| This Country of Ours|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|Stories from the history of the United States beginning with a full account of exploration and settlement and ending with the presidency of Woodrow Wilson. The 99 chapters are grouped under 7 headings: Stories of Explorers and Pioneers, Stories of Virginia, Stories of New England, Stories of the Middle and Southern Colonies, Stories of the French in America, Stories of the Struggle for Liberty, and Stories of the United States under the Constitution. Ages 10-14 |
HOW A FRENCHMAN AVENGED THE DEATH OF HIS COUNTRYMEN
 WHEN the news of these terrible massacres reached France it was
greeted with a cry of horror. Even the boy King, Charles IX, Catholic
though he was, demanded redress. But the King of Spain declared
that the Frenchmen had been justly served. The land upon which they
had settled was his, he said, and they had no right to be there.
He was sorry that they were Frenchmen, but they were also pirates
and robbers, and had received only the just reward of their misdeeds.
Neither Charles nor his mother, who was the real ruler in France
at this time, wished to quarrel with the King of Spain. So finding
that no persuasions would move him, and that instead of being punished
Menendez was praised and rewarded, they let the matter drop.
But there was one man in France who would not thus tamely submit to
the tyranny of Spain. His name was Dominique de Gourges. He hated
the Spaniards with a deadly hatred. And when he heard of the Florida
massacre he vowed to avenge the death of his countrymen. He sold
all that he had, borrowed what money he could, and with three ships
and a goodly company of soldiers and sailors set sail.
At first, however, he kept, his real object secret. Instead of
steering straight for Florida he steered southward, making believe
that he was going to Africa for slaves. But after encountering storms
and contrary winds he turned
 westward, and when off the coast of
Cuba he gathered all his men together and told them what he had
set out to do.
In vivid, terrible words he recounted to them the horrible slaughter.
"Shall we let such cruelty go unpunished?" he asked. "What fame
for us if we avenge it! To this end I have given my fortune, and
I counted on you to help me. Was I wrong?"
"No," they all cried, "we will go with you to avenge our countrymen!"
So with hearts filled with thoughts of vengeance they sailed onward
to Fort Caroline.
The Spaniards had repaired the fort and now called it Fort Mateo.
They had also built two small forts nearer the mouth of the river
to guard the entrance to it. Now one afternoon the men in these
forts saw three ships go sailing by. These were the French ships
bringing Gourges and his companions. But the men in the forts
thought that they were Spanish ships and therefore fired a salute.
Gourges did not undeceive them. He fired a salute in reply and,
sailing on as if he were going elsewhere, was soon lost to sight.
At length, having found a convenient place out of sight of
the forts, he drew to the shore. But when he would have landed he
saw that the whole beach was crowded with savages armed with bows
and arrows and ready for war. For the Indians, too, had taken the
strange ships to be Spanish. And as they had grown to hate the
Spaniards with a deadly hatred they were prepared to withstand
Fortunately, however, Gourges had on board a trumpeter who had been
in Florida with Laudonnière. So now he sent him on shore to talk
with the Indians. And as soon as they recognised him they greeted
him with shouts of joy. Then they led him at once to their chief
who was no other than Satouriona, Laudonnière's one-time friend.
 So amid great rejoicings the Frenchmen landed. Then Satouriona
poured into their ears the tale of his wrongs. He told them how the
Spaniards stole their corn, drove them from their huts and their
hunting grounds, and generally ill-treated them. "Not one peaceful
day," he said, "have the Indians known since the Frenchmen went
When Gourges heard this he was well pleased. "If you have been
ill-treated by the Spaniards," he said, "the French will avenge
At this Satouriona leaped for joy.
"What!" he cried, "will you fight the Spaniards?"
"Yes," replied Gourges, "but you must do your part also."
"We will die with you," cried Satouriona, "if need be."
"That is well," said Gourges. "How soon can you be ready? For if
we fight we should fight at once."
"In three days we can be ready," said the Indian.
"See to it then," said Gourges, "that you are secret in the matter
so that the Spaniards suspect nothing."
"Have no fear," replied Satouriona; "we wish them more ill than
The third day came and, true to his word, Satouriona appeared
surrounded by hundreds of warriors, fearful in paint and feathers.
Then some by water, some by land, the French and Indians set
forth, and after many hardships and much toil they reached one of
the forts which the Spaniards had built near the river's mouth.
From the shelter of the surrounding trees they gazed upon it.
"There!" cried Gourges, "there at last are the thieves who have
stolen this land from our King. There are the murderers who slew
At his words the men were hardly to be restrained. In eager whispers
they begged to be led on. So the word was given, and the Frenchmen
rushed upon the fort.
The Spaniards had just finished their mid-day meal when
 a cry was
heard from the ramparts. "To arms! to arms! the French are coming!"
They were taken quite unawares, and with but short resistance they
fled. The French and Indians pursued them and hemmed them in so
that not one man escaped. In like manner the second fort was also
taken, and every man slain or made prisoner.
The next day was Sunday, and Gourges spent it resting, and making
preparations to attack Fort Mateo.
When the Spaniards in Fort Mateo saw the French and their great
host of yelling, dancing Indians they were filled with fear. And
in order to find out how strong the force really was one of them
dressed himself as an Indian and crept within the French lines. But
almost at once he was seen by a young Indian chief. And his disguise
being thus discovered he was seized and questioned. He owned that
there were scarce three hundred men in the fort and that, believing
the French to number at least two thousand, they were completely
terror-stricken. This news delighted Gourges, and next morning he
prepared to attack.
The fort was easily taken. When the Spaniards saw the French
attack, panic seized them and they fled into the forest. But there
the Indians, mad with the desire of blood and vengeance, met them.
Many fell before the tomahawks; others turned back choosing rather
to die at the hands of the French than of the Indians. But which
way they turned there was no escape. Nearly all were slain, a few
only were taken prisoner.
When the fight was over Gourges brought all the prisoners from the
three forts together. He led them to the trees where Menendez had
hanged the Frenchmen a few months before. There he spoke to them.
"Did you think that such foul treachery, such abominable cruelty
would go unpunished?" he said. "Nay, I, one of the most lowly of
my King's subjects, have taken upon
 myself to avenge it. There is
no name shameful enough with which to brand your deeds, no punishment
severe enough to repay them. But though you cannot be made to suffer
as you deserve you shall suffer all that an enemy may honourably
inflict. Thus your fate shall be an example to teach others to keep
the peace and friendly alliance, which you have broken so wickedly."
And having spoken thus sternly to the trembling wretches Gourges
ordered his men to hang them on the very same trees upon which
Menendez had hanged the Frenchmen. And over their heads he nailed
tablets of wood upon which were burned the words "Not as Spaniards
or as Mariners, but as Traitors, Robbers and Murderers."
Then at length the vengeance of Gourges was satisfied. But indeed
it was scarce complete, for Menendez the chief mover and leader
of the Spaniards was safe in Europe, and beyond the reach of any
private man's vengeance. The Spaniards, too, were strongly entrenched
at St. Augustine, so strongly indeed that Gourges knew he had not
force enough to oust them. He had not even men enough to keep the
three forts he had won. So he resolved to destroy them.
This delighted the Indians, and they worked with such vigour that
in one day all three forts were made level with the ground. Then,
having accomplished all that he had come to do, Gourges made ready
to depart. Whereupon the Indians set up a wail of grief. With
tears they begged the Frenchmen to stay, and when they refused they
followed them all the way to the shore, praising them and giving
them gifts, and praying them to return.
So leaving the savages weeping upon the shore the Frenchmen sailed
away, and little more than a month later they reached home.
When they heard of what Gourges had done the Huguenots rejoiced,
and they greeted him with honour and praise.
 But Philip of Spain
was furiously angry. He demanded that Gourges should be punished,
and offered a large sum of money for his head. King Charles, too,
being in fear of the King of Spain, looked upon him coldly, so that
for a time he was obliged to flee away and hide himself.
Gourges had used all his money to set forth on his expedition, so
for a few years he lived in poverty. But Queen Elizabeth at length
heard of him and his deeds. And as she, too, hated the Spaniards
she was pleased at what he had done, and she asked him to enter
her service. Thus at length he was restored to honour and favour.
And in honour and favour he continued all the rest of his life.
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