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What ought not a man to be able to accomplish, exclaimed Deinocrates, when a woman can learn to leap so boldly between swords?
And Lycon laughed again.
The two priests left Sainte Marie on the second of November, found a Huron guide at St. Joseph, and, after a dreary march of five days through the forest, reached the first Neutral town. Advancing thence, they visited in turn eighteen others; and their progress was a storm of maledictions. Brbeuf especially was accounted the most pestilent of sorcerers. The Hurons, restrained by a superstitious awe, and unwilling to kill the priests, lest they should embroil themselves with the French at 144 Quebec, conceived that their object might be safely gained by stirring up the Neutrals to become their executioners. To that end, they sent two emissaries to the Neutral towns, who, calling the chiefs and young warriors to a council, denounced the Jesuits as destroyers of the human race, and made their auditors a gift of nine French hatchets on condition that they would put them to death. It was now that Brbeuf, fully conscious of the danger, half starved and half frozen, driven with revilings from every door, struck and spit upon by pretended maniacs, beheld in a vision that great cross, which, as we have seen, moved onward through the air, above the wintry forests that stretched towards the land of the Iroquois. With that, he gave them six fathoms of tobacco, [Pg 92] reiterated his assurances of friendship, promised that he would be a kind father so long as they should be obedient children, regretted that he was forced to speak through an interpreter, and ended with a gift of guns to the men, and prunes and raisins to their wives and children. Here closed this preliminary meeting, the great council being postponed to another day.
Champlain, who we are told "delighted marvellously in these enterprises," had busied himself throughout the voyage with taking observations, making charts, and studying the wonders of land and sea. The "horse-foot crab" seems to have awakened his special curiosity, and he describes it with amusing exactness. Of the human tenants of the New England coast he has also left the first precise and trustworthy account. They were clearly more numerous than when the Puritans landed at Plymouth, since in the interval a pestilence made great havoc among them. But Champlain's most conspicuous merit lies in the light that he threw into the dark places of American geography, and the order that he brought out of the chaos of American cartography; for it was a result of this and the rest of his voyages that precision and clearness began at last to supplant the vagueness, confusion, and contradiction of the earlier map-makers.
The whole room was laughing, Hilary loudest, but the youth's voice prevailed. "It'll hold good!" He turned upon the detective: "Won't it?"CHAPTER VIII.