La Salle and the Discovery of the Great West (Modern Library Exploration)
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having lost his brother and his nephew.” The comic alternated with the tragic. On the twenty-third, they reached the bank of a river too deep to ford. Those who knew how to swim crossed without difficulty, but Joutel, Cavelier, and Douay were not of the number. Accordingly, they launched a log of light, dry wood, embraced it with one arm, and struck out for the other bank with their legs and the arm that was left free. But the friar became frightened. “He only clung fast to the aforesaid log,”
inured to labor, accustomed to the forest life, able to guide canoes and handle tools and weapons. In the earlier epoch of the missions, when enthusiasm was at its height, they were served in great measure by volunteers, who joined them through devotion or penitence, and who were known as donnés, or “given men.” Of late, the number of these had much diminished; and they now relied chiefly on hired men, or engagés. These were employed in building, hunting, fishing, clearing and tilling the ground,
Faith, taught them a prayer, and bade them farewell. The travellers next reached the mission at the head of Green Bay; entered Fox River; with difficulty and labor dragged their canoes up the long and tumultuous rapids; crossed Lake Winnebago; and followed the quiet windings of the river beyond, where they glided through an endless growth of wild rice, and scared the innumerable birds that fed upon it. On either hand rolled the prairie, dotted with groves and trees, browsing elk and deer.1 On
fainted several times, from famine and fatigue, but was revived by a certain “confection of Hyacinth,” administered by Hennepin, who had a small box of this precious specific. At length, they descried, at a distance, on the stormy shore, two or three eagles among a busy congregation of crows or turkey buzzards. They paddled in all haste to the spot. The feasters took flight; and the starved travellers found the mangled body of a deer, lately killed by the wolves. This good luck proved the
series of daring enterprises, of which the motives and even the incidents have been but partially and superficially known. The chief actor in them wrote much, but printed nothing; and the published writings of his associates stand wofully in need of interpretation from the unpublished documents which exist, but which have not heretofore been used as material for history. This volume attempts to supply the defect. Of the large amount of wholly new material employed in it, by far the greater part