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Pequot Swamp




A pursuit was once resolved upon.  Hastily filling up their largest canoe with supplies, and accompanied by two faithful Indian allies, Wampeag and Catoonah, all were well armed, they started for the islands (now Norwalk Islands) a short distance from the mouth of the river, thinking that if their fears were true, and Esther had been abducted by that tribe, they had probably stopped their over night, and might not yet have left.  Love, filial affection, and revenge nerved the ears, and they were not long in reaching the islands.  As they had surmised, the Indians had stopped there; but they were now gone.  The embers from a recent fire were still warm; the print of the same moccasins was visible; the prow of the same canoe had left its mark in the sand.  Burning with impatience and rage, and resolved to lose their lives if need be, in the attempt to save her, they started at once for Long Island, feeling sure from so many indications, that their foes were Nehantics, living near what is now known as Eaton's Neck.      But to return to Esther, whom we left gathering flowers, little dreaming of danger.  She had wandered from the path in quest of some rare colors with which to deck the brow of her lover, and having sufficient for her purpose, seated herself near a thick copse and finished her wreath.  As she was looking with admiration upon her work, her cheeks flushed with the thought of how pleased Josiah would be, she was suddenly seized by four dusky Pequots.  Before she had time to make any outcry, she was gagged, tied, and hurried into the woods.  Making a wide detour through the woods, which were then continuous from Pequot Swamp to the Sasco, the Indians dragged the almost insensible Esther to a bend in the Sasco, (where now stands the dwelling of Capt. Thorp,) and there meeting two comrades in waiting with a canoe, hastily embarked and glided down the river to a dense clump of woods near  its mouth, where they waited until under cover of the darkness,  they could proceed in safety.  As soon as it was fairly dark they left the river, and hugging along the land, stopped at the place where Esther, a few hours before, had so happily tripped ashore.  Here they purposely dropped the wreath, and the arrow which had formerly belonged to the Nehantic, and leaving plenty of traces in the sand, they started for the islands.  Staying there until near midnight, and leaving fuel enogh on the fire to last till morning, they then doubled their track, and returning to Sasco River, were long before daylight, snugly ensconced in their Pequot lair; succeeding well, as we have seen, in throwing his party off trail.

So intent were the pursuers on the object they had in view, so earnest in their purpose to rescue Esther, that they had hardly noticed the heavy swell of the sea noticed the heavy swell of the sea from a violent northeaster, which then, as now, was common to September.  The wind blew almost a gale, and was increasing every moment.  They had proceeded about half the distance from Long Island, when Enoch, who seemed to have a presentiment of his fate, exclaimed to his companions, "we shall never reach the shore!  O, my poor Esther, I shall never see you again!"  Their frail bark soon after began to take in water.  Still by bailing and using the utmost skills to keep her trimmed, they succeeded in getting within a mile of the shore, near the reef, when they were capsized.  Enoch, with one look of despair, sank, and was not seen after.  Josiah and the two Indians clung to the boat, and nearly exhausted, drifted ashore.      The Nehantics, though not friendly to the tribe on this side, yet had enough of human kindness in their hearts to befriend a shipwrecked company.  Josiah and his companions were tenderly cared for, and they learned from the Nehantics, without exciting their suspicions, that none of their tribe had made any voyages to the north shore within several days.  Grief, the double bereavement, the loss of his beloved and of him who was a father, had well-nigh unmanned Josiah, and   with a heavy heart he made preparations for returning.      The next morning, the storm having subsided, they started.  On their way they stopped again at the islands to see if they could discover any more traces of Esther and her captors.  That her abductors had been their was plain; but the Nehantics were not the guilty party.  Who could it have been?  They again examined the beach.  The footprints of Esther were plainly visible, for the Pequots had unbound her after reaching the islands.  On looking further, where there was a spot of smooth clean sand, the tracks appeared to have a method--a design about them, and examing them closely, they could plainly make out the word "Pequot" imprinted by her feet in the sand.  this gave them a clue, and yet a faint one.  Of the history of the battles they were familiar, knowing that the Pequots were all killed or taken away prisioners, except the few that joined the Mohegans.  Had some of that few returned, and with their whites captive gone back to the Mohegans?      Oh, with what a feeling of lonliness and almost utter despair Josiah gazed upon that word in the sand.  He could imagine how she, intently watching her masters lest they should discover her intentions, had endeavored to guide her friends in their pursuit.  those dear footprints seemed to him the last of Esther.  Hope of seeing her again had nearly fled.      Sadly they turned the prow of their boat homeward.  No Esther-no Enoch.  How could Josiah break the tidings to the mother�the wife.  Had they come back--this party of rescuers--bringing the darling object of their search, with what alacrity their little craft would have sped over the intervening water.  But now, instead of one to them as dead, another, Enoch, the head--the chief of the little family, was gone.  How languidly the canoe crept towards the landing.  How they dreaded to meet the anxious bereaved one.




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