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from him, and then went ashore with two
He caused the canoes to be sunk in a small creek, and, each man taking what he could in his knapsack, marched towards the east. In a few days they came to a large river, since known as the Colorado, which flows into the bay, and which they crossed. The particulars of this journey have not been recorded, either by Anastase or Joutel, as neither of them was of the party. But since its whole object was to discover one of the mouths of the Mississippi, which the Sieur de la Salle conjectured might fall into the Bay of St. Louis, it cannot be doubted that he passed around the eastern end of the bay, and examined all the rivers, so far as to satisfy himself that his conjecture was erroneous.
One man, named Duhaut, deserted the company after they had been several days out, and returned alone to the fort. He had given offence to the commander, and quarrelled with Moragnet, his nephew. On other occasions he had shown himself factious and troublesome.
After an absence of more than four months, La Salle was again received with joy by the colonists at the fort. Seven or eight of his men only came with him. The others had turned off from the track to go and search for the Belle, in the place where she had been left. Joutel represents their first appearance as forlorn and sad; their clothes ragged, Cavelier's short cassock hanging in tatters, some without hats, others destitute of linen. The rest of the party returned the next day; they could not find the Belle ; they had searched in vain along the shore; at the fort she had not been heard from ; and the melancholy conviction seemed to rest upon the minds of all that she was lost.
First Journey towards the Minois. — Cenis In
dians. - La Salle taken ill of a Fever near the Red River.- Returns to the Bay of St. Bernard. - Second Journey towards the Winois. Conspiracy against La Salle. - His Death.
SEVERAL days passed away, and, no news of the Belle having been obtained, the Sieur de la Salle was more deeply impressed than ever with the perplexities and perils of his situation. Hitherto his hopes had clung to this vessel, as affording the means of finding the mouth of the Mississippi by sea, or, in the last extremity,
procuring relief from St. Domingo, and of conveying a knowledge of his distresses to France. These hopes were now all cut off. Removed nearly two thousand miles from any civilized settlement to which he could look for succors, surrounded on every side by hostile savages, depending on chance for the daily subsistence of a colony which he was bound to sustain and protect, he had no other support left than the strong arm of a beneficent Providence, no other resource than the unsubdued energy of his own resolute spirit.
His usual calmness did not forsake him, nor was it a time to indulge unavailing regrets. One course only remained, which was to open a communication with the Illinois, and seek assistance from Tonty, his faithful friend, who was stationed there awaiting his orders. Through this channel, also, intelligence might be sent to France. He resolved to undertake this journey, and made preparations without delay. The party consisted of twenty men, including his brother Cavelier, Father Anastase, Moragnet, Bihorel, Le Clerc, Hurier, Hiens a surgeon, and Nika the Indian hunter, who had accompanied him from Canada to France, and thence on the voyage. Hiens was a German from Wittenberg, who had been a bucanier, and had joined him at St. Domingo. On the morning of the 22d of April, 1686, they performed their devotions in the chapel, and then took their departure from the fort, directing their course to the northeast.
The colony was left under the charge of Joutel. A few days afterwards, he was surprised to see a canoe coming up the river, containing Chefdeville, the Sieur de la Sablonnière, and others, who had escaped from the Belle. They told the sorrowful tale of the wreck of that vessel. It had been driven to the south shore of the bay, and stranded on the beach, three months before. Planterose and five others had been previously swallowed up by the waves, in a dark night, while returning in a canoe from the land, where they had been for water. Three or four died on board. The number of hands was thus so much diminished, that, when the winds rose, the bark could not be managed, and she ran aground. Several of the men perished on a. raft, which they had unskilfully constructed; and the remainder succeeded with difficulty in reaching the shore on another raft. They saved a small stock of provisions, and a few articles, among which were the Sieur de la Salle's clothes and papers. Here they continued, on a desolate strand, for three months, till a canoe accidentally floated to the beach, in which they returned to their companions at the fort.
Few incidents are related as having occurred during the absence of La Salle on this journey. The Indians sometimes assailed the hunting parties, but they made no hostile attempts upon the fort. The perfidious Duhaut stirred up a mutiny in the camp, which gave trouble to Joutel, but which, by a timely discovery, he was enabled to suppress. Yet he could not entirely assuage discontents, which were the offspring of heavy disappointments and hardships. But it was not all a scene of grief and gloom. The Sieur Barbier gained the heart of one of the young maidens, which furnished an occasion for the festivities of a wedding. Joutel was assisted in the arduous duties of his command by the counsels of Father Zenobe, a man of wisdom, fortitude, and expe
After three days' journey, the Sieur de la Salle met a party of Indians in the midst of a beautiful prairie, some on foot, and some riding on horses. These latter wore boots and spurs, and sat in saddles, which was a proof that they had a commerce, directly or indirectly, with the Spaniards on the borders of Mexico. They were peaceful and courteous, and invited the travellers to their village ; but, as this lay to the northwest, out of the track, the invitation was declined. The party took the precaution to fortify themselves that night, as they did afterwards, with palisades and fallen trees. Travelling for two days over prairie