Chapter 34: Flaming Arrows
Monday, May 9th.
The warmth at the end of April had changed to cold in early May. The men stayed close to the fires, their bones aching from the chill and the lack of sleep.
There was no water left.
The French who tried to eat the dry, powdered corn only made their thirst worse because the dry meal stuck to their mouths and throats. The Hurons, used to hardship like this, ate their meal without water uncomplainingly.
The day was almost finished. Louis Martin and Pilote had drawn the only real fire of the day when they attempted to get water.
Dollard spoke with Robert Jurie.
"If we can't have much water, I'm glad we can't have any. Imagine the fights there would be if we brought in a kettle or two."
'But it isn't good without water. They can't eat, Dollard. It's getting to them."
"I know, but I can't think of anything to relieve them. We'll just have to take it until we get a break. With this force, they seem intent on attacking Montreal. It was just luck that we met them."
"Luck? said Jurie
They both laughed uneasily.
"I mean maybe the Iroquois' fated day will be postponed and they'll all want to go back to their longhouses."
"Yeah," said Jurie. "Then they'll help us build new canoes, and we can all just go home."
"The thing that makes me mad about this is the timing. Any other time and we'd have thousands of beaver pelts; now we'll have to go back without any. And I borrowed money to come on this trip," said Dollard.
"At least we'll have Iroquois to our credit," said Robert Jurie.
"True. It'll be a while before the Iroquois go down a rapid without checking it out very carefully. At least we've accomplished that."
"And there are a lot of dead Iroquois out there. We haven't done badly."
"All we have to do is get out of here. As long as the Iroquois continue to think of the clearing as the best way to us I think we'll be all right. They won't come by the river and they seem to think the woods don't offer them sufficient running room. Thank God. Because if they keep coming up the center we'll do all right. That center area can only hold so many people no matter how many they've got in reserve. We can handle that space. It's the woods that worry me. If they attacked us from all sides with all their men I don't think we could hold them for long."
Let's hope they don't figure that out," said Jurie.
"Right.' he turned and called, "Annahotaha!"
Robert Jurie moved away to check the shot supplies. Annahotaha walked to Dollard's side.
"Chief, is there anything we can do? It's like Montreal. We're trapped in here and they're out there."
"Tonight we will try a thing. I will prepare it," said Annahotaha.
That night was quiet except for the everlasting war of nerves practiced by the Iroquois through their sporadic firing on the barricade. Some Hurons were returning the fire still. Annahotaha stopped them.
"Listen to me. It is the custom to reply to a shot lest the attacker think you are weak. But I tell you the situation has changed. They know we have few men compared to them. They know too that we have a limited amount of shot. If we reply shot for shot they know we will reduce our ammunition and then they can kill us easily.
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