Pathfinders of the West eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 313 pages of information about Pathfinders of the West.

[Illustration:  One of the earliest maps of the Great Lakes.]

It was May, 1651, when he had first seen the turrets and spires of Quebec glittering on the hillside in the sun; it was May, 1652, that the Iroquois had carried him off from Three Rivers; and it was May, 1654, when he came again to his own.  He was welcomed back as from the dead.  Changes had taken place in the interval of his captivity.  A truce had been arranged between the Iroquois and the French.  Now that the Huron missions had been wiped out by Iroquois wars, the Jesuits regarded the truce as a Divine provision for a mission among the Iroquois.  The year that Radisson escaped from the Mohawks, Jesuit priests had gone among them.  A still greater change that was to affect his life more vitally had taken place in the Radisson family.  The year that Radisson had been captured, the outraged people of Three Rivers had seized a Mohawk chief and burned him to death.  In revenge, the Mohawks murdered the governor of Three Rivers and a company of Frenchmen.  Among the slain was the husband of Radisson’s sister, Marguerite.  When Radisson returned, he found that his widowed sister had married Medard Chouart Groseillers, a famous fur trader of New France, who had passed his youth as a lay helper to the Jesuit missions of Lake Huron.[2] Radisson was now doubly bound to the Jesuits by gratitude and family ties.  Never did pagan heart hear an evangel more gladly than the Mohawks heard the Jesuits.  The priests were welcomed with acclaim, led to the Council Lodge, and presented with belts of wampum.  Not a suspicion of foul play seems to have entered the Jesuits’ mind.  When the Iroquois proposed to incorporate into the Confederacy the remnants of the Hurons, the Jesuits discerned nothing in the plan but the most excellent means to convert pagan Iroquois by Christian Hurons.  Having gained an inch, the Iroquois demanded the proverbial ell.  They asked that a French settlement be made in the Iroquois country.  The Indians wanted a supply of firearms to war against all enemies; and with a French settlement miles away from help, the Iroquois could wage what war they pleased against the Algonquins without fear of reprisals from Quebec—­the settlement of white men among hostiles would be hostage of generous treatment from New France.  Of these designs, neither priests nor governor had the slightest suspicion.  The Jesuits were thinking only of the Iroquois’ soul; the French, of peace with the Iroquois at any cost.

In 1656 Major Dupuis and fifty Frenchmen had established a French colony among the Iroquois.[3] The hardships of these pioneers form no part of Radisson’s life, and are, therefore, not set down here.  Peace not bought by a victory is an unstable foundation for Indian treaty.  The Mohawks were jealous that their confederates, the Onondagas, had obtained the French settlement.  In 1657, eighty Iroquois came to Quebec to escort one hundred Huron refugees back

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Pathfinders of the West from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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