Chapter 31 One Shot. Silence.

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Chapter 31:  One Shot. Silence

May 4th, 1660

As soon as it was quiet, the Iroquois fired one musket shot.

Silence.

One shot.

Silence.

One shot.

All night.

It was impossible to sleep in the barricade because the Canadians never knew when the one shot would be the signal for a massive charge. The next morning the French were haggard. Annahotaha spoke.

"It will be better if we have shifts. I do not think the Iroquois will attack for a time. The men who sleep must be allowed to sleep, and they must disregard the firing, else we will succumb to fatigue and nerves, and that is the Iroquois plan exactly."

Dollard listened to the war chief of the Hurons. Annahotaha's face, painted black from ear to ear across his eyes, glistened in the sun. The three short red lines on his cheeks looked like blood. Dollard told his men what the chief had said. They understood but thought it would be difficult for the Hurons to ignore the firing.

"'You must remember that we have sixty men, and none are even wounded. We must trust each other," Dollard said.

All during that day, the Iroquois fired sporadically at the fort. It was wearisome, and the allies suffered from it. They tried to anticipate the shots, but there was no rhythm, no orderly sequence. After one long silence Josselin said:

"I wish they'd shoot. It's been a long time, hasn't it?"

"Just a few minutes," said Rejean Tiblement.

"You wait and wait, and there's no sound, and then you're glad when the shot comes because it's over."

"But it starts again right away," said Tiblement.

"The bastards. I've got to get some sleep," said Josselin.

"Go ahead. If anything happens, I'll wake you," said Tiblement.

"I'll hear it," said Josselin, slumping down.

"Try to sleep. They're just trying to unnerve us with this one-shot business. We can't let it get to us."

***

The day was long and tense. Louis Martin and Pilote managed to get water because they got covering fire and because, for most of the Iroquois, the runners were just out of effective firing range. The Iroquois in their palisade couldn't hit the runners, so they relied on their friends firing from the forest. But if the Iroquois in the forest emerged to fire at the water-bearers, the French peppered them.

"Let me go to the river again, Dollard. We've got to get some more water," said Pilote.

"No. We can't risk it."

"But we only get enough for that damn gruel. There isn't any water to drink."

"It's too dangerous, Pilote,"

"Damn it, Dollard, we haven't been hit yet."

"Because we vary the times we go, because we cover you well, and because the Onondagas haven't tried to kill you."

"If only we had some big kettles," said Pilote.

"If you had to carry big kettles full of water, you couldn't run as fast or dodge the way you do now, and you might be dead. Maybe tonight.

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