Path of Escape

An amazing article “Retracing a Mother’s Path of Escape Along a Wintry Merrimack” about a trip taken by Jay Atkinson to relive the journey made by Mrs. Duston in 1697 after her village, Haverhill in Northern Mass., was destroyed and the people massacred by the Abenaki warriors, in service to the French.

She was made captive with a few others and her week old daughter. Her daughter had her head smashed against a tree later on. They were moved to an island near Concord Mass. called Tiny Sugar Ball Island where they would be transferred to Quebec to be sold as slaves to the French.

But Mrs. Dunston and her companions moved with tomahawks and knifes to the sleeping Abenaki and killed them and scalped their victims and escaped, in a stolen canoe, through treacherous waters, to the French settlements in Quebec.

“Mrs. Duston’s ordeal is the story of the frontier: an incursion by European settlers, the forceful response by the original inhabitants and a solution perpetrated by the newcomers that led to the near eradication of the Indians.”

This year, on the anniversary of Mrs. Duston’s escape and journey, the author has taken this harrowing trip down the Merrimack River in freezing conditions and unforgiving nature very similar to the conditions in which Mrs. Duston traveled.

It is a very interesting story from a moral point view?

How to judge the massacre she inflicted?

We must go deeply in the circumstances and the historical context of the time, the religious wars and political conflicts between the English and the French, the Protestants and the Catholics.

I liked reading the article also because of the wording, the precision of the words of Mr. Atkinson. I love words.

The Merrimack roared along, and we shifted our weight back and forth, trying to remain afloat in crosscurrents that were pushing us every which way. Veering to port, we knifed through some wavelets until the river slowed again, and I could drink from my water bottle and scarf down an energy bar. It felt as though we were sliding forward on a gigantic swell when two reports erupted from the near bank, startling us.

“It’s calving like a glacier,” Chris said, indicating where a slab of ice had broken from the shore.

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