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Such was the first civilized occupation of the region which now forms the State of Illinois. La Salle christened his new fort Fort Crvec?ur. The name tells of disaster and suffering, but does no justice to the iron-hearted constancy of the sufferer. Up to this time he had clung to the hope that his vessel, the "Griffin," might still be safe. Her safety was vital to his enterprise. She had on board articles of the last necessity to him, including the rigging and anchors of another vessel which he was to build at Fort Crvec?ur, in order to descend the Mississippi and sail thence to the West Indies. But now his last hope had well-nigh vanished. Past all reasonable [Pg 182] doubt, the "Griffin" was lost; and in her loss he and all his plans seemed ruined alike.
Now came another series of presents, seven in number,to restore the voices of all the missionaries,to invite the men in their service to forget the murder,to appease the Governor when he should hear of it,to light the fire at Sainte Marie,to open the gate,to launch the ferry-boat in which the Huron visitors crossed the river,and to give back the paddle to the boy who had charge of the boat. The Fathers, it seems, had the right of exacting two more presents, to rebuild their house and church,supposed to have been shaken to the earth by the late calamity; but they forbore to urge the claim. Last of all were three gifts to confirm all the rest, and to entreat the Jesuits to cherish an undying love for the Hurons. came to Canada it consisted, says Susane, of about a
In the morning, the party shouldered their canoes and baggage and began their march for the sources of the river Illinois, some five miles distant. Around them stretched a desolate plain, half-covered with snow and strewn with the skulls and bones of buffalo; while, on its farthest verge, they could see the lodges of the Miami Indians, who had made this place their abode. As they filed on their way, a man named Duplessis, bearing a grudge against La Salle, who walked just before him, raised his gun to shoot him through the back, but was prevented by one of his comrades. They soon reached a spot where the oozy, saturated soil quaked beneath their tread. All around were clumps of alder-bushes, tufts of rank grass, and pools of glistening water. In the midst a dark and lazy current, which a tall man might [Pg 167] bestride, crept twisting like a snake among the weeds and rushes. Here were the sources of the Kankakee, one of the heads of the Illinois. They set their canoes on this thread of water, embarked their baggage and themselves, and pushed down the sluggish streamlet, looking, at a little distance, like men who sailed on land. Fed by an unceasing tribute of the spongy soil, it quickly widened to a river; and they floated on their way through a voiceless, lifeless solitude of dreary oak barrens, or boundless marshes overgrown with reeds. At night, they built their fire on ground made firm by frost, and bivouacked among the rushes. A few days brought them to a more favored region. On the right hand and on the [Pg 168] left stretched the boundless prairie, dotted with leafless groves and bordered by gray wintry forests, scorched by the fires kindled in the dried grass by Indian hunters, and strewn with the carcasses and the bleached skulls of innumerable buffalo. The plains were scored with their pathways, and the muddy edges of the river were full of their hoof-prints. Yet not one was to be seen. At night, the horizon glowed with distant fires; and by day the savage hunters could be descried at times roaming on the verge of the prairie. The men, discontented and half-starved, would have deserted to them had they dared. La Salle's Mohegan could kill no game except two lean deer, with a few wild geese and swans. At length, in their straits, they made a happy discovery. It was a buffalo bull, fast mired in a slough. They killed him, lashed a cable about him, and then twelve men dragged out the shaggy monster, whose ponderous carcass demanded their utmost efforts.
At first the course of affairs was not eventful. On the 7th of May Pitt moved a series of resolutions as the basis of a Bill for reform of Parliament. The main features of this scheme were those of taking measures against bribery and corruption; the disfranchisement of boroughs when a majority of the electors was proved corrupt; and the addition of a hundred new members to the House of Commons, nearly all of them from the counties, except an additional member or two from the metropolis.
The Old Missions and the New.A Change of Spirit.Lake Superior and the Copper-mines.Ste. Marie.La Pointe.Michilimackinac. Jesuits on Lake Michigan.Allouez and Dablon.The Jesuit Fur-trade. The interior was finished after a year or two, with cells as usual. There were four chimneys, with fireplaces burning a hundred and seventy-five cords of wood in a winter; and though the nuns were boxed up in beds which closed like chests, Marie de l'Incarnation complains bitterly of the cold. See her letter of Aug. 26, 1644.