Radisson's Mohawk father
gave a big feast to 300 men one day, so his sisters bathed him and greased his
hair, gave him a new tunic and several wampum porcelain necklaces and bracelets
made of shell beads. His brother painted his face, put feathers on his head and
tied up his hair in the Mohawk fashion. His father gave him a garland for his
hair, a necklace that went down to his feet and his own hatchet.
"It's going to be hard for
me to defend myself against any encounter being so laden with riches," he said
to his brother.
At the feast his father
showed many demonstrations of valor, including breaking apart a kettle full of sagamite
(ground corn with meat and fish) with his hatchet. They sang, as was their
usual custom and were served orinacke (moose) and red deer mixed with
"Chagon Orinha!" they
shouted to Radisson. They sang some more well into the night until the banquet
was over and they went to thei quarters.
this time, Radisson was invited to go hunting with three friends of his in the
village. They desired to go far away where the hunting was good and wanted
Radisson to join them. He returned to his cabin to tell the old woman of this
hunting trip, so that she gave him three pairs of moccasins, a gun, and a sack
of meale. His two sisters walked him out of the village carrying his bundle
until the four men took leave of them. They walked without any rest all day and
for most of the next day, eating very little. When they reached a river they
built a canoe in two hours by hollowing out the trunk of a tree. They moved
down the river in the small canoe and came to a small lake where they went to
shore and immediately found deer tracks. There they waited quietly until they
found and killed the deer, which gave them food for the night.
next day two of the men went off to hunt and Radisson and the other man went
about their business to set traps for beavers throughout the area. About three
o'clock in the afternoon when they were returning to their camp, they came upon
a Huron Indian singing. He motioned to them in a peaceful manner, showing them
he was not an enemy. With Radisson helping with the translations, the Huron
told them he was chasing a bear and that he had already lost two of his dogs to
the beast. They three of them returned to the camp where they met the other two
hunters who had killed a bear, two deer and two mountain cats.
five of them sat as the food was being boiled and the Huron spoke to Radisson
in the Huron tongue.
"I was taken prisoner by the
Iroquois for two years before I escaped," said the Huron. "Thay are our sworn
enemy and I couldn't remain with them any longer being a slave."
Radisson told him he was
from Three Rivers.
"I have been to Quebec and
Three Rivers. The French are building a good town there. There are many Huron
there now because the Iroquois, armed with guns given to them by the Dutch,
have decimated the Huron. There are so few of us left." Without guns the Huron
could not defend themselves.
you love the French?" he asked Radisson.
you love the Algonquin?" was his reply.
was then that the Huron suggested that they escape to Three Rivers together
since it wasn't that far off.
comrades will not permit me, and they promised my mother to bring me back
again," Radisson answered.
would you rather live in bondage or have your own liberty with the French where
there is good bread to be eaten? Fear not. I shall kill all three this night
when they will be asleep, which will be an easy matter with their own
hatchets." Hearing them speak in Algonquin Radisson's three Mohawk friends
asked him what was said but told them some other story.
took Radisson some time to consider the proposal but after deliberation he
accepted the offer by the Huron to escape. After all, he thought, they were
mortal enemies of his country and had cut the throats of so many of his
countrymen, burned and murdered them. So with their bellies full, Radisson's
three companions went to sleep without a care.
The Huron nudged him awake
thinking he was asleep, got up beside the fire and looked at them for a moment.
The Huron took their hatchets from them as they slept and gave Radisson one of
them. For a moment he hesitated, as he stood over one of his friends asleep
beside the fire because they had never done any to him, but he struck him in
the head with the hatchet. It cut so deeply he couldn't disengage it from his
head. His friend rose up toward Radisson but fell back suddenly and made a
great noise, which almost woke up the third Mohawk. The Huron gave the third
Mohawk a swift blow with his hatchet, severely wounding him so Radisson shot
him dead. He was immediately sorry for what had transpired but he didn't have
time to repent.
Huron threw the three bodies into the river after cutting off the heads. After
taking their three guns, powder and shot, their two swords and hatchets as well
as their wampum jewelry and meat, they left in the canoe and crossed the river
where they spent the day in the woods about a hundred paces from the water's
edge resting under their upside-down canoes to battle the mosquitoes. That
night they traveled due east along the St. Lawrence River towards Three Rivers
for fourteen nights sincce it was only safe to travel during dark. For safety
they did not have a fire during their travels east as they could hear canoes
passing by from where they hid during the day in the woods. Finally they
arrived at Lake St. Peter at about four o'clock in the morning. They went into
the woods and made a fire and boiled some of their meat about two hundred paces
from the river. After eating they slept a little until Radisson was awakened by
us cross the lake to the French," he said.
there are still many enemies lurking around the lake and the riverside," he
replied. "We should wait until dark."
are passed danger," said the Huron. "Let us shake off the yoke of a company of
whelps that have killed so many Frenchmen and blackcoats,
and so many of my nation. Nay, Brother, if you come not, I will leave you and
will go through the woods ‘till I shall be over in the French quarters."
Radisson considered it but
had his doubts. If they were taken by Iroquois being so close to home due to
rashness, it would be too much for him, but on the other hand if his comrade
left him and the wind rose it would take him a long time to cross the lake. And
he didn't want to thought of as a coward by the Huron who had done so much to
help him escape, so he resolved to go with the Huron, believing that he would
abandon him there in the woods if he made it to safety.
Across calm water, they made
it about a third of the way towards the other side when Radisson saw a dark
shadow across the water.
"It's a company a buzzards,"
said the Huron, "a kind of geese." They went on a little more until it was
clear to them that it was the enemy. They turned around in haste and paddled
hard back to the shore from whence they came. No matter how hard they paddled,
the Iroquois gained on them. The Huron threw the three heads of the slain
Mohawk hunters into the water but when they saw the three heads in the water
they paddled even harder. When they were so close to shore that they could see
the bottom but still too deep to get out of the canoe, the Iroquois let go a few
volleys from their muskets mortally wounding the Huron who fell dead in the
canoe. The canoe was hit with holes from the bullets, which soon took on water
and slowed it down. Radisson shot back with his two guns but he was cut off by
one of their canoes juast as his was sinking. They pulled the Huron into one of
their canoes and then took Radisson to shore where he was sure he would die
On the shore where they
built a fire, they cut out the Huron's heart, chopped off his head, put it on
the end of a stick and carried it onto their boat. They cut off some flesh from
his body, broiled it in the fire and ate it. His comrade had been shot in the
chin, a bullet had passed through his throat and another in his shoulder, so
they only burned part of his body to eat, leaving the rest there. Radisson knew
that if the Huron had only been wounded, the Iroquois would have taken delight
in keeping him alive to burn him with small fires. It was a miserable end for
the man who had helped him escape.