Page images
PDF
EPUB

while another, equipped after a somewhat similar fashion, passed in the distance for La Salle.

But the Illinois were furious. Tonty's life hung by a hair. A crowd of savages surrounded him, mad with rage and terror. He had come lately from Europe, and knew but little of Indians; but, as the friar Membré says of him, “he was full of intelligence and courage,” and, when they heard him declare that he and his Frenchmen would go with them to fight the Iroquois, their threats grew less clamorous and their eyes glittered with a less deadly luster.

Whooping and screeching, they ran to their canoes, crossed the river, climbed the woody hill, and swarmed down upon the plain beyond. About a hundred of them had guns; the rest were armed with bows and arrows. They were now face to face with the enemy, who had emerged from the woods of the Vermilion, and were advancing on the open prairie.

With unwonted spirit-for their repute as warriors was by no means high-the Illinois began, after their fashion, to charge; that is, they leaped, yelled, and shot off bullets and arrows, advancing as they did so; while the Iroquois replied with gymnastics no less agile, and howlings no less terrific, mingled with the rapid clatter of their guns.

Tonty saw that it would go hard with his allies. It was of the utmost importance to stop the fight, if possible. The Iroquois were, or professed to be, at peace with the French; and he resolved on attempt to mediate, which may well be called a desperate one.

He laid aside his gun, took in his hand a wam

an

pum belt as a flag of truce, and walked forward to meet the savage multitude, attended by two Frenchmen and a young Illinois who had the hardihood to accompany him. The guns of the Iroquois still flashed thick and fast. Some of them were aimed at him, on which he sent back the two Frenchmen and the Illinois, and advanced alone, holding out the wampum belt.

A moment more, and he was among the infuriated warriors. It was a frightful spectacle: the

: contorted forms, bounding, crouching, twisting, to deal or dodge the shot; the small keen eyes that shone like an angry snake's; the parted lips pealing their fiendish yells; the painted features writhing with fear and fury, and every other passion of an Indian fight-man, wolf, and devil, all in one.

With his swarthy complexion and half savage dress, they thought he was an Indian, and thronged about him, glaring murder.

A young

warrior stabbed at his heart with a knife, but the point glanced aside against a rib, inflicting only a deep gash. A chief called out that as his ears were not pierced, he must be a Frenchman. On this, some of them tried to stop the bleeding, and led him to the rear, where an angry parley ensued, while the yells and firing still resounded in the front.

Tonty, breathless and bleeding at the mouth with the force of the blow he had received, found words to declare that the Illinois were under the protection of the king, and the governor of Canada, and to demand that they should be left in peace.

A young Iroquois snatched Tonty's hat, placed it on the end of his gun, and displayed it to the Illinois, who, thereupon, thinking he was killed, renewed the fight; and the firing in front clattered more angrily than before. A warrior ran in, crying out that the Iroquois were giving ground, and that there were Frenchmen among the Illinois, who fired at them.

On this the clamor around Tonty was redoubled. Some wished to kill him at once; others resisted. "I was never," he writes, “in such perplexity, for at that moment there was an Iroquois behind me, with a knife in his hand, lifting my hair as if he were going to scalp me. I thought it was all over with me, and that my best hope was that they would knock me in the head, instead of burning me alive, as I believed they would do.”

In fact, a Seneca N chief demanded that he should be burned; while an Onondagachief, a friend of La Salle, was for setting him free. The dispute grew fierce and hot. Tonty told them that the Illinois were twelve hundred strong, and that sixty Frenchmen were at the village, ready to back them. This invention, though not fully believed, had no little effect,

The friendly Onondaga carried his point; and the Iroquois, having failed to surprise their enemies, as they had hoped, now saw an opportunity to delude them by a truce. They sent back Tonty with a belt of peace: he held it aloft in sight of the Illinois; chiefs and old warriors ran to stop the fight, the yells and the firing ceased; and Tonty, like one waked from a hideous nightmare, dizzy, almost fainting from loss of blood, staggered across the intervening prairie, to rejoin his friends.

He was met by the two friars, Ribourde and Membré, who, in their secluded hut, a league from

N

the village, had but lately heard of what was passing, and who now, with benedictions and thanksgiving, ran to embrace him as a man escaped from the jaws of death.

FRANCIS PARKMAN.

Biography.- Francis Parkman was born in Boston in 1823, and graduated at Harvard College in 1844. He spent a number of years in the Far West, studying the manners and customs of the Indians. He has written a number of instructive works, among which are: “The Great West," History of the Conspiracy of Pontiac,” and “France and England in North America."

Notes. – Joliet (zhole a) and Marquette (mar kěth were French priests who devoted their lives to the conversion of the Indians.

The Ir o quois' (kwoy), Sěn'e ca, Il li nois', Sha wa'noe, and Onón da' gå were the names of Indian tribes.

Crève Caur means “ Broken Heart."
A Jesuit is a member of the well-known Society of Jesus.

Friars, meaning brothers, is the name given to the members of certain mendicant orders of the Roman Catholic Church.

[blocks in formation]

There's an arrow aloft with a feather'd shaft
That never has flown at the bowstring's draft,
And the goldsmith has hidden the blacksmith's

craft.

For its heart is of iron, its gleam of gold,
It is pointed to pierce and barbed to hold,
And its wonderful story is hardly told.

It is poised on a finger from sun to sun,
And it catches a glimmer of dawn begun,
And is floating in light when the day is done.

And it turns at the touch of a viewless hand,
And it swings in the air like a wizard's wand,
By the tempest whirled and the zephyr fanned.

And the sinewy finger that can not tire
Is the lifted hush of the old church spire
That vanishes out as heaven is nigher;

And the arrow upon it

rusted vane, As true to its master as faith to fane, That is swinging forever in sun and rain.

Right about to the North! And the trumpets blow,
And the shivering air is dim with snow,
And the earth grows dumb and the brooks run

slow;

And the shaggy Arctic, chilled to the bone,
Is craunching the world with a human moan,
And the clank of a chain in the frozen zone.

And the world is dead in its seamless shroud,
And the stars wink slow in the rifted cloud,
And the owl in the oak complains aloud.

But the arrow is true to the iceberg's realm,
As the rudder stanch in the ghastly whelm
With a hero by to handle the helm!

Is it welded with frost as iron with fire ?
Up with a blue-jacket! Clamber the spire
And swing it around to the point of desire!

« EelmineJätka »