losing shape in distance, masts and sails blending with sky and sea, and
finally disappearing over the horizon, must have been beset with a
realization of their utter isolation. Before them curled the whispering
white surf, edging a vast watery barrier that separated them from
faraway France. Back of them were the dark forests, a limitless
wilderness, holding in its depths the unknown. From the Arctic regions
to Mexico, they were the only ones of their kind.
Jean Ribaut reached home safely on July 20, 1562. He brought
with him a few pearls, a small amount of silver, deerskins and native
mantles which had been obtained from the Indians, as evidence of his
discoveries. But he arrived in France at an unfavorable time for any hope
of immediately continuing his colonization activities.
His native land was torn by civil war, a bitter fratricidal struggle
between the Catholic and the Huguenot parties. Gaspard de Coligny,
occupied with the bloody battle that raged across France, could give but
scant thought to such a small and remote outpost as the colony in
America. Charlesfort was left to its fate. The colonists, unaware of
conditions in France, depended upon the arrival of the relief expedition
promised by Ribaut. Roaming about the country, they lived off the
bounty of the natives, and gave no thought to planting or conserving
One of the buildings which they had erected burned, destroying many
of their possessions. Internal dissensions arose and culminated in mutiny and
the death of their leader, Albert, who had grown violently autocratic.