A Narrative of the Captivity, Sufferings, and Removes of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson/20 The twentieth Remove

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The twentieth Remove.

IT was their usual manner to remove, when they had done any mischief, lest they should be found out; and so they did at this time. We went about three or four miles, and there they built a great wigwam, big enough to hold an hundred Indians, which they did in preparation to a great day of dancing. They would now say among themselves, that the governor would be so angry for his loss at Sudbury, that he would send no more about the captives, which made me grieve and tremble. My sister being not far from this place, and hearing that I was here, desired her master to let her come and see me, and he was willing to it, and would come with her; but she being ready first, told him she would go before, and was come within a mile or two of the place. Then he overtook her, and began to rant as if he had been mad, and made her go back again in the rain: So that I never saw her till I saw her in Charlestown, but the Lord requited many of their ill-doings, for this Indian her master, was hanged afterwards at Boston. They began now to come from all quarters, against their merry dancing day. Amongst some of them came one goodwife Kettle. I told her my heart was so heavy that it was ready to break: “So is mine too,” said she, “but yet I hope we shall hear some good news shortly.” I could hear how earnestly my sister desired to see me, and I earnestly desired to see her; yet neither of us could get an opportunity. My daughter was now but a mile off; and I had not seen her for nine or ten weeks, as I had not seen my sister since our first taking. I desired them to let me go and see them, yea I entreated, begged and persuaded them to let me see my daughter; and yet so hard-hearted were they, that they would not suffer it. They made use of their tyrannical power whilst they had it, but through the Lord's wonderful mercy, their time was now but short.

On a Sabbath-day, the sun being about an hour high in the afternoon, came Mr. John Hoar (the council permitting him, and his own forward spirit inclining him) together with the two fore-mentioned Indians, Tom and Peter, with the third letter from the council. When they came near, I was abroad. They presently called me in, and bid me sit down, and not stir. Then they catched up their guns and away they ran, as if an enemy had been at hand, and the guns went off apace. I manifested some great trouble, and asked them what was the matter? I told them I thought they had killed the Englishman (for they had in the mean time told me that an Englishman was come) they said no; they shot over his horse, and under, and before his horse, and they pushed him this way and that way, at their pleasure, shewing what they could do. Then they let him come to their wigwams. I begged of them to let me see the Englishman, but they would not; but there was I fain to sit their pleasure. When they had talked their fill with him, they suffered me to go to him. We asked each other of our welfare, and how my husband did, and all my friends? He told me they were all well, and would be glad to see me. Among other things which my husband sent me, there came a pound of tobacco, which I sold for nine shillings in money; for many of them for want of tobacco, smoaked hemlock and ground-ivy. It was a great mistake in any who thought I sent for tobacco, for through the favour of God, that desire was overcome. I now asked them whether I should go home with Mr. Hoar? They answered no, one and another of them, and it being late, we lay down with that answer. In the morning Mr. Hoar invited the Saggamores to dinner; but when we went to get it ready, we found they had stolen the greatest part of the provision Mr. Hoar had brought. And we may see the wonderful power of God, in that one passage, in that when there was such a number of them together, and so greedy of a little good food, and no English there but Mr. Hoar and myself, that it was a wonder they did not knock us on the head, and take what we had; there being not only some provision, but also trading cloth, a part of the 20 pounds agreed upon. But instead of doing us any mischief, they seemed to be ashamed of the fact, and said it was the Matchit Indians that did it. Oh that we could believe that there was nothing too hard for God. God shewed his power over the heathen in this, as he did over the hungry lions, when Daniel was cast into the den. Mr. Hoar called them betime to dinner, but they eat but little, they being so busy in dressing themselves and getting ready for their dance; which was carried on by eight of them, four men and four Squaws; my master and mistress being two. He was dressed in his holland shirt, with great stockings, his garters hung round with shillings, and had girdles of wampum upon his head and shoulders. She had a kersey coat, covered with girdles of wampum from the loins upward. Her arms from her elbows to her hands were covered with bracelets, there were handfuls of necklaces about her neck, and several sorts of jewels in her ears. She had fine red stockings, and white shoes, her hair powdered, and her face painted red, that was always before black. And all the dancers were after the same manner. There were two others singing and knocking on a kettle for their musick. They kept hopping up and down one after another, with a kettle of water in the midst, standing warm upon some embers, to drink of when they were dry. They held on till almost night, throwing out wampum to the standers-by. At night I asked them again, if I should go home? they all as one said no, except my husband would come for me. When we were lain down, my master went out of the wigwam, and by and by sent in an Indian called James the printer, who told Mr. Hoar, that my master would let me go home to-morrow, if he would let him have one pint of liquor. Then Mr. Hoar called his own Indians, Tom and Peter, and bid them all go and see if he would promise it before them three; and if he would he should have it, which he did and had it. Philip smelling the business, called me to him, and asked me what I would give him, to tell me some good news, and to speak a good word for me, that I might go home to-morrow? I told him I could not tell what to give him, I would any thing I had, and asked him what he would have? He said two coats, and 20 shillings in money, half a bushel of seed corn, and some tobacco. I thanked him for his love, but I knew that good news as well as that crafty fox. My master after he had his drink, quickly came ranting into the wigwam again, and called for Mr. Hoar, drinking to him and saying he was a good man, and then again he would say, “Hang him, a rogue.” Being almost drunk, he would drink to him, and yet presently say he should be hanged. Then he called for me; I trembled to hear him, and yet I was fain to go to him; and he drank to me shewing no incivility. He was the first Indian I saw drunk, all the time I was among them. At last his Squaw ran out, and he after her, round the wigwam, with his money jingling at his knees, but she escaped him; but having an old Squaw he ran to her, and so through the Lord's mercy, we were no more troubled with him that night. Yet I had not a comfortable night's rest; for I think I can say I did not sleep for three nights together. The night before the letter came from the council, I could not rest, I was so full of fears and troubles; yea, at this time I could not rest night nor day. The next night I was overjoyed, Mr. Hoar being come, and that with such good tidings. The third night I was even swallowed up with the thoughts of going home again; and that I must leave my children behind me in the wilderness; so that sleep was now almost departed from mine eyes.

On Tuesday morning they called their General Court (as they stiled it) to consult and determine whether I should go home or no. And they all seemingly consented that I should go, except Philip, who would not come among them.

But before I go any farther, I would take leave to mention a few remarkable passages of Providence, which I took special notice of in my afflicted time.

1. Of the fair opportunity lost in the long march, a little after the fort fight, when our English army was so numerous, and in pursuit of the enemy, and so near as to overtake several and destroy them; and the enemy in such distress for food, that our men might track them by their rooting the ground for ground-nuts, whilst they were flying for their lives: I say, that then our army should want provisions, and be obliged to leave their pursuit, and return homeward, and the very next week the enemy came upon our town, like bears bereft of their whelps, or so many ravenous wolves, rending us and our lambs to death. But what shall I say? God seemed to leave his people to themselves, and ordered all things for his own holy ends. Shall there be evil in the city, and the Lord hath not done it? They are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph, therefore they shall go captive, with the first that go captive. It is the Lord's doing, and it should he marvellous in our eyes.

2. I cannot but remember how the Indians derided the slowness and the dulness of the English army in its setting out. For after the desolations at Lancaster and Medfield, as I went along with them, they asked me when I thought the English army would come after them? I told them I could not tell. It may be they will come in May, said they; thus they did scoff at us, as if the English would be a quarter of a year getting ready.

3. Which also I have hinted before, when the English army with new supplies were sent forth to pursue after the enemy, and they understanding it, fled before them till they came to Baquaug River, where they forthwith went over safely; that the river should be impassable to the English. I cannot but admire to see the wonderful providence of God, in preserving the Heathen for further affliction to our poor country. They could go in great numbers over, but the English must stop: God had an overruling hand in all those things.

4. It was thought, if their corn were cut down, they would starve and die with hunger; and all that could be found was destroyed and they driven from that little they had in store, into the woods, in the midst of winter; and yet how to admiration did the Lord preserve them for his holy ends, and the destruction of many still among the English! Strangely did the Lord provide for them, that I did not see (all the time I was among them) one man, woman or child die with hunger. Though many times they would eat that, that a hog or a dog would hardly touch; yet by that God strengthened them to be a scourge to his people.

Their chief and commonest food was ground-nuts, they eat also nuts and acorns, artichokes, lily roots, ground beans, and several other weeds and roots that I know not.

They would pick up old bones, and cut them in pieces at the joints, and if they were full of worms and maggots, they would scald them over the fire, to make the vermin come out, and then boil them, and drink up the liquor, and then beat the great ends of them in a mortar, and so eat them. They would eat horses' guts, and ears, and all sorts of wild birds which they could catch. Also bear, venison, beavers, tortoise, frogs, squirrels, dogs, skunks, rattle-snakes. Yea, the very bark of trees; besides all sorts of creatures, and provision which they plundered from the English. I can but stand in admiration to see the wonderful power of God, in providing for such a vast number of our enemies in the wilderness, where there was nothing to be seen, but from hand to mouth. Many times in the morning, the generality of them would eat up all they had, and yet have some farther supply against they wanted. But now our perverse and evil carriages in the sight of the Lord, have so offended him, that instead of turning his hand against them, the Lord feeds and nourishes them up to be a scourge to the whole land.

5. Another thing that I would observe is, the strange providence of God in turning things about when the Indians were at the highest, and the English at the lowest. I was with the enemy eleven weeks and five days, and not one week passed without their fury and some desolation by fire or sword upon one place or other. They mourned for their own losses, yet triumphed and rejoiced in their inhuman and devilish cruelty to the English. They would boast much of their victories; saying, that in two hours' time they had destroyed such a captain and his company, in such a place; and such a captain and his company in such a place; and boast how many towns they had destroyed, and then scoff, and say, they had done them a good turn, to send them to heaven so soon. Again they would say, this summer they would knock all the rogues on the head, or drive them into the sea, or make them fly the country; thinking surely, Agag-like, The bitterness of death is past. Now the heathen begin to think all is their own; and the poor Christians' hopes fail (as to man) and now their eyes are more to God, and their hearts sigh heaven-ward, and they say in good earnest, Help, Lord, or we perish. When the Lord had brought his people to this, that they saw no help in any thing but himself, then he takes the quarrel into his own hand; and tho' they had made a pit, as deep as hell for the Christians that summer, yet the Lord hurled themselves into it. And the Lord had not so many ways before to preserve them, but now he hath as many to destroy them.

But to return again to my going home; where we may see a remarkable change of providence. At first they were all against it, except my husband would come for me; but afterward they assented to it, and seemed to rejoice in it: Some asking me to send them some bread, others some tobacco, others shaking me by the hand, offering me a hood and scarf to ride in: not one moving hand or tongue against it. Thus hath the Lord answered my poor desires, and the many earnest requests of others put up unto God for me. In my travels, an Indian came to me, and told me, if I were willing he and his Squaw would run away, and go home along with me. I told them no, I was not willing to run away, but desired to wait God's time that I might go home quietly, and without fear. And now God hath granted me my desire. O the wonderful power of God that I have seen, and the experiences that I have had. I have been in the midst of those roaring lions, and savage bears, that feared neither God, nor man, nor the devil, by night and day, alone and in company; sleeping all sorts together, and yet not one of them ever offered the least abuse of unchastity to me, in word or action. Though some are ready to say, I speak it for my own credit; but I speak it in the presence of God, and to his glory. God's power is as great now, as it was to save Daniel in the lion's den, or the three children in the fiery furnace. Especially that I should come away in the midst of so many hundreds of enemies, and not a dog move his tongue. So I took my leave of them, and in coming along, my heart melted into tears, more than all the while I was with them, and I was almost swallowed up with the thoughts that ever I should go home again. About the sun's going down, Mr. Hoar, myself, and the two Indians, came to Lancaster, and a solemn sight it was to me. There had I lived many comfortable years among my relations and neighbours: and now not one Christian to be seen, or one house left standing. We went on to a farm house that was yet standing, where we lay all night; and a comfortable lodging we had, though nothing but straw to lie on. The Lord preserved us in safety that night, and raised us up again in the morning, and carried us along, that before noon we came to Concord. Now was I full of joy, and yet not without sorrow: joy, to see such a lovely sight, so many Christians together, and some of them my neighbours: There I met with my brother, and my brother-in-law, who asked me if I knew where his wife was? poor heart! he had helped to bury her, and knew it not; she being shot down by the house, was partly burnt, so that those who were at Boston at the desolation of the town, came back afterward and buried the dead, did not know her Yet I was not without sorrow, to think how many were looking and longing, and my own children among the rest, to enjoy that deliverance that I had now received; and I did not know whether ever I should see them again. Being recruited with food and raiment, we went to Boston that day, where I met with my dear husband; but the thoughts of our dear children, one being dead, and the other we could not tell where, abated our comfort in each other. I was not before so much hem'd in by the merciless and cruel heathen, but now as much with pitiful, tender hearted and compassionate Christians. In that poor and beggarly condition, I was received in, I was kindly entertained in several houses. So much love I received from several (many of whom I knew not) that I am not capable to declare it. But the Lord knows them all by name; the Lord reward them seven-fold into their bosoms of his spirituals, for their temporals. The twenty pounds, the price of my redemption, was raised by some Boston gentlewomen, and Mr. Usher, whose bounty and charity, I would not forget to make mention of. Then Mr. Thomas Shepard of Charlestown received us into his house, where we continued eleven weeks; and a father and mother they were unto us. And many more tender-hearted friends we met with in that place. We were now in the midst of love, yet not without much and frequent heaviness of heart, for our poor children and other relations, who were still in affliction. The week following, after my coming in, the governor and council sent to the Indians again, and that not without success; for they brought in my sister, and goodwife Kettle. Their not knowing where our children were, was a sore trial to us still: and yet we were not without secret hopes of seeing them again. That which was dead lay heavier upon my spirits, than those which were alive among the heathens: thinking how it suffered with its wounds, and I was not able to relieve it; and how it was buried by the heathen in the wilderness from among all Christians. We were hurried up and down in our thoughts, sometimes we should hear a report that they were gone this way and sometimes that; and that they were come in, in this place or that, we kept inquiring and listening to hear concerning them, but no certain news as yet. About this time the council had ordered a day of publick thanksgiving, though I had still cause of mourning; and being unsettled in our minds, we thought we would ride eastward, to see if we could hear any thing concerning our children. As we were riding along between Ipswich and Rowley, we met with William Hubbard, who told us our son Joseph, and my sister's son, were come into Major Waldren's; I asked him how he knew it? He said the major himself told him so. So along we went till we came to Newbury; and their minister being absent, they desired my husband to preach the thanksgiving for them; but he was not willing to stay there that night, but he would go over to Salisbury, to hear farther, and come again in the morning, which he did, and preached there that day. At night when he had done, one came and told him that his daughter was come into Providence: Here was mercy on both hands. Now we were between them, the one on the east, and the other on the west; our son being nearest, we went to him first, to Portsmouth, where we met with him, and with the major also, who told us he had done what he could, but could not redeem him under seven pounds, which the good people thereabouts were pleased to pay. The Lord reward the major, and all the rest, though unknown to me, for their labour of love. My sister's son was redeemed for four pounds, which the council gave order for the payment of. Having now received one of our children, we hastened toward the other. Going back thro' Newbury, my husband preached there on the Sabbath-day, for which they rewarded him manifold.

On Monday we came to Charlestown, where we heard that the governor of Rhode Island had sent over for our daughter, to take care of her, being now within his jurisdiction; which should not pass without our acknowledgments. But she being nearer Rehoboth than Rhode Island, Mr. Newman went over and took care of her, and brought her to his own house. And the goodness of God was admirable to us in our low estate, in that he raised up compassionate friends on every side, when we had nothing to recompence any for their love. The Indians were now gone that way, that it was apprehended dangerous to go to her; but the carts which carried provision to the English army, being guarded, brought her with them to Dorchester, where we received her safe; blessed be the Lord for it. Her coming in was after this manner: She was travelling one day with the Indians, with her basket at her back; the company of Indians were got before her, and gone out of sight, all except one Squaw; she followed the Squaw till night, and then both of them lay down, having nothing over them but the heavens, nor under them but the earth. Thus she travelled three days together, having ing nothing to eat or drink but water and green hirtle-berries. At last they came into Providence, where she was kindly entertained by several of that town. The Indians often said, that I should never have her under twenty pounds, but now the Lord hath brought her in upon free cost, and given her to me the second time. The Lord make us a blessing indeed to each other. Thus hath the Lord brought me and mine out of that horrible pit, and hath set us in the midst of tender hearted and compassionate Christians. 'Tis the desire of my soul, that we may walk worthy of the mercies received, and which we are receiving.

Our family being now gathered together, the South church in Boston hired an house for us. Then we removed from Mr. Shepard's (those cordial friends) and went to Boston, where we continued about three quarters of a year. Still the Lord went along with us, and provided graciously for us. I thought it somewhat strange to set up house-keeping with bare walls, but as Solomon says, money answers all things; and that we had through the benevolence of Christian friends, some in this town, and some in that, and some from England, that in a little time we might look and see the house furnished with love. The Lord hath been exceeding good to us in our low estate, in that when we had neither house nor home, nor other necessaries, the Lord so moved the hearts of these and those towards us, that we wanted neither food nor raiment for ourselves or ours, Prov. 18. 24. There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. And how many such friends have we found, and now living among us! And truly such a friend have we found him to be unto us, in whose house we lived, viz. Mr. James Whitcomb, a friend near hand and far off.

I can remember the time, when I used to sleep quietly without working in my thoughts, whole nights together; but now it is otherwise with me. When all are fast about me, and no eye open, but his who ever awaketh, my thoughts are upon things past, upon the awful dispensations of the Lord towards us, upon his wonderful power and might in carrying of us through so many difficulties, in returning us in safety, and suffering none to hurt us. I remember in the night season, how the other day I was in the midst of thousands of enemies, and nothing but death before me. It was then hard work to persuade myself, that ever I should be satisfied with bread again. But now we are fed with the finest of the wheat, and (as I may say) with honey out of the rock. Instead of the husks we have the fat calf. The thoughts of these things in the particulars of them, and of the love and goodness of God towards us make it true of me, what David said of himself, Psal. 6. 6. I water my couch with my tears. O the wonderful power of God that mine eyes have seen, affording matter enough for my thoughts to run in, that when others are sleeping mine eyes are weeping.

I have seen the extreme vanity of this world. One hour I have been in health and wealth, wanting nothing, but the next hour in sickness, and wounds, and death, having nothing but sorrow and affliction. Before I knew what affliction meant I was ready sometimes to wish for it. When I lived in prosperity, having the comforts of this world about me, my relations by me, and my heart cheerful, and taking little care for any thing; and yet seeing many (whom I preferred before myself) under many trials and afflictions, in sickness, weakness, poverty, losses, crosses, and cares of the world, I should be sometimes jealous lest I should have my portion in this life. But now I see the Lord had his time to scourge and chasten me. The portion of some is to have their affliction by drops, but the wine of astonishment, like a sweeping rain, that leaveth no food, did the Lord prepare to be my portion. Affliction I wanted, and affliction I had full measure, pressed down and running over. Yet I see when God calls persons to never so many difficulties, yet he is able to carry them through, and make them say they have been gainers thereby, and I hope I can say, in some measure, as David, It is good for me that I have been afflicted. The Lord hath shewed me the vanity of these outward things; that they are the vanities of vanities, and vexation of spirit. That they are but a shadow, a blast, a bubble, and things of no continuance. If trouble from smaller matter begin to rise in me, I have something at hand to check myself with, and say, Why am I troubled? It was but the other day, that if I had had the world, I would have given it for my freedom, or to have been a servant to a Christian. I have learned to look beyond present and smaller troubles, and to be quieted under them, as Moses said, Exod. 14. 13. Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.


THE END.