The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them. — Mark Twain

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


The hunting-grounds, which the Pequods had deserted, skirted on Long Island Sound, and stretched toward the north in lovely hills and deep forests where game was very abundant.

The Narragansetts and the Mohegans fell into violent disputes over the possession of these lands; and the English might have easily set them at each other's throats, and thus been rid of both.

But instead of urging them to war, the English persuaded them to make a treaty of peace; and both nations pledged not to make war on each other without the consent of the colonies.

In spite of their promises, there could be no peace.

The scouts of the Narraganset.ts prowled among the rocks and ravines around the Thames, and awaited, with impatience, the hour when they might fall upon their rivals.

It was said that Miantonomo, the young chief of the Narragansetts, hired an assassin to slay Uncas of the Mohegans.

Miantonomo denied this, and said that Uncas had cut himself with a flint and had made up the story.

The quarrels waxed hotter and hotter, until one day in September, 1643, when he thought his foes busy in the corn-fields, Miantonomo planned a brilliant surprise.

But Uncas was a wary chieftain. His scouts were posted day and night on the top of Fort Hill, which overlooked his enemies, and canoes lay ready in the ravine below.

When the foes came in sight, a sentinel sprang from his hiding-place and glided swiftly down the Thames with the news.

In a few moments three or four hundred Mohegans were on the march.

They halted when they heard that the Narragansetts had crossed the fords of the Yantic, and soon saw them coming down the hillside toward the plain. Both parties drew up in battle array. Miantonomo wore a helmet and corslet, and many of his warriors carried muskets, and were dressed in English fashion.

Uncas threw up his hands and advanced toward the enemy Miantonomo did the same.

"Let us fight it out together in single com bat," said Uncas. " If you kill me, my men and all my lands shall be yours. If I kill you, your men and all your lands shall be mine."

But Miantonomo had great faith in his coat of mail, and in the new muskets his warriors carried; So he said, "My men have come to fight, and they shall fight."

Then Uncas dropped to the ground as a signal, and shower of arrows fell Swift as the wind the bowmen followed the arrows, and routed the foe with their tomahawks. Over the river at the shallows they fled through tangled forests and rushing torrents.

Meanwhile, Miantonomo was shackled by his armor. He attempted to flee, and was caught by two of his own men, who dragged him to Uncas and basely surrendered him.

This chief was so enraged at their perfidity, that he struck both dead at his feet. Then his whoops of victory recalled his men from their pursuit. The proud captive sat down on the ground without a word or glance at his victor.

"If you had taken me," said Uncas, "I should have begged for my life."

But the chief of the Narragansetts mad no reply.

He was taken to Hartford as a prisonor of Uncas, and left there to be disposed of as the English saw fit.

Now, there had long been rumors that this Miantonomo was plotting against the English.

The Mohawks had said he visited their villages on the Hudson with a hundred of his bravest warriors, to urge them to go on the warpath against the English.

There was the most convincing proof that he had been at the head of a plan to massacre all the Palefaces.

But this was not the charge upon which Miantonomo had his trial.

He was tried for attempts on the life of Uncas, and a sudden attack on the Mohegans, contrary to a pledge given in the presence of the English.

By the laws of Indian warfare, he was already condemned to death.

It was decided by the judges that the life of Uncas would be unsafe if the captive were set free.

He was delivered to Uncas, to be put to death without torture.

Now, there was reason to make this condition, that the death should be without torture.

The Mohegans were noted for cruelty to captives. In the expedition against the Pequods, Uncas and his warriors had been given one prisoner to be put to death, and they tortured, roasted, and ate him!

When he had received his victim, Uncas led him forth, and with several warriors and two English guards, took him to the very spot where he had been made prisoner, near the present city of Norwich. Here the procession halted; a brother of Uncas stepped behind Miantonomo and struck him on the head with a hatchet.

He was buried where he fell, and the place to this very day is called Sachem Plain. There lay the proud chieftain between two solitary white oak-trees. In the distance were rocky heights of stunted hemlocks, and the falling waters of the Yantic sang a never-ceasing dirge.

Every September, for many years, the Narragansetts came to the grave to lament the loss of their sachem; and none came without bringing a stone, so that in time a high monument was reared, which might be seen for many miles away.