Carrot Ranch: April 11, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the phrase “beggars can’t be choosers.” You can play with the words, alter them or interpret them without using the phrase. Give it any slant you want — show what it means or add to its meaning. Go where the prompt leads!
I was led to a story I had read about as a child, and more recently read a great deal about when I got to spend a week at Deerfield, MA on a National Endowment for Humanities scholarship for a course called “Living at the Edge of Empire”, which explored how Queen Anne’s War played out in North America. Native American groups across New England, New York, and New France were making military and economic choices whose alliances impacted them culturally- their religion, economics, and politics. Among Native American groups it was common practice to replace lost family members with captives who would be adopted and taken in as their own. In the Raid on Deerfield in 1704, many from that English settlement were taken captive by Native Americans allied with New France. Most of these English captives were redeemed, ransoms paid to the French officials, or exchanged for prisoners held by the English. Eunice Williams, youngest daughter of Deerfield’s Puritan minister, John Williams, at the age of seven, was adopted almost immediately upon her arrival at the Kanienkehaka (Mohawk) town in New France near Montreal. Her treatment on the harried route north after the raid would suggest that she was chosen to replace a lost child in Kahnawake. Despite many attempts by her father to redeem her, to return her to Deerfield, she refused, though she and her husband and children did visit Massachusetts in later years after her father’s death.
When John Williams comes to Kahnawake I feel an old fear of being taken by force from people I love. My family, and even Governor Vaudreuil, say it is my choice. I am 16 and married, a Catholic woman of the Bear Clan, Marguerite Kanenstenhawi; I am no longer John Williams’ daughter Eunice. I no longer understand the English words he speaks, but I remember his contempt for the Jesuits and the Kanienkehaka people. Should I return to his New England I would be a captive. He pleads but I choose to remain with the family who chose me.