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Lesson 8
Captives of 1704: Eunice Williams, the Parson's Daughter

The little frontier town of Deerfield, Massachusetts, sleeps quietly within its strong stockade, surrounded by deep snow-drifts. Only the stars light the wide street, and, save for the distant howl of a wolf in the outlying forest, all is still. Even the sentry falls a-dreaming.

But suddenly a dreadful sound is heard. It is the Indian warcry!

A little girl of seven, the parson's daughter, wakens in terror. She hears the tomahawks hacking at the neighbors' houses. Now they are at the parsonage. The heavy door crashes in. Eunice Williams sits up trembling in bed.

Now the house fills with cruel savages. She sees flaring torches. Oh, the hideous, painted faces! She sees the glare of leaping flames. She hears the screams of the wounded and dying. Her parents are bound and thrust, half naked, out into the bitter night.

But little Eunice catches sight of one kind face among those cruel hundreds. With a smile she stretches out her tiny hands. The friendly Mohawk lifts her to his shoulder.

Morning dawned grey over a desolate town. Deerfield lay in ashes, her people dead or carried away captive towards distant Canada.

Some were given moccasins and snow-shoes, for the trail was long and the snow was deep. Many fell by the way, among them Eunice's mother, who, frail as she was brave, sank upon the further bank of an icy stream and was tomahawked.

But of all this Eunice knew little, and she made the journey of three hundred miles or more with much comfort.

Sometimes she rode behind dogs on a sledge loaded with plunder from Deerfield homes, but more often she was carried on the shoulder or in the arms of her new friend.

At night, her bed was of hemlock boughs, fragrant and sweet. The moon looked tenderly down on a warm, happy little Eunice, wrapped in furs, and sheltered from every breath of wind. Storms comfortable shelter thrown up by strong and supple red hands. In countless ways like these she was cared for by her gentle enemy.

When they reached Canada he took her into his wigwam, where she became one of the family. Here she was visited by her unhappy father. He was shocked to find his little daughter so quickly changed, for in manner and speech she was now an Indian, and even her prayers were altered.
Quick to learn the ways of lodge and forest, she helped the squaws and won their favor. Soon she could handle a canoe with the best, and she excelled in catching fish.

During the next few years many efforts were made for her release. Her old neighbor, Mr. Sheldon, landlord of Deerfield Tavern, was sent by the Governor of Massachusetts to Canada, where he ransomed more than a hundred of the Deerfield captives. But when he came to take Eunice, she refused to leave her master and he would not let her go. After him came the French Governor with the offer of a hundred pieces of gold for her redemption, but it was refused.

At last one day Eunice was visited by a Personage, very beautiful and very gracious, none other than the wife of the Governor of Canada. Never had the child seen anyone more lovely nor who spoke in such melting tones. How could she refuse her, so fair, so generous, and who begged so very hard?

It is certain that seldom in such a small person has there been found so strong a will. Eunice's father had not been firmer with the Jesuit priests.

For to the pleadings of Governors and to those of her father and of his old friend, and of the Governor's lovely lady, she turned alike a deaf ear.

Eunice Williams had chosen her people. By a priest she was baptized Margaret, but the Indians called her Aongote--Adopted.

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