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AZAKIA, A TALE.
THE ancient inhabitants of Canada, strictly speaking, were all savages. Nothing proves this better than the destiny of some Frenchmen, who first arrived in this part of the world; they were eaten by the people whom they pretended to humanize and polish.
New attempts were more successful. The savages were driven into the inner parts of the continent; treaties of peace, always ill observed, were concluded with them; -but the French found means to create in them wants, which made their yoke necefsary to them. Their brandy and tobacco easily effected what their arms might have operated with greater difficulty. Confidence soon became mutual, and the forests of Canada were frequented with as much freedom by the new inmates, as by the natives.
These forests were often also resorted to by the married and unmarried savage women, whom the meeting of a Frenchman put into no terrors. All these women, for the most part, are handsome, and certainly their beauty owes nothing to the embellishments of art: Much lefs has it any influence on their conduct. Their character is naturally mild, and flexible, their humour gay; they laugh: in the most agreeable and winning manner. They have a strong propensity to love; a propensity, which a maiden, in this country, may yield to, and always indulges without. scruple, and without fearing the least reproach. It is not. so with a married woman: She must be entirely devoted to him she has married; and, what is not lefs worthy of no tice, fhe punctually fulfils this duty.
An heroine of this clafs, and who was born among the Hurons, one day happened to wander in a forest that lay
contiguous to the grounds they inhabited. She was surpri sed by a French soldier, who did not trouble himself to inquire, whether she was a wife or a maiden. Besides, he found himself little disposed to respect the rights of a Huron hufband. The fhrieks of the young savage, in defending herself, brought to the same place the baron of St. Castins, an officer in the troops of Canada. He had no difficulty to oblige the soldier to depart: But the person he so opportunely saved had so many engaging charms, that the soldier appeared excusable to him. Being himself tempted to sue for the reward of the good office he had just rendered, he pleaded his cause in a more gentle and insinuating manner than the soldier, but did not succeed better. "The friend: that is before my eyes, hinders my seeing thee," said the Huron woman to him. This is the savage phrase for exprefsing that a woman has a husband, and that she cannot be wanting in fidelity to him. This phrase is not a vain form; it contains a peremptory refusal; it is common to allthe women of those barbarous nations; and its force, the neigbourhood of the Europeans, and their example, were never able to diminish.
St. Castins, to whom the language and customs of the Hurons were familiar, saw immediately that he must drop all pretensions; and this persuasion recalled all his generosity. He therefore made no other advances, than to accompany the beautiful savage, whom chance alone had directed into the wood, and who was afraid of new renconters. As they passed on, he received all pofsible. marks of gratitude, except that which he at first requested.
Some time after, St. Castins being insulted by a brother officer, killed him in a duel. This officer was nephew to the governor general of the colony, and the governor was as absolute as vindictive. St. Castins had no other resource than to betake himself to fight. It was presu
med, that he had retired among the English of New York;. which, indeed, was very probable; but, persuaded that he fhould find an equally safe asylum among the Hurons, he gave them the preference.
The desire of again seeing Azakia, which was the name of the savage he had rescued, contributed greatly to determine him in that choice. She knew immediately her deliverer. Nothing could equal her joy at this unexpected visit, and she declared it as ingenuously, as before she had resisted his attacks. The savage whose wife she was, and whose name was Ouabi, gave St. Castins the same reception, who acquainted him with the motive of his flight. "May the great spirit be praised for having brought thee among us!" replied the Huron: "This body," added he, laying his hand on his bosom, "will serve thee as a shelter for defence; and this head-breaking hatchet will put to flight, or strike dead thy enemies. My hut fhall be thine: Thou fhalt always see the bright star of the day appear, and leave us without any thing being wanting to thee, or any thing being able to hurt thee."
St. Castins declared to him, that he absolutely desired to live as they did, that is, to bear a part in their labours and their wars; to abide by their customs; in short, to become a Huron; a resolution, which redoubled Ouabi's joy. This savage held the first rank among his people-he was their grand chief-a dignity which his courage and services had merited for him. There were other chiefs under him, and he offered one of the places to St. Castins who accepted of the rank only of a private warrior.
The Hurons were then at war with the Iroquois, and were intent on forming some enterprise against them. St. Castins would fain make one in the expedition, and fought as a true Huron; but was dangerously wounded. He was brought back with great difficulty to Ouabi's house, on a
kind of litter. At this sight, Azakia appeared overwhelm ed with grief; but instead of vain lamentation, the exerted all pofsible care and afsiduity to be of service to him. Though she had several slaves at command, she depended only on herself, for what might contribute to the relief of her guest. Her activity equalled her solicitude. One would have said, that it was a lover watching over the precious life of her beloved. Few could help drawing the most flattering consequences, on such an occasion and this was what St. Castins did. His desires and his hopes revived with his strength. One only point disconcerted his views, which was the services and attentions of Ouabi Could he deceive him, without adding ingratitude to per fidy? "But," said St. Castins, arguing the case with himself, "the good-natured Ouabi is but a savage, and he cannot be so scrupulous herein, as many of our good folks in Europe." This reason, which was no reason in fact, appeared very solid to the amorous Frenchman. He renewed his tender advances, and was surprised to meet with new refusals. "Stop! Celario," which was the savage name that was given to St. Castins; "Stop!" said Azakia to him ; "the fhivers of the rod which I have broken with Ouabi, have not yet been reduced to ashes. A part remains still in his power, and another in mine. As long as they last, I am his, and cannot be thine." These words, spoken in 2 peremptory manner, quite disconcerted St. Castins. He dared not insist upon the matter farther, and fell into a melancholy reverie. Azakia was deeply affected by it. "What can I do?" said the to him; "I cannot become thy companion, but by ceasing to be the companion of Ouabi; and I cannot quit Ouabi, without causing in him the same sorrow thou feelest in thyself. Answer me, has he deseryed it?"—"No!" cried out Celario, "no! He deserves to be intirely preferred before me; but I must abandon his