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Huge as Goliath of Gath, or the terrible Og, king of
Bashan; One was Pecksuot named, and the other was called Wat
tawamat. Round their necks were suspended their knives in scabbards
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
760 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:
770 “Now Wattawamat can see, by the fiery eyes of the Captain, Angry is he in his heart; but the heart of the brave Watta
wamat Is not afraid at the sight. He was not born of a woman,
But on a mountain, at night, from an oak-tree 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
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!
785 This is the mighty Captain the white men have sent to de
stroy us! He is a little man;2 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,
1 The foundation of this incident is a very prosaic account by Winslow. The action has been embellished almost beyond recognition.
2 The Indians called Miles Standish the “Little White Captain."
Feigning to look for game, with arrows set on their bowstrings,
790 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. 1 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,
795 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,
800 And, like a flurry of snow on the whistling wind of Decem
ber, 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, 1 The Pilgrims who came to America in the Mayflower are often referred to as the Pilgrim Fathers.
Fled not; he was dead. Unswerving and swift had a bullet Passed through his brain, and he fell with both hands clutch
ing the greensward, Seeming in death to hold back from his foe the land of his
There on the flowers of the meadow the warriors lay, and above them,
' 810 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
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 a trophy of war the head of the brave Wattawamat Scowled from the roof 1 of the fort, which at once was a
church and a fortress,
1 On the Tower of London and other public places in England, the heads of traitors and other malefactors were frequently exposed as a warning.
2 This fort was not built until the summer of 1622. "It was strong and comely, made with a flat roof and battlements, on which their ordnance were mounted, ... It served them also for a meeting-house, and was fitted accordingly for that use." — Bradford's History of Plymouth Plantation.
All who beheld it rejoiced, and praised the Lord, and took courage.
820 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.
Month after month passed away, and in autumn the ships
of the merchants Came with kindred and friends, with cattle and corn for the
Pilgrims. All in the village was peace; the men were intent on their
labors, Busy with hewing and building, with garden-plot and with
merestead, Busy with breaking the glebe, and mowing the grass in the
meadows, Searching the sea for its fish, and hunting the deer in the forest.
830 All in the village was peace; but at times the rumor of war
fare Filled the air with alarm, and the apprehension of danger.
1 In reality the ships did not arrive until about two years later.
? Each householder fenced in and cultivated the tract of land surrounding his home. This enclosed piece of land, with the home and its adjacent farm buildings, was called a merestead, from the Old English mere, meaning boundary, and stead, meaning place.