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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

Favors in the Midst of Afflictions

By John Williams (1664–1729)

[From The Redeemed Captive Returning to Zion. 1707.]

MY march on the French river was very sore, for, fearing a thaw, we travelled a very great pace; my feet were so bruised, and my joints so distorted by my travelling in snow-shoes, that I thought it impossible to hold out. One morning a little before break of day my master came and awaked me out of sleep, saying, “Arise, pray to God, and eat your breakfast, for we must go a great way to-day.” After prayer I arose from my knees, but my feet were so tender, swollen, bruised, and full of pain, that I could scarce stand upon them without holding by the wigwam. And when the Indians said, “You must run to-day,” I answered I could not run. My master pointed out his hatchet; said to me, “Then I must dash out your brains and take off your scalp.” I said, “I suppose, then, you will do so, for I am not able to travel with speed.” He sent me away alone, on the ice. About sun half an hour high he overtook me, for I had gone very slowly, not thinking it possible to travel five miles. When he came up, he called me to run; I told him I could go no faster. He passed by without saying one word more: so that sometimes I scarce saw anything of him for an hour together. I travelled from about break of day till dark, and never so much as sat down at noon to eat warm victuals,—eating frozen meat, which I had in my coat-pocket, as I travelled. We went that day two of their days’ journey as they came down. I judge we went forty or forty-five miles that day. God wonderfully supported me, and so far renewed my strength, that in the afternoon I was stronger to travel than in the forenoon. My strength was restored and renewed to admiration. We should never distrust the care and compassion of God, who can give strength to them who have no might, and power to them who are ready to faint.

When we entered on the lake, the ice was rough and uneven, which was very grievous to my feet, that could scarce bear to be set down on the smooth ice on the river. I lifted up my cry to God in ejaculatory requests, that he would take notice of my state, and some way or other relieve me. I had not marched above half a mile before there fell a moist snow, about an inch and a half deep, that made it very soft for my feet to pass over the lake to the place where my master’s family was. Wonderful favors in the midst of trying afflictions!