Sunday, July 8, 1755, Draper’s Meadow, Virginia. The Shawnee Indians launch a surprise attack on the settlement, killing most, but taking some prisoners, including a very pregnant Mary Draper Ingles and her two young sons. The captives are taken on a long journey to Shawnee Town, where they are somewhat assimilated into the community, Mary is sold as a slave and her sons are *adopted* by one of the Indian chiefs. Mary rebels at being another man’s slave and yearns to escape and return home to her husband, and she and Dutch woman Ghetel finally get their chance to leave – but there’s a terrible cost involved – winter is coming on and it is a long long way back to Draper’s Meadow.
On the eleventh day of their freedom they had to walk five miles upstream and then five miles downstream to get around another creek that had barred their progress up the bank of the O-y-o.
One thousand miles, and only the clothes on their backs (already in rags) and what food they are able to gather along the way. Mary had memorized the landscape on the journey to Shawnee Town and she’s sure she can find her way back by following the river – but there’s still the matter of food which becomes scarcer and scarcer as winter begins, and it’s a bit gruesome what some folks will do for food,
There were not even any worms now. There was no soil at the river’s edge, only rock. And up the slopes; the ground had hardened with cold; if there were earthworms in it, they had burrowed deep.
Mary Ingels and her story is a true one and you can read more about her on the internet if you care to spoil yourself. I enjoyed this book, and found Mary’s story fascinating, but take fair warning – this is not the book for everyone. Mary faces some very difficult decisions before setting out, decisions that might not sit well with some readers. The conditions on the return trip and what Mary and Ghetel are forced to endure and things they are forced to eat are not pretty, and the author doesn’t pull any punches sugar-coating it. 4/5 stars.
FTC, Kindle edition obtained via library loan.