Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
This same mixture is reflected in the landscape, namely in Père
Mesnard's colony, which shows nature succumbing to the order of
Le Père Mesnard, suivant sa coutume journalière, avait à visiter les caba-
nes de son petit troupeau: il s'arrêta devant la croix qu'il avait fait ériger
au centre du village; il jeta ses regards sur les champs préparés pour la
moisson de l'été, sur les arbres fruitiers enrichis de bourgeons naissants;
il vit les femmes et les enfants travaillant avec ardeur dans leurs petits
jardins, et il éleva son coeur vers Dieu, pour le remercier de s'être servi de
lui pour retirer ces pauvres sauvages d'une vie de misère. [36; Pere
Mesnard had been according to his daily custom to visit the huts of his little
flock. He stopped before the crucifix which he had caused to be erected in
the centre of the village; he looked out upon the fields, prepared for the
summer crops; upon the fruit trees, gay with herald blossoms; he saw the
women and the children busily at work in their little garden-patches, and
he raised his heart in devout thankfulness to God who had permitted him
to be the instrument of redeeming those poor savages from a suffering
life. (60)]
The visuality of the description is underscored by the insistence on
Mesnard's view point ('il jeta ses regards,' 'il vit'), and the natural land-
scape transformed into a garden matches the natural Amerindians
transformed into Christians, as punctuated by the symbolic cross in the
centre of the village, an ideal scene befitting the French colonial vision
of the New World.
In the following sentence, however, as Mesnard contemplates the
cross, the ultimate Christian symbol, he sees another sign, a natural one,
foreboding death and destruction: 'Il jeta ses yeux sur le symbole sacré,
devant lequel il s'agenouilla, et vit une ombre passer dessus. Il crut
d'abord que c'était celle d'un nuage qui passait; mais quand, ayant par-
couru des yeux la voûte du ciel, il la vit sans nuages, il ne douta point
que ce ne fût le présage de quelque malheur' (36; He cast his eye on the
holy symbol, before which he knelt, and saw a shadow flit over it. He
thought it was a passing cloud, but when he looked upward, he per-
ceived the sky was cloudless, and then he knew full well it was a presage
of coming evil [60]). Mesnard's reading of the omen proves all too true as
the Iroquois tribe, whose chief is Françoise's father, attacks the village,
routing the Ottawas, wounding Mesnard, killing Eugène, and carrying
off Françoise, who is then burned for refusing to renounce Christianity
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