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Standish of Standish - A story of the Pilgrims
by Jane G. Austin
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Transcriber's note:

Inconsistencies in hyphenation have been maintained. Archaic usage of words such as "salvage" for "savage" and "randevous" for "rendezvous" have been maintained. Several misprints and punctuation errors have been corrected. A list of corrections can be found at the end of the text.



STANDISH OF STANDISH

A Story of the Pilgrims

by

Jane G. Austin

* * * * *

By Jane G. Austin

STANDISH OF STANDISH. A Novel. 16mo, $1.25.

BETTY ALDEN. A Novel. 16mo, $1.25.

A NAMELESS NOBLEMAN. A Novel. 16mo, $1.25; paper, 50 cents.

DR. LE BARON AND HIS DAUGHTERS. A Novel. 16mo, $1.25.

THE DESMOND HUNDRED. A Novel. 16mo, $1.00; paper, 50 cents.

NANTUCKET SCRAPS. Being the Experiences of an Off-Islander In Season and Out of Season. 16mo, $1.50.

HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & COMPANY, on and New York.

* * * * *

STANDISH OF STANDISH

A Story of the Pilgrims

by

JANE G. AUSTIN

Author of "A Nameless Nobleman," "The Desmond Hundred," "Mrs. Beauchamp Brown," "Nantucket Scraps," "Moon Folk," Etc., Etc.



Boston and New York Houghton, Mifflin and Company The Riverside Press, Cambridge 1892

Copyright, 1889, by Jane G. Austin. All rights reserved

Eleventh Edition.

The Riverside Press, Cambridge, Mass., U. S. A. Electrotyped and Printed by H. O. Houghton & Co.



Dedication.

TO THE MEMORY OF MY DEAR BROTHER,

JOHN A. GOODWIN,

WHO MORE THAN ANY MAN HAS CONSERVED FOR OUR DELIGHT THE STORY OF THOSE PILGRIM FATHERS "WITHOUT WHOSE LIVES OURS HAD NOT BEEN."



A PREFATORY NOTE.

The history of the Old Colony includes, among some very stern facts, a deal of sweet and tender romance, hitherto hardly known except to those who have learned it at their mother's knee.

But in these days many persons seem disposed to pause for a moment in the eager race after the golden fruits of the Pilgrims' husbandry, and to look curiously back at the spot where the seed was sown.

To such I offer this story of Myles Standish, The-Sword-of-the-White-Men, the hero, who not for gain, not from necessity, not even from religious zeal, but purely in the knightly fervor of his blood, forsook home, and heritage, and glory, and ambition, to company that helpless band of exiles, and to be the Great-Heart of their Pilgrimage to the City that they sought.

To such students I will promise that they shall not be misled as to facts, though these be strung upon a slender thread of romance; and I will beg them to ground themselves well upon the solid Pilgrim Rock, that they may the better understand the story of Lazarus LeBaron, son of A Nameless Nobleman, to be offered them in due time, unless Time shall be no more for the Author.

Boston, October, 1889. JANE G. AUSTIN.



CONTENTS.

CHAPTER PAGE

I. The Battle of the Tubs 1 II. The Launch of the Pinnace 19 III. The Sword of Standish 27 IV. The Lilies of France 41 V. An Awful Danger 54 VI. The First Encounter 63 VII. Clarke's Island 73 VIII. Burying Hill 86 IX. Rose 94 X. A Terrible Night 104 XI. The Colonists of Cole's Hill 115 XII. The Headless Arrow 134 XIII. The Captain's Promotion 141 XIV. Second Marriages 151 XV. Samoset 164 XVI. Priscilla Molines' Letter 176 XVII. An International Treaty 184 XVIII. The Last Link Broken 197 XIX. Sowed and Reaped in One Day 205 XX. Funeral-baked Meats and Marriage Feasts 213 XXI. An Affair of Honor 224 XXII. The Captain's Pipe 236 XXIII. "Speak for Yourself, John!" 243 XXIV. The Mysterious Grave 253 XXV. A Little Discipline 266 XXVI. The First Thanksgiving Day of New England 276 XXVII. A Love Philtre 288 XXVIII. Philip De La Noye 296 XXIX. Keeping Christmas 311 XXX. A Soldier's Instinct 319 XXXI. A Pot of Broth 343 XXXII. The Sunset Gun 351 XXXIII. Pecksuot's Knife 356 XXXIV. The Wolf at the Door 370 XXXV. The Brides' Ship 376 XXXVI. Marriage Bells 385 XXXVII. "And to be Wroth with one we Love!" 395 XXXVIII. Barbara 406 XXXIX. A Military Wedding 416 XL. "Parting is such Sweet Sorrow!" 420



STANDISH OF STANDISH.



CHAPTER I.

THE BATTLE OF THE TUBS.

It was Monday morning.

It was also the twenty-third day of November in the year of our Lord 1620; but this latter fact was either unknown or matter of profound indifference to the two-and-twenty women who stood ready to make the day memorable in the world's history, while the fact of Monday was to them one of paramount importance.

Do you ask why this was thus?

The answer is duplex: first, the two-and-twenty women were not aware of their own importance, nor could guess that History would ever concern herself with the date of their present undertaking; and second, for a reason whose roots are prehistoric, for they spring from the unfathomable depths of the feminine soul wherein abides inherently the love of purity, of order, and of tradition. Yes, in two hundred and seventy years the face of Nature, of empires, and of peoples has changed almost beyond recognition in this our New World; but the grand law at whose practical establishment in the New World we now assist, abides to-day:—

Monday is Washing Day.

Does some caviler here suggest that although the human female soul is embodied in the children of Ham, Shem, and Japhet, the mighty law referred to is binding only upon that Anglo-British-Saxon-Norman division of Japhet's daughters domiciled in and emanating from the British Isles? Let us proudly reply that in considering the result of a process we consider the whole; and let us meekly add that to our mind the Anglo-British-Saxon-Norman woman, perfected under an American sky, is the woman of the world; and finally, let us point to the two-and-twenty heroines of that Monday as chief among American women, for they were the Pilgrim Mothers of the New World.

The Pilgrim Fathers were there also; and they, too, were exemplifying a law of nature, that is to say, a law of male nature in every clime and every age. They did not love Washing Day. They felt no joy in the possibility of its observance, they felt no need of its processes. And yet again more humano, they did not openly set themselves against it, they did not frankly express their unworthy content in their present estate, but they feebly suggested that as the observance had been some weeks omitted, with no sensible loss of comfort to themselves, it might well be farther postponed; that the facilities were by no means remarkable; that rain was very possible, and that they had to apply themselves without delay to unshipping the pinnace from the hold of the Mayflower, and fitting her for the immediate service of exploration.

To these arguments the women meekly responded that in the nature of things they were better fitted to judge of the emergency than their lords, whose attention must be absorbed in matters of so much higher import; that they did not require the help of any man whose work upon the pinnace would be at all important, and that the sandy beach, the pool of fresh water, and the clumps of stunted shrubs fairly spread upon the shore in front of them were all the facilities they required. As for the weather, as Dame Hopkins piously remarked:—

"If Monday's weather be not fit for washing, there is no promise in Holy Writ of anything better in the rest of the week."

"Oh, if thou r't bent on washing, the shrewdest storm that ever swept the Zuyder Zee will never stop thee; so get thy rags together as soon as may be," growled her husband, a grizzled, hard-visaged veteran some twenty years older than this his second wife of whom he was very fond.

"Nay, then," interposed another voice, as a shrewd, kindly looking man, albeit with a certain whimsical cast to his thin features, approached the pair; "Mistress Hopkins will do no washing to-day; no, nor even go on shore to gather chill and weariness for my little friend Oceanus."

"'Will not,' shall not? Marry and who is to hinder, if you please, good Master Fuller?" asked the young woman in a somewhat shrewish voice.

"I, Samuel Fuller, Licentiate of Cambridge, late practitioner of Bartlemy's Hospital, London, and your medical adviser, madam," replied the doctor with a dry smile and mocking bow. "Recall, if you please, that Oceanus is not yet a fortnight old, and that both mother and child are still my responsibility. Would you ruin my reputation, madam, not to mention risking your own life and the boy's?"

"Have a care, Doctor, or some fine day you'll trip in your own quips, and break your neck," replied Mistress Hopkins half sullenly, while her husband cried,—

"He's right there, Bess. Thou 'rt in no case for such rough sport as this is like to prove, and thou 'lt stay aboard whoever goes ashore."

"Yes, stay thou aboard and mind thy babe, and I'll take thy clothes along with my own, so thou 'lt let Constance come to help me," suggested the somewhat coarse voice of a woman standing by.

"Thank you kindly, goodwife Billington," replied Elizabeth Hopkins coldly. "But Alice Rigdale hath already promised to do what is needed, and Constance must stay with me to mind Damaris and Oceanus."

"Oh, if goodwife Rigdale has taken it in hand, I will step back," replied Mistress Billington sharply; and as she descended the companion-way, Hopkins muttered in his wife's ear,—

"Now thou showest some sense, wench. The least thou hast to do with the Billington brood the better I'll be pleased."

"That's worth working for, surely," retorted his wife, tossing her head pettishly.

"I tell you there's no boat to be spared, and no man to row it, and I'll have naught to say to it," exclaimed a surly voice from the companion-way, and Captain Thomas Jones, master of the Mayflower, but not of the Pilgrims, appeared on deck.

Captain Jones was not an amiable man, his training as buccaneer and slaver having possibly blunted his finer feelings, and his consciousness of present treachery probably increasing the irritability often succeeding to a murdered conscience.

Such as he was, however, this man was the Inventor of Plymouth Rock, since by his collusion with the Dutch who wished to keep the profits of their Manhattan Colony to themselves, the Mayflower had found it impossible to make her way southward around Cape Cod, and after nearly going to wreck upon the shoals off Malabar, or Tucker's Terror had been driven within the embrace of the curving arm thrown out by the New World to welcome and shelter the homeless children of the Old. There she lay now, the weather-beaten, clumsy, strained, and groaning old bark whose name is glorious in the annals of our country while Time shall endure, and whose merest splinter would to-day be enshrined in gold; there she lay swinging gently to the send of the great Atlantic whose waves broke sonorously upon the beach outside, and came racing around the point a flood of shattered and harmless monsters, moaning and hissing, to find their prey escaped and safely landlocked.

"There's no boat, I say, and there's an end on 't," repeated Master Jones truculently as he stepped on deck, and two men who had been earnestly conversing at the stern of the brig turned round and came toward him. They were John Carver, already governor of the colony, and William Bradford, his lieutenant and successor. The governor was the first to speak, and the somewhat measured accents of his voice, with its inflections at once kindly and haughty, told of gentle breeding, of a calm and dignified temper, and of an aptness at command.

"And why no boat, Master Jones?" asked he quietly. "Methought by the terms of our agreement you were to aid us in every way in making our settlement."

"And I'm not going back of my word, am I, master?" demanded Jones peevishly. "A pack of wenches going ashore with tubs and kettles and bales and such gear is not a settlement, is it?"

"Nay, but a means thereto if haply they find the place convenient," replied Carver pleasantly. "At any rate, we will send them, since it has been promised, and the same boat will serve to transport them with their gear that is already fitted to help us ashore with the pinnace."

"And our own men will do all that is required in lading and rowing the boat," added Bradford in his mild, persuasive voice. Jones, overborne by a calm authority against which he could not bluster, turned on his heel muttering some surly assent. Carver slightly smiled as he watched the square and clumsy form expressing in every line of its back the futile rage of an overborne coward, and, turning toward the companion way, he called,—

"Howland, John Howland, a word with thee!"

"Ay, sir," replied a blithe young voice; and presently a handsome head of pure Saxon type, as indeed were both Bradford's and Carver's, appeared above the hatchway, and a strong young fellow swinging himself upon deck approached the governor, saying apologetically,—

"I was helping to get out the pinnace, and there is a mort of dust and dirt about her."

"I'll give thee a pleasanter task, John," replied Carver, smiling affectionately upon his young retainer. "Thou and John Alden and Gilbert Winslow shall take charge of the women who fain would go ashore to wash their clothes. They will use the boat already lying alongside, and thou hadst better advise with Mistress Brewster for the rest. I leave it all with you twain."

"I will do my best, sir," replied Howland with a smile that showed his short, strong teeth and made his blue eyes twinkle pleasantly; then returning to the hatchway he called down,—

"Ho, Alden! You're wanted, man, and so is Gilbert Winslow."

"He's not here, then," responded a heavier voice, as a splendid young giant swung himself up on deck and ran his fingers through a shock of curling chestnut hair; a glorious youth, six feet and over in his hose of hodden gray, with the shoulders and sinews of an athlete, and the calm, strong face of an Egyptian god.

"What is it, John?" asked he, fixing his dark eyes upon Howland with the affectionate gladness one reads in the eyes of a dog called to his master's side, but of which few human natures are capable.

"Why, Jack, thou and I and Gilbert Winslow are appointed squires of dames to some of the women who would fain go ashore to wash clothes, and we are to pack them into yonder boat, row them ashore, and then purvey wood, water, and such like for them."

"I'd liefer haul out the pinnace," replied Alden with a grimace. "But your will is mine."

"Nay, the governor's will is thine and mine, and it is he set us this task. Where is Winslow?"

"In the cabin belike, chatting with Mary Chilton. It's the work he best loves," replied Alden grimly. "But I'll find him."

"And some of the boys, Jack," suggested Howland, as the younger man turned away. "Bart Allerton and Love Brewster, Giles Hopkins and Crakstone and Cooke, any of the lads that you fall foul of, except the Billingtons,—of them I'll have none."

"And why not the Billingtons, worshipful Master Howland, lackey of the governor, and page-boy to his wife," demanded the voice that had interrupted Mistress Hopkins, and turning toward it, Howland confronted a short, square woman, not without a certain vulgar comeliness of her own, although now her buxom complexion was florid with anger and her black eyes snapping angrily, while the arms akimbo, the swaying figure, and raised voice betrayed Helena Billington for precisely what she was, a common scold and shrew. Howland was a brave man; he had already showed both strength and prowess when, washed overboard in a "seel" of the ship, and carried fathoms deep in mid-ocean, he caught the topsail-halyards swept over with him and clung to them until he was rescued in spite of the raging wind and waves that repeatedly dragged him under; nor in the face of savage foe, or savage beast, or peril by land or sea, was John Howland ever known less than the foremost; but now in face of this angry woman he found naught to say, and blushing and stammering and half laughing fairly turned and ran away, springing up the stairs to the elevated deck cabins, in one of which Elder Brewster and his family had their lodging.

Mistress Brewster, a pale, sweet-faced woman, already at fifty-four dressing and behaving as the venerable mother in Israel, came forward to meet him, and smiling indulgently asked,—

"Now what hast thou done to goodwife Billington, thou naughty lad? I hear thy name in her complaint, and indeed all the company can hear it, if they will."

"I did but say I would none of her boys in my party, dear Mistress Brewster, and I hope you'll say so too," replied Howland, uncovering his yellow head. "They are the greatest marplots and scapegraces"—

"Nay, nay, John! Say no evil, or thou 'lt make me think thou hast 'scaped grace thyself," suggested the elder's wife with her gentle smile. "And prithee, what is thy party? Are my boys bidden, or must they e'en bide with the Billingtons?"

"The party is your party, dear dame, for the governor sent me to ask your commands upon it, and if Love and Wrestling will give us such aid as their years allow, I shall be most grateful."

And then in simple phrase Howland repeated the governor's instructions, and requested those of the dame, who at once convened an informal council of matrons, and so well advised them that in a scant hour the clumsy boat, rolling and bumping against the side of the brig, was laden with bales of clothing, tubs whose hoops John Alden, a cooper by trade, was hurriedly overlooking, and sundry great brass and copper kettles, household necessities of that epoch, and descending as relics to us who look upon them with respectful wonder as memorial brasses of the "giants of those days."

A flock of women, all demurely and plainly dressed, although the most of them were under thirty years of age, stood waiting at the head of the ladder until the cargo was stored, and Howland, sending his assistants back on deck, planted himself upon the gunwale of the boat, and holding out his hand to a stout, solid-looking woman with a young girl beside her said,—

"Mistress Tilley, you had best come first, for you will be apt at helping the others, as I hand them down. And thou, too, Elizabeth, if thou wilt."

"And Constance Hopkins and Remember Allerton," pleaded the girl, lifting a sweet, saucy face to the young man; "we never are separated, for we're all of an age, all going on sixteen you know."

"Hush, Bess, thou 'rt malapert," chided her mother, descending heavily into the boat, while a mutinous young voice above called out,—

"Nay, I'm not going. Stepmother won't spare me."

"Now Constance Hopkins, thou naughty hussy, wilt thou grumble at tarrying with me to care for thine own dear sister and brother? Fie on thee, girl!"

"They're not my own," grumbled Constance in Remember Allerton's ear. "Giles is my own brother and he is to go, and Damaris and Oceanus are but half sister and brother, and she's but my stepmother."

"Hush, now, or she'll hear and thou 'lt come by a whipping," whispered Remember hastily, as Dame Hopkins turned from Mistress Winslow who had spoken to her, and came toward the girls. "I'll stay aboard with thee, Constance, and help thee with the babies."

"Thou 'rt a dear good wench and I love thee," replied Constance in the same tone, and, as the stepmother placed the muffled baby in her arms, she took him without comment, and went below followed by Elizabeth Tilley.

Two trips of the capacious boat sufficed to carry women, clothes, utensils, and assistants across the three quarters of a mile of shallow water lying between the brig and the shore, and the boys who went in the first boat were at once set to work to gather dry stuff from the thickets of scrub oak and pine sparsely clothing the beach, and to build several fires along the margin of a large pool or perhaps pond of fresh water divided from the harbor by a narrow beach of firm white sand. Beach and pond have long since been devoured by the hungry sea, but stumps of good-sized trees are still dug from the dreary sands environing Provincetown, to show what once has been.

The second boat-load arrived, and by help of Alden's stalwart arm, Howland's cool decision and prompt action, and Winslow's quick eye and ready aid to any woman needing assistance, the apparatus was soon adjusted, and a dozen pairs of strong white arms were plunged in the suds, or throwing the clothes into the great caldrons bubbling over the fires which the boys gayly replenished.

Not all the women of the Mayflower were thus engaged, however, for several were delicate in health, and several others had servants who took this ungentle labor upon themselves; but those who did not labor with their hands felt no superiority, and those who did had no shame in so doing; and although the manners of the day inculcated a certain deference of manner and speech from the lower rank to the higher, and from youth to age, the very fact that every one of these persons had abandoned home and friends and comfort that they might secure liberty, induced a sense of self respect and respect for others, which is the very root and basis of a true republic. Thus Katharine Carver, wife of the governor, daughter of Bishop White, and sister of Robinson, the pastor of the community left behind in Leyden, although she sent her maid Lois, and her man-servant Roger Wilder, to do the required work, came ashore with the rest, and by a touch here and a word there, and her interest and sympathy, took her part in the labor of the whole, and delicate woman and well-born lady though she was, made each of those hard-working sisters feel that it was only her weakness, and not her station, that prevented her doing all that they did. "Eleven o' the clock," said John Alden, as the Mayflower's cracked bell told six hoarse strokes. "They said they'd bring our dinner ashore for us," and he looked wistfully toward the ship.

"Who said?" asked Howland; "for I've more faith in some say-sos than in some others."

"Well, if I remember, 't was Mistress Molines who told me," replied Alden carefully careless.

"Oh, ay," assented Howland, his blue eyes twinkling. "But I thought she was ill, poor woman."

"Nay, I meant Mistress Priscilla Molines," retorted the giant, blushing. "She said somewhat to me of an onion soup which she flavors marvelously well."

"Ah, yes, onion soup," retorted Howland gravely. "Methought it must be some such moving theme you discussed yester even as you sat on the cable. I noted even at that distance the tears in your eyes."

"And if there were tears in mine eyes it is no matter of mocking, for Mistress Priscilla was telling me that her mother is sick as she fears unto death, and"—

"John Howland, the boat is coming off with the rest of our company and noon-meat for us all. Wilt thou and John Alden receive and help them ashore, while Gilbert helps us to make ready here?"

"Surely we will, Mistress Carver," replied Howland heartily, for his relationship toward the governor and his beautiful wife was rather that of a younger brother than of a retainer; and although the smallness of his fortune had induced him to accept the patronage of the older and wealthier man, it was much as a lad of noble lineage was content a few years before this to become first the page and then the squire of a belted knight.

The boat, unable to reach the shore on account of the flatness of the beach, stuck fast about a bow-shot from dry land, and the men and boys at once tumbled over the edge and prepared to carry not only the luggage, but the female passengers ashore. Alden seeing this prospect, tore off his boots and stockings, and plunging into the chill water hastened to the stern of the boat where a slender, vivacious girl, brown, dark-eyed, and with cheeks glowing with the dusky richness of a peach, stood balancing herself like a bird and giving orders to a young man already in the water.

"Now have a care, Robert Cartier, of that kettle. If thou spillst the soup"—

"The onion soup, Mistress Priscilla?" asked Alden approaching unperceived. Priscilla cast a look at him from the corners of her long eyes, and replied carelessly,—

"Yes, Master Alden, an onion soup. Is that a favorite dish with your worship?"

"Why, thou knowest,"—began the young man with an air of bewilderment, but Priscilla interrupted him.

"Since thou art here with thy broad shoulders, John Alden, thou wilt do well to make them of use. There is Mistress Allerton struggling with a hamper beyond her strength, and there are bales of clothes that must not be wet. Load thyself, good mule, and plod shoreward."

"To be sure I will and gladly, fair mistress," replied Alden patiently. "But first let me take thee ashore dry-shod, and then I will bring all the rest."

"Beshrew thee for a modest youth," retorted Priscilla, the peach color of her cheeks deepening to pomegranate; "when I go ashore I will convey myself, or my brother will carry me; and thou, since thou art so picksome, may set thyself to work, and ask naught of me."

"But why art thou so tart when I meant naught," began Alden, bewildered; but again the girl cut him short with a stinging little laugh.

"Thou never meanest aught, poor John; but I have no time to waste with thee. Here, Robert, these come next, and take Mistress Allerton's hamper as well."

"Nay, that is for me," growled Alden, seizing the basket from the hands of the astonished servant who relinquished it with a stare and a muttered exclamation in French; for William Molines, called Mullins by the Pilgrims, his wife, son, daughter, and servant were all of the French Huguenots, who fleeing from their native land planted a colony upon the river Waal in Holland, and were at this time known as Walloons. Learning enough of Dutch to carry on the business of daily life, and of English to communicate with their co-religionists of the Pilgrim church in Leyden, they retained French as the dear home language of their birth, and the young people, like Priscilla and her brother Joseph, used the three languages with equal facility.

A little offended and a good deal puzzled by the change in Priscilla's manner since their last interview, Alden devoted himself to unloading the boat without again addressing her, until he saw her confide herself to the arms of her brother to be taken ashore; then seizing an armful of parcels, he strode along close behind the slender stripling whose thews and sinews were obviously unequal to his courage, and who floundered painfully over the uneven sands. At last he stumbled, recovered himself, plunged wildly forward, and fell flat upon his face, while his sister, suddenly seized and held aloft in two strong arms, did not so much as wet the hem of her garment, until with a few swift strides her rescuer set her on dry land and turned to help the boy who came floundering after them with a rueful and angry countenance.

"'T was all thy fault, Priscilla," began he. "Twisting and squirming to see who was coming after us."

"Nay, 't was the fault of some great monster who came trampling on our heels, and making the water wash round my feet. Some whale or griffin belike, though he has hid himself again," and the girl affected to shade her eyes and scan the sparkling waters, while Alden strode moodily away. Priscilla glanced after his retreating figure, and spoke again to her brother in a voice whose cooing softness poor John had never heard.

"Thou poor dripping lad! And such a cough as thou hast already! Come with me sweetheart, and I'll set thee between two fires, and put my duffle cloak about thee, and heat some soup scalding hot. I would I had a sup of strong waters for thee—ah yes, I see!"

And hurriedly leading her brother to a sheltered nook between two great fires, she cast her cloak over his shoulders, and then sprang up the sand-hill with the graceful strength of an antelope to the spot where Doctor Fuller stood talking with a man whose appearance demands a word of description. Short and square built, the figure bespoke strength and long training in athletic exercises, while the haughty set of the head, the well-shaped hands and feet, and the clear cut of the features told of gentle blood and the habit of predominance. The bare head was covered with thick chestnut hair, worn at the temples by pressure of a steel cap, and well matched in color by eyes whose strong, stern glances carried defeat to the hearts of his savage foes even before his quick blows fell. The mouth, firmly closed beneath its drooping moustache, was like the eyes, stern and terrible in anger, but like them it was capable of a winning sweetness and charm only known to those he loved, those he pitied, and to the life-long friends whose loving description has come down to us; for this was Myles Standish, the soldier and hero of the Pilgrims; their dauntless defender in battle, their gentle nurse in illness, their councilor and envoy and shining example in peace; the right arm of the colony, its modest commander, and its intelligent servant.

As Priscilla approached, the two men ceased their conversation and turned toward her, neither of them unconscious of the beauty, grace, and vigor which clothed her as a garment, yet each restrained by inborn chivalry and respect from expressing his opinion.

"Oh, Doctor, or you, Captain Standish, have either of you a flask of strong waters about you? My poor Joseph has fallen in the water, and it is so cold, and he has already a cough."

"Yes, we saw him fall. He was overloaded for such a stripling," said the doctor, with his dry smile, while Standish, hastily pulling a flask from his pocket, said,—

"Here is some well-approved Hollands gin, Mistress Priscilla; and I would advise a good draught as soon as may be, and have it heated if it may be."

"Here, hand it me. I will go and give my friend Joseph a rating for undertaking tasks beyond his strength, though belike the fault was none of his!" And the doctor seizing the flask strode down the hill, while Priscilla lingered to ask,—

"How doth Mistress Standish find herself to-day? I heard she was but poorly."

"Ay, poorly enough," replied the Captain with a shadow chasing the smile from his eyes. "She is hardly strong enough for these shrewd winds and rough adventures. I had done better to leave her in England until we are established somewhere."

"There's more than one in our company, I fear me, that has adventured beyond their strength," replied Priscilla sadly, as she remembered her mother's hectic flush and wasting strength and her brother's cough.

"A forlorn hope, perhaps, set to garrison this by-corner of the world, but not forgotten by the Commander-in-chief, remember that, maid Priscilla," said the captain kindly and cheerily. "There in the Low Countries our worst trouble was that the home government never backed us as they should, and more than once we felt we were forgot and neglected; but in the warfare we have to wage here in the wilderness we can never fear that."

"Yet soldiers may die at their post here as well as there," said Priscilla, turning to go down the hill.

"So long as the work is done it matters little what becomes of the soldier," replied Myles briefly, and the two rejoined the group around the fires.

Before nightfall the clothes, dried and sweet with the sunshine and pure air, were carefully folded into the tubs and kettles, the dinner was neatly cleared away, and the whole company in several trips of the boats conveyed on board, while the carpenters and their volunteer aids remained to work while daylight lasted upon the pinnace, the Pilgrims' own craft, intended for exploration along the shore, and for fishing when they should have made a settlement.

But Joseph Molines had not shaken off his chill by means of the captain's Hollands gin, nor did his mother or Rose Standish find themselves better in the evening than they had been in the morning, and as the darkness of the November night closed around the lonely bark, gaunt shadowy forms, Disease and Famine and Death, seemed shaping themselves among the clouds and brooding menacingly over the Forlorn Hope, as its soldiers slept or watched beneath.



CHAPTER II.

THE LAUNCH OF THE PINNACE.

"Mary! Mary Chilton! Maid Mary mine!" called Priscilla Molines in her clear bird-voice, as she ran down the steps leading to the principal cabin. "Come on deck and see the launch of the pinnace! The carpenters call her fit for use if not finished, and the men have gone ashore to launch her. Where art thou, poppet!"

"Here," replied a gentler and sweeter voice, as Mary Chilton came forward, a long gray stocking dangling from her hands, and stood in a slant ray of sunshine which lighted her golden hair to a glory, and showed the pure tints of her May-bloom face and clear blue eyes; a lovely English face in its first fresh rapture of morning beauty.

"Right merrily will I come, Priscilla, if there be aught to see," continued she, throwing down the stocking which she was knitting for her father. "Truly my eyes ache with staring at nothingness."

"Well, there's a trifle this side of nothingness on the beach at this minute," retorted Priscilla, pinching her friend's ear. "Men call it Gilbert Winslow."

"Hush, hush, Priscilla!" whispered Mary, with a scared look toward her mother's cabin. "If anybody heard such folly! And Mistress White already tells my mother that we two are over-light in our carriage and conversation."

"Mistress White"—began Priscilla sharply, but ended the exclamation with a saucy laugh and said instead, "Yes, truly as thou sayest, my May, mine eyes ache with gazing upon nothingness and my tongue aches with speaking naught but wisdom. It is out of nature for young maids to be as staid as their elders, and methinks I do not care to be. Let us be young while we have youth, say I."

She looked perilously pretty as she arched her brows and pouted her ripe lips, and Mary looked at her in loving admiration, while she answered sagely,—

"You and yours are French, Priscilla, and I am all English like my forbears; so thou mayst well be lighter natured than I—I mean no harm, dear."

"No harm is done, dear mother in Israel," replied Priscilla half mockingly, and seizing Mary's hand she led her on deck, where many of the women and children were collected, watching the preparations on shore for the launch of the pinnace, which, much strained by bad stowage between decks, had needed about a fortnight's work done upon her before she was fit for service.

"They only wait for her to set forth on a second exploration," said Priscilla confidentially; "and a little bird sang in my ear that they would go to-morrow."

"What little bird?" asked Mary curiously; but before Priscilla could reply another voice interposed; it was that of Bridget Tilley, who had come on deck to seek her daughter Elizabeth, and now sharply inquired,—

"Another expedition, say you? And my goodman scarce brought back from death's door, whither the first jaunt led him! Nay, now, 't is not right, 't is all one as murder, to hale dying men out of their beds and into that wilderness. No blessing will follow such work, and I'll cry upon the governor or the captain or the elder to stop it!"

"What is it, Mistress Tilley? Any wrong that I can help set right?" asked a sweet voice, and Bridget turned toward the speaker with a somewhat more subdued manner, lowering her voice as she said,—

"Thank you kindly, Mistress Standish, and God be praised that you can be on deck; but my matter is this," and again she poured out her anxieties and her fears, until Rose Standish, a fair white rose now, and trembling in the shrewd autumn air so soon to scatter her petals and bear the pure fragrance of her life down through the centuries, until men to-day love her whom they never knew, leaned wearily against the bulkhead and said,—

"Rest easy, dear dame. Thou 'rt all in the right, and it behooves us to protect our lords from their own rash courage, just as it befits their courage to protect us against salvages and wild beasts. I will whisper in my husband's ear that Master Tilley is all unfit to carry out his own brave impulses, and I will conspire with Mistress Carver and Mistress Bradford, and, above all, with our dear mother, the elder's wife, that each shall make petition to her lord to see that no sick or overborne man be allowed to adventure himself on the expedition. Will that satisfy thee, dame?"

"Right well, and you are all one with the saints we used to honor, though we do know better now."

"'T is the most comfortable promise I've heard in many a day, dear Mistress Standish," cried Priscilla vivaciously. "And well do I believe that the whispers of the wives are more weighty than the shouts of the husbands. I've never proved it myself, being but a maid; yet I have ere now marked how the prancing of the noblest steed is full deftly checked by a silken rein."

"It were well if a rein were put upon thy tongue, girl," severely interposed a comely matron sitting near. "Thou 'rt over forward for thy years, Priscilla. Shamefastness and meekness become a maid, and when thou knowest more thou 'lt say less."

"Thanks, Mistress White, I will try to profit by your discourse," replied Priscilla demurely; but her tone did not satisfy the matron, who sharply rejoined,—

"See that thou do, Mistress Malapert, or I'll ask the elder to deal with thee. Here he is now."

And, in fact, Elder Brewster, who had caught the tone of Mistress White's voice, drew near to the group, saying pleasantly, "A goodly sight yonder, is it not? And how well our strong fellows set their shoulders to the toil! What shall we call the pinnace when she is launched, Mistress White?"

"Methinks Discretion would be a good name, Elder," replied the lady with a glance at the two girls. "Surely, we have room for it in our company."

"Truth, my daughter, and yet to my mind Charity is a sweeter name, and one more likely to float us over troubled waters." And the elder's pleasant smile disarmed his words of all sting. "Priscilla," continued he, turning to the girl, "I hear that thy father keeps his bed to-day, and thy mother is but poorly."

"Indeed, sir, they are both in evil case," replied Priscilla sadly. "Neither of them has stomach for such food as is at hand, and so they weaken daily. John Alden shot some little birds yesterday, and I made broth of them, but, saving that, my mother has taken no meat for days."

"I will go and visit them," said the elder, and forgetting the launch he had come up to see, he went at once.

"See! See! There she goes!" cried Elizabeth Tilley, as the great boat slid gracefully down her ways to the water, dipped her bows deeply, and finding her level rode upon an even keel.

"There she goes!" echoed Constance Hopkins and Remember Allerton, who with Elizabeth Tilley constituted what may be called the rosebud division of the Pilgrim girls, all glowing in the freshness of early youth, all comely, strong, and vivacious. Priscilla Molines and Mary Chilton with Desire Minter, a distant relative and charge of Governor Carver's, made another little group of older girls, and then came the young matrons of whom there were many, while Mistress Brewster in the dignity of middle life was the recognized head and guide of all.

"Yes, there she goes," cried Priscilla, clapping her hands and dancing upon her slender feet. "And Mary," continued she, dropping her voice to a whisper, "it was Captain Standish who gave that last mighty shove"—

"Nay, it was John Alden," interrupted Mary innocently.

"I tell thee, girl, it was the captain. John Alden is ever at his elbow and striving to imitate him, but our captain is still the leader, and I do honour a man who can think as well as do, and act as well as talk. Of talkers we have enow, the dear knows; Master Winslow and Master Allerton can so argue that they would force you to swear black was white and the moon a good Dutch cheese an they chose, and they can lay out work marvelously well for others to carry out, but I mark that their own hands abide in their pockets for the most part. Then there are plenty of strong arms with no head-pieces, like John Alden and your good friend Gilbert Winslow and John Howland and"—

"Nay, nay, Priscilla, thou shalt not wrong good men so," interrupted Mary, her fair face coloring a little. "The leaders aye must lead, and the younger and simpler aye must follow in every community, and I mark not that those you flout for speaking so well fail of their share in the labor, nor do I think John Alden or the rest would do well to thrust their advice upon their betters. At all rates, yon boat had not slid down so merrily if John Alden had not put his shoulder to the work."

"Yea, put his shoulder where the captain laid his hand," retorted Priscilla with her mocking laugh, and then putting her arm around Mary's shoulders, she added affectionately,—

"What a wise little woman thou art, ever looking at both sides of the matter while I see but one! And in truth, perhaps, it is better that there be these varied excellences, so that all comers may be suited, just as thou art fond of porridge while I would liefer have soup."

"And art a rare hand at compounding it," replied Mary admiringly. "How Desire Minter smacked her lips over the dish thou gavest her the other day."

"That poor Desiree, as my gossip Jeanne De la Noye used to call her! I like well to give her some tasty bit, for it makes her so happy at so little trouble to myself, since I am ever cooking."

"Dost thou really like cooking, Priscilla; or dost thou do it because thou ought, as I do?" asked Mary, who hated the culinary art, and yet was called upon to practice it, as were all young women of the day.

"Oh, I love it," replied Priscilla, with enthusiasm. "My mother and my grandmother and all my aunts were notable cooks, and in the good old days in France before I was born, they say my grandmother's pates and conserves and ragouts were famous all through Lyons, where my grandfather and his father before him were great silk manufacturers with plenty of men and maids and money at their command."

"Ah, Priscilla, thou 'rt hankering after the flesh-pots again! Remember Lot's wife!" and Mary laughed, but gently stole a hand into that of Priscilla, who pressed it tenderly as she replied,—

"Lot's wife spoiled all her cookery with salt, and I'll at least distill none from mine own eyes. How shall I make Robert Cartier know that I want him to come aboard and help me with my father's supper?"

"Beckon to John Alden to send him," retorted Mary promptly. Priscilla turned and fixed her long dark eyes in mock bewilderment upon the other's face.

"And why is it easier to beckon to John Alden than to Robert Cartier, thou foolish girl?" asked she.

"Because Robert is only thy father's servant, and John is thine own and ever waiting thy command," replied Mary demurely, and Priscilla's rich color mounted to her brow as she laughingly retorted,—

"Now, maid Mary, that quip was more like me than thee, and I'll have none of it. 'T is for thee to carry the honey-bag to mollify the stings my naughty tongue must aye inflict. I would I were not so waspish, Mary mine!"

"Thou 'rt naught but what is dear and lovely, and I care for thee beyond any man that ever walked, saving my father," cried Mary, pressing close to her friend's side.

"Then will I be jealous of Master Chilton," murmured Priscilla, the teasing mood again rising to the surface. "For I'll have no rival in thy heart, save only Gilbert Winslow, whom I hope not to oust."

"See, there is John Alden steadfastly regarding us," cried Mary, a little annoyed. "Point thy finger at Robert as he stands staring at the boat, and then beckon. My word for it, John will read the signal aright."

"Why, then, so be it, and if Dame White sees me I'll swear 'twas thee, Mary," and Priscilla half proudly, half shyly made the signal, which was at once understood and acted upon by Alden, who, truth to tell, seldom lost sight of Priscilla when in her company. Cartier receiving the message waded after a boat just leaving the beach, and came aboard dripping wet, an imprudence so common among the younger men of the Pilgrims on that flat coast as to become a serious factor in the terrible mortality which was to sweep off half their number within a few months.



CHAPTER III.

THE SWORD OF STANDISH.

The "little bird," probably John Alden, constant companion of Standish, had sung truly in Priscilla's ear of a second exploring party about to leave the Mayflower in quest of a favorable site for the town and colony the Pilgrims had come forth to found.

To this step they were urged not only by their own wishes, but by the importunities of Captain Jones, who having obeyed his Dutch employers and brought his passengers to a point well removed from the Virginian or Manhattan shores whereon they intended to land, was now only desirous to put them ashore almost anywhere, and make sail for England while the winter storms held off and his provisions lasted. His own interest, therefore, made him zealous in the Pilgrims' service, and so heartily had he offered his men, boats, and provisions for the expedition that the Pilgrims had made him its leader, some of them still believing in his honesty and friendliness, and some others feeling that the surest way to effect their plans was to induce the surly commander to make them his own. The event proved their shrewdness, for Jones accepted the appointment with great satisfaction, and told off ten of his best seamen to add to the four-and-twenty sound men who were nearly all that the Pilgrims could muster, since, thanks to the secret councils of Rose Standish and her associates, all sick or weakly candidates were weeded out from the volunteers, and the Tilley brothers, William Molines, James Chilton, William White, and several others were kindly bidden to remain on board and nurse their strength for the next expedition.

About noon the tide serving, the four-and-thirty adventurers, divided between the ship's long-boat and their own pinnace, took the sea in teeth of a freezing northeasterly gale, and under low-lying clouds whose gray bosoms teemed with snow and sleet.

Thomas English, a mariner engaged as master of the shallop, held the helm, while as many willing hands as could grasp the oars pulled lustily in the direction of what is now called the Pamet River, a stream discovered some days previously by a foot expedition under charge of Standish, and considered as a possible seat for their colony. The crowded state of the boats and the head wind rendered the sails useless, and oars proved inefficient to propel so large a boat as the pinnace, while the sea, rapidly rising with the rising wind, broke so dangerously over the quarter that English refused to proceed, and it was hastily resolved to run into what is now called East Harbor, land the passengers, and allow the long-boat to return to the ship, while the pinnace lay to until the gale moderated. This was done, but owing to the shoals, the men were obliged to wade knee-deep to reach land, and the cold was now so intense that their clothes froze upon them as they resumed their journey on foot. Well may we believe what William Bradford later said: "Some of our people who are dead took the original of their death on that day."

Marching six or seven miles on foot, the party encamped, building a barricade, or as they called it a "randevous," of pine boughs to protect them from savage beasts or men, and within it kindling a fire beside which they sat down to eat such provisions as they had brought, and to solace themselves with modest draughts of the strong waters they used but not abused.

The next day the exploration was continued both by sea and land, the hardy adventurers marching through snow six inches deep, or upon the loose sands of the beach where the wind flogged them with lashes of icy spray and stinging shards. In passing through a belt of woods traces of human presence were to be seen, especially certain young trees bent down and their tops made fast to the earth. Stepping aside to examine one of these, William Bradford suddenly found his leg inclosed in a noose, while the tree, released and springing upward, would have carried him ignominiously with it had not he seized the trunk of another sapling, and lustily shouted for help. His comrades came running back, and not without laughter and some grim pleasantries released him. Stephen Hopkins alone understood the trap, and cutting from it a piece of smooth fine cord twisted of wood fibres handed it to Bradford, saying,—

"Here, man, keep it by way of horn-book to teach thee wood-lore in these salvage countries. It is the moral of what we used to see among the Bermoothes some ten years gone by. Ay, and the traps too. I've seen many a wild thing, deer or what not, jerked up by the leg and hanging from a tree like Absalom, until its master came along to cut its throat and dress it, as it hung."

"Glad am I that no such master came to release me," said Bradford laughing ruefully as he rubbed his leg and limped along.

"So thou wert in the Bermudas, Hopkins?" asked Standish who was of the walking party; "wast buccaneering?"

"Nay, Captain, all men do not follow thy trade," replied Hopkins with his boisterous laugh. "Mine was quite another office, for I was lay-reader to Parson Buck, and he was chaplain to Gates who was to be governor of a Virginia colony an' he could have reached it. But like our own adventure it miscarried, and we were wrecked on the Bermoothes. We abode there six months, and the Indians showed us how to trap deer just as Bradford was trapped but now, ho, ho!"

"Lay-reader wast thou?" asked Standish surveying the burly veteran with whimsical interest. "Well, now, I'd never take thee for a parson's lieutenant, Hopkins! I can hardly fancy thee meek and mild with bands under that unkempt beard, and a gown over thy buff jacket. Wert meek and mild in those days, Hopkins, and thy tongue, was 't innocent of strange oaths?"

"A truce to thy jibes, master Captain," retorted Hopkins not half pleased at receiving the jests he so freely offered. "If thou didst but know, my voice was more for war than peace, sith it seemed to me then even as it did before we landed here, that an expedition gone astray is an expedition ended, and that all compacts cease when their conditions cannot be fulfilled. We shipped to go to Virginia, and Gates was to be our governor; well and good, but here we were wrecked on Bermuda, and my rede was that every man was thus released from his promises and free to set forth anew for himself."

"So! Yonder threatening on the Mayflower was not thy first experience in raising sedition and discontent, and trying to turn a God-fearing community into a nest of pirates!" exclaimed Standish scornfully. "Well, what came of it in that instance?"

"Why, Gates called a court-martial, tried me for treason by an authority I denied, and sentenced me to death."

"Ay, and what then?"

"Then Parson Buck who could ill spare me, since I writ half his discourses, and the admiral who would not see murder done under cloak of law, they went to Gates and so wrought upon his temper that he set me free and bade me begone, and I went right merrily."

"Thou mindst me of an officer under me, down there by Utrecht," said Standish meditatively. "He, too, was for setting up every man for himself in the plunder of a village we had taken, and I had given orders about."

"And what became of him?" asked Hopkins, as the captain seemed to have finished.

"Oh, there was no parson just there to make use of him, and no admiral to judge about my authority, and he was shot," replied Standish quietly. Hopkins scowled and laid his hand upon his sword hilt, but Bradford, who had listened with both interest and amusement to the conversation, deftly interposed with some question about the route, and Hopkins, who prided himself upon his wood-lore, took the lead, and conducted the party by the easiest route to the spot where they would rejoin their brethren of the boat.

The Pamet River, reached at length, proved unsatisfactory for a settlement, but at its mouth were found sundry matters of interest,—the remains of a palisade formed apparently by civilized hands, the ruins of a log hut, quite different from the wigwams of the savages, and a large mound which when opened proved full of Indian corn, some shelled, some on the ear, the yellow kernels variegated with red and blue ones, like the maize still grown in that vicinity. The snow upon the ground would have concealed this "barn," as rustic John Rigdale called it, had not the previous expedition noted and marked it, and the ground was so hard frozen that it must be hewed with the stout cutlasses and axes of the Pilgrims, and the clods pried up with levers. Standish drew his sword with the rest, but after watching for a moment thrust it back into the sheath, saying to Alden who as usual was close beside him,—

"Nay, I'll none of it! What mine own thews and sinews may compass, I'll undertake right joyfully, but I'll never ask Gideon to risk his edge or his backbone in such rude labors as yon. Every man to his trade, and these are the sappers and miners with whom he has no concern."

"Is Gideon the name of your sword then, Master?" asked Alden half timidly, for Standish had the habit of command and was impatient of much questioning.

Alden however was a favorite, and the captain, like a lover, was won by the admiring glance the young man threw at the sword, as its owner unsheathed it and laid the blade fondly across his palm.

"Why ay," replied he smiling down at it, "I have christened him so; but methinks, like other converts, he finds the new name sit uneasily at times, and would fain hear the old one."

"And what might that be?"

"Ah, that is what no man alive can tell. He who forged it of that rare metal which now and again falls from the skies, and he who first wielded and named it, have lain in the dust well nigh a thousand years, if old tales be true."

"A thousand years! But what is its story,—if you will tell it, Master Standish?" and the young man's face grew bright with excitement as he glanced from the soldier's face to the blade glittering across his palm, and seeming to laugh in the wintry sunshine.

"Well, it was an old armorer in Ghent for whom I had done some service in protecting his daughter and saving some mails which my men would have plundered, and the old man was more grateful than need be, and came one night to my lodgings bringing this sword wrapped in his mantle, to offer me as a gift, for he said he would not sell it, valuing it above all price."

"And still you would have him take a price," suggested Alden exultantly, but Standish answered gently,—

"Nay, John, that is but poor pride that cannot allow another to be its benefactor. I took the old man's gift and thanked him heartily. Later on, as chance befell, I did him a good turn in a contract for arms, while he knew it not. But that is beside the matter, which is the sword. He told me, that old man did, a story fit to set in the ancient romaunts of chivalry, how he as a young fellow full of heart and lustihood went out to fight the Turks or some other heathen of those parts, and was a prisoner, and a lady loved him and he loved her not, having a sweetheart waiting for him at home. And she had a noble heart and forgave him his despite, and set him free at risk of her own life, nor gave him freedom only, but a purse of gold and this sword, which she averred had been captured from the Persian people hundreds of years before, and was a true Damascus blade forged from meteor iron, and of the curious tempering now forgotten. And she said, moreover, that there was a charm upon it that made him who carried it invincible and scathless, and she, poor maid, had robbed her father's house of this great treasure, and brought it to him who loved another woman better than her, and so with tears and smiles she gave it over, and he for very ruth gave her a tender kiss, and thus they parted."

"Nay, I pity her not. She was overbold to offer her love before it had been asked," said Alden hastily.

"Ah, boy, thou 'rt in all the hardness of thy callow youth, and nought's more hard. Wait some fifteen years till thou comest to my age, and thou 'lt pity the poor heathen maid as I do to-day. Well, my armorer took the sword and played it some forty years or more, and then, too old to wield arms, he took to dealing in them, but never sold this, for it had proved all that the lady claimed for it, and had slain his enemies, and fended his friends, and saved his own head more times than he could number, and now he gave it to me who had, he said, saved more than his life."

"And these outlandish signs and marks upon the blade?" asked Alden, peering down at the sword.

"There, now, thou callest for another tale," replied Standish smiling good-naturedly. "But as they seem to need us not in disemboweling yon granary, and here we are guard against surprise from whoever may rightly own the treasure and come to claim it, I will e'en tell thee the rest.

"Thou knowest Pastor Robinson of Leyden, though thou wast never out of England thyself?"

"I know his fame as a pious teacher and a learned man, well beloved of his people."

"Beloved? Ay, none more so," exclaimed Standish heartily. "I ever wished I might see him in some great peril and prove my love by cutting down a round dozen of his foes. And learned! Why, man, he disputed with the most learned among their Dutch scholars openly in the big church, and left them not a leg to stand on, or a tongue to wag. Why, 't is no more to him to read Hebrew than for me to spell out my Bible. So then, knowing his learning and his love of all that is old and curious, I one day showed him my sword and asked if he could rede me fairly the mystical texts or whatever they might be upon the blade. But mind thee I said naught to him of any charm or amulet about it, lest I might wound his conscience, which is tender as a maid's. Thou shouldst have seen the dear old man, barnacles on nose, peering and peeping and muttering over the queer device, all at one as he were a wizard himself and working some spell. But at the last he heaved a mighty sigh, and gave me back the sword saying, nay, he could not make out more than that there were two legends in two different tongues and by different hands, and that the effigies of the sun and moon and stars pointed, he feared, to idolatrous emblems, and were not such as a Christian man might safely deal withal. So I asked him would it be better should I have the Holy Rood wrought above them as did the Crusaders of old, and beshrew me, but this device seemed to please him less than the other."

"Nay, our teachers like not the look of the Cross, nor use it as our fathers used. It savoreth of Popery, they say," interposed Alden glancing at the captain's face for sure approval, but to his surprise he saw it overcast and frowning.

"Thou knowest," replied he a little haughtily, "that I am not of the Separatist Church, nor agree in all its teachings. The Standishes were ever good Catholics, since they came over from Normandy with William the Baseborn, and if I hold not to the religion of my fathers I accept no other, nor can I ever esteem lightly those things my mother venerated."

The younger man, perplexed and mortified, remained silent, but in a moment Standish smiled and resumed his story.

"So, Pastor Robinson confessed his own want of skill, as so wise a man need not shame to do, but told me of a certain aged scholar in Amsterdam, well versed in Eastern lore, and able, if any man alive could do it, to rede me the riddle aright, and he wrote down his name and lodging and a line to recommend me to his kindly attention, and so gave me fair good-night.

"Not long after, my occasions called me to Amsterdam, and be sure I took the time to find the old ancient scholar, a queer, dried-up graybeard, with skin like the parchment covers of his folios; but he gave me courteous welcome, and I laid the sword upon the table under his nose. Faith, John, I thought that same nose would grow to my blade, for a good half hour passed away, or ever he stirred or spoke. Then he looked askance at me and said,—

"'How old art thou in very truth?'"

"I told him some thirty years, and he stared and stared until had he been a young man and a soldier I had asked him his intent. But as it was, I did but stare back again, until at the last his parchment cheeks creased and crackled in what may have been meant for a smile, and he said,—

"'Thou mightst have been a score of thirties if thou hadst been born when this blade was forged.'

"'And why?' asked I, wondering if Pastor Robinson could have known the man was an old wizard.

"'Because there's that on this blade would have kept thee from all harm if thou hadst made it thine own,' said he, tapping that circle."

And turning the blade, Standish showed upon the reverse from the sun, moon, and stars, an ornamented medallion close to the hilt, containing certain cabalistic signs and marks. Below this was an inscription of several lines in totally different characters.[1]

[1] This sword may still be seen in Pilgrim Hall, Plymouth, Massachusetts.

"And that is a charm to keep a man alive?" asked Alden with bated breath and eager eyes.

"So that old man said," replied Standish, "but I concern myself little with such matters, having ever found my own right arm enough to keep my head, and the grace of God better than any heathen charm."

"And did he read it, and the rest?" pursued Alden.

"Yes, he read it, or at the least he muttered something in some outlandish gibberish," replied the captain, laughing a little shamefacedly. "And he told me its meaning, partly in Latin, for we spoke together in that tongue, but I am such a dullard that I forgot the words as soon as he spoke them, and so asked him to write them down. Then he fell a pondering again, and said like the pastor, that the two inscriptions differed in every way, and he must muse awhile and look in his books before he could read them fairly, and he asked me to leave the sword with him. So seeing him so venerable and honorable a man I consented, although not willingly, and went my way. The next morning I sought him again not certain but that in the night he and my sword and the charm had all flown out of window together and gone to join the Witch of Endor. But no, there he sat, and the sword before him, as if they never had stirred since I left. And the old man gave me a bit of parchment covered with crabbed Latin script, and told me I should find therein the sense of my two inscriptions, though there were words even he could not decipher. So I put the parchment in my pouch, and reached my hand to the sword, when he withheld it and said,—

"'This charm avails nothing for thee, my son, because it was not framed for thee, nor dost thou swear by the powers therein invoked; but I can frame one that will avail, and will protect thee from any weapon raised against thee. I have learned somewhat I never knew, in studying thy sword, and I would fain repay thee in kind.'

"Now lad, as he spoke, a certain terror seized me lest I should be found dabbling in the black art, and I said, with more than enough vehemence, that I wanted no charm, nor did I fear mortal weapon or mortal foe, for in God was my trust, and He was able to hold me scathless, or to take me when He would. And then, John, a fancy seized me, a foolish fancy of romance perhaps, but still I mind not thy knowing, so thou 'lt not babble of it to others. I asked the old man could he put what I had just said into the same tongue with that heathen charm, and so shape it that I could have it carved upon my blade above the sun and moon and stars, which those Persian idolaters worship and had graved there almost as idols. And he smiled again in that grewsome fashion of his, and said ay he could do that much, and that as three possessors had already put invocations to their gods upon the blade it was but fit I should do so in my turn.

"I liked not the quip, nor the evening of a Christian man's belief to idolatrous worship, but yet the idea of the Christian charm, if one might call it so, had taken fast possession of my mind, and I felt as though it were snatching the good blade from the powers of heathenesse and giving it to God. So I put what I would say in few words, and the old man wrought upon it till he had it to his mind, and at the last took a pencil dipped in some wizard's ink or other and drew these signs upon the sword as you see them, bidding me take it to an armorer and have them cut in just as they stood. So I did, choosing, you may be sure, the armorer who had given me the sword, and showing him, as I have you, that this is no heathen charm, but the sign of a Christian man's faith."

"And what do they mean, all three of them?" asked Alden reverently. "I see the figures 1149 graved clearly enough, but what mean the other two rows?"

"My lad, thou seest wrong. The 1 and 4 and 9 are but symbols of letters not there set down, and the whole, partly from that same foolish fancy I told thee of, and partly because the old scholar bade me never tell it lest some other man should steal his learning, and partly because Gideon hath kept the first secret so many years that I feel like trusting him with another, for all these reasons I promised myself and the scholar and Gideon that I would never tell the thing to mortal man, nor even the rendering of the other devices; and lest I should be tempted to forego my word, sith I claim to be no stronger than Samson, or lest some one should surprise the secret unawares, I cut the piece of parchment in two pieces, and handed them back to the old scholar, who disguised not his huge content thereat. So thou seest, John, two of the three inscriptions I could not unravel to thee if I would, and of the third thou wilt not ask me, since it is guarded by a promise."

"Surely, Master, it is not I who would ask you to break it," said John simply. "But the name of Gideon?"

"Didst never read of Gideon in Holy Writ, John? A mighty soldier before the Lord who hewed down his father's idol-grove and came out from among his own people and carved his own way in the world. Ever as I read his story, I mind me of a man I knew in Lancashire who went to the house of his fathers to claim what was his own, and when he gat it not, he threw down the idols he had been trained to worship, and shook off the dust of that idol-grove where Mammon and Rank and the world's opinion were set up as gods, and went out into the world to hew out his own fortunes by the might of his own right arm, and his trust in the God of Israel. So now, John Alden, thou knowest more about my good sword than any man alive, for I doubt me if the scholar remembereth, and the armorer is dead. And when we go into battle, if such good luck await us, and thou hearest me cry, The Sword of the Lord and of Gideon! thou 'lt know my meaning."



CHAPTER IV.

THE LILIES OF FRANCE.

"Ho Captain Standish, thou 'rt wanted here!" cried the coarse voice of Thomas Jones as the two men approached the group gathered about the corn heap. "Come hither and teach these gentle maids the usages of war. They speak forsooth of making payment to these unbreeched salvages for the corn we are taking from this hole in the ground. Was it the way of your bold fellows in Flanders to make payment to the Spaniards if you surprised and sacked their camp?"

"The Spaniards were our declared enemies," replied Standish coldly; "and not only their gear but their lives were ours if we could take them, and so were ours theirs an' they approved themselves the better men. But here it is not so; we have no quarrel as yet with the salvages, nor is it wise to provoke one. We are but a handful, and they in their own country of unknown strength. Besides, why should we harm those who have done us no wrong? Is it not wiser to make friends and allies if we may? So Master Jones you must e'en rank me with the gentle maids who speak for honesty and justice in this matter."

"As you will, it is no concern of mine," retorted Jones with a surly laugh; "but never before did I sail in such saintly company, or find bearded men with swords at their sides carrying themselves like milk-fed babes."

"And in sad seriousness, good Master Jones, do you intend to cast a slur upon our courage?" demanded Standish, a cold smile upon his lips, while his right hand toyed with Gideon's hilt, and his right foot planted itself more firmly.

"Nay, he's no such ass," interposed Hopkins hastily. "He did but mean a merry joke, and we would have you Captain Standish tell off such men as had best remain on shore for further exploration while the rest shall return to the ship with Master Jones, who is in mind to go back before night."

"Oh, he is overdone with the work we babes have scarce begun," muttered Standish with a wrathful laugh. "Glad am I to spare him."

"And I," said Bradford joining them. "And we are all of one mind that Captain Standish shall take command of those who remain, since the governor and several others find themselves but ailing and will return with Jones, who forebodes foul weather and needs must take his men aboard to meet it."

"Why, that's no more than his duty, and mayhap I wronged him," said Standish generously. "Well, who tarries with me?"

The division was soon made, and as the boats left the shore, beneath the same cold and stormy sky that had led them forth, and feebly breasted the hissing waves which seemed to sneer at their puny efforts, the eighteen men who remained on shore drew closer together.

"Methinks our men are to be sifted like Gideon's army at Mount Moreh," said Edward Winslow running his eye over the little group as he linked his arm with Bradford's. "They went forth twenty-and-two hundred and fell away to three hundred."

"By the three hundred who lap the water with their hands will I conquer Midian," quoted Bradford in a clear and ringing voice.

"Hear you that, John?" asked Standish of the young man who followed him closely. "It is a good omen that the grand old story should have come into Winslow's head. And now, men, my opinion is that we should strike inland, and see if we cannot come upon some settlement or stronghold of the natives, for certes, these barns and graves were not made without hands, nor were the stubble-fields reaped by ghosts. The tract lying north and east of this river is yet new to us, and, since you will be led by me, we will march for some hours hither and yon through its length and breadth, making our randevous where night may overtake us, and returning hither to meet the shallop to-morrow."

"It is good counsel, and we will follow you, Captain," said Winslow, while a consenting murmur stirred the russet beards around, and Hopkins said, "He among us who best knows the ways of woodlands, and how to steer the plainest course through these swamps and thickets, should be on the lead, it seemeth to me, Captain."

"Ay, Hopkins, I have thought of all that," interrupted Standish rather curtly; "and I have chosen my scout already. Billington, where art thou, man?"

"Here, Captain," responded a coarse voice, and a man whose mean and truculent face contrasted forcibly with those about him pushed forward and stood before the captain, who gave him a comprehensive glance, noting not only the mean and bad face, but the wiry and well-knit figure, and the eyes quick and watchful as a rat's.

"Billington," repeated he at last, "I've noticed on these expeditions that thou hast a pretty knack at woodcraft, and can smell thy way among these bogs and thorny coppices with marvelous good judgment."

"I learned such woodcraft and more while I was gamekeeper to my Lord Lovell in the old country," interrupted Billington with an impudent grin. The captain again regarded him with that penetrating glance whose power is matter of history and replied,—

"I suppose it was in such service that thou camest by that ugly scar across thy nose. Thou hast never been a soldier, well I wot."

"Thou 'rt right, Captain," said Billington putting his hand to his face with an unabashed laugh. "It was a poacher"—

"Ay, I thought it was a poacher," interrupted Standish dryly. "Well, master gamekeeper Billington, to-day thou 'rt under my orders, and I desire thee to lead us through this wood in an easterly course, and to keep a diligent eye upon all signs of occupation by the enemy, that is to say, our friends the salvages. Be very careful in this matter, an' please thee, good Billington, for shouldst thou think it a merry jest to lead us into danger of any sort, I fear me thou 'dst find it but a poor bargain for thyself."

"Nay, Captain, the man means no harm and feels that we are all comrades in this matter," said Winslow pacifically, while Hopkins muttered discontentedly,—

"O'er many masters to my mind."

Standish answered neither, except by a glance from his penetrating eyes, and Billington taking the lead the little party struck into the woods and marched rapidly and in silence for an hour or more, when Allerton, the oldest and feeblest man of the party, suddenly halted, and called to Standish that he must perforce rest for a few minutes, and was, moreover, sadly athirst. This want was immediately echoed by all, for the flasks at every man's belt contained spirits or strong beer, and the toil of the march, sometimes in spite of Billington's skill through thickets whose thorny branches tore even the armor from the Pilgrims' backs, and sometimes through half frozen morasses, had induced a thirst craving plentiful draughts of pure water.

"We've passed neither spring nor runlet on our course, for I've looked for such," said Billington removing his leather cap and wiping his brow upon his sleeve. "And though 't is frosty weather, such a diligent march as ours heats the blood shrewdly."

"We will halt beside this coppice for a space," ordered Standish glancing at Allerton's pallid face; "and do thou search yonder hollow, Billington, for water. Alden go you with him, and keep an eye on his course."

The two men thus detailed plunged into the little hollow where indeed water should have been, but found only a pool so shallow and so sheltered as to have frozen quite solid; from this they brought some pieces of ice with which Allerton was so revived as to resume his course for another mile when he again broke down, while all the rest suffered so sensibly from thirst that they could not conceal their distress. Another halt was called, and all the younger men dispersed in various directions, while Allerton lay stretched upon the ground, his parched mouth open, and his eyes half closed. Beside him stood Standish, real concern upon his usually stern features, and in his hand a flask of spirits, from which the exhausted and fevered man turned loathingly.

"'T is as good schnapps as ever came through a still," said Standish wistfully; "and if thou couldst stomach it must surely do thee good."

"Water, water!" moaned Allerton.

"Ay, a little water mingled with it were better for thee just now," replied the Captain soothingly. "But sith water may not be had"—

"Ho, men! Water, water, a running brook!" cried Alden's hearty voice, as he came bursting his way through the thicket. "A running brook and a deer drinking at its spring."

"And why didst not shoot the deer instead of hallooing him away, thou great idiot?" demanded Standish in jesting anger, while, with such a rush as the animal sore athirst makes when he scents the water springs, all the men but three of the party burst through the undergrowth and found themselves in a lovely little dale so sheltered by hills and trees as to offer only a southern exposure to the weather. The snow of the previous day had already disappeared from this favored spot, and the little runlet with its welling spring sparkled free from frost among the long grasses, sweet-gale, and low shrubbery of the place; among these shrubs more than one dainty track leading from the forest to the runlet showed that here the deer came daily down to drink, and Alden in his heart felt he had done well not to lift a hand against the pretty creature he had surprised there. But neither the poetic Bradford, the polished Winslow, nor the meditative Howland paused any more than their brethren to note the beauty of the spot, but one and all plunging forward threw themselves upon their knees thrusting their faces into the water, and only pausing to draw breath and drink again.

"We there drank our first New England water, and with as much delight as ever we drunk drink in all our lives," wrote Bradford at a later day, and no doubt the memory of its refreshment lasted all his life.

All but three, and these three were Allerton who could not go, Standish who would not leave him, and Alden who would not leave Standish until the latter said,—

"But dost not see, John, that thou 'rt hindering me from quenching my thirst? Go thou and bring thy steel cap full of water for Master Allerton, and when I see him revived I'll go right gladly to lap water out of my hand among my three hundred."

"You are ever right, master," replied Alden briefly, and ran to do as he was bid.

An hour's rest and the food they had been unable to swallow while athirst, so refreshed the Pilgrims that even Allerton resumed the march with fresh courage and pursued it steadily until Billington, suddenly pausing and pointing down at a narrow path intersecting their own, said in a low voice to Standish who came close behind him,—

"Men's feet, not beasts. It will lead belike to a village."

"Ay," responded the captain briefly. "Look well to your weapons men, and light your matches, but let no man fire his piece without command." And drawing his sword, Standish strode eagerly forward close to Billington, who with all his faults was no coward, and blithely blew his match to a fiery glow, while glancing with his ferret eyes behind every tree and into every covert he passed.

Nothing, however, was to be seen, and suddenly the path came to an end in a large clearing covered with the stubble of maize recently gathered, while at the farther side stood several huts formed by a circle of elastic poles, the butts thrust in the ground and the tops bound together leaving a hole through which the smoke was invited to escape, and sometimes did so. The outside was protected by heavy mats of skins or braided of bark, while a more highly decorated one closed the doorway. All were evidently deserted, and after some cautious advances, the captain leaving three men on guard permitted the rest to extinguish their matches and explore the wigwams so curious to European eyes and so familiar to our own.

The interior of each showed a cooking hearth or platform framed of sticks and stones, and an assortment of wooden cooking utensils rudely carved. Among these the explorers noticed an English bucket without a bale and a copper kettle, both linking themselves in their minds to the traces of civilization already noted in the palisades and ruined cabin near which the store of corn had been found. Many baskets, both for use and ornament, were found, and sundry boxes curiously wrought with bits of clam shell, such as were used for wampum, and also little crab shells and colored pebbles, seemed to show the presence of women and their proficiency in the fancy work of their own time and taste. Several deer heads, one of them freshly killed, showed that the inmates of the wigwams were not far distant, and in a hollow tree by way of larder was hung the carcass of a deer, so well ripened that even Hopkins pronounced it "fitter for dogs than men."

From all these novelties and curiosities the Pilgrims selected a few of the prettier specimens to carry to their comrades on board, formally promising each other, as they had in case of the corn, to make due payment to the owners whenever they should be found, a promise most conscientiously performed at a later day.

By the time these matters were fully examined night was falling, and the Pilgrims, strong in their own good intentions and also in their weapons, encamped a short distance from the Indian village, and although keeping diligent guard all night saw nor heard naught to disturb their slumbers. Rousing betimes next morning, their first attention was given to prayers, and their next to making as good a breakfast as possible with the aid of some wild fowl and little birds shot during the previous day's march, and then the "meat and mass" which "hinder no man" thus attended to, they set forth in the direction of the river where they were to be picked up by the shallop. Toward noon this point was nearly reached, in fact the clearing with the European cabin was close at hand, when Billington paused beside a mound carefully laid up with a border of beach stones and rounded high and smooth with sods, over which were laid hewn planks such as composed the cabin.

"It is another store of corn of choicer variety," declared he greedily; but Hopkins shook his head.

"It is the grave of some great sachem, or haply from these planks above him it is the grave of whoever built yon cabin and palisado."

"Belike there is treasure of some wrecked vessel which brought him hither, and which he stored away thus, until his rescue," said Rigdale.

"Should not we cautiously open it, Captain, and certify ourselves what is therein?" asked Bradford. "If it prove a grave we can but reverently cover it again, and if it be food, we need all that we can gather for food and seed."

"Ay, Master Bradford," replied Standish thoughtfully. "I like not meddling with graves for despite or for curiosity, but sith it much imports us to understand this country where we are to dwell, I think we may examine this mound, and, as thou sayest, if it be a grave of white man or of red, we will leave it as honorable as we find it."

Permission thus given, swords, bayonets, and hatchets were set to work, and in a few moments, the upper surface of sand and earth being removed, the explorers came upon a large bow, strong, tough, and beautifully carved and pointed.

"It is a sachem, and a mighty man of valor if he wielded this bow and shot these arrows," said Hopkins handling them respectfully.

"It seemeth to me like a white man's touch in this carving," said Winslow examining the bow.

"Here lieth a goodly mat, stained with red and blue in a fair pattern," said Bradford drawing it off the grave, as it now seemed certain to be.

"And what is this?" exclaimed Alden raising something which lay beneath the mat. Brushing away the mould that clung to it, this proved to be a piece of plank some twenty-seven inches in length, carefully smoothed upon one side, and painted with what seemed an heraldic achievement, while the top was cut into something of the fashion of a crest consisting of three spikes or tines.

"It is a hatchment over a noble's grave," cried Standish. "Say you not so, Master Winslow? See you, here is a shield, although I know not the device, and here is surely a crest."

"So it beseemeth, Captain," replied Winslow cautiously. "And to my mind this crest is a rude presentment of the lilies of France. See you now, Master Bradford!"

"Nay, I know naught of such toys," replied Bradford sturdily. "To my mind it looketh as much like Neptune's trident as aught else."

"Or like a muck-fork," suggested Rigdale in his broad Lancashire dialect, and with a coarse laugh resented by Standish, who, an aristocrat to his heart's core, ill brooked contempt of chivalrous emblems, especially by a rustic of his own shire.

"Well, let us get on with this business," said he peremptorily, and pulling away another mat he disclosed a store of bowls, plates, dishes, and such matters, all new and beautifully carved and decorated.

"For the dead man to cook and eat on his journey to the happy hunting grounds, which the salvages place in the room of heaven," said Hopkins sanctimoniously. Beneath these lay another mat, and beneath this a crypt carefully bedded with dry white sand, upon which lay two packages carefully sewn up in sailcloth, the one more than six feet in length, the other barely three.

"The body of a man and child," said Bradford softly, as he helped to raise them from their pure white cell and lay them upon the earth.

"Open them with care, friends," said Standish uncovering his head. "It is some white man buried in such honor as they had knowledge of by those who loved him."

The many folds of canvas removed, there lay a strange sight before the Pilgrims' eyes. Inclosed in a great quantity of fine red powder, emitting a pungent but agreeable odor, lay the skeleton of a man, fleshless, except upon the skull, where clung the skin and a mass of beautiful hair, yellow as gold, and curling closely as if in life.

"Is the flesh turned to this red powder?" asked Alden fingering it dubiously.

"Dost know, Hopkins?" asked Standish, but the veteran shook his head.

"I have seen naught like this in all my life," confessed he. "See, here is a parcel at his feet done up in another bit of the old sail."

"Shall I open it, Captain?" asked Alden eagerly.

"Ay, an' thou wilt."

"'T is clothes. A sailor's jerkin and breeches, a knife, a sail needle threaded with somewhat like a bowstring"—

"A deer's sinew. They still use it as our women do linen thread," said Hopkins taking it in his hand.

"And some bits of wrought iron," continued Alden turning them over.

"Ay, ay, ay, the poor fellow's chiefest treasures in his exile among the salvages," said Bradford gently.

"And still he was finding some comfort, you may well be sure," suggested Hopkins. "For it was a savage woman who laid him thus carefully to his rest, and yon package be sure is the bones of her child."

"Belike. Open it, John," said Standish briefly, and in effect the smaller package contained the same red and pungent powder encasing the bones of a little child, his head covered with a thinner thatch of the father's yellow curls, and the wrists, ankles, and neck surrounded with strings of fine white beads. Beside it lay a little bow and arrows ornamented with all the loving elaboration of Indian art.

"A boy, and his mother's darling, be she red or white, savage or Christian," said Bradford softly, as his thoughts flew to the baby boy left in Holland under charge of his wife Dorothy's parents.

"Yes," replied Standish gently. "Cover them reverently, and lay them in their grave again. God send comfort to that poor woman's heart."

"Certes they are no salvages," said Hopkins positively. "Never saw I yellow hair on any but a white man's head, nor do red men wear breeches."

"Ay, he was a white man, but, as I opine, a Frenchman," declared Winslow thoughtfully.

"French surely, masters, for this is French," said Robert Cartier timidly, as he handled the pointed board. "These are indeed the lilies of France. I have seen them full oft."

"Say you so, lad?" asked Standish kindly. "Well, I suppose a man loves his country's ensign though he be naught but a Frenchman. There, place all as we found it, and let us go our ways."



CHAPTER V.

AN AWFUL DANGER.

"Found you a good burial place in yonder wilderness?" asked Dorothy Bradford of her husband the next morning as he sat beside her in their little cabin on the high quarter deck of the Mayflower.

"Ay truly, wife," replied the husband cheerily. "And much did we muse as to the remains so honorably interred. One of those we found was a little lad scarce as old as our baby John, and almost mine eyes grew wet in thinking of him so far away."

"Cruel that thou art to speak of him," exclaimed the young mother wildly, "when thou knowest I am dying for sight of the child and of home and my mother and all that I hold dear. I asked, hadst thou found a grave for poor me in this wilderness whither thou hast brought me to die."

"Nay, then, dear wife"—

"Mock me not with fair words, for they are naught. If I indeed am dear take me home to all I love. Here I have naught but thee, and one might as well love one of these cold gray rocks as thee."

"Have I not been kind and gentle to thee, Dorothy?" asked Bradford bowing his face upon his hands.

"Ay, kind enow," replied she sullenly. "And gentle, as brave men still must be to helpless women, but as for love! Tell me now, William Bradford, dost thou to-day love me as thou couldst have loved Alice Carpenter who flouted thee and married Edward Southworth instead? Nay, now, them darest not deny that thou dost love her still!"

"Peace, woman!" exclaimed Bradford raising his face, stern and pale as his wife had seldom seen it, and then as he marked her fragile features and woe-begone expression his tone changed to a gentle one. "Nay, Dorothy, thou wrongest thyself and me. I told thee of certain passages, past before I knew thee, because I would have no secret between my wife and me, and it is ill-done of thee to use my confidence as a weapon against me. And again thou wrongest me grievously; Edward Southworth's wife is naught to us; we twain are made one, and our lives are to run in the one channel while both shall last. It is for me to shape and hew that channel, and for thee to see that its waters run clear and sweet, and, if you will, to plant posies on the banks. Let us never speak again of these matters, Dorothy, but rather turn our minds to making a fair home of the place whither God hath brought us, and doing our best by each other. Trust me, wife, thou shalt never have cause to complain for lack of aught I can win for thee or do for thee. Nay, Dorothy, my wife, weep not so bitterly!"

"Master Bradford, are you within?" asked John Howland's voice outside the door.

"Ay. What is thy errand, John?"

"The governor prays you to attend a Council convened in the great cabin."

"I will come," and laying his hand tenderly yet solemnly upon the bowed head of his wife Bradford murmured,—

"God help thee, Dorothy, God help us both!" and without waiting for a reply so left her.

In the cabin he found the principal men of the company seated around a table covered with charts, scrolls, and instruments of various sorts. Standish with a brief nod made room for the new-comer, and Carver in his measured tones explained: "Some of us were talking with Master Jones upon the question of seating ourselves by yonder river as he strongly adviseth, and I thought it best, Master Bradford, to call a general Council and settle the matter out of hand. Here are such charts as the Mayflower saileth by, and here is Master Smith's maps whereon we find this bay, and much of the coast beyond, laid fairly down. Master Hopkins counseleth a place called Agawam[2] some twenty leagues to the northward, whereof he hath heard as a good harbor and fishing ground. Others say that we should explore yet farther along the shores of this land which Smith calleth Cape Cod, even as he nameth the whole district New England, which is verily a pleasant reminder for us, who in spite of persecution and harshness must still love the name of the land wherein we have left the bones of our sires."

[2] Ipswich.

"It needs not so many words, Governor," interrupted Jones rudely. "If ye will not be satisfied with the place ye saw yesterday, Coppin, our pilot, knoweth of another river with plenty of cleared land about it, and a harbor fit for a war-fleet to ride in, lying two or three leagues to the southwest of this place. What think you of taking your pinnace and going to look at it?"

"We will have in the pilot and hear his story for ourselves before we answer that query," said Carver with dignity, while Standish less temperately demanded,—

"And why, Master Jones, didst not tell us this at first rather than at last? Well nigh hadst thou forced us to land where we could if only to be rid of thy importunity."

"Why of course I had rather landed you here, and been off for home rather than to carry you further and be burdened with your queasy fancies," retorted Jones brutally. "I'm no man's fool I'd have thee to know my little fire-eater, and thou 'lt be no gladder to say good-by when the time comes than I."

"Here is Robert Coppin, friends," interposed Brewster mildly, as a hardy fellow entered the cabin and nodded with scant ceremony to the company.

"Sit thee down, Coppin," said Carver making room for the pilot beside him. "We would have thee show us upon the chart this river whereof Master Jones says thou knowest."

"Well, it should be hereaway methinks," replied Coppin bending over the map and tracing the coast line with a horny forefinger. "Is it yon? Nay, I am no scholar and steer not by a chart I cannot make out. I know the place when I see it, and I'll find it again if I'm set to it."

"Thou 'st been there, then?"

"Ay, we lay there three weeks when I sailed in the whaler Scotsman out of Glasgow, and more by token we named the place Thievish Harbor, for one of the Indians stole a harpoon out of our boat and away with it before we could reach him. 'T is a goodly river, broader and deeper than yon, and has a broad safe harbor."[3]

[3] Jones River, Duxbury.

"And why didst thou not tell us of this place sooner, Master Coppin, sith thou art our pilot?" sternly demanded Winslow.

"Well, master," returned Coppin slowly, and casting a furtive look at Jones who was draining a pewter flagon of beer, "I did tell Master Jones yonder, but he said he had liefer you seated here, and I was to hold my tongue"—

"Thou liest, knave," roared Jones menacing him with the flagon. "Thou liest in thy throat. Or if thou didst mumble some nonsense in mine ears, I paid no heed, doubting not that thou hadst told it all before to thy gossips among these pious folk. But, Governor, if it is your pleasure to seek out this place, I will lend you some of my men and set you forward at your own pleasure."

"Thanks for your good will, master," replied Carver coldly. "What say you, friends? Shall we try it?"

Murmurs and words of assent were heard on all sides, and Standish said,—

"My mind, if you will have it, is that this matter should be shrewdly pressed, and an end made of it as soon as may be. Our people dwindle daily; they who were well a se'nnight since are ill to-day, and may be dead to-morrow. Our provision waxeth short and poor, and be it once spent our good friend Jones will give us none of his we may be sure. We are no babes to be cast down by these things, nor frighted at facing them, but sure it is the part of wisdom to use our strength while it is left to us, and to explore this place, and any other whereof we may hear, with no farther delay. My counsel is to tell off a company of our soundest men, and set forth with Coppin this very hour, or as soon as we may."

"Well and manfully spoken, Captain Standish," replied Carver, and from more than one bearded throat came a grim murmur of approval, while Hopkins significantly added,—

"Let them who will, be treated as babes and set down here or there without their own consent. I for one am with thee, Captain, in the bolder course."

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