« AnteriorContinuar »
to that great saint.* The pilot was the only man among them, whose devotions were not quickened by these appalling scenes.
He poured out his complaints upon La Salle, as the author of these calamities, and bewailed the sad fate, by which, after the glory he had gained in braving the storms and
of the ocean in every clime, he was now doomed to perish in a fresh-water lake. Happily the winds abated, the billows ceased to roll, and, on the 27th of August, a favoring breeze wafted the Griffin into a placid bay in the Island of Mackinac.
Sails to an Island at the Entrance of Green Bay.
- Proceeds on his Voyage in Canoes along the Western Shore of Lake Michigan. Disasters of the Voyage. — Meets a Party of Indians, who threaten Hostilities. — Arrives at the Miamis River.
It was the first purpose of our voyagers to make a favorable impression upon the Indians,
* Hennepin’s Description de la Louisiane, p. 58. Clercq's Etablissement de la Foy, p. 148.
whose friendship was essential to their success. These sons of the forest looked with wonder at the ship, the first they had ever seen, which they called the great wooden canoe ; and their astonishment was increased when they went on board, and heard the roar of the cannon. The Sieur de la Salle, clothed in a scarlet cloak edged with gold, and attended by some of his men well dressed and armed, made a visit of ceremony to the head-men of the village, where he was received and entertained with much civility, and where the missionaries celebrated mass.
On the opposite shore of the strait, which separates Mackinac from Michigan, was a settlement of Hurons, which Father Marquette had gathered at that place several years before. Their habitations stood on an eminence, and were surrounded by palisades. They had already made such progress in civilization, that they understood the use of firearms, which they had procured from the French traders, and they saluted the commander of the great canoe with three rounds from all their guns. This show of civility, however, was more politic than sincere, for their friendly dispositions were no further manifested.
In fact, La Salle soon discovered that the zeal of his enemies in Canada had been exceedingly active against him during the summer, and that they had taken pains, by their emissaries, to poison the minds of the Indians and traders in all that region. They had represented him as having a design, not only to monopolize the trade in furs and skins, but to invade and subdue the natives. Reports of this nature occasioned suspicion, and put them on their guard. These machinations operated to his disadvantage in another quarter. The fifteen men, whom he had sent forward to barter and collect provisions, had been tampered with and seduced from their duty. Instead of going to the Illinois, as they were ordered, they had wasted the time at Mackinac, and on the islands and coasts in the neighborhood. Some had deserted, and others had squandered a part of the merchandise with which they were furnished for traffic. Tonty, who reached Mackinac in a canoe some time before the vessel arrived, had been unable to find them all, or to satisfy the disaffected at that place.
These 'disappointments were discouraging, but they could not be remedied, and the season was too far advanced to admit of delay. It was known that some of the deserters had gone to the Falls of St. Mary, and others to the Indian villages in that direction on the western shores of Lake Huron. These men were important to the success of the expedition, and Tonty was sent with a small party in canoes to search for them, and prevail on them to return to the service
Moreover, a few of them, it was believed, were true to their engagements, and were detained in carrying on their trade with the natives.
Meantime the sails of the Griffin were again spread to the wind. Passing through the strait between Mackinac and the main land on the opposite side, the explorers entered the broad expanse of Lake Michigan, and, coasting along its northern borders, after a prosperous voyage of somewhat more than a hundred miles, they cast anchor in a small island at the mouth of Green Bay. This island was inhabited by Pottawatimies, being a portion of a tribe of Indians of that name residing in the Wisconsin territory. And here the Sieur de la Salle had the good luck to meet with several of his men, who had been diligent in collecting furs, and had laid up a large quantity in store.
With these furs, and others that might be procured at Mackinac, and at the different posts on the passage, he resolved to freight his ship, and send her back to Niagara, for the purpose of making a remittance to his creditors. This was apparently a sudden resolution, and not satisfactory to his people, who must thenceforth pursue their route in canoes, exposed to numerous hardships and dangers; and in the end it proved extremely unfortunate. But he seldom asked counsel of any person, and was not easily diverted from an object upon which he had set his mind. Besides, he doubtless thought that his men could not reasonably complain of hardships, which he was to share in the same measure as all the others. Within two weeks after their arrival at the island, the vessel sailed, having on board the pilot and five mariners bound for Niagara. The pilot was ordered to come back as soon as possible, and pursue his voyage to the mouth of the Miamis River, at the southeastern extremity of Lake Michigan.
The company now remaining consisted of fourteen persons.
These were to be transported along the west side of Lake Michigan in four bark canoes, which were likewise laden with a blacksmith's forge, carpenters' tools, utensils of various kinds, merchandise, and arms. A small stock of provisions only was laid in, because it was expected that supplies would be obtained on the way from the Indians, and by the hunters whenever they landed. In all his travels, La Salle · seems to have been accompanied by a faithful Indian from some of the eastern tribes, who served him in the double capacity of footman and hunter, being exceedingly expert in the use of his gun and in searching for game, and on whose skill and activity he and his companions often depended for subsistence.
All the preparations being made, they took