CHAPTER V. THE SECOND VOYAGE - STADACONA
At the time when Cartier ascended the St Lawrence, a great settlement of the Huron-Iroquois Indians existed at Quebec. Their village was situated below the heights, close to the banks of the St Charles, a small tributary of the St Lawrence. Here the lodges of the tribe gave shelter to many hundred people. Beautiful trees - elm and ash and maple and birch, as fair as the trees of France - adorned the banks of the river, and the open spaces of the woods waved with the luxuriant growth of Indian corn. Here were the winter home of the tribe and the wigwam of the chief. From this spot hunting and fishing parties of the savages descended the great river and wandered as far as the pleasant country of Chaleur Bay. Sixty-four years later, when Champlain ascended the St Lawrence, the settlement and the tribe that formerly occupied the spot had vanished. But in the time of Cartier the Quebec village, under its native name of Stadacona, seems to have been, next to Hochelaga, the most important lodgment of the Huron-Iroquois Indians of the St Lawrence valley.
As the French navigators wandered on the shores of the Island of Orleans, they fell in with a party of the Stadacona Indians. These, frightened at the strange faces and unwonted dress of the French, would have taken to flight, but Cartier's two Indians, whose names are recorded as Taignoagny and Domagaya, called after them in their own language. Great was the surprise of the natives not only to hear their own speech, but also to recognize in Taignoagny and Domagaya two members of their own tribe. The two guides, so far as we can judge from Cartier's narrative, had come down from the Huron-Iroquois settlements on the St Lawrence to the Gaspe country, whence Cartier had carried them to France. Their friends now surrounded them with tumultuous expressions of joy, leaping and shouting as if to perform a ceremonial of welcome. Without fear now of the French they followed them down to their boats, and brought them a plentiful supply of corn and of the great pumpkins that were ripening in their fields.
The news of the arrival of the strangers spread at once through the settlement. To see the ships, canoe after canoe came floating down the river. They were filled with men and women eager to welcome their returned kinsmen and to share in the trinkets which Cartier distributed with a liberal hand. On the next day the chief of the tribe, the lord of Canada, as Cartier calls him, Donnacona by name, visited the French ships. The ceremonial was appropriate to his rank. Twelve canoes filled with Indian warriors appeared upon the stream. As they neared the ships, at a command from Donnacona, all fell back except two, which came close alongside the Emerillon. Donnacona then delivered a powerful and lengthy harangue, accompanied by wondrous gesticulations of body and limbs. The canoes then moved down to the side of the Grande Hermine, where Donnacona spoke with Cartier's guides. As these savages told him of the wonders they had seen in France, he was apparently moved to very transports of joy. Nothing would satisfy him but that Cartier should step down into the canoe, that the chief might put his arms about his neck in sign of welcome. Cartier, unable to rival Donnacona's oratory, made up for it by causing the sailors hand down food and wine, to the keen delight of the Indians. This being done, the visitors departed with every expression of good-will.
Waiting only for a favourable tide, the ships left their anchorage, and, sailing past the Island of Orleans, cast anchor in the St Charles river, where it flows into the St Lawrence near Quebec. The Emerillon was left at anchor out in the St Lawrence, in readiness for the continuance of the journey, but the two larger vessels were moored at the point where a rivulet, the Lairet, runs into the St Charles. It was on the left bank of the Lairet that Cartier's fort was presently constructed for his winter occupancy. Some distance across from it, on the other side of the St Charles, was Stadacona itself. Its site cannot be determined with exactitude, but it is generally agreed that it was most likely situated in the space between the present Rue de la Fabrique and the Cote Sainte-Genevieve.
The Indians were most friendly. When, on September 14, the French had sailed into the St Charles, Donnacona had again met them, accompanied by twenty-five canoes filled with his followers. The savages, by their noisy conduct and strange antics, gave every sign of joy over the arrival of the French. But from the first Cartier seems to have had his misgivings as to their good faith. He was struck by the fact that his two Indian interpreters, who had rejoined the ranks of their countrymen, seemed now to receive him with a sullen distrust, and refused his repeated invitations to re-enter his ships. He asked them whether they were still willing to go on with him to Hochelaga, of which they had told him, and which it was his purpose to visit. The two Indians assented, but their manner was equivocal and inspired Cartier with distrust.