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miles. Feeble as she was, it seems wonderful that Mrs. Dustin should have borne up under the trials and fatigues of the journey; but she did.
After this, the Indians, according to their custom, divided their prisoners. Mrs. Dustin, Mrs. Neff and a captive lad from Worcester fell to the share of an Indian family consisting of twelve persons. "These now took charge of the captives and treated them with no particular unkindness, save that of forcing them to extend their journey still further toward an Indian settlement.
One day they told the prisoners that there was one ceremony to which they must submit after their arrival at their destination, and that was running the gauntlet between two files of Indians.
This announcement filled Mrs. Dustin and her companions with so much dread, that they mutually resolved to make a desperate attempt to escape.
Mrs. Hannah Dustin, Mrs. Mary Neff the nurse, and the lad Samuel Leonardson, only eleven years of age, were certainly not persons to excite the fear of a dozen sturdy warriors. The Indians believed the lad faithful to them, and never dreamed that the women would have courage enough to attempt to
escape, and no strict watch was kept over them.
In order to throw the savage captors off their guard, Mrs. Dustin seemed to take well to them, and on the day before the plan of escape
was carried out, she ascertained, through inquiries made by the lad, how to kill a man instantly and how to take off his scalp.
“Strike him here," the Indian explained, placing his finger on his temple, "and take off his scalp so,” showing the lad how it was done. With this information, the plot was ripe. Just before dawn of day, when the Indians sleep most profound, Mrs. Dustin softly rose from her bed of earth and touched Mary Neff on the shoulder. A single touch was sufficient to awake her, and she
Next the lad had to be aroused. Being young and wearied, his slumbers were profound. An Indian lay near asleep. Mrs. Dustin seized his tomahawk, and Mrs. Neff seized another In
The nurse shook Samuel. The lad rose, rubbed his eyes and went over to where the man lay, who had instructed him in the art of killing. He seized his hatchet and held it in his hand ready. At a signal from Mrs. Dustin, three blows fell on three temples, and with a quiver three sleepers in life had passed to the sleep of death. Once more the hatchets were raised, and six of the twelve were dead. The little noise they were compelled to make disturbed the slumbers of the others, and the three hatchets, now red with blood, fell on three more. Mrs. Neff, growing nervous and excited, cut her man's head a little too far
forward, and he started up with a yell. The blood blinded him, however, and she stabbed him.
The yell had roused the others, and a squaw with a child fled to the woods, while the tenth, a young warrior, was assailed by Mrs. Dustin and the lad and slain ere he was fully awake. Ten of the twelve were dead, and the escaped prisoners, after scuttling all the boats save one, to prevent pursuit, started in that down the river, with what provisions they could take from the Indians. They had not gone far, when Mrs. Dustin said:
“We have not scalped the Indians.”
“When we get home and tell our friends that we three slew ten Indians, they will demand some proof of the assertion, and the ten scalps will be proof.”
Samuel Leonardson, boy like, was anxious to have the scalps of his foes, and so they overruled Mrs. Neff and, turning about, went back to the camp which was now deserted save by the ghastly dead, their glassy eyes gazing upward at the skies.
“This is the way he told me to do it,” said Samuel, seizing the tuft of hair on the head of the man who had instructed him in scalping. He ran the keen edge of a knife around the skull and, by a quick jerk, pulled off the scalp.
Being novices in the art, it took them some time
to remove the scalps from the heads of all; but the bloody task was finally accomplished and putting the scalps in a bag, they once more embarked in the Indian canoe and started down the stream.
“With strong hearts, the three voyagers went down the Merrimac to their homes, every moment in peril from savages or the elements, and were received as persons risen from the dead. Mrs. Dustin found her husband and children saved. Soon after, she went to Boston, carrying with her a gun
and tomahawk, which she had brought from the wigwam, and her ten trophies, and the general court of Massachusetts gave these brave sufferers fifty pounds as a reward for their heroism. ExGovernor Nicholson, of Maryland, sent a metal tankard to Mrs. Dustin and Mrs. Neff, as a token of his admiration. That tankard is now (1875) in the possession of Mr. Emry Coffin, of Newburyport, Massachusetts. During the summer of 1874, one hundred and seventy-seven years after the event, citizens of Massachusetts and New Hampshire erected on the highest point of Dustin's Island an elegant monument, commemorative of the heroic deed. It displays a figure of Mrs. Dustin, holding in her right hand, raised in the attitude of striking, a tomahawk, and a bunch of scalps in the other. On it are inscribed the names of Hannah Dustin,
Mary Neff and Samuel Leonardson, the English
Haverhill was a second time attacked and desolated during King William's war, and other places suffered. The treaty at Ryswick, a village near the Hague, in Holland, soon after, put an end to the indiscriminate slaughter in Europe and America. At this insignificant little village, a peace was agreed upon between Louis XIV. of France and England, Spain and Holland, and the German Empire, which ended a war of more than seven years' duration. Louis was compelled to acknowledge William of Orange to be the sovereign of England. That war cost Great Britain one hundred and fifty millions of dollars in cash, besides a hundred millions loaned. The latter laid the foundation of England's enormous national debt, which, to-day, amounts to five thousand millions of dollars.
Prior to the treaty at Ryswick, a Board of Trade and Plantations was established in England, whose duty it was to have a general oversight of the affairs of the American colonies. It was a permanent commission, the members of which were called “Lords of Trade and Plantations.” It consisted of seven members, with a president, and was always a ready instrument of oppression in the
* Lossing's “Our Country," vol. iii., p. 418.