« EelmineJätka »
sions were over, I was conducted and delivered to an old squaw, whom the Indians told me I must call my mother. 20. My infant still continued to be the property of its original Indian owners. I was nevertheless permitted to keep it with me a while longer, for the sake of saving them the trouble of looking after it. When the weather began to grow cold, shuddering at the prospect of approaching winter, I acquainted my new mother, that I did not think it would be possible for me to endure it, if I must spend it with her, and fare as the Indians did.
21. Listening to my repeated and earnest solicitations, that I might be disposed of among some of the French inhabitants of Canada, she at length set off with me and my infant, attended by some male Indians, upon a journey to Montreal, in hopes of finding a market for me there. But the attempt proved unsuccessful, and the journey tedious indeed.
22. Our provision was so scanty as well as insipid and unsavoury; the weather was so cold, and the travelling so very bad, that it often seemed as if I must have perished on the way.
23. While we were at Montreal, we went into the house of a certain French gentleman, whose lady being sent for, and coming into the room where I was, to examine me, seeng I had an infant, exclaimed with an oath, "I will not buy a woman who has a child to look after."
24. There was a swill-pail standing near me, in which I observed some crusts and crumbs of bread swimming on the surface of the greasy liquor it contained. Sorely pinched with hunger, I skimmed them off with my hands, and ate* them; and this was all the refreshment which the house afforded me.
25. Somewhere in the course of this visit to Montreal, my Indian mother was so unfortunate as to catch the small pox, of which distemper she died soon after our return, which was by water, to St. François. And now came on the season when the Indians began to prepare for a winter's hunt.
26. I was ordered to return my poor child to those of them who still claimed it as their property. This was a severe trial. The babe clung to my bosom with all its might;
but I was obliged to pluck it thence, and deliver it, shrieking and screaming, enough to penetrate a heart of stone, into the hands of those unfeeling wretches, whose tender mercies may be termed cruel.
27. It was soon carried off by a hunting party of those Indians to a place called Messiskow, at the lower end of Lake Champlain, whither, in about a month after, it was my fortune to follow them. And here I found it, it is true, but in a condition that afforded me no great satisfaction; it being greatly. emaciated, and almost starved.
28. I took it in my arms, put its face to mine, and it instantly bit me with such violence, that it seemed as if I must have parted with a piece of my cheek. I was permitted to lodge with it that and the two following nights; but every morning that intervened, the Indians, 'I suppose on purpose to torment me, sent me away to another wigwam, which stood at a little distance, though not so far from the one in which my distressed infant was confined, but that I could plainly hear its incessant cries, and heartrending lamentations.
29. In this deplorable condition, I was obliged to take my leave of it, on the morning of the third day after my arrival at the place. We moved down the lake several miles the same day; and the night following was remarkable on account of the great earthquake which terribly shook that howling wilderness.
NARRATIVE OF MRS. HOWE, concluded.
AMONG the islands hereabouts, we spent the winter scason, often shifting our quarters, and roving about from one place to another; our family consisting of three persons only, beside myself, viz. my late mother's daughter, whom therefore I called my sister, her sanhop, and a pappoose.†
2. They once left me alone two dismal nights; and when they returned to me again, perceiving them smile at each other, I asked what is the matter? They replied, that two of my children were no more. One of which, they said, died natural death, and the other was knocked on the head † child.
3. I did not utter many words, but my heart was sorely pained within me, and my mind exceedingly troubled with strange and awful ideas. I often imagined, for instance, that I plainly saw the naked carcasses of my deceased children hanging upon the limbs of the trees, as the Indians are wont to hang the raw hides of those beasts which they take in hunting.
4. It was not long, however, before it was so ordered by kind Providence, that I should be relieved in a good measure from those horrid imaginations; for, as I was walking one day upon the ice, observing a smoke at some distance upon the land, it must proceed, thought I, from the fire of some Indian hut; and who knows but some one of my poor children may be there.
5. My curiosity, thus excited, led me to the place, and there I found my son Caleb, a little boy between two and three years old, whom I had lately buried, in sentiment at least, or, rather, imagined to have been deprived of life, and perhaps also denied a decent grave.
6. I found him likewise in tolerable health and circumstances, under the protection of a fond Indian mother; and, moreover, had the happiness of lodging with him in my arms one joyful night. Again we shifted our quarters, and, when we had travelled eight or ten miles upon the snow and ice, came to a place where the Indians manufactured sugar, which they extracted from the maple trees.
7. Here an Indian came to visit us, whom I knew, and who could speak English. He asked me why I did not go to see my son Squire. I replied that I had lately been informed that he was dead. He assured me that he was yet alive, and but two or three miles off, on the opposite side of the lake.
8. At my request, he gave me the best directions he could to the place of his abode. I resolved to embrace the first opportunity that offered of endeavouring to search it out. While I was busy in contemplating this affair, the Indians obtained a little bread, of which they gave me a small share.
9. I did not taste a morsel of it myself, but saved it all for my poor child, if I should be so lucky as to find him. At length, having obtained of my keepers leave to be absent
for one day, I set off early in the morning, and, steering as well as I could, according to the directions which the friendly Indian had given me, I quickly found the place, which he had so accurately marked out.
10. I beheld, as I drew nigh, my little son without the camp; but he looked, thought I, like a starved and mangy puppy, that had been wallowing in the ashes. I took him in my arms, and he spoke to me these words, in the Indian tongue; Mother, are you come?"
11. I took him into the wigwam with me, and, observing a number of Indian children in it, I distributed all the bread which I had reserved for my own child among them all otherwise I should have given great offence.
12. My little boy appeared to be very fond of his new mother; kept as near me as possible while I staid; and, when I told him I must go, he fell as though he had been knocked down with a club.
13. But, having recommended him to the care of him who made him, when the day was far spent, and the time would permit me to stay no longer, I departed, you may well suppose, with a heavy load at my heart. The tidings I had received of the death of my youngest child had, a little before, been confirmed to me beyond a doubt; but I could not mourn so heartily for the deceased as for the living child.
14. When the winter broke up, we removed to St. John's; and, through the ensuing summer, our principal residence was at no great distance from the fort at that place. In the mean time, however, my sister's husband, having been out with a scouting party to some of the English settlements, had a drunken frolick at the fort, when he returned.
15. His wife, who never got drunk, but had often experienced the ill effects of her husband's intemperance, fearing what the consequence might prove, if he should come home in a morose and turbulent humour, to avoid his insolence, proposed that we should both retire, and keep out of the reach of it, until the storm abated.
16. We absconded accordingly; but so it happened, that I returned, and ventured into his presence, before his wife had presumed to come nigh him. I found him in his wig
wam, and in a surly mood; and, not being able to revenge himself upon his wife, because she was not at home, he laid hold of me, and hurried me to the fort; and, for a trifling consideration, sold me to a French gentleman, whose name was Saccapee.
17. It is an ill wind certainly that blows nobody any good. I had been with the Indians a year lacking fourteen days; and, if not for my sister, yet for me, it was a lucky circumstance indeed, which thus, at last, in an unexpected moment, snatched me out of their cruel hands, and placed me beyond the reach of their insolent power.
18. After my Indian master had disposed of me in the manner related above, and the moment of sober reflection had arrived, perceiving that the man who bought me had taken the advantage of him in an unguarded hour, his resentment began to kindle, and his indignation rose so high, that he threatened to kill me if he should meet me alone; or, if he could not revenge himself thus, that he would set fire to the fort.
I was, therefore, secreted in an upper chamber, and the fort carefully guarded, until his wrath had time to cool. My service in the family, to which I was advanced, was perfect freedom, in comparison with what it had been among the barbarous Indians.
20. My new master and mistress were both as kind and generous towards me as I could reasonably expect. I seldom asked a favour of either of them, but it was readily granted. In consequence of which, I had it in my power, in many instances, to administer aid and refreshment to the poor prisoners of my own nation, who were brought into St. John's during my abode in the family of the above-mentioned benevolent and hospitable Saccapee.
21. Yet even in this family such trials awaited me as I had little reason to expect; but stood in need of a large stock of prudence, to enable me to encounter them. In this I was greatly assisted by the governour and Col. Schuyler, who was then a prisoner.
22. I was, moreover, under unspeakable obligations to the governour on another account. I had received intelligence from my daughter Mary, the purport of which was, that there was a prospect of her being shortly married to a