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“I don't recollect it,” replied Doctor Worth. “Oh, you must,” said Uncle Jack. “It begins
When the Puritans came over,
Our hills and swamps to clear,
And Indians red as deer.""
“Oh, yes, I remember! There was something in it about
'... and tomahawks and scalping knives,
That made folks' heads look queer.""
“Indians! Tomahawks! Scalping-knives! Here, Doctor!” exclaimed May.
“Oh, yes. At one time there was nothing but Indians here,” was his reply.
“Who saw them first?” asked Ben.
“The French,” replied the Doctor, “in 1606, three years before Hudson discovered the river that bears his name.”
“Why did the French come over here, Doctor?” asked Ben.
“Let me tell you the story as given by Parkman in his ‘Pioneers of France in the New World.' You should know first, however, that Champlain and a number of other Frenchmen, who settled in
1606 at Port Royal in Nova Scotia where the climate was very severe, were the first white settlers in North America. Now, for Parkman: *
Champlain, bent on finding a better site for their settlement in a more southern latitude, set out on a voyage of discovery, in an ill-built vessel of eighteen tons, while Lescarbot remained in charge of Port Royal. They had little for their pains but danger, hardship, and mishap. The autumn gales cut short their exploration. ... Along the eastern verge of Cape Cod they found the shore thickly studded with the wigwams of a race who were less hunters than tillers of the soil. At Chatham Harbor — called by them Port Fortune
— five of the company, who, contrary to orders, had remained on shore all night, were assailed, as they slept around their fire, by a shower of arrows from four hundred Indians. Two were killed, while the survivors fled for their boat, bristling like porcupines with the feathered missiles. ...
He (Champlain) and Poutrincourt, with eight men, hearing the war-whoops and the cries for aid, sprang up from sleep, snatched their weapons, pulled ashore in their shirts, and charged the yelling multitude, who fled before their spectral assailants, and vanished in the woods. “Thus,” observes Lescarbot, “did thirty-five thousand Midianites fly before Gideon and his three hundred.” The French buried their dead comrades; but, as they chanted their funeral hymn, the Indians at a safe distance on a neighboring hill, were dancing in glee and triumph, and mocking them with unseemly gestures; and no sooner had the party re-embarked, than they dug up the dead bodies, burnt them, and arrayed themselves in their shirts. Little pleased with the country or its inhabitants, the voyagers turned their prow towards Port Royal, though not until, by a treacherous device, they had lured some of their late assailants within their reach, killed them, and cut off their heads as trophies.
* Copyright, 1885, by Francis Parkman. Used through the courtesy of Little, Brown and Company.
“So you see,” concluded the Doctor, “that the French were active in exploring. You might put it this way: The French, as explorers, were to the Gulf of St. Lawrence what the Spaniards were to the Gulf of Mexico.”
“Gideon and his three hundred',— I don't understand that allusion, Doctor,” said Ben.
“Well,” replied the Doctor, “the story is told
in the Seventh Chapter of Judges. Suppose you get the Bible, Belle, and read it to us.”,
So Belle got the Bible, and this is what she read:
And the Lord said unto Gideon, the people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine. own hand hath saved me.
Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early, from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.
And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee; the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.
So he brought down the people unto the water: and the Lord said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink.