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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
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 mus
kets and powder, Kept by the white man, they said, concealed, with the plague, in his cellars,
765 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 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
Wattawamat Is not afraid at the sight. He was not born of a
woman, But on a mountain, at night, froin an oak-tree riven
by lightning, Forth he sprang at a bound, with all his weapons about him,
775 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
handle, Saying, with bitter expression and look of sinister
“I have another at home, with the face of a man on the handle;
780 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!
785 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
Meanwhile Standish had noted the faces and figures
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
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,
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
Straight there arose from the forest the awful sound
of the war-whoop, And, like a flurry of snow on the whistling wird 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 in thicket,
805 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
810 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.