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At all the wider approaches he had piled heaps of huge stones to be rolled down on the foe, and where men could climb up singly he had stationed sentinels. The rear of the height was inaccessible; here stretched for more than four hundred ells the Golf of Barathron, bordered along its almost perpendicular sides by cliffs from ninety to a hundred yards high. This dark, wild20 chasm was afterwards used for a place of execution; and it was here that malefactors whom the law sentenced to be hurled into the abyss ended their days. Towards the north, the windward side, the cliff had no covering of earth and here at its foot, half concealed among some huge boulders, was the entrance to a cave which led obliquely upward to some subterranean tombs, whence a steep passage extended to one of the lower terraces. In this passage Lyrcus had had steps hewn in order to secure a secret descent to the plain, and for farther concealment he had ordered bushes to be planted outside of the cave.There were at this time two missions in the Tobacco Nation, St. Jean and St. Matthias, the latter under the charge of the Jesuits Garreau and Grelon, and the former under that of Garnier and Chabanel. St. Jean, the principal seat of the 404 mission of the same name, was a town of five or six hundred families. Its population was, moreover, greatly augmented by the bands of fugitive Hurons who had taken refuge there. When the warriors were warned by Ragueneau's messenger of a probable attack from the Iroquois, they were far from being daunted, but, confiding in their numbers, awaited the enemy in one of those fits of valor which characterize the unstable courage of the savage. At St. Jean all was paint, feathers, and uproar,singing, dancing, howling, and stamping. Quivers were filled, knives whetted, and tomahawks sharpened; but when, after two days of eager expectancy, the enemy did not appear, the warriors lost patience. Thinking, and probably with reason, that the Iroquois were afraid of them, they resolved to sally forth, and take the offensive. With yelps and whoops they defiled into the forest, where the branches were gray and bare, and the ground thickly covered with snow. They pushed on rapidly till the following day, but could not discover their wary enemy, who had made a wide circuit, and was approaching the town from another quarter. By ill luck, the Iroquois captured a Tobacco Indian and his squaw, straggling in the forest not far from St. Jean; and the two prisoners, to propitiate them, told them the defenceless condition of the place, where none remained but women, children, and old men. The delighted Iroquois no longer hesitated, but silently and swiftly pushed on towards the town.
On the brink of the rocky basin where the plunging torrent boiled like a caldron, and puffs of spray sprang out from its concussion like smoke from the throat of a cannon, Champlain's two Indians took their stand, and, with a loud invocation, threw tobacco into the foam,an offering to the local spirit, the Manitou of the cataract.Nothing could be more simple than these houses. As may still be seen, they consisted merely of a room hollowed in the cliff, closed in front and above with clay and stones,the latter seem to have rested upon logs to prevent a sudden fall during the earthquakes so frequent in this region. Here and there small holes, into which the ends of the pieces of timber were thrust, may still be discerned in the cliffs. Many of the dwellings were arranged in rows, rising like stairs one above another, all with an open space in front to serve as a place of meeting for the inhabitants. These terraces were connected by small steps hewn in the rock; here and there appeared altars, large storehouses, and tombs, the latter consisting of one or more subterranean rock chambers. Great numbers of such sepulchres are still3 found scattered over large tracts of the ancient cliff-city.
Here, then, was the town; but where were the inhabitants? All was silent as the desert. The lodges were empty, the fires dead, and the ashes cold. La Salle had expected this; for he knew that in the autumn the Illinois always left their towns for their winter hunting, and that the time of their return had not yet come. Yet he was not the less [Pg 171] embarrassed, for he would fain have bought a supply of food to relieve his famished followers. Some of them, searching the deserted town, presently found the caches, or covered pits, in which the Indians hid their stock of corn. This was precious beyond measure in their eyes, and to touch it would be a deep offence. La Salle shrank from provoking their anger, which might prove the ruin of his plans; but his necessity overcame his prudence, and he took thirty minots of corn, hoping to appease the owners by presents. Thus provided, the party embarked again, and resumed their downward voyage.The names of the four confederate Huron nations were the Ataronchronons, Attignenonghac, Attignaouentans, and Ahrendarrhonons. There was also a subordinate "nation" called Tohotaenrat, which had but one town. (See the map of the Huron Country.) They all bore the name of some animal or other object: thus the Attignaouentans were the Nation of the Bear. As the clans are usually named after animals, this makes confusion, and may easily lead to error. The Bear Nation was the principal member of the league.
Vol 3 PREFACE OF THE ELEVENTH EDITION.Why, cried the slave suddenly, there they are. Look at Bremon.B The bull-dog had risen on its hind legs and was leaning forward so that the chain was stretched tight; snuffing the wind and growling impatiently it wagged its tail with all its might.
"They belong to Kincaid's Battery," said Anna, and Constance, Miranda, and the servants smiled a proud approval. Even the officer flushed with a fine ardor:Follow this man, said Phanos, pointing to Acestor, and dont lose sight of him. When he has quitted Athens, report to me.
More serious matters awaited him, however, than this dalliance with the Muse. Rochelle was the centre and citadel of Calvinism,a town of austere and grim aspect, divided, like Cisatlantic communities of later growth, betwixt trade and religion, and, in the interest of both, exacting a deportment of discreet and well-ordered sobriety. "One must walk a strait path here," says Lescarbot, "unless he would hear from the mayor or the ministers." But the mechanics sent from Paris, flush of money, and lodged together in the quarter of St. Nicolas, made day and night hideous with riot, and their employers found not a few of them in the hands of the police. Their ship, bearing the inauspicious name of the "Jonas," lay anchored in the stream, her cargo on board, when a sudden gale blew her adrift. She struck on a pier, then grounded on the flats, bilged, careened, and settled in the mud. Her captain, who was ashore, with Poutrincourt, Lescarbot, and others, hastened aboard, and the pumps were set in motion; while all Rochelle, we are told, came to gaze from the ramparts, with faces of condolence, but at heart well pleased with the disaster. The ship and her cargo were saved, but she must be emptied, repaired, and reladen. Thus a month was lost; at length, on the thirteenth of May, 1606, the disorderly crew were all brought on board, and the "Jonas" put to sea. Poutrincourt and Lescarbot had charge of the expedition, De Monts remaining in France."Say what you like," said one of them, after hearing the counsel for the defence; "but if Laudonniere does not hang us all, I will never call him an honest man."