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Yet the Colonial Minister regarded the plan with distrust. "Be on your guard," he wrote to Duquesne, "against new undertakings; private 87Early in February, three hundred men under Dorvilliers were sent by Frontenac to surprise the Iroquois in their hunting-grounds. When they were a few days out, their leader scalded his foot by the upsetting of a kettle at their encampment near Lake St. Francis; and the command fell on a youth named Beaucour, an officer of regulars, accomplished as an engineer, and known for his polished wit. The march through the snow-clogged forest was so terrible that the men lost heart. Hands and feet were frozen; some of the Indians refused to proceed, and many of the Canadians lagged behind. Shots were heard, showing that 300 the enemy were not far off; but cold, hunger, and fatigue had overcome the courage of the pursuers, and the young commander saw his followers on the point of deserting him. He called them together, and harangued them in terms so animating that they caught his spirit, and again pushed on. For four hours more they followed the tracks of the Iroquois snow-shoes, till they found the savages in their bivouac, set upon them, and killed or captured nearly all. There was a French slave among them, scarcely distinguishable from his owners. It was an officer named La Plante, taken at La Chine three years before. "He would have been killed like his masters," says La Hontan, "if he had not cried out with all his might, 'Misricorde, sauvez-moi, je suis Fran?ais'" [18] Beaucour brought his prisoners to Quebec, where Frontenac ordered that two of them should be burned. One stabbed himself in prison; the other was tortured by the Christian Hurons on Cape Diamond, defying them to the last. Nor was this the only instance of such fearful reprisal. In the same year, a number of Iroquois captured by Vaudreuil were burned at Montreal at the demand of the Canadians and the mission Indians, who insisted that their cruelties should be paid back in kind. It is said that the purpose was answered, and the Iroquois deterred for a while from torturing their captives. [19]

CHAPTER VI.[3] Ibid., 25 Oct., 1693.

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Just to live in the same house with Sallie's mother is an education.V1 refused to do. Pennsylvania and Virginia would take no active part, and were content with defending themselves. The attack on Fort Duquesne was therefore abandoned, as was also the diversion towards Quebec. The New England colonies were discouraged by Johnson's failure to take Crown Point, doubtful of the military abilities of Shirley, and embarrassed by the debts of the last campaign; but when they learned that Parliament would grant a sum of money in partial compensation for their former sacrifices, [388] they plunged into new debts without hesitation, and raised more men than the General had asked; though, with their usual jealousy, they provided that their soldiers should be employed for no other purpose than the attack on Ticonderoga and Crown Point. Shirley chose John Winslow to command them, and gave him a commission to that effect; while he, to clinch his authority, asked and obtained supplementary commissions from every government that gave men to the expedition. [389] For the movement against the forts of Lake Ontario, which Shirley meant to command in person, he had the remains of his own and Pepperell's regiments, the two shattered battalions brought over by Braddock, the "Jersey Blues," four provincial companies from North Carolina, and the four King's companies of 383 

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But the problem is, shall I add some hair?The straitdtroitwhich connects Lake Huron with Lake Erie was the most important of all the western passes. It was the key of the three upper lakes, with the vast countries watered by their tributaries, and it gave Canada her readiest access to the valley of the Mississippi. If the French held it, the English would be shut out from the northwest; if, as seemed likely, the English should seize it, the Canadian fur-trade would be ruined.[22] The possession of it by the French would be a constant curb and menace to the Five Nations, as well as a barrier between those still formidable tribes and the western Indians, allies of Canada; and when the intended French establishment at the mouth of the Mississippi should be made, Detroit would be an indispensable link of communication between Canada and Louisiana.