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It is unnecessary to specify the authorities for the introductory and subordinate portions of the narrative.
Meanwhile, in France, Huguenot influence, aided by ardent letters sent home by Villegagnon in the returning ships, was urging on the work. Nor were the Catholic chiefs averse to an enterprise which, by colonizing heresy, might tend to relieve France of its presence. Another embarkation was prepared, in the name of Henry the Second, under Bois-Lecomte, a nephew of Villegagnon. Most of the emigrants were Huguenots. Geneva sent a large deputation, and among them several ministers, full of zeal for their land of promise and their new church in the wilderness. There were five young women, also, with a matron to watch over them. Soldiers, emigrants, and sailors, two hundred and ninety in all, were embarked in three vessels; and, to the sound of cannon, drums, fifes, and trumpets, they unfurled their sails at Honfleur. They were no sooner on the high seas than the piratical character of the Norman sailors, in no way exceptional at that day, began to declare itself. They hailed every vessel weaker than themselves, pretended to be short of provisions, and demanded leave to buy them; then, boarding the stranger, plundered her from stem to stern. After a passage of four months, on the ninth of March, 1557, they entered the port of Ganabara, and saw the fleur-de-lis floating above the walls of Fort Coligny. Amid salutes of cannon, the boats, crowded with sea-worn emigrants, moved towards the landing. It was an edifying scene when Villegagnon, in the picturesque attire which marked the warlike nobles of the period, came down to the shore to greet the sombre ministers of Calvin. With hands uplifted and eyes raised to heaven, he bade them welcome to the new asylum of the faithful; then launched into a long harangue full of zeal and unction. His discourse finished, he led the way to the dining-hall. If the redundancy of spiritual aliment had surpassed their expectations, the ministers were little prepared for the meagre provision which awaited their temporal cravings; for, with appetites whetted by the sea, they found themselves seated at a board whereof, as one of them complains the choicest dish was a dried fish, and the only beverage rain-water. They found their consolation in the inward graces of the commandant, whom they likened to the Apostle Paul.
Qui toujours chante, toujours rit,"
Ranging the woods, they found them full of game, wild turkeys and partridges, bears and lynxes. Two deer, of unusual size, leaped from the underbrush. Cross-bow and arquebuse were brought to the level; but the Huguenot captain, "moved with the singular fairness and bigness of them," forbade his men to shoot.
After the carousal they returned to Charlesfort, where they were soon pinched with hunger. The Indians, never niggardly of food, brought them supplies as long as their own lasted; but the harvest was not yet ripe, and their means did not match their good-will. They told the French of two other kings, Ouade and Couexis, who dwelt towards the south, and were rich beyond belief in maize, beans, and squashes. The mendicant colonists embarked without delay, and, with an Indian guide, steered for the wigwams of these potentates, not by the open sea, but by a perplexing inland navigation, including, as it seems, Calibogue Sound and neighboring waters. Reaching the friendly villages, on or near the Savannah, they were feasted to repletion, and their boat was laden with vegetables and corn. They returned rejoicing; but their joy was short. Their store-house at Charlesfort, taking fire in the night, burned to the ground, and with it their newly acquired stock.
These savages belonged to one of the confederacies into which the native tribes of Florida were divided, and with three of which the French came into contact. The first was that of Satouriona; and the second was that of the people called Thimagoas, who, under a chief named Outina, dwelt in forty villages high up the St. John's. The third was that of the chief, cacique, or paracoussy whom the French called King Potanou, and whose dominions lay among the pine barrens, cypress swamps, and fertile hummocks westward and northwestward of this remarkable river. These three confederacies hated each other, and were constantly at war. Their social state was more advanced than that of the wandering hunter tribes. They were an agricultural people, and around all their villages were fields of maize, beans, and pumpkins. The harvest was gathered into a public granary, and they lived on it during three fourths of the year, dispersing in winter to hunt among the forests.
They reached Dominica on Sunday, the fifth of August. The chaplain tells us how he went on shore to refresh himself; how, while his Italian servant washed his linen at a brook, he strolled along the beach and picked up shells; and how he was scared, first, by a prodigious turtle, and next by a vision of the cannibal natives, which caused his prompt retreat to the boats.
A bold thought seized him. He would march overland with five hundred men, and attack Fort Caroline while its defenders were absent. First he ordered a mass, and then he called a council. Doubtless it was in that great Indian lodge of Seloy, where he had made his headquarters; and here, in this dim and smoky abode, nobles, officers, and priests gathered at his summons. There were fears and doubts and murmurings, but Menendez was desperate; not with the mad desperation that strikes wildly and at random, but the still white heat that melts and burns and seethes with a steady, unquenchable fierceness. "Comrades," he said, "the time has come to show our courage and our zeal. This is God's war, and we must not flinch. It is a war with Lutherans, and we must wage it with blood and fire."
To relate with precision the fortunes of these unhappy men is impossible; for henceforward the French narratives are no longer the narratives of eye-witnesses.
The wealth of the Indies was pouring into the coffers of Charles the Fifth, and the exploits of Cortes had given new lustre to his crown. Francis the First begrudged his hated rival the glories and profits of the New World. He would fain have his share of the prize; and Verrazzano, with four ships, was despatched to seek out a passage westward to the rich kingdom of Cathay.
The ancient town of St. Malo—thrust out like a buttress into the sea, strange and grim of aspect, breathing war front its walls and battlements of ragged stone, a stronghold of privateers, the home of a race whose intractable and defiant independence neither time nor change has subdued—has been for centuries a nursery of hardy mariners. Among the earliest and most eminent on its list stands the name of Jacques Cartier. His portrait hangs in the town-hall of St. Malo,—bold, keen features bespeaking a spirit not apt to quail before the wrath of man or of the elements. In him Chabot found a fit agent of his design, if, indeed, its suggestion is not due to the Breton navigator.
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