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fended by seven resolute men and as many resolute women, it withstood the efforts of three hundred. French and Indians. They attacked it repeatedly and tried various methods to set it on fire, but without success, all the while suffering from the fire which was poured upon them from the windows and loopholes of the building. The enemy finally gave up the attempt in despair.
Mrs. Williams had a babe but a few weeks old and was quite feeble—a circumstance which rendered her case hopeless. Her agony was intensely increased by witnessing the murder of two of her little ones, who were dragged to the door and butchered like swine, as was also a black woman who belonged to the family.
At the expiration of about two hours, the enemy, having collected the prisoners and plundered and set fire to the buildings, took up their march from the place. In his narrative, Mr. Williams says:
“We were carried over the river to the foot of the mountain, about a mile from my house, where we found a great number of our Christian neighbors, men, women and children, to the number of one hundred, nineteen of whom were murdered afterward on the way, and two starved to death near Coos, in a time of great scarcity and famine the savages underwent there. When we came to
the foot of the mountain, they took away our shoes and gave us Indian shoes to prepare us for our journey.”
George Stevens, who was among the prisoners, noticed that they had brought away the chapel bell, which had been captured by the New England privateer the Elizabeth. While making a short halt here, all were startled by the cracking of rifles, and a party of English dashed on the French and Indians to rescue their friends. After a short but sharp engagement, the English were driven back, leaving nine of their number dead in the snow. The French and Indians, fearing vengeance, continued to retreat as rapidly as they could.
In the course of the route, it became necessary to cross Creek River, at the upper part of Deerfield meadow. By a change of conductors, Mr. Williams, who had before been forbidden to speak to his fellow-captives, was now permitted to do so, and even to assist his distressed wife, who began to show marked signs of exhaustion. George Stevens, who was at the side of the unfortunate mother, had aided her all he could. This was the last meeting between husband and wife. She very calmly told him that her strength was fast failing and that he would soon lose her.
Husband and wife were that day separated, and he was sent forward with another party of savages. George Stevens, who was left with the unfortunate woman, noted her flagging footsteps and offered to carry her bundle. In crossing a stream, in which the water came almost to their waists, Mrs. Williams lost her footing and fell into the water, being for a moment completely submerged. George rescued her from drowning and brought her to shore almost dead.
“Why did you not let me drown?" she asked. “I cannot go much further.”
“Be brave, Mrs. Williams. Live for your husband and five children!” said George.
She made a noble effort to keep up; but, coming to the foot of the mountain, she cast her eyes up the steep ascent and, clasping her hands, sank down, murmuring:
“It's no use.”
One of the Indians saw her and started toward her with a tomahawk. George knew what would follow and so turned away his head. There followed a sickening blow, a stifled groan, and all was over. George went on and overtook Mr. Williams, sitting sad and despondent at the wayside, inquiring of each prisoner for his wife. When George told him all, the good man wept, prayed and resumed his journey.
After some days, they reached the mouth of White River, where Rouville divided his force into several parties, who took different routes to the St. Lawrence. Mr. Williams and George Stevens belonged to a party which was sent to the Indian village of St. Frances on the St. Lawrence by the way of Lake Champlain. After a short residence at that village, they were sent to Montreal, where they were treated with kindness by Governor Vaudreuil..
In the year 1706, fifty-seven of these captives were conveyed to Boston in a flag-ship, among them Mr. Williams and all his remaining children (two having previously been ransomed and sent home) except his daughter Eunice, whom, notwithstanding all his exertions, he was never able to redeem, and whom, at the tender age of ten years, he was obliged to leave among the Indians. As she grew up under Indian influence, having no other home and no other friends who could counsel and guide her, she adopted their manners and customs, settled with them in a domestic state, marrying a young Mohawk chief, by whom she bore several children. She became an ardent Catholic and was ever firmly attached to her religion.
Some time after the war, she visited her relatives at Deerfield in company with her husband. She was dressed in Indian costume, and, strange as it may seem, could not be induced to remain among her relatives, preferring her dusky husband and
half-blood children, and her wild life to New England civilization.
There was one prisoner who did not return in 1706. It was George Stevens.
He was sent to Montreal and apprenticed to a Frenchman. His master was cruel and soon aroused the hatred of the young Virginian. At the age of seventeen he resolved to make his escape and return to his friends in New England or Virginia.
George was a sailor by profession, and his first thought of escape was by the river. One dark night, he and two English sailors, who had been captured during the war, escaped from their guard, stole a small sloop and started down the St. Lawrence as fast as wind and tide could carry them.
They were pursued. From out the darkness came the flash of guns and whiz of balls. Their sails were cut with bullets, and at dawn they were overhauled and taken back in triumph.
“We need not expect mercy,” declared one of the sailors.
Little mercy was expected, and less was shown. They were informed that they were no longer to be respected as prisoners of war, but were tried and condemned as felons. George was taken into court, arraigned and forced to plead. He under