King Philip - John S. C. Abbott

Clouds of War

The Narraganset Indians occupied the region extending from the western shores of Narraganset Bay to Pawcatuck River. They were estimated to number about thirty thousand, and could bring five thousand warriors into the field. Canonicus, the sovereign chief of this tribe, was a man of great renown. War had occasionally raged between the Narragansets and the Wampanoags, and the two tribes were bitterly hostile to each other. Canonicus regarded the newly-arrived English with great jealousy, and was particularly annoyed by the friendly relations existing between them and the Wampanoags. Indeed, it is quite evident that Massasoit was influenced to enter into his alliance with the English mainly from his dread of the Narragansets.

Bribery and corruption are almost as common in barbarian as in civilized courts. Canonicus had brought over to his cause one of the minor chiefs of Massasoit, named Corbitant. This man, audacious and reckless, began to rail bitterly at the peace existing between the Indians and the English. Boldly he declared that Massasoit was a traitor, and ought to be deposed. Sustained as Corbitant was by the whole military power of the Narragansets, he soon gathered a party about him sufficiently strong to bid defiance to Massasoit. The sovereign of the Wampanoags was even compelled to take refuge from arrest by flight.

The colonists heard these tidings with great solicitude, and learning that Corbitant was within a few miles of them, at Namasket (Middleborough), striving to rouse the natives to unite with the Narragansets against them, they privately sent Squantum and another friendly Indian, Hobbomak, to Namasket, to ascertain what had become of Massasoit, and how serious was the peril with which they were threatened.

The next day Hobbomak returned alone, breathless and terrified. He reported that they had hardly arrived at Namasket when Corbitant beset the wigwam into which they had entered with a band of armed men, and seized them both as prisoners. He declared that they both should die, saying that when Squantum was dead the English would have lost their tongue. Brandishing a knife, the savage approached Squantum to stab him. Hobbomak, being a very powerful man, at that moment broke from the grasp of those who held him, and outrunning his pursuers, succeeded in regaining Plymouth. He said that he had no doubt that Squantum was killed.

These were melancholy and alarming tiding. Governor Bradford immediately assembled the few men—about twenty in number—of the feeble colony, to decide what should be done. After looking to God for counsel, and after calm deliberation, it was resolved that, if they should suffer their friends and messengers to be thus assailed and murdered with impunity, the hostile Indians would be encouraged to continued aggressions, and no Indians would dare to maintain friendly relations with them. They therefore adopted the valiant determination to send ten men, one half of their whole number, with Hobbomak as their guide, to seize Corbitant and avenge the outrage.

The 14th of August, 1621, was a dirk and stormy day, when this little band set out on its bold adventure. All the day long, as they silently threaded the paths of the forest, the rain dripped upon them. Late in the afternoon they arrived within four miles of Namasket. They then thought it best to congeal themselves until after dark, that they might fail upon their foe by surprise. Captain Standish led the band. To every man he gave minute directions as to the part he was to perform. Night, wet and stormy, soon darkened around them in Egyptian blackness. They could hardly see a hand's breadth before them. Groping along, they soon last their way, and became entangled in the think undergrowth. Wet, weary, and dejected, they toiled on, and at last again happily hit the trail. It was after midnight when they arrived within sight of the glimmering fires of the little Indian hamlet of Namasket. They then sat down, and ate from their knapsacks a hearty meal. The food which remained they threw away, that they might have nothing to obstruct them in the conflict which might ensue.

They then cautiously approached a large wigwam where Hobbomak supposed that Corbitant and his men were sleeping. Silently they surrounded the hut, the gloom of the night and the wailing of the storm securing then from being either seen or heard. At a signal, two muskets were fired to terrify the savages, and Captain Standish, with three or four men, rushed into the hut. The ground floor, dimly lighted by some dying embers, was covered with Bleeping savages—men, women, and children. A scene of indescribable consternation and confusion ensued. Through Hobbomak, Captain Standish ordered every one to remain, assuring them that he had come for Corbitant, the murderer of Squantum, and that, if he were not there, no one else should be injured. But the savages, terrified by the midnight surprise and by the report of the muskets, were bereft of reason. Many of them endeavore4 to escape, and were severely wounded by the colonists in their attempts to stop them. The Indian boys, seeing that the women were not molested, ran around, frantically exclaiming, "I am a squaw! I am a squaw!"

At last order was restored, and it was found that Corbitant was not there, but that he had gone off with all his train, and that Squantum was not killed. A bright fire was now kindled, that the hut might be carefully searched. Its blaze illumined one of the wildest of imaginable scenes. The wigwam, spacious and rudely constructed of boughs, mats, and bark; the affrighted savages, men, women, and children, in their picturesque dress and undress, a few with ghastly wounds, faint and bleeding; the various weapons and utensils of barbarian life hanging around; the bold colonists in their European dress and arms; the fire blazing in the centre of the hut, all combined to present a scene such as few eyes have ever witnessed. Hobbomak now climbed to the top of the hut and shouted for Squantum. He immediately came from another wigwam. Having disarmed the savages of their bows and arrows, the colonists gathered around the fire to dry their dripping clothes, and waited for the light of the morning.

With the early light, all who were friendly to the English gathered around them, while the faction in favor of Corbitant fled into the wilderness. A large group was soon assembled. Captain Standish, in words of conciliation and of firmness, informed them that, though Corbitant had escaped, yet, if he continued his hostility, no place of retreat would secure him from punishment; and that, if any violence were offered to Massasoit or to any of his subjects by the Narragansets, or by any one else, the colonists would avenge it to the utter overthrow of those thus offending. He expressed great regret that any of the Indians had been wounded in consequence of their endeavors to escape from the house, and offered to take the wounded home, that they might be carefully healed.

After breakfasting with the Indians, this heroic band, accompanied by Squantum, some of the wounded; and several other friendly Indians, set out on their return. They arrived at home in safety the same evening. This well-judged and decisive measure at once checked the progress of Corbitant in exciting disaffection. He soon found it expedient to seek reconciliation; and, through the intercession of Massasoit; signed a treaty of submission and friendship; and even Canonicus, sovereign of the Narragansets, sent a messenger, perhaps as a spy, but professedly to treat for peace. Thus this cloud of war was dissipated.

On the whole, the Pilgrims had enjoyed a very prosperous summer. They were eminently just and kind in their treatment of the Indians. In trading with them they obtained furs and many other articles, which contributed much to their comfort. Fish was abundant in the bay. Their corn grew luxuriantly, and their fields waved with a rich and golden harvest. With the autumnal weather came abundance of water-fowl, supplying them with delicious meat. Thus were they blessed with peace and plenty.

Various rumors had reached the colonists that several of the tribes of the Massachusetts Indians, so called, inhabiting the islands and main land at the northwestern extremity of Massachusetts Bay, were threatening hostilities. It was consequently decided to send an expedition to them, not to intimidate, but to conciliate with words of sincerity and deeds of kindness.

At midnight, September the 18th,, the tide then serving, a small party set sail, and during the day, with a gentle wind, made about sixty miles north. Not deeming it safe to land, they remained in their boat during the night, and the next morning landed under a cliff. Here they found some natives, who seemed to cower before them in terror. It appeared afterward that Squantum had told the natives that the English had a box in which they kept the plague, and that, if the Indians offended them, they would let the awful scourge loose. Everywhere the English saw evidences of the ravages of the pestilence to which we have so often referred. There were desolate villages and deserted corn-fields, and but a few hundred Indians wandering here and there where formerly there had been thousands. The kindness with which they treated the Indians, and the fairness with which they traded with them, won confidence. Squantum at one time suggested that, by way of punishment, and to teach the savages a lesson, they should by violence take away their furs, which were almost their only treasures. Our fathers nobly replied, "Were they ever so bad, we would not wrong them, or give them any just occasion against us. We shall pay no attention to their threatening words, but, if they attack us, we shall then punish them severely."

The Pilgrims explored quite minutely this magnificent harbor, then solitary and fringed with rayless forests, now alive with commerce, and decorated with mansions of refinement and opulence. The long promontory, now crowded with the busy streets and thronged dwellings of Boston, was then a dense and silent wilderness, threaded with a few Indian trails. Along the shore several rude wigwams were scattered, the smoke curling from their fires from among the trees, with naked children playing around the birch canoes upon the beach.

In the evening of a serene day the moon rose brilliant on the harbor, illumining with almost celestial beauty the islands and the sea. Many of the islands were then crowned with forests; others were cleared smooth and verdant, but swept entirely clean of inhabitants by the dreadful plague. The Pilgrims, rejoicing in the rays of the autumnal moon, prepared to spread their sails.

"Having well spent the day," they write, "we returned to the shallop, almost all the women accompanying us to trucke, who sold their coats from their backer, and tyed boughes about them, but with great shamefastness, for indeed they are more modest than some of our English women are. We promised them to come again to them, and they us to keep their skins.

"Within this bay the salvages say there are two rivers, the one whereof we saw having a fair entrance, but we had no time to discover it. Better harbors for shipping cannot be than here are. At the entrance of the bay are many rocks, and, in all likelihood, very good fishing ground. Having a light moon, we set sail at evening, and before next day noon got home, with a considerable quantity of beaver, and a good report of the place, wishing we had been seated there."

Thus, by kindness, the natives of this region were won to friendship, and amicable relations were established. Before the close of this year another vessel arrived from England, bringing thirty-five persons to join the colony. Though these emigrants were poor, and, having consumed nearly all their food on a long voyage, were nearly starved, the lonely colonists received the acquisition with great joy. Houses were immediately built for their accommodation, and they were fed from the colony stores. Winter now again whitened the hills of Plymouth.

Early in January, 1622, Canonious, sovereign chief of the Narragansets, notwithstanding the alliance of the foregoing summer into which lie had entered, dreading the encroachments of the white men, and particularly apprehensive of the strength which their friendship gave to his hereditary enemies, the Mohegans, sent to Governor Bradford a bundle of arrows tied up in the skin of a rattlesnake. Squantum was called to interpret the significance of such a gift. He said that it was the Indian mode of expressing hostility and of sending a declaration of war. This act allows an instinctive sense of honor in the barbarian chieftain which civilized men do not always imitate. Even the savages cherished ideas of chivalry which led them to scorn to strike an unsuspecting and defenseless foe. The friendly Indians around Plymouth assured the colonists that Canonicus was making great preparations for war; that he could bring five thousand warriors into the field; that he had sent spies to ascertain the condition of the English and their weakness; and that he had boasted that he could eat them all up at a mouthful It is pleasant to record! that our fathers had not provoked this hostility by airy act of aggression: They had been thus far most eminently just and benevolent in all their intercourse with the natives. They were settled upon land to which Canonicus pretended no claim, and were on terms of cordial friendship with all the Indians around them. The Pilgrims at this time had not more than twenty men capable of bearing arms; and five thousand savages were clashing their weapons, and filling the forest with their war-whoops, preparing to attack them. Their peril was indeed great.

Governor Bradford called a council of his most judicious men, and it was decided that, under these circumstances, any appearance of timidity would but embolden their enemies; The rattlesnake skin was accordingly returned filled with powder and bullets, and accompanied by a defiant message that, if Canonicus preferred war to peace, the colonists were ready at any moment to meet him, and that he would rue the day in which he converted friends into enemies.

Barbarian as well as civilized blusterers can, when discretion prompts, creep out of an exceedingly small hole. Canonicus had no wish to meet a foe who was thus prompt for the encounter. He immediately sent to Governor Bradford the assurance, in Narraganset phrase, of his high consideration, and begged him to believe that the arrows and the snake skin were sent purely in a Pickwickian sense.

The threatening aspect of affairs at this time led the colonists to surround their whole little village, including also the top of the hill, on the side of which it was situated, with a strong palisade, consisting of posts some twelve feet high firmly planted in the ground in contact with each other. It was an enormous labor to construct this fortification in the dead of winter. There were three entrance gates to the little town thus walled in, with bulwarks to defend them. Behind this rampart, with loop-holes through which the defenders could fire upon any approaching foe, the colonists felt quite secure. A large cannon was also mounted upon the summit of the hill, which would sweep all the approaches with ball and grape-shot. Sentinels were posted night and day, to guard against surprise, and their whole available force was divided into four companies, each with its commander, and its appointed place of rendezvous in case of an attack. The months of January and February were occupied in this work. Early in March the fortification was completed.

The heroic defiance which was returned to Canonicus, and the vigorous measures of defense adopted, alarmed the Narragansets. They immediately ceased all hostile demonstrations, and Canonicus remained after this, until his death, apparently a firm friend of the English.

In June, to the great annoyance of the Pilgrims, two vessels came into the harbor of Plymouth, bringing sixty wild and rude adventurers, who, neither fearing God nor regarding man, had come to the New World to seek their fortunes. They were an idle and dissolute set, greedy for gain, and ripe for any deeds of dishonesty or violence. They had made but poor provision for their voyage, and were almost starved. The Pilgrims received them kindly, and gave them shelter and food; and yet the ungrateful wretches stole their corn, wasted their substance, and secretly reviled their habits of sobriety and devotion. Nearly all the summer these unprincipled adventurers intruded upon the hospitality of the Pilgrims. In the autumn, these men, sixty in number, went to a place which they had selected in Massachusetts Bay, then called Wessegusset, now the town of Weymouth, which they had selected for their residence. They left their sick behind them, to be nursed by those Christian Pilgrims whose piety had excited their ribald abuse.

Hardly had these men left ere the ears of the Pilgrims were filled with the clamors which their injustice and violence raised from the outraged Indians. The Weymouth miscreants stole their corn, insulted their females, and treated them with every vile indignity. The Indians at last became exasperated beyond endurance, and threatened the total destruction of the dissolute crew. At last starvation stares them in the face, and they send in October to Plymouth begging for food. The Pilgrims have not more than enough to meet their own wants during the winter. But, to save them from famishing by hunger, Governor Bradford himself takes, a small party in a boat and sails along the coast, purchasing corn of the Indians, getting a few quarts here and a few bushels there, until he had collected twenty-eight hogsheads of corn and beans. While at Chatham, then called Manamoyk, Squantum was taken sick of; a fever and died. It is a touching tribute to the kindness of our Pilgrim fathers that this poor Indian testified so much love for them. In his dying hour he prayed fervently that God would take him to the heaven of the Englishmen, that he might dwell with them forever. As remembrances of his affection, he bequeathed all his little effects to sundry of his English friend's. Governor Bradford, and his companions, with tears, followed the remains of their faithful interpreter to the grave; and then, with saddened hearts, continued their voyage.

At Nauset, now Eastham, their shallop was unfortunately wrecked. Governor Bradford stored the corn on shore, placed it under the care of the friendly Indians there, and, taking a native for a guide; set out on foot to travel fifty miles through the forest to Plymouth. The natives all along the way received him with kindness, and did every thing in their power to aid him. Having arrived at Plymouth, he dispatcher; Captain Standish with another shallop to fetch the corn. The bold captain had a prosperous though a very tempestuous voyage. While at Nauset an Indian stole some trifle from the shallop as she lay in a creek. Captain Standish immediately went to the sachem of the tribe, and informed him that the lost goods must be restored, or he should make reprisals. The next morning the sachem came and delivered the goods, saying that he was very sorry the crime had been committed; that the thief had been arrested and punished; and that he had ordered his women to make some bread for Captain Standish, in token of his desire to cultivate just and friendly relations. Captain Standish having arrived at Plymouth, a supply of corn was delivered to help the people at Weymouth.

But these lawless adventurers were as improvident as they were vicious and idle. By the month of February they were again destitute and starving. They had borrowed all they could, and had stolen all they could, and were now in a state of extreme misery, many of them having already perished from exposure and want. The Indians hated them and despised them. Conspiracies were formed to kill them all, and many Indians, scattered here and there, were in favor of destroying all the white men. They foresaw that civilized and savage life could not abide side by side. The latter part of February the Weymouth people sent a letter to Plymouth by an Indian, stating their deplorable condition, and imploring further aid. They had become so helpless and degraded that the Indians seem actually to have made slaves of them, compelling them to perform the most menial services. The letter contained the following dolorous complaints:

The boldness of the Indians increases abundantly, insomuch that the victuals we get they will take out of our pots and eat it before our faces. If we try to prevent them, they will hold a knife at our breasts. To satisfy them, we have been compelled to hang one of our company. We have sold our clothes for corn, and are ready to starve, both with cold and hunger also, because we cannot endure to get victuals by reason of our nakedness."

Under these circumstances, one of the Weymouth men, ranging the woods, carne to an Indian barn and stole some corn. The owner, finding by the footprints that it was an English, man who had committed the theft, determined to have revenge. With insulting and defiant confederates, he went to the plantation and demanded that the culprit should be hung, threatening, if there were not prompt acquiescence in the demand, the utter destruction of the colonists. The consternation at Weymouth, was great. Nearly all were sick and half famished, and they could present no resistance. After very anxious deliberation, it was decided than since the man who committed the theft was young and strong, and a skillful cobbler, whose services could not be dispensed with, they would by stratagem save his life, and substitute for him a poor old bedridden weaver, who was not only useless to them; but a burden. This economical arrangement was unanimously adopted. The poor old weaver, bound hand and foot, and dressed in the clothes of the culprit, was dragged from his bed, and was soon seen dangling in, the air, to the great delight of the Indians.

Much has been written upon this disgraceful transaction, and various versions of it have been given, with sundry details; but the facts, so far as can now be ascertained; are as we have stated: The deed is in perfect accordance with the whole course pursued by the miserable men who perpetrated it. The author of Hudibras unjustly—we hope not maliciously—in his witty doggerel, ascribes this transaction of the miscreants at Weymouth to the Pilgrims at Plymouth. The mirth-loving satirist seemed to rejoice at the chance of directing a shaft against the Puritans.

Just at this time news came to Plymouth that Massasoit was very sick, and at the point of death. Governor Bradford immediately dispatched Mr. Edward Winslow and Mr. John Hampden to the dying chieftain with such medical aid as the colony could furnish. Their friend Hobbomak accompanied them as guide and interpreter. Massasoit had two sons quite young, Wamsutta and Pometacom, the eldest of whom would, according to Indian custom, inherit the chieftainship. It was, however, greatly feared that the ambitious and energetic Corbitant, who had manifested much hostility to the English, might avail himself of the death of Massasoit, and grasp the reins of power. The deputation from Plymouth traveled the first day through the woods as far as Middleborough, then the little Indian hamlet of Namasket. There they passed the night in the wigwam of an Indian. They, the next day, continued their journey, and crossing in a canoe the arm of the bay, which there runs far inland and three miles beyond, with much anxiety approached the dwelling-place of Corbitant at Mattapoiset, in the present town of Swanzey. They had been informed by the way that Massasoit was dead, and they had great fears that Corbitant had already taken steps as a usurper, and that they, two defenseless men, might fall victims to his violence.

Hobbomak, who had embraced Christianity, and was apparently a consistent Christian, was greatly beloved by Massasoit. The honest Indian, when lie heard the tidings of his chieftain's death, bitterly deplored his loss.

"My loving sachem! my loving sachem!" he exclaimed; "many have I known, but never any like thee."

Then turning to Mr. Winslow, he added, "While you live you will never see his like among the Indians. He was no deceiver, nor bloody, nor cruel, like the other Indians. He never cherished a spirit of revenge, and was easily reconciled to those who had offended him. He was ever ready to listen to the advice of others, and governed his people by wisdom and without severity."

When they arrived at Corbitant's house they found the sachem not at home. His wife, however, treated them with great kindness, and informed them that Massasoit was still alive, though at the point of death. They therefore hastened on to Mount Hope. Mr. Winslow gives the following account of the scene witnessed at the bedside of the sick monarch:

"When we arrived thither, we found the house so full that we could scarce get in, though they used their best diligence to make way for us. They were in the midst of their charms for him, making such a fiendlike noise that it distempered us who were well, and therefore was unlike to ease him that was sick. About him were six or eight women, who chafed his arms, legs, and thighs, to keep heat in him. When they had made an end of their charming, one told him that his friends the English were come to see him. Having understanding left, but his sight was wholly gone, he asked who was come. They told him Winsnow, for they cannot pronounce the letter l, but ordinarily n in the place thereof. He desired to speak with me. When I came to him, and they told him of it, he put forth his hand to me, which I took. Then he said twice, though very inwardly, Keen Winsnow  which is to say, Art thou Winslow? I answered Ahhe, that is, yes. Than he doubled these words: Matta neen wonckanet namen Winsnow; that is to say, O Winslow, I shall never we thee again!"

Mr. Winslow immediately prepared some; refreshing broth for the sick man, and, by careful nursing, to the astonishment of all, he recovered. Massasoit appeared to be exceedingly grateful for this kindness; and ever after attributed his recovery to the skill and attentions of his English friends. His unquestionable sincerity won the confidence of the English, and they became more fully convinced of his real worth than ever before. Mr. Winslow wished for a chicken to make some broth. An Indian immediately set out, at two o'clock at night, for a run of forty miles through the wilderness to Plymouth. In a surprisingly short time he returned with two live chickens. Massasoit was so much pleased with the fowls—animals which he had never seen before—that he would not allow them to be killed, but kept them as pets. The kind-hearted yet imperial old chieftain manifested great solicitude for the welfare of his people. He entreated Mr. Winslow to visit all his villages, that he might relieve the sick and the suffering who were in them. Mr. Winslow remained several days, and his fame as a physician spread so rapidly that great crowds gathered in an encampment around Mount Hope to gain relief from a thousand nameless ills. Some came from the distance of more than a hundred miles.

While at Mount Hope, Massasoit informed Mr. Winslow that Wittuwamet, a sachem of one of the Massachusetts tribes of Indians near Weymouth, and several other Indian chiefs, had formed a plot for the purpose of cutting off the two English colonies. Massasoit stated that he had been often urged to join in the conspiracy, but had always refused to do so, and that he had done every thing in his power to prevent it. Mr. Winslow very anxiously inquired into all the particulars, and ascertained that the Weymouth men had so thoroughly aroused the contempt as well as the indignation of the neighboring Indians, that their total massacre was resolved upon. The Indians, however, both respected and feared the colonists at Plymouth; and, apprehensive that they might avenge the slaughter of their countrymen, it was resolved, by a sudden and treacherous assault, to overwhelm them also, so that not a single Englishman should remain to tell the tale.

With these alarming tidings, Mr. Winslow, with Mr. Hampden and Hobbomak, left Mount Hope on his return. Corbitant, their outwardly-reconciled enemy, accompanied them as far as his house in what is now Swanzey.

"That night," writes Mr. Winslow, "through the earnest request of Corbitant, we lodged with him at Mattapoiset. On the way I had much conference with him, so likewise at his house, he being a notable politician, yet full of merry jests and squibs, and never better pleased than when the like are returned upon him. Among other things, he asked me that, if he were thus dangerously sick, as Massasoit had been, and should send to Plymouth for medicine, whether the governor would send it; and if he would, whether I would come therewith to him. To both which I answered yes; whereat he gave me many joyful thanks."

"I am surprised," said Corbitant, after a moment's thought, "that two Englishmen should dare to venture so far into our country alone. Are you not afraid?"

"Where there is true love," Mr. Winslow replied, "there is no fear."

"But if your love be such," said the wily Indian, "and bear such fruit, how happens it that when we come to Plymouth, you stand upon your guard, with the mouth of your pieces pointed toward us?"

"This," replied Mr. Winslow, "is a mark of respect. It is our custom to receive our best friends in this manner."

Corbitant shook his head, and said, "I do not like such salutations."

Observing that Mr. Winslow, before eating, implored a blessing, Corbitant desired to know what it meant. Mr. Winslow endeavored to explain to him some of the primary truths of revealed religion, and repeated to him the Ten Commandments. Corbitant listened to them very attentively, and said that he liked them all except the seventh. "It must be very inconvenient," he said, "for a man to be tied all his life to one woman, whether she pleases him or not."

As Mr. Winslow continued his remarks upon the goodness of God, and the gratitude he should receive from us, Corbitant added, "I believe almost as you do. The being whom you call God we call Kichtan."

Mr. Winslow and his companions passed a very pleasant night in the Indian dwelling, receiving the most hospitable entertainment. The next morning they hastened on their way to Plymouth. They immediately informed the governor of the alarming tidings they had heard respecting the conspiracy, and a council of all the men in the colony was convened. It was unanimously decided that action, prompt, vigorous, and decisive, was necessary.

The bold Captain Standish was immediately placed in command of an army of eight men to proceed to Weymouth. He embarked his force in a squadron of one boat; to set sail for Massachusetts—for Massachusetts and Plymouth were then distinct colonies. The captain wit an intrepid, impulsive man, who rarely took counsel of prudence. He would wrong no man, and, let the consequences be what they might, he would submit to wrong from no man. The Pilgrims valued him highly, and yet so deeply regretted his fiery temperament that they were unwilling to receive him to the communion of the Church.

When they arrived at Weymouth they found a large number of Indians swaggering around the wretched settlement, and treating the humiliated and starving colonists with the utmost insolence. The colonists dared not exhibit the slightest spirit of retaliation. The Indians had been so accustomed to treat the godless race at Weymouth with every indignity, that they had almost forgotten that the Pilgrims were men of different bloods As Captain Standish and his eight men landed, they were met by a mob of Indians, who; by derision and insolence, seemed to aim to provoke a quarrel: Wittuwamet, the head of the conspirators, was there. He was a stout, brawny savage; vulgar; bold, and impudent, almost beyond the conception of a civilized mind. Accompanied by a gang of confederates, he approached Captain Standish, whetting his knife; and threatening his death in phrase exceedingly contemptuous and insulting. By the side of this chief was another Indian named Peksuot, of gigantic stature and Herculean strength, who taunted the captain with his inferior size, and assailed him with a volley of barbarian blackguardism. All this it would be hard for a meek man to bear. Captain Standish was not a meek man. The hot blood of the Puritan Cavalier was soon at the boiling point. Disdaining to take advantage even of such a foe; he threw aside his gun; and springing upon the gigantic Peksuot, grasped at the knife which was suspended from his neck, the blade of which was double-edged, and ground to a point as sharp as a needle. There was a moment of terrific conflict, and then the stout Indian fell dead upon the ground, with the blood gushing from many mortal wounds. Another Englishman closed with Wittuwamet, and there was instantly a general fray. Wittuwamet and another Indian were killed; another was taken prisoner and hung upon the spot, for conspiring to destroy the English; the rest fled. Captain Standish followed up his victory, and pursued the fugitives. A few more were killed. This unexpected development of courage and power so overwhelmed the hostile Indians that they implored peace.

The Weymouth men, thus extricated from peril, were afraid to remain there any longer, though Captain Standish told them that he should not hesitate to stay with one half their number. Still they persisted in leaving. Captain Standish then generously offered to take them with him to Plymouth, where they should share in the now almost exhausted stores of the Pilgrims. But they decided, since they had a small vessel in which they could embark, to go to Monhegan, an island near the mouth of the Kennebec River, where many English ships came annually to fish. The captain helped them on board the vessel, provided for them a supply of corn, and remained until their sail was disappearing in the distant horizon of the sea. He then returned to Plymouth, and all were rejoiced that the country was delivered from such a set of vagabonds.

The Pilgrims regretted the hasty and violent measures adopted by Captain Standish, and yet they could not, under the circumstances, severely condemn him. The Rev. Mr. Robinson, father of the Plymouth Church, wrote from Holland:

"Due allowance must be made for the warm temper of Captain Standish. I hope that the Lord has sent him among you for good, if you will but use him as you ought. I fear, however, that there is wanting that tenderness for the life of man, made after God's own image, which we ought to cherish. It would have been happy if some had been converted before any had been killed."