Dangers In The Wilderness, New York 1755

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They came upon us like a raging fire. I sped through the tall hayfield as rapidly as my skirts would allow. A bombardment of rifle fire erupted.

The outlined woods up ahead I feel are our only refuge. I heard much screeching and shouting behind me, smelled burning wood and ash. Sophia had been keeping up with me when last I saw her. I can still hear others coming behind me, though, who I do not know. I am afraid I will fall if I dare look back. Breathing is becoming painful. I cannot run much longer, but I will make it to the woods.

I plunged into its cover and fell beneath an undergrowth of shrubs thinking their branches would shield me. Sophia is not with me now I see that. We were on our way to a new and moral, yet foreign life in this beautiful wilderness which God has blessed with a wondrous harvest, flowing ribbons of cleansing waters, and where the lack of understanding causes other people so different to fight like the devils in hell as if we were the demons.

My face pushed in the fallen leaves on the ground, my brown hair now hanging loose covers it. I breathe hard trying to rest thinking I would soon need to run again. I hear rustling sounds coming closer. I do not know if friends or pursuers are about to come upon me. Laying there, my chest will not calm as I gasp for breath, praying for mercy for what is to come.

I can not imagine what has happened to my brother, Samuel, Master Mason, Sophia or the other six travelers who were sharing this journey. I can only hope that it is safety they have found from our mad torturers.

It is hard to rest; my thoughts tormented with fear. Samuel and I were on our way to live with our older brother’s widow. We only needed to cross the Hudson River heading south.

The guns fall silent. All of a sudden my arm is grasped and I am pulled to my knees, a male face and chest drawn with paint are before mine. He glares at me, I thought, as if I were the hare, and he, the hawk.

Another man of his race spoke from behind me and several others moved into view, paint on their chests and faces, too, and the strange attire of their tribe. If they knew English they gave me no sign. I see no one else of my kind and my fear numbs me. They spoke in their tongue to the one at my side who still held my arm viciously. His decision was unquestioned and we swiftly moved farther into the depths of the woods, his bruising hand remains on my arm, dragging me along.

They kept up a brutal pace, branches snag and whip at my clothes, hair, and flesh. This part of my horrifying journey ends at nightfall. I am weary but can see the river and its bank some distance through the trees.

The others are making a camp. My captor pulls me to a young birch a ways away from them, pushes me down at its base and binds my wrist together then ties me to the trunk before he joins his party.

There is food, though they offer me none. In my panic, and dazed condition I hope that not one of them approaches me in the night and I lean into the tree alone with my frightening thoughts.

I dozed on and off waking at intervals to several disquieting chants of these native warriors and shivers from the crisp night air.

In the faint light before dawn, I looked up into another face. One of a man whom I have not seen before. I am too weary to make a sound and pray that whatever happens next will be over quickly. I have resigned myself, and almost, do not care.

The others are asleep. This new man moves as softly as my captors, like a deer and motions me to be quiet and unties my wrists, clasps my arms helping me to my feet, my sore body protesting. I see now that he has long dark hair and wears the buckskin shirt and leggings of the frontiersmen. He is not one of them.

An arm of this captor surrounds my waist while silently guiding my steps down a path he seems familiar with. We are away from the camp before we begin to run.

Nearing the river I can see it flows rapidly and its sounds grow in my ears. On the bank the man collects a sack and rifle, and then pulls me along and we wade into the frigid water, heedless of my fear, to a fallen log that is at the river’s edge as if waiting for us.

We heard a startling cry from the woods, we push off together, an unspoken bond, then floating fast away. I was looking back seeing no one in pursuit when the man said words I barely understood.

“We need to get farther down river.” Hearing him speak broken English and turning to answer I see a wood cross hanging from a leather strap round his neck and felt saved.

~from Stories And Imaginings For The Reading Spot.

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