RamblingSoul

28 alez."—Re

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ies, and sometimes to kill grasshoppers. And now it was whispered abroad that it was they who had bewitched the nation, and caused the pest which threatened to exterminate it. It was Isaac Jogues who first heard this ominous rumor, at the town of Onnentisati, and it proceeded from the dwarfish sorcerer already mentioned, who boasted himself a devil incarnate. The slander spread fast and far. Their friends looked at them askance; their enemies clamored for their lives. So

me said that they concealed in their houses a corpse, which infected the country,—a perverted notion, derived from some half-instructed neophyte, concerning the body of Christ in the Eucharist. Others ascribed the evil to a serpent, others to a spotted frog, others to a demon which the priests were supposed to carry in the barrel of a gun. Others again gave out that they had pricked an infant to death with awls in the forest, in order to kill the Huron children by magic. "Perhaps," 115 observes Father Le Merci

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in Heaven." [7] [7] "Le diable enrageoit peutestre de ce que nous avions placé dans le ciel quantité de ces petits innocens."—Le Mercier, Relation des Hurons, 1638, 12 (Cramoisy). The picture of the Last Judgment became an object of the utmost terror. It was regarded as a charm. The dragons and serpents were supposed to be the demons of the pest, and the sinners whom they were so busily devouring to represent its victims. On the top of a spruce-tree, near their hous

e at Ihonatiria, the priests had fastened a small streamer, to show the direction of the wind. This, too, was taken for a charm, throwing off disease and death to all quarters. The clock, once an object of harmless wonder, now excited the wildest alarm; and the Jesuits were forced to stop it, since, when it struck, it was supposed to sound the signal of death. At sunset, one would have seen knots of Indians, their faces dark with dejection and terror, listening to the measured sounds which issued from within th

28 described.

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itanies, mistaken for incantations by the awe-struck savages. Had the objects of these charges been Indians, their term of life would have been very short. The blow of a hatchet, stealthily struck in the dusky entrance of a lodge, would have promptly avenged the victims of their sorcery, and delivered the country from peril. But the priests inspired 116 a strange awe. Nocturnal councils were held; their death was decreed; and, as they walked their rounds, whispering grou

ps of children gazed after them as men doomed to die. But who should be the executioner? They were reviled and upbraided. The Indian boys threw sticks at them as they passed, and then ran behind the houses. When they entered one of these pestiferous dens, this impish crew clambered on the roof, to pelt them with snowballs through the smoke-holes. The old squaw who crouched by the fire scowled on them with mingled anger and fear, and cried out, "Begone! there are no sick ones here." The invalids wrapped their he

28 to his bro

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oked gloomily on the ground, and answered not a word. Yet nothing could divert the Jesuits from their ceaseless quest of dying subjects for baptism, and above all of dying children. They penetrated every house in turn. When, through the thin walls of bark, they heard the wail of a sick infant, no menace and no insult could repel them from the threshold. They pushed boldly in, asked to buy some trifle, spoke of late news of Iroquois forays,—of anything, in short, except

the pestilence and the sick child; conversed for a while till suspicion was partially lulled to sleep, and then, pretending to observe the sufferer for the first time, approached it, felt its pulse, and asked of its health. Now, while apparently fanning the heated brow, the dexterous visitor touched it with a corner of 117 his handkerchief, which he had previously dipped in water, murmured the baptismal words with motionless lips, and snatched another soul from the fangs of the "Infernal Wolf." [8] Thus, with t