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Thus far Wolfe had refrained from executing the threats he had affixed the month before to the church of Beaumont. But now he issued another proclamation. It declared that the Canadians had shown themselves unworthy of the offers he had made them, and that he had therefore ordered his light troops to ravage their country and bring them prisoners to his camp. Such of the Canadian militia as belonged to the parishes near Quebec were now in a sad dilemma; for Montcalm threatened them on one side, and 226
V2 played at cards with them, and passed the time so pleasantly that his short stay at the hospital seemed an oasis in his hard life of camp and garrison.
 Frontenac au Ministre, 14 Nov., 1674"You're a funny one! One would think you blamed me for having a lot of money."
To arm every man in his government would have been difficult. He did, however, what he could, and ordered Captain Nanfan, the lieutenant-governor, to repair to Albany; whence, on the first news that the French were approaching, he was to march to the relief of the Iroquois with the four shattered companies of regulars and as many of the militia of Albany and Ulster as he could muster. Then the earl sent Wessels, mayor of Albany, to persuade the Iroquois to deliver their prisoners to him, and make no treaty with Frontenac. On the same day, he despatched Captain John Schuyler to carry his letters to the French governor. When Schuyler reached Quebec, and delivered the letters, Frontenac read them with marks of great displeasure. "My Lord Bellomont threatens me," he said. "Does he think that I am afraid of him? He claims the Iroquois, but they are none of his. They call me father, and they call him brother; and shall not a father chastise his children when he sees fit?" A conversation followed, in which Frontenac asked the envoy what was the strength of Bellomont's government. Schuyler parried the question by a grotesque exaggeration, and answered that the earl could bring about a hundred thousand men into the field. Frontenac pretended to believe him, and returned with careless gravity that he had always heard so.
In spite of these efforts to maintain public worship, they were far from being a religious community; nor were they a peaceful one. Gossip and scandal ran riot; social jealousies abounded; and under what seemed entire democratic equality, the lazy, drunken, and shiftless envied the industrious and thrifty. Wells was infested, moreover, by several "frightfully turbulent women," as the chronicle styles them, from whose rabid tongues the minister himself did not always escape; and once, in its earlier days, the town had been indicted for not providing a ducking-stool to correct these breeders of discord. The town, however, was not named for the chaplain, but for his father's cousin, General Joseph Frye, the original grantee of the land.
The hunters of Williams's party killed five moose, the flesh of which, smoked and dried, was carried on their backs and that of the prisoner whom they had provided with snow-shoes. Thus burdened, the minister toiled on, following his masters along the frozen current of White River till, crossing the snowy backs of the Green Mountains, they struck the headwaters of the stream then called French River, now the Winooski, or Onion. Being in great fear of a thaw, they pushed on with double speed. Williams was not used to snow-shoes, and they gave him those painful cramps of the legs and ankles called in Canada mal la raquette. One morning at dawn he was[Pg 77] waked by his chief master and ordered to get up, say his prayers, and eat his breakfast, for they must make a long march that day. The minister was in despair. "After prayer," he says, "I arose from my knees; but my feet were so tender, swollen, bruised, and full of pain that I could scarce stand upon them without holding on the wigwam. And when the Indians said, 'You must run to-day,' I answered I could not run. My master, pointing to his hatchet, said to me, 'Then I must dash out your brains and take your scalp.'" The Indian proved better than his word, and Williams was suffered to struggle on as he could. "God wonderfully supported me," he writes, "and my strength was restored and renewed to admiration." He thinks that he walked that day forty miles on the snow. Following the Winooski to its mouth, the party reached Lake Champlain a little north of the present city of Burlington. Here the swollen feet of the prisoner were tortured by the rough ice, till snow began to fall and cover it with a soft carpet. Bending under his load, and powdered by the falling flakes, he toiled on till, at noon of a Saturday, lean, tired, and ragged, he and his masters reached the French outpost of Chambly, twelve or fifteen miles from Montreal.