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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
Touching at times on the coast, to barter and chaffer
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
760 Traders: these would either come down the coast from the fishing at Monhegan on the Maine coast, or up from the Virginia colony.
765, 766 Plague: Squanto, the Indian friendly to the Pilgrims, had sought to increase his importance among the neighboring tribes by telling them that the Pilgrims kept the plague in their cellars, and that he could get them to send it out if he chose.
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
"Now Wattawamat can see, by the fiery eyes of the
Angry is he in his heart; but the heart of the brave Wattawamat
Is not afraid at the sight. He was not born of a
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 Wattawamat?'"
Then he unsheathed his knife, and, whetting the blade on his left hand,
Held it aloft and displayed a woman's face on the
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
787 The Indian braves were generally large of stature. Standish was short. They considered women inferior. Furthermore, they did no work except perhaps to pick the leaves of the tobacco. All the planting and hoeing of the corn, the grinding of the meal, the cooking, and the carrying of burdens were done by the women. So there is a triple insult intended by the speech of Pecksuot; that is, that the Captain was little, that he was no better than a woman, and that he might go and work.
Peeping and creeping about from bush to tree in the
Feigning to look for game, with arrows set on their
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
Swift and sudden and keen came a flight of feathery
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
Hotly pursued and beset; but their sachem, the brave
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.
803, 804 What is the meaning of these lines? This was the only actual battle which the Pilgrims fought with the Indians for over half a century.
809 It is possible that even at this early day the Indians had decided that the white men were come to deprive them of their land. It became their fixed idea in later times.