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Meanwhile the convicts watched in suspense for the returning sail. Days passed, weeks passed, and still they strained their eyes in vain across the waste of ocean. La Roche had left them to their fate. Rueful and desperate, they wandered among the sand-hills, through the stunted whortleberry bushes, the rank sand-grass, and the tangled cranberry vines which filled the hollows. Not a tree was to be seen; but they built huts of the fragments of the wreck. For food they caught fish in the surrounding sea, and hunted the cattle which ran wild about the island, sprung, perhaps, from those left here eighty years before by the Baron de Lery. They killed seals, trapped black foxes, and clothed themselves in their skins. Their native instincts clung to them in their exile. As if not content with inevitable miseries, they quarrelled and murdered one another. Season after season dragged on. Five years elapsed, and, of the forty, only twelve were left alive. Sand, sea, and sky,there was little else around them; though, to break the dead monotony, the walrus would sometimes rear his half-human face and glistening sides on the reefs and sand-bars. At length, on the far verge of the watery desert, they descried a sail. She stood on towards the island; a boat's crew landed on the beach, and the exiles were once more among their countrymen.
After leaving the priests, La Salle went to Onondaga, where we are left to infer that he succeeded better in getting a guide than he had before done among the Senecas. Thence he made his way to a point six or seven leagues distant from Lake Erie, where he reached a branch of the Ohio, and, descending it, followed the river as far as the rapids at Louisville,or, as has been maintained, beyond [Pg 30] its confluence with the Mississippi. His men now refused to go farther, and abandoned him, escaping to the English and the Dutch; whereupon he retraced his steps alone. This must have been in the winter of 1669-70, or in the following spring; unless there is an error of date in the statement of Nicolas Perrot, the famous voyageur, who says that he met him in the summer of 1670, hunting on the Ottawa with a party of Iroquois.
Here, one would think, is sufficient reason for rejecting his story; and yet the general truth of the descriptions, and a certain verisimilitude which marks it, might easily deceive a careless reader and perplex a critical one. These, however, are easily explained. Six years before Hennepin published his pretended discovery, his brother friar, Father Chrtien Le Clerc, published an account of the Rcollet missions among the Indians, under the title of "tablissement de la Foi." This book, offensive to the Jesuits, is said to have been suppressed by order of government; but a few copies fortunately survive. One of these is now before me. It contains the journal of Father Zenobe Membr, on his descent of the Mississippi in [Pg 247] 1681, in company with La Salle. The slightest comparison of his narrative with that of Hennepin is sufficient to show that the latter framed his own story out of incidents and descriptions furnished by his brother missionary, often using his very words, and sometimes copying entire pages, with no other alterations than such as were necessary to make himself, instead of La Salle and his companions, the hero of the exploit. The records of literary piracy may be searched in vain for an act of depredation more recklessly impudent.
 Beaver-skins and other valuable furs were sometimes, on such occasions, used as a substitute.The preparations hastily made for the latters comfort showed that the household was a wealthy one. Milesian carpets were hung in a semi-circle around the couch to shut out every draught of air, and beneath its ivory feet Babylonian stuffs had been spread to prevent any chill from the stone floor.