Chapter 36: No Rules in This Game
Annahotaha saw his nephew, La Mouche, run at the wall. The chief moved to him and grabbed at his legs, but La Mouche was at the top and with a kick to Annahotaha's chest he simultaneously pushed the chief over backward and fell to the ground outside the barricade. Once he hit the ground, La Mouche began running fast for the Iroquois compound, urged on by the hoots and exhortations of the Iroquois. Furious, Annahotaha regained his feet and sprang to a loophole. He moved his musket into place and fired.
La Mouche's body arched like a bow. His hands coiled to the pain in his spine and his head and feet almost met at the small of his back. The pain was everywhere, in his back, neck, arms, legs, brain. The shot had hit his spinal column and when he fell he did not move. He had spun around so that he could see the Iroquois palisade gate thirty feet away. But he couldn't reach it and no one left the palisade to help him. La Mouche had time to reflect on his choice before he died.
Annahotaha, breathing heavily, watched La Mouche fall, and he cursed his nephew's cowardice.
The French were firing at the escaping Hurons. Some Iroquois, as they saw the defectors climb over the walls of the barricade, ran out of their palisade and rushed towards the escaping Hurons.
The Iroquois, thinking this might be a complete capitulation, were yelling and waving and running and firing their muskets. The French, trying to shoot the defecting Hurons, saw the onrushing Iroquois and began shooting at them as well.
Annahotaha tried to prevent it.
"Let them go -- do not shoot!"
It was too late. In the confusion, the French killed many Iroquois as well as eight fleeing Hurons.
"Ah, comrades, you have spoiled everything," said Annahotaha. "Now that you have embittered them they will charge upon us in such a rage that we are without doubt lost."
Annahotaha was right about the Iroquois. In breaking the peace before the Iroquois had answered the French had made a grave error.
Pilote turned on Annahotaha:
"What do you mean we've ruined everything? Your Hurons defect, and we're supposed to stand here and take it? They're cowards!
"The Iroquois tried to parley with us a few days ago and when some were coming to talk others were attacking us from the side. We haven't done anything they didn't do, and we had provocation!" shouted Pilote.
Annahotaha looked at Pilote sadly.
"Do you think that matters to the Iroquois? Do you think this is a game with rules?"
In the Iroquois palisade, when the French began shooting first at the escaping Hurons and then at the Iroquois, the two Hurons, and the adopted Oneida emissaries were giving the gifts to the Iroquois chiefs. Annenraes slapped the presents aside.
"Do you give us gifts with your hands while you kill us with your guns? There will be no more talk. Kill them!"
Suddenly, tomahawks and knives closed off the light in the eyes of the messengers.
Other Iroquois were cheering the defecting Hurons on and welcoming them into their palisade. Twenty-four Hurons had gone over the walls. Eight, including La Mouche, lay dead on the ground between the two primitive forts. The other sixteen were told to sit down, and guards hovered over them in a corner of the Iroquois camp. Then the Iroquois turned their attention to the enemy fort. Stung by the breaking of the truce, the Iroquois raced out of their compound and ran screaming at the barricade.
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