So here you have the British and the French armies, hiding in the woods from each other. The British commander (Rogers) forbids lighting fires at night, and orders absolute silence.
Apparently, this “absolute silence” order does not seem to apply to officers because on the morning “of the 8th of August,” Rogers and a lieutenant named Irwin “of the light infantry” decide to settle a wager “by firing at a mark.” The shots reach the ears of four hundred and fifty French and Indians, hiding in the woods.
Having settled the wager “at about seven o’clock” in the morning, Commander Rogers orders his troops forward. They find a narrow path (Indian of course) that requires the soldiers to march “in single file.” The British commander is about “a mile behind” the lead. (Self is trying to imagine a single file of soldiers stretching a mile. That’s quite a line!)
Suddenly “a Caughnawaga chief” appears, seizing the officer in the lead and “dragging him into the forest.” The Indians also seize a lieutenant and three privates.
When Rogers realizes what is happening, he endeavors with all his might to get to the front, but since he is a mile back (how fast can a horse with a man riding on its back travel, self wonders irrelevantly), he does not get there in time.
(Self must have paid extra attention during history class. She remembers learning that this was how Gaul managed to destroy the Roman Empire: by forcing the centurions to engage in forests, forests that were wholly unfamiliar. Or mebbe it wasn’t history class. Mebbe it was the movie Gladiator)
Self is imagining the terrible fate that awaited the men dragged by the Indians into the woods, but apparently one of these survived because he wrote an account of his ordeal:
They “stripped him naked, tied him to a tree, and gathered dried wood to pile about him.” He was saved only by a sudden onset of rain. And afterwards he was ordered freed by another Indian chief.
Phew! This book is such a roller coaster ride!