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DOLLARD DES ORMEAUX   ii

in mysterious silence, at others rending the air with their discordant war-whoops, they circled about for a time, taking in every detail of the surroundings, and at last attacked with characteristic fury. Happily the garrison was prepared, and the warriors were so warmly received that, after a sharp encounter, they were forced to retire with loss. One or two assaults repulsed in a similar manner, the besiegers resorted to their customary guile, approaching with a well-assumed air of frankness that had too often deceived the honest settlers in days gone by. To those who understood them, the pretence of a parley was merely a device to gain time, and indeed it was so now, for they had already despatched swift canoes to summon from the Richelieu Islands the tribe waiting to make descent upon the colonists. So reasonable, however, did the ex-planation of the envoys appear, that the Hurons in the fort were inclined to listen, but the white men, though consenting, prepared themselves for the inevitable. Not venturing to open the gate of the palisade, they stood upon a banquette of powder-kegs inside, and would have answered the eloquent harangue of their assailants over the top, but there was no time. Scarcely was the ceremonious discussion on one side of the


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