1604, 1605. ACADIA OCCUPIED.

At St. Mary's Bay the voyagers thought they had found traces of iron and silver; and Champdore, the pilot, was now sent back to pursue the search. As he and his men lay at anchor, fishing, not far from land, one of them heard a strange sound, like a weak human voice; and, looking towards the shore, they saw a small black object in motion, apparently a hat waved on the end of a stick. Rowing in haste to the spot, they found the priest Aubry. For sixteen days he had wandered in the woods, sustaining life on berries and wild fruits; and when, haggard and emaciated, a shadow of his former self, Champdore carried him back to St. Croix, he was greeted as a man risen from the grave.

In 1783 the river St. Croix, by treaty, was made the boundary between Maine and New Brunswick. But which was the true St. Croix? In 1798, the point was settled. De Monts's island was found; and, painfully searching among the sand, the sedge, and the matted whortleberry bushes, the commissioners could trace the foundations of buildings long crumbled into dust; for the wilderness had resumed its sway, and silence and solitude brooded once more over this ancient resting-place of civilization.

But while the commissioner bends over a moss-grown stone, it is for us to trace back the dim vista of the centuries to the life, the zeal, the energy, of which this stone is the poor memorial. The rock-fenced islet was covered with cedars, and when the tide was out the shoals around were dark with the swash of sea-weed, where, in their leisure moments, the Frenchmen, we are told, amused themselves with detaching the limpets from the stones, as a savory addition to their fare. But there was little leisure at St. Croix. Soldiers, sailors, and artisans betook themselves to their task. Before the winter closed in, the northern end of the island was covered with buildings, surrounding a square, where a solitary tree had been left standing. On the right was a spacious house, well built, and surmounted by one of those enormous roofs characteristic of the time. This was the lodging of De Monts. Behind it, and near the water, was a long, covered gallery, for labor or amusement in foul weather. Champlain and the Sieur d'Orville, aided by the servants of the latter, built a house for themselves nearly opposite that of De Monts; and the remainder of the square was occupied by storehouses, a magazine, workshops, lodgings for gentlemen and artisans, and a barrack for the Swiss soldiers, the whole enclosed with a palisade. Adjacent there was an attempt at a garden, under the auspices of Champlain; but nothing would grow in the sandy soil. There was a cemetery, too, and a small rustic chapel on a projecting point of rock. Such was the "Habitation de l'Isle Saincte-Croix," as set forth by Champlain in quaint plans and drawings, in that musty little quarto of 1613, sold by Jean Berjon, at the sign of the Flying Horse, Rue St. Jean de Beauvais.

Their labors over, Poutrincourt set sail for France, proposing to return and take possession of his domain of Port Royal. Seventy-nine men remained at St. Croix. here was De Monts, feudal lord of half a continent in virtue of two potent syllables, "Henri," scrawled on parchment by the rugged hand of the Bearnais. Here were gentlemen of birth and breeding, Champlain, D'Orville, Beaumont, Sourin, La Motte, Boulay, and Fougeray; here also were the pugnacious cure and his fellow priests, with the Hugnenot ministers, objects of their unceasing ire. The rest were laborers, artisans, and soldiers, all in the pay of the company, and some of them forced into its service.

Poutrincourt's receding sails vanished between the water and the sky. The exiles were left to their solitude. From the Spanish settlements northward to the pole, there was no domestic hearth, no lodgement of civilized men, save one weak band of Frenchmen, clinging, as it were for life, to the fringe of the vast and savage continent. The gray and sullen autumn sank upon the waste, and the bleak wind howled down the St. Croix, and swept the forest bare. Then the whirling snow powdered the vast sweep of desolate woodland, and shrouded in white the gloomy green of pine-clad mountains. Ice in sheets, or broken masses, swept by their island with the ebbing and flowing tide, often debarring all access to the main, and cutting off their supplies of wood and water. A belt of cedars, indeed, hedged the island; but De Monts had ordered them to be spared, that the north wind might spend something of its force with whistling through their shaggy boughs. Cider and wine froze in the casks, and were served out by the pound. As they crowded round their half-fed fires, shivering in the icy currents that pierced their rude tenements, many sank into a desperate apathy.

Soon the scurvy broke out, and raged with a fearful malignity. Of the seventy-nine, thirty-five died before spring, and many more were brought to the verge of death. In vain they sought that marvellous tree which had relieved the followers of Cartier. Their little cemetery was peopled with nearly half their number, and the rest, bloated and disfigured with the relentless malady, thought more of escaping from their woes than of building up a Transatlantic empire. Yet among them there was one, at least, who, amid languor and defection, held to his purpose with indomitable tenacity; and where Champlain was present, there was no room for despair.