Wordcarpenter Books
The Life of Radisson
 
 Chapter Nine
 
The War Continues

After eating the prisoners they had taken, the company found a village where they killed a woman with her child. When retreating from the village, about thirty men and women spotted them. In the skirmish that ensued, the Iroquois' guns proved to be the deciding factor. Taking five prisoners and killing two, most of the party escaped. Confiscating their booty, they found it to be a good haul: two sacks of corn, deerskins, a few pipes, some red and green stones, some tobacco powder, small loaves of bread, garters and necklaces made of goat's hair, some girdles, a small amount of coin from that country, and bows and arrows and clubs. On their heads they wore snakeskins with bear's paws, and some of them had very long hair. Radisson's company left for their fort, eating very little on the way.

Once back at their fort, they hunted for meat and slept, leaving the next day with all their new possessions in two big canoes and one small one. Paddling hard back to Iroquois land and trying to stay quiet with all their booty still in enemy territory, they finally reached the mouth of a large lake where they stopped to hunt salmon and sturgeon, filling their boats now that they were out of danger. More relaxed, they hunted as they moved eat, finding two women who had escaped Sanoutin's country, which was part of the Iroquois nation. They were tied up by Radisson's group and enslaved.

Now with five prisoners and twenty-two heads, the group traveled for nine days through dangerous places along the Niagara River reaching the precipice and horrible falling waters of Niagara Falls. Forced to portage with all their accumulated goods proved to be difficult but they made it to a large lake where they made more canoes, which alleviated the problem of weighed down boats. Radisson paddled with his brother in their own canoe with a male and female prisoner, four heads and much booty. Wandering several days past many islands, the group killed many bears and deer before going down a river to a place where they laid many beaver traps, eventually taking two hundred beavers. They fleeced off the skins and then kept moving east, running into some huntsmen who gave them news of their friends and family. They made haste to return to their village carrying all their luggage, proud of their success.

After four more days of travel they stayed with many Iroquois at a camp where there were many women, including Radisson's two sisters who came to meet them. They gave the girls two enemy heads but Radisson kept the woman slave for a present for his adopted mother. He learned that his father had still not returned from his war party against the French. There was nothing but singing and dancing upon his return. He had twenty beavers for his share, with two skins full of bear oil and deer grease. He gave his sisters six deerskins for them to make themselves coats, keeping the grease for his mother who valued it highly. They made their slaves carry the booty back to their village, all the way people made much of him me giving him respect deserving of a returning warrior. His two sisters fed him meat every time they rested, or painted his face or greasing his hair. At night they took pains to pull off his stockings and made him lie down by them, covering him with their coats as if the weather was cold.


 

 

Chapter Ten

The Hollanders 

The villagers gave the same scourging to the prisoners when they arrived as they had given Radisson when he had been brought back as a captive. This time however, Radisson was welcomed warmly. As he came near the village, a multitude of people came to meet them with great excitement, most of the rejoicing being for him.

"Dodcon!" they called him with pride, a word meaning ‘devil,' something of great veneration to the tribe only earned through valour. He showed great modesty, as warriors of the tribe do, as his mother greeted him with leaping and singing, accepting the woman slave he offered her to make sure she was not tortured like the others. Radisson's brother gave her two heads, which she accepted proudly. His brother's prisoner was burned and killed that day, and they divided up their booty, with Radisson getting his share of necklaces, girdles and pendants. Like a hero he entered a period of feasting after returning from the warpath against the Hurons, getting particular attention from the women of the tribe.

Having fattened up as much as he could, feasting and dancing and generally being full of mirth, there was talk about going to war against the Hollanders that lived in Fort Orange. Regular trade with them for beaver pelts had existed for some time, being only a day's journey from their village.

On the way to Fort Orange they arrived at a small settlement full of Dutchmen who looked down their noses at them. Radisson and his Mohawk brethren raided the village, looting their cupboards of food, and drank the wine they had there. Some of the Indians quarreled and fought with swords among themselves without any misdeed to Radisson. 

After four days traveling they reached Fort Orange, where they were very well received because of the beavers they had to trade. In return they were given prunes and raisons and tobacco. When Radisson and his brother went into the fort, he was still not recognized as a Frenchman. He met a Frenchman who spoke to him in the Iroquois language. This French trader knew the regular Mohawks who traded at the fort, and having never seen Radisson's face before, wondered if he were a stranger.

"I don't think I've seen you before," said the Frenchman. "Is this your first time here?"

"Yes," Radisson replied, also speaking in the Iroquois language.

"How did you fall in with these men?"  Radisson didn't answer him as he thought the Frenchman was being too forward and disrespectful.

"God damn Indians. Never get a straight answer from them. Always savages. Always dishonest!" The Frenchman spoke in French, to which Radisson replied in French.

"It's wise you say that in French because you would lose your head if you didn't."  When the Frenchman heard the fluent French coming from his mouth, he could believe it as Radisson was decked out with red paint and greased hair and the general regalia of an Indian. The Frenchman rejoiced and embraced him, crying out with such a stir that he thought him senseless.

"It's a shame," said the Frenchman, "that you have come to this, dressed and living as a wild man with a company of wolves." This caused Radisson to blush so much that he thought it matched the deep ochre red of the paint on his face. Both the French and the Dutch at the fort gathered around him and forced him to drink from their bottles.

"Listen Frenchman, if you need our service just ask," said one of the Dutchmen.

"I don't need your help," Radisson said. The Dutch and French followed him into the streets in a great squadron as if he were a monster of nature or a rare thing to be seen. Flemish women drew him into their houses as by force, giving him bread and meat and drink and tobacco.

Radisson went to see the governor of the fort, and told him of the life he led, of which he admired.

"I can buy you from the Mohawks if you want," he offered.

"No, I don't want to leave my family. They have been very kind to me. It would be loathsome of me to leave them." He also thought it wiser to wait for a better opportunity to escape to his country that was so far away. But he also believed that it was now his destiny to discover many wild nations, so he remitted himself to fortune and adventure of time as a thing ordained by God.

Overladened with abundant booty, they left the fort to live out the winter with their wives and sagamite hoping for a peaceful winter without any attacks by Algonquins or Europeans. Leaving Fort Orange many were sad seeing Radisson depart in a company of wolves, as the Frenchman had said. The truth was that Radisson felt sad leaving the fort and the people he had met. He could not stop thinking of the kindness the French had showed him at the fort, and the generous warmth of the Flemish women. He wondered why he had chosen to stay with such a barbarous nation who was the enemy to both God and man.

It only took two weeks after returning to the Mohawk village for him to regret his decision not to escape to the Dutch. In his filthy and cramped quarters he began to ponder an escape to Fort Orange and wondered how long it would take him to go alone. He knew now that with the Mohawks showing so much trust in him that he had a much better chance to get away and not be pursued than before.

Finally he resolved to returned to the warmth of the Flemish women who had been so nice to him as he now believed he could never be safe among a nation so full of revenge. He began to wonder what kind of revenge would happen to him if the Algonquins and French defeated them in a battle. He bitterly regretted letting a good opportunity slip through his fingers, which made him even more determined to make it right. His father was still away fighting the French so he waited for the right time to flee.

 

 
 
Table of Contents

           PART ONE: FIRST VOYAGE

          1 - Radisson's Capture by the Iroquois

          2 - How Radisson Earned Respect

          3 - Adoption into a Mohawk Family

          4 - His Escape

          5 - Recapture and Torture

          6 - Endurance

          7 - Acceptance

          8 - Going On the Warpath

          9 - The War Continues

          10 - The Hollanders

          11 - Escape to Fort Orange

         PART TWO: SECOND VOYAGE

          12 - Becoming an Interpreter for the Jesuits

          13 - "Mistrust is the Mother of Safety"

          14 - Meeting Old Friends

          15 - Reaching Onondaga

          16 - Conspiracy to Kill the French

          17 - Fleeing the Fort

          PART THREE: THIRD VOYAGE

          18 - Becoming a Les Voyageurs

          19 - Huronia Jesuit Mission and Brebeuf

          20 - Radisson and Groseilliers Go West

          21 - Reaching the Gateway to Lake Superior

          22 - Exploring Lake Superior

 

 
 

 
 

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