Lalemant, a man of gentle, refined character, as delicate as Brebeuf was robust, also endured the torture. But the savages administered it to him with a refinement of cruelty, and kept him alive for fourteen hours. Then at last he, too, entered into his rest.
Ten years before Brebeuf had made a vow to Christ: ’Never to shrink from martyrdom if, in Your mercy, You deem me worthy of so great a privilege. Henceforth, I will never avoid any opportunity that presents itself of dying for You, but will accept martyrdom with delight, provided that, by so doing, I can add to Your glory. From this day, my Lord Jesus Christ, I cheerfully yield unto You my life, with the hope that You will grant me the grace to die for You, since You have deigned to die for me. Grant me, O Lord, so to live, that You may deem me worthy to die a martyr’s death Thus my Lord, I take Your chalice, and call upon Your name. Jesu! Jesu! Jesu!’ How nobly this vow was kept.
THE DISPERSION OF THE HURONS
Meanwhile at Ste Marie Ragueneau and his companions learned from Huron fugitives of the fate of their comrades; and waited, hourly expecting to be attacked. The priests were attended by about twoscore armed Frenchmen. All day and all night the anxious fathers prayed and stood on guard. In the morning three hundred Huron warriors came to their relief, bringing the welcome news that the Hurons were assembling in force to give battle to the invaders. These Hurons were just in time to fall in with a party of Iroquois, already on the way to Ste Marie. An encounter in the woods followed. At first some of the Hurons were driven back; but straight-away others of their band rushed to the rescue; and the Iroquois in turn ran for shelter behind the shattered palisades of St Louis. The Hurons followed, and finally put the enemy to rout and remained in possession of the place.
Now followed an Indian battle of almost unparalleled ferocity. Never did Huron warriors fight better than in this conflict at the death-hour of their nation. Against the Hurons within the palisades came the Iroquois in force from St Ignace. All day long, in and about the walls of St Louis, the battle raged; and when night fell only twenty wounded and helpless Hurons remained to continue the resistance. In the gathering darkness the Iroquois rushed in and with tomahawk and knife dispatched the remnant of the band.
But the Iroquois had no mind for further fighting, and did not attack Ste Marie. They mustered their Huron captives—old men, women, and children—tied them to stakes in the cabins of St Ignace, and set fire to the village. And, after being entertained to their satisfaction by the cries of agony which arose from their victims in the blazing cabins, they made their way southward through the forests of Huronia and disappeared.