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The Indians and the Waters brothers were engaged in a consultation. Charles took no part in the consultation, for he knew nothing to advise. Then the Indians accompanied them for a few miles through the woods. The forest was dark and sombre, and they had only the silent stars to light their path, until the tardy moon, rising at a late hour, filled the landscape with silver light.
Day dawned, and they were in a wild, picturesque wood, with towering hills and stupendous oaks on
side. Here they halted again for consultation. Oracus, after giving them all the provisions he had with him, took his warriors and stole off into the forest.
George Waters and his brother urged the escaped prisoners to eat some dried venison and parched corn and sleep. They did. Indian blankets on the ground afforded them beds, and their only covering was the sky.
Charles slept until the afternoon was almost spent, and then he was awakened by the tramp of horses feet. He started up and found three Indians with five horses, saddled and bridled. The Indians belonged to the braves of Oracus, and, without a word, they dismounted and turned over the horses to the Englishmen, and stole away into the forest.
A few moments later, the white people were
mounted and riding away through one of the narrow paths known only to the Waters brothers.
Charles Stevens' soul was too full for him to give heed to what course they took. His mother and Cora were free, though he little dreamed that they were escaping from one danger to another. They arrived one night at the home of Mr. Dustin, near Haverhill, in Massachusetts. When the frontiersman heard their story, he said:
“You are welcome, my persecuted friends, to the shelter of my roof, so long as it can afford you any protection; but the war clouds seem to grow darker and more lowering every moment, and I don't know how long my roof will afford protection to any one.
Charles Stevens had been so busy with his own cares and griefs, that he had forgotten that a terrible Indian war was raging on the frontier. This war was known as King William's war, in which the French joined with the Indians in bringing fire and sword upon the inhabitants of New England and New York. The French and English had long been jealous of each other, and a connected account need not be given here of all the disastrous occurrences which lead up to the terrible assault on Haverhill, where the fugitives from Salem were stopping.
We will mention, as first of the principal attacks
during the war of King William, the attack on Schenectady. This was made in pursuance of a plan adopted by Count Frontenac, then governor of Canada, as a means of avenging on the English Colonies the treatment of King James, deposed by William and Mary, which had inflamed the resentment of Frontenac's master, Louis XIV. While New York was torn with internal strife over Leisler, the governor of Canada fitted out three expeditions against the colonies, and in the midst of winter one was sent against New York. The attack on Schenectady was the fruit of this expedition. It was made by a party consisting of about two hundred French and fifty Caughnewaga Indians, under command of Maulet and St. Helene, in 1689 and 1690.
Schenectady was built in the form of an oblong square with a gate at either extremity. The enemy found one of the gates not only open, but unguarded. Although the town was impaled and might have been protected, there was so little thought of danger, that no one deemed it necessary to close the gate. The weather was very cold, and the English did not suppose an attack would be made.
It was eleven o'clock and thirty minutes on Saturday night, February 8th, 1690, when the enemy entered, divided their party, waylaid every