“He says—listen, Messieurs!—he says he knows there is going to be a big peace; that the Iroquois are tired of fighting and that their hearts are sore. He says—a most manifest lie, I beg you to observe, Messieurs—that he loves the English, and that, although he ought to kill the Frenchmen of our garrison, he will, since some of us are English, and hence his friends, spare us all if we will cease to fight.”
Pembroke turned to Law with question in his eye.
“There must be something done,” said the latter in a low tone. “We were short enough of ammunition here even before Du Mesne left for the settlements, and your own men have none too much left.”
“‘Reflect! Bethink yourselves, Englishmen!’ he says to us,” continued Pierre Noir. “’We came to make war upon the Illini. Our work here is done. ’Tis time now that we went back to our villages. If there is to be a big peace, the Iroquois must be there; for unless the Iroquois demand it, there can be no peace at all.’ And, gentlemen, I beg you to remember it is an Iroquois who is talking, and that the truth is not in the tongue of an Iroquois.”
“’Tis a desperate chance, Mr. Law,” said Pembroke. “Yet if we keep up the fight here, there can be but one end.”
“’Tis true,” said Law; “and there are others to be considered.”
It was hurriedly thus concluded. Law finally advanced toward the tall figure of the Iroquois headman, and looked him straight in the face.
“Tell him,” said he to Pierre Noir, “that we are all English, and that we are not afraid; and that if we are harmed, the armies of Corlaer will destroy the Iroquois, even as the Iroquois have the Illini. Tell him that we will go back with him to the settlements because we are willing to go that way upon a journey which we had already planned. We could fight forever if we chose, and he can see for himself by the bodies of his young men how well we are able to make war.”
“It is well,” replied Teganisoris. “You have the word of an Iroquois that this shall be done, as I have said.”
“The word of an Iroquois!” cried Pierre Noir, slamming down the butt of his musket. “The word of a snake, say rather! Jean Breboeuf, harken you to what our leaders have agreed! We are to go as prisoners of the Iroquois! Mary, Mother of God, what folly! And there is madame, and la pauvre petite, that infant so young. By God! Were it left to me, Pierre Berthier would stand here, and fight to the end. I know these Iroquois!”
PRISONERS OF THE IROQUOIS
The faith of the Iroquois was worse than Punic, nor was there lacking swift proof of its real nature. Law and Pembroke, the moment they had led their little garrison beyond the gate, found themselves surrounded by a ring of tomahawks and drawn bows. Their weapons were snatched away from them, and on the instant they found themselves beyond all possibility of that resistance whose giving over they now bitterly repented. Teganisoris regarded them with a sardonic smile.