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which the orator enforced by expressions of anxious concern for the welfare of his friends, produced an obvious effect on the minds of La Salle's men, even when repeated in the less ornate and forcible language of the interpreter. He perceived it in their countenances, and therefore framed his answer in a manner both to allay their fears, and show the savage that he saw more deeply into his motives than he imagined
He said the dangers, which had been painted in such glowing colors, bore on their face so clear a stamp of exaggeration and improbability, that he was convinced Nikanape himself would excuse him for regarding them with utter incredulity; and even if they were as formidable as had been represented, the courage of Frenchmen would only be the more eager to encounter them, as crowning their ente prise with the greater glory. As to the concern, wrich his host had expressed for their welfare, he would not doubt its sincerity, but he believed there was something at the bottom of his heart, which his sense of propriety on this occasion did not permit to escape through his words. He felt constrained to say that he saw the seeds of jealousy lurking under the cover of this fair speech, which touched him the more sensibly, as his own conduct had been frank, steady,
and confiding. If there were causes of uneasiness, let them not be concealed under the garb of suspicion, but let them be brought out to open day, where they might be explained and removed. He was surprised that they should listen to such idle and malicious reports as Monso had scattered in their ears, creeping into the camp as he did at midnight, and skulking away
in darkness before he could be confronted by those whom he had accused.
This tone of firmness and reproof was taken in good part by Nikanape, and he was too skilful a host to allow the harmony of his feast to be interrupted by dissensions of his own making. These events, however, were not such as to give peace or repose to the mind of La Salle. The imaginations of his men were inflamed by Nikanape's terrific account of the Mississippi. Six of them deserted, including the two sawyers, whose services were exceedingly important, preferring a long journey in search of some friendly tribes near the Michigan, to the labors and dangers before them. Some accounts say that these men had laid a plot to poison their commander and his principal adherents. The defection of so large a number was not only discouraging in itself, but a sad breach in the company. La Salle told those who remained, that, in the spring, if any of
them should be afraid to venture upon the Mississippi, he would give them a canoe to return to Canada, but that it was the extreme of folly and imprudence to go off in the depth of winter, exposed to perish by cold and hunger, or perhaps by the hands of the savages. He was aware that the readiest method of soothing their discontent was to find them employment, and he laid a scheme for building a fort. He consulted his men on the subject, represented their exposed situation among the natives, and their greater security in some fortified place. They acquiesced in his views, and promised cheerfully to undertake the work.
Fort Crèvecoeur built near Lake Peoriu. - Inter
course with the Indians. Hennepin ascends the Mississippi. - La Salle returns by Land to Fort Frontenac. Some of the Men desert.
- Iroquois War. Tonty and Father Zenobe endeavor to mediate between the Iroquois and Illinois.
THE place selected for the fort was about half a league below the Indian camp, and not far from the present town of Peoria. The position was strong by nature, situate on a high bank rising from the margin of the river, and bounded on two sides by ravines running nearly at right angles to the stream. The task of preparing it for defence was not a hard one, since it consisted mainly in connecting the two ravines by a breastwork of timbers and palisades, and in digging away some parts of the other three sides, to render the ascent more steep and difficult. About the middle of January, the whole company removed to this spot, and established their quarters within the lines of the fort. In sympathy with his feelings, La Salle named it Fort Crèvec@ur, Broken Heart, as a memorial of the sadness he felt at the loss of his vessel, which he now deemed almost certain, and at the numerous discouragements and disasters which had hitherto attended his enterprise.
With his suspicious neighbors at the camp he lived on good terms. They gave him no annoyance, and visits were sometimes interchanged. Father Zenobe took up his residence there, was adopted into the family of a noted chief, made some progress in learning the language of the natives, and exercised among them, as well as he could, his missionary calling; but he confessed that their rude manners and mode of living were as much as his philosophy and Christian patience could bear. The good Father Gabriel remained at the fort, where he erected a chapel; and Hennepin rambled as his fancies moved him.
While one party was busily employed upon the fort, another was engaged in preparing timbers and planks for building a bark, or brigantine, forty-two feet long and twelve broad, with which it was intended to prosecute the discoveries on the Mississippi. The two sawyers had run away; but, after a little practice, two other men succeeded very well in supplying their place. Trees were burnt into charcoal, the smith went to work with his forge and hammers, and all hands moved with such alacrity and diligence, that in six weeks' time the fort was completed, and the vessel's hull stood on the stocks nearly ready for her masts and rigging. Planks were provided for a parapet around the deck, to ward off the arrows and other missiles, with which the natives might assail them from the banks of the river.
The men were encouraged, also, by certain savages coming from the south, who confuted Nikanape's stories about the terrible monsters in the river, and who said it was easily navigated, and nowhere obstructed either by falls or rapids.
It was obvious, however, that with the present