Massasoit: A Story of the Indians of New England - Alma H. Burton

King Canonohet

After the awful defeat at Kingston, the old men were weary of war, and wished to make peace; but the young braves said they would not bow the head like an ox to the English yoke; they would fight till the last warrior had shot his last arrow.

Roger Williams grieved over the fate which awaited them. He told the Narragansetts that there were ten thousand more white men who could carry muskets, and, if all these were slain, the Great Father in England could send ten thousand more.

But his former friends would no longer listen to counsel, and hurried away on their mission of death.

Philip himself fled to new fields of slaughter. "We lose nothing but our lives," he said, "while the white men lose lands, and fine houses, and cattle." He was seldom seen in open battle, but hurried from chief to chief, exciting wrath against the common foe.

He went even to the hated Mohawks on the Hudson. It is said that he slew three Mohawks with his own hand, and reporting that the English had slain them, urged vengeance among their kindred. But one of his victims lived to tell of his treachery, and he was driven out of the Mohawk country.

In February, 1676, Lancaster, thirty miles from Boston, was attacked by a large band of warriors under Philip.

Forty-two persons fled to the house of Mary Rowlandson. The house was set on fire, and "Quickly," writes Mrs. Rowlandson, "it was the dolefulest day that ever mine eyes saw. Some in our house were fighting for their lives; others wallowing in blood; the house on fire over our heads, and the bloody heathen ready to knock us on the head, if we stirred out. I took my children to go forth, but the Indians shot so thick, that the bullets rattled against the house as if one had thrown a handful of stones. We had six stout dogs, but not one of them would stir. The bullets flying thick, one went through my side, and through my poor child in my arms."

All were massacred or taken prisoners. Mrs. Rowlandson and her child were dragged away from her home. After many weary miles, they went into camp with the Indians. "Down I must sit in the snow," says the poor captive, " with my sick child, the picture of death in my lap. Not the least crumb came within our mouths from Wednesday night to Saturday night, except a little cold water. One Indian, and then a second, and then a third, would come and tell me, 'Your master will quickly knock your child on the head.' This was the comfort I had from them—miserable comforters were they all."

The child died, and was buried in the snow. Mrs. Rowlandson became a servant of Weetamoe, queen of Pocasset. Philip went often to the lodge of Weetamoe. He was kind to the unhappy white slave, and once hired her to make a shirt for his little son; another time he asked her to knit a cap for the child.

It was for the rights of this bright-eyed little Indian lad, that the great chieftain was making war upon the English usurpers.

Canonchet, chief of the Narragansetts, aided Philip in all his undertakings. He remembered that he was the son of Miantonomo. He was wary and vigilant. His warriors knew all the hidden paths which led to the English, and as spring came on, and the trees were clothed in leaves, they dressed themselves in green boughs above the waists, and stealing upon the unsuspecting towns, put them to the torch.

The gold of the buttercups was stained ruby-red, and the meadows were damp with the blood of their victims.

But as spring advanced, the fortunes of the Indians Began to wane.

They were without food, and could be traced for miles through the woods, where the earth was torn up for lily roots and grass roots.

Unless corn was planted, they would starve to death before another winter was over. So the tomahawk was laid aside for the hoe, and the warriors scattered about in small bands to farm their land.

Canonchet started, from the bank of the Connecticut, with thirty men to search for seed corn. They had passed through the Pequod country, where they stopped at Sachem's Plain to breathe anew their vows of vengeance, and were in the centre of their own hunting-grounds, resting in their wigwams, when an alarm of Owanux!  was given. The chieftain sprang from his couch and fled. He was hotly pursued by some English soldiers. With the speed of a deer, he ran. His blanket was heavy. He threw it away. His silver- laced coat choked him, and he tore it off. His belt of wampum bound him about the waist; he hurled it far from him, and on he sped. If he might only cross yonder stream, he could lose himself in the mazes of the forest beyond.

The soldiers knew, by the garments on the ground, that the fugitive was the great chief of the Narragansetts, and followed in more eager pursuit.

At length his foot slipped on a stone at the brink of the river, and he fell so that his gun was wet.

His enemies were upon him, and he made no resistance. He confessed that he became "like a rotten stick-void of strength."

But pride did not forsake him. When a beardless young soldier questioned him, he said, with lofty contempt, "You are a child. You cannot understand matters of war. Let your chief come; him will I answer."

He was offered freedom if he would betray Philip. "I will fight it out to the last man," he said, "rather than become a servant to the English." Condemned to death, he said, "I like it very well; for I shall die before my heart is soft, or I have spoken anything unworthy of myself."

He was shot on the plains of Stonington by three chiefs who were allies of the English.