Sunday, February 27, 2011

Maximum Massachusetts 11: As the Crow Flies

Western Nova Scotia
7 July 1705

The Reverend Cotton Mather was trying to decide whether listening to Taxous had been a good idea after all. Two months after the fall of Louisbourg, the Abenaki sachem had told him, "Crow, you are becoming known among all the nations. Men have come from the Seneca, from the Huron, even from distant western nations, to hear you speak of the Great Spirit. They travel for months to be here in Nova Scotia--" the Indian carefully pronounced the alien name for his country "--in the summer when you come to speak. You would spread the word of the Great Spirit and his lost son more if you left the coast and came inland." Eventually, Taxous had convinced the minister, and he had agreed that come the following summer, he would travel west from the Penobscott lands to those of the Iroquois nations, and spend a week there preaching the word of God.

Now, as he travelled the trackless wastes of western Nova Scotia with Taxous and half a dozen of his braves, Mather was having second thoughts. His route would take him dangerously close to French Canada, and France was still at war with England. True, the Marquis de Vaudreuil, Governor of New France, had not aggressively pursued war with the English. Equally true, there had been few Indian attacks on English settlers compared with King William's War (due in part to his own missionary activities, Mather was well aware). Still, there was always the chance that one of the Canadians would take advantage of his proximity and...

"Do not move!"

From behind a dozen hiding places, a dozen men bearing muskets revealed themselves to Mather and his escort. It took Mather only a moment to recognize them. It was Pierre Le Moyne, sieur d'Iberville, along with his three brothers and eight other Canadians.

"Once again, monsieur Arrateek," said d'Ibervillle in his heavily accented English, "you are my prisoner, and this time there is no Madockawando present to avert your fate!"

Taxous, who had been walking behind Mather, stepped forward to face the Canadian. "The Crow is under my protection, Gray Wolf," he said in Abenaki. "You may not take him."

D'Iberville shook his head. Answering in the same language, he said, "Ah, Taxous my brother, do not tell me that you too have fallen under this Devil's spell."

"The Crow put his own freedom at peril to win mine, when I was betrayed by the Pointy-Haired Chief of Port Royal. He believes in the words he speaks, and he makes those who hear believe them." Standing between d'Iberville and Mather, Taxous repeated, "The Crow is under my protection. You may not take him."

D'Iberville raised his musket, and the men with him raised theirs. "Take aim," the Canadian called out in French.

Mather echoed d'Iberville's earlier call. "Do not move!" The minister stepped from behind Taxous and said, "I will come." Seeing the concern in the sachem's eyes, he said, "I do not need your protection, my brother. I will come to no harm from the Gray Wolf."

"Are you certain of this, Crow?"

"Remember what came of the Gray Wolf's last attempt to capture me."

Then Taxous grinned, for all among the Abenaki knew how the Crow had first come among them, by the accidental agency of his captor d'Iberville. "Do you now say, Crow, that you will convert all the Canadians as you have the Abenaki?"

"If God wills it," said Mather.

"Very well then, Crow," said Taxous. "Go with the Gray Wolf."

As d'Iberville and his men escorted Mather away from the Abenaki, the Canadian said, "I heard your exchange with Taxous. If you try to sway even the meanest peasant in Quebec to your heresy, I will personally cut out your oh-so-famous silver tongue and send it back to Boston."

(Proceed to part 12 - The Great White Northern War)

1 comment:

Nancy Green said...

Shoulda cut out the tongue before 1692.
love your writing.