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this work was in progress, the Sieur de la Salle, taking fifty men with him, set out on a tour of discovery. He was unwilling to relinquish the hope that this bay, stretching far to the eastward, was in fact one of the mouths of the Mississippi. The captain of the Belle was ordered to sound the shores of the bay, and to sail along so as to hold communication with him. The fort was left under the command of Joutel, who was directed not to have any intercourse with the Indians.

Accompanied by his brother Cavelier, and by Fathers Zenobe and Maxime, he began his march, and explored the country around the west end of the bay, till he came to a river of considerable size, which he called the Vaches, on account of the immense number of wild cows, or buffaloes, seen on its banks. The name is still retained in the maps. On the western side of this river, six miles from its entrance into the bay, a place was found which he thought a better situation for an encampment, than the one first selected on the barren sand-hills near

He therefore sent the Sieur de Villeperdry back across the bay in a canoe, with orders for all the company to march and join him, except thirty men, who were to remain in the fort with Joutel. Not long afterwards, these men were ordered to follow. Stopping at Point

the sea.

Hurier, they took with them the party at that place, and about the middle of July the whole colony assembled at the new encampment on the River Vaches.

The Indians had hovered about the fort at different times in the night, howling like dogs and wolves, but had done no mischief. Two men had deserted; and the Sieur de Gros, while hunting snipes in a marsh, was bitten by a rattlesnake. At first the wound excited no alarm; but the leg gradually swelled, till the surgeon advised an amputation. A fever ensued, and he lived but two days. A conspiracy was likewise engendered in the fort. It was the plan of the conspirators to murder Joutel and others, and then to run away with such effects as they could carry. The plot was detected in time to prevent its execution.

A beautiful spot had been chosen for the new encampment. It was on an elevation near the bank of the river. Vast plains stretched away towards the west, covered with green herbage and tufts of trees; at the south and east lay the smooth waters of the bay, fringed with verdant borders; and northward the view extended over a wide expanse of prairie grounds, terminated in the far distance by a range of sloping hills and lofty forests. Such is the description of Joutel; and if the charms of nature, fair skies, and a bountiful clime, had been all that was needed to insure the happiness and fulfil the expectations of the colonists, they might here have sat down contented with the present, and cheered with encouraging hopes of the future. But with the burden that now weighed upon their spirits, the music of nature's harmony was discord in their souls.

Their first care was to erect a habitation, and to surround it with a

This was a work of incredible labor and fatigue. It was three miles to the nearest copse of wood in which timber suited to the purpose could be obtained. The trees were cut and hewn, and then dragged by the men over grass and weeds through that long distance to the camp. The carriage-wheels of one of the guns were used to aid the operation; but, with all the contrivances that could be devised, the toil was extreme, and some of the men sank under it. When the company first assembled at the new encampment, several of their number had died, among whom was the Sieur de Villeperdry, and within a few days thirty more followed them to the grave. These were mostly soldiers, some of whom had taken diseases at St. Domingo. The loss most lamented was that of the master-carpenter, who wandered from the camp, and was never again heard of. These continual inroads of death cast a gloom

new fort.

over the survivors, which depressed their spirits and abated their energies.

The mind of the Sieur de la Salle sustained this weight of cares with its accustomed firmness and constancy. He neither spared himself in the work, nor allowed the healthy and strong to be idle. Taking the place of the chief carpenter, he marked out the tenons and mortises, and prepared the timbers for the workmen. He also sent twenty men to bring away the remnants of the old fort, which was effected without difficulty by the Belle, and by a raft towed at its stern. The Vaches was navigable as high up as the new fort. The materials being thus brought together, the work went on with more speed, and it was soon in a condition for shelter and defence. It was named Fort St. Louis.

These preparations being made, in such a manner as to afford security to the colonists, his next design was to explore the bay, and to ascertain whether, in any part, it received a branch of the Mississippi. The illness of his brother detained him for some time, during which he made short excursions for several leagues around, merely to observe the country. It was not till late in the month of October that he was ready for this tour. He then departed with twenty men, leaving the fort and the colonists under the command of Joutel. He had also

resolved to make use of the Belle in this expedition, and he ordered the captain to sail up the bay, and to station the vessel near the western shore, and remain there till intelligence should be received from him. His clothes, papers, and other effects, were put on board, as he probably thought they would be more secure there than in the fort.

A discharge of five cannon was the signal of his departure. Crossing the River Vaches, he went down to the bay by land, and thence eastward along the shore, keeping in sight of two or three canoes, which contained a part of the company. In this way he proceeded to the place where the Belle was at anchor, and, wishing to know how near she could be brought to the land, he sent the pilot with five men in a canoe to take soundings. Night coming on, and their work not being yet done, these men went ashore, kindled a fire to cook their supper, and were so careless in keeping guard, that the savages fell upon them, and murdered every

Uneasy at their long absence, La Salle himself took a canoe, and went in search of them. He found their mangled bodies stretched on the ground, and half devoured by wild beasts.

He returned to the Belle, ordered the officers to remain in that place till they should hear


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