THE PILGRIMS OF NEW ENGLAND:
A TALE OF THE EARLY AMERICAN SETTLERS.
MRS. J. B. WEBB, AUTHOR OF "NAOMI," "JULAMERK," ETC.
In the following story, an attempt has been made to illustrate the manners and habits of the earliest Puritan settlers in New England, and the trials and difficulties to which they were subjected during the first years of their residence in their adopted country. All the principal incidents that are woven into the narrative are strictly historical, and are derived from authentic sources, which give an impartial picture both of the virtues and the failings of these remarkable emigrants. Unhappily, some of these incidents prove but too clearly, how soon many of these exiles 'for conscience sake' forgot to practice those principles of religious liberty and toleration, for the preservation and enjoyment of which they had themselves abandoned home and kindred, and the church of their forefathers; and they tend to lessen the feelings of respect and admiration with which their piety, and their disinterested spirit, must necessarily inspire us. We cannot but regret to find how early, in many of the Puritan communities, that piety became tinged with fanaticism, and that free spirit degenerated into bigotry and intolerance in their treatment of others, who had an equal claim with themselves to a freedom of private judgement, and to the adoption or rejection of any peculiar forms or mode of discipline.
It is hoped, that a story founded on the history of these admirable, but sometimes misguided, men, may prove interesting to many who have hitherto been but slightly acquainted with the fate of their self- exiled countrymen; and may tend to remove the prejudice with which, in many minds, they are regarded: for, while we remember their errors and infirmities, we should also remember that their faults were essentially those of the age in which they lived, and the education they had received; while their virtues were derived from the pure faith that they possessed, and which was dearer to them than aught on earth beside.
KING'S PYON HOUSE, HEREFORD
THE PILGRIMS OF NEW ENGLAND.
'The breaking waves dashed high On a stern and rock-hound coast: And the woods against a stormy sky, Their giant branches tost. And the heavy night hung dark The hills and waters o'er, When a hand of exiles moored their bark On the wild New England shore.' HEMANS.
It was, indeed, a 'stern and rock-bound coast' beneath which the gallant little Mayflower furled her tattered sails, and dropped her anchor, on the evening of the eleventh of November, in the year 1620. The shores of New England had been, for several days, dimly descried by her passengers, through the gloomy mists that hung over the dreary and uncultivated tract of land towards which their prow was turned; but the heavy sea that dashed against the rocks, the ignorance of the captain and his crew with regard to the nature of the coast, and the crazy state of the deeply-laden vessel, had hitherto prevented their making the land. At length the ship was safely moored in a small inlet, beyond the reach of the foaming breakers; and the Pilgrim Fathers hastened to leave the vessel in which they had so long been imprisoned, and, with their families, to set foot on the land that was henceforth to be their home. Cold, indeed, was the welcome which they received from their adopted country; and cheerless was the view that met their gaze, as they landed on a massy rock of granite, at the foot of a precipitous cliff, and looked along the barren, inhospitable shore, and over the dark waters which they had so lately crossed.
But hope was strong in the hearts of these exiles; and the faith that had led them to seek these untrodden shores, had not deserted them during their long and tempestuous voyage; and they looked upward through the gloom and dreariness that surrounded them, and fixed their trusting eyes on Him who had guided them in safety over the great deep, and brought them at length to a resting-place. Their first act was to kneel down on the cold rock, and offer up their prayers and praises to that God for whose sake they had given up country, and friends, and home, and to whose service they now dedicated themselves and their children: and strikingly grand must have been that act of worship. The manly voices of the sturdy Pilgrims rose in deep and solemn unison, followed by those of the women and children, and resounded along the silent coast, while the heavy urges of the receding tide kept up a hoarse and monotonous accompaniment. Then arose a hymn of thanksgiving—and the rocks and the neighboring hills re-echoed the exulting strain, that seemed to drown the voices of the wind and the waves, and to rise unmixed to heaven. It was the triumph of faith—the holy and heartfelt expression of undying trust and confidence in God! Surely, at that time, the Pilgrims were meet objects for the admiring gaze of men and angels! But they were not always so.
It was on the shore of Cape Cod Bay that the new settlers had landed, in the inlet now called New Plymouth Harbor: but this was not the place of their original destination. They had intended to steer for the mouth of Hudson's River, and to have fixed their habitation in that less exposed and inhospitable district. But the Dutch had already conceived the project, which they afterwards accomplished, of settling in that part of the new continent; and it is supposed that the captain of the Mayflower was bribed by them to convey the English emigrants further to the north; so that the first American land which they beheld was Cape Cod. They found that the place where they had landed was beyond the precincts of the territory which had been granted to them; and even beyond that of the Company from which they derived their right of colonization; and after exploring hastily the neighboring coast, and finding it dreary and unpromising, they again embarked, and insisted on the captain's conveying them to the district which they had first desired to reach. They sailed to the south, and many days were lost in endeavoring to find a more convenient spot for their settlement: but it was in vain. The shoals and the breakers with which the coast was lined, presented obstacles that were insurmountable at that advanced, and unusually inclement, season; and, weary and disheartened, they returned to the place of their first landing. There they fixed their abode, and there they founded the infant city of New Plymouth. It was a desolate situation, and one that subjected the new settlers to many trials and privations; for the nearest English settlements then established were upwards of five hundred miles distant. Winter having set in with more than common severity, they felt that no more time could be wasted in seeking for a better spot, on which to build their first American habitations. Sickness also had begun to show itself among the little band of men, women, and children who were all unaccustomed to the hardships and confinement of a long voyage; and it was necessary to disembark with all possible speed, and erect huts to shelter them from the daily increasing inclemency of the weather. For this purpose, the forests of oak, pine, juniper, and sassafras, that had grown undisturbed for centuries along the coast, furnished them with abundant materials; and the woods soon echoed to the unaccustomed sound of the hatchet and the saw, at which all the men, of every rank and condition, labored unremittingly, while the women and children gathered up the great muscles, and other shell-fish, which abounded on the shore, and collected dry wood for firing.
But before we follow the settlers in the detail of their sufferings and trials, and of their ultimate success and prosperity, it will be needful to go back a few years, and consider the motives that led these brave men to expose themselves and their families to such severe hardships, and to abandon their home and their kindred. A brief glance at their previous history will suffice for this purpose.
It is well known that the Puritans were greatly dissatisfied with the state of the Church in England at the time when James the First ascended the throne of this country. From him they hoped for protection and encouragement; but in this expectation they were grievously disappointed. The conference at Hampton Court proved how little sympathy he entertained for their party; and the convocation which was held soon after utterly all their hopes. Already a considerable number of these dissenters had joined themselves into what they called a 'Church Estate, pledged to walk in God's ways,' and to renounce the evil passions of the world. They had protested against the episcopal form of church government, and declared their approval of the discipline and the forms adopted by the Church of Geneva, and also of that established in the Netherlands. In order to enjoy the liberty in ecclesiastical matters which they so greatly desired, they made up their minds to retire to Amsterdam, under their excellent and respected pastor, John Robinson; and this project was effected by the greater number of their party; though some were discovered before they could embark, and were detained and imprisoned, and treated with much severity. Ultimately, however, they all escaped, and remained unmolested at Amsterdam and the Hague, until the year 16O8, when they removed to Leyden with their pastor, where they resided for eleven years, and were joined by many others who fled from England during the early part of the reign of James.
These men now felt that their only hope of enjoying perfect religious liberty, and of establishing a church according to their own dearly- loved principles, lay in a voluntary exile. Their English prejudices made them shrink from continuing to dwell among the Dutch, who had hitherto given them a hospitable asylum; for they feared that, by frequent intermarriages, they should eventually lose their nationality; and they resolved to seek a new home, where they might found an English colony, and, while they followed that mode of worship which was alone consistent with their views and principles; might still be subjects of the English crown, and keep up an intercourse with the friends they dearly loved, and the land where their forefathers had lived and died.
The recent discovery of the vast continent of America, in several parts of which the British had already begun to form colonies, opened to them a field of enterprise, as well as a quiet refuge from persecution and controversy; and thither the Puritans turned their eyes. Nor were they the first who had taken advantage of the unoccupied wastes of the New World, and sought in them an asylum from intolerant oppression. Already a numerous band of French Huguenots had retired thither, under the conduct of their celebrated Calvinistic leader, De Monts, who was invested with the government of the district lying between Montreal and Philadelphia, by a patent from his sovereign, Henry the Fourth. No traces of this colony now remain, while those planted by the English Puritans have taken root in the American soil, and flourished so greatly, that a few years ago their descendants were found to amount to 4,000,000: so remarkably has the blessing of God, at least in temporal matters, been bestowed on an enterprise which was, doubtless, undertaken in dependence on His protection; and was carried out with that fortitude and resolution which are the results of sincere piety struggling with deep adversity.[*]
[Footnote: For this account of the cause which led to the emigration of the Puritans, and the manner in which they effected it, the authoress is chiefly indebted to Marden's 'History of the Puritans,' and Talvi's 'History of the Colonization of America.']
The idea of retiring to the shores of America was first suggested to his followers by their pastor, John Robinson, whose influence over his flock was almost unexampled. This influence was derived from the purity of his life, and the holy consistency of his conduct. He was possessed of a gentle temper; and the strictness of his religious principles was united with a spirit of toleration towards others, which was too little felt or practiced in those days, and which was not, as is too often the case, changed into bitterness by the sufferings that he had himself experienced. Well had it been for those who professed to be guided by his example and advice, and who left the shores of Europe with the sanction of his counsel and his blessing, if they had carried with them the truly Christian spirit of their respected minister, and had suffered that spirit to guide them in the formation, and during the growth, of their infant church in America! But, as we shall presently see, this was not the case: the mercy and toleration which the Puritan exiles had vainly asked at the hands of their brethren at home, they denied to others who differed from them; and, consequently, while they have so greatly prospered in the things of this world, in religion they have evidently declined.
Emigration being resolved on, the first step that was taken by the Puritans, was an application to King James for an assurance of protection and toleration in the new home which they desired to seek; but this was more than the wary king would guarantee to them. All that they could obtain was a vague promise, that so long as they conducted themselves peaceably, they should not be molested; and, relying on this promise, they immediately commenced a negotiation with the Virginian Company, for the possession of a tract of land within the limits of the patent which had been granted to them for colonizing that part of America. This was easily obtained; for the Society had hitherto only been able to occupy a few isolated spots of their extensive territory, and, therefore, were willing to encourage fresh settlers.
The congregation over which Robinson presided, amounted, at the time of their intended emigration, to upwards of three hundred in number; but their resources were inadequate to the expense of moving all together, and it was therefore arranged that only a part of the flock should sail at first, under the guidance of William Brewster; while the rest should remain at Leyden, under the care of their pastor, and wait for the report of their friends before they followed them to their chosen place of exile.
The names of the vessels which were engaged to convey the Pilgrims from the shores of Europe, were the Mayflower and the Speedwell—names still cherished by heir descendants. When they were ready for sea, the whole congregation assembled themselves together, and observed a solemn fast, which concluded with prayer; and Robinson preached to them from Ezra viii, 21: 'Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.' He afterwards addressed them in a deeply impressive speech, in which he earnestly deprecated all party spirit and bigotry, and exhorted them to be guided only by the pure doctrines of God's Word.
'I charge you,' said this truly Christian and evangelical minister, 'that you follow me no further than you have seen me follow the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord has more truth yet to break forth out of his Holy Word. I cannot sufficiently bewail the condition of the reformed churches, which are come to a period in religion, and will go, at present, no further than the instruments of their reformation. Luther and Calvin were great and shining lights in their times, yet they penetrated not into the whole counsel of God. The Lutherans cannot be drawn to go beyond what Luther saw; and the Calvinists, you see, stick fast where they were left by that great man of God.[*] I beseech you, remember it—'tis an article of your church covenant—that you shall be ready to receive whatever truth shall be made known to you from the Word of God.'
[Footnote: See 'Remarks on the Dangers of the Church,' by Rev. Edward Bickersteth.]
The congregation then repaired to the house of their pastor, and partook of a farewell repast together; after which they proceeded to Delft Harbor, and there the Pilgrims embarked. Again their minister offered up fervent prayer in behalf of this portion of his flock who were about to encounter the dangers of a long voyage, and to seek a home in an almost unknown land—and then in deep silence they parted. 'No cheers or noisy acclamations resounded along the shore, for such demonstrations were little in accordance with the usual serious habits of the Puritans, and still less so with the feelings of sadness which now oppressed their hearts. But a volley of small shot, and three pieces of ordnance,' writes Winslow, one of the emigrants, 'announced to those on shore the hearty courage and affectionate adieus of those on board; and so, lifting up our hands to one another, and our hearts to the Lord, we departed.'
Thus the Pilgrims set sail, with mingled feelings of hope for the future, and regret for what they left behind; and greatly would their sorrow have been increased, had they known that they would never again behold on earth the countenance of their much-loved pastor. They fully anticipated his following them, with the rest of their brethren, as soon as they should have found a suitable place of settlement for the whole congregation. But poverty and other obstacles detained him in Europe, and he terminated his useful and exemplary life at Leyden.
The emigrants had not proceeded far on their voyage, when it was discovered that the Mayflower, commanded by Captain Jones, was in need of some repairs; and the two vessels put into Dartmouth—not to sail together again. The captain of the Speedwell declared that he was afraid to encounter the voyage; and from this, or some other motive, he positively refused to proceed any further. Several of the passengers also, had already begun to feel disheartened, and they returned with him to London, and abandoned the enterprise altogether. Doubtless, the Pilgrims bad no cause to lament the departure of these faint-hearted comrades; but it occasioned them much present inconvenience, for, not being able to procure another vessel to convey the remainder of the passengers who had embarked in the Speedwell, they were all obliged to be crowded into the Mayflower, which sailed again on the sixth of September, 1620, with considerably upwards of a hundred men, women, and children on her narrow decks, in addition to her own crew of seamen.
After a very tedious and tempestuous voyage, they came in sight of the American shores on the eighth of November; and, as we have already seen, they landed three days afterwards in Cape Cod Bay, and eventually founded the city of New Plymouth at the place of their disembarkation. A portion of the granite rock on which the Pilgrim Fathers first set foot has since been removed from the coast, and placed in front of' 'The Pilgrim's Hall,' enclosed in an iron railing; and the anniversary of their landing, afterwards called Forefather's-day, has ever since been observed by their descendants as a day of solemn festivity, in remembrance of the mercy of Providence, which led them safely through so many difficulties and dangers; and permitted them to find a new home, and a new country, and to bring their enterprise to such a prosperous issue.
It is with the first period of their establishment on the uncultivated shores of North America that our story commences; and it is connected with the sufferings and privations which were so patiently endured, and the difficulties which were so resolutely overcome, by these devoted men, before they had taken root in their new settlement, or gathered around themselves and their families the comforts which they had abandoned in their own land for conscience sake. Many trials awaited them ere prosperity became their portion, and ere they could feel either rest or security in the wild regions where they had sought a refuge: and these trials will be brought more distinctly to our minds, if we view them in connection with some of the individuals of the expedition, and follow the fortunes of one family more particularly. This family we will call by the name of Maitland, and endeavor in their somewhat imaginary history, to describe the mode of life, and some of the joys and sorrows—the difficulties and successes—of the Pilgrim Fathers.
Owing to the many delays which the emigrants had experienced, a severe winter had set in before they landed, and had fixed a spot for their permanent abode; and they found themselves exposed to the inclemency of a North climate, with no other shelter than a few tents, besides that which the vessel continued to afford. In haste they felled the trees of the neighboring forests; and in haste they constructed the village of log huts which was to be their present abode, and which, ultimately, grew into the flourishing and wealthy city of New Plymouth. In the erection of this hamlet, no head was so fertile in plans and expedients, and no arms were so strong to execute them, as those of Rodolph Maitland, the head of the family in whom we are specially interested. He was a younger member of a very respectable family in the North of England, and had passed his youth and early manhood in the service of his country as a soldier. This profession, however, became distasteful to him when the religious dissensions which troubled the land called on him, at times, to obey his commander in carrying out schemes of oppression which were contrary both to his feelings and his principles. His marriage with Helen Seatown, the daughter of a nonconforming minister, increased his repugnance to bearing arms, which might be turned against the party to which he was now so closely connected; and he threw up his commission, and soon afterwards accompanied his father-in-law to Holland, and joined the congregation of the respected Robinson at Leyden.
Here he continued to reside until the resolution to emigrate was formed by the Puritan refugees, when he was among the first to embrace the proposition of the pastor, and to lend all the aid which his comparative wealth, and the influence of his connections in England, enabled him to offer in furtherance of the enterprise. His father-in- law had died soon after his arrival at Leyden; but his amiable and devoted wife was most willing to follow him in his voluntary exile, and to take her children to the New World, where she hoped to bring them up in the same principles of pure evangelical religion which she had learnt from her own parents, and which were dearer to her than home or friends or aught on earth besides.
At the time when the Pilgrims reached America, the Maitland's family consisted of two sons, Henrich and Ludovico; the elder of whom was sixteen years of age, and the younger about seven; and one little girl between ten and eleven, named Edith. In the thoughtful seriousness of his eldest boy, which was united with great intelligence and spirit, and a manly resolution beyond his years, Rodolph saw his own character again depicted; and Helen proudly hoped that her Henrich would one day manifest all those qualities of mind and person by which his father had first won her admiration and love, and by which he had since gained the esteem and affection of all who were in any way connected with him. Henrich was now old enough to understand, and almost to appreciate, the motives which had induced his parents and their companions to become exiles from home: and his young heart exulted in the resolution that freed him from the cold formality of Dutch manners, and opened to his adventurous spirit a prospect of liberty and enterprise, far better suited to his inclination and character. Religious freedom he desired, because he had been taught that it was his rightful privilege, and that the want of it had occasioned those troubles which first drove his parents and friends from their native land. But personal freedom he yearned for with his whole soul; and the wild shores of New England, and the depths of the unexplored forests that now met his eager gaze, filled his ardent mind with anticipations of adventurous joys hitherto unknown to him. These anticipations were destined to be fulfilled, ere long, in a manner which he neither foresaw nor desired.
His brother Ludovico was a playful child, too young to share all the feelings of the earnest Henrich, who always acted as his guide and protector during their sports and rambles; but in the gentle little Edith he found a kindred spirit, and a heart that could sympathize in all his joys and sorrows. Young as she was, Edith felt the influence of her brother's character; and she looked up to him with feelings of devoted love and admiring pride. She was his constant companion, and his ever-ready assistant in all his difficulties. This had been very much the case during their residence in Holland; but on their arrival in New England, Edith was left still more to her brother's guidance. Their parents were necessarily too much occupied with the cares end anxieties which their new situation brought upon them, to devote much time to their children; and when the light labors in which Henrich and Edith were able to render any assistance were over, they and Ludovico amused themselves by wandering along the shore in search of shells and seaweed; or else they followed the wood-cutters into the forest, to seek for such flowering plants as still were to be found in the more sheltered spots, and to transplant them to the garden that was to surround and embellish their rude dwelling.
As soon as a tolerable shelter had been obtained, by the erection of a sufficient number of log-huts, to contain the families of the settlers, it was resolved that a party of men should go on an exploring expedition, and endeavor to ascertain the nature and resources of the coast on which they had landed; and, also, whether it was inhabited by any tribes of native Indians. Hitherto they had seen no human beings, and they had remained undisturbed possessors of the soil. But they could hardly expect that this state of things would long continue; and they were anxious, if possible, to discover the native inhabitants and natural possessors of the country, and to establish friendly relations with them.
Sixteen of the Pilgrims volunteered for this expedition, headed by Rodolph Maitland, whose military experience, and superior intelligence, well fitted him to be the leader of the party. The rest of the men remained to protect their families, and to complete the village; which already presented a very respectable appearance, and promised to afford a tolerably comfortable residence to the new settlers, until they should have leisure and means to erect dwellings more in accordance with their previous habits of life.
The government of the little colony was unanimously confided to John Carver, who was elected President for one year; but he did not live long to exercise his authority, or to enjoy the confidence reposed in him by his fellow-settlers. During the short period, however, that he was spared to them, he exerted himself successfully to promote the welfare of the community, and to preserve peace and unanimity among the members of which it was composed; and before the departure of the exploring party, he called on all the Pilgrim Fathers to sign a covenant, which had been drawn up during the voyage, and which contained a statement of the peculiar religious principles of the congregation, and also of the mode of civil government that they proposed to establish in the colony. This government was not to be independent of the mother country, for the Pilgrims regarded themselves as still being the subjects of King James; and the patent which they had procured to enable them to settle in New England was granted by the Company to whom the king had assigned the right of colonizing that part of North America. They, therefore, intended to be governed mainly by English laws, and to keep up a constant and intimate connection with their English brethren. It may be well here to mention that their plan of civil government consisted in the election of a governor or president by general vote, and of seven counselors to assist him; the only privilege granted to the president being that his vote counted double. This state of things continued for eighteen years, after which time the growth of the colony rendered a change expedient, and each new town that was founded sent delegates to a general court. It would, however, be useless here to follow the political changes of these early settlers, as it is only with their first form of government that our story is concerned.
According to the habitual custom of the Pilgrims, the Sabbath which preceded the sending forth this band of spies to search the land, was observed with the utmost solemnity; for no press of occupations—no necessity for haste—ever induced them to neglect this duty. For the liberty of practicing their own mode of worship, they had sought these shores; and, having been permitted safely to reach them, they used that liberty, and were never unmindful of their religious privileges. Every Sabbath was a day of sacred rest; and every undertaking was sanctified by prayer; sometimes even, as we shall have occasion to observe, when the undertaking was such as could hardly be supposed to deserve the blessing of God. Still, there is every reason to believe that their piety, as a body, was sincere; and while we condemn the sternness and severity into which they were too frequently betrayed, we must yield our heartfelt approbation to the self-denying resolution and unflinching faith that were their governing principle and their ever- actuating motive. Well have these principles and motives been described by a late well-known poet, and well may we conclude this introductory chapter with the last verse of that exquisite song, with the first of which we commenced it:
'What sought they thus afar? Bright jewels of the mine? The wealth of seas, the spoils of war? They sought a faith's pure shrine. Aye—call it holy ground The soil where first they trod! They have left unstain'd what there they found— Freedom to worship God!'
'In much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, In distresses... As having nothing, and yet possessing all things.'—2 COR. vi, 4, 10.
'Is it not much that I may worship Him, With naught my spirit's breathings to control, And feel His presence in the vast, and dim, And whispering woods, where dying thunders roll From the far cat'racts?' HEMANS.
With some anxiety the settlers saw the exploring party set out on their hazardous enterprise. The season was far advanced, and drifting snowstorms gave warning of the inclement winter that was rapidly setting in. Still it was deemed necessary to make some investigation into the nature of the country, and to endeavor to obtain, if possible, a supply of provisions before the increasing severity of the weather should render it impracticable to do so. But, above all, it was desirable to ascertain what native tribes dwelt in the vicinity of the settlement, and to use every means to establish friendly relations with them; not only because such a course would be most in accordance with the principles of the Gospel which the emigrants professed to hold and to practice, but also because, in the present state of the infant colony, they were altogether unprepared to resist any attack that might be made on them by a large body of Indians.
Maitland led his party inland at first, and for two days they saw no traces or human inhabitants; but on the afternoon of the third day, as they were looking about for a convenient spot on which to encamp for the night, some large and apparently artificial mounds of earth were observed, scattered over an open glade in the forest. At the first glance, they appeared like dwelling places; and, knowing something of the habits of the Indians, Rodolph and two of his companions approached them warily, fearing to surprise and irritate the inhabitants. But after making a circuit, and ascertaining that these supposed huts had no doorways, they went up to them, and found them to be solid mounds, at the foot of which neatly plaited baskets, filled with ears of maize, were placed. These were eagerly seized upon; and a further search being made, several warlike and agricultural implements were discovered buried beneath the surface of the earth. It was evident that these mounds were native graves, and that they had recently been visited by the tribe to which they belonged, who most probably resided in the neighborhood. Therefore, to avoid exciting their displeasure and jealousy, Rodolph caused all the weapons and other tools to be restored to their places; and, in exchange for the corn, which was too much needed to be left behind, he put into the baskets several strings of beads, and other trifles, with which he was provided for the purpose of barter, or as presents to the natives.
It did not appear either safe or desirable to remain near a spot so sacred to the Indians; the party therefore moved further into the depth of the forest, where they erected their tents, which consisted merely of blankets supported on poles; and, lighting large fires, they slept by turns, while half their number kept a vigilant watch. Their rest was, however, undisturbed, either by lurking Indians or by prowling beasts of prey; and at day-break they resumed their march, in the hope of discovering the native camp. But their search was in vain; and Rodolph determined to leave the forest, and return to the settlement along the shore, hoping there to find some traces of the natives. Before he and his comrades left the shelter of the wood, they fired their muskets at the small game which abounded in every direction, partly with a view to supply themselves with food, and partly to attract the notice of any straggling Indians who might be wandering near, and who would conduct them to their wigwams. But the echoes were the only sounds that answered their reports, and it was clear that no native camp was within hearing.
The place where Maitland and his little band reached the coast was nearly twenty leagues from the settlement, towards the north, and has since been known by the name of Angoum. Here they found two empty huts, containing all the curiously-worked utensils used by the Indians of that district—bowls, trays, and dishes, formed of calabashes and carved wood or bark; and beautiful baskets constructed of crabshells, ingeniously wrought together, with well-woven mats of grass and bulrushes, dyed of various brilliant colors. The inhabitants had probably gone on a fishing expedition, and would return in a few days, as they had left behind them a considerable quantity of dried acorns, which, at that period, formed a common article of food with these children of the forest.
Rodolph suffered nothing to be taken from the huts, but proceeded along the coast in a southerly direction and, at length, he perceived two canoes at a considerable distance from the shore, containing several Indians, who took no notice of the signals they made, but rowed rapidly away on an opposite course. Finding it useless to linger any longer in this part of the bay, Maitland led his party back to the settlement at New Plymouth, taking accurate observations of the line of coast, and communicated to President Carver all the information that he had been able to collect. This was not very satisfactory; and the governor resolved to send out a second party, well armed, who should proceed in the shallop to the southern part of Cape Cod Bay. This expedition was placed under the command of Captain Standish, who was regarded as the military chief of the settlers; and Maitland again formed one of the number. On this occasion he obtained permission to take Henrich with him, as he wished the boy to become early inured to the hardships and privations which it would probably be his lot to bear for many years, and also to acquire habits of courage and vigilance that might be of service to him hereafter. Henrich was delighted with this arrangement, which gratified his desire for adventure, and also proved that his father now placed some confidence in him, and no longer regarded him as a mere child. His astonishment was great when first he beheld the whales, those huge and fearful-looking monsters of the ocean, lifting their gigantic heads above the waves, and lashing the surface to foam with their powerful tails; or ejecting vast spouts of water like fountains, from their upraised heads. These, and many other strange objects, attracted his attention as the boat moved down the bay; but all were forgotten in the absorbing interest with which he regarded, for the first time, the wild red men that met his view as the boat neared the shore, at a spot about eight leagues from New Plymouth, called by the Pilgrims Thievish Harbor. Several of these savages, in their strange attire of skins, and feathers, and woven grasses, showed themselves among the rocks that stood above the landing-place; but, regardless of the peaceful signs that were made to them by Captain Standish and his crew, they hastily retreated and when the party disembarked, not an Indian was to be seen. With much circumspection, the captain advanced at the head of his resolute band, who all held their muskets ready for action, if self-defense should compel them to use them; but with a positive order from their commander to refrain from any act of hostility so long as it was possible to do so.
This command could not, however, be long obeyed; for as the party proceeded through the rocks and stunted trees that lined the coast, they came in sight of a burial ground, similar to that which had been discovered in the first expedition, except that, in this case, the mounds of earth were enclosed by a strong palisade of upright poles, bound together firmly at the top. Through the interstices of these poles, Standish and his men saw the glittering eyes of the savages watching their approach; and before they could decide whether to advance or retreat, a shower of arrows was discharged, several of which took effect, though not mortally. This wanton aggression roused the spirit of the sturdy Englishmen, and regardless of the efforts which Captain Standish made to restrain them, a volley of musket balls instantly replied to the challenge of the red men; and the wild cries that arose from the cemetery plainly told that they had not sped in vain. Even Rodolph Maitland was surprised out of his usual calm resolution and presence of mind; for he saw his son fall bleeding to the ground, pierced through the leg by an arrow, and almost involuntarily he fired off his musket at an Indian whose body was more exposed than the rest, and whose greater profusion of ornament showed him to be one of their chief warriors. Rodolph saw him fall from the palisades on which he had climbed to take a better aim at the white men; and instantly a gate was opened in the enclosure, and, with a hideous yell, the savages rushed forth, brandishing their spears and battle-axes, and shouting their war-cry, 'Woach! woach! ha, ha, hach, woach!' Their number appeared to be about thirty men; and Standish knew that his party, several of whom were already slightly wounded, could not resist the fury of their attack. He therefore gave the word for an instant retreat to the boat, as the only means of safety. His gallant band would gladly have pressed on, and met the savages in close combat; but they had promised to obey their leader, and reluctantly they followed him to the shore.
The path by which they had emerged on the burial-place was narrow and winding, and they were soon hidden from the sight of the Indians; but they heard their wild whoop among the rocks and bushes, and knew that they were in eager pursuit. Maitland had caught up his wounded boy in his arms, and now bore him rapidly forward; but the weight of his burden, and the roughness of the way, retarded his steps and, powerful as he was, he could not keep up with his comrades, who were unconscious that he had fallen behind them. He thought of his wife—of Henrich's mother—and he pat forth his utmost strength. Still the war cry came nearer and nearer; and Henrich, who had hitherto uttered no sound of pain, or word of complaint exclaimed wildly—
'Father! I see them! There—there—they have entered the thicket, and one has climbed the rock, and will soon overtake us. O, father, fly! for his battle-axe is lifted up, and his eyes glare terribly'
Maitland's heart beat furiously. He could not pause, or turn, to look at the coming foe; but his quick and ready mind was active in devising some means of saving the life of his child.
'Load my gun, Henrich!' he exclaimed. 'I cannot long continue this speed. Be steady, and be quick: our lives depend upon it!'
The gallant boy instantly obeyed the difficult command; and the instant it was done, Rodolph dropped on one knee, supported his bleeding son on the other, and taking a deliberate aim at the Indian, who was preparing to leap from the rock into the path behind them, he fired. The upraised arms of the savage fell powerless—the heavy axe dropped from his hand—and, falling forward over the rock, he lay expiring in the narrow pathway. The feathery coronets of several of his comrades were seen above the bushes at some distance: and again the father raised his son, who now hung fainting in his arms, and hurried, with renewed speed, towards the shore. As he neared it, he met two of his companions who, having reached the boat, had missed him and Henrich, and hastened back to secure their retreat. It was a seasonable reinforcement, for Rodolph's strength was failing him. He gave his boy into the arms of one of his friends, and loading his gun, he stood with the other, to defend the passage to the shore. The savages came on; and the white men fired, and retreated, loading as they fell back, and again firing; until their pursuers, either wounded or disheartened, came to a stand still, and contented themselves with yelling their discordant war-cry, and shooting arrows, which happily missed their aim.
The whole party embarked safely, and were soon beyond the reach of the missiles which the Indians continued to discharge; and Maitland had the joy of seeing young Henrich speedily recover his senses, and his spirit too. It was evident that the arrows used by the red men on this occasion were not poisoned, and no great or permanent evil was likely to arise from any of the wounds received; but a spirit of hostility had been established between the settlers and the Nausett tribe, to which their assailants belonged, and Rodolph was a marked man, and an object of determined revenge, to all who had shared in the conflict. The spot where it took place was named the First Encounter, in memory of the event, and long retained that name: and the consequences of this first combat proved to be equally calamitous to the savages, and to their more civilized foes, for many subsequent years.
The exploring party returned to their settlement as speedily as possible, being anxious to obtain medical relief for the wounded. Helen Maitland and her children were wandering on the shore when the boat first came in sight; and for several evenings the desolate coast had been her constant haunt, after the necessary labors of the day were completed. It had been with much reluctance that she had consented to her husband's wish of taking Henrich on the hazardous expedition; and his being of the party had greatly increased the anxiety and uneasiness which Rodolph's absence always caused her. As the days passed on, this anxiety became greater; and visions of fatal encounters with the savages beset her naturally timid mind. Daily therefore she left her hut, and wrapped in the mantle of fur with which her husband had provided her before he brought her to brave a North American winter, she paced backwards and forwards on the beach, looking out over the dark waters, and lifting her heart in prayer for the safe and speedy return of the wanderers. Edith and Ludovico accompanied her but they could not share her anxiety. They looked, indeed, with eagerness for the expected boat which was to bring back their much-loved father and brother; but they soon forgot the object of their search, and amused themselves by climbing the rocks, and gathering the shells which the wintry waves now cast up in abundance.
They were thus engaged when Edith happened to glance to the south and saw the long desired coming round a little promontory that concealed it from her mother as she walked below. In an instant the treasure of shells and seaweed was forgotten, and little Edith was bounding down to the beach, followed by Ludovico.
'The boat mother, the boat!' she eagerly exclaimed, as she pointed in the direction in which it was approaching; and in another moment she and her little brother were at Helen's side, and all hastening to the landing-place—that very granite rock on which they had first disembarked on the American shore. The boat came rear; and as soon as the crew perceived Helen and the children on the rock, they raised a hearty cheer to tell her that all was well. She saw her husband standing on the prow, and her heart bounded with joy; but she looked for Henrich, and she did not see him, and fear mingled with her joy. A few more strokes of the oars, and the boat glided up to the rock, and Rodolph leaped on shore, and embraced his wife and children.
'Heaven be praised! you are safe, my Rodolph,' exclaimed Helen. 'But where is Henrich?—where is my boy?'
'He also is safe, Helen. His life is preserved; but he is wounded, and unable to come from the boat to meet you. Bear up,' he added, seeing that she trembled violently, while the tears flowed down her blanched cheeks 'you need not fear: the brave boy is maimed, indeed, but I trust not seriously injured. He is weak from loss of blood, and must not be agitated; therefore meet him cheerfully, and then hasten to make the arrangements for his comfort that your scanty means will permit.'
Helen dried her tears, and forced, a smile to greet her wounded child, who was now being lifted from the bottom of the boat, and gently carried on shore by two of the men. His pallid countenance, and blood- stained garments, struck a chill to her heart; but she concealed her grief, and silenced the sobs and exclamations of the warm-hearted little Edith and her terrified brother; and then, having affectionately welcomed the almost fainting boy, she hurried away with the children to prepare for his reception in the comfortless log-hut.
Assisted by Janet—the faithful servant who had nursed her children, and followed her from England to Holland, and from Holland to America— she soon arranged a bed for their patient; and Henrich smiled cheerfully, though languidly, when he found himself again beneath the humble roof that was now his home, and surrounded by all whom he loved. His wound proved to be a severe one—more so than his father had imagined; and the loss of blood had been so considerable that he was reduced to extreme weakness. Now it was that Helen felt the absence of all the comforts, and even luxuries, to which she had been accustomed from childhood, but of whose loss she had hitherto never complained. Henrich's illness proved a very long and painful one; and notwithstanding the kindness of all her friends, and the attentions paid by the rest of the settlers to the young patient—who was a general favorite—it was difficult to procure for him either the food or the medical attendance that his case required: and frequently his parents feared that a foreign grave would soon be all that would remain to them of their dearly-loved child.
To add to their anxiety and distress, an epidemic disease, of which some signs had appeared in the settlement before the exploring party set out, now increased to a fearful degree. The stores which had been brought out in the crowded Mayflower were nearly expended, except such a stock as Captain Jones considered necessary for the voyage back to England: and a great scarcity of bread began to be felt. The animals, which they procured by the gun and the chase, were not sufficient to supply the wants of the settlers, and famine—actual famine—stared them in the face, and increased the violence of the pestilence. Many sank beneath the accumulated evils of hardship, privation, and sickness, and the number of the little settlement was sadly reduced during the inclement months of January and February.
The constant care which was bestowed on Henrich at length proved effectual in healing his wound, and partially restoring his strength; and his parents had, eventually, the happiness of seeing that the a anger was past, and their son was restored to them. They also had cause to acknowledge, with gratitude, that the affliction had been blessed to him as well as to themselves. The elders of the community, who acted as the pastors of the infant colony, were unwearied in their attentions to their weaker and more distressed brethren. They were, indeed, the physicians both of their bodies and souls; and Henrich was not neglected by them. The excellent and venerable William Brewster was the intimate and valued friend of Rodolph Maitland and his wife. He had been both their friend and adviser for many years of comparative peace and prosperity; and now that he shared their troubles and adversities, his ready sympathy, and active kindness, rendered him dearer to them than ever.
Brewster was a man whose character and position in life naturally gave him great influence with the Pilgrim Fathers. He had received a liberal education, and possessed a far greater knowledge of the world than the generality of his companions in exile, having been brought up as a diplomatist under Davison, when he was Secretary of State to Queen Elisabeth. He was devoted to the cause of religious liberty; and it was he who had assisted his friend, John Robinson, in withdrawing his congregation from the persecution that threatened them in England, to a peaceful asylum in Holland. At the time of the emigration to America, he was already in the decline of life; but his energies were in no degree weakened, and his zeal for the glory of God, and the good of his fellow Christians, was unabated.
He desired to spend all his remaining years in promoting the welfare of the colony, and in proclaiming the Gospel to the heathen; and while he was ever mindful of the wants, both spiritual and temporal, of the flock ever whom he was appointed to preside, until their pastor Robinson could join them, he never forgot the grand object of his voluntary exile, or ceased to pray that the Lord would be pleased to open 'a great door and effectual,' before him, and enable him to bring many of the savage and ignorant natives into the fold of Christ. In all these plans he was warmly seconded by Edward Winslow, but hitherto no such opening had appeared and the sickness and distress which prevailed in the settlement gave full occupation to them and to their brother elders. During all the period of Henrich's tedious illness, not a day passed in which Brewster did not visit the suffering boy to cheer him, to soothe him, and, above all, to prepare him for that better world to which he then believed he was surely hastening. To these visits Henrich looked forward with delight; and often, when domestic business called away his mother and Janet, the minister would remain with him for hours, seated on a low stool by of his bed, and read to him, or talk to him, in a strain so holy and yet so cheerful, that Edith would leave her work and softly seat herself on Henrich's couch, that she might catch his every word, while little Ludovico would cease from his noisy sports, and creep up on the good man's knee, and fix his large soft eyes on his sweet and noble countenance.
These hours were not unimproved by Henrich. His character was formed, and his principles were fixed, and his mind and spirit grew strong and ripe beyond his years. Never were these hours of peaceful happiness forgotten; and often amid the strange and stirring scenes which it was his lot in after-life to witness and to share, did he bless the over- ruling providence of God, which had laid him on a bed of pain and weakness, that he might learn lessons of piety and of usefulness, which otherwise he would never have acquired.
It was while they were thus happily engaged one afternoon, when Henrich was slowly recovering his strength, that the elder and his young audience were startled by wild and discordant sounds, mingled with cries of fear, which proceeded from the outskirts of the straggling village, and seemed to be approaching. Henrich raised himself on his bed, and a look of terror overspread his countenance, as he exclaimed: 'It is the war cry of the savages! O! I know it well! Go, Mr. Brewster, fly! save my mother. I will follow you.'
And the brave boy tried to leap from the couch, and reach his father's sword, which hung against the wooden walls of his chamber. But it was in vain; the wounded leg refused to bear his weight, and he was forced to relinquish his design. Brewster, however, snatched the sword, and drawing it, rushed from the hut, leaving Edith and Ludovico clinging with trembling hands around their brother.
Henrich's fears proved but too true. No sooner had the elder traversed the enclosure that surrounded Maitland's dwelling, than he beheld Helen, and several of the other women who had gone out to assist their husbands in the lighter parts of their agricultural labors, flying in terror and confusion to their huts, while the men were engaged in close combat with a party of native Indians. The same war-cry which had rung on their ears in the first encounter told Rodolph and his comrades that these savages were of the same tribe, and probably the same individuals from whom they had escaped with such difficulty on that occasion. They were right; for it was indeed a band of the Nausetts, who, headed by their Chief, had come to seek revenge for the loss they had sustained at their former meeting. The warrior whom Rodolph's musket had laid low was Tekoa, the only son of the Nausett chief; and he was resolved that the white man's blood should flow, to expiate the deed. He knew that the son of the stranger who had slain his young warrior had been wounded, and, as he hoped, mortally; but that did not suffice for his revenge, and he had either suddenly attacked the settlement, in the hope of securing either Rudolph himself or some of his comrades, that he might shed the white man's blood on the grave of his son, and tear off their scalps as trophies of victory.
The settlers who now contended with the savages were but few in number, for many of the men lay sick, and many had died; and they were mostly unarmed, except with their agricultural implements. Rudolph and a few others had short swords, or dirks, attached to their girdles, and with these they dealt blows that told with deadly effect on the half-naked bodies of their foes; and the good broad-sword that Brewster quickly placed in Maitland's hand, was not long in discomfiting several of the Indians, who had singled him out, at the command of their Chief, as the special object of their attack. Meanwhile, many of the women, and such of the invalids as had power to rise, had again left the huts, and borne to their husbands and friends the arms which had been left in their dwellings; and in spite of the arrows and darts of the Indians, by which several of them were wounded, they continued to load the guns for the combatants while the conflict lasted. Happily this was not long. The fire-breathing muskets struck terror into the ignorant savages; and when two or three of their number had fallen, they turned to fly; first, however, catching up the bodies of their comrades, which they carried off to ensure their honorable burial, and to save them from the indignities which they supposed the pale-faces would heap on the dead.
In vain their Chief endeavored to rally them, and compel them to return to the conflict. In vain he waved his battle-axe on high, and shouted his war-whoop, Woach! woach! ha, ha, hach, woach!' A panic had seized his followers, and they fled precipitately into the forest from they had issued, so suddenly and so fiercely, to the attack. One warrior stood alone by the Chief. He was young and handsome, but his countenance was dark and sinister and an expression of cunning was strongly marked in his glittering deep-set eyes and overhanging brows. He saw that it was hopeless to contend any longer with the powerful strangers, and, by words and actions, he was evidently persuading the Chief to retire. The settlers had ceased to fire the moment that their enemies fled; and there was a deep silence, while every eye was fixed on the striking figure of the enraged Chief, whose every feature was distorted by excited passions. He stood with his tomahawk uplifted, and his tall and muscular figure in an attitude of command and defiance; while, in a loud and distinct voice, he uttered a vow of vengeance, the words of which were unintelligible to the settlers, though the meaning could easily be guessed from his looks and gestures. Then he hung his battle-axe to his gaudy belt, and pointing his hand at Rodolph, he retired slowly and majestically like a lion discomfited but not subdued, to seek his people and to upbraid them with their cowardice.
This attack of the Indians effectually destroyed all feelings of security in the minds of the settlers. Henceforth they were obliged, like the Jews of old, to go to their labor every man with his sword girded to his side, and continually to hold themselves in readiness for a sudden assault. The pestilence continued to rage, and the scarcity of food increased to such a degree, that for several weeks no bread was to be been in the settlement. The governor, Mr. Carver, exerted himself with zeal and benevolence to lesser the misery of his people; but with so little effect, that when the spring at length set in, and the captain of the Mayflower prepared to return to England, the little band of settlers was found to be reduced to one half the original number; and these were weakened by illness, and by want of proper nourishment.
But great as were their difficulties and sufferings, their faith and resolution never failed; and when the Mayflower again set sail for England, not one of the fifty emigrants who remained expressed a desire to return.
'What men were they? Of dark-brown color, With sunny redness; wild of eye; their tinged brows So smooth, as never yet anxiety Nor busy thought had made a furrow there. . . . . . . . Soon the courteous guise Of men, not purporting nor fearing ill, Won confidence: their wild distrustful looks Assumed a milder meaning. MADOC.
We have said that the band of the exiles was reduced to half the number that had, six months before, left the shores of Europe, so full of hope and of holy resolution; and still, in spite of all their outward trials and difficulties, the hope and the resolution of the survivors were as high and as firm as ever. They trusted in the God whom they had served so faithfully; and they knew that, in his own good time, he would give them deliverance. But their days of darkness were not yet over. The inclemency of the winter had indeed passed away, and the face of nature began to smile upon them; yet sickness still prevailed, and the many graves that rose on the spot which they had chosen for a burial ground, daily reminded them of the losses that almost every family had already sustained. The grief that had thus been brought upon them by death was also greatly aggravated by the harassing attacks of the Indians, who Were evidently still lurking in the neighboring woods; and who now frequently came in small parties, and committed depredations of every kind that lay in their power. Their real but concealed object was to capture Rodolph, either alive or dead; for nothing short of his destruction, or at least that of some member of his family, could satisfy the bereaved Chief for the loss of his son. He, therefore, left a party of his bravest and most subtle warriors in an encampment about a day's journey from the Christian village, with orders to make frequent visits to the settlement, and leave no means untried which either force or cunning could suggest, that might lead to the full gratification of his revenge.
The old Chief himself returned to his wigwams, which lay some distance from New Plymouth, near the burial ground where the 'first encounter 'had taken place. The detachment was left under the command end guidance of Coubitant, the young warrior who had stood by him to the last in the conflict at the village; and who was, since the death of Tisquantum's son, regarded as the most distinguished of the young braves of that part of the tribe over which the Sachem ruled. His cunning, and his ferocious courage, well fitted him for the task assigned to him; and as the young warrior who fell at 'the first encounter' had been his chosen friend and companion in arms, his own desire for vengeance was only second to that of the Chief; and the malignant gaze which he had fixed on Rodolph when he led Tisquantum from the field, well expressed the feelings and the determination of his heart.
That glance had been seen by Janet; who, on that occasion, had displayed a courage and resolution hardly to be expected at her advanced age. She had easily induced her trembling mistress to remain in the house, whither they had both fled at the first attack of the Indians; but she had herself returned to the place of conflict, bearing Rodolph's musket and ammunition, and she bad remained by the side of Brewster, to whose ready hand she transferred it, until all danger was over. Then she had fixed her attention on the Chief and his companion; and the fine form and handsome features of the young Indian warrior appeared like a statue of bronze, while he stood motionless by Tisquantum. But when he turned to follow his Chief, the expression with which he looked at Rodolph transformed his countenance into that of a demoniac. Janet never forgot that look.
The state of continual watchfulness and suspense in which the emigrants were kept by their wary and active foes, was extremely harassing to their weakened force; so much so, that the President resolved to make another attempt to establish a friendly intercourse with some other native tribe, who might, possibly, assist them in driving of' the Nausetts; and whose friendship would also be useful to them in various ways. An opportunity for this attempt soon presented itself; for a party of the settlers, in following the windings of a brook that flowed through their new town into the sea, in pursuit of wild fowl, came upon two large and beautiful lakes, about three miles inland. The shores of these lakes were adorned with clumps of lofty and majestic trees, and the grass was spangled with wild flowers, and studded with graceful shrubs and underwood. Among the bushes they descried several fallow deer, and the surface of the water was animated by flocks of water fowl, among which the brilliant and graceful wood duck was conspicuous.
But the objects that chiefly attracted the notice of the sportsmen, were several wigwams that stood on the further side of the lake, beneath the shade of some overhanging trees. In front of these huts the hall-naked children were playing, while the women were pursuing their domestic occupations. Some were weaving baskets and mats, and others washing their fishing nets in the lake. But no men were to be seen; and Rodolph, who, as usual, led the hunting party, determined to approach the wigwams. In order to show his peaceful intentions, be gave his musket to one of his companions; and inviting his friend Winslow to do the same, and to accompany him, he proceeded round the lake. As soon as the women perceived them, they uttered wild cries of fear; and, snatching up their children, attempted to escape into the thicket behind their huts. Rodolph and Winslow then started in pursuit, and succeeded in capturing one little copper-colored fellow, who was endeavoring to keep pace with his mother. She could not carry him, for she had already an infant in her arms, and she knew not that he was in the power of their dreaded pursuers until she reached the thicket, and looked back for her boy. He was struggling violently in Maitland's hands, but not a cry escaped his lips; and when he found all his efforts to free himself were vain, he gave up the attempt, and stood motionless, with a look of proud endurance that was highly characteristic of his race. His mother had less fortitude. She uttered a shriek that pierced the heart of Rodolph; and laying her infant on the grass, she almost forgot her own fears, and, in an imploring attitude, crept forward towards her imaginary foes while her eloquent eyes pleaded for her child's release more than any words could have done. Maitland could not resist that appeal. He only detained the boy until he had hung round his neck several strings of gaily-colored beads, with which the hunters were always provided, and then he set him at liberty.
In an instant the child was in his mother's arms; and when her passionate caresses had expressed her joy, she waved with a graceful salutation to the Englishman, and bent to the ground in token of gratitude. Then she looked at the beads, and her white teeth glittered as she smiled a sunny smile of delight and admiration at what seemed to her such priceless treasures. Rodolph drew from the pouch which hung at his leathern belt a string of beads more brilliant still, and held them towards the woman. She gazed at them, and then at the frank and open countenance of the stranger; and fear gave way to the desire of possessing the offered gift. She slowly approached, holding her child by the hand, and suffered Rodolph to suspend the gaudy necklace round her graceful and slender throat. Then she motioned to him to remain, and ran swiftly to the thicket to bring back her companions, who had paused in their flight, and were now watching with eager eyes the actions of the white man.
Her persuasions, and the sight of her newly-acquired ornament, soon overcame the remaining fears of her auditors, and all returned in a body, smiling, and extending their hands, in the hope of receiving similar gifts. Maitland and Winslow, who had now joined him, divided all their store of trinkets among the eager applicants; and then, in return, made signs requesting to be permitted to enter the wigwams. This request was acceded to; and Apannow—for that was the name of the female who had first approached the strangers—led the way to the hut in the center of the village, which was larger and better appointed than any one of the rest. It was evidently the dwelling of the chief of the tribe; and the beautifully carved implements which hung to the walls, and the skulls and scalps that adorned the roof, showed that its possessor was a distinguished warrior.
Apannow brought forth the best refreshment that her hut afforded, and placed it with a native grace before her guests, inviting them to partake of it, and first tasting of each article herself, to show that it was harmless. Her gentle and intelligent manners greatly interested Rudolph and his companion; and by degrees they succeeded in obtaining from her, and the other women who crowded the wigwam, such information as they chiefly desired. By expressive signs and gestures, they were made to understand that all the red men were gone on a fishing expedition to the head of the further lake, and would not return until the morrow. They afterwards learnt, also, that the village had only been occupied for a few days, as it was merely the summer residence of a part of the tribe of the Wampanoge Indians, who, with their chief, annually repaired to that beautiful station for the purpose of fishing in the extensive lakes. The rest of the tribe were located in various places to the west, occupying the district since known as the state of Rhode Island.
Maitland and Winslow took leave of their new friends, intimating that they would return and seek an interview with the Chief in two days, and bearing with them a supply of fish and dried maize, which they received from Apannow as a pledge of amity, and which they knew would be most welcome to the invalids who were still suffering from disease at the settlement. They quickly rejoined the rest of their comrades, who had remained at a distance, for fear of alarming the timid Indian females; and all returned to New Plymouth. The intelligence they brought, and the seasonable refreshment they bore to the sick, were joyfully welcomed by the whole community; and the spirits of the settlers rose at the prospect of securing Indian friends and allies, who might, under their present distressing circumstances, afford them such essential help and security. The necessity for such aid had lately become more urgent than ever, for a party of their untiring enemies, the Nausetts, had very recently invaded the enclosure within which lay the loved remains of all who bad perished since their arrival in America. The graves were sadly numerous; and the sorrowing survivors had reverently decked the mounds that covered them with shrubs, and green boughs from the evergreens that abounded in the neighboring woods, as emblems of their abiding grief, and also of their immortal hopes. These marks of affectionate regard the savages had rudely torn away; and not content with this, they had even, in some instances, removed the fresh-laid turf, and dug up the earth, so as to expose the coffins that lay beneath. No other injury or outrage could have so deeply wounded the feelings, or aroused the indignation, of the emigrants, as this desecration of the homes of the dead and they earnestly desired to form some alliance with another tribe, which might enable them to punish and to prevent such gross and wanton indignities. In the meantime, in the hope of avoiding a recurrence of so distressing a calamity, the colonists ploughed over the whole surface of their cemetery, and sowed it with corn; thus concealing what was to them so sacred from the eyes of their wild and ruthless foes.
The day after Maitland's visit to the wigwams, the emigrants were astonished at the appearance of a fine athletic Indian, armed with a bow and arrows, who walked up to the common hall, near the center of the village, and saluted the Governor and those who were with him, in the words 'Welcome Englishmen!' In reply to their eager inquiries, he informed them that his name was Samoset, and that he was 'a Sagamore of a northern tribe of Indians dwelling near the coast of Maine, where he had acquired a slight knowledge of the English language from the fishermen who frequented the island of Monhiggon near that shore. He had been for several months residing among the Wampanoges; and on the return of the Chief and his followers to the wigwams, he had heard from the Squaw-Sachem, that two strangers, who, from her account, he concluded to be Englishmen, had visited the encampment, and proposed to do so again in two days. He had, therefore, by desire of the Chief, Mooanam, come over to the British settlement, to assure the emigrants of a friendly reception, and to conduct the embassy to the presence of the Sagamore. His kind offices were gratefully and joyfully accepted by the Governor; and Samoset remained that day as his guest. Although the Indian's knowledge of English was very limited, the Pilgrim Fathers learnt from him the name, and something of the history, of their inveterate foes, the Nausetts; and also, that the commencement of their enmity to the settlers arose not merely from their being intruders on their domains, but from the remembrance of an injury which they had received, some years previously, from an English captain of the name of Hunt, who, when cruising on these shores, had allured a number of natives on board his ship, and had then treacherously carried them off, and sold the greater part of them at Malaga, as slaves. Two he took with him to England, and they at length got back to Cape Cod Bay, in a vessel belonging to the Plymouth Company. This scandalous action had filled the Nausetts and Pokanokits,[*] who were the injured tribes, with bitter hatred against the white men; and five years afterwards, they would have sacrificed the life of Captain Dermer, when he was skirting these shores, had he not been saved by Squanto, one of the kidnapped Pokanokits, whom he had brought back in his vessel, and who had become attached to the English.
[Footnote: The Pokanokit, dwelt on the peninsula which forms the Bay of Cape Cod, and on a small pert or Rhode Island; the rest being occupied by the Wampanoge; of whom Masasoyt was Grand Sagamore.]
The feeling of animosity thus engendered had been aggravated by the slaughter of Tisquantum's only son; and little hope could be entertained of establishing a friendly intercourse with a tribe who felt that they had so much to revenge against the white race.
In two days, according to the intimation of Rodolph to the Indian women, a deputation of the settlers, headed by Captain Standish, and accompanied by Maitland, repaired to the Indian village under the guidance of Samoset. They were expected by the inhabitants; and, as soon as they were perceived approaching round the margin of the lake, two young men came forth to meet them, and accompany them to the tent of the Chief. Mooanam was prepared for their reception, and attired in his gala costume of furs and feathers, with his most elaborately worked battle-axe hung to his side, and a long and slender spear, tipped with bone, in his hand. He rose from his seat on the ground at the entrance of the strangers, and greeted them courteously; while his wife, the Squaw-Sachem Apannow, and his lively little son Nepea, stood by his side, and smiled a welcome to Rodolph, pointing at the same time significantly to the beads which adorned their necks and arms.
Standish had now an interpreter, though a very imperfect one; and by his means a sort of friendly compact was formed, and gifts were exchanged as the pledges of its sincerity. An invitation was then given to the young Chief and to his brother Quadequina—who was one of those who had conducted the white men to their presence—to return the visit of the settlers, by coming the following day to their town. The invitation was accepted, and the deputation returned to their homes, escorted a great part of the by many of their Indian allies.
Great preparations were made at New Plymouth for the reception of the red Chief and his attendants, in such a manner as to impress them with the wealth and power of emigrants. The large wooden building which was intended as a sort of council chamber and public hall, was hung inside with cloth and linen of various colors, and ornamented with swords, and muskets, and pistols that the colony could produce. An elevated seat was placed for the Governor at the upper end of the apartment, and tables composed of long planks were laid down on each side, on which were arranged such viands as the settlers could produce. The repast was humble; but Helen and her female friends arranged it with taste, and the children gathered the bright wild flowers that so early enliven the groves and meadows when an American winter has passed away, to deck the tables, and form garlands along the walls. A strange contrast did these buds and blossoms of spring form to the implements of war and death with which they were mingled: but the effect of the whole was gay, and appeared very imposing to the simple children of the wilderness, as they entered the wide portal, and passed up the hall to meet the Puritan Governor.
John Carver and his attendants were clad in the dark-colored and sober garments which were usually adopted by their sect; and their long beards and grave countenances struck a feeling of awe and reverence into their savage guests. But the red men betrayed no embarrassment or timidity. They advanced with a step at once bold and graceful, and even controlled their natural feeling of curiosity so far as to cast no wandering glances at the novelties that surrounded them. They kept their eyes steadily fixed on the Governor, and returned his salutation with a courteous dignity that did credit to their native breeding; and then the Chief and Quadequina seated themselves on the high-backed chairs that were placed for them on each side of the seat of the President. Such a mode of sitting was certainly altogether new to these sons of the forest, and they found it both awkward and disagreeable; yet they showed no discomposure or restraint, and not a smile betrayed their surprise, either at this or any other of the strange customs of their hosts.
After a few rather amusing efforts to carry on a communication with his guests, through the intervention of Samoset, Carver invited them to table, and again had occasion to admire the readiness and the natural grace with which they accommodated themselves to customs so new and so wonderful as those of the white men. When the repast was concluded, the President led Mooanam and his party round the village, and showed them everything that was worthy of attention; and so intelligent did he find them, that he had no difficulty in making them comprehend the use of many European implements, and many of the inventions and contrivances of civilized life. With much satisfaction the good pastor, Brewster, marked the sparkling eyes and speaking countenances of these gentle savages; for he there hoped he saw encouragement to his ardent hope of ere long bringing them to a knowledge of the simple and saving truths of the gospel. With the Governor's permission, he led them to the plain and unadorned edifice which was the emigrants' place of worship, and easily made them understand that it was dedicated to the service of the one Great Spirit who reigns over all; and from thence they were conducted to the cemetery, and shown, by expressive signs, the insult that had been offered to the dead by men of their own race. Some war- like implements that had been picked up after one of the recent skirmishes were shown to Mooanam and his brother, when they instantly exclaimed, 'Nausett!' and knitting their brows, and putting themselves into an attitude of defiance, they plainly intimated that the tribe was one with which they were at enmity.
They pointed in the direction where the Nausetts dwelt, and seemed to invite the settlers to join them in assaulting their encampment; but ignorance of their language, and of their habits prevented the President from assenting to what appeared to be their earnest wish.
As the sickness that had so long raged in the colony had now nearly disappeared, and the advance of the season promised soon to open sources of plentiful provision in the and the fields and streams, Brewster felt that he could be spared for a time from the settlement; and he proposed to Mr. Carver that he should return with Mooanam to his village, and endeavor to acquire such a knowledge of the native language, as should enable hint to act as an interpreter, and also give him the means of imparting to the red men the spiritual knowledge that he so ardently desired to bestow. The Governor willingly consented to this proposal; and when it was explained to the Indian Chief, he gave the most cordial and ready assent. The mild yet dignified countenance of the elder had won his respect and confidence; and he hoped to gain as great advantages from a more intimate connection with the white men, as they expected from his alliance and support.
Henrich was now able to leave his couch, and again to join Edith and his young companions out of doors; but he still looked delicate, and his former strength and activity had not fully returned. He was, however, able to walk with the assistance of a crutch that his father had made for him; and he formed one of the group that followed the Indians in their procession through the village, and also escorted them as far as the confines of the wood in whose depths their village lay. The Chief remarked the boy, and showed sympathy for his lameness, which he was given to understand was owing to an aggression of the Nausetts; and his eyes flashed, and his nostrils dilated, and his whole countenance was changed from its habitual expression of gentle dignity, to one of fierce hostility. It was evident that, in these Wampanoges, the settlers had secured allies who would be zealous and persevering in protecting them from the attacks of their harassing enemies, the Nausetts; and who would, when the proper time should arrive, assist them in fleeing the district of such troublesome inhabitants.
The Indians returned to their wigwams, and the elder accompanied them, and became an inmate of Mooanam's lodge. He soon began to acquire some knowledge of the language of his host, and also to instruct him and his wife in many English words and phrases, in which their aptitude to learn astonished him. A constant communication was kept up between the Indian village and that of the settlers, and a real regard and esteem sprang up between them. As the spring advanced, Henrich was able to throw aside his crutch, and to accompany his father and mother in their frequent visits to the wigwams, and much of his leisure time was passed in the company of the young Indians of his own age, whose activity and address in all their sports and games he admired and emulated. The presence of his friend Brewster in the Wampanoge village, also gave it increased attractions in the eyes of Henrich. The good man was still his friend and preceptor; and with his assistance, he made considerable progress in the acquirement of the native language, as well as in every other kind of knowledge that Brewster was able to impart. But all the elder's instructions were made subservient to that best of all knowledge—the knowledge of God, and of his revealed Word; and in this his pupil advanced and grew in a manner that both surprised and delighted him. The boy's naturally thoughtful character had become matured during his long and painful illness; and he had learnt to feel the value of heavenly things, and the comparative littleness of all 'those things which are seen, and are temporal.' He entered warmly into all the elder's benevolent desires and intentions for the conversion of the dark heathen among whom their lot was cast; and he already looked forward to being his assistant in the holy work. Brewster regarded him as destined to become both a pastor and a zealous and successful missionary, when he should arrive at a proper age; and he frequently spoke of him as his own appointed successor in the spiritual direction of the congregation.
This sacred office Henrich anticipated with pride and satisfaction; for where could he find a more fitting exercise for his adventurous and enterprising spirit, and also for his love of the truth, than in seeking the wild men amid their forests and wildernesses, and winning them to peace, and happiness, and civilization, by the knowledge of the all-powerful doctrines of the gospel?
With the Indians he soon became a great favorite; and the readiness with which he acquired the use of the bow, and learnt to cast the dart, and wield the light tomahawks that were used by the Indian boys to practice their young hands, excited their warmest admiration, and made them prophesy that he would one day become a distinguished Brave. His skill in hunting and fishing also became considerable; and he learnt from his copper-colored friends many of their songs and dances, with which he delighted Edith and Ludovico at home. His new companions did not draw away his affections from his sister. She was still the object of his warmest love; and to give her pleasure was the strongest desire of his heart. In his long rambles with his Indian play-fellows he never forgot his Edith; and many a stream was crossed, and many a rock was climbed, to procure flowering plants to deck her garden, and creepers to clothe the bower which he had formed for her beneath a venerable walnut-tree that stood within their father's little domain, and at no great distance from their dwelling.
An attempt had been made, at first, by the colonists to follow the example of the primitive church at Jerusalem; and to hold the land of which they had taken possession in common, to be worked by the whole community, and the produce to be equally divided amongst their families in due proportion. But this plan was soon abandoned, as quite unsuited to the habits and manners of these men of Britain; and every family had a small portion, consisting of an acre each, assigned to it for the special use and maintenance of its members. The fields in every allotment had been sown chiefly with grain procured from the friendly Wampanoges; and for some time past the Nausetts had left them unmolested.
The knowledge which Brewster soon acquired of the soft and musical language of the natives enabled him, with the assistance of Samoset, who still resided among them, to transact all business between them and his countrymen; and also to become acquainted with the history and circumstances of these useful allies. He learnt that Mooanam was not the great Sachem or Sagamore of the whole tribe, but that he was the eldest son of Masasoyt, the king or chief of the Wampanoges, who resided at Packanokick, their principal village, which was situated in the state of Rhode Island, near a mountain called Montaup, at a considerable distance from Patupet, the native name for New Plymouth.
The means of a still more extended intercourse was about this time opened to the settlers, by the arrival at New Plymouth of another Indian, who was already acquainted with the English, and who was also a much greater proficient in their language than their friend Samoset. This was no other than Squanto, the man who had been taken prisoner by Captain Hunt some years previous, and conveyed to England. During his residence there, he had learnt to make himself understood in the white man's tongue, and he had also learnt to admire and respect the white man's character. When, therefore, he had found his way hack to his native land in a fishing vessel, and was informed by the Wampanoge Sagamore—whom he visited in his journey to rejoin his own tribe—that an English settlement had been formed on the shores of Cape Cod Bay, he determined to visit it. Masasoyt encouraged him in this intention, and sent him to his son Mooanam, to be introduced to the strangers, and to assist in forming a permanent alliance with them.
These overtures were joyfully received by the Governor, Mr. Carver, and he determined to take immediate advantage of this opportunity of adding to the strength and security of the infant colony. The intended departure of Samoset also made it very desirable to secure the friendship and the services of the newcomer Squanto; as, notwithstanding the progress which Winslow and some others were making in the Wampanoge language, a native interpreter must long be required, in order to carry on a mutual intercourse.
An embassy to the great Sagamore was therefore resolved on, with a view to confirm and strengthen the alliance that had been formed with his sons: and again Rodolph was selected to accompany Captain Standish as his aide-de-camp, while Samoset and Squanto were to act as interpreters. The journey was long, and Maitland was obliged reluctantly to refuse Henrich's request to attend him. He feared the fatigue of so many days' travelling on foot would be too much for his son's strength, and Helen strongly opposed his going. He therefore gave up the much desired expedition, and endeavored to chase away his feeling of disappointment by renewed exertions in ornamenting the garden, and putting the grounds into a state of perfect order, to please his father on his return.
The expedition was accompanied by the Sagamore's younger son, Quadequina, who was anxious to introduce the new allies of his tribe to his father, and to ensure their friendly reception. They reached Packanokick after a pleasant journey of about forty miles, and were kindly welcomed by Masasoyt, to whom a messenger had been sent beforehand to prepare him for their arrival.
The Sagamore was a noble-looking old man, and was treated by his son, and by all his subjects, with the most profound respect; nor did his strange costume in any way destroy his kingly appearance. His limbs were naked, and were curiously painted and oiled, and his neck and arms were decorated with strings of large white beads composed of polished bone; while a richly embroidered bag or pouch, containing tobacco, was suspended at the back of his neck. His coronet of feathers was lofty, and of the most brilliant colors, and the rest of his dress consisted of a tunic and moccasins of dressed deer skin, exquisitely worked with colored grass and porcupine's quills. He willingly and fully ratified the treaty which had been made by his sons with the white strangers, whose appearance and manners seemed to prepossess him much in their favor; and after detaining them for some days in his lodge, and entertaining him with the greatest hospitality and kindness, he dismissed them with presents of native manufacture, in return for the European arms and ornaments which they had offered to his acceptance. Samoset here left the settlers, and Squanto became henceforth their faithful friend and useful interpreter.
'In your patience possess ye your souls.' LUKE, xxi 19.
One evening, about the time that Helen began to expect the return of the embassy from Packanokick, Henrich was unusually busy in the garden, arranging the flower-beds, and beautifying Edith's bower, in which he and his sister had planned a little fete to welcome their father home. Their mother had learnt to feel, that while they were thus employed, and within the precincts of their own domain, they were safe from every danger. The Nausetts had not attempted any depredations for an unusual length of time; and a feeling of security and peace had taken the place of that constant watchfulness and anxiety, which had long proved so harassing to the settlers. They began to flatter themselves that their foes had retired from the neighborhood, and would no more return to molest them, now that they knew the emigrants to be on such friendly terms with their powerful rivals, the Wampanoges. But false was this appearance of security; and vain was every hope that the Nausetts would forego their designs of vengeance, or cease to devise schemes of mischief against those by whom they thought themselves injured! They did not, indeed, continue to attack the settlement openly, for they had been taught to dread the British fire-arms and the British courage; but they still continued to lurk in the neighboring forest, and to keep a vigilant watch over all that took place at the settlement. Often were the keen eyes of Coubitant and his most trusty followers fixed, with a malignant gaze, on the dwelling of Rodolph and often were his movements, and those of his family, carefully noted by these sagacious savages, when no suspicion of their presence existed in the minds of the settlers. They would climb by night to the summit of some lofty tree that overlooked the village, and there remain all day unseen, to obtain a knowledge of the habits and proceedings of their hated enemies, and to devise plans for turning this knowledge to account.
The departure of the embassy to Packanokick was, consequently, well known to Coubitant, and he resolved to take advantage of the absence of so considerable a part of the British force, to execute, if possible, his schemes of vengeance. What they were, and how he attempted their accomplishment, will be presently seen.
Edith's bower looked gay with its spring blossoms and luxuriant creepers, but Henrich was not quite satisfied with its appearance, and he wished to place at its entrance a graceful climbing plant which he had observed during his last walk to the Wampanoge village, and had neglected to secure it on his return. It had been the desire of his parents that he should not go into the forest which bordered their grounds, except in the company of his father or some of his friends; but the apparent departure of the Nausetts had caused this injunction to be neglected of late, and he, and even his younger brother and sister, had frequently strayed, unmolested, a short distance into the wood, in search of flowers and fruits; and even Helen had ceased to feel alarm.
'Edith,' said Henrich, on the evening of which we are speaking; 'I think my father will return tonight, or tomorrow at the farthest; and I must complete my task before he arrives. Your bower still requires a few plants to adorn the entrance, and the seats of moss are scarcely finished. Let us go into the wood, and procure what we want before the sun sets, and our mother comes out to see what progress we have made.'