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The Escape Of Francois Navarre


Source: Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land

When the Hurons came to Sandwich, opposite the Michigan shore, in 1806,
and camped near the church for the annual festival of savages, which
was religious primarily, but incidentally gastronomic, athletic, and
alcoholic, an old woman of the tribe foretold to Angelique Couture that,
ere long, blood would be shed freely and white men and Indians would take
each other's lives. That was a reasonably safe prophecy in those days,
and, though Angelique repeated it to her friends, she did not worry over
it. But when the comet of 1812 appeared the people grew afraid--and with
cause, for the war soon began with England. The girl's brothers fought
under the red flag; her lover, Francois Navarre, under the stars and

The cruel General Proctor one day passed through Sandwich with prisoners
on his way to the Hurons, who were to put them to death in the usual
manner. As they passed by, groaning in anticipation of their fate,
foot-sore and covered with dust, Angelique nearly swooned, for among them
she recognized her lover. He, too, had seen her, and the recognition had
been noticed by Proctor. Whether his savage heart was for the moment
softened by their anguish, or whether he wished to heighten their pain by
a momentary taste of joy, it is certain that on reaching camp he paroled
Francrois until sunset. The young man hastened to the girl's house, and
for one hour they were sadly happy. She tried to make him break his
parole and escape, but he refused, and as the sun sank he tore himself
from her arms and hastened to rejoin his companions in misery.

His captors admired him for this act of honor, and had he so willed he
could have been then and there received into their tribe. As it was, they
allowed him to remain unbound. Hardly had the sun gone down when a number
of boats drew up at the beach with another lot of prisoners, and with
yells of rejoicing the Indians ran to the river to drive them into camp.
Francois's opportunity was brief, but he seized it. In the excitement he
had been unobserved. He was not under oath now, and with all speed he
dashed into the wood. Less than a minute had elapsed before his absence
was discovered, but he was a cunning woodman, and by alternately running
and hiding, with gathering darkness in his favor, he had soon put the
savages at a distance.

A band of English went to Angelique's home, thinking that he would be
sure to rejoin her; but he was too shrewd for that, and it was in vain
that they fired guns up the chimneys and thrust bayonets into beds.
Angelique was terrified at this intrusion, but the men had been ordered
not to injure the woman, and she was glad, after all, to think that
Francois had escaped. Some days later one of the Hurons came to her door
and pointed significantly to a fresh scalp that hung at his belt. In the
belief that it was her lover's she grew ill and began to fade, but one
evening there came a faint tap at the door. She opened it to find a cap
on the door-step.

There was no writing, yet her heart rose in her bosom and the color came
back to her cheeks, for she recognized it as her lover's. Later, she
learned that Francois had kept to the forest until he reached the site of
Walkerville, where he had found a canoe and reached the American side in
safety. She afterward rejoined him in Detroit, and they were married at
the end of the war, through which he served with honor and satisfaction
to himself, being enabled to pay many old scores against the red-coats
and the Indians.

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