Century of Conflict

By Joseph Lister Rutledge | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER VIII
GLEAM IN THE DARKNESS

The threat of famine continues owing to marauding Indians. Massacre at Pointe aux Trembles--the counter- thrust at Repentigny. Death of Bienville. Peter Schuyler attacks La Prairie, is routed by Valrenne. Quebec is fully fortified. Mantet leads attack on Mohawk towns. His success followed by the near destruction of his force through starvation. Frontenac uses a "glorious success" to impress the lake tribes. The trade of the colony restored. The first glimmer of returning confidence.

There was famine in the land, or something very close to it. The threat that might have reduced Quebec had Phips stayed a week longer, and that might have destroyed him in turn, was still a very present threat. Fields everywhere were lying fallow. Who was to cultivate them, with the stealthy shadows in the forests watching every movement? It was heavy work guiding a plow with musket always at the ready, and sown fields were scarce.

Out in the great gulf where the St. Lawrence meets the sea, English ships were watching as tirelessly as the Indian warriors, ready to pounce as opportunity offered. Perhaps one in three of the ships from France succeeded in running the blockade. It was the captured vessels that represented the food and arms that provided the margin beyond the bare necessities of survival.

With the coming of spring the Iroquois came again, not as cunning individuals looking for some small advantage, but in bands who were finished with their hunting and now turned to lordlier game. There were tragic decisions to be made. To leave the stockaded farm to work in the fields was to court a far from uncertain disaster. To do otherwise was to accept the almost equal threat of famine. In April the premier threat had ceased to be a promise and had become

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