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6   THE RENUNCIATION OF

scribe," or to be held in slavery until death brought merciful release, for they were seldom heard of again. No treaty was sacred to them, and no argument that civilisation could use would make one binding. Scouring the country as they did and holding many peaceable tribes in apprehension, they had quenched the valued and kindly mission work of the French, butchering the missionaries, and for the time had al-most put a stop to the fur and other trades. The wonder was, in such circumstances, that the savages, who could so easily have wiped out the meagre population, had not done so; and the handful of heroic colonists and their priests did not hesitate to attribute their continued safety to the merciful providence of God, upon whom they depended with child-like faith for the only comfort they had. The French government had been implored again and again to send a regiment or two to protect them, but had not done so; and during the winter of 1659-6o, to their despair, it became known, through a Huron who had escaped from his Iroquois tormentors, that a descent of seven hundred warriors would take place in the spring, with the avowed object of exterminating the settlements.


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