe full
of men, among whom he recognized Chedeville, a priest attached to the
expedition, the Marquis de la Sablonnière, and others of those who had
embarked in the "Belle." His first greeting was an eager demand what had
become of her, and the answer confirmed his worst fears. Chedeville and
his companions were conducted within the fort, where they told their
dismal story. The murder of the pilot and his boat's crew had been
followed by another accident, no less disastrous. A boat which had gone
ashore for water had been swamped in returning, and all on board were
lost. Those who remained in the vessel, after great suffering from thirst,
had left their moorings, contrary to the orders of La Salle, and
endeavored to approach the fort. But they were few, weak, and unskilful. A
wind rose, and the "Belle" was wrecked on a sand-bar at the farther side
of the bay. All perished but eight men, who escaped on a raft, and, after
long delay, found a stranded canoe, in which they made their way to St.
Louis, bringing with them some of La Salle's papers and baggage, saved
from the wreck.

Thus clouds and darkness thickened around the hapless colonists, whose
gloom was nevertheless lighted by a transient ray of hilarity. Among their
leaders was the Sieur Barbier, a young man, who usually conducted the
hunting-parties. Some of the women and girls often went out with them to
aid in cutting up the meat. Barbier became enamoured of one of the girls;
and, as his devotion to her was the subject of comment, he asked Joutel
for leave to marry her. The commandant, after due counsel with the priests
and friars, vouchsafed his consent, and the rite was duly solemnized;
whereupon, fired by the example, the Marquis de la Sablonnière begged
leave to marry another of the girls. Joutel, the gardener's son, concerned
that a marquis should so abase himself, and anxious, at the same time, for
the morals of the fort, not only flatly refused, but, in the plenitude of
his authority, forbade the lovers all farther intercourse. [Footnote:
Joutel, 146, 147.]

The Indians hovered about the fort with no good intent, sent a flight of
arrows among Barbier's hunting-party, and prowled at night around the
palisades. One of the friars was knocked down by a wounded buffalo, and
narrowly escaped; another was detected in writing charges against La
Salle. Joutel seized the paper, and burned it; but the clerical character
of the reverend offender saved him from punishment. The colonists were
beginning to murmur; and their discontent was fomented by Duhaut, who,
with a view to some ulterior design, tried to ingratiate himself with the
malcontents, and become their leader. Joutel detected the mischief, and,
with a lenity which he afterwards deeply regretted, contented himself with
a severe rebuke to the ring-leader, and words of reproof and exhortation
to his dejected band. And, lest idleness should beget farther evil, he
busied them in such superfluous tasks as mowing grass, that a better crop
might spring up, and cutting down trees which obstructed the view. In the
evening, he gathered them in the great hall, and encouraged them to forget
their cares in songs and dances.

On the seventeenth of October, [Footnote: This is Douay's date. Joutel
places it in August, but this is evidently an error. He himself says that,
having lost all his papers, he cannot be certain as to dates.] Joutel saw
a band of men and horses, descending the opposite bank of the Lavaca, and
heard the familiar voice of La Salle shouting across the water. He and his
party were soon brought over in canoes, while the horses swam the river.
Twenty men had gone out with him, and eight had returned. Of the rest,
four had deserted, one had been lost, one had been devoured by an
alligator; and the rest, giving out on the march, had probably perished in
attempting to regain the fort. The travellers told of a rich country, a
wild and beautiful landscape, woods, rivers, groves, and prairies; but all
availed nothing, and the acquisition of five horses was but an indifferent
return for the loss of twelve men. The story of their adventures was soon

After leaving the fort, they had journeyed towards the north-east, over
plains green as an emerald with the young verdure of April, till at length
they saw, far as the eye could reach, the boundless prairie alive with
herds of buffalo. The animals were in one of their tame, or stupid moods;
and they killed nine or ten of them without the least difficulty, drying
the best parts of the meat. They crossed the Colorado on a raft, and
reached the banks of another river, where one of the party named Hiens, a
German of Würtemberg, and an old buccaneer, was mired and nearly
suffocated in a mud-hole. Unfortunately, as will soon appear, he managed
to crawl out; and, to console him, the river was christened with his name.
The party made a bridge of felled trees, on which they crossed in safety.
La Salle now changed their course, and journeyed eastward, when the
travellers soon found themselves in the midst of a numerous Indian
population, where they were feasted and caressed without measure. At
another village, they were less fortunate. The inhabitants were friendly
by day, and hostile by night. They came to attack the French in their
camp, but withdrew, daunted by the menacing voice of La Salle, who had
heard them approaching through the cane-brake.

La Salle's favorite Shawanoe hunter, Nika, who had followed him from
Canada to France, and from France to Texas, was bitten by a rattlesnake;
and, though he recovered, the accident detained the party for several
days. At length they resumed their journey, but were arrested by a large
river, apparently the Brazos. La Salle and Cavelier, with a few others,
tried to cross on a raft, which, as it reached the channel, was caught by
a current of marvellous swiftness. Douay and Moranget, watching the
transit from the edge of the canebrake, beheld their commander swept down
the stream, and vanishing, as it were, in an instant. All that day they
remained with their companions on the bank, lamenting in an abyss of
despair for the loss of their guardian angel, for so Douay calls La Salle.
[Footnote: "Ce fût une desolation extrême pour nous tous qui desesperions
de revoir jamais nostre Ange tutélaire, le Sieur de la Salle... Tout le
jour se passa en pleurs et en larmes."--Douay, in Le Clercq, ii. 315.] It
was fast growing dark, when, to their unspeakable relief, they saw him
advancing with his party along the opposite bank, having succeeded, after
great exertion, in guiding the raft to land. How to rejoin him was now the
question. Douay and his companions, who had tasted no food that day, broke
their fast on two young eagles which they knocked out of their nest, and
then spent the night in rueful consultation as to the means of crossing
the river. In the morning, they waded into the marsh, the friar with his
breviary in his hood, to keep it dry, and hacked among the caries till
they had gathered enough to make another raft, on which, profiting by La
Salle's experience, they safely crossed, and rejoined him.

Next, they became entangled in a cane-brake, where La Salle, as usual with
him in such cases, took the lead, a hatchet in each hand, and hewed out a
path for his followers. They soon reached the villages of the Cenis
Indians, on and near the River Trinity, a tribe then powerful, but long
since extinct. Nothing could surpass the friendliness of their welcome.
The chiefs came to meet them, bearing the calumet, and followed by
warriors in shirts of embroidered deer-skin. Then the whole village
swarmed out like bees, gathering around the visitors with offerings of
food, and all that was precious in their eyes. La Salle was lodged with
the great chief; but he compelled his men to encamp at a distance, lest
the ardor of their gallantry might give occasion of offence. The lodges of
the Cenis, forty or fifty feet high, and covered with a thatch of meadow-
grass, looked like huge beehives. Each held several families, whose fire
was in the middle, and their beds around the circumference. The spoil of
the Spaniards was to be seen on all sides; silver lamps and spoons,
swords, old muskets, money, clothing, and a Bull of the Pope dispensing
the Spanish colonists of New Mexico from fasting during summer. [Footnote:
Douay, in Le Clercq, ii. 321; Cavelier, _Relation_, MS.] These treasures,
as well as their numerous horses, were obtained by the Cenis from their
neighbors and allies, the Camanches, that fierce prairie banditti, who
then, as now, scourged the Mexican border with their bloody forays. A
party of these wild horsemen was in the village. Douay was edified at
seeing them make the sign of the cross, in imitation of the neophytes of
one of the Spanish missions. They enacted, too, the ceremony of the mass;
and one of them, in his rude way, drew a sketch of a picture he had seen
in some church which he had pillaged, wherein the friar plainly recognized
the Virgin weeping at the foot of the cross. They invited the French to
join them on a raid into New Mexico; and they spoke with contempt, as
their tribesmen will speak to this day, of the Spanish creoles, saying
that it would be easy to conquer a nation of cowards who make people walk
before them with fans to cool them in hot weather. [Footnote: Douay, in Le
Clercq, ii. 324, 325.]

Soon after leaving the Cenis villages, both La Salle and his nephew,
Moranget, were attacked by a fever. This caused a delay of more than two
months, during which the party seem to have remained encamped on the
Neches, or, possibly, the Sabine. When at length the invalids had
recovered sufficient strength to travel, the stock of ammunition was
nearly spent, some of the men had deserted, and the condition of the
travellers was such, that there seemed no alternative but to return to
Fort St. Louis. This they accordingly did, greatly aided in their march by
the horses bought from the Cenis, and suffering no very serious accident
by the way, excepting the loss of La Salle's servant, Dumesnil, who was
seized by an alligator while attempting to cross the Colorado.

The temporary excitement caused among the colonists by their return soon
gave place to a dejection bordering on despair. "This pleasant land,"
writes Cavelier, "seemed to us an abode of weariness and a perpetual
prison." Flattering themselves with the delusion, common to exiles of
every kind, that they were objects of solicitude at home, they watched
daily, with straining eyes, for an approaching sail. Ships, indeed, had
ranged the coast to seek them, but with no friendly intent. Their thoughts
dwelt, with unspeakable yearning, on the France they had left behind; and
which, to their longing fancy, was pictured as an unattainable Eden. Well
might they despond; for of a hundred and eighty colonists, besides the
crew of the "Belle," less than forty-five remained. The weary precincts of
Fort St. Louis, with its fence of rigid palisades, its area of trampled
earth, its buildings of weather-stained timber, and its well-peopled
graveyard without, were hateful to their sight. La Salle had a heavy task
to save them from despair. His composure, his unfailing cheerfulness, his
words of sympathy and of hope, were the breath of life to this forlorn
company; for, self-contained and stern as was his nature, he could soften,
in times of extremity, to a gentleness that strongly appealed to the
hearts of those around him; and though he could not impart, to minds of
less adamantine temper, the audacity of hope with which he still clung to
the final accomplishment of his purposes, the contagion of his courage
touched, nevertheless, the drooping spirits of his followers. [Footnote:
"L'égalité d'humeur du Chef rassuroit tout le monde; et il trouvoit des
resources à tout par son esprit qui relevoit les espérances les plus
abatues."--Joutel, 152.

"Il seroit difficile de trouver dans l'Histoire un courage plus intrepide
et plus invincible que celuy du Sieur de la Salle dans les évenemens
contraires; il ne fût jamais abatu, et il espéroit toujours avec le
secours du Ciel de venir à bout de son entreprise malgré tous les
obstacles qui se présentoient."--Douay, in Le Clercq, ii. 327.]

The journey to Canada was clearly their only hope; and, after a brief
rest, La Salle prepared to renew the attempt. He proposed that Joutel
should, this time, be of the party; and should proceed from Quebec to
France, with his brother Cavelier, to solicit succors for the colony. A
new obstacle was presently interposed. La Salle, whose constitution seems
to have suffered from his long course of hardships, was attacked in
November with hernia. Joutel offered to conduct the party in his stead;
but La Salle replied that his own presence was indispensable at the
Illinois. He had the good fortune to recover, within four or five weeks,
sufficiently to undertake the journey; and all in the fort busied
themselves in preparing an outfit. In such straits were they for clothing,
that the sails of the "Belle" were cut up to make coats for the
adventurers. Christmas came, and was solemnly observed. There was a
midnight mass in the chapel, where Membré, Cavelier, Douay, and their
priestly brethren, stood before the altar, in vestments strangely
contrasting with the rude temple and the ruder garb of the worshippers.
And as Membré elevated the consecrated wafer, and the lamps burned dim
through the clouds of incense, the kneeling group drew from the daily
miracle such consolation as true Catholics alone can know. When Twelfth
Night came, all gathered in the hall, and cried, after the jovial old
custom, "_The King drinks_," with hearts, perhaps, as cheerless as their
cups, which were filled with cold water.

On the morrow, the band of adventurers mustered for the fatal journey.
[Footnote: I follow Douay's date, who makes the day of departure the
seventh of January, or the day after Twelfth Night. Joutel thinks it was
the twelfth of January, but professes uncertainty as to all his dates at
this time, as he lost his notes.] The five horses, bought by La Salle of
the Indians, stood in the area of the fort, packed for the march; and here
was gathered the wretched remnant of the colony, those who were to go, and
those who were to stay behind. These latter were about twenty in all:
Barbier, who was to command in the place of Joutel; Sablonnière, who,
despite his title of Marquis, was held in great contempt; [Footnote: He
had to be kept on short allowance, because he was in the habit of
bargaining away every thing given to him. He had squandered the little
that belonged to him at St. Domingo in amusements "indignes de sa
naissance," and, in consequence, was suffering from diseases which
disabled him from walking.--_Procès Verbal_, 18 _Avril_, 1686, MS.] the
friars, Membré and Le Clercq, [Footnote: Maxime le Clercq, a relative of
the author of _l'Etablissement de la Foi_.] and the priest, Chedeville,
besides a surgeon, soldiers, laborers, seven women and girls, and several
children, doomed, in this deadly exile, to wait the issues of the journey,
and the possible arrival of a tardy succor. La Salle had made them a last
address, delivered, we are told, with that winning air, which, though
alien from his usual bearing, seems to have been at times, a natural
expression of this unhappy man. [Footnote: "Il fit une Harangue pleine
d'éloquence et de cet air engageant qui luy estoit si naturel: toute la
petite Colonie y estoit presente et en fût touchée jusques aux larmes,
persuadée de la nécessité de son voyage et de la droiture de ses
intentions."--Douay, in Le Clercq, ii. 330.] It was a bitter parting; one
of sighs, tears, and embracings; the farewell of those on whose souls had
sunk a heavy boding that they would never meet again. [Footnote: "Nous
nous separâmes les uns des autres, d'une manière si tendre et si triste
qu'il sembloit que nous avions tons le secret pressentiment que nous ne
nous reverrions jamais."--Joutel, 158.] Equipped and weaponed for the
journey, the adventurers filed from the gate, crossed the river, and held
their slow march over the prairies beyond, till intervening woods and
hills had shut Fort St. Louis for ever from their sight.



The travellers were crossing a marshy prairie towards a distant belt of
woods, that followed the course of a little river. They led with them
their five horses, laden, with their scanty baggage, and with what was of
no less importance, their stock of presents for Indians. Some wore the
remains of the clothing they had worn from France, eked out with deer-
skins, dressed in the Indian manner; and some had coats of old sail-cloth.
Here was La Salle, in whom one would have known, at a glance, the chief of
the party; and the priest, Cavelier, who seems to have shared not one of
the high traits of his younger brother. Here, too, were their nephews,
Moranget and the boy Cavelier, now about seventeen years old; the trusty
soldier, Joutel, and the friar, Anastase Douay. Duhaut followed, a man of
respectable birth and education; and Liotot, the surgeon of the party. At
home, they might, perhaps, have lived and died with a fair repute; but the
wilderness is a rude touchstone, which often reveals traits that would
have lain buried and unsuspected in civilized life. The German Hiens, the
ex-buccaneer, was also of the number. He had probably sailed with an
English crew, for he was sometimes known as _Gemme Anglais_ or "English
Jem." [Footnote: Tonty also speaks of him as "un flibustier anglois." In
another document he is called "James."] The Sieur de Marie; Teissier, a
pilot; l'Archevêque, a servant of Duhaut; and others, to the number in all
of about twenty,--made up the party, to which is to be added Nika, La
Salle's Shawanoe hunter, who, as well as another Indian, had twice crossed
the ocean with him, and still followed his fortunes with an admiring
though undemonstrative fidelity.

They passed the prairie, and neared the forest. Here they saw buffalo; and
the hunters approached, and killed several of them. Then they traversed
the woods; found and forded the shallow and rushy stream, and pushed
through the forest beyond, till they again reached the open prairie. Heavy
clouds gathered over them, and it rained all night; but they sheltered
themselves under the fresh hides of the buffalo they had killed.

It is impossible, as it would be needless, to follow the detail of their
daily march. [Footnote: Of the three narratives of this journey, those of
Joutel, Cavelier, and Anastase Douay, the first is by far the best. That
of Cavelier seems the work of a man of confused brain and indifferent
memory. Some of his statements are irreconcilable with those of Joutel and
Douay, and known facts of his history justify the suspicion of a wilful
inaccuracy. Joutel's account is of a very different character, and seems
to be the work of an honest and intelligent man. Douay's account is brief,
but it agrees with that of Joutel in most essential points.] It was such
an one, though, with unwonted hardships, as is familiar to the memory of
many a prairie traveller of our own time. They suffered greatly from the
want of shoes, and found for a while no better substitute than a casing of
raw buffalo-hide, which they were forced to keep always wet, as, when dry,
it hardened about the foot like iron. At length, they bought dressed deer-
skin from the Indians, of which they made tolerable moccasons. The rivers,
streams, and gulleys filled with water were without number; and, to cross
them, they made a boat of bull-hide, like the "bull boat" still used on
the Upper Missouri. This did good service, as, with the help of their
horses, they could carry it with them. Two or three men could cross in it
at once, and the horses swam after them like dogs. Sometimes they
traversed the sunny prairie; sometimes dived into the dark recesses of the
forest, where the buffalo, descending daily from their pastures in long
files to drink at the river, often made a broad and easy path for the
travellers. When foul weather arrested them, they built huts of bark and
long meadow-grass; and, safely sheltered, lounged away the day, while
their horses, picketed near by, stood steaming in the rain. At night, they
usually set a rude stockade about their camp; and here, by the grassy
border of a brook, or at the edge of a grove where a spring bubbled up
through the sands, they lay asleep around the embers of their fire, while
the man on guard listened to the deep breathing of the slumbering horses,
and the howling of the wolves that saluted the rising moon as it flooded
the waste of prairie with pale mystic radiance.

They met Indians almost daily; sometimes a band of hunters, mounted or on
foot, chasing buffalo on the plains; sometimes a party of fishermen;
sometimes a winter camp, on the slope of a hill or under the sheltering
border of a forest. They held intercourse with them in the distance by
signs; often they disarmed their distrust, and attracted them into their
camp; and often they visited them in their lodges, where, seated on
buffalo-robes, they smoked with their entertainers, passing the pipe from
hand to hand, after the custom still in use among the prairie tribes.
Cavelier says that they once saw a band of a hundred and fifty mounted
Indians attacking a herd of buffalo with lances pointed with sharpened
bone. The old priest was delighted with the sport, which he pronounces
"the most diverting thing in the world." On another occasion, when the
party were encamped near the village of a tribe which Cavelier calls
Sassory, he saw them catch an alligator about twelve feet long, which they
proceeded to torture as if he were a human enemy, first putting out his
eyes, and then leading him to the neighboring prairie, where, having
confined him by a number of stakes, they spent the entire day in
tormenting him. [Footnote: Cavelier, _Relation,_ MS.]

Holding a north-easterly course, the travellers crossed the Brazos, and
reached the waters of the Trinity. The weather was unfavorable, and on one
occasion they encamped in the rain during four or five days together. It
was not an harmonious company. La Salle's cold and haughty reserve had
returned, at least for those of his followers to whom he was not partial.
Duhaut and the surgeon Liotot, both of whom were men of some property, had
a large pecuniary stake in the enterprise, and were disappointed and
incensed at its ruinous result. They had a quarrel with young Moranget,
whose hot and hasty temper was as little fitted to conciliate as was the
harsh reserve of his uncle. Already, at Fort St. Louis, Duhaut had
intrigued among the men; and the mild admonition of Joutel had not, it
seems, sufficed to divert him from his sinister purposes. Liotot, it is
said, had secretly sworn vengeance against La Salle, whom he charged with
having caused the death of his brother, or, as some will have it, his
nephew. On one of the former journeys, this young man's strength had
failed; and, La Salle having ordered him to return to the fort, he had
been killed by Indians on the way.

The party moved again as the weather improved; and, on the fifteenth of
March, encamped within a few miles of a spot which La Salle had passed on
his preceding journey, and where he had left a quantity of Indian corn and
beans in _cache_; that is to say, hidden in the ground, or in a hollow
tree. As provisions were falling short, he sent a party from the camp to
find it. These men were Duhaut, Liotot, [Footnote: Called Lanquetot by
Tonty.] Hiens the buccaneer, Teissier, l'Archevêque, Nika the hunter, and
La Salle's servant, Saget. They opened the _cache_, and found the contents
spoiled; but, as they returned from their bootless errand, they saw
buffalo; and Nika shot two of them. They now encamped on the spot, and
sent the servant to inform La Salle, in order that he might send horses to
bring in the meat. Accordingly, on the next day, he directed Moranget and
De Marie, with the necessary horses, to go with Saget to the hunters'
camp. When they, arrived, they found that Duhaut and his companions had
already cut up the meat, and laid it upon scaffolds for smoking, though it
was not yet so dry as, it seems, this process required. Duhaut and the
others had also put by, for themselves, the marrow-bones and certain
portions of the meat, to which, by woodland custom, they had a perfect
right. Moranget, whose rashness and violence had once before caused a
fatal catastrophe, fell into a most unreasonable fit of rage, berated
and menaced Duhaut and his party, and ended by seizing upon the whole
of the meat, including the reserved portions. This added fuel to the
fire of Duhaut's old grudge against Moranget and his uncle. There is
reason to think that he had nourished in his vindictive heart deadly
designs, the execution of which was only hastened by the present outbreak.
He, with his servant, l'Archevêque, Liotot, Hiens, and Teissier, took
counsel apart, and resolved to kill Moranget that night. Nika, La
Salle's devoted follower, and Saget, his faithful servant, must die
with him. All were of one mind except the pilot, Teissier, who neither
aided nor opposed the plot.

Night came; the woods grew dark; the evening meal was finished, and the
evening pipes were smoked. The order of the guard was arranged; and,
doubtless by design, the first hour of the night was assigned to Moranget,
the second to Saget, and the third to Nika. Gun in hand, each stood his
watch in turn over the silent but not sleeping forms around him, till, his
time expiring, he called the man who was to relieve him, wrapped himself
in his blanket, and was soon buried in a slumber that was to be his last.
Now the assassins rose. Duhaut and Hiens stood with their guns cocked
ready to shoot down any one of the destined victims who should resist or
fly. The surgeon, with an axe, stole towards the three sleepers, and
struck a rapid blow at each in turn. Saget and Nika died with little
movement; but Moranget started spasmodically into a sitting posture,
gasping, and unable to speak; and the murderers compelled De Marie, who
was not in their plot, to compromise himself by despatching him.

The floodgates of murder were open, and the torrent must have its way.
Vengeance and safety alike demanded the death of La Salle. Hiens. or
"English Jem," alone seems to have hesitated; for he was one of those to
whom that stern commander had always been partial. Meanwhile, the intended
victim was still at his camp, about six miles distant. It is easy to
picture, with sufficient accuracy, the features of the scene,--the sheds
of bark and branches, beneath which, among blankets and buffalo-robes,
camp-utensils, pack-saddles, rude harness, guns, powder-horns, and bullet-
pouches, the men lounged away the hour, sleeping, or smoking, or talking
among themselves; the blackened kettles that hung from tripods of poles
over the fires; the Indians strolling about the place, or lying, like dogs
in the sun, with eyes half shut, yet all observant; and, in the
neighboring meadow, the horses grazing under the eye of a watchman.

It was the nineteenth of March, and Moranget had been two days absent. La
Salle began to show a great anxiety. Some bodings of the truth seem to
have visited him; for he was heard to ask several of his men, if Duhaut,
Liotot, and Hiens had not of late shown signs of discontent. Unable longer
to endure his suspense, he left the camp in charge of Joutel, with a
caution to stand well on his guard; and set out in search of his nephew,
with the friar, Anastase Douay, and two Indians. "All the way," writes the
friar, "he spoke to me of nothing but matters of piety, grace, and
predestination; enlarging on the debt he owed to God, who had saved him
from so many perils during more than twenty years of travel in America.
Suddenly," Douay continues, "I saw him overwhelmed with a profound
sadness, for which he himself could not account. He was so much moved that
I scarcely knew him." He soon recovered his usual calmness; and they
walked on till they approached the camp of Duhaut, which was, however, on
the farther side of a small river. Looking about him with the eye of a
woodsman, La Salle saw two eagles, or, more probably, turkey-buzzards,
circling in the air nearly over him, as if attracted by carcasses of
beasts or men. He fired both his pistols, as a summons to any of his
followers who might be within hearing. The shots reached the ears of the
conspirators. Rightly conjecturing by whom they were fired, several of
them, led by Duhaut, crossed the river at a little distance above, where
trees, or other intervening objects, hid them from sight. Duhaut and the
surgeon crouched like Indians in the long, dry, reed-like grass of the
last summer's growth, while l'Archevêque stood in sight near the bank. La
Salle, continuing to advance, soon, saw him; and, calling to him, demanded
where was Moranget. The man, without lifting his hat, or any show of
respect, replied in an agitated and broken voice, but with a tone of
studied insolence, that Moranget was along the river. La Salle rebuked and
menaced him. He rejoined with increased insolence, drawing back, as he
spoke, towards the ambuscade, while the incensed commander advanced to
chastise him. At that moment, a shot was fired from the grass, instantly
followed by another; and, pierced through the brain, La Salle dropped

The friar at his side stood in an ecstasy of fright, unable to advance or
to fly; when Duhaut, rising from his ambuscade, called out to him to take
courage, for he had nothing to fear. The murderers now came forward, and
with wild looks gathered about their victim. "There thou liest, great
Bashaw! There thou liest!" [Footnote: "Te voilà grand Bacha, te voilà!"--
Joutel, 203.] exclaimed the surgeon Liotot, in base exultation over the
unconscious corpse. With mockery and insult, they stripped it naked,
dragged it into the bushes, and left it there, a prey to the buzzards and
the wolves.

Thus, in the vigor of his manhood, at the age of forty-three, died Robert
Cavelier de la Salle, "one of the greatest men," writes Tonty, "of this
age;" without question one of the most remarkable explorers whose names
live in history. His faithful officer Joutel thus sketches his portrait:
"His firmness, his courage, his great knowledge of the arts and sciences,
which made him equal to every undertaking, and his untiring energy, which
enabled him to surmount every obstacle, would have won at last a glorious
success for his grand enterprise, had not all his fine qualities been
counterbalanced by a haughtiness of manner which often made him
insupportable, and by a harshness towards those under his command, which
drew upon him an implacable hatred, and was at last the cause of his
death." [Footnote: _Journal Historique_, 202.]

The enthusiasm of the disinterested and chivalrous Champlain was not the
enthusiasm of La Salle; nor had he any part in the self-devoted zeal of
the early Jesuit explorers. He belonged not to the age of the knight-
errant and the saint, but to the modern world of practical study and
practical action. He was the hero, not of a principle nor of a faith, but
simply of a fixed idea and a determined purpose. As often happens with
concentred and energetic natures, his purpose was to him a passion and an
inspiration; and he clung to it with a certain fanaticism of devotion. It
was the offspring of an ambition vast and comprehensive, yet acting in the
interest both of France and of civilization. His mind rose immeasurably
above the range of the mere commercial speculator; and, in all the
invective and abuse of rivals and enemies, it does not appear that his
personal integrity ever found a challenger.

He was capable of intrigue, but his reserve and his haughtiness were sure
to rob him at last of the fruits of it. His schemes failed, partly because
they were too vast, and partly because he did not conciliate the good-will
of those whom he was compelled to trust. There were always traitors in his
ranks, and his enemies were more in earnest than his friends. Yet he had
friends; and there were times when out of his stern nature a stream of
human emotion would gush, like water from the rock.

In the pursuit of his purpose, he spared no man, and least of all himself.
He bore the brunt of every hardship and every danger; but he seemed to
expect from all beneath him a courage and endurance equal to his own,
joined with an implicit deference to his authority. Most of his disasters
may be ascribed, in some measure, to himself; and Fortune and his own
fault seemed always in league to ruin him.

It is easy to reckon up his defects, but it is not easy to hide from sight
the Roman virtues that redeemed them. Beset by a throng of enemies, he
stands, like the King of Israel, head and shoulders above them all. He was
a tower of adamant, against whose impregnable front hardship and danger,
the rage of man and of the elements, the southern sun, the northern blast,
fatigue, famine, and disease, delay, disappointment, and deferred hope,
emptied their quivers in vain. That very pride, which, Coriolanus-like,
declared itself most sternly in the thickest press of foes, has in it
something to challenge admiration. Never, under the impenetrable mail of
paladin or crusader, beat a heart of more intrepid mettle than within the
stoic panoply that armed the breast of La Salle. To estimate aright the
marvels of his patient fortitude, one must follow on his track through the
vast scene of his interminable journeyings, those thousands of weary miles
of forest, marsh, and river, where, again and again, in the bitterness of
baffled striving, the untiring pilgrim pushed onward towards the goal
which he was never to attain. America owes him an enduring memory; for in
this masculine figure, cast in iron, she sees the heroic pioneer who
guided her to the possession of her richest heritage. [Footnote: On the
assassination of La Salle, the evidence is fourfold: 1st, The narrative of
Douay, who was with him at the time. 2d, That of Joutel, who learned the
facts immediately after they took place, from Douay and others, and who
parted from La Salle an hour or more before his death. 3d, A document
preserved in the Archives de la Marine, entitled _"Relation de la Mort du
Sr. de la Salle suivant le rapport d'un nominé Couture à qui M. Cavelier
l'apprit en passant au pays des Akansa, avec toutes les circonstances que
le dit Couture a apprises d'un Français que M. Cavelier avoit laissé aux
dits pays des Akansa, crainte qu'il ne gardât pas le secret,"_ 4th, The
authentic memoir of Tonty, of which a copy from the original is before me,
and which has recently been printed by Margry.

The narrative of Cavelier unfortunately fails us several weeks before the
death of his brother, the remainder being lost. On a study of these
various documents, it is impossible to resist the conclusion that neither
Cavelier nor Douay always wrote honestly. Joutel, on the contrary, gives
the impression of sense, intelligence, and candor throughout. Charlevoix,
who knew him long after, says that he was "un fort honnête homme, et le
seul de la troupe de M. de la Salle, sur qui ce célèbre voyageur pût
compter." Tonty derived his information from the survivors of La Salle's
party. Couture, whose statements are embodied in the _Relation de la Mort
de M. de la Salle_, was one of Tonty's men, who, as will be seen
hereafter, were left by him at the mouth of the Arkansas, and to whom
Cavelier told the story of his brother's death. Couture also repeats the
statements of one of La Salle's followers, undoubtedly a Parisian boy
named Barthelemy, who was violently prejudiced against his chief, whom he
slanders to the utmost of his skill, saying that he was so enraged at his
failures that he did not approach the sacraments for two years; that he
nearly starved his brother Cavelier, allowing him only a handful of meal a
day; that he killed with his own hand "quantité de personnes" who did not
work to his liking; and that he killed the sick in their beds without
mercy, under the pretence that they were counterfeiting sickness, in order
to escape work. These assertions certainly have no other foundation than
the undeniable strictness and rigor of La Salle's command. Douay says that
he confessed and made his devotions on the morning of his death, while
Cavelier always speaks of him as the hope and the staff of the colony.

Douay declares that La Salle lived an hour after the fatal shot; that he
gave him absolution, buried his body, and planted a cross on his grave. At
the time, he told Joutel a different story; and the latter, with the best
means of learning the facts, explicitly denies the friar's printed
statement. Couture, on the authority of Cavelier himself, also says that
neither he nor Douay were permitted to take any step for burying the body.
Tonty says that Cavelier begged leave to do so, but was refused. Douay,
unwilling to place upon record facts from which the inference might easily
be drawn that he had been terrified from discharging his duty, no doubt
invented the story of the burial, as well as that of the edifying behavior
of Moranget, after he had been struck in the head with an axe.]

The locality of La Salle's assassination is sufficiently clear from a
comparison of the several narratives; and it is also indicated on a
contemporary manuscript map, made on the return of the survivors of the
party to France. The scene of the catastrophe is here placed on a southern
branch of the Trinity.

La Salle's debts, at the time of his death, according to a schedule
presented in 1701 to Champigny, Intendant of Canada, amounted to 106,831
livres, without reckoning interest. This cannot be meant to include all,
as items are given which raise the amount much higher. In 1678 and 1679
alone, he contracted debts to the amount of 97,184 livres, of which 46,000
were furnished by Branssac, fiscal attorney of the Seminary of Montreal.
This was to be paid in beaver-skins. Frontenac, at the same time, became
his surety for 13,623 livres. In 1684, he borrowed 34,825 livres from the
Sieur Pen, at Paris. These sums do not include the losses incurred by his
family, which, in the memorial presented by them to the king, are set down
at 500,000 livres for the expeditions between 1678 and 1683, and 300,000
livres for the fatal Texan expedition of 1684. These last figures are
certainly exaggerated.

1687, 1688.


Father Anastase Douay returned to the camp, and, aghast with grief and
terror, rushed into the hut of Cavelier. "My poor brother is dead!" cried
the priest, instantly divining the catastrophe from the horror-stricken
face of the messenger. Close behind came the murderers, Duhaut at their
head. Cavelier, his young nephew, and Douay himself, all fell on their
knees, expecting instant death. The priest begged piteously for half an
hour to prepare for his end; but terror and submission sufficed, and no
more blood was shed. The camp submitted without resistance; and Duhaut was
lord of all.

Joutel, at the moment, chanced to be absent; and l'Archevêque, who had a
kindness for him, went quietly to seek him. He found him 011 a hillock,
looking at the band of horses grazing on the meadow below. "I was
petrified," says Joutel, "at the news, and knew not whether to fly or
remain where I was; but at length, as I had neither powder, lead, nor any
weapon, and as l'Archevêque assured me that my life would be safe if I
kept quiet and said nothing, I abandoned myself to the care of Providence,
and went back in silence to the camp. Duhaut, puffed up with the new
authority which his crime had gained for him, no sooner saw me than he
cried out that each ought to command in turn; to which I made no reply. We
were all forced to smother our grief, and not permit it to be seen; for it
was a question of life and death; but it may be imagined with what
feelings the Abbé Cavelier and his nephew, Father Anastase, and I regarded
these murderers, of whom we expected to be the victims every moment."
[Footnote: _Journal Historique, 205._] They succeeded so well in their
dissembling, that Duhaut and his accomplices seemed to lose all distrust
of their intentions; and Joutel says that they might easily have avenged
the death of La Salle by that of his murderers, had not the elder
Cavelier, through scruple or cowardice, opposed the design.

Meanwhile, Duhaut and Liotot seized upon all the money and goods of La
Salle, even to his clothing, declaring that they had a right to them, in
compensation for the losses in which they had been involved by the failure
of his schemes. [Footnote: According to the _Relation de la Mart du Sr. de
la Salle,_ the amount of property remaining was still very considerable.
The same document states that Duhaut's interest in the expedition was half
the freight of one of the four vessels, which was, of course, a dead loss
to him.] They treated the elder Cavelier with great contempt, disregarding
his claims to the property, which, indeed, he dared not urge; and
compelling him to listen to the most violent invectives against his
brother. Hiens, the buccaneer, was greatly enraged at these proceedings of
his accomplices; and thus the seeds of a quarrel were already sown.

On the second morning after the murder, the party broke up their camp,
packed their horses, of which the number had been much increased by barter
with the Indians, and began their march for the Cenis villages, amid a
drenching rain. Thus they moved onward slowly till the twenty-eighth, when
they reached the main stream of the Trinity, and encamped on its borders.
Joutel, who, as well as his companions in misfortune, could not lie down
to sleep with an assurance of waking in the morning, was now directed by
his self-constituted chiefs to go in advance of the party to the great
Cenis village for a supply of food. Liotot himself, with Hiens and
Teissier, declared that they would go with him; and Duhaut graciously
supplied him with goods for barter. Joutel thus found himself in the
company of three murderers, who, as he strongly suspected, were contriving
an opportunity to kill him; but, having no choice, he dissembled his
doubts, and set out with his ill-omened companions. His suspicions seem,
to have been groundless; and, after a ride of ten leagues, the travellers
neared the Indian town, which, with its large thatched lodges, looked like
a cluster of huge haystacks. Their approach had been made known, and they
were received in solemn state. Twelve of the elders came to meet them in
their dress of ceremony, each with his face daubed red or black, and his
head adorned with painted plumes. From. their shoulders hung deer-skins
wrought and fringed with gay colors. Some carried war-clubs; some, bows
and arrows; some, the blades of Spanish rapiers, attached to wooden,
handles decorated with hawk's-bells and bunches of feathers. They stopped
before the honored guests, and, raising their hands aloft, uttered howls
so extraordinary, that Joutel had much ado to preserve the gravity which
the occasion demanded. Having next embraced the Frenchmen, the elders
conducted them into the village, attended by a crowd of warriors and young
men; ushered them into their town-hall, a large lodge devoted to councils,
feasts, dances, and other public assemblies; seated them on mats, and
squatted in a ring around them. Here they were regaled with sagamite, or
Indian porridge, corncake, beans, and bread made of the meal of parched
corn. Then the pipe was lighted, and all smoked together. The four
Frenchmen proposed to open a traffic for provisions, and their
entertainers grunted assent.

Joutel found a Frenchman in the village. He was a young man from Provence,
who had deserted from La Salle on his last journey, and was now, to all
appearance, a savage like his adopted countrymen, being naked like them,
and affecting to have forgotten his native language. He was very friendly,
however, and invited the visitors to a neighboring village, where he
lived, and where, as he told them, they would find a better supply of
corn. They accordingly set out with him, escorted by a crowd of Indians.
They saw lodges and clusters of lodges scattered along their path at
intervals, each with its field of corn, beans, and pumpkins, rudely
cultivated with a wooden hoe. Reaching their destination, which was not
far off, they were greeted with the same honors as at the first village;
and, the ceremonial of welcome over, were lodged in the abode of the
savage Frenchman. It is not to be supposed, however, that he and his
squaws, of whom he had a considerable number, dwelt here alone; for these
lodges of the Cenis often contained fifteen families or more. They were
made by firmly planting in a circle tall straight young trees, such as
grew in the swamps. The tops were then bent inward and lashed together;
great numbers of cross-pieces were bound on, and the frame thus
constructed was thickly covered with thatch, a hole being left at the top
for the escape of the smoke. The inmates were ranged around the
circumference of the structure, each family in a kind of stall, open in
front, but separated from those adjoining it by partitions of mats. Here
they placed their beds of cane, their painted robes of buffalo and deer
skin, their cooking utensils of pottery, and other household goods; and
here, too, the head of the family hung his bow, quiver, lance, and shield.
There was nothing in common but the fire, which burned in the middle of
the lodge, and was never suffered to go out. These dwellings were of great
size, and Joutel declares that he has seen one sixty feet in diameter.
[Footnote: The lodges of the Florida Indians were somewhat similar. The
winter lodges of the now nearly extinct Mandans, though not so high in
proportion to their width, and built of more solid materials, as the rigor
of a northern climate requires, bear a general resemblance to those of the

The Cenis tattooed their faces and some parts of their bodies by pricking
powdered charcoal into the skin. The women tattooed the breasts; and this
practice was general among them, notwithstanding the pain of the
operation, as it was thought very ornamental. Their dress consisted of a
sort of frock, or wrapper of skin, from the waist to the knees. The men,
in summer, wore nothing but the waist-cloth.]

It was in one of the largest that the four travellers were now lodged. A
place was assigned to them where to bestow their baggage; and they took
possession of their quarters amid the silent stares of the whole
community. They asked their renegade countryman, the Provencal, if they
were safe. He replied that they were; but this did not wholly reassure
them, and they spent a somewhat wakeful night. In the morning, they opened
their budgets, and began a brisk trade in knives, awls, beads, and other
trinkets, which they exchanged for corn and beans. Before evening, they
had acquired a considerable stock; and Joutel's three companions declared
their intention of returning with it to the camp, leaving him to continue
the trade. They went, accordingly, in the morning; and Joutel was left
alone. On the one hand, he was glad to be rid of them; on the other, he
found his position among the Cenis very irksome, and, as he thought,
insecure. Besides the Provencal, who had gone with Liotot and his
companions, there were two, other French deserters among this tribe, and
Joutel was very desirous to see them, hoping that they could tell him the
way to the Mississippi; for he was resolved to escape, at the first
opportunity, from the company of Duhaut and his accomplices. He therefore
made the present of a knife to a young Indian, whom he sent to find the
two Frenchmen, and invite them, to come to the village. Meanwhile, he
continued his barter, but under many difficulties; for he could only
explain himself by signs, and his customers, though friendly by day,
pilfered his goods by night. This, joined to the fears and troubles which
burdened his mind, almost deprived him of sleep, and, as he confesses,
greatly depressed his spirits. Indeed, he had little cause for
cheerfulness, in the past, present, or future. An old Indian, one of the
patriarchs of the tribe, observing his dejection, and anxious to relieve
it, one evening brought him a young wife, saying that he made him a
present of her. She seated herself at his side; "but," says Joutel, "as my
head was full of other cares and anxieties, I said nothing to the poor
girl. She waited for a little time; and then, finding that I did not speak
a word, she went away."

Late one night, he lay, between sleeping and waking, on the buffalo-robe
that covered his bed of canes. All around the great lodge, its inmates
were buried in sleep; and the fire that still burned in the midst cast
ghostly gleams on the trophies of savage chivalry, the treasured scalp-
locks, the spear and war-club, and shield of whitened bull-hide, that hung
by each warrior's resting-place. Such was the weird scene that lingered on
the dreamy eyes of Joutel, as he closed them at last in a troubled sleep.
The sound of a footstep soon wakened him; and, turning, he saw at his
side, the figure of a naked savage, armed with a bow and arrows. Joutel
spoke, but received no answer. Not knowing what to think, he reached out
his hand for his pistols; on which the intruder withdrew, and seated
himself by the fire. Thither Joutel followed; and, as the light fell on
his features, he looked at him closely. His face was tattooed, after the
Cenis fashion, in lines drawn from the top of the forehead and converging
to the chin; and his body was decorated with similar embellishments.
Suddenly, this supposed Indian rose, and threw his arms around Joutel's
neck, making himself known, at the same time, as one of the Frenchmen who
had deserted from La Salle, and taken refuge among the Cenis. He was a
Breton sailor named Ruter. His companion, named Grollet, also a sailor,
had been afraid to come to the village, lest he should meet La Salle.
Ruter expressed surprise and regret when he heard of the death of his late
commander. He had deserted him but a few months before. That brief
interval had sufficed to transform him into a savage; and both he and his
companion found their present reckless and ungoverned way of life greatly
to their liking. He could tell nothing of the Mississippi; and on the next
day he went home, carrying with him a present of beads for his wives, of
which last he had made a large collection.

In a few days he reappeared, bringing Grollet with him. Each wore a bunch
of turkey-feathers dangling from his head, and each had wrapped his naked
body in a blanket. Three men soon after arrived from Duhaut's camp,
commissioned to receive the corn which Joutel had purchased. They told him
that Duhaut and Liotot, the tyrants of the party, had resolved to return
to Fort St. Louis, and build a vessel to escape to the West Indies; "a
visionary scheme," writes Joutel, "for our carpenters were all dead; and,
even if they had been alive, they were so ignorant, that they would not
have known how to go about the work; besides, we had no tools for it.
Nevertheless, I was obliged to obey, and set out for the camp with the

On arriving, he found a wretched state of affairs. Douay and the two
Caveliers, who had been treated by Duhaut with great harshness and
contempt, had made their mess apart; and Joutel now joined them. This
separation restored them their freedom of speech, of which they had
hitherto been deprived; but it subjected them to incessant hunger, as they
were allowed only food enough to keep them from famishing. Douay says that
quarrels were rife among the assassins themselves, the malcontents being
headed by Hiens, who was enraged that Duhaut and Liotot should have
engrossed all the plunder. Joutel was helpless, for he had none to back
him but two priests and a boy.

He and his companions talked of nothing around their solitary camp-fire
but the means of escaping from the villanous company into which they were
thrown. They saw no resource but to find the Mississippi, and thus make
their way to Canada, a prodigious undertaking in their forlorn condition;
nor was there any probability that the assassins would permit them to go.
These, on their part, were beset with difficulties. They could not return
to civilization without manifest peril of a halter; and their only safety
was to turn buccaneers or savages. Duhaut, however, still held to his plan
of going back to Fort St. Louis; and Joutel and his companions, who, with
good reason, stood in daily fear of him, devised among themselves a simple
artifice to escape from his company. The elder Cavelier was to tell him
that they were too fatigued for the journey, and wished to stay among the
Cenis; and to beg him to allow them a portion of the goods, for which
Cavelier was to give his note of hand. The old priest, whom a sacrifice of
truth, even on less important occasions, cost no great effort, accordingly
opened the negotiation; and to his own astonishment, and that of his
companions, gained the assent of Duhaut. Their joy, however, was short;
for Ruter, the French savage, to whom Joutel had betrayed his intention,
when inquiring the way to the Mississippi, told it to Duhaut, who, on
this, changed front, and made the ominous declaration that he and his men
would also go to Canada. Joutel and his companions were now filled with
alarm; for there was no likelihood that the assassins would permit them,
the witnesses of their crime, to reach the settlements alive. In the midst
of their trouble, the sky was cleared as by the crash of a thunderbolt.

Hiens and several others had gone, some time before, to the Cenis villages
to purchase horses; and here they had been retained by the charms of the
Indian women. During their stay, Hiens heard of Duhaut's new plan of going
to Canada by the Mississippi; and he declared to those with him that he
would not consent. On a morning early in May, he appeared at Duhaut's
camp, with Ruter and Grollet, the French savages, and about twenty
Indians. Duhaut and Liotot, it is said, were passing the time by
practising with bows and arrows in front of their hut. One of them called
to Hiens, "Good-morning;" but the buccaneer returned a sullen answer. He
then accosted Duhaut, telling him that he had no mind to go up the
Mississippi with him, and demanding a share of the goods. Duhaut replied
that the goods were his own, since La Salle had owed him money. "So you
will not give them to me?" returned Hiens. "No," was the answer. "You are
a wretch!" exclaimed Hiens. "You killed my master;" [Footnote: "Tu es un
misérable. Tu as tué mon maistre."--Tonty, _Mémoire,_ MS. Tonty derived
his information from some of those present. Douay and Joutel have each
left an account of this murder. They agree in essential points, though
Douay says that, when it took place, Duhaut had moved his camp beyond the
Cenis villages, which is contrary to Joutel's statement.] and, drawing a
pistol from his belt, he fired at Duhaut, who staggered three or four
paces, and fell dead. Almost at the same instant, Ruter fired his gun at
Liotot, shot three balls into his body, and stretched him on the ground
mortally wounded.

Douay and the two Caveliers stood in extreme terror, thinking that their
turn was to come next. Joutel, no less alarmed, snatched his gun to defend
himself; but Hiens called to him to fear nothing, declaring that what he
had done was only to avenge the death of La Salle, to which, nevertheless,
he had been privy, though not an active sharer in the crime. Liotot lived
long enough to make his confession, after which Ruter killed him by
exploding a pistol loaded with a blank charge of powder against his head.
Duhaut's myrmidon, l'Archevêque, was absent, hunting, and Hiens was for
killing him on his return; but the two priests and Joutel succeeded in
dissuading him.

The Indian spectators beheld these murders with undisguised amazement, and
almost with horror. What manner of men were these who had pierced the
secret places of the wilderness to riot in mutual slaughter? Their
fiercest warriors might learn a lesson in ferocity from these heralds of
civilization. Joutel and his companions, who could not dispense with the
aid of the Cenis, were obliged to explain away, as they best might, the
atrocity of what they had witnessed. [Footnote: Joutel, 248.]

Hiens, and others of the French, had before promised to join the Cenis on
an expedition against a neighboring tribe with whom they were at war; and
the whole party, having removed to the Indian village, the warriors and
their allies prepared to depart. Six Frenchmen went with Hiens; and the
rest, including Joutel, Douay, and the Caveliers, remained behind, in the
same lodge in which Joutel had been domesticated, and where none were now
left but women, children, and old men. Here they remained a week or more,
watched closely by the Cenis, who would not let them leave the village;
when news at length arrived of a great victory, and the warriors soon
after returned with forty-eight scalps. It was the French guns that won
the battle, but not the less did they glory in their prowess; and several
days were spent in ceremonies and feasts of triumph. [Footnote: These are
described by Joutel. Like nearly all the early observers of Indian
manners, he speaks of the practice of cannibalism.]

When, all this hubbub of rejoicing had subsided, Joutel and his companions
broke to Hiens their plan of attempting to reach home by way of the
Mississippi. As they had expected, he opposed it vehemently, declaring
that, for his own part, he would not run such a risk of losing his head;
but at length he consented to their departure, on condition that the elder
Cavelier should give him a certificate of his entire innocence of the
murder of La Salle, which the priest did not hesitate to do. For the rest,
Hiens treated his departing fellow-travellers with the generosity of a
successful freebooter; for he gave them a good share of the plunder which
he had won by his late crime, supplying them with hatchets, knives, heads,
and other articles of trade, besides several horses. Meanwhile, adds
Joutel, "we had the mortification and chagrin of seeing this scoundrel
walking about the camp in a scarlet coat laced with gold which had
belonged to the late Monsieur de la Salle, and which lie had seized upon,
as also upon all the rest of his property." A well-aimed shot would have
avenged the wrong, but Joutel was clearly a mild and moderate person; and
the elder Cavelier had constantly opposed all plans of violence. Therefore
they stifled their emotions, and armed themselves with patience.

Joutel's party consisted, besides himself, of the Caveliers, uncle and
nephew, Anastase Douay, De Marie, Teissier, and a young Parisian named
Barthelemy. Teissier, an accomplice in the murders of Moranget and La
Salle, had obtained a pardon, in form, from the elder Cavelier. They had
six horses and three Cenis guides. Hiens embraced them at parting, as did
the ruffians who remained with him. Their course was north-east, towards
the mouth of the Arkansas, a distant goal, the way to which was beset with
so many dangers that their chance of reaching it seemed small. It was
early in June, and the forests and prairies were green with the verdure of
opening summer. They soon reached the Assonis, a tribe near the Sabine,
who received them well, and gave them guides to the nations dwelling
towards Red River. On the twenty-third, they approached a village, the
inhabitants of which, regarding them as curiosities of the first order
came out in a body to see them; and, eager to do them honor, required them
to mount on their backs, and thus make their entrance in procession.
Joutel, being large and heavy, weighed down his bearer, insomuch that two
of his countrymen were forced to sustain him, one on each side. On
arriving, an old chief washed their faces with warm water from an earthen
pan, and then invited them to mount on a scaffold of canes, where they sat
in the hot sun listening to four successive speeches of welcome, of which
they understood not a word. [Footnote: These Indians were a portion of the
Cadodaquis, or Caddoes, then living on Red River. The travellers
afterwards visited other villages of the same people. Tonty was here two
years afterwards, and mentions the curious custom of washing the faces of
guests.] At the village of another tribe, farther on their way, they met
with a welcome still more oppressive. Cavelier, the unworthy successor of
his brother, being represented as the chief of the party, became the
principal victim of their attentions. They danced the calumet before him;
while an Indian, taking him, with an air of great respect, by the
shoulders, as he sat, shook him in cadence with the thumping of the drum.
They then placed two girls close beside him, as his wives; while, at the
same time, an old chief tied a painted feather in his hair. These
proceedings so scandalized him, that, pretending to be ill, he broke off
the ceremony; but they continued to sing all night with so much zeal, that
several of them were reduced to a state of complete exhaustion.

At length, after a journey of about two months, during which they lost one
of their number, De Marle, accidentally drowned while bathing, the
travellers approached the River Arkansas, at a point not far above its
junction with the Mississippi. Led by their Indian guides, they traversed
a rich district of plains and woods, and stood at length on the borders of
the stream. Nestled beneath the forests of the farther shore, they saw the
lodges of a large Indian town; and here, as they gazed across the broad
current, they presently descried an object which nerved their spent limbs,
and thrilled their homesick hearts with joy. It was a tall wooden cross;
and near it was a small house, built evidently by Christian hands. With

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