Judging Hannah Duston | Woman Scalped Captors
Thomas, Hannah’s husband, is out in the fields. He’s looking them over, seeing where the water collects, thinking where he might ditch the meadow. He has his gun with him, the long rifle, as it is known. Last summer, in Haverhill, four were killed while in their field, picking beans. But what can he do? It’s terrible living inside the garrisons; it’s crowded and boring. Their land, their house need them. If Thomas keeps his wits about him, and if the Lord wills it, he and his family will make it through this difficult time.
If the Lord wills it. Do Thomas and Hannah truly believe that? They must. They are constantly encouraged to examine all incidents in the light of how they illustrate God’s plan. A priest may be an agent of Satan, smallpox the instrument of God.
But they must be motivated by deeper, more primitive instincts as well. They are human, and they want to live. They like to eat, laugh, drink beer, smoke tobacco, have sex. They are willing to fight. When they examine their hearts, they may secretly accept their small daily lapses, their lusty appetites.
Let us meet some other instruments of God, hidden at the edge of the clearing where Thomas is staring at the sky. They have feathers in their scalp locks and their faces are painted red. They are carrying tomahawks and flintlocks.
Thomas catches a movement out of the corner of his eye. Ten Indians step from behind the trees. They level their guns at him and a series of shots break the morning stillness. Thomas leaps on his shying horse and gallops toward the house, screaming as he rides. “Indians! Run to the Marsh garrison! Now! Lord save us!”
The children drop their sticks and stones, their rag dolls, and do as bid, grabbing the young ones up. But the garrison is a mile away, the Indians are already near. Their chances of making it are slim.
Thomas rushes into the house. Hannah is getting out of bed. Mary grabs the infant and runs out the door.
“Indians,” Thomas says.
“Run,” Hannah tells him. “Save the children.”
“But,” he says.