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Its webs of living gauze no more unfurl ;
Wrecked is the ship of pearl !
And every chambered cell,
Before thee lies revealed -
Year after year beheld the silent toil
That spread his lustrous coil ;
Still, as the spiral grew,
Built up its idle door,
Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee,
Child of the wandering sea,
Cast from her lap, forlorn !
While on mine ear it rings,
Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll !
Leave thy low-vaulted past !
Till thou at length art free,
THE DISCOVERY OF LAKE CHAMPLAIN.
BY FRANCIS PARKMAN.
It was past the middle of May, 1609, and the expected warriors from the upper country had not come ; a delay which seems to have given Champlain little concern, for, without waiting longer, he set forth with no better allies than a band of Montagnais. But, as he moved up the St. Lawrence, he saw, thickly clustered in the bordering forest, the lodges of an Indian camp, and, landing, found his Huron and Algonquin allies.
Few of them had ever seen a white man. They surrounded the steel-clad strangers in speechless wonderment. Champlain asked for their chief, and the staring throng moved with him toward a lodge where sat, not one chief, but two, for each band had its own. There were feasting, smoking, speeches ; and, the needful ceremony over, all descended together to Quebec, for the strangers were bent on seeing those wonders of architecture whose fame had pierced the recesses of their forests.
On their arrival, they feasted their eyes and glutted their appetites ; yelped consternation at the sharp explosion of the arquebus and the roar of the cannon ; pitched their camps, and bedecked themselves for their war dance. In the still night, their fire glared against the black and jagged cliff, and the fierce red light fell on tawny limbs convulsed with frenzied gestures and ferocious stampings; on contorted visages, hideous with paint; on brandished weapons, stone
war clubs, stone hatchets, and stonepointed lances; while the drum kept up its hollow boom, and the air was split with mingled yells, till the horned
owl on Point Levi, startled at the sound, gave back a whoop no less discordant.
Stand with Champlain and view the war dance ; sit with him at the war feast, – a close-packed company, ring within ring of ravenous feasters ; then embark with him on his harebrained venture of discovery. It was in a small shallop, carrying, besides himself, eleven Frenchmen. They were armed with the arquebus, a matchlock or firelock somewhat like the modern carbine, and from its shortness not ill suited for use in the forest.
On the twenty-eighth of May, they spread their sails and held their course against the current, while around them the river was alive with canoes, and hundreds of naked arms plied the paddle with a steady, measured sweep. They crossed the Lake of St. Peter, threaded the devious channels among its many islands, and reached at last the mouth of the Rivière des Iroquois, since called the Richelieu, or the St. John.
On left and right stretched walls of verdure, fresh with the life of June. Now, aloft in the lonely air rose the cliffs of Beloeil, and now, before them, framed in circling forests, the basin of Chambly spread its tranquil mirror, glittering in the sun. Shallop outsailed the canoes. Champlain, leaving his allies behind, crossed the basin and essayed to pursue his course ; but as he listened in the stillness, the unwelcome noise of rapids reached his ear, and, by glimpses through the dark foliage of the Islets of St. John, he could see the gleam of snowy foam and the flash of hurrying waters.
Leaving the boat by the shore in charge of four men, he set forth with Marais, La Routte, and five others, to explore the wild before him. They pushed their tedious
way through the damps and shadows of the wood, through thickets and tangled vines, over mossy rocks and moldering logs. Still the hoarse surging of the rapids followed them; and when, parting the screen of foliage, they looked forth, they saw the river thick with rocks, where, plunging over ledges, gurgling under drift-logs, darting along clefts, and boiling in chasms, the angry waters filled the solitude with monotonous ravings.
Champlain, disconsolate, retraced his steps. He had learned the value of an Indian's word. His mendacious allies had promised him, that, throughout their course, his shallop could pass unobstructed. But should he abandon the adventure, and forego the discovery of that great lake, studded with islands and bordered with a fertile land of forests, which his red companions had traced in outline, and by word and sign had painted to his fancy?
When he reached the shallop, he found the whole savage crew gathered at the spot. He mildly rebuked their bad faith, but added, that, though they had deceived him, he, as far as might be, would fulfill his pledge, To this end he directed Marais, with the boat and the greater part of the men, to return to Quebec, while he, with two who offered to follow him, should proceed in the Indian canoes.
The warriors lifted their canoes from the water, and, in long procession through the forest, under the flickering sun and shade, bore them on their shoulders around the rapids to the smooth stream above. Here the chiefs made a muster of their forces, counting twenty-four canoes and sixty warriors. All embarked again, and advanced, the river widening as they went. Great islands appeared, leagues in extent: Isle a la Motte, Long Island, Grande Isle. Channels where ships might float, and broad reaches
of expanding water stretched between them, and Champlain entered the lake which preserves his name to posterity. Cumberland Head was passed, and from the opening of the great channel between Grande Isle and the main he could look forth on the wilderness sea. Edged with woods, the tranquil flood spread southward beyond the sight.
Far on the left, the forest ridges of the Green Mountains were heaved against the sun, patches of snow still glistening on their tops; and on the right rose the Adirondacks, haunts in these later years of amateur sportsmen from countingrooms or college halls, — nay, of adventurous beauty, with sketchbook and pencil. Then the Iroquois made them their hunting ground; and beyond, in the valleys of the Mohawk, the Onondaga, and the Genesee, stretched the long line of their five cantons and palisaded towns.
At night they were encamped again. The scene is a familiar one to many a tourist and sportsman; and, perhaps, standing at sunset on the peaceful strand, Champlain saw what a roving student of this generation has seen on the same shores, at that same hour, -the glow of the vanished sun behind the western mountains, darkly piled in mist and shadow along the sky; near at hand the dead pine, mighty in decay, stretching its ragged arms athwart the burning heaven, the crow perched on its top like an image carved in jet; and aloft, the night hawk, circling in his flight, and, with a strange whirring sound, diving through the air each moment for the insects he makes
The progress of the party was becoming dangerous. They changed their mode of advance, and moved only in