Now, leaving the river behind, they entered those savage highlands whence issue the springs of the St. John, — a wilderness of rugged mountain-ranges, clad in dense, continuous forests, with no human tenant but this troop of miserable rovers.
Previously in The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth Century.
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On a morning in the latter part of October, Le Jeune embarked with the Indians, twenty in all, men, women, and children. No other Frenchman was of the party. Champlain bade him an anxious farewell, and commended him to the care of his red associates, who had taken charge of his store of biscuit, flour, corn, prunes, and turnips, to which, in an evil hour, his friends had persuaded him to add a small keg of wine. The canoes glided along the wooded shore of the Island of Orleans, and the party landed, towards evening, on the small island immediately below. Le Jeune was delighted with the spot, and the wild beauties of the autumnal sunset.
His reflections, however, were soon interrupted.
While the squaws were setting up their bark lodges, and Mestigoit was shooting wild-fowl for supper, Pierre returned to the canoes, tapped the keg of wine, and soon fell into the mud, helplessly drunk. Revived by the immersion, he next appeared at the camp, foaming at the mouth, threw down the lodges, overset the kettle, and chased the shrieking squaws into the woods. His brother Mestigoit rekindled the fire, and slung the kettle anew; when Pierre, who meanwhile had been raving like a madman along the shore, reeled in a fury to the spot to repeat his former exploit. Mestigoit anticipated him, snatched the kettle from the fire, and threw the scalding contents in his face. “He was never so well washed before in his life,” says Le Jeune; “he lost all the skin of his face and breast. Would to God his heart had changed also!”  He roared in his frenzy for a hatchet to kill the missionary, who therefore thought it prudent to spend the night in the neighboring woods. Here he stretched himself on the earth, while a charitable squaw covered him with a sheet of birch-bark. “Though my bed,” he writes, “had not been made up since the creation of the world, it was not hard enough to prevent me from sleeping.”
[“Iamais il ne fut si bien laué, il changea de peau en la face et en tout l’estomach: pleust ŕ Dieu que son ame eust changé aussi bien que son corps!” — Relation, 1634, 59.]
Such was his initiation into Indian winter life. Passing over numerous adventures by water and land, we find the party, on the twelfth of November, leaving their canoes on an island, and wading ashore at low tide over the flats to the southern bank of the St. Lawrence. As two other bands had joined them, their number was increased to forty-five persons. Now, leaving the river behind, they entered those savage highlands whence issue the springs of the St. John, — a wilderness of rugged mountain-ranges, clad in dense, continuous forests, with no human tenant but this troop of miserable rovers, and here and there some kindred band, as miserable as they. Winter had set in, and already dead Nature was sheeted in funereal white. Lakes and ponds were frozen, rivulets sealed up, torrents encased with stalactites of ice; the black rocks and the black trunks of the pine-trees were beplastered with snow, and its heavy masses crushed the dull green boughs into the drifts beneath. The forest was silent as the grave.
Through this desolation the long file of Indians made its way, all on snow-shoes, each man, woman, and child bending under a heavy load, or dragging a sledge, narrow, but of prodigious length. They carried their whole wealth with them, on their backs or on their sledges, — kettles, axes, hides of meat, if such they had, and huge rolls of birch-bark for covering their wigwams. The Jesuit was loaded like the rest. The dogs alone floundered through the drifts unburdened. There was neither path nor level ground. Descending, climbing, stooping beneath half-fallen trees, clambering over piles of prostrate trunks, struggling through matted cedar-swamps, threading chill ravines, and crossing streams no longer visible, they toiled on till the day began to decline, then stopped to encamp.  Burdens were thrown down, and sledges unladen. The squaws, with knives and hatchets, cut long poles of birch and spruce saplings; while the men, with snow-shoes for shovels, cleared a round or square space in the snow, which formed an upright wall three or four feet high, inclosing the area of the wigwam. On one side, a passage was cut for an entrance, and the poles were planted around the top of the wall of snow, sloping and converging. On these poles were spread the sheets of birch-bark; a bear-skin was hung in the passage-way for a door; the bare ground within and the surrounding snow were covered with spruce boughs; and the work was done.
[1 “S’il arriuoit quelque dégel, ô Dieu quelle peine! Il me sembloit que ie marchois sur vn chemin de verre qui se cassoit ŕ tous coups soubs mes pieds: la neige congelée venant ŕ s’amollir, tomboit et s’enfonçoit par esquarres ou grandes pieces, et nous en auions bien souuent iusques aux genoux, quelquefois iusqu’ŕ la ceinture. Que s’il y auoit de la peine ŕ tomber, il y en auoit encor plus ŕ se retirer: car nos raquettes se chargeoient de neiges et se rendoient si pesantes, que quand vous veniez ŕ les retirer il vous sembloit qu’on vous tiroit les iambes pour vous démembrer. I’en ay veu qui glissoient tellement soubs des souches enseuelies soubs la neige, qu’ils ne pouuoient tirer ny iambes ny raquettes sans secours: or figurez vous maintenant vne personne chargée comme vn mulet, et iugez si la vie des Sauuages est douce.” — Relation, 1634, 67.]
This usually occupied about three hours, during which Le Jeune, spent with travel, and weakened by precarious and unaccustomed fare, had the choice of shivering in idleness, or taking part in a labor which fatigued, without warming, his exhausted frame. The sorcerer’s wife was in far worse case. Though in the extremity of a mortal sickness, they left her lying in the snow till the wigwam was made, — without a word, on her part, of remonstrance or complaint. Le Jeune, to the great ire of her husband, sometimes spent the interval in trying to convert her; but she proved intractable, and soon died unbaptized.
Thus lodged, they remained so long as game could be found within a circuit of ten or twelve miles, and then, subsistence failing, removed to another spot. Early in the winter, they hunted the beaver and the Canada porcupine; and, later, in the season of deep snows, chased the moose and the caribou.
Put aside the bear-skin, and enter the hut. Here, in a space some thirteen feet square, were packed nineteen savages, men, women, and children, with their dogs, crouched, squatted, coiled like hedgehogs, or lying on their backs, with knees drawn up perpendicularly to keep their feet out of the fire. Le Jeune, always methodical, arranges the grievances inseparable from these rough quarters under four chief heads, — Cold, Heat, Smoke, and Dogs. The bark covering was full of crevices, through which the icy blasts streamed in upon him from all sides; and the hole above, at once window and chimney, was so large, that, as he lay, he could watch the stars as well as in the open air. While the fire in the midst, fed with fat pine-knots, scorched him on one side, on the other he had much ado to keep himself from freezing. At times, however, the crowded hut seemed heated to the temperature of an oven. But these evils were light, when compared to the intolerable plague of smoke. During a snow-storm, and often at other times, the wigwam was filled with fumes so dense, stifling, and acrid, that all its inmates were forced to lie flat on their faces, breathing through mouths in contact with the cold earth. Their throats and nostrils felt as if on fire; their scorched eyes streamed with tears; and when Le Jeune tried to read, the letters of his breviary seemed printed in blood. The dogs were not an unmixed evil, for, by sleeping on and around him, they kept him warm at night; but, as an offset to this good service, they walked, ran, and jumped over him as he lay, snatched the food from his birchen dish, or, in a mad rush at some bone or discarded morsel, now and then overset both dish and missionary.
Sometimes of an evening he would leave the filthy den, to read his breviary in peace by the light of the moon. In the forest around sounded the sharp crack of frost-riven trees; and from the horizon to the zenith shot up the silent meteors of the northern lights, in whose fitful flashings the awe-struck Indians beheld the dancing of the spirits of the dead. The cold gnawed him to the bone; and, his devotions over, he turned back shivering. The illumined hut, from many a chink and crevice, shot forth into the gloom long streams of light athwart the twisted boughs. He stooped and entered. All within glowed red and fiery around the blazing pine-knots where, like brutes in their kennel, were gathered the savage crew. He stepped to his place, over recumbent bodies and leggined and moccasined limbs, and seated himself on the carpet of spruce boughs. Here a tribulation awaited him, the crowning misery of his winter-quarters, — worse, as he declares, than cold, heat, and dogs.
Of the three brothers who had invited him to join the party, one, we have seen, was the hunter, Mestigoit; another, the sorcerer; and the third, Pierre, whom, by reason of his falling away from the Faith, Le Jeune always mentions as the Apostate. He was a weak-minded young Indian, wholly under the influence of his brother, the sorcerer, who, if not more vicious, was far more resolute and wily. From the antagonism of their respective professions, the sorcerer hated the priest, who lost no opportunity of denouncing his incantations, and who ridiculed his perpetual singing and drumming as puerility and folly. The former, being an indifferent hunter, and disabled by a disease which he had contracted, depended for subsistence on his credit as a magician; and, in undermining it, Le Jeune not only outraged his pride, but threatened his daily bread.  He used every device to retort ridicule on his rival. At the outset, he had proffered his aid to Le Jeune in his study of the Algonquin; and, like the Indian practical jokers of Acadia in the case of Father Biard, [See “Pioneers of France,” 268.] palmed off upon him the foulest words in the language as the equivalent of things spiritual. Thus it happened, that, while the missionary sought to explain to the assembled wigwam some point of Christian doctrine, he was interrupted by peals of laughter from men, children, and squaws. And now, as Le Jeune took his place in the circle, the sorcerer bent upon him his malignant eyes, and began that course of rude bantering which filled to overflowing the cup of the Jesuit’s woes. All took their cue from him, and made their afflicted guest the butt of their inane witticisms. “Look at him! His face is like a dog’s!” — “His head is like a pumpkin!” — “He has a beard like a rabbit’s!” The missionary bore in silence these and countless similar attacks; indeed, so sorely was he harassed, that, lest he should exasperate his tormentor, he sometimes passed whole days without uttering a word. 
[1 “Ie ne laissois perdre aucune occasion de le conuaincre de niaiserie et de puerilité, mettant au iour l’impertinence de ses superstitions: or c’estoit luy arracher l’ame du corps par violence: car comme il ne sçauroit plus chasser, il fait plus que iamais du Prophete et du Magicien pour conseruer son credit, et pour auoir les bons morceaux; si bien qu’esbranlant son authorité qui se va perdant tous les iours, ie le touchois ŕ la prunelle de l’œil.” — Relation, 1634, 56.]
[2 Relation, 1634, 207 (Cramoisy). “Ils me chargeoient incessament de mille brocards & de mille injures; je me suis veu en tel estat, que pour ne les aigrir, je passois les jours entiers sans ouvrir la bouche.” Here follows the abuse, in the original Indian, with French translations. Le Jeune’s account of his experiences is singularly graphic. The following is his summary of his annoyances: —
“Or ce miserable homme” (the sorcerer), “& la fumée m’ont esté les deux plus grands tourmens que i’aye enduré parmy ces Barbares: ny le froid, ny le chaud, ny l’incommodité des chiens, ny coucher ŕ l’air, ny dormir sur un lict de terre, ny la posture qu’il faut tousiours tenir dans leurs cabanes, se ramassans en peloton, ou se couchans, ou s’asseans sans siege & sans mattelas, ny la faim, ny la soif, ny la pauureté & saleté de leur boucan, ny la maladie, tout cela ne m’a semblé que ieu ŕ comparaison de la fumée & de la malice du Sorcier.” — Relation, 1634, 201 (Cramoisy).]
– The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth Century, Chapter 4 by Francis Parkman
The below is from Francis Parkman’s Introduction.
If, at times, it may seem that range has been allowed to fancy, it is so in appearance only; since the minutest details of narrative or description rest on authentic documents or on personal observation.
Faithfulness to the truth of history involves far more than a research, however patient and scrupulous, into special facts. Such facts may be detailed with the most minute exactness, and yet the narrative, taken as a whole, may be unmeaning or untrue. The narrator must seek to imbue himself with the life and spirit of the time. He must study events in their bearings near and remote; in the character, habits, and manners of those who took part in them, he must himself be, as it were, a sharer or a spectator of the action he describes.
With respect to that special research which, if inadequate, is still in the most emphatic sense indispensable, it has been the writer’s aim to exhaust the existing material of every subject treated. While it would be folly to claim success in such an attempt, he has reason to hope that, so far at least as relates to the present volume, nothing of much importance has escaped him. With respect to the general preparation just alluded to, he has long been too fond of his theme to neglect any means within his reach of making his conception of it distinct and true.