1564, 1565. FAMINE. WAR. SUCCOR.
While the mutiny was brewing, one La Roche Ferriere had been sent out as an agent or emissary among the more distant tribes. Sagacious, bold, and restless, he pushed his way from town to town, and pretended to have reached the mysterious mountains of Appalache. He sent to the fort mantles woven with feathers, quivers covered with choice furs, arrows tipped with gold, wedges of a green stone like beryl or emerald, and other trophies of his wanderings. A gentleman named Grotaut took up the quest, and penetrated to the dominions of Hostaqua, who, it was pretended, could muster three or four thousand warriors, and who promised, with the aid of a hundred arquebusiers, to conquer all the kings of the adjacent mountains, and subject them and their gold mines to the rule of the French. A humbler adventurer was Pierre Gambie, a robust and daring youth, who had been brought up in the household of Coligny, and was now a soldier under Laudonniere. The latter gave him leave to trade with the Indians, - a privilege which he used so well that he grew rich with his traffic, became prime favorite with the chief of the island of Edelano, married his daughter, and, in his absence, reigned in his stead. But, as his sway verged towards despotism, his subjects took offence, and split his head with a hatchet.
During the winter, Indians from the neighborhood of Cape Canaveral brought to the fort two Spaniards, wrecked fifteen years before on the southwestern extremity of the peninsula. They were clothed like the Indians, - in other words, were not clothed at all, - and their uncut hair streamed loose down their backs. They brought strange tales of those among whom they had dwelt. They told of the King of Cabs, on whose domains they had been wrecked, a chief mighty in stature and in power. In one of his villages was a pit, six feet deep and as wide as a hogshead, filled with treasure gathered from Spanish wrecks on adjacent reefs and keys. The monarch was a priest too, and a magician, with power over the elements. Each year he withdrew from the public gaze to hold converse in secret with supernal or infernal powers; and each year he sacrificed to his gods one of the Spaniards whom the fortune of the sea had cast upon his shores. The name of the tribe is preserved in that of the river Caboosa. In close league with him was the mighty Oathcaqua, dwelling near Cape Canaveral, who gave his daughter, a maiden of wondrous beauty, in marriage to his great ally. But as the bride with her bridesmaids was journeying towards Calos, escorted by a chosen band, they were assailed by a wild and warlike race, inhabitants of an island called Sarrope, in the midst of a lake, who put the warriors to flight, bore the maidens captive to their watery fastness, espoused them all, and, we are assured, "loved them above all measure."[FN#15]
Outina, taught by Arlac the efficacy of the French fire-arms, begged for ten arquebusiers to aid him on a new raid among the villages of Potanou, - again alluring his greedy allies by the assurance, that, thus reinforced, he would conquer for them a free access to the phantom gold mines of Appalache. Ottigny set forth on this fool's errand with thrice the force demanded. Three hundred Thirnagoas and thirty Frenchmen took up their march through the pine barrens. Outina's conjurer was of the number, and had wellnigh ruined the enterprise. Kneeling on Ottigny's shield, that he might not touch the earth, with hideous grimaces, howlings, and contortions, he wrought himself into a prophetic frenzy, and proclaimed to the astounded warriors that to advance farther would be destruction.[FN#16] Outina was for instant retreat, but Ottigny's sarcasms shamed him into a show of courage. Again they moved forward, and soon encountered Potanou with all his host.[FN#17] The arquebuse did its work, - panic, slaughter, and a plentiful harvest of scalps. But no persuasion could induce Outina to follow up his victory. He went home to dance round his trophies, and the French returned disgusted to Fort Caroline.
And now, in ample measure, the French began to reap the harvest of their folly. Conquest, gold, and military occupation had alone been their aims. Not a rod of ground had been stirred with the spade. Their stores were consumed, and the expected supplies had not come. The Indians, too, were hostile. Satouriona hated them as allies of his enemies; and his tribesmen, robbed and maltreated by the lawless soldiers, exulted in their miseries. Yet in these, their dark and subtle neighbors, was their only hope.