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Sthenelus would have liked to be public herald, but he was a cripple and the heralds, these sacred and unblemished men with the serpent staves, the friends of Zeus, must be persons without any physical defects.131 Therefore, like Lysiteles, he was obliged to wait until one of their more fortunately situated friends had been elected. Many of those chosen to fill public offices could have clerks, and to Sthenelus and Lysiteles, from whose houses smoke was never seen to rise, a clerks salary, though small, would have been a real blessing from the gods.
There were many embracings among the excited Frenchmen,many sympathetic tears from those who were to stay behind,many messages left with them for wives, children, friends, and mistresses; and then this valiant band pushed their boats from shore. It was a hare-brained venture, for, as young Debre had assured them, the Spaniards on the River of May were four hundred in number, secure behind their ramparts. The above, with much of what follows, rests on three documents. The first is a long letter, written in Latin, by Jogues, to the Father Provincial at Paris. It is dated at Rensselaerswyck (Albany), Aug. 5, 1643, and is preserved in the Societas Jesu Militans of Tanner, and in the Mortes Illustres et Gesta eorum de Societate Jesu, etc., of Alegambe. There is a French translation in Martin's Bressani, and an English translation, by Mr. Shea, in the New York Hist. Coll. of 1857. The second document is an old manuscript, entitled Narr de la Prise du Pre Jogues. It was written by the Jesuit Buteux, from the lips of Jogues. Father Martin, S.J., in whose custody it was, kindly permitted me to have a copy made from it. Besides these, there is a long account in the Relation des Hurons of 1647, and a briefer one in that of 1644. All these narratives show the strongest internal evidence of truth, and are perfectly concurrent. They are also supported by statements of escaped Huron prisoners, and by several letters and memoirs of the Dutch at Rensselaerswyck.
Who then were they, this chosen band, serenely conscious of a special Providential care? They were the pioneers of that detested traffic destined to inoculate with its infection nations yet unborn, the parent of discord and death, filling half a continent with the tramp of armies and the clash of fratricidal swords. Their chief was Sir John Hawkins, father of the English slave-trade.
At nine o'clock on the morning of the sixteenth of March, the priests saw a heavy smoke rising over the naked forest towards the south-east, about three miles distant. They looked at each other in dismay. "The Iroquois! They are burning St. Louis!" Flames mingled with the smoke; and, as they stood gazing, two Christian Hurons came, 379 breathless and aghast, from the burning town. Their worst fear was realized. The Iroquois were there; but where were the priests of the mission, Brbeuf and Lalemant?
All listened in breathless suspense. Then a rushing sound echoed through the increasing darknessa noise like a great body of men in motion, the hum of18 many voices, distant shouts, songs, and the clash of weapons. The din seemed to increase and draw nearer. Then flames glimmered, as though instantly covered by dark figures. It was like a living stream, that grew and widened till it surrounded the whole cliff.