Chapter 27: War Stories

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Chapter 27: War Stories

The scouts returned down the rapid. There was no evidence of movement above the Sault. Eight guards replaced them at various heights up the rapid.

The rest of the day was spent cleaning muskets, drying clothes and resting. Guards changed at regular intervals and four men and one canoe were sent to the top of the Long Sault to await the Iroquois.

The French and the Indians ate and talked.

'"Who was the greatest Huron warrior?" asked Louis Martin.

Annahotaha laughed, "It would take until the snow comes again to tell you of all the great Huron warriors, but I will tell you of Ahatsistari, who was a Huron chief and a Christian.

"Ahatsistari was nearly forty summers when I was twenty. He was of the Cord people, and he was the greatest warrior of his time. He hardly stopped to eat, he was so busy in his work of killing Iroquois.

"One summer, the summer before he died, he was leading fifty Hurons in the forest, and he met three hundred Iroquois. These fifty men routed the Iroquois and took prisoners."

The French looked at him in amazement.

"In the same summer," continued Annaahotaha, Ahatsistari was crossing the great lake that separated the Huron from our enemies when he saw some elm canoes on the attack. Iroquois canoes. Ahatsistari was out-numbered, but he told his men to attack, and this startled and confused the Iroquois. He jumped into the first enemy canoe, split open the head of the bowman, and threw two others overboard. Then he jumped into the water, overturning the canoe. He kept swimming and killing any Iroquois who came near him. He was deadly with his hatchet. Most of the Iroquois were so surprised they turned and paddled away, but Ahatsistari got back into his canoe and captured some Iroquois who were in the water. "

The French soldiers whistled and looked at each other. They knew the chief was telling the truth.

Annahotaha continued.

"The next summer Ahatsistari was captured by the Iroquois and tortured. But instead of saying, 'Arise someone from our bones as avenger' as we do, he urged the Hurons present not to allow his death to stop a peace with the Iroquois. You see, he had become a Christian that summer. Was this not a Christian act?"

The French agreed that it was.

"Ahatsistari was one of the great Huron warriors," said Annahotaha. He looked down into the fire, and Martin turned his attention to the Algonquin chief.

"Who was the greatest Algonquin warrior, Mituvemeg?" asked Martin.

Mituvemeg thought.

"The greatest?" He shook his head. "I could tell you of Tessouat... but no, I will tell you of Pieskaret, who was from Tessouat's tribe."

Pieskaret was the terror of the Iroquois," said Mituvemeg. "They thought he was dead once but after the winter he went to Montreal carrying the head of an Iroquois. He had been chased by the Iroquois but ran across a river that was just breaking up. Only one Iroquois made it across before the ice broke up, and Pieskaret took his head off. That summer Pieskaret killed twelve Iroquois and captured two.

"Later there was a peace between the Hurons and French and the Iroquois, and the famed Iroquois orator, Kiotsaton, who was called 'the Hook' because of the shape of his nose, came to speak for his tribe.

"He spoke about the recent battles and then Pieskaret offered Kiotsaton furs as a present, symbolizing a tomb placed on the graves of the victims of those battles so that all would be well, and no one would take revenge.