Chapter 26: The Cavalry Arrives! Annahotaha and Mituvemeg

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Chapter 26: The Cavalry Arrives!

The Frenchmen crowded down on the shore as the Hurons and Algonquins pulled their canoes out of the water.

"Greetings," said Annahotaha.

"Greetings!" said Dollard. "It is good to see you, Chief Annahotaha. What brings you here?"

"Shall I not move in my forest?"

Dollard took the rebuke.

"I'm sorry. What I meant was it is such a surprise. We've have been traveling many days without seeing anyone.

"I know your mission," laughed Annahotaha. "Chief Mituvemeg and I are here to help you. This is Mituvemeg, a chief of the Algonquin," he said, turning toward the Algonquin.

"Your bravery and skill precede you in stories, Chief Mituvemeg. You are welcome."

"Good," said Mituvemeg. "We heard you were going to attack the Iroquois and since we had nothing better to do we decided to come too."

"But how did you discover our plans?"

"In Montreal. The French talk all the time."

Dollard laughed.

"That's true. We could benefit from your ability to keep silent."

"Mmmm," Mituvemeg grunted.

"I have a paper from the governor," said Annahotaha. He took the letter out of his belt and handed it over.

Dollard opened the seal and read it silently.

Montreal, April 16, 166o.

Sieur Dollard,

Chief Annahotaha and Chief Mituvemeg have approached me this morning.

They have heard of your plans and wish to join you. I have told them the attack was to be a small one, and more men might jeopardize it but I said that only to offer you an excuse should you not want assistance.

Annahotaha and Mituvemeg are trustworthy of course, and my feeling is that their men are as well. I strongly advise you allow them to join you. They come with my recommendation.

There is another matter. There have been incidents at Quebec like the attack at Nun's Island. People are worried because captured Mohawks have been telling of a mass attack on our stations this spring. I don't know what to advise you about this except you are probably better strengthened than not, whatever the proclivities of the Huron.

God be with you on your mission,

Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, Governor of Montreal.

Annahotaha and Mituvemeg did not so much as exchange glances while Dollard read the letter. The Indians were always astonished at the French ability to make marks on pieces of paper in one place and have men to whom they were delivered in another place know what the writer wanted. Since the Indians had no written language and depended on human memory as well as designs and pictures on artifacts, the letter system dazzled them. But neither Annahotaha nor Mituvemeg allowed their faces to betray any sense of wonder. They had seen this trick before, even if they didn't understand it, and they were supremely confident of Maisonneuve's assessment of their worth. They did not even consider the possibility that Dollard would refuse their help.

Dollard finished the letter.

"Thank you, Chief Annahotaha. The governor wishes us well and I feel stronger and more confident now that I have two great chiefs and their warriors with us."