DOLLARD DES ORMEAUX 5
like birds took flight after accomplishing their designs. A practice thoroughly enjoyed among them was to lie hidden all day in the edge of a clearing, watching a farmer, in ignorance of their proximity, tilling his land, and when tired of this diversion, silently approaching from behind to cleave his head open with one swift stroke of the tomahawk. In circling about dwellings during the night, also, and hiding behind shrubs and bushes, they held the wakeful inmates in fear too great for words. Such appearances always foreshadowed seizure and scalping in the morning among the wretched colonists.
This terror was surely frightful enough even in the settlements, where the small white populations could depend upon each other for assistance, but infinitely worse in the more scattered districts, where two or three farmhouses at most might be grouped together leagues away from their neighbours. There the habitants were absolutely at their mercy. When the Iroquois did not kill outright, they took prisoners — men sometimes, but always women and children when they had opportunity, at their lodges to be tortured and mutilated at caprice, with a cruelty that the good father narrator " has no ink black enough to de-