| America First|
|by Lawton B. Evans|
|Collection of one hundred action-packed stories, covering the range of American history, from the first visit of Leif the Lucky to the exploits of Sergeant York in World War I. In relating the long, thrilling story of the trials and triumphs of the pioneers and patriots, the author aims to gratify the love of children for the dramatic and picturesque, to satisfy them with stories that are true, and to make them familiar with the great characters in the history of their own country. Ages 8-12 |
DURING the time of King William's War, there lived, near Haverhill, Massachusetts, a man named Thomas Dustin,
and his wife, Hannah. They had built a home, and had a small family of children, among whom was a little baby.
One day, Mr. Dustin left his wife and baby in the house, and, with his other children, was cutting wood some
distance away. Possibly he was clearing ground for the planting of a new crop, for it was early spring, and
the weather was good.
The Indians had not been giving them much trouble of late, and Mr. Dustin did not think it dangerous to leave
his wife and baby with the
 nurse for a while. But, alas, the Indians were watching him, and, at a favorable moment, burst from the forest
near by, rushed upon the house, slew the little baby and carried Mrs. Dustin and the nurse off into the woods!
Mr. Dustin heard the awful yells of the savages, and flew to the rescue of his wife and child. But it was too
late! The party had been swallowed up in the forest, and, as the Indians leave no trail, the heart-broken man
gave his loved ones up for lost.
For fifteen days the Indians forced Mrs. Dustin and the nurse to trudge with them through the forest. There
was still some snow and ice in places, and neither woman was clad for such a journey. In fact, Mrs. Dustin had
but one shoe, and traveled over a hundred miles, thus partly barefoot. They endured great hardships by day,
and, at night, were so closely guarded by two Indians that there was no chance of escape. At last, they came
to a place, now known as Dustin Island, where they found other white captives,—two men, one woman, and
seven children. There was also a young boy, who had been held for over a year.
Mrs. Dustin gathered from what the Indians said that it was their intention to make their prisoners "run the
gauntlet," when they reached
 their final destination. By "running the gauntlet" was meant that a prisoner was stripped to the waist and
made to run between two files of Indians who beat him with clubs and sticks. He was indeed fortunate if he
reached the end of the file alive.
FOR FIFTEEN DAYS THE INDIANS REQUIRED MRS. DUSTIN AND
THE NURSE TO TRUDGE WITH THEM THROUGH THE WOODS.
For many days the party rested where they were, presumably waiting for more prisoners. Mrs. Dustin talked with
the other captives, made friends with the Indians, and showed no suspicion of her designs, in order to throw
them off their guard, if it could be done. She told the boy to do likewise; and he won the favor of a Chief,
who explained to him how to scalp an enemy.
Mrs. Dustin now began to plan some definite way of escape. Five weeks had passed, and, at her suggestion, the
prisoners showed no signs of trying to get away. In fact, they talked to the Indians as if they would like to
be adopted into the tribe, and live a savage life. Mrs. Dustin succeeded in getting a little corn every day
and hiding it, and she finally found out from the Indians exactly where they were, and in what direction lay
the white settlements. In the meantime, she and the nurse had also learned how to scalp, and several sharp
knives had been secured by them and hidden away.
 At last a time came when the Indians no longer kept guard. They all slept, and sometimes their sleep was very
deep. Mrs. Dustin often arose and went among the braves, to see how wakeful they were to sounds. But they
slept as if no one was near. Then one night arrived, after a hard hunt, when the Indians were so tired and had
feasted so fully that they had fallen into a very deep sleep indeed.
It was dark, and all around was still. Mrs. Dustin gently shook the boy and the nurse, who arose with
tomahawks and knives in hand. Each selected three Indians, and Mrs. Dustin took four. Slowly they crept, by
the dim light of the camp fire, close to the sleeping savages. Knife after knife descended with unerring aim,
and the tomahawk struck its deadly blow quickly and surely, until ten Indians lay dead. Not a soul was left of
them, except one old Indian woman and a boy of eleven, who escaped in the dark.
Mrs. Dustin and her companions freshly lighted the fire, and by the glow scalped all the dead Indians. Then
they made their way to the canoes on the shore, and, scuttling the boats except those they needed, they took
the guns, ammunition and food belonging to the Indians, as well as the food they had hidden, and started down
 Day after day they paddled, pausing at night to rest. Cautiously they built small fires to cook their
much-needed food. While they slept, one was always left awake and on guard. After a while, the party reached
home, and there was great rejoicing, for they had long since been given up as dead.
The General Assembly of Massachusetts voted Mrs. Dustin a large sum of money, and the Governor of Maryland
sent her a silver tankard which, to this very day, is preserved with much pride by her descendants.
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