Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

Out of my heart will I pluck it, and throw it

away,

and henceforward Be but a fighter of battles, a lover and wooer of dangers!" Thus he revolved in his mind his sorry defeat and dis

comfort, While he was marching by day or lying at night in the

forest, Looking up at the trees, and the constellations beyond

them.

After a three days' march he came to an Indian en

campment Pitched on the edge of a meadow, between the sea and the

forest; Women at work by the tents, and the warriors, horrid with

war-paint, Seated about a fire, and smoking and talking together; Who, when they saw from afar the sudden approach of the

white men,

[ocr errors]

Saw the flash of the sun on breastplate and sabre and

musket, Straightway leaped to their feet, and two, from among

them advancing, Came to parley with Standish, and offer him furs as a

present; Friendship was in their looks, but in their hearts there was

hatred. Braves of the tribe were these, and brothers gigantic in

stature, Huge as Goliath of Gath, or the terrible Og, king of

Bashan; One was Pecksuot named, and the other was called WattaRound their necks were suspended their knives in scabbards

wamat.

of wampum, Two-edged, trenchant knives, with points as sharp as a

needle. Other arms had they none, for they were cunning and crafty. “Welcome, English!” they said, -these words they had

learned from the traders Touching at times on the coast, to barter and chaffer for

peltries. Then in their native tongue they began to parley with

Standish, Through his guide and interpreter, Hobomok, friend of the

white man,

Begging for blankets and knives, but mostly for muskets

and powder, Kept by the white man, they said, concealed, with the plague

in his cellars, Ready to be let loose, and destroy his brother the red man! But when Standish refused, and said he would give them

the Bible, Suddenly changing their tone, they began to boast and to

bluster. Then Wattawamat advanced with a stride in front of the other And, with a lofty demeanor, thus vauntingly spake to the

Captain: “Now Wattawamat can see, by the fiery eyes of the Captain, Angry is he in his heart; but the heart of the brave Watta

wamatait; i. Is not afraid at the sight. He was not born of a woman, But on a mountain, at night, from an oak-trée riven by

lightning, Forth he sprang at a bound, with all his weapons about

him,

Shouting, Who is there here to fight with the brave Wat

tawamat?' Then he unsheathed his knife, and, whetting the blade on

his left hand, Held it aloft and displayed a woman's face on the handle, Saying, with bitter expression, and look of sinister meaning: “I have another at home, with the face of a man on the

handle: By and by they shall marry; and there will be plenty of

children!"

Then stood Pecksuot forth, self-vaunting, insulting Miles

Standish: While with his fingers he patted the knife that hung at his

bosom, Drawing it half from its sheath, and plunging it back, as he

muttered, “By and by it shall see; it shall eat; ah, ha! but shall

speak not! This is the mighty Captain the white men have sent to

destroy us! He is a little man; let him go and work with the women!”

Meanwhile Standish had noted the faces and figures of

Indians Peeping and creeping about from bush to tree in the

forest, Feigning to look for game, with arrows set on their bow

strings, Drawing about him still closer and closer the net of their

ambush. But'undaunted he stood, and dissembled and treated them

smoothly;

.

So the old chronicles say, that were writ in the days of the

fathers. But when he heard their defiance, the boast, the taunt; and

the insult, All the hot blood of his race, of Sir Hugh and of Thurston

de Standish, Boiled and beat in his heart, and swelled in the veins of

his temples. Headlong he leaped on the boaster, and, snatching his

knife from its scabbard, Plunged it into his heart, and, reeling backward, the savage Fell with his face to the sky, and a fiendlike fierceness

upon it.

Straight there arose from the forest the awful sound of the

war-whoop, And, like a flurry of snow on the whistling wind of De

cember, Swift and sudden and keen came a flight of feathery arrows. Then came a cloud of smoke, and out of the cloud came the

lightning Out of the lightning thunder ; and death unseen ran before it. Frightened, the savages fled for shelter in swamp and in

thicket, Hotly pursued and beset; but their sachem, the brave

Wattawamat, Fled not; he was dead. Unswerving and swift had a bullet Passed through his brain, and he fell with both hands

clutching the greensward, Seeming in death to hold back from his foe the land of his

fathers.

There on the flowers of the meadow the warriors lay,

and above them,

Silent, with folded arms, stood Hobomok, friend of the

white man. Smiling at length he exclaimed to the stalwart Captain of

Plymouth: "Pecksuot bragged very loud, of his courage, his strength,

and his stature, Mocked the great Captain, and called him a little man; but

I see now Big enough have you been to lay him speechless before you!"

Thus the first battle was fought and won by the stalwart

Miles Standish. When the tidings thereof were brought to the village of

Plymouth, And as trophy of war the head of the brave Wattawamat Scowled from the roof of the fort, which at once was a

church and a fortress, All who beheld it rejoiced, and praised the Lord, and took

courage. Only Priscilla averted her face from this spectre of terror, Thanking God in her heart that she had not married Miles

Standish; Shrinking, fearing almost, lest, coming home from his

battles, He should lay claim to her hand, as the prize and reward

of his valor.

VIII.

THE SPINNING-WHEEL.

MONTH after month passed away, and in Autumn the ships

of the merchants

« ПредишнаНапред »