« ZurückWeiter »
inftant death, with which they were threatened, in case of disobedience and refusal: they were, therefore, under the necessity of joining the other two white men. Mr. Johnson, however, though compelled, for the preservation of his own life, to pretend to do like the others, firmly determined not to make himself guilty of cccafioning the flavery, or probable death, of the unfor. tunate passengers on board, by any voluntary action on his part; and, consequently, neither to make the smalleft gesture, vor to speak a word : and well might he spare himself this trouble. His companions exerted themselves to the utmost, to excite the compassion of the pafsengers on board, who, without the leait hestation, ftood in towards the shore, to succour and rescue from slavery those whom they thought unfortunate captives. Scarcely had they approached within a 1mall diitance of the shore, when the Indians, who, as on the preceding day, had stolen along behind the bushes, haltened up, fired, and shot the six persons on board. Shouts of victory succeeded to the howls of barbarous rage. The veffel was hauled on fhore; and two of the ill-fated passengers, who were not yet dead, were im. mediately dispatched with the tomahawk. The fix scalps were torn off and dried, and the bocty was di. vided, but with fewer formalities than on the preceding day. Soon after the scouts made signals, that three other vessels were in fight : the same stratagem was employed, but for this time, in vain. The families on board, which were proceeding to Kentucky, did not appear to make any attempt to deviate from their course, but, on the contrary, pursued it with redoubled activity. The Indians fired at the vessels, but from the breadth of the Ohio, which, in this place, is almost a mile, the balls took no effect : yet the passengers were panic struck. Of the three vessels, which they occupied with their cattle, they deserted two, and joined all in one ; believing that they might thus proceed faster,
and more certainly make their escape. The other two vessels they abandoned to the stream. This measure inspired the Indians with a hope of seizing them, which they would never have attempted, if the passengers, without leaving these two vessels, had stedfastly pursued their course. The Indians, who, in all their enterprises, were rather animated by a thirst for plunder, than by real courage, never venture upon an attack, without being convinced that they are superior in strength; a conviction which they do not readily admit. Inspirired by their number, by the obvious panic of their enemies, and by the feparation of their means of defence, they resolved on pursuing them. Having on the preceding day captured two vesels, they went on board, embarked their prisoners, and, with all possible speed, pursued the flying ship. The two vessels which had been aban. doned to the stream, foon fell into their hands; but, not satisfied with their capture, they were bent upon taking the chird, which they pursued with redoubled exertion, raising dreadful howls, and discharging all their pieces; but their fire proved as ineffectual as their other exertions. The fugitive vessel having gained considerably the start of them, approached a tpot where the Indians feared to encounter new enemies. They were, accordingly, obliged to relinquish their design, and to content themselves with the rich booty whichi had already fallen into their hands. They brought every thing on fore, and, without distributing the whole, fell eagerly on some casks of whisky. They drank to largely, that all of them were foon intoxicated. Six or seven, to whom was committed the charge of giarding the booty, and who had been ordered at the beginning of thele Bacchanalian revels, to drink with moderation, retained alone the use of their fenies. All the rest lay buried in a profound sleep; and, among them, the leader of the party and the guards of the prifuners. Mr. Johnson's mind was too deeply affected by his dreadful fituation to share in this disgusting banquet. Totally absorbed in the contemplation of the dangers and miseries that awaited him, and eagerly deSirous of warding them off, if pollible, he conceived that the profound sleep of all the Indians around him might afford the means of escape, and communicated his idea to James Skuyl, who was lying by his fide. The vefsels were fastened to stakes along the shore, at a small distance from them : the succels of their enterprise depended merely on their stealing thither unobserved, throwing themselves into the first vessel they should find, the night being very dark, and abandon her to the stream. Success appeared as certain, if they could reachi the vessels, as instant death, on the other hand, if they were apprehended.
The last words of this conversation were uttered in a voice so very low, that it was impollible to conceive they should have been understood by an Indian, who lay at a considerable distance, though he were even poflessed of a knowledge of the English tongue; yet he arose, and tied them in the same manner as the preceding night, without showing, however, the least pallion, nay, without speaking a word.
Thus the pleasing hopes of the two prisoners were blasted on a sudden, and converted into renewed dee' spair.
At break of day the surrounding troop awoke ; they were untied ; and this day, the third of their captivity, was spent in continual revels, kept up with the whisky, which had been left the preceding day. The leader, probably from an opinion that this expedition had already proved fufficiently productive, proclaimed his will on the next following day, that it should be closed; and the different tribes, which had taken a share in it, fet out on their way home. They all inhabited the neighbourhood of the lakes Ontario and Erie. The leader of the most numcrous tribe was a Shiawanese; the rett VOL. VIII.
were Lower Creeks, Wyandats, Mingoes, Othenwages, Delawares, Ottawas, Chepowas, and Cherokees.
Mr. Johnson, with James Skuyl, being compelled to accompany the Shawanese on their return, often experienced much brutal treatment; Mr. Johnson was lold by them to a chief of the Mingoes; but falling in soon after with the faine tribe of the Shawanese, who were the stronger party, he was violently torn from his new masters, and a re-plunged into his former anxiety and misery
His situation appeared to him the more desperate, as a French merchant of Canada, who, being informed by the Indians that the Shawanese had a white prisoner with them, came to redeem him, but had met with a refusal from the chief, who told him, that he meant to lead him, with the other booty, in triumph through his town. The merchant promised Mr. Johnson to renew his application the next morning, but the latter had renounced all hope. The merchant actually came the next morning according to his promise, at the time of the arrival of the prisoner, and made several trifling bargains with the Indiáns : but all his applications concerning Johnson were in vain. An event, with which his most fanguine hopes could not have flattered him, foon took place. The Shawanese, proceeding on their journey, met an Indian with a horfe loaded with whisky; part of the booty was quickly exchanged for some barrela: The next morning the remainder of the booty went the same way, and on the following day they paid the Indian for what whisky he had left, in horfes, which they had brought with them from the banks of the Ohio. The Shawanese passed six days in a state of continual intoxication, and continued drinking until they had nothing left to drink. Ashamed to return to their tribe without any trophies, but one fingle prisoner, they determined on another expedition, in which Mr. Johnson was to co-operate . Yet, on mature deliberation, they found it still mare adviseable to fell the prisoner, in order to be able to drink whisky, and drink it largely, previously to their taking the field again. The expression of vehemence and savageness in their faces, which was heightened by the fumes of whisky, not yet altogether evaporated, greatly increased Mr. Johnson's uneasiness during these debates. It was in vain his woe-worn mind endeavoured to find out their object, when the following morning he was called to the two chiefs, who ordered him to mount a horse and push on with them as fast as he could. He now imagined his last hour was come, but this time his fear was not of long duration. The place whither he was conducted was not above five miles distant; it was the habitation of Mr. Duchoquet, the merchant whom he had already seen. After some glasses of whisky had been drunk, the bargain was foon ftruck; fix hundred small filver Thirt-buckles, such as the common people wear, constituted the ransom, amounting to twenty-five louis d'or.
At the beginning of June, Mr. Duchoquet set out with his guest on his journey to Canada. * Lake Erie was but fifty miles distant. They embarked there for Detroit, where Mr. Duchoquet resides, and arrived there on the 13th of June.
The English governor ordered Mr. Johnson to be conveyed across Lake Erie, in a king's yacht. Thence he went in another veffel to the celebrated cataract of Niagara, to conceive an adequate idea of which, is beyond the powers of human fancy. From this ftupendous water-fall he proceeded in a boat along the banks of Lake Ontario, and thence on the river Oswego to Albany, New York, and Virginia, where, having been afflicted fix weeks by fate, favages, and musquitoes, he rejoined his family, whom he had utterly delpaired of ever seeing again ; happy that so many sufferings terminated in this fortunate but unexpected event.