Previously: Dead Giveaway (WIP-4)
…After a brief pause, Henry said, “Miles, can I ask you a personal question.”
“Most certainly Henry, ask away.” Miles said without hesitation.
“Do you remember when you died?”
Miles stared at Henry for a long minute. With a slight nod he began.
“Father was an educated man, but he wanted to set up his own homestead. After John Eliot built an Indian missionary church right near here by the river,” Miles said pointing west towards the Merrimack River, “father decided it was safe enough to bring us out to the frontier and build a farm.”
Miles sat in the chair near the window.
“We had a hundred acres that spanned from up here right down to the river. It was a fair bit up from the Namoskeag falls, but there was still plenty of fish. We moved here when I was 12, and we worked the land. We had good relations with the Penacook, and traded with them. Some of them would sup with us from time to time. Everything was good for a spell.”
Miles stared out the window. He had a far away look, like he was somewhere else.
“We started hearing stories from fur traders and some of the Penacook about attacks down in southern parts of Massachusetts. An Indian named Metacom started an insurrection. At first we were not worried as the attacks were far away. One day a trader told us the entire town of Deerfield had been burnt to the ground. Many were dead and others were taken prisoner. As the attacks increased and spread out, we received news less frequently. We did not know much of what was happening outside our settlement, but the feeling was that it was getting worse.”
Miles hands were clenched into fists, and he folded his arms across his body. His right leg bobbed up and down rapidly. When he looked up, Henry could see real fear in Miles’s eyes.
“It was early one morning during the harvest. The light was just coming up, and father, Joseph, Edward and I were getting ready to go to work in the fields. Father and Edward were already outside, when I heard a commotion and yelling. Then came shots. Father ran into the house shouting, ‘Indians, grab the guns.’ Mother was shouting. ‘Where’s Edward!’ but father didn’t answer. He grasped his musket and handed me another. We could hear whooping and hollering getting closer. It was all happening so fast.
I rushed outside ahead of father and Joseph. A figure was moving at speed in my direction. I just pointed and fired. I couldn’t see if I hit him through the smoke. There was yelling and gunfire all over. I began reloading in earnest when something pounded into my chest and caused me to fall flat on my back. I couldn’t catch my breath. I could hear my brother yell, then scream. Then I heard my sister Elizabeth screaming nearby. I tried getting up but could barely raise my head. Suddenly an Indian, an Abenaki I think, stood over me sneering. He carried a stone club. Looking into his cold, black eyes, I could see no mercy there, no compassion. He swung his arm and all went black.”
Henry stared as Miles looked back out the window, hugging himself and rocking back and forth.
“When I awoke, I at first did not recognize where I was. It was very overcast, the clouds were heavy with rain. I stood before a smoldering ruin. It was some minutes before I realized it was all that remained of our home. In front of the house lay my mother in the grass face down. She was bloodied and still. My father had been stripped of his clothes and his chest and belly had been split open. I could see the bodies of my brothers near the now empty animal pens and smoldering barn. My sisters Elizabeth and Grace were nowhere to be seen. I looked back at the woods from whence the Indians came. The forest was now silent and dark.”
Miles looked back at Henry again, his eyes large and dark. There would be tears if he could cry. His leg stopped moving, and he unfolded his arms and they lay limp at his sides.
“Another body lay at my feet. It was a stranger. He lay on his back, his arms and legs splayed out. I could not recognize who he had been as his face and head had been knockt bloody. His feet were bare. His shoes and stockings had been taken. His once white shirt was soaked in blood, and he wore brown trousers just like mine. He also had a scar on his lower right leg just like mine, which I received after a mishap with an axe when I was younger.” Miles whispered resting his chin on his chest, and lifting his hands to his face examining them.
“My thought was the stranger had come to help us, but had died in the process. I wandered about the area calling for help. None came. Another day passed, or two I think, when a group of Christian Penacook Indians arrived. I knew some of them. One was named Daniel. I tried speaking to him, but he ignored me as if I were not there. The Indians gathered up my parents, my brothers, and the stranger and buried them together not far from where the house had been. They laid rocks upon the grave to keep animals from digging them up. A crude wooden cross was fashioned, and a prayer was said. Then they left.”
“That stranger was you wasn’t it Miles?” Henry said.
Miles just nodded, still looking down. “My family now lies in the back corner of your yard, beneath the fence and your shed.” Miles finished, and lifted his head to look directly at Henry.
His mouth agape, Henry said, “You and your family are buried in our back yard?…”