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VII.

THE MARCH OF MILES STANDISH.

MEANWHILE the stalwart Miles Standish was

marching steadily northward, Winding through forest and swamp, and along the

trend of the sea-shore, All day long, with hardly a halt, the fire of his

anger Burning and crackling within, and the sulphurous

odor of powder Seeming more sweet to his nostrils than all the

scents of the forest. Silent and moody he went, and much he revolved

his discomfort ; He who was used to success, and to easy victories

always, Thus to be flouted, rejected, and laughed to scorn

by a maiden Thus to be mocked and betrayed by the friend

whom most he had trusted ! Ah! 'twas too much to be borne, and he fretted

and chafed in his armor!

“ I alone am to blame,” he muttered, “for mine

was the folly. What has a rough old soldier, grown grim and

gray in the harness, Used to the camp and its ways, to do with the

wooing of maidens ? 'T was but a dream, — let it pass,- let it vanish

like so many others ! What I thought was a flower, is only a weed, and

is worthless;

Out of my heart will I pluck it, and throw it away,

and henceforward Be but a fighter of battles, a lover and wooer of

dangers !” Thus he revolved in his mind his sorry defeat and

discomfort, While he was marching by day or lying at night in

the forest, J.ooking up at the trees, and the constellations be

yond them.

After a three days' march he came to an Indian

encampment Pitched on the edge of a meadow, between the sea

and the forest; Women at work by the tents, and the warriors,

horrid with war-paint, Seated about a fire, and smoking and talking to

gether; Who, when they saw from afar the sudden ap

proach of the white men, Saw the flash of the sun on breastplate and sabre

and musket, Straightway leaped to their feet, and two, from

among them advancing, Came to parley with Standish, and offer him furs

as a present; Friendship was in their looks, but in their hearts

there was hatred. Braves of the tribe were these, and brothers gigan

tic in stature, Iluge as Goliath of Gath, or the terrible Og, king

of Bashan ; One was Pecksuot named, and the other was called

Wattawamat. Round their necks were suspended their knives in

scabbards of wampum, Two-edyed, trenchant knives, with points as sharp Other arms had they none, for they were cunning

as a needle.

and crafty: “ Welcome, English !” they said, — these words

they had learned from the traders Touching at times on the coast, to barter and

chaffer for peltries. Then in their native tongue they began to parley

with Standish, Through his guide and interpreter, Hobomok, friend

of the white man, Begging for blankets and knives, but mostly for

muskets and powder, Kept by the white man, they said, concealed, with

the plague, in his cellars, Ready to be let loose, and destroy his brother the

red man ! But when Standish refused, and said he would give

them the Bible, Suddenly changing their tone, they began to boast

and to bluster. Then Wattawamat advanced with a stride in front

of the other, And, with a lofty demeanor, thus vauntingly spake

to the Captain : - Now Wattawamat can see, by the fiery eyes of

the Captain, Angry is he in his heart; but the heart of the brave

Wattawamat Is not afraid at the sight. He was not born of a

woman, But on a mountain, at night, from an oak-tree

riven by lightning, Forth he sprang at a bound, with all his weapons

about him, Shouting, Who is there here to fight with the

brave Wattawamat ?'" Then he unsheathed his knife, and, whetting the blade on his left hand,

28

VOL. II.

Held it aloft and displayed a woman's face on the

handle, Saying, with bitter expression and look of sinister

meaning: “ I have another at home, with the face of a man

on the handle: By and by they shall marry; and there will be

plenty of children!” Then stood Pecksuot forth, self-vaunting, insult

ing Miles Standish : While with his fingers he patted the knife that

bung at his bosom, Drawing it half from its sheath, and plunging it

back, as he muttered, “By and by it shall see; it shall eat; ah, ha! but

shall speak not! This is the mighty Captain the white men have

sent to destroy us! He is a little man; let him go and work with the

women!”

Meanwhile Standish had noted the faces and

figures of Indians Peeping and creeping about from bush to tree in

the forest, Feigning to look for game, with arrows set on their

bow-strings, Drawing about him still closer and closer the net

of their ambush. But undaunted he stood, and dissembled and

treated them smoothly ; So the old chronicles say, that were writ in the

days of the fathers. But when he heard their defiance, the boast, the

taunt, and the insult, All the hot blood of his race, of Sir Hugh and of

Thurston de Standish,

the savage

Boiled and beat in his heart, and swelled in the

veins of his temples. Headlong he leaped on the boaster, and, snatching

his knife from its scabbard, Plunged it into his heart, and, reeling backward, Fell with his face to the sky, and a fiendlike fierce

ness upon it. Straight there arose from the forest the awful sound

of the war-whoop, And, like a flurry of snow on the whistling wind of

December, Swift and sudden and keen came a flight of feath

ery arrows. Then came a cloud of smoke, and out of the cloud

came the lightning, Out of the lightning thunder; and death unseen

ran before it. Frightened the savages fled for shelter in swamp

and in thicket, Hotly pursued and beset; but their sachem, the

brave Wattawamat, Fled not; he was dead. Unswerving and swift

had a bullet Passed through his brain, and he fell with both

hands clutching the greensward, Seeming in death to hold back from his foe the

land of his fathers.

There on the flowers of the meadow the warriors

lay, and above them, Silent, with folded arms, stood Hobomok, friend of

the white man. Smiling at length he exclaimed to the stalwart

Captain of Plymouth : “ Pecksuot bragged very loud, of his courage, his

strength, and his stature, Mocked the great Captain, and called him a little

man; but I see now

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