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PIONEER SOLDIERS OF CANADA   J

 

party of Iroquois would paddle northward in their heavy canoes for a raid upon the villages of the Hurons and Algonquians, returning in due course with scalps, prisoners, and booty. At another time the war canoes would hail from the north, and the sinewy arms wielding the paddles would be those of Huron and Algonquian braves, come to wreak vengeance upon their hereditary enemies.

On July 29th, 1609, an Iroquois war party proceeding northward and a party of Algonquian Indians going in the opposite direction, both paddling by night in the hope of avoiding observation by enemy scouts, had, a couple of hours before midnight, sighted each other as the rival flotillas of canoes approached a point of land projecting into the lake from the western shore. The Iroquois at once put ashore and began to erect a rough barricade. Their foes remained all night in their canoes, dancing the war dance as best they could in such a confined space, shouting defiance at their enemies, and taunting them with cowardice. Shortly after daybreak they landed, and in a disorganized, irregular fashion advanced on the barricade. The Iroquois, who bore wooden shields and wore a species of wickerwork armour, scorning to avail themselves of the protection of the breastwork they had erected, rushed out to meet them, the warriors on both sides discharging showers of arrows, brandishing tomahawks and war clubs, and making the air hideous with blood-curdling war-whoops. The opposing parties were within easy bowshot distance of one another when the Iroquois were struck with amazement, if not with fear, by a startling apparition. From among their dusky, feather-bedecked, paint-bedaubed, shrieking enemies stepped forth a white man, bearded, clear of eye, erect, calm, self-reliant, a typical European soldier of the period. Plumed metal casque on head, body and thighs encased in polished steel armour, he must have afforded a striking contrast to his half-naked, bronze-skinned, boastful companions; and small wonder if his dramatic appearance caused consternation among the Iroquois. They paused


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