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their departure from the island on the 19th of September. Nightfall came on before they reached the nearest point of the continent, which was twelve miles distant. Darkness thick. ened, the waves rose, and the water dashed into the canoes; but they contrived to keep together, and to find a landing-place in the morning. Here they were detained four days in a barren spot, till the lake became calm. A single porcupine was the only trophy that rewarded the hunter's fatiguing rambles, which Father Hennepin says afforded a savory relish to their pumpkins and corn. Trusting their fragile canoes again to the waves, they were soon overtaken by new disasters. Clouds gathered over them, the winds blew angrily, and, deluged with rain and sleet, they were glad to seek safety on a naked rock for two days, with no other shelter than their blankets. At the end of another day, they were in so great danger in attempting to land, that the Sieur de la Salle leaped into the water with his men, and assisted them to drag his canoe ashore. His example was followed by those in the other canoes. They landed somewhere in the neighborhood of the River Milwaukie.
By this time the provisions were exhausted, but they had seen Indians, and presumed their habitations were near.
Three men were sent, with the calumet of peace, to search for corn.
They came to a deserted village, where they found abundance of corn, of which they took as much as they wanted, and left such articles as the natives valued in exchange. Before night the Indians hovered suspiciously around the party at the canoes; but, when the calumet of peace was presented, they showed themselves friends, and entertained their visiters with dances and songs. They were so well satisfied with the goods left in the village, that the next day they brought more corn and a supply of deer, for which they were amply rewarded.
This proof of human sympathy, even from men called savages, was a sunbeam in the path of the weary voyagers. Their troubles, however, were not at an end. Launching their canoes again upon the water, they were doomed to wage the same hard conflict with the angry elements; at times dragging their canoes upon the rocks to escape the fury of the waves, and at other times pulling them ashore through the foaming surf, with the spray beating over their heads. Such were the perils to which they were exposed, and the sufferings they endured, almost without cessation, till they reached the end of the lake, and turned their course eastward. Here the waters were more tranquil, and on the land they could regale themselves with the flesh of deer and wild turkeys, which fell an easy prey to the hunters.
Grape vines hung in graceful festoons from the tall forest trees, loaded with clusters of ripe fruit, which was gathered by cutting down the trees. At length, to enjoy a little repose, they went ashore on a small peninsula, and drew their canoes upon the beach.
The footprints of men had been seen near this place, which indicated that Indians were not far off. At present La Salle had no desire to make their acquaintance. He gave express orders that every one should keep quiet, and be on his guard. But one of the men, seeing a bear in a tree, could not resist so tempting an opportunity to try his gun, and he shot the bear dead, and dragged him in triumph to the camp. These animals climbed the trees to feast on the grapes. La Salle was vexed at this piece of indiscretion in the man, and, to avoid surprise, placed a sentinel near the canoes, which had been turned bottom upwards to screen the goods under them from the rain.
The noise of the gun was heard by the savages, who proved to be a roving party of Outtagamies, or Fox Indians, from Green Bay, apparently on a hunting excursion. In the night several of them crept silently by the camp, and came to the canoes, where they succeeded in stealing a coat and some other articles before they were discovered. The alarm was given, and the French
men flew to their arms. The Indians then cried out that they were friends, and that, hearing the gun, they suspected a party of Iroquois to be in the neighborhood, who, being enemies, could only design to kill them. To ascertain whether their suspicions were correct, they said, was the occasion of their coming so near the camp; and since they found themselves among Frenchmen from Canada, whom they regarded as brethren, they had no disposition to be obtrusive, but, on the contrary, should be well pleased to smoke the calumet of peace. Not caring to embroil himself unnecessarily, the Sieur de la Salle allowed them to depart, telling them that he would receive a visit from four of their number, but no more. Accordingly four old men came to him, smoked their pipes, and proffered friendship.
Not long after they were gone, the theft was detected, which placed matters upon another footing. If such an affront were suffered to pass unnoticed, a repetition of it might be expected, with other insults. La Salle was determined to have satisfaction. He went out with some of his men, and seized two of the Indians, who were strolling in the woods, and brought them back prisoners. One of these he sent to the chiefs with a message, that, unless the stolen goods were restored, the life of the prisoner remaining in his hands should be the forfeit. This message threw the Indian encampment into a state of great perplexity, for the coat and other articles had been cut into many pieces, and distributed to different individuals, so that the demand could not be complied with. It was finally decided, as the only resort, that they would rescue the prisoner by force. They marched to the attack, but the movement was discovered in time to enable the Frenchmen to advance to an eminence near the sandy plain, which separated the peninsula from the main land, and to take such a position as the savages were not eager to assail. For a brief space these demonstrations seemed ominous of a conflict; but, the Indians being evidently reluctant to make the assault, and their opponents having nothing to gain by it, there was not much difficulty in coming to a parley, which led to a settlement of the dispute without bloodshed or blows. Father Hennepin, as usual, plumes himself upon this happy issue of events, ascribing it to his valor and presence of mind in going boldly among the Indians, in the face of their war-clubs and tomahawks, and presenting himself as a mediator and peace-maker. He had seen battles and sieges in Flanders, and was not now to be intimidated by the parade of Indian warfare.