Pathfinders of the West eBook

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

Radisson was deadly tired of the farce.  From first to last France had treated him with the blackest injustice.  If he had wished to be rich, he could long ago have accumulated wealth by casting in his lot with the dishonest rulers of Quebec.  In England a strong clique, headed by Bridgar, Gillam, and Bering opposed him; but King Charles and the Duke of York, Prince Rupert, when he was alive, Sir William Young, Sir James Hayes, and Sir John Kirke were in his favor.  His heart yearned for his wife and children.  Just then letters came from England urging him to return to the Hudson’s Bay Company.  Lord Preston plied the explorer with fair promises.  Under threat of punishment for molesting the English of Hudson Bay, the French government tried to force him into a contract to sail on a second voyage to the North on the same terms as in 1682-1683—­not to share the profits.  England and France were both playing double.  Radisson smiled a grim smile and took his resolution.  Daily he conferred with the French Marine on details of the voyage.  He permitted the date of sailing to be set for April 24.  Sailors were enlisted, stores put on board, everything was in readiness.  At the last moment, Radisson asked leave of absence to say good-by to his family.  The request was granted.  Without losing a moment, he sailed for England, where he arrived on the 10th of May and was at once taken in hand by Sir William Young and Sir James Hayes.  He was honored as his explorations entitled him to be.  King Charles and the Duke of York received him.  Both royal brothers gave him gifts in token of appreciation.  He took the oath of fealty and cast in his lot with the English for good.  It was characteristic of the enthusiast that he was, when Radisson did not sign a strictly business contract with the Hudson’s Bay Company.  “I accepted their commission with the greatest pleasure in the world,” he writes; “. . . without any precautions on my part for my own interests . . . since they had confidence in me, I wished to be generous towards them . . . in the hope they would render me all the justice due from gentlemen of honor and probity.”

But to the troubles of the future Radisson always paid small heed.  Glad to be off once more to the adventurous freedom of the wilds, he set sail from England on May 17, 1684, in the Happy Return, accompanied by two other vessels.  No incident marked the voyage till the ships had passed through the straits and were driven apart by the ice-drift of the bay.  About sixty miles out from Port Nelson, the Happy Return was held back by ice.  Fearing trouble between young Jean Groseillers’ men and the English of the other ships, Radisson embarked in a shallop with seven men in order to arrive at Hayes River before the other boats came.  Rowing with might and main for forty-eight hours, they came to the site of the French fort.

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Pathfinders of the West from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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