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gered for a short time, when the assassins compelled De Marle, who was not in the conspiracy, to put an end to his sufferings. That the rage of passion should drive these desperate men to so violent a deed, as that of the murder of Moragnet, is conceivable, because similar atrocities have been committed on other occasions; but what could impel them to involve in the same doom the innocent Nika and Saget ? For two years the faithful services of Nika had been unremittingly employed in providing the means of subsistence for them as well as for others. Why this black ingratitude and coldblooded barbarity? They afford a proof, that this crime was not the effect of a momentary impulse, but of a deliberate purpose. These men were the devoted though humble friends of the commander, whom they would defend in a time of peril, and who, if forced by necessity, might avenge his wrongs with a resolute arm.
As the conspirators had begun the work of blood, they laid a scheme on the spot for destroying the Sieur de la Salle, in conformity, it may be, with a previous design, and under the dread of suffering the just punishment of their guilt at his hands. They deliberated on the method of doing it for two or three days. Meantime La Salle expressed anxiety at the long absence of Moragnet, and seemed to have forebodings of some unhappy event, for he asked whether Duhaut and his associates had not shown symptoms of dissatisfaction. He feared, also, that the whole party might have been cut off by the savages.
Finally, he determined to go himself in search of them, leaving the camp, on the 19th of March, under the charge of Joutel.
He was accompanied by Father Anastase, and two natives who had served him as guides. After travelling about six miles, they found the bloody cravat of Saget near the bank of a river, and, at the same time, two eagles were seen hovering over their heads, as if attracted by food on the ground. La Salle fired his
which was heard by the conspirators on the other side of the river. Duhaut and Larcheveque immediately crossed over at some distance in advance. La Salle approached, and, meeting Larcheveque, asked for Moragnet, and was answered vaguely that he was along the river. At that moment, Duhaut, who was concealed in the high grass, discharged his musket, and shot him through the head. Father Anastase was standing by his side, and expected to share the same fate, till the conspirators told him that they had no design upon his life.
La Salle survived about an hour, unable to speak, but pressing the hand of the good Father to signify that he understood what was said to him. The same kind friend dug his grave, and buried him, and erected a cross over his remains. “ Thus perished,” says he, “our wise conductor, constant in adversities, intrepid, generous, engaging, adroit, skilful, and capable of anything. He who, during a period of twenty years, had softened the fierce temper of a vast number of savage nations, was massacred by his own people, whom he had loaded with benefits. He died in the vigor of life, in the midst of his career and his labors, without the consolation of having seen their results.” *
The conspirators all returned to the camp, and the grief with which the sad intelligence was
* In this account of the death and burial of the Sieur de la Salle, I have followed the narrative of Father Anastase. - Le Clercq's Etablissement, &c., Tom. II. p. 340. Joutel says that he expired instantly, and that “the body was stripped naked, dragged into the bushes, and left exposed to the ravenous wild beasts.” — Journal Historique, p. 203. — But he related what was told to him by others, and wrote from recollection; whereas Anastase was present, and has described what he saw and performed; and, as his authority is unquestioned, the account given by him would seem to deserve the most credit.
It is impossible to determine the precise spot at which this tragedy occurred. It was several days' journey west of the Cenis Indians, whose dwellings were on the River
heard by Joutel, Cavelier, and the others there, may be imagined. Attached and devoted as they had been to their commander, they had reason to suppose themselves destined to be the next victims of the murderers. Larcheveque assured Joutel, however, that if he said and did nothing to give further offence, he would be safe; and the same declaration was made to Cavelier. But the anguish they felt was not assuaged by the reflection, that they were now at the mercy of faithless and treacherous assassins, who, at any moment, in a fit of caprice, might perpetrate new crimes, as their passions or interests might dictate.
Duhaut assumed the command, and the confederates were for a time submissive to his orders. They seized upon all the effects of the Sieur de la Salle, and of those who had adhered to him, and then took up their line of march towards the villages of the Cenis Indians.
Trinity. The place was probably on one of the streams flowing into the Brazos, from the east, and not far from that river; perhaps forty or fifty miles north of the present town of Washington. It could scarcely have been farther eastward, though the event has generally been supposed to have happened on a branch of the Trinity.
Contention between the Conspirators. — Five of
La Salle's Party proceed to the Illinois, and thence to France. — The Chevalier de Tonty.
Error concerning a supposed Attempt of La Salle to find the Mines of St. Barbe. - Fate of the Colony at the Bay of St. Bernard. Conclusion.
AFTER a few days' march, they encamped not far from a Cenis village, and, as the provisions began to fail, Joutel, Liotot, Hiens, and Teissier, were sent forward with axes and knives to barter with the natives for corn and horses. They were successful in their trade, and went back with a good supply, except Joutel, who remained to collect a further stock. Among the Cenis he found three of the Frenchmen, who had deserted from the Sieur de la Salle on the former journey. One of them was named Ruter, a sailor of Brittany, and another was called Grollet. They had adopted the Indian costume, shaved their heads, painted their faces and bodies, decorated themselves with feathers, and in their appearance and manners could scarcely be distinguished from the savages.
While their powder lasted, they had made themselves of