Hope Leslie, volume 1
by Catharine Maria Sedgwick
HOPE LESLIE; OR EARLY TIMES IN THE MASSACHUSETTS. BY THE AUTHOR OF REDWOOD.
Here stood the Indian chieftain, rejoicing in his glory!
How deep the shade of sadness that rests upon his story:
For the white man came with power—like brethren they met—
But the Indian fires went out, and the Indian sun has set!
And the chieftain has departed—gone is his hunting ground,
And the twanging of his bow-string is a forgotten sound:—
Where dwelleth yesterday? and where is Echo's cell?
Where has the rainbow vanished?—there does the Indian dwell.
— E. IN TWO VOLUMES. VOL. I.
THE FOLLOWING PAGES ARE Dedicated, AS A TESTIMONY OF RESPECT AND
AFFECTION, TO THE AUTHOR'S FRIENDS IN BOSTON.
The following volumes are not offered to the public as being in any
degree an historical narrative, or a relation of real events. Real
characters and real events are, however, alluded to; and this course,
if not strictly necessary, was found very convenient in the execution
of the author's design, which was to illustrate not the history, but
the character of the times.
The antiquarian reader will perceive that some liberties have been
taken with the received accounts of Sir Philip (or Sir Christopher)
Gardiner; and a slight variation has been allowed in the chronology of
the Pequod war.
The first settlers of New-England were not illiterate, but learned
and industrious men. They seem to have understood the importance of
their station. The Massachusetts colony, and some of the other
establishments sparsely scattered on the coast, were illuminated spots,
clear and bright lights, set on the borders of a dark and turbulent
wilderness. Those who have not paid much attention to the history or
character of these early settlements, if they choose to turn their
attentionto this interesting subject, will be surprised to find how
clear, copious, and authentic are the accounts which our ancestors left
behind them. The only merit claimed by the present writer, is that of a
patient investigation of all the materials that could be obtained. A
full delineation of these times was not even attempted; but the main
solicitude has been, to exclude every thing decidedly inconsistent with
The Indians of North America are, perhaps, the only race of men of
whom it may be said, that though conquered, they were never enslaved.
They could not submit, and live. When made captives, they courted
death, and exulted in torture. These traits of their character will be
viewed by an impartial observer, in a light very different from that in
which they were regarded by our ancestors. In our histories, it was
perhaps natural that they should be represented as “surly dogs," who
preferred to die rather than live, from no other motives than a stupid
or malignant obstinacy. Their own historians or poets, if they had
such, would as naturally, and with more justice, have extolled their
high-souled courage and patriotism.
The writer is aware that it may be thought that the character of
Magawisca has no prototype among the aborigines of this country.
Without citing Pocohontas, or any other individual, as authority, it
may be sufficient to remark, that in such delineations, we are confined
not to the actual, but the possible.
The liberal philanthropist will not be offended by a representation
which supposes that the elements of virtue and intellect are not
withheld from any branch of the human family; and the enlightened and
accurate observer of human nature, will admit that the difference of
character among the various races of the earth, arises mainly from
difference of condition.
These volumes are so far from being intended as a substitute for
genuine history, that the ambition of the writer would be fully
gratified if, by this work, any of our young countrymen should be
stimulated to investigate the early history of their native land.
"Virtue may be assail'd, but never hurt,
Surpris'd by unjust force, but not inthrall'd;
Yea, even that which mischief meant most harm
Shall in the happy trial prove most glory."
William Fletcher was the son of a respectable country gentleman of
Suffolk, in England; and the destined heir of his uncle Sir William
Fletcher, an eminent lawyer, who had employed his talents with such
effective zeal and pliant principle, that he had won his way to courtly
favour and secured a courtly fortune.
Sir William had only one child—a daughter; and possessing the
common ambition of transmitting his name with his wealth, he selected
his nephew as the future husband of his daughter Alice.
"Take good heed," Sir William thus expressed himself in a letter to
his brother, "take goodheed that the boy be taught unquestioning and
unqualified loyalty to his sovereign—the Alpha and Omega of political
duty. These are times when every true subject has his price. Divers of
the leaders of the Commons are secret friends of the seditious
mischief-brewing puritans; and Buckingham himself is suspected of
favouring their cabals—but this sub rosa—I burn not my fingers with
these matters. 'He who meddleth with another man's strifes, taketh a
dog by the ear,' said the wisest man that ever lived; and he— thank
God—was a king. Caution Will against all vain speculation and idle
inquiries—there are those that are for ever inquiring and inquiring,
and never coming to the truth. One inquiry should suffice for a loyal
subject. 'What is established?' and that being well ascertained, the
line of duty is so plain, that he who runs may read.
"I would that all our youths had inscribed on their hearts that
golden rule of political religion, framed and well maintained by our
good Queen Elizabeth. 'No man should be suffered to decline either on
the left or on the right hand, from the drawn line limited by
authority, and by the sovereign's laws and injunctions.'
"Instead of such healthy maxims, our lads' heads are crammed with
the philosophy and rhetoric and history of those liberty-loving Greeks
and Romans. This is the pernicious lore that has poisoned our
academical fountains. Liberty, what is it! Daughter of disloyalty and
mother of allmisrule—who, from the hour that she tempted our first
parents to forfeit paradise, hath ever worked mischief to our race.
"But above all, brother, as you value the temporal salvation of
your boy, restrain him from all confederacy, association, or even
acquaintance with the puritans. If my master took counsel of me, he
would ship these mad canting fools to our New-England colonies, where
their tender consciences would be no more offended because, forsooth, a
prelate saith his prayers in white vestments, and where they might
enjoy with the savages that primitive equality, about which they make
such a pother. God forefend that our good lad William should company
with these misdoers! He must be narrowly watched; for, as I hear, there
is a neighbour of yours, one Winthrop, (a notable gentleman too, as
they say, but he doth grievously scandalize his birth and breeding) who
hath embraced these scurvy principles, and doth magnify them with the
authority of his birth and condition, and hath much weight with the
country. There is in Suffolk too, as I am told, one Eliot, a young
zealot—a fanatical incendiary, who doth find ample combustibles in the
gossiping matrons, idle maidens, and lawless youth who flock about him.
"These are dangerous neighbours—rouse yourself, brother—give over
your idle sporting with hawk and hound, and watch over this goodly
scion of ours—ours, I say, but I forewarn you, no daughteror guinea of
mine shall ever go to one who is infected with this spreading plague."
This letter was too explicit to be misunderstood; but so far from
having the intended effect of awakening the caution of the expectant of
fortune, it rather stimulated the pride of the independent country
gentleman. He permitted his son to follow the bent of accident, or the
natural course of a serious, reflecting, and enthusiastic temper.
Winthrop, the future governor of Massachusetts, was the counsellor of
young Fletcher; and Eliot, the "apostle of New-England," his most
intimate friend. These were men selected of Heaven to achieve a great
work. In the quaint language of the time, "the Lord sifted three
nations for precious seed to sow the wilderness."
There were interested persons who were not slow in conveying to Sir
William unfavourable reports of his nephew, and the young man received
a summons from his uncle, who hoped, by removing him from the infected
region, to rescue him from danger.
Sir William's pride was gratified by the elegant appearance and
graceful deportment of his nephew, whom he had expected to see with the
"slovenly and lawyerlike carriage" that marked the scholars of the
times. The pliant courtier was struck with the lofty independence of
the youth who, from the first, shewed that neither frowns nor favour
would induce him to bow the knee to the idols Sir William had served.
There was something in this independence that awed the inferior mind of
the uncle. To him it was an unknown mysterious power, which he knew not
how to approach, and almost despaired of subduing. However, he was
experienced in life, and had observed enough of human infirmity to
convince him, that there was no human virtue that had not some
weak—some assailable point. Time and circumstances were not long in
developing the vulnerability of the nephew. Alice Fletcher had been the
companion of his childhood. They now met without any of the reserve
that often prevents an intimate intercourse between young persons, and
proceeds from the consciousness of a susceptibility which it would seem
The intercourse of the cousins was renewed with all the frankness
and artlessness of the sunny season of childish love and confidence.
Alice had been educated in retirement, by her mother, whom she had
recently attended through a long and fatal illness. She had been almost
the exclusive object of her love, for there was little congeniality
between the father and daughter. The ties of nature may command all
dutiful observances, but they cannot control the affections. Alice was
deeply afflicted by her bereavement. Her cousin's serious temper
harmonized with her sorrow, and nature and opportunity soon
indissolubly linked their hearts together.
Sir William perceived their growing attachmentand exulted in it;
for, as he fancied, it reduced his nephew to dependence on his will and
whims. He had never himself experienced the full strength of any
generous sentiment; but he had learned from observation, that love was
a controlling passion, and he now most anxiously watched and promoted
the kindling of the flame, in the expectation that the fire would
subdue the principles of civil and religious liberty, with which he had
but too well ascertained the mind of his nephew to be imbued.
He silently favoured the constant and exclusive intercourse of the
young people: he secretly contrived various modes of increasing their
mutual dependence; and, when he was certain their happiness was staked,
he cast the die. He told his nephew that he perceived and rejoiced in
the mutual affection that had so naturally sprung up between him and
his daughter, and he confessed their union had been the favourite
object of his life; and said, that he now heartily accorded his consent
to it, prescribing one condition only—but that condition was
unalterable. "You must abjure, William, in the presence of witnesses,"
he said, "the fanatical notions of liberty and religion with which you
have been infected—you must pledge yourself, by a solemn oath, to
unqualified obedience to the king, and adherence to the established
church: you shall have time enough for the effervescence of your young
blood. God send this fermentation may work off all impurities.Nay,
answer me not now. Take a day—a week —a month for consideration; for
on your decision depends fortune and love—or the alternative, beggary
If a pit had yawned beneath his feet, and swallowed Alice from his
view, William Fletcher could not have been more shocked. He was
soul-stricken, as one who listens to a sentence of death. To his eye
the earth was shrouded in darkness; not an object of hope or pursuit
He had believed his uncle was aware of what he must deem his
political and religious delinquency; but he had never spoken to him on
the subject: he had treated him with marked favour, and he had so
evidently encouraged his attachment to his cousin, that he had already
plighted his love to her, and received her vows without fearing that he
had passed even the limit of strict prudence.
There was no accommodating flexibility in his principles; his
fidelity to what he deemed his duty could not have been subdued by the
fires of martyrdom, and he did not hesitate to sacrifice what was
dearer than life to it. He took the resolution at once to fly from the
temptation that, present, he dared not trust himself to resist.
"I shall not again see my Alice," he said. "I have not courage to
meet her smiles; I have not strength to endure her tears."
In aid of his resolution there came, most opportunely, a messenger
from his father, requiring hisimmediate presence. This afforded him a
pretext for his sudden departure from London. He left a few brief lines
for Alice, that expressed without explaining the sadness of his heart.
His father died a few hours before he arrived at the paternal
mansion. He was thus released from his strongest natural tie. His
mother had been long dead; and he had neither brother nor sister. He
inherited a decent patrimony, sufficient at least to secure the
independence of a gentleman. He immediately repaired to Groton, to his
friend Winthrop; not that he should dictate his duty to him, but as one
leans on the arm of a friend when he finds his own strength scarcely
sufficient to support him.
Mr. Winthrop is well known to have been a man of the most tender
domestic affections and sympathies; but he had then been long married—
and twice married—and probably a little dimness had come over his
recollection of the enthusiasm of a first passion. When Fletcher spoke
of Alice's unequalled loveliness, and of his own unconquerable love,
his friend listened as one listens to a tale he has heard a hundred
times, and seemed to regard the cruel circumstances in which the ardent
lover was placed only in the light of a fit and fine opportunity of
making a sacrifice to the great and good cause to which this future
statesman had even then begun to devote himself, as the sole object of
his life. He treated his friend's sufferings as in their nature
transient and curable; andconcluded by saying, "the Lord hath prepared
this fire, my friend, to temper your faith, and you will come out of it
the better prepared for your spiritual warfare."
Fletcher listened to him with stern resolution, like him who
permits a surgeon to probe a wound which he is himself certain is
Mr. Winthrop knew that a ship was appointed to sail from
Southampton in a few days for New-England. With that characteristic
zeal which then made all the intentions of Providence so obvious to the
eye of faith, and the interpretation of all the events of life so easy,
Mr. Winthrop assured his friend that the designs of Heaven, in relation
to him, were plain. He said, "there was a great call for such services
as he could render in the expedition just about to sail, and which was
like to fail for the want of them; and that now, like a faithful
servant to the cause he had confessed, he must not look behind, but
press on to the things that were before."
Fletcher obeyed the voice of Heaven. This is no romantic fiction.
Hundreds in that day resisted all that solicits earthly passions, and
sacrificed all that gratifies them, to the cause of God and of man—the
cause of liberty and religion. This cause was not to their eyes
invested with any romantic attractions. It was not assisted by the
illusions of chivalry, nor magnified by the spiritual power and renown
of crusades. Our fathers neither had, nor expected their reward on
One severe duty remained to be performed. Fletcher must announce
their fate to Alice. He honoured her too much to believe she would have
permitted the sacrifice of his integrity, if he would have made it. He,
therefore, had nothing to excuse; nothing but to tell the terrible
truth—to try to reconcile her to her father—to express, for the last
time, his love, and to pray that he might receive, at Southampton, one
farewell line from her. Accompanying his letter to Alice was one to Sir
William, announcing the decision to resign his favour and exile himself
for ever from England.
He arranged his affairs, and in a few days received notice that the
vessel was ready to sail. He repaired to Southampton, and as he was
quitting the inn to embark in the small boat that was to convey him to
the vessel, already in the offing, a voice from an inner apartment
pronounced his name—and at the next moment Alice was in his arms. She
gently reproved him for having estimated her affection at so low a rate
as not to have anticipated that she should follow him, and share his
destiny. It was more than could have been expected from man, that
Fletcher should have opposed such a resolution. He had but a moment for
deliberation. Most of the passengers had already embarked; some still
lingered on the strand protracting their last farewell to their country
and their friends. In the language of one of the most honoured of these
pilgrims—" truly doleful wasthe sight of that sad and mournful
parting, to hear what sighs, and sobs, and prayers, did sound amongst
them; what tears did gush from every eye, and pithy speeches pierced
each other's hearts."
With the weeping groupe Fletcher left Alice and her attendants,
while he went to the vessel to prepare for her suitable reception. He
there found a clergyman, and bespoke his holy offices to unite him to
his cousin immediately after their embarcation.
All the necessary arrangements were made, and he was returning to
the shore, his eye fixed on the lovely being whom he believed Heaven
had interposed to give to him, when he descried Sir William's carriage
guarded by a cavalcade of armed men, in the uniform of the King's
guards, approaching the spot where she stood.
He comprehended at once their cruel purpose. He exhorted the
boatmen to put forth all their strength; he seized the oars
himself—despair gave him supernatural power—the boat shot forward
with the velocity of light; but all in vain!— he only approached near
enough to the shore to hear Alice's last impotent cries to him—to see
her beautiful face convulsed with agony, and her arms outstretched
towards him—when she was forced to the carriage by her father, and
driven from his sight.
He leaped on the strand; he followed the troop with cries and
entreaties; but he was only answeredby the coarse jeering and profane
jests of the soldiery.
Notice was soon given that the boat was ready to return to the ship
for the last time, and Fletcher in a state of agitation and despair,
almost amounting to insanity, permitted it to return without him.
He went to London and requested an interview with his uncle. The
request was granted, and a long and secret conference ensued. It was
known by the servants of the household, that their mistress, Alice, had
been summoned by her father to this meeting; but what was said or done,
did not transpire. Immediately after, Fletcher returned to Mr.
Winthrop's in Suffolk. The fixedness of despair was on his countenance;
but he said nothing, even to this confidential friend, of the interview
with his uncle. The particulars of the affair at Southampton, which had
already reached Suffolk, seemed sufficiently to explain his misery.
In less than a fortnight he there received despatches from his
uncle, informing him that he had taken effectual measures to save
himself from a second conspiracy against the honour of his family—that
his daughter, Alice, had that day been led to the altar by Charles
Leslie; and concluding with a polite hope, that though his voyage had
been interrupted, it might not be long deferred.
Alice had, indeed, in the imbecility of utter despair, submitted to
her father's commands. It was intimated at the time, and reported for
many years after, that she had suffered a total alienation of mind. To
the world this was never contradicted, for she lived in absolute
retirement; but those who best knew could have attested, that if her
mind had departed from its beautiful temple, an angelic spirit had
entered in and possessed it.
William Fletcher was, in a few months, persuaded to unite himself
with an orphan girl, a ward of Mr. Winthrop, who had, in the eyes of
the elders, all the meek graces that befitted a godly maiden and
dutiful helpmate. Fletcher remained constant to his purpose of
emigrating to New-England, but he did not effect it till the year 1630,
when he embarked with his family and effects in the ship Arabella, with
Governor Winthrop, who the, for the first time, went to that land where
his name will ever be held in affectionate and honourable remembrance.
"For the temper of the brain in quick apprehensions and acute judgments,
to say no more, the most High and Sovereign God hath not made the Indian
inferior to the European."
— —Roger Williams.
The magnitude of the enterprise in which the first settlers of
New-England were engaged, the terrific obstacles they encountered, and
the hard-ships they endured, gave to their characters a seriousness and
solemnity, heightened, it may be, by the severity of their religious
Where all were serious the melancholy of an individual was not
conspicuous; and Mr. Fletcher's sadness would probably have passed
unnoticed, but for the reserve of his manners, which piqued the pride
of his equals, and provoked the curiosity of his inferiors.
The first probably thought that the apostolic principle of
community of goods at least extended to opinions and feelings; and the
second always fancy when a man shuts the door of his lips that there
must be some secret worth knowing within.
Like many other men of an ardent temperament and disinterested love
of his species, Mr. Fletcher was disappointed at the slow operation
ofprinciples, which, however efficient and excellent in the abstract,
were to be applied to various and discordant subjects. Such men,
inexperienced in the business of life, are like children, who, setting
out on a journey, are impatient after the few first paces to be at the
end of it. They cannot endure the rebuffs and delays that retard them
in their course. These are the men of genius—the men of feeling—the
men that the world calls visionaries; and it is because they are
visionaries— because they have a beau-ideal in their own minds, to
which they can see but a faint resemblance in the actual state of
things, that they become impatient of detail, and cannot brook the slow
progress to perfection. They are too rapid in their anticipations. The
character of man, and the institutions of society, are yet very far
from their possible and destined perfection. Still, how far is the
present age in advance of that which drove reformers to a dreary
wilderness!—of that which hanged quakers!—of that which condemned to
death, as witches, innocent, unoffending old women! But it is
unnecessary to heighten the glory or our risen day by comparing it with
the preceding twilight.
To return to Mr. Fletcher. He was mortified at seeing power, which
had been earned at so dear a rate, and which he had fondly hoped was to
be applied to the advancement of man's happiness, sometimes perverted
to purposes of oppression and personal aggrandizement. He wasshocked
when a religious republic, which he fancied to be founded on the basis
of established truth, was disturbed by the out-break of heresies; and
his heart sickened when he saw those, who had sacrificed whatever man
holds dearest to religious freedom, imposing those shackles on others
from which they had just released themselves at such a price. Partly
influenced by these disgusts, and partly by that love of contemplation
and retirement that belongs to a character of his cast, especially when
depressed by some early disappointment, he refused the offices of
honour and trust that were, from time to time, offered to him; and
finally, in 1636, when Pynchon, Holioke, and Chapin, formed their
settlement at Springfield, on Connecticut river, he determined to
retire from the growing community of Boston to this frontier
Mrs. Fletcher received his decision as all wives of that age of
undisputed masculine supremacy (or most of those of our less passive
age) would do, with meek submission. The inconveniencies and dangers of
that outpost were not unknown to her, nor did she underrate them; but
Abraham would as soon have remonstrated against the command that bade
him go forth from his father's house into the land of the Chaldees, as
she would have failed in passive obedience to the resolve of her
The removal was effected early in the summer of 1636. Springfield
assumed, at once, under the auspices of its wealthy and enterprising
proprietors, the aspect of a village. The first settlers followed the
course of the Indians, and planted themselves on the borders of
rivers—the natural gardens of the earth, where the soil is mellowed
and enriched by the annual overflowing of the streams, and prepared by
the unassisted processes of nature to yield to the indolent Indian his
scanty supply of maize and other esculents. The wigwams which
constituted the village, or, to use the graphic aboriginal designation,
the 'smoke' of the natives gave place to the clumsy, but more
convenient dwellings of the pilgrims.
Where there are now contiguous rows of shops, filled with the
merchandise of the east, the manufactures of Europe, the rival fabrics
of our own country, and the fruits of the tropics; where now stands the
stately hall of justice—the academy— the bank—churches, orthodox and
heretic, and all the symbols of a rich and populous community—were, at
the early period of our history, a few log-houses, planted around a
fort, defended by a slight embankment and palisade.
The mansions of the proprietors were rather more spacious and
artificial than those of their more humble associates, and were built
on the well-known model of the modest dwelling illustrated by the birth
of Milton—a form still abounding in the eastern parts of
Massachusetts, and presenting to the eye of a New-Englander thefamiliar
aspect of an awkward friendly country cousin.
The first clearing was limited to the plain. The beautiful hill
that is now the residence of the gentry (for there yet lives such a
class in the heart of our democratic community) and is embellished with
stately edifices and expensive pleasure-grounds, was then the border of
a dense forest, and so richly fringed with the original growth of
trees, that scarce a sun-beam had penetrated to the parent earth.
Mr. Fletcher was at first welcomed as an important acquisition to
the infant establishment; but he soon proved that he purposed to take
no part in its concerns, and, in spite of the remonstrances of the
proprietors, he fixed his residence a mile from the village, deeming
exposure to the incursions of the savages very slight, and the
surveillance of an inquiring neighbourhood a certain evil. His domain
extended from a gentle eminence, that commanded an extensive view of
the bountiful Connecticut to the shore, where the river indented the
meadow by one of those sweeping graceful curves by which it seems to
delight to beautify the land it nourishes.
The border of the river was fringed with all the water-loving
trees; but the broad meadows were quite cleared, excepting that a few
elms and sycamores had been spared by the Indians, and consecrated, by
tradition, as the scene of revels or councils. The house of our pilgrim
was a low-roofedmodest structure, containing ample accommodation for a
patriarchal family; where children, dependants, and servants were all
to be sheltered under one roof-tree. On one side, as we have described,
lay an open and extensive plain; within view was the curling smoke from
the little cluster of houses about the fort—the habitation of
civilized man; but all else was a savage howling wilderness.
Never was a name more befitting the condition of a people, than
'Pilgrim' that of our forefathers. It should be redeemed from the
puritanical and ludicrous associations which have degraded it, in most
men's minds, and be hallowed by the sacrifices made by these voluntary
exiles. They were pilgrims, for they had resigned, for ever, what the
good hold most dear—their homes. Home can never be transferred; never
repeated in the experience of an individual. The place consecrated by
parental love, by the innocence and sports of childhood, by the first
acquaintance with nature; by the linking of the heart to the visible
creation, is the only home. There there is a living and breathing
spirit infused into nature: every familiar object has a history—the
trees have tongues, and the very air is vocal. There the vesture of
decay doth not close in and control the noble functions of the soul. It
sees and hears and enjoys without the ministry of gross material
Mr. Fletcher had resided a few months in Springfield when he one
day entered with an open letter in his hand, that apartment of his
humble dwelling styled, by courtesy, the parlour. His wife was sitting
there with her eldest son, a stripling of fourteen, busily assisting
him in twisting a cord for his cross-bow. She perceived that her
husband looked disturbed; but he said nothing, and her habitual
deference prevented her inquiring into the cause of his discomposure.
After taking two or three turns about the room, he said to his son,
"Everell, my boy—go to the door, and await there the arrival of an
Indian girl; she is, as you may see, yonder by the riverside, and will
be here shortly. I would not that Jennet should, at the very first,
shock the child with her discourteous ways."
"Child! coming here!" exclaimed the boy, dropping his bow and
gazing through the window —"Who is she?—that tall girl, father—she
is no more a child than I am!"
His mother smiled at an exclamation that betrayed a common juvenile
jealousy of the honour of dawning manhood, and bade the boy obey his
father's directions. When Everell had left the apartment, Mr. Fletcher
said, "I have just received letters from Boston—from Governor
"Our friends are all well, I hope," said Mrs. Fletcher.
"Yes, Martha, our friends are all well—but these letters contain
something of more importance than aught that concerns the health of the
Mr. Fletcher again hesitated, and his wife, perplexed by his
embarrassment, inquired, "Has poor deluded Mrs. Hutchinson again
presumed to disturb the peace of God's people?"
"Martha, you aim wide of the mark. My present emotions are not
those of a mourner for Zion. A ship has arrived from England, and in it
"My brother Stretton!" exclaimed Mrs. Fletcher.
"No—no, Martha. It will be long ere Stretton quits his paradise to
join a suffering people in the wilderness."
He paused for a moment, and when he again spoke, the softened tone
of his voice evinced that he was touched by the expression of
disappointment, slightly tinged by displeasure that shaded his wife's
gentle countenance. "Forgive me, my dear wife," he said. "i should not
have spoken aught that implied censure of your brother; for I know he
hath ever been most precious in your eyes—albeit, not the less so,
that he is yet without the fold—That which I have to tell you —and it
were best that it were quickly told—is, that my cousin Alice was a
passenger in this newly arrived ship.—Martha, your blushes wrong you.
The mean jealousies that degrade some womenhave, I am sure, never been
harboured in your heart."
"If I deserve your praise, it is because the Lord has been pleased
to purify my heart and make it his sanctuary. But, if I have not the
jealousies, I have the feelings of a woman, and I cannot forget that
you was once affianced to your cousin Alice—and"—
"And that I once told you, Martha, frankly, that the affection I
gave to her, could not be transferred to another. That love grew with
my growth —strengthened with my strength. Of its beginning, I had no
more consciousness than of the commencement of my existence. It was
sunshine and flowers in all the paths of my childhood. It inspired
every hope—modified every project— such was the love I bore to
Alice—love immortal as the soul!—
"You know how cruelly we were severed at Southampton—how she was
torn from the strand by the king's guards—within my view, almost
within my grasp. How Sir William tempted me with the offer of
pardon—my cousin's hand— and,—poor temptation indeed after
that!—honours, fortune. You know that even Alice, my precious
beautiful Alice, knelt to me. That smitten of God and man, and for the
moment, bereft of the right use of reason, she would have persuaded me
to yield my integrity. You know that her cruel father reproached me
with virtually breaking my plighted troth, That many of myfriends urged
my present conformity; and you know, Martha, that there was a principle
in my bosom that triumphed over all these temptations. And think you
not that principle has preserved me faithful in my friendship to you?
Think you not that your obedience—;your careful conformity to my
wishes; your steady love, which hath kept far more than even measure
with my deserts, is undervalued—can be lightly estimated?"
"Oh, I know," said the humble wife, "that your goodness to me does
far surpass my merit; but bethink you, it is the nature of a woman to
crave the first place."
"It is the right of a wife, Martha; and there is none now to
contest it with you. This is but the second time I have spoken to you
on a subject that has been much in our thoughts: that has made me
wayward, and would have made my sojourning on earth miserable, but that
you have been my support and comforter. These letters contain tidings
that have opened a long sealed fountain. My uncle, Sir William, died
last January. Leslie perished in a foreign service. Alice, thus
released from all bonds, and sole mistress of her fortunes, determined
to cast her lot in the heritage of God's people. She embarked with her
two girls—her only children—a tempestuous voyage proved too much for
a constitution already broken by repeated shocks. She was fully aware
of her approaching death, and diedas befits a child of faith, in sweet
peace. Would to God I could have seen her once more—but," he added,
raising his eyes devoutly, "not my will but thine be done! The sister
of Leslie, a Mistress Grafton, attended Alice, and with her she left a
will committing her children to my guardianship. It will be necessary
for me to go to Boston to assume this trust. I shall leave home
tomorrow, after making suitable provision for your safety and comfort
in my absence. These children will bring additional labour to your
household; and in good time hath our thoughtful friend Governor
Winthrop procured for us two Indian servants. The girl has arrived. The
boy is retained about the little Leslies; the youngest of whom, it
seems, is a petted child; and is particularly pleased by his activity
in ministering to her amusement."
"I am glad if any use can be made of an Indian servant," said Mrs.
Fletcher, who, oppressed with conflicting emotions, expressed the
lightest of them—a concern at a sudden increase of domestic cares
where there were no facilities to lighten them.
"How any use! You surely do not doubt, Martha, that these Indians
possess the same faculties that we do. The girl, just arrived, our
friend writes me, hath rare gifts of mind—such as few of God's
creatures are endowed with. She is just fifteen; she understands and
speaks English perfectly well, having been taught it by an English
captive, who for a long time dwelt with her tribe. On that account she
was much noticed by the English who traded with the Pequods; and young
as she was, she acted as their interpreter.
"She is the daughter of one of their chiefs, and when this wolfish
tribe were killed, or dislodged from their dens, she, her brother, and
their mother, were brought with a few other captives to Boston. They
were given for a spoil to the soldiers. Some, by a christian use of
money, were redeemed; and others, I blush to say it, for 'it is God's
gift that every man should enjoy the good of his own labour,' were sent
into slavery in the West Indies. Monoca, the mother of these children,
was noted for the singular dignity and modesty of her demeanor. Many
notable instances of her kindness to the white traders are recorded;
and when she was taken to Boston, our worthy governor, ever mindful of
his duties, assured her that her good deeds were held in remembrance,
and that he would testify the gratitude of his people in any way she
should direct. 'I have nothing to ask,' she said, 'but that I and my
children may receive no personal dishonour.'
"The governor redeemed her children, and assured her they should be
cared for. For herself, misery and sorrow had so wrought on her, that
she was fast sinking into the grave. Many christian men and women
laboured for her conversion but she would not even consent that the
holyword should be interpreted to her; insisting, in the pride of her
soul, that all the children of the Great Spirit were equal objects of
His favour; and that He had not deemed the book he had withheld,
needful to them."
"And did she," inquired Mrs. Fletcher, "thus perish in her sins?"
"She died," replied her husband, "immoveably fixed in those
sentiments. But, Martha, we should not suit God's mercy to the narrow
frame of our thoughts. This poor savage's life, as far as it has come
to our knowledge, was marked with innocence and good deeds; and I would
gladly believe that we may hope for her, on that broad foundation laid
by the Apostle Peter—'In every nation, he that feareth God and worketh
righteousness, is accepted of Him.' "
"That text," answered Mrs. Fletcher, her heart easily kindling with
the flame of charity, "is a light behind many a dark scripture, like
the sun shining all around the edges of a cloud that would fain hide
"Such thoughts, my dear wife, naturally spring from thy kind heart,
and are sweet morsels for private meditation; but it were well to keep
them in thine own bosom lest, taking breath, they should lighten the
fears of unstable souls. But here comes the girl, Magawisca, clothed in
her Indian garb, which the governor has permitted her to retain, not
caring, as he wisely says, to interfere with their innocent
peculiarities; and she, in particular, having shewn a loathing of the
Everell Fletcher now threw wide open the parlour door, inviting the
Indian girl, by a motion of his hand and a kind smile, to follow. She
did so, and remained standing beside him, with her eyes rivetted to the
floor, while every other eye was turned towards her. She and her
conductor were no unfit representatives of the people from whom they
sprung. Everell Fletcher was a fair ruddy boy of fourteen; his smooth
brow and bright curling hair, bore the stamp of the morning of life;
hope and confidence and gladness beamed in the falcon glance of his
keen blue eye; and love and frolic played about his lips. The active
hardy habits of life, in a new country, had already knit his frame, and
given him the muscle of manhood; while his quick elastic step truly
expressed the untamed spirit of childhood—the only spirit without fear
and without reproach. His dress was of blue cloth, closely fitting his
person; the sleeves reached midway between the elbow and wrist, and the
naked, and as it would seem to a modern eye, awkward space, was
garnished with deep-pointed lace ruffles of a coarse texture; a ruff,
or collar of the same material, was worn about the neck.
The Indian stranger was tall for her years, which did not exceed
fifteen. Her form was slender, flexible, and graceful; and there was a
freedom and loftiness in her movement which,though tempered with
modesty, expressed a consciousness of high birth. Her face, although
marked by the peculiarities of her race, was beautiful even to an
European eye. Her features were regular, and her teeth white as pearls;
but there must be something beyond symmetry of feature to fix the
attention, and it was an expression of dignity, thoughtfulness, and
deep dejection that made the eye linger on Magawisca's face, as if it
were perusing there the legible record of her birth and wrongs. Her
hair, contrary to the fashion of the Massachusetts Indians, was parted
on her forehead, braided, and confined to her head by a band of small
feathers, jet black, and interwoven, and attached at equal distances by
rings of polished bone. She wore a waistcoat of deer-skin, fastened at
the throat by a richly wrought collar. Her arms, a model for sculpture,
were bare. A mantle of purple cloth hung gracefully from her shoulders,
and was confined at the waist by a broad band, ornamented with rude
hieroglyphics. The mantle and her strait short petticoat or kilt of the
same rare and costly material, had been obtained, probably, from the
English traders. Stockings were an unknown luxury; but leggins, similar
to those worn by the ladies of Queen Elizabeth's court, were no bad
substitute. The moccasin, neatly fitted to a delicate foot and ankle,
and tastefully ornamented with bead-work, completed the apparel of this
daughter of a chieftain, which altogether, had an air of wild and
fantastic grace, that harmonized well with the noble demeanor and
peculiar beauty of the young savage.
Mr. Fletcher surveyed her for a moment with a mingled feeling of
compassion and curiosity, and then turning away and leaning his head on
the mantelpiece, his thoughts reverted to the subject that had affected
him far more deeply than he had ventured to confess, even to the wife
of his bosom.
Mrs. Fletcher's first feeling was rather that of a housewife than a
tender woman. 'My husband,' she thought, 'might as well have brought a
wild doe from the forest to plough his fields, as to give me this
Indian girl for household labour; but the wisest men have no sense in
these matters.' This natural domestic reflection was soon succeeded by
a sentiment of compassion, which scarcely needed to be stimulated by
Everell's whisper of "do, mother, speak to her."
"Magawisca," she said in a friendly tone, "you are welcome among
us, girl." Magawisca bowed her head. Mrs. Fletcher continued: "you
should receive it as a signal mercy, child, that you have been taken
from the midst of a savage people, and set in a christian family." Mrs.
Fletcher paused for her auditor's assent, but the proposition was
either unintelligible or unacceptable to Magawisca.
"Mistress Fletcher means," said a middle-aged serving woman who had
just entered the room, "that you should be mightily thankful,
Tawney,that you are snatched as a brand from the burning."
"Hush, Jennet!" said Everell Fletcher, touching the speaker with
the point of an arrow which he held in his hand.
Magawisca's eyes had turned on Jennet, flashing like a sun-beam
through an opening cloud. Everell's interposition touched a tender
chord, and when she again cast them down, a tear trembled on their
"You will have no hard service to do," said Mrs. Fletcher, resuming
her address. "I cannot explain all to you now; but you will soon
perceive that our civilized life is far easier—far better and happier
than your wild wandering ways, which are indeed, as you will presently
see, but little superior to those of the wolves and foxes."
Magawisca suppressed a reply that her heart sent to her quivering
lips; and Everell said, "hunted, as the Indians are, to their own dens,
I am sure, mother, they need the fierceness of the wolf, and the
cunning of the fox."
"True—true, my son," replied Mrs. Fletcher, who really meant no
unkindness in expressing what she deemed a self-evident truth; and then
turning again to Magawisca, she said, in a gentle tone, "you have had a
long and fatiguing journey—was it not, girl?"
"My foot," replied Magawisca, "is used to the wild-wood path. The
deer tires not of his wayon the mountain, nor the bird of its flight in
She uttered her natural feeling in so plaintive a tone that it
touched the heart like a strain of sad music; and when Jennet again
officiously interposed in the conversation, by saying, that "truly
these savages have their house in the wilderness, and their way no man
knows," her mistress cut short her outpouring by directing her to go to
the outer door and learn who it was that Digby was conducting to the
A moment after Digby, Mr. Fletcher's confidential domestic, entered
with the air of one who has important intelligence to communicate. He
was followed by a tall gaunt Indian, who held in his hand a deer-skin
pouch. "Ha! Digby," said Mr. Fletcher, "have you returned? What say the
Commissioners? Can they furnish me a guide and attendants for my
"Yes, an' please you, sir, I was in the nick of time, for they were
just despatching a messenger to the Governor."
"On what account?"
"Why, it's rather an odd errand," replied Digby, scratching his
head with an awkward hesitation. "I would not wish to shock my gentle
mistress, who will never bring her feelings to the queer fashions of
the new world; but Lord's mercy, sir, you know we think no more of
taking off a scalp here, than we did of shaving our beards at home."
"Scalp!" exclaimed Mr. Fletcher. "Explain yourself, Digby."
The Indian, as if to assist Digby's communication, untied his pouch
and drew from it a piece of dried and shrivelled skin, to which hair,
matted together with blood, still adhered. There was an expression of
fierce triumph on the countenance of the savage as he surveyed the
trophy with a grim smile. A murmur of indignation burst from all
"Why did you bring that wretch here?" demanded Mr. Fletcher of his
servant, in an angry tone.
"I did but obey Mr. Pynchon, sir. The thing is an abomination to
the soul and eye of a christian, but it has to be taken to Boston for
"What reward, Digby?"
"The reward, sir, that is in reason expected for the scalp of the
As Digby uttered these last words Magawisca shrieked as if a dagger
had pierced her heart. She darted forward and grasped the arm that
upheld the trophy. "My father!—Mononotto!" she screamed in a voice of
"Give it to her—by Heaven, you shall give it to her," cried
Everell, springing on the Indian and losing all other thought in his
instinctive sympathy for Magawisca.
"Softly, softly, Mr. Everell," said Digby, "thatis the scalp of
Sassacus, not Mononotto. The Pequods had two chiefs you know."
Magawisca now released her hold; and as soon as she could again
command her voice, she said, in her own language to the Indian, "my
father— my father—does he live?"
"He does," answered the Indian in the same dialect; "he lives in
the wigwam of the chief of the Mohawks."
Magawisca was silent for a moment, and knit her brows as if
agitated with an important deliberation. She then undid a bracelet from
her arm and gave it to the Indian: "I charge ye," she said, "as ye hope
for game in your hunting-grounds, for the sun on your wigwam, and the
presence of the Great Spirit in your death-hour— I charge ye to convey
this token to my father. Tell him his children are servants in the
house of his enemies; but," she added, after a moment's pause, "to whom
am I trusting?—to the murderer of Sassacus!—my father's friend!"
"Fear not," replied the Indian; "your errand shall be done.
Sassacus was a strange tree in our forests; but he struck his root
deep, and lifted his tall head above our loftiest branches, and cast
his shadow over us; and I cut him down. I may not return to my people,
for they called Sassacus brother, and they would fain avenge him. But
fear not, maiden, your errand shall be done."
Mr. Fletcher observed this conference, which he could not
understand, with some anxiety anddispleasure, and he broke it off by
directing Jennet to conduct Magawisca to another apartment.
Jennet obeyed, muttering, as she went, "a notable providence this
concerning the Pequod caitiff. Even like Adonibezek, as he has done to
others the Lord hath requited him."
Mr. Fletcher then most reluctantly took into his possession the
savage trophy, and dismissed the Indian, deeply lamenting that motives
of mistaken policy should tempt his brethren to depart from the
plainest principles of their religion.
"But ah, who can deceive his destiny,
Or ween, by Warning, to avoid his Fate?"
— Fairy Queen
On the following morning Mr. Fletcher set out for Boston, and
escaping all perils by flood and field, he arrived there at the
expiration of nine days, having accomplished the journey, now the
affair of a single day, with unusual expedition.
His wards were accompanied by two individuals who were now, with
them, to become permanent members of his family. Mrs. Grafton, the
sister of their father, and one Master Cradock, a scholar "skilled in
the tongues," who attended them as their tutor. Mrs. Grafton was a
widow, far on the shady side of fifty; though, as that was a subject to
which she never alluded, she probably regarded age with the feelings
ascribed to her sex, that being the last quality for which womankind
would wish to be honoured, as is said by one whose satire is so
good-humoured that even its truth may be endured. She was, unhappily
for herself as her lot was cast, a zealous adherent to the church of
England. Good people, who take upon themselves the supervisorship of
their neighbours' consciences, abounded in thatage; and from them Mrs.
Grafton received frequent exhortations and remonstrances. To these she
uniformly replied, 'that a faith and mode of religion that had saved so
many was good enough to save her'—'that she had received her belief,
just as it was, from her father, and that he, not she, was responsible
for it.' Offensive such opinions must needs be in a community of
professed reformers, but the good lady did not make them more so by the
obtrusiveness of over-wrought zeal. To confess the truth, her mind was
far more intent on the forms of head-pieces, than modes of faith; and
she was far more ambitious of being the leader of fashion, than the
leader of a sect. She would have contended more earnestly for a
favourite recipe, than a favourite dogma; and though she undoubtedly
believed "a saint in crape" to be "twice a saint in lawn," and
fearlessly maintained that "no man could suitably administer the
offices of religion without 'gown, surplice, and wig,' " yet she
chiefly directed her hostilities against the puritanical attire of the
ladies of the colony, who, she insisted, 'did most unnaturally belie
their nature as women, and their birth and bringing-up as gentlewomen,
by their ill-fashioned, ill-sorted, and unbecoming apparel.' To this
heresy she was fast gaining proselytes; for, if we may believe the
"simple cobbler of Agawam," there were, even in those early and pure
day, "nugiperous gentle dames who inquired what dress the Queen is in
this week." The contagion spread rapidly; and when some of the most
vigilant and zealous sentinels proposed that the preachers should make
it the subject of public and personal reproof, it was whispered that
the scandal was not limited to idle maidens, but that certain of the
deacons' wives were in it, and it was deemed more prudent to adopt
gentle and private measures to eradicate the evil; an evil so deeply
felt as to be bewailed by the merciless 'cobbler,' above quoted, in the
following affecting terms: "Methinks it would break the hearts of
Englishmen to see so many goodly English women imprisoned in French
cages, peeping out of their hood-holes for some men of mercy to help
them with a little wit, and nobody relieves them. We have about five or
six of them in our colony. If I see any of them accidentally, I cannot
cleanse my phansie of them for a month after."
It would seem marvellous that a woman like Mrs. Grafton, apparently
engrossed with the world, living on the foam and froth of life, should
become a voluntary exile to the colonies; but, to do her justice, she
was kind-hearted and affectionate— susceptible of strong and
controlling attachment, and the infant children of a brother on whom
she had doated, outweighed her love of frivolous pleasures and personal
She certainly believed that the resolution of her sister to go to
the wilderness, had no parallel in the history of human folly and
madness; but theresolution once taken, and, as she perceived,
unconquerable, she made her own destiny conformable, not without some
restiveness, but without serious repining. It was an unexpected shock
to her to be compelled to leave Boston for a condition of life not only
more rude and inconvenient, but really dangerous. Necessity, however,
is more potent than philosophy, and Mrs. Grafton, like most people,
submitted with patience to an inevitable evil.
As 'good Master Cradock' was a man rather acted upon than acting,
we shall leave him to be discovered by our readers as the light of
others falls on him.
Mr. Fletcher received the children—the relicts and gifts of a
woman whom he had loved as few men can love, with an intense interest.
The youngest, Mary, was a pretty petted child, wayward and bashful. She
repelled Mr. Fletcher's caresses, and ran away from him to shelter
herself in her aunt's arms—but Alice, the eldest, seemed instinctively
to return the love that beamed in the first glance that Mr. Fletcher
cast on her—in that brief eager glance he saw the living and beautiful
image of her mother. So much was he impressed with the resemblance,
that he said, in a letter to his wife, that it reminded him of the
heathen doctrine of metemsychosis—and he could almost believe the
spirit of the mother was transferred to the bosom of the child. The
arrangement Mr. Fletcher made, for the transportation ofhis charge to
Springfield, might probably be traced to the preference inspired by
He dispatched the little Mary with her aunt and the brother of
Magawisca, the Indian boy Oneco, and such attendants as were necessary
for their safe conduct—and he retained Alice and the tutor to be the
companions of his journey. Before the children were separated, they
were baptised by the Reverend Mr. Cotton, and in commemoration of the
christian graces of their mother, their names were changed to the
puritanical appellations of Hope and Faith.
Mr. Fletcher was detained, at first by business, and afterwards by
ill-health, much longer than he had expected, and the fall, winter, and
earliest months of spring wore away before he was able to set his face
homeward. In the mean time, his little community at Bethel proceeded
more harmoniously than could have been hoped from the discordant
materials of which it was composed. This was owing, in great part, to
the wise and gentle Mrs. Fletcher, the sun of her little system —all
were obedient to the silent influence that controlled, without being
perceived. But a letter which she wrote to Mr. Fletcher, just before
his return, containing some important domestic details, may be deemed
worth the perusal of our readers.
"Springfield, 1636. "To my good and honoured husband!
"Thy kind letter was duly received fourteen days after date, and
was most welcome to me, containing, as it does, a portion of that
stream of kindness that is ever flowing out from thy bountiful nature
towards me. Sweet and refreshing was it, as these gentle days of spring
after our sullen winter. Winter! ever disconsolate in these parts, but
made tenfold more dreary by the absence of that precious light by which
I have ever been cheered and guided.
"I thank thee heartily, my dear life, that thou dost so warmly
commend my poor endeavours to do well in thy absence. I have truly
tried to be faithful to my little nestlings, and to cheer them with
notes of gladness when I have drooped inwardly for the voice of my
mate. Yet my anxious thoughts have been more with thee than with
myself; nor have I been unmindful of any of thy perplexities by
sickness and otherwise, but in all thy troubles I have been troubled,
and have ever prayed, that whatever might betide me, thou mightest
return, in safety, to thy desiring family.
"I have had many difficulties to contend with in thy absence, of
which I have forborne to inform thee, deeming it the duty of a wife
never to disquiet her husband with her household cares; but now that,
with the Lord's permission, thou art so soon to be with us, I would
fain render unto thee an account of my stewardship, knowing that thou
art not an hard master, and wilt consider the will and not the weakness
of thy loving wife.
"This Dame Grafton is strangely out of place here—fitter for a
parlour bird, than a flight into the wilderness; and but that she
cometh commended to us as a widow, a name that is a draft from the Lord
upon every Christian heart, we might find it hard to brook her light
and wordly ways. She raileth, and yet I think not with an evil mind,
but rather ignorantly, at our most precious faith, and hath even
ventured to read aloud from her book of Common Prayer—an offence that
she hath been prevented from repeating by the somewhat profane jest of
our son Everell; whose love of mischief, proceeding from the gay temper
of youth, I trust you will overlook. It was a few nights ago, when a
storm was raging, that the poor lady's fears were greatly excited. My
womanish apprehensions had a hard struggle with my duty, so terrific
was the hideous howling of the wolves, mingling with the blasts that
swept through the forest; but I stilled my beating heart with the
thought, that my children leant on me, and I must not betray my
weakness. But Dame Grafton was beside herself. At one moment she
fancied we should be the prey of the wild beast, and at the next, that
she heard the alarm yell of the savages. Everell brought her, her
prayer-book, and affecting a well-beseeming gravity, he begged her to
look out the prayer for distressedwomen, in imminent danger of being
scalped by North American Indians. The poor lady, distracted with
terror, seized the book, and turned over leaf after leaf, Everell
meanwhile affecting to aid her search. In vain I shook my head,
reprovingly, at the boy—in vain I assured Mistress Grafton that I
trusted we were in no danger; she was beyond the influence of reason;
nothing allayed her fears, till chancing to catch a glance of Everell's
eye, she detected the lurking laughter, and rapping him soundly over
the ears with her book, she left the room greatly enraged. I grieve to
add, that Everell evinced small sorrow for his levity, though I
admonished him thereupon. At the same time I thought it a fit occasion
to commend the sagacity whereby he had detected the short-comings of
written prayers, and to express my hope, that unpromising as his
beginnings are, he may prove a son of Jacob that shall wrestle and
"I have something farther to say of Everell, who is, in the main, a
most devoted son, and as I believe, an apt scholar; as his master
telleth me that he readeth Latin like his mother tongue, and is well
grounded in the Greek. The boy doth greatly affect the company of the
Pequod girl, Magawisca. If, in his studies, he meets with any trait of
heroism, (and with such, truly, her mind doth seem naturally to
assimilate) he straightway calleth for her and rendereth it into
English, in which she hath made such marvellous progress, that I am
sometimes startled with the beautifulforms in which she clothes her
simple thoughts. She, in her turn, doth take much delight in describing
to him the customs of her people, and relating their traditionary
tales, which are like pictures, captivating to a youthful imagination.
He hath taught her to read, and reads to her Spenser's rhymes, and many
other books of the like kind; of which, I am sorry to say, Dame Grafton
hath brought hither stores. I have not forbidden him to read them, well
knowing that the appetite of youth is often whetted by denial; and
fearing that the boy might be tempted, secretly, to evade my authority;
and I would rather expose him to all the mischief of this unprofitable
lore, than to tempt him to a deceit that might corrupt the sweet
fountain of truth—the well-spring of all that is good and noble.
"I have gone far from my subject. When my boy comes before my
mind's eye, I can see no other object. But to return. I have not been
unmindful of my duty to the Indian girl, but have endeavoured to instil
into her mind the first principles of our religion, as contained in Mr.
Cotton's Catechism, and elsewhere. But, alas! to these her eye is shut
and her ear is closed, not only with that blindness and deafness common
to the natural man, but she entertaineth an aversion, which has the
fixedness of principle, and doth continually remind me of Hannibal's
hatred to Rome, and is like that inwrought with her filial piety. I
have, in vain, attempted to subdue her to thedrudgery of domestic
service, and make her take part with Jennet; but as hopefully might you
yoke a deer with an ox. It is not that she lacks obedience to me—so
far as it seems she can command her duty, she is ever complying; but it
appeareth impossible to her to clip the wings of her soaring thoughts,
and keep them down to household matters.
"I have, sometimes, marvelled at the providence of God, in
bestowing on this child of the forest, such rare gifts of mind, and
other and outward beauties. Her voice hath a natural deep and most
sweet melody in it, far beyond any stringed instrument. She hath too,
(think not that I, like Everell, am, as Jennet saith, a charmed bird to
her) she hath, though yet a child in years, that in her mien that doth
bring to mind the lofty Judith, and the gracious Esther. When I once
said this to Everell, he replied, "Oh, mother! is she not more like the
gentle and tender Ruth?" To him she may be, and therefore it is, that
innocent and safe as the intercourse of these children now is, it is
for thee to decide whether it be not most wise to remove the maiden
from our dwelling. Two young plants that have sprung up in close
neighbourhood, may be separated while young; but if disjoined after
their fibres are all intertwined, one, or perchance both, may perish.
"Think not that this anxiety springs from the mistaken fancy of a
woman, that love is the natural channel for all the purposes, and
thoughts,and hopes, and feelings of human life. Neither think, I
beseech thee, that doating with a foolish fondness upon my noble boy, I
magnify into importance whatsoever concerneth him. No—my heart
yearneth towards this poor heathen orphan-girl; and when I see her, in
his absence, starting at every sound, and her restless eye turning an
asking glance at every opening of the door; every movement betokening a
disquieted spirit, and then the sweet contentment that stealeth over
her face when he appeareth;—oh, my honoured husband! all my woman's
nature feeleth for her— not for any present evil, but for what may
"Having commended this subject to thy better wisdom, I will leave
caring for it to speak to thee of others of thy household. Your three
little girls are thriving mightily, and as to the baby, you will not be
ashamed to own him; though you will not recognise, in the bouncing boy
that plays bo-peep and creeps quite over the room, the little creature
who had scarcely opened his eyes on the world, when you went away. He
is by far the largest child I ever had, and the most knowing; he has
cut his front upper teeth, and sheweth signs of two more. He is
surprisingly fond of Oneco, and clappeth his hands with joy whenever he
sees him. Indeed, the boy is a favourite with all the young ones, and
greatly aideth me by continually pleasuring them. He is far different
from his sister—gay and volatile, giving scarcely one thought to the
past, and not one care to the future. Hissister often taketh him apart
to discourse with him, and sometimes doth produce a cast of seriousness
over his countenance, but at the next presented object, it vanisheth as
speedily as a shadow before a sunbeam. He hath commended himself
greatly to the favour of Dame Grafton, by his devotion to her little
favourite: a spoiled child is she, and it seemeth a pity that the name
of Faith was given to her, since her shrinking timid character doth not
promise, in any manner, to resemble that most potent of the christian
graces. Oneco hath always some charm to lure her waywardness. He
bringeth home the treasures of the woods to please her—berries, and
wild flowers, and the beautiful plumage of birds that are brought down
by his unerring aim. Everell hath much advantage from the wood-craft of
Oneco: the two boys daily enrich our table, which, in truth, hath need
of such helps, with the spoils of the air and water.
"I am grieved to tell thee that some misrule hath crept in among
thy servants in thy absence. Alas, what are sheep without their
shepherd! Digby is, as ever, faithful—not serving with eye-service;
but Hutton hath consorted much with some evildoers, who have been
violating the law of God and the law of our land, by meeting together
in merry companies, playing cards, dancing, and the like. For these
offences, they were brought before Mr. Pynchon, and sentenced to
receive, each, "twenty stripes well laid on." Hutton furthermore,
having been overtaken with drink, was condemnedto wear suspended around
his neck for one month, a bit of wood on which Toper is legibly
written:—and Darby, who is ever a dawdler, having gone, last Saturday,
with the cart to the village, dilly-dallied about there, and did not
set out on his return till the sun was quite down, both to the eye and
by the kalender. Accordingly, early on the following Monday, he was
summoned before Mr. Pynchon, and ordered to receive ten stripes, but by
reason of his youth and my intercession, which, being by a private
letter, doubtless had some effect, the punishment was remitted;
whereupon he heartily promised amendment and a better carriage.
"There hath been some alarm here within the last few days, on
account of certain Indians who have been seen lurking in the woods
around us. They are reported not to have a friendly appearance. We have
been advised to remove, for the present, to the Fort; but as I feel no
apprehension, I shall not disarrange my family by taking a step that
would savour more of fear than prudence. I say I feel no
apprehension—yet I must confess it—I have a cowardly womanish spirit,
and fear is set in motion by the very mention of danger. There are
vague forebodings hanging about me, and I cannot drive them away even
by the thought that your presence, my honoured husband, will soon
relieve me from all agitating apprehensions, and repair all the faults
of my poorjudgment. Fearful thoughts press on me—untoward accidents
have prolonged thy absence—our re-union may yet be far distant, and if
it should never chance in this world, oh remember that if I have fallen
far short in duty, the measure of my love hath been full. I have ever
known that mine was Leah's portion—that I was not the chosen and the
loved one; and this has sometimes made me fearful—often joyless—but
remember, it is only the perfect love of the husband that casteth out
the fear of the wife.
"I have one request to prefer to thee which I have lacked courage
to make by word of mouth, and therefore now commend it by letter to thy
kindness. Be gracious unto me, my dear husband, and deem not that I
overstep the modest bound of a woman's right in meddling with that
which is thy prerogative—the ordering of our eldest son's education.
Everell here hath few except spiritual privileges. God, who seeth my
heart, knoweth I do not undervalue these—the manna of the wilderness.
Yet to them might be added worldly helps, to aid the growth of the
boy's noble gifts, a kind Providence having opened a wide door therefor
in the generous offer of my brother Stretton. True, he hath not
attained to our light whereby manifold errors of church and state are
made visible; yet he hath ever borne himself uprightly, and to us, most
lovingly, and as I remember there was a good Samaritan, and a faithful
centurion, I think we are permitted to enlarge the bounds of our
charity to those who work righteousness, albeit not of our communion."
"Thou hast already sown the good seed in our boy's heart, and it
hath been (I say it not presumingly) nurtured with a mother's tears and
prayers. Trust then to the promised blessing, and fear not to permit
him to pass a few years in England, whence he will return to be a crown
of glory to thee, my husband, and a blessing and honour to our chosen
country. Importunity, I know, is not beseeming in a wife—it is the
instrument of weakness, whereby, like the mouse in the fable, she would
gnaw away what she cannot break. I will not, therefore, urge thee
farther, but leave the decision to thy wisdom and thy love. And now, my
dear husband, I kiss and embrace thee, and may God company with thee,
and restore thee, if it be his good pleasure, to thy ever faithful and
loving and obedient wife,
"To her honoured husband these be delivered."
The above letter may indicate, but it feebly expresses, the
character and state of mind of the writer. She never magnified her love
by words, but expressed it by that self-devoting, self-sacrificing
conduct to her husband and children, which characterizes, in all ages
and circumstances, faithful and devoted woman. She was too generous to
communicate all her fears, (about which a woman is usually least
reserved) to her husband.
Some occurrences of the preceding day had given her just cause of
alarm. At a short distance from Bethel, (the name that Mr. Fletcher had
given his residence) there lived an old Indian woman, one of the few
survivors of a tribe who had been faithful allies of the Pequods. After
the destruction of her people, she had strayed up the banks of the
Connecticut, and remained in Springfield. She was in the habit of
supplying Mrs. Fletcher with wild berries and herbs, and receiving
favours in return, and on that day went thither, as it appeared, on her
customary errand. —She had made her usual barter, and had drawn her
blanket around her as if to depart, but still she lingered standing
before Mrs. Fletcher and looking fixedly at her. Mrs. Fletcher did not
at first observe her; her head was bent over her infant sleeping on her
lap, in the attitude of listening to its soft breathing. As she perused
its innocent face a mother's beautiful visions floated before her; but,
as she raised her eye and met the piercing glance of the old woman, a
dark cloud came over the clear heaven of her thoughts. Nelema's brow
was contracted, her lips drawn in, and her little sunken eye gleamed
like a diamond from its dark recess.
"Why do you look at my baby thus?" asked Mrs. Fletcher.
The old woman replied in her own dialect, in a hurried inarticulate
manner. "What says she, Magawisca?" asked Mrs. Fletcher of the Indian
girl who stood beside her, and seemed to listen with unwonted interest.
"She says, madam, the baby is like a flower just opened to the sun,
with no stain upon it— that he better pass now to the Great Spirit.
She says this world is all a rough place—all sharp stones, and deep
waters, and black clouds."
"Oh, she is old, Magawisca, and the days have come to her that have
no pleasure in them. Look there," she said, "Nelema, at my son
Everell;' the boy was at the moment passing the window, flushed with
exercise and triumphantly displaying a string of game that he had just
brought from the forest—"Is there not sunshine in my boy's face! To
him every day is bright, and every path is smooth."
"Ah!" replied the old woman with a heavy groan, "I had sons
too—and grandsons; but where are they? They trod the earth as lightly
as that boy; but they have fallen like our forest trees, before the
stroke of the English axe. Of all my race, there is not one, now, in
whose veins my blood runs. Sometimes, when the spirits of the storm are
howling about my wigwam, I hear the voices of my children crying for
vengeance, and then I could myself deal the death-blow." Nelema spoke
with vehemence and wildgesture; and her language, though interpreted by
Magawisca's soft voice, had little tendency to allay the feeling her
manner inspired. Mrs. Fletcher recoiled from her, and instinctively
drew her baby closer to her breast.
"Nay," said the old woman, "fear me not, I have had kindness from
thee, thy blankets have warmed me, I have been fed from thy table, and
drank of thy cup, and what is this arm," and she threw back her blanket
and stretched out her naked, shrivelled, trembling arm, "what is this
to do the work of vengeance?"
She paused for an instant, glanced her eye wildly around the room,
and then again fixed it on Mrs. Fletcher and her infant. "They spared
not our homes," she said; "there where our old men spoke, where was
heard the song of the maiden, and the laugh of our children; there now
all is silence, dust, and ashes. I can neither harm thee, nor help
thee. When the stream of vengeance rolls over the land, the tender
shoot must be broken, and the goodly tree uprooted, that gave its
pleasant shade and fruits to all."
"It is a shame and a sin," said Jennet who entered the room just as
Magawisca was conveyveying Nelema's speech to Mrs. Fletcher; "a crying
shame, for this heathen hag to be pouring forth here as if she were
gifted like the prophets of old; she that can only see into the future
by reading the devil's book, and if that be the case, as more than one
has mistrusted, it were best, forthwith, to deliver her to the judges
and cast her into prison."
"Peace, Jennet," said Mrs. Fletcher, alarmed lest Nelema should
hear her, and her feelings, which were then at an exalted pitch, should
be wrought to frenzy; but her apprehensions were groundless; the old
woman saw nothing but the visions of her imagination; heard nothing but
the fancied voices of the spiritis of her race. She continued for a few
moments to utter her thoughts in low inarticulate murmurs, and then,
without again addressing Mrs. Fletcher, or raising her eyes, she left
A few moments after her departure, Mrs. Fletcher perceived that she
had dropped at her feet a little roll, which she found on examination,
to be an arrow, and the rattle of a rattle-snake enveloped in a skin of
the same reptile. She knew it was the custom of the savages to express
much meaning by these symbols, and she turned to demand an explanation
of Magawisca, who was deeply skilled in all the ways of her people.
Magawisca had disappeared, and Jennet, who had ever looked on the
poor girl with a jealous and an evil eye, took this occasion to give
vent to her feelings. "It is a pity," she said, "the child is out of
the way the first time she was like to do a service; she may be skilled
in snake's rattles, and bloody arrows, for I make no doubt she is as
used to them, as I am to my broom and scrubbing-cloth."
"Will you call Magawisca to me," said Mrs. Fletcher, in a voice
that from her would have been a silencing reproof to a more sensitive
ear than Jennet's; but she, no ways daunted, replied, "Ah! that will I,
madam, if I can find her; but where to look for her no mere mortal can
tell; for she does not stay longer on a perch than a butterfly, unless
indeed, it be when she is working on Mr. Everell's moccasins, or
filling his ears with wild fables about those rampaging Indians. Ah,
there she is!" she exclaimed, looking through the window, "talking with
Nelema, just a little way in the wood—there, I see their heads above
those scrub—oaks—see their wild motions—see Magawisca starts
homeward—now the old woman pulls her back—now she seems entreating
Nelema—the old hag shakes her head—Magawisca covers her eyes—what
can all this mean? no good, I am sure. The girl is ever going to
Nelema's hut, and of moonlight nights too, when they say witches work
their will—birds of a feather flock together. Well, I know one thing,
that if Master Everell was mine, I would sooner, in faith, cast him
into the lion's den, or the fiery furnace, than leave him to this
crafty offspring of a race that are the children and heirs of the evil
"Jennet," said Mrs. Fletcher, "thy tongue far outruns thy
discretion. Restrain thy foolish thoughts, and bid Magawisca come to
Jennet sullenly obeyed, and soon after Magawisca entered. Mrs.
Fletcher was struck withher changed aspect. She turned away, as one
conscious of possessing a secret, and fearful that the eye, the herald
of the soul, will speak unbidden. Her air was troubled and anxious, and
instead of her usual light and lofty step, she moved timidly and
"Come to me, Magawisca," said Mrs. Fletcher, "and deal truly by me,
as I have ever dealt by thee."
She obeyed, and as she stood by Mrs. Fletcher the poor girl's tears
dropped on her benefactor's lap. "Thou hast been more than true," she
said, "thou hast been kind to me as the mother-bird that shelters the
wanderer in her nest."
"Then, Magawisca, if it concerneth me to know it, thou wilt explain
the meaning of this roll which Nelema dropped at my feet."
The girl started and became very pale—to an observing eye, the
changes of the olive skin are as apparent as those of a fairer
complexion. She took the roll from Mrs. Fletcher and shut her eyes
fast. Her bosom heaved convulsively; but after a short struggle with
conflicting feelings, she said, deliberately, in a low voice—"That
which I may speak without bringing down on me the curse of my father's
race, I will speak. This," she added, unfolding the snake's skin, "this
betokeneth the unseen and silent approach of an enemy. This, you know,"
and she held up the rattle, "is the warning voice that speaketh of
danger near. And this," she concluded, taking the arrowin her trembling
hand, "this is the symbol of death."
"And why, Magawisca, are these fearful tokens given to me? Dost
thou know, girl, aught of a threatening enemy—of an ambushed foe?"
"I have said all that I may say," she replied.
Mrs. Fletcher questioned further, but could obtain no satisfaction.
Magawisca's lips were sealed; and it was certain that if her resolution
did not yield to the entreaties of her own heart, it would resist every
Mrs. Fletcher summoned Everell, and bade him urge Magawisca to
disclose whatever Nelema had communicated. He did so, but sportively,
for, he said, "the old woman was cracked, and Magawisca's head was
turned. If there were indeed danger," he continued, "and Magawisca was
apprised of it, think you, mother, she would permit us to remain in
ignorance?" He turned an appealing glance to Magawisca, but her face
was averted. Without suspecting this was intentional, he continued,
"you ought to do penance, Magawisca, for the alarm you have given
mother. You and I will act as her patrole to-night."
Magawisca assented, and appeared relieved by the proposition,
though her gloom was not lightened by Everell's gaiety. Mrs. Fletcher
did not, of course, acquiesce in this arrangement, but she deemed it
prudent to communicate her apprehensions to her trusty Digby. After a
short consultation, it was agreed that Digby should remain onguard
during the night, and that the two other men-servants should have their
muskets in order, and be ready at a moment's warning. Such precautions
were not infrequent, and caused no unusual excitement in the household.
Mrs. Fletcher had it, as she expressed herself, 'borne in upon her
mind, after the evening exercise, to make some remarks upon the
uncertainty of life.' She then dismissed the family to their several
apartments, and herself retired to indite the epistle given above.
Everell observed Magawisca closely through the evening, and he was
convinced, from the abstraction of her manner and from the efforts she
made, (which were now apparent to him) to maintain a calm demeanor,
that there was more ground for his mother's apprehensions than he, at
first, supposed. He determined to be the companion of Digby's watch,
and standing high in that good fellow's confidence, he made a private
arrangement with him, which he easily effected without his mother's
knowledge, for his youthful zeal did not render him regardless of the
impropriety of heightening her fears.
"It would have been happy if they had converted some before they
had killed any."
The house at Bethel had, both in front and in rear, a portico, or,
as it was more humbly, and therefore more appropriately named, a shed;
that in the rear, was a sort of adjunct to the kitchen, and one end of
it was enclosed for the purpose of a bed-room, and occupied by
Magawisca. Everell found Digby sitting at the other extremity of this
portico; his position was prudently chosen. The moon was high, and the
heavens clear, and there concealed and sheltered by the shadow of the
roof, he could, without being seen, command the whole extent of cleared
ground that bordered on the forest, whence the foe would come, if he
came at all.
Everell, like a good knight, had carefully inspected his arms and
just taken his position beside Digby, when they heard Magawisca's
window cautiously opened, and saw her spring through it. Everell would
have spoken to her, but Digby made a signal of silence, and she,
without observing them, hastened with a quick and light step towards
the wood, and entered it, taking the path that led to Nelema's hut.
"Confound her!" exclaimed Digby; "she is in a plot with the old
"No—no. On my life she is not, Digby."
"Some mischief—some mischief," said Digby, shaking his head. "They
are a treacherous race. Let's follow her. No, we had best keep clear of
the wood. Do you call after her; she will hearken to you."
Everell hesitated. "Speak quickly, Mr. Everell," urged Digby; "she
will be beyond the reach of your voice. It is no light matter that
could take her to Nelema's hut at this time of the night."
"She has good reason for going, Digby. I am sure of it; and I will
not call her back."
"Reason," muttered Digby; "reason is but a jack-o'-lantern light in
most people's minds. You trust her too far, Mr. Everell; but there, she
is returning! See how she looks all around her, like a frightened bird
that hears an enemy in every rustling leaf. Stand close—observe
her—see, she lays her ear to the earth—it is their crafty way of
listening—there, she is gone again!" he exclaimed, as Magawisca darted
away into the wood. "It is past doubt she holds communication with some
one. God send us a safe deliverance. I had rather meet a legion of
Frenchmen than a company of these savages. They are a kind of beast we
don't comprehend—out of the range of God's creatures—neither angel,
man, nor yet quite devil. I would have sent to the fort for a guard
to-night,but I liked not being driven hither and yon by that old hag's
tokens; nor yet quite to take counsel from your good mother's fears,
she being but a woman."
"I think you have caught the fear, Digby, without taking it's
counsel," said Everell, "which does little credit to your wisdom; the
only use of fear, being to provide against danger."
"That is true, Mr. Everell; but don't think I am afraid. It is one
thing to know what danger is, and wish to shun it; and another thing to
feel like you, fear-nought lads, that have never felt a twinge of pain,
and have scarce a sense of your own mortality. You would be the boldest
at an attack, Mr. Everell, and I should stand a siege best. A boy's
courage is a keen weapon that wants temper."
"Apt to break at the first stroke from the enemy, you mean, Digby?"
Digby nodded assent. "Well, I should like, at any rate, to prove it,"
"Time enough this half-dozen years yet, my young master. I should
be loath to see that fair skin of thine stained with blood; and,
besides, you have yet to get a little more worldly prudence than to
trust a young Indian girl, just because she takes your fancy."
"And why does she take my fancy, Digby? because she is true and
noble-minded. I am certain, that if she knows of any danger approaching
us, she is seeking to avert it."
"I don't know that, Mr. Everell; she'll be first true to her own
people. The old proverb holds fast with these savages, as well as with
the rest of the world—'hawks won't pick out hawks' eyes.' Like to
like, throughout all nature. I grant you, she hath truly a fair
"And all that's foul is our own suspicion, is it not, Digby?"
"Not exactly; there's plainly some mystery between Magawisca and
the old woman, and we know these Pequods were famed above all the
Indian tribes for their cunning."
"And what is superior cunning among savages but superior sense?"
"You may out-talk me, Mr. Everell," replied Digby, with the
impatience that a man feels when he is sure he is right, without being
able to make it appear. "You may out-talk me, but you will never
convince me. Was not I in the Pequod war? I ought to know, I think."
"Yes, and I think you have told me they shewed more resolution than
cunning there; in particular, that the brother of Magawisca, whom she
so piteously bemoans to this day, fought like a young lion."
"Yes, he did, poor dog!—and he was afterwards cruelly cut off; and
it is this that makes me think they will take some terrible revenge for
his death. I often hear Magawisca talking to Oneco of her brother, and
I think it is to stir hisspirit; but this boy is no more like to him
than a spaniel to a bloodhound."
Nothing Digby said had any tendency to weaken Everell's confidence
The subject of the Pequod war once started, Digby and Everell were
in no danger of sleeping at their post. Digby loved, as well as another
man, and particularly those who have had brief military experience, to
fight his battles o'er again; and Everell was at an age to listen with
delight to tales of adventure, and danger. They thus wore away the time
till the imaginations of both relater and listener were at that pitch,
when every shadow is embodied, and every passing sound bears a voice to
the quickened sense. "Hark!" said Digby, "did you not hear footsteps?"
"I hear them now," replied Everell; "they seem not very near. Is it
not Magawisca returning?"
"No; there is more than one; and it is the heavy, though cautious,
tread of men. Ha! Argus scents them." The old house-dog now sprang from
his rest on a mat at the door-stone, and gave one of those loud
inquiring barks, by which this animal first hails the approach of a
strange footstep. "Hush, Argus, hush," cried Everell; and the old dog,
having obeyed his instinct, seemed satisfied to submit to his master's
voice, and crept lazily back to his place of repose.
"You have hushed Argus, and the footsteps too," said Digby; but it
is well, perhaps, if therereally is an enemy near, that he should know
we are on guard."
"If there really is, Digby!" said Everell, who, terrific as the
apprehended danger was, felt the irrepressible thirst of youth for
adventure; "do you think we could both have been deceived?"
"Nothing easier, Mr. Everell, than to deceive senses on the watch
for alarm. We heard something, but it might have been the wolves that
even now prowl about the very clearing here at night. Ha!" he
exclaimed, "there they are"—and starting forward he levelled his
musket towards the wood.
"You are mad," said Everell, striking down Digby's musket with the
butt end of his own. "It is Magawisca." Magawisca at that moment
emerged from the wood.
Digby appeared confounded. "Could I have been so deceived?" he
said; "could it have been her shadow—I thought I saw an Indian beyond
that birch tree; you see the white bark? well, just beyond in the
shade. It could not have been Magawisca, nor her shadow, for you see
there are trees between the foot-path and that place; and yet, how
should he have vanished without motion or sound?"
"Our senses deceive us, Digby," said Everell, reciprocating Digby's
"In this tormenting moonlight they do; but my senses have been well
schooled in their time, and should have learned to know a man from a
woman, and a shadow from a substance."
Digby had not a very strong conviction of the actual presence of an
enemy, as was evident from his giving no alarm to his auxiliaries in
the house; and he believed that if there were hostile Indians prowling
about them, they were few in number, and fearful; still he deemed it
prudent to persevere in their precautionary measures. "I will remain
here," he said, "Mr. Everell, and do you follow Magawisca; sift what
you can from her. Depend on't, there's something wrong. Why should she
have turned away on seeing us? and did you not observe her hide
something beneath her mantle?"
Everell acceded to Digby's proposition; not with the expectation of
confirming his suspicions, but in the hope that Magawisca would shew
they were groundless. He followed her to the front of the house, to
which she seemed involuntarily to have bent her steps on perceiving
"You have taken the most difficult part of our duty on yourself,
Magawisca," he said, on coming up to her. "You have acted as vidette,
while I have been quiet at my post."
Perhaps Magawisca did not understand him, at any rate she made no
"Have you met an enemy in your reconnoitring? Digby and I fancied
that we both heard and saw the foe."
"When and where?" exclaimed Magawisca, in a hurried, alarmed tone.
"Not many minutes since, and just at the very edge of the wood."
"What! when Digby raised his gun? I thought that had been in sport
to startle me."
"No—Magawisca. Sporting does not suit our present case. My mother
and her little ones are in peril, and Digby is a faithful servant."
"Faithful!" echoed Magawisca, as if there were more in Everell's
expression than met the ear; "he surely may walk straight who hath
nothing to draw him aside. Digby hath but one path, and that is plain
before him—but one voice from his heart, and why should he not obey
it?" The girl's voice faltered as she spoke, and as she concluded she
burst into tears. Everell had never before witnessed this expression of
feeling from her. She had an habitual self-command that hid the motions
of her heart from common observers, and veiled them even from those who
most narrowly watched her. Everell's confidence in Magawisca had not
been in the least degree weakened by all the appearances against her.
He did not mean to imply suspicion by his commendation of Digby, but
merely to throw out a leading observation which she might follow if she
He felt reproached and touched by her distress, but struck by the
clew, which, as he thought, her language afforded to the mystery of her
conduct, and confident that she would in no way aid or abet any
mischief that her own people might be contriving against them, he
followed the natural bent of his generous temper, and assured heragain,
and again, of his entire trust in her. This seemed rather to aggravate
than abate her distress. She threw herself on the ground, drew her
mantle over her face, and wept convulsively. He found he could not
allay the storm he had raised, and he seated himself beside her. After
a little while, either exhausted by the violence of her emotion, or
comforted by Everell's silent sympathy, she became composed; and raised
her face from her mantle, and as she did so, something fell from
beneath its folds. She hastily recovered and replaced it, but not till
Everell had perceived it was an eagle's feather. He knew this was the
badge of her tribe, and he had heard her say, that "a tuft from the
wing of the monarch-bird was her father's crest." A suspicion flashed
through his mind, and was conveyed to Magawisca's, by one bright glance
of inquiry. She said nothing, but her responding look was rather
sorrowful than confused, and Everell, anxious to believe what he wished
to be true, came, after a little consideration, to the conclusion, that
the feather had been dropped in her path by a passing bird. He did not
scrutinise her motive in concealing it; he could not think her capable
of evil, and anxious to efface from her mind the distrust his
countenance might have expressed— "This beautiful moon and her train
of stars," he said, "look as if they were keeping their watch over our
dwelling. There are those, Magawisca, who believe the stars have a
mysterious influenceon human destiny. I know nothing of the grounds of
their faith, and my imagination is none of the brightest, but I can
almost fancy they are stationed there as guardian angels, and I feel
quite sure that nothing evil could walk abroad in their light."
"They do look peaceful," she replied mournfully; "but ah! Everell,
man is ever breaking the peace of nature. It was such a night as this
—so bright and still, when your English came upon our quiet homes."
"You have never spoken to me of that night Magawisca."
"No—Everell, for our hands have taken hold of the chain of
friendship, and I feared to break it by speaking of the wrongs your
people laid on mine."
"You need not fear it; I can honour noble deeds though done by our
enemies, and see that cruelty is cruelty, though inflicted by our
"Then listen to me; and when the hour of vengeance comes, if it
should come, remember it was provoked."
She paused for a few moments, sighed deeply, and then began the
recital of the last acts in the tragedy of her people; the principal
circumstances of which are detailed in the chronicles of the times, by
the witnesses of the bloody scenes. "You know," she said, "our
fortress-homes were on the level summit of a hill. Thence we could see
as far as the eye could stretch, our hunting-grounds, and our gardens,
which lay beneath us on the borders of a stream that glided around our
hill, and so near to it, that in the still nights we could hear its
gentle voice. Our fort and wigwams were encompassed with a palisade,
formed of young trees, and branches interwoven and sharply pointed. No
enemy's foot had ever approached this nest, which the eagles of the
tribe had built for their mates and their young. Sassacus and my father
were both away on that dreadful night. They had called a council of our
chiefs, and old men; our young men had been out in their canoes, and
when they returned they had danced and feasted, and were now in deep
sleep. My mother was in her hut with her children, not sleeping, for my
brother Samoset had lingered behind his companions, and had not yet
returned from the water-sport. The warning spirit, that ever keeps its
station at a mother's pillow, whispered that some evil was near; and my
mother, bidding me lie still with the little ones, went forth in quest
of my brother. All the servants of the Great Spirit spoke to my
mother's ear and eye of danger and death. The moon, as she sunk behind
the hills, appeared a ball of fire; strange lights darted through the
air; to my mother's eye they seemed fiery arrows; to her ear the air
was filled with death-sighs.
"She had passed the palisade, and was descending the hill, when she
met old Cushmakin. "Do you know aught of my boy?" she asked.
"Your boy is safe, and sleeps with his companions; he returned by
the Sassafras knoll; that way can only be trodden by the strong-limbed,
and light-footed." "My boy is safe," said my mother; "then tell me, for
thou art wise, and canst see quite through the dark future, tell me,
what evil is coming to our tribe?" She then described the omens she had
seen. "I know not," said Cushmakin, "of late darkness hath spread over
my soul, and all is black there, as before these eyes, that the arrows
of death have pierced; but tell me, Monoco, what see you now in the
fields of heaven?"
"Oh, now," said my mother, "I see nothing but the blue depths, and
the watching stars. The spirits of the air have ceased their moaning,
and steal over my cheek like an infant's breath. The water-spirits are
rising, and will soon spread their soft wings around the nest of our
"The boy sleeps safely," muttered the old man, "and I have listened
to the idle fear of a doating mother."
"I come not of a fearful race," said my mother.
"Nay, that I did not mean," replied Cushmakin, "but the panther
watching her young is fearful as a doe." The night was far spent, and
my mother bade him go home with her, for our powwows have always a mat
in the wigwam of theirchief. "Nay," he said, "the day is near, and I am
always abroad at the rising of the sun." It seemed that the first warm
touch of the sun opened the eye of the old man's soul, and he saw again
the flushed hills, and the shaded vallies, the sparkling waters, the
green maize, and the gray old rocks of our home. They were just passing
the little gate of the palisade, when the old man's dog sprang from him
with a fearful bark. A rushing sound was heard. "Owanox! Owanox! (the
English! the English!") cried Cushmakin. My mother joined her voice to
his, and in an instant the cry of alarm spread through the wigwams. The
enemy were indeed upon us. They had surrounded the palisade, and opened
"Was it so sudden? Did they so rush on sleeping women and
children?" asked Everell, who was unconsciously lending all his
interest to the party of the narrator.
"Even so; they were guided to us by the traitor Wequash; he from
whose bloody hand my mother had shielded the captive English maidens
—he who had eaten from my father's dish, and slept on his mat. They
were flanked by the cowardly Narragansetts, who shrunk from the sight
of our tribe—who were pale as white men at the thought of Sassacus,
and so feared him, that when his name was spoken, they were like an
unstrung bow, and they said, 'He is all one God—no man can kill him.'
These cowardly allies waited for the prey they dared not attack."
"Then," said Eyerell, "as I have heard, our people had all the
honour of the fight."
"Honour! was it, Everell—ye shall hear. Our warriors rushed forth
to meet the foe; they surrounded the huts of their mothers, wives,
sisters, children; they fought as if each man had a hundred lives, and
would give each, and all, to redeem their homes. Oh! the dreadful fray,
even now, rings in my ears! Those fearful guns that we had never heard
before—the shouts of your people—our own battle yell—the piteous
cries of the little children—the groans of our mothers, and, oh!
worse—worse than all—the silence of those that could not speak—The
English fell back; they were driven to the palisade; some beyond it,
when their leader gave the cry to fire our huts, and led the way to my
mother's. Samoset, the noble boy, defended the entrance with a
princelike courage, till they struck him down; prostrate and bleeding
he again bent his bow, and had taken deadly aim at the English leader,
when a sabre-blow severed his bowstring. Then was taken from our
hearth-stone, where the English had been so often warmed and cherished,
the brand to consume our dwellings. They were covered with mats, and
burnt like dried straw. The enemy retreated without the palisade. In
vain did our warriors fight for a path by which we might escape from
the consuming fire; they were beatenback; the fierce element gained on
us; the Narragansetts pressed on the English, howling like wolves for
their prey. Some of our people threw themselves into the midst of the
crackling flames, and their courageous souls parted with one shout of
triumph; others mounted the palisade, but they were shot and dropped
like a flock of birds smitten by the hunter's arrows. Thus did the
strangers destroy, in our own homes, hundreds of our tribe."
"And how did you escape in that dreadful hour, Magawisca—you were
not then taken prisoners?"
"No; there was a rock at one extremity of our hut, and beneath it a
cavity into which my mother crept, with Oneco, myself, and the two
little ones that afterwards perished. Our simple habitations were soon
consumed; we heard the foe retiring, and when the last sound had died
away, we came forth to a sight that made us lament to be among the
living. The sun was scarce an hour from his rising, and yet in this
brief space our homes had vanished. The bodies of our people were
strewn about the smouldering ruin; and all around the palisade lay the
strong and valiant warriors—cold—silent—powerless as the unformed
Magawisca paused; she was overcome with the recollection of this
scene of desolation. She looked upward with an intent gaze, as if she
held communion with an invisible being. "Spirit of my mother!" burst
from her lips. "Oh! that I could follow thee to that blessed land where
I should no more dread the war-cry, nor the death-knife." Everell
dashed the gathering tears from his eyes, and Magawisca proceeded in
"While we all stood silent and motionless, we heard footsteps and
cheerful voices. They came from my father and Sassacus, and their band,
returning from the friendly council. They approached on the side of the
hill that was covered with a thicket of oaks, and their ruined homes at
once burst upon their view. Oh! what horrid sounds then pealed on the
air! shouts of wailing, and cries for vengeance. Every eye was turned
with suspicion and hatred on my father. He had been the friend of the
English; he had counselled peace and alliance with them; he had
protected their traders; delivered the captives taken from them, and
restored them to their people: now his wife and children alone were
living, and they called him traitor. I heard an angry murmur, and many
hands were lifted to strike the death-blow. He moved not—'Nay, nay,'
cried Sassacus, beating them off. 'Touch him not; his soul is bright as
the sun; sooner shall you darken that, than find treason in his breast.
If he hath shown the dove's heart to the English when he believed them
friends, he will show himself the fierce eagle now he knows them
enemies. Touch him not, warriors; remember my blood runneth in his
"From that moment my father was a changed
"From that moment my father was a changed man. He neither spoke nor
looked at his wife, or children; but placing himself at the head of one
band of the young men he shouted his war-cry, and then silently pursued
the enemy. Sassacus went forth to assemble the tribe, and we followed
my mother to one of our villages."
"You did not tell me, Magawisca," said Everell, "how Samoset
perished; was he consumed in the flames, or shot from the palisade?"
"Neither—neither. He was reserved to whet my father's revenge to a
still keener edge. He had forced a passage through the English, and
hastily collecting a few warriors, they pursued the enemy, sprung upon
them from a covert, and did so annoy them that the English turned and
gave them battle. All fled save my brother, and him they took prisoner.
They told him they would spare his life if he would guide them to our
strong holds; he refused. He had, Everell, lived but sixteen summers;
he loved the light of the sun even as we love it; his manly spirit was
tamed by wounds and weariness; his limbs were like a bending reed, and
his heart beat like a woman's; but the fire of his soul burnt clear.
Again they pressed him with offers of life and reward; he faithfully
refused, and with one sabre-stroke they severed his head from his
Magawisca paused—she looked at Everell and said with a bitter
smile—"You English tell us, Everell, that the book of your law is
better than that written on our hearts, for ye say it teachesmercy,
compassion, forgiveness—if ye had such a law and believed it, would ye
thus have treated a captive boy?"
Magawisca's reflecting mind suggested the most serious obstacle to
the progress of the christian religion, in all ages and under all
circumstances; the contrariety between its divine principles and the
conduct of its professors; which, instead of always being a medium for
the light that emanates from our holy law, is too often the darkest
cloud that obstructs the passage of its rays to the hearts of heathen
men. Everell had been carefully instructed in the principles of his
religion, and he felt Magawisca's relation to be an awkward comment on
them, and her inquiry natural; but though he knew not what answer to
make, he was sure there must be a good one, and mentally resolving to
refer the case to his mother, he begged Magawisca to proceed with her
"The fragments of our broken tribe," she said, "were collected, and
some other small dependent tribes persuaded to join us. We were obliged
to flee from the open grounds, and shelter ourselves in a dismal swamp.
The English surrounded us; they sent in to us a messenger and offered
life and pardon to all who had not shed the blood of Englishmen. Our
allies listened, and fled from us, as frightened birds fly from a
falling tree. My father looked upon his warriors; they answered that
look with their battle-shout. 'Tell your people,' said my father to the
messenger, 'that we have shed and drank English blood, and that we will
take nothing from them but death.'
"The messenger departed and again returned with offers of pardon,
if we would come forth and lay our arrows and our tomahawks at the feet
of the English. 'What say you, warriors,' cried my father—'shall we
take pardon from those who have burned your wives and children, and
given your homes to the beasts of prey—who have robbed you of your
hunting-grounds, and driven your canoes from their waters?' A hundred
arrows were pointed to the messenger. 'Enough—you have your answer,'
said my father, and the messenger returned to announce the fate we had
"Where was Sassacus?—had he abandoned his people?" asked Everell.
"Abandoned them! No—his life was in theirs; but accustomed to
attack and victory, he could not bear to be thus driven, like a fox to
his hole. His soul was sick within him, and he was silent and left all
to my father. All day we heard the strokes of the English axes felling
the trees that defended us, and when night came, they had approached so
near that we could see the glimmering of their watch-lights through the
branches of the trees. All night they were pouring in their bullets,
alike on warriors, women, and children. Old Cushmakin was lying at my
mother's feet, when he received a death-wound. Gasping for breath he
called on Sassacus and my father— 'Stay not here,' he said; 'look not
on your wives and children, but burst your prison bound; sound through
the nations the cry of revenge! Linked together, ye shall drive the
English into the sea. I speak the word of the Great Spirit—obey it!'
While he was yet speaking he stiffened in death. 'Obey him, warriors,'
cried my mother; 'see,' she said, pointing to the mist that was now
wrapping itself around the wood like a thick curtain— 'see, our
friends have come from the spirit-land to shelter you. Nay, look not on
us—our hearts have been tender in the wigwam, but we can die before
our enemies without a groan. Go forth and avenge us.'
"'Have we come to the counsel of old men and old women!' said
Sassacus, in the bitterness of his spirit.
"'When women put down their womanish thoughts and counsel like men,
they should be obeyed,' said my father. 'Follow me, warriors.'
"They burst through the enclosure. We saw nothing more, but we
heard the shout from the foe, as they issued from the wood—the
momentary fierce encounter—and the cry, 'they have escaped!' Then it
was that my mother, who had listened with breathless silence, threw
herself down on the mossy stones, and laying her hot cheek to
mine—'Oh, my children—my children!' she said, 'would that I could die
for you! But fear not death—the blood of a hundred chieftains,that
never knew fear, runneth in your veins. Hark, the enemy comes nearer
and nearer. Now lift up your heads, my children, and show them that
even the weak ones of our tribe are strong in soul.'
"We rose from the ground—all about sat women and children in
family clusters, awaiting unmoved their fate. The English had
penetrated the forest-screen, and were already on the little
rising-ground where we had been entrenched. Death was dealt freely.
None resisted—not a movement was made—not a voice lifted—not a sound
escaped, save the wailings of the dying children.
"One of your soldiers knew my mother, and a command was given that
her life and that of her children should be spared. A guard was
stationed round us.
"You know that, after our tribe was thus cut off, we were taken,
with a few other captives, to Boston. Some were sent to the Islands of
the Sun, to bend their free limbs to bondage like your beasts of
burden. There are among your people those who have not put out the
light of the Great Spirit; they can remember a kindness, albeit done by
an Indian; and when it was known to your Sachems that the wife of
Mononotto, once the protector and friend of your people, was a
prisoner, they treated her with honour and gentleness. But her people
were extinguished—her husband driven to distant forests—forced on
earth to the misery of wicked souls—to wander withouta home; her
children were captives—and her heart was broken. You know the rest."
This war, so fatal to the Pequods, had transpired the preceding
year. It was an important event to the infant colonies, and its
magnitude probably somewhat heightened to the imaginations of the
English, by the terror this resolute tribe had inspired. All the
circumstances attending it were still fresh in men's minds, and Everell
had heard them detailed with the interest and particularity that
belongs to recent adventures; but he had heard them in the language of
the enemies and conquerors of the Pequods; and from Magawisca's lips
they took a new form and hue; she seemed, to him, to embody nature's
best gifts, and her feelings to be the inspiration of heaven. This new
version of an old story reminded him of the man and the lion in the
fable. But here it was not merely changing sculptors to give the
advantage to one or the other of the artist's subjects; but it was
putting the chisel into the hands of truth, and giving it to whom it
He had heard this destruction of the original possessors of the
soil described, as we find it in the history of the times, where, we
are told, "the number destroyed was about four hundred;" and "it was a
fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fire, and the streams of
blood quenching the same, and the horrible scent thereof; but the
victory seemed a sweet sacrifice, and they gave the praise thereof to
In the relations of their enemies, the courage of the Pequods was
distorted into ferocity, and their fortitude, in their last extremity,
thus set forth: "many were killed in the swamp, like sullen dogs, that
would rather, in their self-willedness and madness, sit still to be
shot or cut in pieces, than receive their lives for asking, at the
hands of those into whose power they had now fallen."
Everell's imagination, touched by the wand of feeling, presented a
very different picture of those defenceless families of savages, pent
in the recesses of their native forests, and there exterminated, not by
superior natural force, but by the adventitious circumstances of arms,
skill, and knowledge; from that offered by those who "then living and
worthy of credit did affirm, that in the morning entering into the
swamp, they saw several heaps of them [the Pequods] sitting close
together, upon whom they discharged their pieces, laden with ten or
twelve pistol bullets at a time, putting the muzzles of their pieces
under the boughs, within a few yards of them."
Everell did not fail to express to Magawisca, with all the
eloquence of a heated imagination, his sympathy and admiration of her
heroic and suffering people. She listened with a mournful pleasure, as
one listens to the praise of a departed friend. Both seemed to have
forgotten the purpose of their vigil, which they had marvellously kept
without apprehension, or heaviness, when they were roused from their
romantic abstractionby Digby's voice: "Now to your beds, children," he
said; "the family is stirring, and the day is at hand. See the morning
star hanging just over those trees, like a single watch-light in all
the wide canopy. As you have not to look in a prayerbook for it, master
Everell, don't forget to thank the Lord for keeping us safe, as your
mother, God bless her, would say, through the night-watches. Stop one
moment," added Digby, lowering his voice to Everell as he rose to
follow Magawisca, "did she tell you?"
"Tell me! what?"
"What! Heaven's mercy! what ails the boy! Why, did she tell you
what brought her out tonight? Did she explain all the mysterious
actions we have seen? Are you crazy? Did not you ask her?"
Everell hesitated—fortunately for him the light was too dim to
expose to Digby's eye the blushes that betrayed his consciousness that
he had forgotten his duty. "Magawisca did not tell me," he said, "but I
am sure Digby that"—
"That she can do no wrong—hey, Master Everell, well, that may be
very satisfactory to you—but it does not content me. I like not her
secret ways— 'it's bad ware that needs a dark store.' "
Everell had tried the force of his own convictions on Digby, and
knew it to be unavailing, therefore having no reply to make, he very
discreetly retreated without attempting any.
Magawisca crept to her bed, but not to repose—neither watching nor
weariness procured sleep for her. Her mind was racked with
apprehensions, and conflicting duties, the cruellest rack to an
Nelema had communicated to her the preceding day, the fact which
she had darkly intimated to Mrs. Fletcher, that Mononotto, with one or
two associates was lurking in the forest, and watching an opportunity
to make an attack on Bethel. How far his purpose extended, whether
simply to the recovery of his children, or to the destruction of the
family, she knew not. The latter was most probable, for hostile Indians
always left blood on their trail. In reply to Magawisca's eager
inquiries, Nelema said she had again, and again, assured her father of
the kind treatment his children had received at the hands of Mrs.
Fletcher; but he seemed scarcely to hear what she said, and
precipitately left her, telling her that she would not again see him,
till his work was done.
Magawisca's first impulse had been to reveal all to Mrs. Fletcher;
but by doing this, she would jeopard her father's life. Her natural
sympathies —her strong affections—her pride, were all enlisted on the
side of her people; but she shrunk, as if her own life were menaced,
from the blow that was about to fall on her friends. She would have
done or suffered any thing to avert it—any thing but betray her
father. The hope of meeting him, explains all that seemed mysterious
toDigby. She did go to Nelema's hut—but all was quiet there. In
returning she found an eagle's feather in the path,—she believed it
must have just been dropped there by her father, and this circumstance
determined her to remain watching through the night, that if her father
should appear, she might avert his vengeance.
She did not doubt that Digby had really seen and heard him; and
believing that her father would not shrink from a single armed man, she
hoped against hope, that his sole object was to recover his children;
hoped against hope, we say, for her reason told her, that if that were
his only purpose, it might easily have been accomplished by the
intervention of Nelema.
Magawisca had said truly to Everell, that her father's nature had
been changed by the wrongs he received. When the Pequods were proud and
prosperous, he was more noted for his humane virtues, than his warlike
spirit. The supremacy of his tribe was acknowledged, and it seemed to
be his noble nature, as it is sometimes the instinct of the most
powerful animals, to protect and defend, rather than attack and
oppress. The ambitious spirit of his brother chieftain Sassacus, had
ever aspired to dominion over the allied tribes; and immediately after
the appearance of the English, the same temper was manifest in a
jealousy of their encroachments. He employed all his art and influence
and authority, to unite the tribes for the extirpation of the dangerous
invaders. Mononotto, on the contrary, averse to all hostility, and
foreseeing no danger from them, was the advocate of a hospitable
reception, and pacific conduct.
This difference of feeling between the two chiefs, may account for
the apparent treachery of the Pequods, who, as the influence of one or
the other prevailed, received the English traders with favour and
hospitality, or, violating their treaties of friendship, inflicted on
them cruelties and death.
The stories of the murders of Stone, Norton, and Oldham, are
familiar to every reader of our early annals; and the anecdote of the
two English girls, who were captured at Wethersfield, and protected and
restored to their friends by the wife of Mononotto, has already been
illustrated by a sister labourer; and is precious to all those who
would accumulate proofs, that the image of God is never quite effaced
from the souls of his creatures; and that in their darkest ignorance,
and deepest degradation, there are still to be found traits of mercy
and benevolence. These will be gathered and treasured in the memory,
with that fond feeling with which Mungo Park describes himself to have
culled and cherished in his bosom, the single flower that bloomed in
his melancholy track over the African desert.
The chieftain of a savage race, is the depository of the honour of
his tribe; and their defeat is a disgrace to him, that can only be
effaced by the blood of his conquerors. It is a common case with the
unfortunate, to be compelled to endure the reproach of inevitable
evils; and Mononotto was often reminded by the remnant of his tribe, in
the bitterness of their spirit, of his former kindness for the English.
This reproach sharpened too keenly the edge of his adversity.
He had seen his people slaughtered, or driven from their homes and
hunting-grounds, into shameful exile; his wife had died in captivity,
and his children lived in servile dependence in the house of his
Sassacus perished by treachery, and Mononotto alone remained to
endure this accumulated misery. In this extremity, he determined on the
rescue of his children, and the infliction of some signal deed of
vengeance, by which he hoped to revive the spirit of the natives, and
reinstate himself as the head of his broken and dispersed people: in
his most sanguine moments, he meditated a unity and combination that
should eventually expel the invaders.
"There have been sweet singing voices
In your walks that now are still;
There are seats left void in your earthly homes,
Which none again may fill."
— Mrs. Hemans
Magawisca rose from her sleepless pillow to join the family at
prayers, her mind distracted with opposing fears, which her face, the
mirror of her soul, too truly reflected.
Mrs. Fletcher observed her narrowly, and confirmed in her
forebodings by the girl's apprehensive countenance, and still farther
by Digby's report of her behaviour during the night, she resolved to
dispatch him to Mr. Pynchon for his advice and assistance, touching her
removal to the fort, or the appointment of a guard for Bethel. Her
servant, (who prudently kept his alarm to himself, knowing, as he said,
that a woman's fears were always ahead of danger) applauded her
decision, and was on the point of proceeding to act upon it, when a
messenger arrived with the joyful tidings, that Mr. Fletcher was within
a few hours ride of Bethel. And the intelligence, no less joyful to
Dame Grafton, that with hisluggage, already arrived at the village, was
a small box of millinery, which she had ordered from London.
Mrs. Fletcher feeling, as good wives do, a sense of safety from the
proximity of her husband, bade Digby defer any new arrangement till he
had the benefit of his master's counsel. The whole house was thrown
into the commotion so common in a retired family, when an arrival is
about to interrupt the equable current of life. Whatever unexpressed
and superior happiness some others might have felt, no individual made
such bustling demonstrations as Mrs. Grafton. It was difficult to say
which excited her most, the anticipation of seeing her niece, Hope
Leslie, or of inspecting the box of millinery.
Immediately after dinner, two of the men-servants were despatched
to the village to transport their master's luggage. They had hardly
gone when Mrs. Grafton recollected that her box contained a present for
Madam Holioke, which it would be a thousand pities to have brought to
Bethel, and lie there, perhaps a week before it would be sent to her,
and 'she would like of all things, if Mrs. Fletcher saw no objection,
to have the pony saddled and ride to the village herself, where the
present could be made forthwith.'
Mrs. Fletcher was too happy to throw a shadow across any one's
path, and wearied too, perhaps, with Mrs. Grafton's fidgetting, (for
the good dame had all day been wondering whether her confidentialagent
had matched her orange satin; how she had trimmed her cap, she ordered
a horse to be saddled and brought to the door. The animal proved a
little restive, and Mrs. Grafton, not excelling in horsemanship, became
alarmed and begged that Digby might be allowed to attend her.
Digby's cleverness was felt by all the household, and his talents
were always in requisition for the miscellaneous wants of the family;
but Digby, like good servants in every age, was aware of his
importance, and was not more willing than a domestic of the present
day, to be worked like a machine. He muttered something of "old women's
making fools of themselves with new top-knots," and saying aloud, that
"Mistress Grafton knew it was his master's order, that all the
men-servants should not be away from the place at the same time," he
was turning off, when Mrs. Fletcher, who was standing at the door
observing him, requested him with more authority than was usual in her
manner, to comply with Mrs. Grafton's request.
"I would not wish," said Digby, still hesitating, "to disoblige
Mistress Grafton—if it were a matter of life and death," he added,
lowering his voice; "but to get more furbelows for the old lady when
with what she has already, she makes such a fool of herself, that our
young witlings, Master Everell and Oneco, garnish out our old Yorkshire
hen with peacock's feathers and dandalions, and then call her, 'Dame
Grafton in a flurry.' "
"Hush, Digby!" said Mrs. Fletcher, "it ill fits you to laugh at
such fooleries in the boys— they shall be corrected, and do you learn
to treat your master's friend with respect."
"Come—come, Digby," screamed Mrs. Grafton.
"Shall I go and break my master's orders?" asked Digby, still bent
on having his own way.
"For this once you shall, Digby," answered Mrs. Fletcher, "and if
you need an apology to your master, I shall not fail to make it."
"But if any thing should happen to you, Mistress Fletcher"—
"Nothing will happen, my good Digby. Is not your master at hand?
and an hour or two will be the extent of your absence. So, get thee
along without more ado."
Digby could not resist any farther the authority of his gentle
mistress, and he walked by the side of Mrs. Grafton's pony, with slow
All was joy in Mrs. Fletcher's dwelling. "My dear mother," said
Everell, "it is now quite time to look out for father and Hope Leslie.
I have turned the hour-glass three times since dinner, and counted all
the sands I think. Let us all go on the front portico where we can
catch the first glimpse of them, as they come past the elm-trees. Here,
Oneco," he continued, as he saw assent in his mother's smile, "help me
out with mother'srocking-chair—rather rough rocking," he added as he
adjusted the rockers lengthwise with the logs that served for the
flooring—"but mother wont mind trifles just now. Ah! blessed baby
brother," he continued, taking in his arms the beautiful infant—"you
shall come too, even though you cheat me out of my birthright, and get
the first embrace from father." Thus saying, he placed the laughing
infant in his go-cart, beside his mother. He then aided his little
sisters in their arrangement of the playthings they had brought forth
to welcome and astonish Hope; and finally he made an elevated position
for Faith Leslie, where she might, he said, as she ought, catch the
very first glimpse of her sister.
"Thank, thank you, Everell," said the little girl as she mounted
her pinnacle; "if you knew Hope, you would want to see her first
too—every body loves Hope. We shall always have pleasant times when
Hope gets here."
It was one of the most beautiful afternoons at the close of the
month of May. The lagging spring had at last come forth in all her
power; her "work of gladness" was finished, and forests, fields, and
meadows were bright with renovated life. The full Connecticut swept
triumphantly on, as if still exulting in its release from the fetters
of winter. Every gushing rill had the spring-note of joy. The meadows
were, for the first time, enriched with patches of English grain, which
the new settlers had sown, scantily, by wayof experiment, prudently
occupying the greatest portion of the rich mould, with the native
Indian corn. This product of our soil is beautiful in all its progress,
from the moment, when as now it studded the meadow with hillocks,
shooting its bright-pointed spear from its mother earth, to its
maturity, when the long golden ear bursts from the rustling leaf.
The grounds about Mrs. Fletcher's house had been prepared with the
neatness of English taste; and a rich bed of clover that overspread the
lawn immediately before the portico, already rewarded the industry of
the cultivators. Over this delicate carpet, the domestic fowls, the
first civilized inhabitants of the country, of their tribe, were now
treading, picking their food here and there like dainty little
The scene had also its minstrels; the birds, those ministers and
worshippers of nature, were on the wing, filling the air with melody;
while, like diligent little housewifes, they ransacked forest and field
for materials for their house-keeping.
A mother, encircled by healthful sporting children, is always a
beautiful spectacle—a spectacle that appeals to nature in every human
breast. Mrs. Fletcher, in obedience to matrimonial duty, or, it may be,
from some lingering of female vanity, had, on this occasion, attired
herself with extraordinary care. What woman does not wish to look
handsome?—in the eyes of her husband.
"Mother," said Everell, putting aside the exquisitelyfine lace that
shaded her cheek, "I do not believe you looked more beautiful than you
do to day when, as I have heard, they called you 'the rose of the
wilderness'—our little Mary's cheek is as round and as bright as a
peach, but it is not so handsome as yours, mother. 'Your heart has sent
this colour here," he continued, kissing her tenderly—"it seems to
have come forth to tell us that our father is near."
"It would shame me, Everell," replied his mother, embracing him
with a feeling that the proudest drawing-room belle might have envied,
"to take such flattery from any lips but thine."
"Oh do not call it flattery, mother—look, Magawisca—for heaven's
sake cheer up—look, would you know mother's eye? just turn it, mother,
one minute from that road—and her pale cheek too— with this rich
colour on it?"
"Alas! alas!" replied Magawisca, glancing her eyes at Mrs.
Fletcher, and then as if heart-struck, withdrawing them, "how soon the
flush of the setting sun fades from the evening cloud."
"Oh Magawisca," said Everell impatiently," why are you so dismal?
your voice is too sweet for a bird of ill-omen. I shall begin to think
as Jennet says—though Jennet is no text-book for me— I shall begin to
think old Nelema has really bewitched you."
"You call me a bird of ill-omen," replied Magawisca, half proud,
half sorrowful, "and you call the owl a bird of ill-omen, but we hold
him sacred—he is our sentinel, and when danger is near he cries,
"Magawisca, you are positively unkind—Jeremiah's lamentations on a
holiday would not be more out of time than your croaking is now—the
very skies, earth, and air seem to partake our joy at father's return,
and you only make a discord. Do you think if your father was near I
would not share your joy?"
Tears fell fast from Magawisca's eye, but she made no reply, and
Mrs. Fletcher observing and compassionating her emotion, and thinking
it probably arose from comparing her orphan state to that of the merry
children about her, called her and said, "Magawisca, you are neither a
stranger, nor a servant, will you not share our joy? Do you not love
"Love you!" she exclaimed, clasping her hands, "love you! I would
give my life for you."
"We do not ask your life, my good girl," replied Mrs. Fletcher,
kindly smiling on her, "but a light heart and a cheerful look. A sad
countenance doth not become this joyful hour. Go and help Oneco—he is
quite out of breath, blowing those soap bubbles for the children."
Oneca smiled, and shook his head, and continued to send off one
after another of the prismatic globes, and as they rose and floated on
the air and brightened with the many-coloured ray, the little girls
clapped their hands, and the baby stretched his to grasp the brilliant
"Oh!" said Magawisca, impetuously covering her eyes, "I do not like
to see any thing so beautiful, pass so quickly away."
Scarcely had she uttered these words, when suddenly, as if the
earth had opened on them, three Indian warriors darted from the forest
and pealed on the air their horrible yells.
"My father! my father!" burst from the lips of Magawisca, and
Faith Leslie sprang towards the Indian boy, and clung fast to
him—and the children clustered about their mother—she instinctively
caught her infant and held it close within her arms as if their
ineffectual shelter were a rampart.
Magawisca uttered a cry of agony, and springing forward with her
arms uplifted, as if deprecating his approach, she sunk down at her
father's feet, and clasping her hands, "save them—save them," she
cried, "the mother—the children—oh they are all good—take vengeance
on your enemies —but spare—spare our friends—our benefactors —I
bleed when they are struck—oh command them to stop!" she screamed,
looking to the companions of her father, who unchecked by her cries,
were pressing on to their deadly work.
Mononotto was silent and motionless, his eye glanced wildly from
Magawisca to Oneco. Magawisca replied to the glance of fire—"yes, they
have sheltered us—they have spread the wing of love over us—save
them—save them—oh it will be too late," she cried, springing from her
father,whose silence and fixedness showed that if his better nature
rebelled against the work of revenge, there was no relenting of
purpose. Magawisca darted before the Indian who was advancing towards
Mrs. Fletcher with an uplifted hatchet. "You shall hew me to pieces ere
you touch her," she said, and planted herself as a shield before her
The warrior's obdurate heart untouched by the sight of the helpless
mother and her little ones, was thrilled by the courage of the heroic
girl—he paused and grimly smiled on her when his companion, crying,
"hasten, the dogs will be on us!" levelled a deadly blow at Mrs.
Fletcher—but his uplifted arm was penetrated by a musket shot and the
hatchet fell harmless to the floor.
"Courage, mother!" cried Everell, reloading the piece, but neither
courage nor celerity could avail—the second Indian sprang upon him,
threw him on the floor, wrested his musket from him, and brandishing
his tomahawk over his head, he would have aimed the fatal stroke, when
a cry from Mononotto arrested his arm.
Everell extricated himself from his grasp, and one hope flashing
into his mind, he seized a buglehorn which hung beside the door, and
winded it. This was the conventional signal of alarm—and he sent forth
a blast—long and loud—a death-cry.
Mrs. Grafton and her attendants were just mounting their horses to
return home. Digbylistened for a moment—then exclaiming, "it comes
from our master's dwelling! ride for your life, Hutton!" he tossed away
a bandbox that encumbered him, and spurred his horse to its utmost
The alarm was spread through the village, and in a brief space Mr.
Pynchon with six armed men were pressing towards the fatal scene.
In the mean time the tragedy was proceeding at Bethel. Mrs.
Fletcher's senses had been stunned with terror. She had neither spoken
nor moved after she grasped her infant. Everell's gallant
interposition, restored a momentary consciousness; she screamed to
him—"Fly, Everell, my son, fly; for your father's sake, fly."
"Never," he replied, springing to his mother's side.
The savages, always rapid in their movements, were now aware that
their safety depended on despatch. "Finish your work, warriors," cried
Mononotto. Obedient to the command, and infuriated by his bleeding
wound, the Indian, who on receiving the shot, had staggered back, and
leant against the wall, now sprang forward, and tore the infant from
its mother's breast. She shrieked, and in that shriek, passed the agony
of death. She was unconscious that her son, putting forth a strength
beyond nature, for a moment kept the Indian at bay; she neither saw nor
felt the knife struck at her own heart. She felt not the arms of her
defenders, Everell and Magawisca, as they met around her neck. She
fainted, and fell to the floor, dragging her impotent protectors with
The savage, in his struggle with Everell, had tossed the infant boy
to the ground; he fell quite unharmed on the turf at Mononotto's feet.
There raising his head, and looking up into the chieftain's face, he
probably perceived a gleam of mercy, for with the quick instinct of
infancy, that with unerring sagacity directs its appeal, he clasped the
naked leg of the savage with one arm, and stretched the other towards
him with a piteous supplication, that no words could have expressed.
Mononotto's heart melted within him; he stooped to raise the sweet
suppliant, when one of the Mohawks fiercely seized him, tossed him
wildly around his head, and dashed him on the door-stone. But the
silent prayer—perhaps the celestial inspiration of the innocent
creature, was not lost. "We have had blood enough," cried Mononotto,
"you have well avenged me, brothers."
Then looking at Oneco, who had remained in one corner of the
portico, clasping Faith Leslie in his arms, he commanded him to follow
him with the child. Everell was torn from the lifeless bodies of his
mother and sisters, and dragged into the forest. Magawisca uttered one
cry of agony and despair, as she looked, for the last time, on the
bloody scene, and then followed her father.
As they passed the boundary of the cleared ground, Mononotto tore
from Oneco his English dress, and casting it from him—"Thus perish,"
he said, "every mark of the captivity of my children. Thou shalt return
to our forests," he continued, wrapping a skin around him, "with the
badge of thy people."
"It is but a shadow vanished—a bubble broke, a dreame
finish't—Eternitie willpay for all."
— Roger Williams
Scarcely had the invaders disappeared, and the sound of their
footsteps died away, when Digby and Hutton came in view of the
dwelling. "Ah!" said Hutton, reining in his horse, "I thought all this
fluster was for nothing—the blast a boy's prank. A pretty piece of
work we've made of it; you'll have Mistress Grafton about your ears for
tossing away her Lon'on gimcracks. All is as quiet here as a Saturday
night; nothing to be seen but the smoke from the kitchen-chimney, and
that's a pleasant sight to me, for I went off without my dinner, and
methinks it will now taste as savoury as Jacob's pottage."
Digby lent no attention to his companion's chattering, but pressed
on; his fears were allayed, but not removed. As he approached the
house, he felt that the silence which pervaded it, boded no good; but
the horrors of the reality far surpassed the worst suggestions of his
vague apprehensions. "Oh, my mistress! my mistress!" he screamed, when
the havoc of death burst upon his sight. "My good mistress—and her
girls!—and the baby too! Oh, God—have mercy on my master!" and he
bent over the bodies and wrung his hands: "not one—not one spared!"
"Yes, one," spoke a trembling whining voice, which proved to be
Jennet's, who had just emerged from her hiding-place covered with soot;
"by the blessing of a kind Providence, I have been preserved for some
wise end, but," she continued, panting, "the fright has taken my breath
away, besides being squeezed as flat as a pancake in the bed-room
"Stop—for Heaven's sake, stop, Jennet, and tell me, if you can, if
Mr. Everell was here."
Jennet did not know; she remembered having seen the family in
general assembled, just before she heard the yell of the savages.
"How long," Digby inquired, "have they been gone? how long since
you heard the last sound?"
"That's more than mortal man, or woman either, in my case, could
tell, Mr. Digby. Do you think, when a body seems to feel a scalping
knife in their heads, they can reckon time? No; hours are minutes, and
minutes hours, in such a case."
"Oh fool! fool!" cried Digby, and turning disgusted away, his eye
fell on his musket. "Thank the Lord!" he exclaimed, "Mr. Everell has
poured one shot into the fiends; he alone knew where the gun was, bless
the boy—bless him; he has a strong arm, and a stout soul—bless him.
They have taken him off—we'll after him, Hutton. Jennet, bring my
hunting pouch. Look to your fire-lock, Hutton. Magawisca!—Oneco! Faith
Leslie, all gone!" he continued, his first amazement dissipating, and
thought after thought flashing the truth on his mind. "I remember last
night—Oh, Mr. Everell, how the girl deceived you—she knew it all."
"Ah, Magawisca! so I thought," said Jennet. "She knows every thing
evil that happens in earth, sea, or air; she and that mother-witch,
Nelema. I always told Mrs. Fletcher she was warming a viper in her
bosom, poor dear lady; but I suppose it was for wise ends she was left
to her blindness."
"Are you ready, Hutton?" asked Digby, impatiently.
"Ready!—yes, I am ready, but what is the use, Digby? what are we
two against a host? and, besides, you know not how long they have been
"Not very long," said Digby, shuddering and pointing to blood that
was trickling, drop by drop, from the edge of the flooring to the step.
How long the faithful fellow might have urged, we know not, for
cowardice hath ever ready and abundant arguments, and Hutton was not a
man to be persuaded into danger; but the arrival of Mr. Pynchon and his
men, put an end to the debate.
Mr. Pynchon was the faithful, paternal guardianof his little
colony. He saw in this scene of violent death, not only the present
overwhelming misery of the family at Bethel, but the fearful fate to
which all were exposed who had perilled their lives in the wilderness;
but he could give but brief space to bitter reflections, and the
lamentings of nature. Instant care and service were necessary for the
dead and the living. The bodies of the mother and children were removed
to one of the apartments, and decently disposed, and then, after a
fervent prayer, a duty never omitted in any emergency by the pilgrims,
whose faith in the minute superintendence of Providence was practical,
he directed the necessary arrangements for the pursuit of the enemy.
Little could be gathered from Jennet. She was mainly occupied with
her own remarkable preservation, not doubting that Providence had
specially interposed to save the only life utterly insignificant in any
eyes but her own. She recollected to have heard Magawisca exclaim, 'My
father!' at the first onset of the savages. The necessary conclusion
was, that the party had been led by the Pequod chief. It was obviously
probable that he would return, with his children and captives, to the
Mohawks, where, it was well known, he had found refuge; of course the
pursuers were to take a westerly direction. Jennet was of opinion that
the party was not numerous; and encumbered as they must be with their
prisoners, the one a child whom it would be necessary, in a rapid
flight to carry, Mr. Pynchon had sanguine expectations that they might
The fugitives, obliged to avoid the cleared meadows, had, as Mr.
Pynchon believed, taken an indirect path through the forest to the
Connecticut; which, in pursuance of their probable route, they would,
of course cross, as soon as they could, with safety. He selected five
of his men, whom he deemed fittest for the expedition, and recommending
it to them to be guided by the counsel of Digby, whose impatient zeal
was apparent, he directed them to take a direct course to the river. He
was to return to the village, and despatch a boat to them, with which
they were to ply up the river, in the hope of intercepting the passage
of the Indians.
The men departed, led by Digby, to whose agitated spirit every
moment's delay had appeared unnecessary and fatal; and Mr. Pynchon was
mounting his horse, when he saw Mr. Fletcher, who had avoided the
circuitous road through the village, emerge from the forest, and come
in full view of his dwelling. Mr. Pynchon called to Jennet, "yonder is
your master—he must not come hither while this precious blood is on
the threshold —I shall take him to my house, and assistance shall be
sent to you. In the mean time, watch those bodies faithfully."
"Oh! I can't stay here alone," whimpered Jennet, running after Mr.
Pynchon—"I would not stay for all the promised land."
"Back, woman," cried Mr. Pynchon, in a voice of thunder; and Jennet
retreated, the danger of advancing appearing, for the moment, the
greater of the two.
Mr. Fletcher was attended by two Indians, who followed him, bearing
on a litter, his favourite, Hope Leslie. When they came within sight of
Bethel, they shouted the chorus of a native song. Hope inquired its
meaning. They told her, and raising herself, and tossing back the
bright curls that shaded her eyes, she clapped her hands, and
accompanied them with the English words, —'The home!—the home!—the
chieftain's home!' —"And my home too, is it not?" she said.
Mr. Fletcher was touched with the joy with which this bright little
creature, who had left a palace in England, hailed his rustic dwelling
in the wilderness. He turned on her a smile of delight—he could not
speak; the sight of his home had opened the flood-gates of his heart.
"Oh now," she continued, with growing animation, "I shall see my
sister. But why does not she come to meet us?—Where is your Everell?
and the girls? There is no one looking out for us."
The stillness of the place, and the absence of all living objects,
struck Mr. Fletcher with fearful apprehensions, heightened by the sight
of his friend, who was coming, at full gallop, towards him. To an
accurate observer, the effects of joy and sorrow, on the human figure,
are easily discriminated —misery depresses, contracts, and paralyses
the body, as it does the spirit.
"Remain here for a few moments," said Mr. Fletcher to his
attendants, and he put spurs to his horse, and galloped forward.
"Put down the litter," said Hope Leslie to her bearers. "I cannot
stand stock-still, here, in sight of the house where my sister is." The
Indians knew their duty, and determined to abide by the letter of their
employer's orders, did not depress the litter.
"There, take that for your sulkiness," she said, giving each a tap
on his ear, and half impatient, half sportive, she leaped from the
litter, and bounded forward.
The friends met. Mr. Pynchon covered his face, and groaned aloud.
"What has happened to my family?" demanded Mr. Fletcher. "My wife?— my
son?—my little ones?—Oh! speak—God give me grace to hear thee!"
In vain Mr. Pynchon essayed to speak—he could find no words to
soften the frightful truth. Mr. Fletcher turned his horse's head
towards Bethel, and was proceeding to end, himself, the insupportable
suspense, when his friend, seizing his arm, cried—"Stop, stop—go not
thither—thy house is desolate"—and then, half-choked with groans and
sobs, he unfolded the dismal story.
Not a sound, nor a sigh, escaped the blasted man. He seemed to be
turned into stone, till he was roused by the wild shrieks of the little
girl, who, unobserved, had listened to the communication of Mr.
"Take the child with you," he said—"I shall go to my house. If—if
my boy returns, send a messenger instantly; otherwise, suffer me to
remain alone till to-morrow."
He passed on, without appearing to hear the cries and entreaties of
Hope Leslie, who, forcibly detained by Mr. Pynchon, screamed, "Oh! take
me—take me with you—there are but us two left—I will not go away
from you!" but at last, finding resistance useless, she yielded, and
was conveyed to the village, where she was received by her aunt
Grafton, whose grief was as noisy and communicative, as Mr. Fletcher's
had been silent, and unexpressed by any of the forms of sorrow.
Early on the following morning, Mr. Pynchon, attended by several
others, men and women, went to Bethel to offer their sympathy and
service. They met Jennet at the door, who, greatly relieved by the
sight of human faces, and ears willing to listen, informed them, that
immediately after her master's arrival, he had retired to the apartment
that contained the bodies of the deceased, charging her not to intrude
A murmur of apprehension ran around the circle. "It was misjudged
to leave him here alone," whispered one. "It is not every man, though
his faith stand as a mountain in his prosperity, that can bear to have
the Lord put forth his hand, and touch his bone and his flesh."
"Ah!" said another, "my heart misgave mewhen Mr. Pynchon told us
how calm he took it; such a calm as that is like the still dead waters
that cover the lost cities—quiet is not the nature of the creature,
and you may be sure that unseen havoc and ruin are underneath."
"The poor dear gentleman should have taken something to eat or
drink," said a little plump, full-fed lady; "there is nothing so
feeding to grief as an empty stomach. Madam Holioke, do not you think
it would be prudent for us to guard with a little cordial and a bit of
spiced cake—if this good girl can give it to us," looking at Jennet.
"The dear lady that's gone was ever thrifty in her housewifery, and I
doubt not she hath left such witnesses behind."
Mrs. Holioke shook her head, and a man of a most solemn and owl
aspect, who sat between the ladies, turned to the last speaker and
said, in a deep guttural tone, "Judy, thou shouldst not bring thy
carnal propensities to this house of mourning —and perchance of sin.
Where the Lord works, Satan worketh also, tempting the wounded. I doubt
our brother Fletcher hath done violence to himself. He was ever of a
proud—that is to say, a peculiar and silent make—and what won't bend,
The suggestion in this speech communicated alarm to all present.
Several persons gathered about Mr. Pynchon. Some advised him to knock
at the door of the adjoining apartment; others counselled forcing it if
necessary. While eachone was proffering his opinion, the door opened
from within, and Mr. Fletcher came among them.
"Do you bring me any news of my son?" he asked Mr. Pynchon.
"None, my friend—the scouts have not yet returned."
Till this question was put and answered, there was a tremulousness
of voice, a knitting of the brow, and a variation of colour, that
indicated the agitation of the sufferer's soul; but then a sublime
composure overspread his countenance and figure. He noticed every one
present with more than his usual attention, and to a superficial
observer, one who knew not how to interpret his mortal paleness, the
wild melancholy of his glazed eye and his rigid muscles, which had the
inflexibility and fixedness of marble, he might have appeared to be
suffering less than any person present. Some cried outright—some
stared with undisguised and irrepressible curiosity—some were voluble
in the expression of their sympathy, while a few were pale, silent, and
awe-struck. All these many coloured feelings fell on Mr. Fletcher like
light on a black surface—producing no change—meeting no return. He
stood leaning on the mantel-piece, till the first burst of feeling was
over—till all, insensibly yielding to his example, became quiet, and
the apartment was as still as that in which death held his silent
Mr. Pynchon then whispered to him. "My friend, bear your testimony
now—edify us with a seasonable word, showing that you are not amazed
at your calamity—that you counted the cost before you undertook to
build the Lord's building in the wilderness. It is suitable that you
should turn your affliction to the profit of the Lord's people."
Mr. Fletcher felt himself stretched on a rack, that he must endure
with a martyr's patience; he lifted up his head and with much effort
spoke one brief sentence—a sentence which contains all that a
christian could feel, or the stores of language could express—he
uttered, "God's will be done!" and then hurried away, to hide his
struggles in solitude.
Relieved from the restraint of his presence, the company poured
forth such moral, consoling, and pious reflections as usually flow
spontaneously from the lips of the spectators of suffering; and which
would seem to indicate that each individual has a spare stock of wisdom
and patience for his neighbour's occasions, though, through some
strange fatality, they are never applied to his own use.
We hope our readers will not think we have wantonly sported with
their feelings, by drawing a picture of calamity that only exists in
the fictitious tale. No—such events, as we have feebly related, were
common in our early annals, and attended by horrors that it would be
impossible for the imagination to exaggerate. Not only familiesbut
villages, were cut off by the most dreaded of all foes—the ruthless,
In the quiet possession of the blessings transmitted, we are,
perhaps, in danger of forgetting, or undervaluing the sufferings by
which they were obtained. We forget that the noble pilgrims lived and
endured for us—that when they came to the wilderness, they said truly,
though it may be somewhat quaintly, that they turned their backs on
Egypt—they did virtually renounce all dependence on earthly
supports—they left the land of their birth—of their homes—of their
father's sepulchres—they sacrificed ease and preferment, and all the
delights of sense—and for what?—to open for themselves an earthly
paradise?—to dress their bowers of pleasure and rejoice with their
wives and children? No—they came not for themselves—they lived not to
themselves. An exiled and suffering people, they came forth in the
dignity of the chosen servants of the Lord, to open the forests to the
sun-beam, and to the light of the Sun of Righteousness—to restore
man—man oppressed and trampled on by his fellow; to religious and
civil liberty, and equal rights—to replace the creatures of God on
their natural level—to bring down the hills, and make smooth the rough
places, which the pride and cruelty of man had wrought on the fair
creation of the Father of all.
What was their reward? Fortune?—distinctions?—the sweet charities
of home? No—buttheir feet were planted on the mount of vision, and
they saw, with sublime joy, a multitude of people where the solitary
savage roamed the forest—the forest vanished, and pleasant villages
and busy cities appeared—the tangled foot-path expanded to the
thronged high-way—the consecrated church planted on the rock of
And that we might realize this vision—enter into this promised
land of faith—they endured hardship, and braved death—deeming, as
said one of their company, that "he is not worthy to live at all, who,
for fear or danger of death, shunneth his country's service, or his own
honour— since death is inevitable and the fame of virtue immortal."
If these were the fervors of enthusiasm, it was an enthusiasm
kindled and fed by the holy flame that glows on the altar of God—an
enthusiasm that never abates, but gathers life and strength as the
immortal soul expands in the image of its Creator.
We shall now leave the little community, assembled at Bethel, to
perform the last offices for one who had been among them an example of
all the most attractive virtues of woman. The funeral ceremony was
then, as it still is, among the descendants of the pilgrims, a simple
affectionate service; a gathering of the people—men, women, and
children, as one family, to the house of mourning.
Mononotto and his party in their flight had less than an hour's
advantage of their pursuers; and, retarded by their captives, they
would have been compelled to despatch them, or have been overtaken, but
for their sagacity in traversing the forest; they knew how to wind
around morasses, to shape their course to the margin of the rivulets,
and to penetrate defiles, while their pursuers, unpractised in that
accurate observation of nature, by which the savage was guided, were
clambering over mountains, arrested by precipices, or half buried in
After an hour's silent and rapid flight, the Indians halted to make
such arrangements as would best accelerate their retreat. They placed
the little Leslie on the back of one of the Mohawks, and attached her
there by a happis, or strong wide band, passed several times over her,
and around the body of her bearer. She screamed at her separation from
Oneco, but being permitted to stretch out her hand and place it in his,
she became quiet and satisfied.
The Mohawk auxiliaries, who so lately had seemed two insatiate
bloodhounds, now appeared to regard the reciprocal devotion of the
children with complacency; but their amity was not extended to Everell;
and Saco in particular, the Indian whom he had wounded, and whose arm
was irritated and smarting, eyed him with glances of brooding
malignity. Magawisca perceived this, and dreading lest the savage
should give way to a sudden impulse of revenge, she placed herself
between him, and Everell. This movement awakened Mononotto from a
sullen reverie, and striking his hands together, angrily, he bade
Magawisca remove from the English boy.
She obeyed, and mournfully resumed her place beside her father,
saying, as she did so, in a low thrilling tone, "my father—my
father!—where is my father's look, and voice?—Mononotto has found his
daughter, but I have not found my father."
Mononotto felt her reproach—his features relaxed, and he laid his
hand on her head.
"My father's soul awakes!" she cried, exultingly. "Oh, listen to
me—listen to me!"—she waived her hand to the Mohawks to stop, and
they obeyed. "Why," she continued in an impassioned voice—"why hath my
father's soul stooped from its ever upward flight? Till this day his
knife was never stained with innocent blood. Yonder roof," and she
pointed towards Bethel, "has sheltered thy children—the wing of the
mother-bird was spread over us—we ate of the children's bread; then,
why hast thou shed their blood?— why art thou leading the son into
captivity? Oh, spare him!—send him back—leave one light in the
"One," echoed Mononotto; "did they leave me one? No;—my people, my
children, were swept away like withered leaves before the wind— and
there where our pleasant homes were clustered, is silence and
darkness—thistles have sprung up around our hearth-stones, and grass
has overgrown our path-ways. Magawisca, has thy brother vanished from
thy memory? I tell thee, that as Samoset died, that boy shall die. My
soul rejoiced when he fought at his mother's side, to see him thus make
himself a worthy victim to offer to thy lion-hearted brother—even so
Magawisca felt that her father's purpose was not to be shaken. She
looked at Everell, and already felt the horrors of the captive's
fate—the scorching fires, and the torturing knives; and when her
father commanded the party to move onward, she uttered a piercing
"Be silent, girl," said Mononotto, sternly; "cries and screams are
for children and cowards."
"And I am a coward," replied Magawisca, reverting to her habitually
calm tone, "if to fear my father should do a wrong, even to an enemy,
is cowardice." Again her father's brow softened, and she ventured to
add, "send back the boy, and our path will be all smooth before us—and
light will be upon it, for my mother often said, 'the sun never sets on
the soul of the man that doeth good.' "
Magawisca had unwittingly touched the spring of her father's
vindictive passions. "Dost thou use thy mother's words," he said, "to
plead for one of the race of her murderers? Is not her grave among my
enemies? Say no more, I commandyou, and speak not to the boy; thy
kindness but sharpens my revenge."
There was no alternative. Magawisca must feel, or feign submission;
and she laid her hand on her heart, and bowed her head, in token of
obedience. Everell had observed, and understood her intercession, for,
though her words were uttered in her own tongue, there was no mistaking
her significant manner; but he was indifferent to the success of her
appeal. He still felt the dying grasp of his mother—still heard his
slaughtered sisters cry to him for help—and, in the agony of his mind,
he was incapable of an emotion of hope, or fear.
The party resumed their march, and suddenly changing their
direction, they came to the shore of the Connecticut. They had chosen a
point for their passage where the windings of the river prevented their
being exposed to view for any distance; but still they cautiously
lingered till the twilight had faded into night. While they were taking
their bark canoe from the thicket of underwood, in which they had
hidden it, Magawisca said, unobserved, to Everell, "keep an eagle-eye
on our path-way—our journey is always towards the setting sun—every
turn we make is marked by a dead tree, a lopped branch, or an arrow's
head carved in the bark of a tree; be watchful— the hour of escape may
come." She spoke in the lowest audible tone, and without changing her
posture or raising her eyes; and though her lastaccents caught her
father's ear, when he turned to chide her he suppressed his rebuke, for
she sat motionless, and silent as a statue.
The party were swiftly conveyed to the opposite shore. The canoe
was then again taken from the river and plunged into the wood; and
believing they had eluded pursuit, they prepared to encamp for the
night. They selected for this purpose a smooth grassy area, where they
were screened and defended on the river-side by a natural rampart,
formed of intersecting branches of willows, sycamores, and elms.
Oneco collected dead leaves from the little hollows, into which
they had been swept by eddies of wind, and, with the addition of some
soft ferns, he made a bed and pillow for his little favourite, fit for
the repose of a wood nymph. The Mohawks regarded this labour of love
with favour, and one of them took from his hollow girdle some pounded
corn, and mixing grains of maple-sugar with it, gave it to Oneco, and
the little girl received it from him as passively as the young bird
takes food from its mother. He then made a sylvan cup of broad leaves,
threaded together with delicate twigs, and brought her a draught of
water from a fountain that swelled over the green turf and trickled
into the river, drop by drop, as clear and bright as crystal. When she
had finished her primitive repast, he laid her on her leafy bed,
covered her with skins, and sang her to sleep.
The Indians refreshed themselves with pounded maize, and dried
fish. A boyish appetite is not fastidious, and, with a mind at ease,
Everell might have relished this coarse fare; but now, though
repeatedly solicited, he would not even rise from the ground where he
had thrown himself in listless despair. No excess of misery can enable
a boy of fifteen for any length of time to resist the cravings of
nature for sleep. Everell, it may be remembered, had watched the
previous night, and he soon sunk into oblivion of his griefs. One after
another, the whole party fell asleep, with the exception of Magawisca,
who sat apart from the rest, her mantle wrapped closely around her, her
head leaning against a tree, and apparently lost in deep meditation.
The Mohawks, by way of precaution, had taken a position on each side of
Everell, so as to render it next to impossible for their prisoner to
move without awakening them. But love, mercy, and hope, count nothing
impossible, and all were at work in the breast of Magawisca. She warily
waited till the depth of the night, when sleep is most profound, and
then, with a step as noiseless as the falling dew, she moved round to
Everell's head, stooped down, and putting her lips close to his ear,
pronounced his name distinctly. Most persons have experienced the power
of a name thus pronounced. Everell awakened instantly and
perfectly—and at once understood from Magawisca's gestures, for speak
again she dared not, that she urged his departure.
The love of life and safety is too strong to be paralyzed for any
length of time. Hope was kindled; extrication and escape seemed
possible; quickening thoughts rushed through his mind. He might be
restored to his father; Springfield could not be far distant; his
captors would not dare to remain in that vicinity after the dawn of
day; one half hour and he was beyond their pursuit. He rose slowly and
cautiously to his feet. All was yet profoundly still. He glanced his
eye on Faith Leslie, whom he would gladly have rescued; but Magawisca
shook her head, and he felt that to attempt it, would be to ensure his
The moon shone through the branches of the trees, and shed a faint
and quivering light on the wild groupe. Everell looked cautiously about
him, to see where he should plant his first footstep. 'If I should
tread on those skins,' he thought, 'that are about them; or on those
dead rustling leaves, it were a gone case with me.'— During this
instant of deliberation, one of the Indians murmured something of his
dreaming thoughts, turned himself over, and grasped Everell's ankle.
The boy bit his quivering lip, and suppressed an instinctive cry, for
he perceived it was but the movement of sleep, and he felt the hold
gradually relaxing. He exchanged a glance of joy with Magawisca, when a
new source of alarm startled them—they heard the dashing of oars.
Breathless—immoveable—they listened.The strokes were quickly
repeated, and the sound rapidly approached, and a voice spoke—"not
there boys—not there, a little higher up."
Joy and hope shot through Everell's heart as he sprang, like a
startled deer, but the Mohawk, awakened too by the noise, grasped his
leg with one hand, and with the other drawing his knife from his
girdle, he pointed it at Everell's heart, in the act to strike if he
should make the least movement, or sound.
Caution is the instinct of the weaker animals; the Indian cannot be
surprised out of his wariness. Mononotto and his companions, thus
suddenly awakened, remained as fixed and silent as the trees about
The men in the canoes suspended their oars for a moment, and seemed
at a loss how to proceed, or whether to proceed at all. "It is a risky
business, I can tell you, Digby," said one of them, "to plunge into
those woods—'it is ill fighting with wild beasts in their own
den'—they may start out upon us from their holes when we are least
looking for them."
"And if they should," replied Digby, in the voice of one who would
fain enforce reason with persuasion, "if they should, Lawrence, are we
not six stout christian men, with bold hearts, and the Lord on our
side, to boot?"
"I grant ye, that's fighting at odds; but I mistrust we have no
command from the Lord to come out on this wild-goose chase."
"I take a known duty," replied Digby, "always to be a command from
the Lord, and you, Lawrence, I am sure, will be as ready as another man
to serve under such an order."
Lawrence was silenced for a moment, and another voice spoke—"Yes,
so should we all, Master Digby, if you could make out the order; but I
can't see the sense of risking all our lives, and getting but a 'thank
ye for nothing' when we get back, if, indeed, we ever get out of the
bowels of the forest again, into a clearing. To be sure, we've tracked
them thus far, but now, on the river, we lose scent. You know they
thread the forest as handily as my good woman threads her needle; and
for us to pursue them, is as vain a thing as for my old chimney-corner
cat to chase a catamount through the woods. Come, come— let's head
about, and give it up for a bad job."
"Stop, stop, my friends," cried Digby, as they were about to put
the boat around; "ye surely have not all faint hearts. Feare-naught,
you will not so belie your christian-name, as to turn your back on
danger. And you, John Wilkin, who cut down the Pequods, as you were
wont to mow the swarth in Suffolk, will you have it thrown up to you,
that you wanted courage to pursue the caitiffs? Go home, Lawrence, and
take your curly-pated boy on your knee, and thank God with what heart
you may, for his spared life; and all, all of you go to that childless
man, at Bethel, and say, 'we could not brave the terrors of the forest
to save your child, for we have pleasant homes and wives and children.'
For myself, the Lord helping, while I've life, I'll not turn back
without the boy; and if there's one among you, that hopes for God's
pity, let him go with me."
"Why, I'm sure it was not I that proposed going back," said
"And I'm sure," said the second speaker, "that I'm willing, if the
rest are, to try our luck further."
"Now, God above reward ye, my good fellows," cried Digby, with
renewed life; "I knew it was but trying your metal, to find it true. It
is not reasonable that you should feel as I do, who have seen my
master's home looking like a slaughter-house. My mistress—the gentlest
and the best!—Oh! it's too much to think of. And then that boy, that's
worth a legion of such men as we are—of such as I, I mean. But come,
let's pull away; a little further up the stream—there's no landing
here, where the bank is so steep."
"Stay—row a little closer," cried one of the men; "I see something
like a track on the very edge of the bank; its being seemingly
impossible, is the very reason why the savages would have chosen it."
They now approached so near the shore that Everell knew they might
hear a whisper, and yet to move his lips was certain death. Those who
have experienced the agony of a night-mare, when life seemed to depend
on a single word, and that word could not be pronounced, may conceive
hisemotions at this trying moment. Friends and rescue so near, and so
"Ye are mistaken," said another of the pursuing party, after a
moment's investigation, "it's but a heron's track," which it truly was;
for the savages had been careful not to leave the slightest trace of
their footsteps where they landed. "There's a cove a little higher up,"
continued the speaker; "we'll put in there, and then if we dont get on
their trail, Master Digby must tell us what to do."
"It's plain what we must do then," said Digby, "go strait on
westerly. I have a compass, you know; there is not, as the hunters tell
us, a single smoke between this and the vallies of the Housatonick.
There the tribes are friendly, and if we reach them without falling in
with our enemy, we will not pursue them further."
"Agreed, agreed," cried all the men, and they again dashed in their
oars and made for the cove. Everell's heart sunk within him as the
sounds receded; but hope once admitted, will not be again excluded, and
with the sanguine temperament of youth, he was already mentally
calculating the chances of escape. Not so Magawisca; she knew the
dangers that beset him; she was aware of her father's determined
purpose. Her heart had again been rent by a divided duty; one word from
her would have rescued Everell, but that word would have condemned her
father; and when the boatretired, she sunk to the ground, quite spent
with the conflict of her feelings.
It may seem strange that the Indians did not avail themselves of
the advantage of their ambush to attack their pursuers; but it will be
remembered, the latter were double their number, and besides,
Mononotto's object now was, to make good his retreat with his children;
and to effect this, it was essential he should avoid any encounter with
his pursuers. After a short consultation with his associates, they
determined to remain in their present position till the morning. They
were confident they should be able to detect and avoid the track of the
enemy, and soon to get in advance of them.
"—But the scene
Is lovely round; a beautiful river there
Wanders amid the fresh and fertile meads,
The paradise he made unto himself,
Mining the soil for ages. On each side
The fields swell upwards to the hills; beyond,
Above the hills, in the blue distance, rise
The mighty columns with which earth props heaven.
There is a tale about these gray old rocks,
A sad tradition"
It is not our purpose to describe, step by step, the progress of
the Indian fugitives. Their sagacity in traversing their native
forests; their skill in following and eluding an enemy, and all their
politic devices, have been so well described in a recent popular work,
that their usages have become familiar as household words, and nothing
remains but to shelter defects of skill and knowledge under the veil of
silence; since we hold it to be an immutable maxim, that a thing had
better not be done, than be ill-done.
Suffice it to say, then, that the savages, after crossing the track
of their pursuers, threaded the forest with as little apparent
uncertainty as to their path, as is now felt by travellers who pass
through the same still romantic country, in a stage-coach and on a
broad turnpike. As they receded from the Connecticut, the pine levels
disappeared; the country was broken into hills, and rose into high
They traversed the precipitous sides of a river that, swoln by the
vernal rains, wound its way' among the hills, foaming and raging like
an angry monarch. The river, as they traced its course, dwindled to a
mountain rill, but still retaining its impetuous character, leaping and
tumbling for miles through a descending defile, between high mountains,
whose stillness, grandeur, and immobility, contrasted with the noisy
reckless little stream, as stern manhood with infancy. In one place,
which the Indians called the throat of the mountain, they were obliged
to betake themselves to the channel of the brook, there not being room
on its margin for a footpath. The branches of the trees that grew from
the rocky and precipitous declivities on each side, met and interlaced,
forming a sylvan canopy over the imprisoned stream. To Magawisca, whose
imagination breathed a living spirit into all the objects of nature, it
seemed as if the spirits of the wood had stooped to listen to its sweet
After tracing this little sociable rill to its source, they again
plunged into the silent forest—waded through marshy ravines, and
mounted to the summitsof sterile hills; till at length, at the close of
the third day, after having gradually descended for several miles, the
hills on one side receded, and left a little interval of meadow,
through which they wound into the lower valley of the Housatonick.
This continued and difficult march had been sustained by Everell
with a spirit and fortitude that evidently won the favour of the
savages, who always render homage to superiority over physical evil.
There was something more than this common feeling, in the joy with
which Mononotto noted the boy's silent endurance, and even contempt of
pain. One noble victim seemed to him better than a "human hecatomb." In
proportion to his exultation in possessing an object worthy to avenge
his son, was his fear that his victim would escape from him. During the
march, Everell had twice, aided by Magawisca, nearly achieved his
liberty. These detected conspiracies, though defeated, rendered the
chief impatient to execute his vengeance; and he secretly resolved that
it should not be delayed longer than the morrow.
As the fugitives emerged from the narrow defile, a new scene opened
upon them; a scene of valley and hill, river and meadow, surrounded by
mountains, whose encircling embrace, expressed protection and love to
the gentle spirits of the valley. A light summer shower had just
fallen, and the clouds, "in thousand liveries dight," hadrisen from the
western horizon, and hung their rich draperies about the clear sun. The
horizontal rays passed over the valley, and flushed the upper branches
of the trees, the summits of the hills, and the mountains, with a flood
of light, whilst the low grounds reposing in deep shadow, presented one
of those striking and accidental contrasts in nature, that a painter
would have selected to give effect to his art.
The gentle Housatonick wound through the depths of the valley, in
some parts contracted to a narrow channel, and murmuring over the rocks
that rippled its surface; and in others, spreading wide its clear
mirror, and lingering like a lover amidst the vines, trees, and
flowers, that fringed its banks. Thus it flows now—but not as then in
the sylvan freedom of nature, when no clattering mills and bustling
factories, threw their prosaic shadows over the silver waters—when not
even a bridge spanned their bosom—when not a trace of man's art was
seen save the little bark canoe that glided over them, or lay idly
moored along the shore. The savage was rather the vassal, than the
master of nature; obeying her laws, but never usurping her dominion. He
only used the land she prepared, and cast in his corn but where she
seemed to invite him by mellowing and upheaving the rich mould. He did
not presume to hew down her trees, the proud crest of her uplands, and
convert them into "russet lawns and fallows grey." The axman's stroke,
thatmusic to the settler's ear, never then violated the peace of
nature, or made discord in her music.
Imagination may be indulged in lingering for a moment in those
dusky regions of the past; but it is not permitted to reasonable
instructed man, to admire or regret tribes of human beings, who lived
and died, leaving scarcely a more enduring memorial, than the forsaken
nest that vanishes before one winter's storms.
But to return to our wanderers. They had entered the expanded vale,
by following the windings of the Housatonick around a hill, conical and
easy of ascent, excepting on that side which overlooked the river,
where, half-way from the base to the summit, rose a perpendicular rock,
bearing on its beetling front the age of centuries. On every other
side, the hill was garlanded with laurels, now in full and profuse
bloom; here and there surmounted by an intervening pine, spruce, or
hemlock, whose seared winter foliage was fringed with the bright tender
sprouts of spring. We believe there is a chord, even in the heart of
savage man, that responds to the voice of nature. Certain it is, the
party paused, as it appeared from a common instinct, at a little grassy
nook, formed by the curve of the hill, to gaze on this singularly
beautiful spot. Everell looked on the smoke that curled from the huts
of the village, embosomed in pine trees, on the adjacent plain. The
scene, to him, breathed peace and happiness, and gushing thoughts of
home filled his eyes withtears. Oneco plucked clusters of laurels, and
decked his little favourite, and the old chief fixed his melancholy eye
on a solitary pine, scathed and blasted by tempests, that rooted in the
ground where he stood, lifted its topmost branches to the bare rock,
where they seemed, in their wild desolation, to brave the elemental
fury that had stripped them of beauty and life.
The leafless tree was truly, as it appeared to the eye of
Mononotto, a fit emblem of the chieftain of a ruined tribe. "See you,
child," he said, addressing Magawisca, "those unearthed roots? the tree
must fall—hear you the death-song that wails through those blasted
"Nay, father, listen not to the sad strain; it is but the spirit of
the tree mourning over its decay; rather turn thine ear to the glad
song of this bright stream, image of the good. She nourishes the aged
trees, and cherishes the tender flowrets, and her song is ever of
happiness, till she reaches the great sea—image of our eternity."
"Speak not to me of happiness, Magawisca; it has vanished with the
smoke of our homes. I tell ye, the spirits of our race are gathered
about this blasted tree. Samoset points to that rock —that
sacrifice-rock." His keen glance turned from the rock to Everell.
Magawisca understood its portentous meaning, and she clasped her
hands in mute and agonizing supplication. He answered to the silent
entreaty."It is in vain—my purpose is fixed, and here it shall be
accomplished. Why hast thou linked thy heart, foolish girl, to this
English boy? I have sworn, kneeling on the ashes of our hut, that I
would never spare a son of our enemy's race. The lights of heaven
witnessed my vow, and think you, that now this boy is given into my
hands to avenge thy brother, I will spare him for thy prayer?
No—though thou lookest on me with thy mother's eye, and speakest with
her voice, I will not break my vow."
Mononotto had indeed taken a final and fatal resolution; and
prompted, as he fancied, by super-natural intimations, and, perhaps,
dreading the relentings of his own heart, he determined on its
immediate execution. He announced his decision to the Mohawks. A brief
and animated consultation followed, during which they brandished their
tomahawks, and cast wild and threatening glances at Everell, who at
once comprehended the meaning of these menacing looks and gestures. He
turned an appealing glance to Magawisca. She did not speak. "Am I to
die now?" he asked; she turned shuddering from him.
Everell had expected death from his savage captors, but while it
was comparatively distant, he thought he was indifferent to it, or
rather, he believed he should welcome it as a release from the horrible
recollection of the massacre at Bethel, which haunted him day and
night. But now that his fate seemed inevitable, nature was appalled,and
shrunk from it; and the impassive spirit, for a moment, endured a pang
that there cannot be in any "corp'ral sufferance." The avenues of sense
were closed, and past and future were present to the mind, as if it
were already invested with the attributes of its eternity. From this
agonizing excitement, Everell was roused by a command from the savages
to move onward. "It is then deferred," thought Magawisca, and heaving a
deep sigh, as if for a moment relieved from a pressure on her
over-burthened heart, she looked to her father for an explanation; he
said nothing, but proceeded in silence towards the village.
The lower valley of the Housatonick, at the period to which our
history refers, was inhabited by a peaceful, and, as far as that
epithet could ever be applied to our savages, an agricultural tribe,
whose territory, situate midway between the Hudson and the Connecticut,
was bounded and defended on each side by mountains, then deemed
impracticable to a foe. These inland people had heard from the hunters
of distant tribes, who occasionally visited them, of the aggressions
and hostility of the English strangers, but regarding it as no concern
of theirs, they listened, much as we listen to news of the Burmese
war—Captain Symmes' theory—or lectures on phrenology. One of their
hunters, it is true, had penetrated to Springfield, and another had
passed over the hills to the Dutch fort at Albany, and returned with
the report that the strangers' skin was the colourof cowardice—that
they served their women, and spoke an unintelligible language. There
was little in this account to interest those who were so ignorant as to
be scarcely susceptible of curiosity, and they hardly thought of the
dangerous strangers at all, or only thought of them as a people from
whom they had nothing to hope or fear, when the appearance of the
ruined Pequod chief, with his English captives, roused them from their
The village was on a level, sandy plain, extending for about half a
mile, and raised by a natural and almost perpendicular bank fifty feet
above the level of the meadows. At one extremity of the plain, was the
hill we have described; the other was terminated by a broad green,
appropriated to sports and councils.
The huts of the savages were irregularly scattered over the
plain—some on cleared ground, and others just peeping out of copses of
pine trees—some on the very verge of the plain, overlooking the
meadows—and others under the shelter of a high hill that formed the
northern boundary of the valley, and seemed stationed there to defend
the inhabitants from their natural enemies —cold, and wind.
The huts were the simplest structures of human art; but, as in no
natural condition of society a perfect equality obtains, some were more
spacious and commodious than others. All were made with flexible poles,
firmly set in the ground, and drawn and attached together at the top.
Those of the more indolent, or least skilful, were filled in with
branches of trees and hung over with coarse mats; while those of the
better order were neatly covered with bark, prepared with art, and
considerable labour for the purpose. Little garden patches adjoined a
few of the dwellings, and were planted with beans, pumpkins, and
squashes; the seeds of these vegetables, according to an Indian
tradition, (in which we may perceive the usual admixture of fable and
truth,) having been sent to them, in the bill of a bird, from the
south-west, by the Great Spirit.
The Pequod chief and his retinue passed, just at twilight, over the
plain, by one of the many foot-paths that indented it. Many of the
women were still at work with their stone-pointed hoes, in their
gardens. Some of the men and children were at their sports on the
green. Here a straggler was coming from the river with a string of fine
trout; another fortunate sportsman appeared from the hill-side with
wild turkeys and partridges; while two emerged from the forest with
still more noble game, a fat antlered buck.
This village, as we have described it, and perhaps from the
affection its natural beauty inspired, remained the residence of the
savages long after they had vanished from the surrounding country.
Within the memory of the present generation the remnant of the tribe
migrated to the west; andeven now some of their families make a summer
pilgrimage to this, their Jerusalem, and are regarded with a melancholy
interest by the present occupants of the soil.
Mononotto directed his steps to the wigwam of the Housatonick
chief, which stood on one side of the green. The chief advanced from
his hut to receive him, and by the most animated gestures expressed to
Mononotto his pleasure in the success of his incursion, from which it
seemed that Mononotto had communicated with him on his way to the
A brief and secret consultation succeeded, which appeared to
consist of propositions from the Pequod, and assent on the part of the
Housatonick chief, and was immediately followed by a motion to separate
the travellers. Mononotto and Everell were to remain with the chief,
and the rest of the party to be conducted to the hut of his sister.
Magawisca's prophetic spirit too truly interpreted this
arrangement; and thinking or hoping there might be some saving power in
her presence, since her father tacitly acknowledged it by the pains he
took to remove her, she refused to leave him. He insisted vehemently;
but finding her unyielding, he commanded the Mohawks to force her away.
Resistance was vain, but resistance she would still have made, but
for the interposition of Everell. "Go with them, Magawisca," he
said,"and leave me to my fate.—We shall meet again."
"Never!" she shrieked; "your fate is death."
"And after death we shall meet again," replied Everell, with a
calmness that evinced his mind was already in a great degree resigned
to the event that now appeared inevitable. "Do not fear for me,
Magawisca. Better thoughts have put down my fears. When it is over,
think of me."
"And what am I to do with this scorching fire till then?" she
asked, pressing both her hands on her head. "Oh, my father, has your
heart become stone?"
Her father turned from her appeal, and motioned to Everell to enter
the hut. Everell obeyed; and when the mat dropped over the entrance and
separated him from the generous creature, whose heart had kept true
time with his through all his griefs, who he knew would have redeemed
his life with her own, he yielded to a burst of natural and not unmanly
If this could be deemed a weakness, it was his last. Alone with his
God, he realized the sufficiency of His presence and favour. He
appealed to that mercy which is never refused, nor given in stinted
measure to the humble suppliant. Every expression of pious confidence
and resignation, which he had heard with the heedless ear of childhood,
now flashed like an illumination upon his mind.
His mother's counsels and instructions, to whichhe had often lent a
wearied attention—the passages from the sacred book he had been
compelled to commit to memory, when his truant thoughts were ranging
forest and field, now returned upon him as if a celestial spirit
breathed them into his soul. Stillness and peace stole over him. He was
amazed at his own tranquillity. 'It may be,' he thought, 'that my
mother and sisters are permitted to minister to me.'
He might have been agitated by the admission of the least ray of
hope; but hope was utterly excluded, and it was only when he thought of
his bereft father, that his courage failed him.
But we must leave him to his solitude and silence, only interrupted
by the distant hootings of the owl, and the heavy tread of the Pequod
chief, who spent the night in slowly pacing before the door of the hut.
Magawisca and her companions were conducted to a wigwam standing on
that part of the plain on which they had first entered. It was
completely enclosed on three sides by dwarf oaks. In front there was a
little plantation of the edible luxuries of the savages. On entering
the hut, they perceived it had but one occupant, a sick emaciated old
woman, who was stretched on her mat covered with skins. She raised her
head, as the strangers entered, and at the sight of Faith Leslie,
uttered a faint exclamation, deeming the fair creature a messenger from
the spirit-land— but being informed who they were and whence they
came, she made every sign and expression of courtesy to them, that her
feeble strength permitted.
Her hut contained all that was essential to savage hospitality. A
few brands were burning on a hearth-stone in the middle of the
apartment. The smoke that found egress, passed out by a hole in the
centre of the roof, over which a mat was skilfully adjusted, and turned
to the windward-side by a cord that hung within. The old woman, in her
long pilgrimage, had accumulated stores of Indian riches; piles of
sleeping-mats laid in one corner; nicely dressed skins garnished the
walls; baskets, of all shapes and sizes, gaily decorated with rude
images of birds and flowers, contained dried fruits, medicinal herbs,
Indian corn, nuts, and game. A covered pail, made of folds of
birch-bark, was filled with a kind of beer— a decoction of various
roots and aromatic shrubs. Neatly turned wooden spoons and bowls, and
culinary utensils of clay supplied all the demands of the inartificial
housewifery of savage life.
The travellers, directed by their old hostess, prepared their
evening repast, a short and simple process to an Indian; and having
satisfied the cravings of hunger, they were all, with the exception of
Magawisca and one of the Mohawks, in a very short time, stretched on
their mats and fast asleep.
Magawisca seated herself at the feet of the old woman, and had
neither spoken nor movedsince she entered the hut. She watched
anxiously and impatiently the movements of the Indian, whose appointed
duty it appeared to be, to guard her. He placed a wooden bench against
the mat which served for a door, and stuffing his pipe with tobacco
from the pouch slung over his shoulder, and then filling a gourd with
the liquor in the pail and placing it beside him, he quietly sat
himself down to his night-watch.
The old woman became restless, and her loud and repeated groans, at
last, withdrew Magawisca from her own miserable thoughts. She inquired
if she could do aught to allay her pain; the sufferer pointed to a jar
that stood on the embers in which a medicinal preparation was
simmering. She motioned to Magawisca to give her a spoonful of the
liquor; she did so, and as she took it, "it is made," she said, "of all
the plants on which the spirit of sleep has breathed," and so it seemed
to be; for she had scarcely swallowed it, when she fell asleep.
Once or twice she waked and murmured something, and once Magawisca
heard her say, "Hark to the wekolis!—he is perched on the old oak, by
the sacrifice-rock, and his cry is neither musical, nor merry—a bad
sign in a bird."
But all signs and portents were alike to Magawisca—every sound
rung a death-peal to her ear, and the hissing silence had in it the
mystery andfearfulness of death. The night wore slowly and painfully
away, as if, as in the fairy tale, the moments were counted by drops of
heart's-blood. But the most wearisome nights will end; the morning
approached; the familiar notes of the birds of earliest dawn were
heard, and the twilight peeped through the crevices of the hut, when a
new sound fell on Magawisca's startled ear. It was the slow measured
tread of many feet. The poor girl now broke silence, and vehemently
entreated the Mohawk to let her pass the door, or at least to raise the
He shook his head with a look of unconcern, as if it were the
petulant demand of a child, when the old woman, awakened by the noise,
cried out that she was dying—that she must have light and air, and the
Mohawk started up, impulsively, to raise the mat. It was held between
two poles that formed the door-posts, and while he was disengaging it,
Magawisca, as if inspired, and quick as thought, poured the liquor from
the jar on the fire into the hollow of her hand, and dashed it into the
gourd which the Mohawk had just replenished. The narcotic was boiling
hot, but she did not cringe; she did not even feel it; and she could
scarcely repress a cry of joy, when the savage turned round and
swallowed, at one draught, the contents of the cup.
Magawisca looked eagerly through the aperture, but though the sound
of the footsteps had approached nearer, she saw no one. She saw
nothingbut a gentle declivity that sloped to the plain, a few yards
from the hut, and was covered with a grove of trees; beyond and peering
above them, was the hill, and the sacrifice-rock; the morning star, its
rays not yet dimmed in the light of day, shed a soft trembling beam on
its summit. This beautiful star, alone in the heavens, when all other
lights were quenched, spoke to the superstitious, or, rather, the
imaginative spirit of Magawisca. 'Star of promise,' she thought, 'thou
dost still linger with us when day is vanished, and now thou art there,
alone, to proclaim the coming sun; thou dost send in upon my soul a ray
of hope; and though it be but as the spider's slender pathway, it shall
sustain my courage.' She had scarcely formed this resolution, when she
needed all its efficacy, for the train, whose footsteps she had heard,
appeared in full view.
First came her father, with the Housatonick chief; next, alone, and
walking with a firm undaunted step, was Everell; his arms folded over
his breast, and his head a little inclined upward, so that Magawisca
fancied she saw his full eye turned heavenward; after him walked all
the men of the tribe, ranged according to their age, and the rank
assigned to each by his own exploits.
They were neither painted nor ornamented according to the common
usage at festivals and sacrifices, but every thing had the air of hasty
preparation. Magawisca gazed in speechless despair. The procession
entered the wood, and for a few moments, disappeared from her sight—
again they were visible, mounting the acclivity of the hill, by a
winding narrow foot-path, shaded on either side by laurels. They now
walked singly and slowly, but to Magawisca, their progress seemed rapid
as a falling avalanche. She felt that, if she were to remain pent in
that prisonhouse, her heart would burst, and she sprang towards the
door-way in the hope of clearing her passage, but the Mohawk caught her
arm in his iron grasp, and putting her back, calmly retained his
station. She threw herself on her knees to him—she entreated—she
wept—but in vain: he looked on her with unmoved apathy. Already she
saw the foremost of the party had reached the rock, and were forming a
semicircle around it—again she appealed to her determined keeper, and
again he denied her petition, but with a faltering tongue, and a
Magawisca, in the urgency of a necessity that could brook no delay,
had forgotten, or regarded as useless, the sleeping potion she had
infused into the Mohawk's draught; she now saw the powerful agent was
at work for her, and with that quickness of apprehension that made the
operations of her mind as rapid as the impulses of instinct, she
perceived that every emotion she excited but hindered the effect of the
potion, suddenly seeming to relinquish all purpose and hope of escape,
she threw herself on a mat, and hid her face, burningwith agonizing
impatience, in her mantle. There we must leave her, and join that
fearful company who were gathered together to witness what they
believed to be the execution of exact and necessary justice.
Seated around their sacrifice-rock—their holy of holies—they
listened to the sad story of the Pequod chief, with dejected
countenances and downcast eyes, save when an involuntary glance turned
on Everell, who stood awaiting his fate, cruelly aggravated by every
moment's delay, with a quiet dignity and calm resignation, that would
have become a hero, or a saint. Surrounded by this dark cloud of
savages, his fair countenance kindled by holy inspiration, he looked
scarcely like a creature of earth.
There might have been among the spectators, some who felt the
silent appeal of the helpless courageous boy; some whose hearts moved
them to interpose to save the selected victim; but they were restrained
by their interpretation of natural justice, as controlling to them as
our artificial codes of laws to us.
Others of a more cruel, or more irritable disposition, when the
Pequod described his wrongs, and depicted his sufferings, brandished
their tomahawks, and would have hurled them at the boy, but the chief
said—"Nay, brothers—the work is mine—he dies by my hand—for my
first-born—life for life—he dies by a single stroke, for thus was my
boy cut off. The blood of sachemsis in his veins. He has the skin, but
not the soul of that mixed race, whose gratitude is like that vanishing
mist," and he pointed to the vapour that was melting from the mountain
tops into the transparent ether; "and their promises are like this,"
and he snapped a dead branch from the pine beside which he stood, and
broke it in fragments "Boy, as he is, he fought for his mother, as the
eagle fights for its young. I watched him in the mountain-path, when
the blood gushed from his torn feet; not a word from his smooth lip,
betrayed his pain."
Mononotto embellished his victim with praises, as the ancients
wreathed theirs with flowers. He brandished his hatchet over Everell's
head, and cried, exultingly, "See, he flinches not. Thus stood my boy,
when they flashed their sabres before his eyes, and bade him betray his
father. Brothers—My people have told me I bore a woman's heart towards
the enemy. Ye shall see. I will pour out this English boy's blood to
the last drop, and give his flesh and bones to the dogs and wolves."
He then motioned to Everell to prostrate himself on the rock, his
face downward. In this position the boy would not see the descending
stroke. Even at this moment of dire vengeance, the instincts of a
merciful nature asserted their rights.
Everell sunk calmly on his knees, not to supplicate life, but to
commend his soul to God.He clasped his hands together. He did not—he
could not speak; his soul was
"Rapt in still communion that transcends
The imperfect offices of prayer."
At this moment a sun-beam penetrated the trees that enclosed the
area, and fell athwart his brow and hair, kindling it with an almost
supernatural brightness. To the savages, this was a token that the
victim was accepted, and they sent forth a shout that rent the air.
Everell bent forward, and pressed his forehead to the rock. The chief
raised the deadly weapon, when Magawisca, springing from the
precipitous side of the rock, screamed—"Forbear!" and interposed her
arm. It was too late. The blow was levelled—force and direction
given—the stroke aimed at Everell's neck, severed his defender's arm,
and left him unharmed. The lopped quivering member dropped over the
precipice. Mononotto staggered and fell senseless, and all the savages,
uttering horrible yells, rushed toward the fatal spot.
"Stand back!" cried Magawisca. "I have bought his life with my own.
Fly, Everell—nay, speak not, but fly—thither—to the east!" she
cried, more vehemently.
Everell's faculties were paralyzed by a rapid succession of violent
emotions. He was conscious only of a feeling of mingled gratitude and
admiration for his preserver. He stood motionless, gazing on her. "I
die in vain then," she cried, in an accent of such despair, that he was
roused. He threw his arms around her, and pressed her to his heart, as
he would a sister that had redeemed his life with her own, and then
tearing himself from her, he disappeared. No one offered to follow him.
The voice of nature rose from every heart, and responding to the
justice of Magawisca's claim, bade him "God speed!" To all it seemed
that his deliverance had been achieved by miraculous aid. All—the
dullest and coldest, paid involuntary homage to the heroic girl, as if
she were a superior being, guided and upheld by supernatural power.
Every thing short of miracle she had achieved. The moment the
opiate dulled the senses of her keeper, she escaped from the hut; and
aware that, if she attempted to penetrate to her father through the
semicircular line of spectators that enclosed him, she should be
repulsed, and probably borne off the ground, she had taken the
desperate resolution of mounting the rock, where only her approach
would be unperceived. She did not stop to ask herself if it were
possible, but impelled by a determined spirit, or rather, we would
believe, by that inspiration that teaches the bird its unknown path,
and leads the goat, with its young, safely over the mountain crags, she
ascended the rock. There were crevices in it, but they seemed scarcely
sufficient to support the eagle with his grappling talon, and twigs
issuingfrom the fissures, but so slender, that they waved like a blade
of grass under the weight of the young birds that made a rest on them,
and yet, such is the power of love, stronger than death, that with
these inadequate helps, Magawisca scaled the rock, and achieved her
"Pawwow—a priest. These do begin and order their service and
invocation of their gods, and all the people follow, and join
interchangeably in a laborious bodily service unto sweating, especially
of the priest, who spends himself in strange antick gestures and
actions, even unto fainting. Being once in their houses and beholding
what their worship was, I never durst be an eye-witness, spectator, or
looker-on, lest I should have been a partaker of Satan's inventions and
— —Roger Williams.
The following letter, written by Hope Leslie, and addressed to
Everell Fletcher, then residing in England, will show, briefly, the
state of affairs at Bethel, seven years subsequent to the date of the
events already detailed. Little had occurred, save the changes of the
seasons, in nature and human life, to mark the progress of time.
"This is the fifth anniversary of the day you left us—your
birth-day, too, you know; so we celebrate it, but with a blended joy
and grief, which, as my dear guardian says, is suitable to the mixed
condition of human life.
"I surprised him, this morning, with a painting, on which I had
expended much time and laid outall my poor skill. The scene is a forest
glade—a boy is sleeping under a birch tree, near a thicket of hazle
bushes, and from their deepest shadow peeps a gaunt wolf in the act of
springing on him, while just emerging from the depths of the wood, in
the back ground, appears a man with a musket levelled at the animal. I
had placed the painting on the mantel-piece, and it caught your
father's eye as he entered to attend our morning exercise. He said
nothing, for, you know, the order of our devotions is as strictly
observed as were the services of the ancient temple. So we all took our
accustomed places—I mine on the cushion beside your father; yours
still stands on the other side of him, like the vacant seat of Banquo.
Love can paint as well as fear; and though no form, palpable to common
eyes, is seated there, yet, to our second sight, imagination produces
from her shadowy regions the form of our dear Everell.
"I believe the picture had touched the hidden springs of memory,
for your father, though he was reading the chapter of Exodus that
speaks of the wise-hearted men who wrought for the sanctuary, (a
portion of scripture not particularly moving,) repeatedly wiped the
gathering tears from his eyes. Jennet is never lagging in the
demonstration of religious emotion, and I inferred, from her responsive
hems! and hahs! that, as there was no obvious cause for tears, she
fancied affecting types were lurking in the 'loops and selvedges, and
tenons and sockets, and fine twined linen,' about which your father was
reading. But when he came, in his prayer, to his customary mention of
his absent child—when he touched upon the time when his habitation was
made desolate—and then upon the deliverance of his son, his only son,
from the savage foe, and the ravening beast—his voice faltered—every
heart responded; Digby sobbed aloud—and even aunt Grafton, whose
aversion to standing at her devotions has not diminished with her
increasing years, stood a monument of patience till the clock twice
told the hour; though it was but the other day when she thought your
father was drawing to a close, and he started a new topic, that she
broke out, after her way of thinking aloud, "well, if he is going on
t'other tack, I'll sit down."
"When the exercise was finished, Digby gave vent to his pleasure.
'There, Jennet,' he said, rubbing his hands exultingly, 'you are always
on the look-out for witchcraft. I wonder what you call that? It is a
perfect picture of the place where I found Mr. Everell, as that fellow
there, in the frieze jacket is of me; and any body would know that,
though they would not expect to see John Digby painted in a picture. To
be sure, Mr. Everell does not look quite so pale and famished as he did
when I first saw him sleeping under that birch tree: as I live, she has
put his name there, just as he had carved it. Well, it will be akind of
a history for Mr. Everell's children, when we, and the forest too, are
"Your father permitted the honest fellow's volubility to flow
unrepressed; he himself only said, as he drew me to him and kissed me,
'you have kept a faithful copy of our dear Everell in your memory.'
"My honest tutor Cradock and aunt Grafton contended for the honour
of my excellence in the art—poor Cradock, my Apollo! He maintained
that he had taught me the theory, while aunt Grafton boasted her
knowledge of the practice: but, alas! the little honour my success
reflected on them, was not worth their contest; and I did them no
injustice in secretly ascribing all my skill to the source whence the
Corinthian maid derived her power to trace, by the secret lamp, the
shade of her lover. Affection for my dear Everell and for his father is
my inspiration; but, I confess, it might never have appeared in the
mimicry, of even this rude painting, if aunt Grafton had not taken
lessons at the Convent of the Chartreux at Paris, and had daily access,
as you know she has a thousand times repeated to us, to the paintings
of Rossi and Albati in the palace of Fontainbleau.
"But into what egotism does this epistolary journalizing betray me?
The day is yours, Everell, and I will not speak again of myself.
"Aunt Grafton, meaning to do it what honour she could, had our
dinner-table set out with massivesilver dishes, engraved with her
family's armorial bearings. They have never before seen the light in
America. Your father smiled at their contrast with our bare walls, pine
tables, chairs, said, 'we looked like Attila, in his rude hut,
surrounded with the spoils of Rome;' and aunt Grafton, who has a
decided taste for all the testimonials of her family grandeur, entered
into a warm discussion with Master Cradock as to how far the new man
might lawfully indulge in a vain show. By the way, their skirmishing on
the debateable grounds of church and state, have of late almost ceased.
When I remarked this to your father, he said, he believed I had brought
about the present amicable state of affairs by affording them a kind of
neutral ground, where their common affections and interests met.
Whatever has produced this result, it is too happy not to be carefully
cherished, so I have taken care that my poor tutor, who never would
intentionally provoke a human being, should avoid, as far as possible,
all those peculiarities, which, as some colours offend certain animals,
were sure, every day, and thrice a day, to call forth aunt Grafton's
animadversions. I have, too, entered into a secret confederacy with
Digby—the effect of which is, that Master Cradock's little brown wig
is brushed every morning, and is, at least once each day, straight on
his head. The brush has invaded too, the hitherto unexplored regions of
his broadcloth, and his black stock gives place, on every Lord'sday at
least, to a white collar. Aunt Grafton herself has more than once
remarked, that 'for one of these scholar-folks, he goes quite decent.'
As to aunt Grafton, I am afraid that if you were here, though we may
both have gained with our years a little discretion—yet I am afraid we
should laugh, as we were wont to do, at her innocent peculiarities. She
spends many a weary hour in devising new head-gear, and both daily, as
Jennet says, break the law against costly apparel. Jennet is the same
untired and tiresome railer. If there are anodynes for the tongue in
England, pray send some for her.
"We are going, to-morrow, on an excursion to a new settlement on
the river, called Northampton. Your father feared the toils and perils
of the way for me, and has consented, reluctantly, to my being of the
party. Aunt Grafton remonstrated, and expressed her natural and kind
apprehensions, by alleging that it was 'very unladylike, and a thing
quite unheard of in England,' for a young person, like me, to go out
exploring a new country. I urged, that our new country developes
faculties that young ladies, in England, were unconscious of
possessing. She maintained, as usual, that whatever was not practised
and known in England, was not worth possessing; but finally she
concluded her opposition with her old customary phrase, 'Well, it's
peculiar of you, Miss Hope,'which, you know, she always uses to
characterize whatever opposes her opinions or inclinations.
"My good tutor, who would fain be my ægisbearer, insists on
attending me. You may laugh at him, Everell, and call him my
knight-errant, or squire, or what you will; but I assure you, he is a
right godly and suitable appendage to a pilgrim damsel. I will finish
my letter when I return; a journey of twenty miles has put my thoughts,
(which, you know, are ever ready to take wing,) to flight.
"25th October, Thursday,—or, as the injunction has come from
Boston that we be more particular in avoiding these heathen
designations, 10th month, 5th day.
"Dear Everell,—We followed the Indian footpath that winds along
the margin of the river, and reached Northampton without any accident.
There is but a narrow opening there, scooped out of the forest, and Mr.
Holioke, wishing to have an extensive view of the country, engaged an
Indian guide to conduct your father and himself to the summit of a
mountain, which rises precipitously from the meadows, and overlooks an
ocean of forest.
"I had gazed on the beautiful summits of this mountain, that, in
this transparent October atmosphere, were as blue and bright as the
heavensthemselves, till I had an irrepressible desire to go to them;
and, like the child who cried for the horns of the silver moon, I
should have cried too, if my wishes had been unattainable.
"Your father acquiescéd (as my conscience tells me, Everell, he
does too easily) in my wishes, and nobody objected but my tutor, who
evidently thought it would be unmanly for him to shrink from toils that
I braved, and who looked forward with dread and dismay to the painful
ascent. However, we all reached the summit, without scath to life or
limb, and then we looked down upon a scene that made me clap my hands,
and my pious companions raise their eyes in silent devotion. I hope you
have not forgotten the autumnal brilliancy of our woods. They say the
foliage in England has a paler sickly hue, but for our western
world—nature's youngest child—she has reserved her many-coloured
robe, the brightest and most beautiful of her garments. Last week the
woods were as green as an emerald, and now they look as if all the
summer-spirits had been wreathing them with flowers of the richest and
most brilliant dyes.
"Philosophers may inquire into the process of nature, and find out,
if they can, how such sudden changes are produced, though, after all, I
fancy their inquiries will turn out like the experiment of the
inquisitive boy, who cut open the drum to find the sound; but I love to
lend my imagination topoets' dreams, and to fancy nature has her
myriads of little spirits, who
"do wander every where,
"Swifter than the moone's sphere."
He must have a torpid imagination, and a cold heart, I think, who
does not fancy these vast forests filled with invisible intelligences.
Have these beautiful vallies of our Connecticut, which we saw from the
mountain, looking like a smile on nature's rugged face, and stretching
as far as our vision extended, till the broad river diminished in the
shadowy distance, to a silver thread; have they been seen and enjoyed
only by those savages, who have their summer home in them? While I was
pondering on this thought, Mr. Holioke, who seldom indulges in a
fanciful suggestion, said to your father, 'The Romans, you know,
brother Fletcher, had their Cenotapha, empty sepulchres, in honour of
those who died in their country's cause, and mouldered on a distant
soil. Why may we not have ours? and surmise that the spirits of those
who have died for liberty and religion, have come before us to this
wilderness, and taken possession in the name of the Lord?'
"We lingered for an hour or two on the mountain. Mr. Holioke and
your father were noting the sites for future villages, already marked
out for them by clusters of Indian huts. The instinct of the children
of the forest guides them to these rich intervals, which the sun and
the river prepareand almost till for them. While the gentlemen were
thus engaged, I observed that the highest rock of the mountain was
crowned with a pyramidal pile of stones, and about them were strewn
relicts of Indian sacrifices. It has, I believe, been the custom of
people, in all ages, who were instructed only by nature, to worship on
high places. I pointed to the rude altar, and ventured to ask Mr.
Holioke if an acceptable service might not have been offered there?
"He shook his head at me, as if I were little better than a
heathen, and said, 'it was all worship to an unknown God.'
"'But,' said your father, 'the time is approaching, when through
the vallies beneath, and on this mount, incense shall rise from
"'It were well,' replied Mr. Holioke, 'if we now, in the spirit,
consecrated it to the Lord.'
"'And let me stand sponsor for it,' said I, 'while you christen it
"I was gently rebuked for my levity, but my hint was not unkindly
taken; for the good man has never since spoken of his name-sake,
without calling it 'Mount Holioke.'
"My senses were enchanted on that high place. I listened to the
mighty sound that rose from the forest depths of the abyss, like the
roar of the distant ocean, and to the gentler voices of nature, borne
on the invisible waves of air—the farewell notes of the few birds that
still linger with us —the rustling of the leaves beneath the
squirrel's joyous leap—the whizzing of the partridge startled from his
perch; the tinkling of the cow-bell, and the barking of the Indian's
dog. I was lying with my ear over the rock, when your father reminded
me that it was time to return, and bade Digby, who had attended us,
'look well to Miss Leslie's descent, and lend a helping hand to Master
"My poor tutor's saffron skin changed to brick colour; and that he
might not think I heard the imputation cast upon his serviceable
powers, I stepped between him and Digby, and said, 'that with such
wings on each side of me, I might fly down the mountain.'
"'Ah, Miss Hope Leslie,' said Cradock, restored to his
self-complacency, 'you are a merry thought atween us.' He would fain
have appeared young and agile; not from vanity, Everell, but to
persuade me to accept his proffered assistance. Poor old man! he put me
in mind, as he went after Digby, panting and leaping (or rather
settling) from crag to crag, of an ancient horse, that almost cracks
his bones to keep pace with a colt. His involuntary groans betrayed the
painof his stiffened muscles, and I lingered on every projecting cliff,
on the pretence of taking a farewell look of the vallies, but really to
allow him time to recover breath.
"In the mean time the gentlemen had got far in advance of us. We
came to the last rock of difficult passage; Digby gave me his hand to
assist me in springing from it, and asked Cradock to ascertain if the
foot-hold below was sure; a necessary precaution, as the matted leaves
had sometimes proved treacherous. Cradock in performing this office,
startled a rattle-snake, that lay concealed under a mass of leaves and
moss; the reptile coiled himself up, and darted his fangs into his
hand. I heard the rattle of victory, and saw the poor man's deathly
paleness, as he sunk to the ground, exclaiming, 'I am but a dead
"Digby turned to pursue the snake, and I sprang from the rock. I
begged Cradock to show me the wound; it was on the back of his hand. I
assured him I could easily extract the venom, and would have applied my
lips to the wound, but he withdrew his hand. Digby at that moment
returned. 'She would suck the poison from my hand, Digby,' said
Cradock; 'verily, she is but little lower than the angels.'
"'What! Miss Hope!' exclaimed Digby, 'would you be guilty of
self-murder, even if you could save the old gentleman from dying—and
dying, as it were, by the will of the Lord?' I assuredDigby that there
was no danger whatever to me; that I had read of many cases of poison
being extracted in that way, without the slightest injury to the person
extracting it. He asked me where I had read such stories. I was obliged
to refer to a book of aunt Grafton's, called 'The Wonders of the
Crusades.' This seemed to Digby but apocryphal authority; he shook his
head, and said, 'he would believe such fables no where out of the
Bible. 'I entreated, vehemently, for I well knew it could not harm me,
and I believed it to be life or death to my poor tutor. He seemed half
disposed to yield to me. 'Thou hast a marvellous persuasion, child,' he
said; 'and now I remember me of a proverb they have in Italy—the lips
extract venom from the heart, and poison from the wound.'
"Digby again shook his head. 'Nothing but one of those flourishes
they put into verses,' he said. 'Come, come, Master Cradock, stir up a
manly spirit, and let's on to the fort, where we may get help it's
lawful for you to use; and don't ransack your memory for any more such
scholar-rubbish to uphold you in consenting to our young lady's
exposing her life, to save the fag end of yours.'
"'Expose her life!' retorted Cradock, rising with a feeling of
honest indignation, that for a moment overcame the terror of death.
'Digby, you know that if I had a hundred lives, I would rather lose
them all, than expose her precious life.'
"'I believe you, Master Cradock—I believe you; and whether you
live, or die, I will always uphold you for a true-hearted man; and you
must excuse me for my boldness in speaking, when I thought our young
Mistress was putting herself in the jaws of death.'
"We now made all speed to reach the fort; but when we arrived
there, no aid could be obtained, and poor Cradock's death was regarded
as inevitable. I remembered to have heard Nelema say, that she knew a
certain antidote to the poison of a rattle-snake; and when I told this
to your father, he ordered our horses to be saddled, and we set out
immediately for home, where we arrived in six hours. Even in that brief
space the disease had made fearful progress. The wound was horribly
inflamed, and the whole arm swoln and empurpled. I saw despair in every
face that looked on Cradock. I went myself, attended by Jennet and
Digby, to Nelema's hut, for I knew if the old woman was in one of her
moody fits, she would not come for any bidding but mine.
"Jennet, as you know was always her wont, took up her testimony
against 'the old heathen witch.' 'It were better,' she said, 'to die,
than to live by the devil's help.' I assured her, that if the case were
her own, I would not oppose her pious preference; but that now I must
have my own way, and I believed the Giver of life would direct the
means of its preservation.
"Though it was near midnight, we found Nelema sitting at the
entrance of her hut. I told her my errand. 'Peace be with you, child,'
she said. 'I knew you were coming, and have been waiting for you.' She
is superstitious, or loves to affect supernatural knowledge, and I
should have thought nothing of her harmless boast, had I not seen by
the significant shake of Jennet's head, that she set it down against
her. The old woman filled a deer-skin pouch from a repository of herbs
in one corner of her hut, and then returned to Bethel with us. We found
Cradock in a state of partial delirium, and nervous restlessness,
which, your father said, was the immediate precursor of death. Aunt
Grafton was kneeling at his bedside, reading the prayers for the dying.
Nelema ordered every one, with the exception of myself, to leave
the room, for she said her cures would not take effect, unless there
was perfect silence. Your father retired to his own apartment, and gave
orders that he should, in no case, be diverted from his prayers. Aunt
Grafton withdrew with evident reluctance, and Jennet, lingered till
Nelema's patience was exhausted, when she pushed her out of the room,
and barred the door against her.
"I confess, Everell, I would gladly have been excluded too, for I
recoiled from witnessing Cradock's mortal agony; but I dared in no wise
cross Nelema, so I quietly took the lamp, as shebade me, and stood at
the head of the bed. She first threw aside her blanket, and discovered
a kind of wand, which she had concealed beneath it, wreathed with a
snake's skin. She then pointed to the figure of a snake delineated on
her naked shoulder. 'It is the symbol of our tribe,' she said. 'Foolish
child!' she continued, for she saw me shudder; 'it is a sign of honour,
won for our race by him who first drew from the veins the poison of the
king of all creeping things. The tale was told by our fathers, and sung
at our feasts; and now am I, the last of my race, bidden to heal a
servant in the house of our enemies.' She remained for a moment,
silent, motionless, and perfectly abstracted. A loud groan from Cradock
roused her. She bent over him, and muttered an incantation in her own
tongue. She then, after many efforts, succeeded in making him swallow a
strong decoction, and bathed the wound and arm with the same liquor.
These applications were repeated at short intervals, during which she
brandished her wand, making quick and mysterious motions, as if she
were writing hieroglyphics on the invisible air. She writhed her body
into the most horrible contortions, and tossed her withered arms wildly
about her, and, Everell, shall I confess to you, that I trembled lest
she should assume the living form of the reptile whose image she bore?
So violent was her exercise, that the sweat poured from her face like
rain, and, ever and anon, she sank down in momentary exhaustion, and
stupor;and then would spring to her feet, as a race horse starts on the
course, fling back her long black locks that had fallen over her bony
face, and repeat the strange process.
"After a while—how long I know not, for anxiety and terror
prevented my taking any note of time—Cradock showed plain symptoms of
amendment—his respiration became free—the colour in his face
subsided—his brow, which had been drawn to a knot, relaxed, and his
whole appearance became natural and tranquil. 'Now,' whispered Nelema
to me, 'fear no more for him—he has turned his back on the grave. I
will stay here and watch him; but go thou to thy bed— thy cheek is
pale with weariness and fear.'
"I was too happy at that moment to feel weariness, and would have
remained, but Nelema's gestures for me to withdraw were vehement, and I
left her, mentally blessing her for her effectual aid. As I opened the
door, I stumbled against Jennet. It was evident from her posture, that
she had been peeping through the key-hole. Do not think me a vixen,
Everell, if I confess that my first impulse was to box her ears;
however, I suppressed my rage, and, for the first time in my life, was
prudent and temporizing, and I stooped to beg her to go with me to my
room—I am sure it was with the timid voice of one who asks a favour,
for, the moment we were in the light, I saw by her mien that she felt
the power was all in her own hands. 'It is enough,' she said, 'to make
the hair of asaint stand on end to have such carryings-on in my
master's house; and you, Miss Hope Leslie, that have been, as it were,
exalted to heaven in point of privileges, that you should be nothing
better than an aid and abetment of this imissary of Satan.'
" 'Hush,' said I, 'Jennet, and keep your breath to give thanks for
good Mr. Cradock's recovery. Nelema has cured him—Satan does not send
forth his emissaries with healing gifts.'
" 'Now, Miss Leslie,' retorted the provoking creature, 'you are in
the very gall of bitterness and blindness of the flesh. Did not the
magicians with their enchantments even as did Moses and Aaron? The sons
of darkness always put on the form of the sons of light. I always said
so. I knew what it would come to. I said she was a witch in Mistress
" 'And you spoke falsely then, as you do now, Jennet, for Nelema is
" 'No witch!' rejoined Jennet, screaming with her screech-owl
voice, so loud that I was afraid your father would overhear her; 'try
her then— see if she can read in the Bible—or Mr. Cotton's
catechism—no, no; but give her your aunt Grafton's prayer book, and
she will read as glib as a minister.'
" 'Jennet,' said I, 'you are mad outright— you seem to forget that
Nelema cannot read any thing.'
" 'It is all the same as if she could,' persistedJennet; 'her
master makes short teaching—there are none so deaf as those that won't
hear. I tell you again, Miss Hope Leslie—remember Mrs.
Fletcher—remember what she got for shutting her ears to me.'
"You will forgive me, Everell, for losing my patience utterly at
these profane allusions to your mother, and commanding Jennet to leave
"She made me bitterly repent my want of self-command; for,
self-willed as the fools of Solomon's time, she determined to have her
own way, and went to your father's room, where she gained admittance,
and gave such a description of Nelema's healing process, that, late as
it was, I was summoned to his presence.
"As I followed Jennet along the passage, she whispered to me, 'now
for the love of your own soul, don't use his blind partiality to
pervert his judgment.'
"I made no reply, but mentally resolved that I would task my power
and ingenuity to the utmost to justify Nelema. When we came into the
study, Jennet, to my great joy, was dismissed. It is much easier for me
to contend with my superiors, than my inferiors. Your father bade me
sit down by him. I seated myself on the foot-stool at his feet, so that
I could look straight into his eyes; for many a time, when my heart has
quailed at his solemn address, the tender spirit stationed in that soft
hazle eye of his—so like yours, Everell—has quieted all my
apprehensions. I spoke first, and said, 'I was sure Jennet had spoiled
the good news of my tutor's amendment, or he would not look so grave.'
"He replied, 'that it was time to look grave when a pow-wow dared
to use her diabolical spells, mutterings, and exorcisms, beneath a
christian roof, and in the presence of a christian maiden, and on a
christian man; but,' he added, 'perhaps Jennet hath not told the matter
rightly—her zeal is not always according to knowledge. I would gladly
believe that my house has not been profaned. Tell me, Hope, all you
witnessed—tell me truly.'
"I obeyed. Your father heard me through without any comment, but
now and then a deep-drawn sigh; and when I had finished, he asked,
'what I understood by the strange proceedings I had described?'
" 'May I not answer,' I said, 'in the language of scripture, 'that
this only I know, that whereas thy servant was sick, he is now whole."
" 'Do not, my dear child,' said your father, 'rashly misapply
scripture—and thus add to your sin, in (as I trust ignorantly) dealing
with this witch and her familiars.'
"I replied, 'I did not believe Nelema had used any witchcraft.'
"He asked me, 'if I had not been told, that some of our catechised
Indians had confessed that when they were pagans they were pow-wows,
devotedin their infancy to demons—that these pow-wows were factors for
the devil—that they held actual conversation, and were in open and
avowed confederacy with him?'
"I said, 'I had heard all this;' but asked, 'if it were right to
take the confession of these poor children of ignorance and
superstition against themselves?' I repeated what I had often heard
you, Everell, say, that Magawisca believed the mountain, and the
valley, the air, the trees, every little rivulet, had their present
invisible spirit—and that the good might hold discourse with them.
'Why not believe the one,' I asked, 'as well as the other?'
"Your father looked at me sternly. 'Dost thou not believe in
witchcraft, child?' he said. While I hesitated how to reply, lest I
should, in some way, implicate Nelema, your father hastily turned the
leaves of the Bible, that lay on his table, and opened to every text
where familiar spirits, necromancers, sorcerers, wizards, witches, and
witchcraft, are spoken of.
"I felt as if the windows of heaven were opened on my devoted head.
As soon as I could collect my wits, I said something, confusedly, about
not having thought much on the subject; but that I had supposed, as
indeed I always did, that bad spirits were only permitted to appear on
earth, when there were, also, good spirits and holy prophets to oppose
"Your father looked steadily at me, for a fewmoments, then closing
the Bible, he said, 'I will not blame thee, my child, but myself, that
I have left thee to the guidance of thy natural erring reason; I should
have better instructed thee.' He then kissed me, bade me good night,
and opened the door for me to depart. I ventured to ask, 'if I might
not say to Jennet, that it was his order, she should be silent in
regard to Nelema?'
" 'No, no,' he said, 'meddle no farther with that matter, but go to
your own apartment, and remain there till the bell rings for morning
"My heart rebelled, but I dared not disobey. I came to my room, and
have been sitting by my open window, in the hope of hearing Nelema's
parting footsteps; but I have listened in vain, and unable to sleep, I
have tried to tranquillize my mind by writing to you. Poor old Nelema!
if she is given up to the magistrates, it will go hard with her—Jennet
is such an obstinate self-willed fool! I believe she will be willing to
see Nelema hung for a witch, that she may have the pleasure of saying,
'I told you so.'
"Poor Nelema!—such a harmless, helpless, lonely being—my tears
fall so fast on my paper, that I can scarcely write. I blame myself for
bringing her into this hapless case—but it may be better than I fear.
I will leave my letter and try to sleep.
"It is as I expected: Nelema was sent, early this morning, to the
magistrates. She was tried before our triumvirate, Mr. Pynchon,
Holioke, and Chapin. It was not enough to lay on her the crime of
curing Cradock, but Jennet and some of her gossips imputed to her all
the mischances that have happened for the last seven years. My
testimony was extorted from me, for I could not disguise my reluctance
to communicate any thing that could be made unfavourable to her. Our
magistrates looked sternly on me, and Mr. Holioke said, 'Take care,
Hope Leslie, that thou art not found in the folly of Balaam, who would
have blessed, when the Lord commanded him to curse.'
"I said, 'It was better to mistake in blessing than in cursing, and
that I was sure Nelema was as innocent as myself.' I know not whence I
had my courage, but I think truth companies not with cowardice;
however, what I would fain call courage, Mr. Pynchon thought necessary
to rebuke as presumption:—'Thou art somewhat forward, maiden,' he
said, 'in giving thy opinion; but thou must know, that we regard it but
as the whistle of a bird; withdraw, and leave judgment to thy elders.'
"In leaving the room I passed close to Nelema. I gave her my hand
in token of kindness; and though I heard a murmur of 'shame— shame!' I
did not withdraw it till the poor old creature had bowed her wrinkled
brow upon it,and dropped a tear which no suffering could have extorted.
"The trial went on, and she was pronounced worthy of death; but as
the authority of our magistracy does not extend to life, limb, or
banishment, her fate is referred to the court at Boston. In the mean
time, she awaits her sentence in a cell, in Mr. Pynchon's cellar. We
have, as yet, no jail.
"Digby has been summoned before the magistrates, and publickly
reproved for expressing himself against their proceedings. Mr. Pynchon
charged him to speak no more against godly governors and righteous
government, for "to such scoffers heaven had sent divers plagues—some
had been spirited away by Satan—some blown up in our harbours—and
some, like poor Austin of Quinnepaig, taken into Turkish captivity!!"
Digby's feelings are suppressed, but not subdued.
"How I wish you were here, dear Everell. Sometimes I wish your
mother's letter had not been so persuasive. Nothing but that last
request of hers, would have induced your father to send you to your
uncle Stretton. If you were here, I am sure you would devise some way
to save Nelema. When she is gone, you will never again hear of
Magawisca. I shall never hear more of my sweet sister. They both, if we
may believe Nelema, still dwell safely in the wigwam of Mononotto,
among the Mohawks. These Mohawks are said to be a fierce race; and all
those tribes who dwell near the coast, and have, in some measure, come
under a christian jurisdiction, and are called 'praying and catechised
Indians,' say, that the Mohawks are to them as wolves to sheep. I
cannot bear to think of my gentle timid sister, a very dove in her
nature, among these fierce tribes. I wonder that I am ever happy, and
yet it is so natural to me to be happy! The commander of the fort at
Albany, at Governor Winthrop's request, has made great efforts to
obtain some information about my sister, but without any satisfactory
result. Still Nelema insists to me, that her knowledge is certain; and
when I have endeavoured to ascertain the source whence she derived it,
she pointed upwards, indicating that she held mysterious intelligence
with the spirits of the air; but I believe she employed this artifice
to hide some intercourse she holds with distant and hostile tribes.
"What a tragi-comedy is life, Everell!—I am sure your favourite,
Shakespear, has copied nature in dividing his scenes between mirth and
sadness. I have laughed to-day, heartily, and for a few moments I quite
forgot poor Nelema, and all my heart-rending anxieties about her. My
tutor, for the first time since his most unlucky mishap, left his room,
and made his appearance in the parlour. I was sitting there with aunt
Grafton, and I rose to shake his hand, and express my unfeigned joy on
his recovery. His little gray eyes were, for a moment, blinded with
tears at what he was pleased to call the 'condescendency of my regard
for him.' He then stood for a moment, as if he were lost, as you know
is always his wont, when a blur comes over his mind, which is none of
the clearest at best. I thought he looked pale and weak, and I offered
him a chair and begged him to sit down, but he declined it with a wave,
or rather a poke, of his hand, for he never in his life made a motion
so graceful as a wave, and drawing a paper from his pocket, he said, 'I
have here an address to thee, sweet Miss Hope Leslie, wherein I have
put in a body of words the spirit of my late meditations, and I have
endeavoured to express, in the best latinity with which many years of
daily and nightly study have possessed me, my humble sense of that
marvellous wit and kindness of thine, which made thee, as it were, a
ministering angel unto me, when I was brought nigh unto the grave by
the bite of that most cunning beast of the field, with whom, I verily
believe, the devil left a portion of his spirit, in payment of the body
he borrowed to beguile our first parents.'
"This long preamble finished, Master Cradock began the reading of
his address, of which, being in the language of the learned, I could
not, as you know, understand one word; however, he did not perceive
that my smiles were not those of intelligence, nor hear aunt Grafton's
remark, that 'much learning and little wit had made him as crazy as a
loon.' He had not proceeded far, when his knees began to shake under
him, and disdaining to sit, (an attitude, I suppose, proscribed in the
ceremonies of the schools, the only ceremonies he observes) he
contrived, with the aid of the chair I had placed for him, to kneel.
When he had finished his address, which, according to the rules of art,
had a beginning, a middle, and, thank heaven, an end, he essayed to
rise; but, alas! though, like Falstaff, he had an 'alacrity in
sinking,' to rise was impossible; for beside the usual impediments of
his bulk and clumsiness, he was weakened and stiffened by his late
sickness; so I was fain to call Digby to his assistance, and run away
to my own apartment to write you, dear Everell, who are ever patient
with my Bethel chronicles, an account of what aunt Grafton calls, 'this
"Yesterday was our lecture day, and I went to the village to attend
the meeting. A sudden storm of hail and wind came on during the
exercises, and continued after, and I was obliged to accept Mrs.
Pynchon's invitation to go home with her. After we had taken our
supper, I observed Mr. Pynchon fill a plate, bountifully, with
provisions from the table, and give it with a large key, which he took
from a little cupboard over the fire-place, to a serving woman. She
returned, in a short time, with the key, and, as I observed, restored
it to its place. Digby came shortly after to attend me home. The family
hospitably urged me to remain, and ascertaining from Digby that there
was no especial reason for my return, I dismissed him.
"The next morning I was awakened from a deep sleep by one of Mr.
Pynchon's daughters, who told me, with a look of terror, that a
despatch had arrived early that morning from Boston, notifying the
acquiescence of the Court there, in the opinion of our magistrates, and
Nelema's sentence of condemnation to death—that her father had himself
gone to the cell to announce her fate to her, when lo! she had
vanished—the prison-door was fast—the key in its usual place—but the
witch was spirited away. I hurried on my clothes, and trembling with
surprise, pleasure, or whatever emotion you may please to ascribe to
me, I descended to the parlor, where the family and neighbours had
assembled to talk over the strange event. I only added exclamations to
the various conjectures that were made. No one had any doubt as to who
had beenNelema's deliverer, unless a suspicion was implied in the
inquiring glances which Mr. Pynchon cast on me, but which, I believe,
no one but myself observed. Some could smell sulphur from the outer
kitchen door to the door of the cell; and there were others who fancied
that, at a few yards distance from the house, there were on the ground
marks of a slight scorching—a plain indication of a visitation from
the enemy of mankind. One of the most sagacious of our neighbours
remarked, that he had often heard of Satan getting his servants into
trouble, but he never before heard of his getting them out. However,
the singularity of the case only served to magnify their wonder,
without, in the least, weakening their faith in the actual, and, as it
appeared, friendly alliance between Nelema, and the evil one. Indeed, I
was the only person present whose belief in her witchcraft was not, as
it were, converted into sight.
"Everell, I had been visited by a strange dream that night, which I
will venture to relate to you; for you, at least, will not think me
confederate with Nelema's deliverer.
"Methought I stood, with the old woman, beneath the elm tree, at
the end of Mr. Pynchon's garden; the moon, through an opening of the
branches, shone brightly on her face—it was wet with tears.
"'I shall not forget,' she said, 'who saved me from dying by the
hand of an enemy. As surelyas the sun will appear there again,' she
added, pointing to the east—'so surely, Hope Leslie, you shall see
" 'But, Nelema,' said I, 'my poor little sister is in the far
western forests—you can never reach there.'
" 'I will reach there,' she replied—'if I crawl on my hands and
knees, I will reach there.'
"Think you, dear Everell, my sister will ever expound this dream to
"I was the first to carry the news to Bethel. Your father was in
one of his meditative humours, and heeded it no more than if I had told
him a bird had flown from its cage. Jennet joined in the general
opinion, that Satan, or at least one of his emissaries, had opened the
prison door; and our good Digby, with his usual fearlessness,
maintained, in the teeth of her exhortation and invective, that an
angel had wrought for the innocent old woman.
"A week has elapsed. It is whispered that on the night Nelema
vanished, Digby was missed by his bed-fellow!—strange depredations
were committed on Jennet's larder!—and muffled oars were heard on the
"Our magistrates have made long and frequent visits to Bethel, and
have held secret conferences with your father. The purport of them I
leaveyou to conjecture from the result. Yesterday he sent for me to the
study. He appeared deeply affected. It was some time before he could
command his voice; at length he said, that he had determined to accept
for me Madam Winthrop's invitation to Boston. I told him, and told him
truly, that I did not wish to go to Boston— that I was perfectly
contented—perfectly happy. 'And what,' I asked, 'will you and poor
aunt Grafton do without me?'
" 'Your aunt goes with you,' he said; 'and as for me, my dear
child, I have too long permitted myself the indulgence of having you
with me. I have a pilgrimage to accomplish through this wilderness, and
I am sinful if I linger to watch the unfolding of even the single
flower that has sprung up in my path.'
" 'But,' said I, 'does not He who appoints the path through the
wilderness, set the flowers by the wayside? I will not—I will not be
plucked up and cast away.' He kissed me, and said, 'I believe, my
beloved child, thou wert sent in mercy to me; but it were indeed sinful
to convert the staff vouchsafed to my pilgrimage into fetters. I should
ever bear in mind that life is a race and a warfare, and nothing else:
you have this yet to learn, Hope. I have proved myself not fit to
teach, or to guide thee—nor is your aunt. Madam Winthrop will give you
pious instruction and counsel, and her godly niece, Esther Downing,
will, I trust, win you to the narrow path,which, as the elders say, she
doth so steadily pursue.'
"The idea of this puritanical guardianship did not strike me
agreeably, and besides, I love Bethel—I love your father—with my
whole soul I love him; and, as you already know, Everell, therefore it
is no confession, I love to have my own way, and I said, I would not
" 'You must go, my child,' said your father; 'I cannot find it in
my heart to chide you for your reluctance, but you must go. Neither
you, nor I, have any choice.'
" 'But why must I go?' I asked.
" 'Ask no questions,' he replied; 'it is fixed that you must go.
Tell your aunt Grafton that she must be ready to leave Springfield next
week. Mr. Pynchon and his servants attend you. Now leave me, my child,
for when you are with me, you touch at will every chord in my heart,
and I would fain keep it still now.'
"I left him, Everell, while I could command my tears; and after I
had given them free course, I informed aunt Grafton of our destiny. She
was so delighted with the prospect of a visit to Boston, that I, too,
began to think it must be very pleasant; and my dread of this
straight-laced Mrs. Winthrop and her perpendicular niece, gave place to
indefinite anticipations of pleasure. I shall, at any rate, see you
sooner than if I remained here. Thank heaven, the time of your return
approaches; and now that it is so near, I rejoicethat your father has
not been persuaded, by those who seem to me to take a very superfluous
care of his private affairs, to recall you sooner. On this subject he
has stood firm: satisfied, as he has always said, that he could not err
in complying with the last request of your sainted mother.
"Aunt Grafton charges me with divers messages to you, but I will
not add a feather to this leaden letter, which you will now have to
read, as I have written it, by instalments.
"Farewell, dear Everell, forget not thy loving friend and sister,
As Hope had declined her aunt's messages, the good lady affixed
them herself—and here they follow.
"To Everell Fletcher. "Valued sir
—Being much hurried in point of time, I would fain have been
myself excused from writing, but Miss Hope declines adding to her
letter what I have indited.
In your last, you mention being visited with the great cold, which,
I take from your account of it, to be the same as that with which we
were all shaken soon after the coronation of his present Majesty. (God
bless him!) I had then a recipe given me for an infallible remedy, by
the Lady Penyvere, great aunt, by the mother's side, to la belle
Rosette, maid of honour to the queen.
"I enclose it for you, believing it will greatly advantage you,
though Hope insists that if the cold has not yet left you, it will be a
chronic disease before this reaches you; in which case, I would advise
you to apply to old Lady Lincoln, who hath in her family receipt-book,
many renowned cures for chronics. I remember one in particular,
somewhere about the middle of the book, which follows immediately after
a rare recipe for an every-day plum-pudding.
"I doubt not that years have mended thee, and that thou wouldst now
condemn the folly and ignorance of thy childhood, which made thee then
deride the most sovereign remedies. Hope, I am sorry to say, is as
obstinate as ever; and it was but yesterday, when I wished her to take
some diluents for a latent fever, that she reminded me of the time when
she, and you, in one of your mischievous pranks, threw the pennyroyal
tea out of the window, and suffered me to believe that it had cured an
incipient pleurisy. Thus presumptuous is youth! Hope is, to be sure,
notwithstanding her living entirely without medicine, in indifferent
good health; her form is rather more slender than when you left us, as
is becoming at seventeen; but her cheek is as round and as ruddy as a
peach. I should not care so much about her self-will on the score of
medicine, but that her stomach being in such perfect order now, would
bear every kind of preventive, and medicines of this class are so
simple, that they can do no harm. I believe it is true, as old Doctor
Panton used to say, 'your healthy people are always prejudiced against
medicine.' I wish you would drop a hint on this subject in your next
letter to her, for the slightest hint from you goes further than a
lecture from me.
"It was very thoughtful in you, Mr. Everell, and what I once should
not have expected, to inquire so particularly after my health. I am
happy to say, that at this present I am better than I have been for
years, which is unaccountable to me, as, since the hurry of our
preparations for Boston, I have forgotten my pills at night, and my
tonics in the morning.
"I wish you to present many thanks to Lady Amy for assisting you in
my commissions. The articles in general suited, though the pinking of
the flounces was too deep. My gown was a trifle too dark—but do not
mention that to Lady Amy, for I make no doubt she took due pains, and
only wanted a right understanding of the real hue, called feuille
morte, which, between you and I—sub rosa, mind—my gown would not be
called, by any person skilled in the colours of silk. Hope thought to
convince me I was wrong by matching it with a dead leaf from the
forest. Was not that peculiar of Hope?
"Now, Mr. Everell, I do not wish to be an old woman before my time,
therefore I will have another silk of a brighter cast. Brown it must
be, but lively—lively. I will enclose a lock of Hope'shair, which is
precisely the hue I mean. You will observe it has a golden tinge, that
makes it appear in all lights as if there were sunshine on it, and yet
it is a decided brown; a difficult colour to hit, but by due inquiry,
and I am sure, from the pains you were at to procure the articles I
requested for Hope, you will spare no trouble, I think it may be
"I am greatly beholden to you for the pocket-glass you sent me; it
is a mighty convenient article, and an uncommon pretty little
attention, Mr. Everell.
"Your present to Hope was a real beauty. The only blue fillet, and
the prettiest, of any colour, I ever saw; and such a marvellous match
for her eyes—that is, when the light is full on them; but you know
they always had a changeable trick with them. I remember Lady Amy's
once saying to me before we left England, that my niece would yet do
mischief with those laughing black eyes of hers. I liked her sister's
(poor dear Mary—God help her the while!) better then, they were the
true Leslie blue. But one word more of the fillet. Your taste in it
cannot be too much commended; but then, as I tell Hope, one does not
want always to see the same thing; and she doth continually wear
it;—granted, it keeps the curls out of her eyes, and they do look
lovely falling about it, but she wears it, week-days and Sundays, feast
days and fast days, and she never yet has put on the Henriette; (do
remember a thousandthanks to Lady Amy for the pattern) the Henriette, I
made her, like that worn by the queen the first night she appeared in
the royal box.
"I should like to have a little more chit-chat with you, Mr.
Everell, now my pen has got, so to speak, warm in the harness; but
business before pleasure. I beg you will remember me to all inquiring
friends. Alas! few in number now, as most of my surviving
contemporaries have died since I left England.
"Farewell, Mr. Everell, these few lines are from your friend and
"N.B. It is a great pleasure to me to think you are living in a
churchman's family, where you can't but steer clear of—you know
"N.B. Hope will have given you the particulars of poor Master
Cradock's miscarriage; his mind was set a little agee by it, but he
appears to be mending.
"N.B. The enclosed recipe hath marvellous virtues in fevers, as
well as in colds."
"A country lad is my degree,
An' few there be that ken me, O;
But what care I how few they be,
I'm welcome aye to Nannie, O."
There are hints in Miss Leslie's letter to Everell Fletcher, that
require some amplification to be quite intelligible to our readers. She
looked upon herself, as the unhappy, though innocent cause, of the old
Indian woman's misfortune—and, rash as generous, she had resolved, if
possible, to extricate her. With the inconsiderate warmth of youthful
feeling, she had, before the grave and reverend magistrates, declared
her belief in Nelema's innocence, and thereby implied a censure of
their wisdom. This was, certainly, an almost unparalleled presumption,
in those times, when youth was accounted inferiority; but the very
circumstance that, in one light, aggravated her fault, in another,
mitigated it; and her youth, being admitted in extenuation of her
offence, she was allowed to escape with a reproof and admonition of
moderate length—while her poor guardian was condemned to a long and
private conference, on the urgency of reclaiming the spoiled child.
Various modes of effecting so desirable an object were suggested, for,
as the Scotchman said, in an analogous case, "Ilka man can manage a
wife but him that has her."
This matter had passed over, and justice was proceeding in her
stern course, when fortune, accident, or more truly, Providence,
favoured the benevolent wishes of our heroine. She had, as has been
seen, been carried by an unforeseen circumstance, to the house of one
of the magistrates. There, mindful of the poor old prisoner, whose
sentence, she knew, was daily expected from Boston; she had been
watchful of every circumstance relating to her, and when she observed
the key of her prison deposited in an accessible place, (no one
dreaming of any interference in behalf of the condemned) she was
inspired with a sudden resolution to set her free. This was a bold,
dangerous, and unlawful interposition; but Hope Leslie took counsel
only from her own heart, and that told her that the rights of innocence
were paramount to all other rights, and as to danger to herself, she
did not weigh it—she did not think of it.
Digby came to the village to attend her home, and this afforded her
an opportunity of concert with him: in the depths of the night, when
all the household were in profound sleep, she stole from her bed, found
her way to the door of the dungeon, and leading out the prisoner, gave
her into Digby's charge, who had a canoe in waiting, in which he
ferried her to the opposite shore, where he left her, after having
supplied her with provisions to sustain her to the vallies of the
Housatonick, if, indeed, her wasted strength should enable her to reach
there. The gratitude of the poor old creature for her unexpected
deliverance from shameful death, is faintly touched on in Hope's
letter. She could scarcely, without magnifying her own merit, have
described the vehement emotion with which Nelema promised that she
would devote the remnant of her miserable days to seeking and restoring
her lost sister. Again and again, while Hope urged her departure, she
reiterated this promise, and finally, when she parted from Digby, she
repeated, as if it were a prophecy, 'She shall see her sister.'
Young persons are not apt to make a very exact adjustment of means
and ends, and our heroine certainly placed an undue confidence in the
power of the helpless old woman, to accomplish her promise; but she
needed not this, to increase her present joy at her success. She crept
to her bed, and was awakened in the morning, as she has herself
related, with the information of Nelema's escape. She had now a part to
play to which she was unused—to mask her feelings, affect ignorance,
and take part in the consternation of the assembled village. As may be
imagined, her assumed character was awkwardly enough performed, but all
were occupied with their own surmises, and no one thought of her—no
one, exceptingMr. Pynchon, who had scarcely fixed his eye on her, when
a suspicion that had before flashed on his mind, was confirmed. He
knew, from the simplicity of her nature, and from her habitual
frankness, that she would not have hesitated to avow her pleasure in
Nelema's escape, if she had not herself been accessory to it. He
watched her averted eye—he observed her unbroken silence, and her lips
that, in spite of all her efforts, played into an inevitable smile at
the superstitious surmises of some of the wise people, whose philosophy
had never dreamed of that every-day axiom of modern times—that
super-natural aid should not be called in to interpret events which may
be explained by natural causes.
However satisfactory Mr. Pynchon's conclusions were to himself, he
confined them, for the present, to his own bosom. He was a merciful
man, and probably felt an emotion of joy at the old woman's escape,
that could not be suppressed by the stern justice that had pronounced
her worthy of death. But while he easily reconciled himself to the loss
of the prisoner, he felt the necessity of taking instant and efficient
measures to subdue to becoming deference and obedience, the rash and
lawless girl, who had dared to interpose between justice and its
victim. His heart recoiled from punishing her openly, and he contented
himself with insisting, in a private interview with Mr. Fletcher, on
the necessity of her removal to a stricter control than his; and
recommended, for a time, a temporary transfer of his neglected
authority to less indulgent hands.
Mr. Fletcher complied so far as to consent that his favourite
should be sent, for a few months, to Boston, to the care of Madam
Winthrop, whose character being brought out by the light of her
husband's official station, was held up as a sort of pattern throughout
New-England. But we must, for the present, pass by state characters;
gallery portraits, for the miniature picture that lies next our heart,
and which it is full time should be formally presented to our readers,
whose curiosity, we trust, has not been sated by occasional glimpses.
Nothing could be more unlike the authentic, 'thoroughly educated,'
and thoroughly disciplined young ladies of the present day, than Hope
Leslie; as unlike as a mountain rill to a canal—the one leaping over
rocks and precipices, sportive, free, and beautiful, or stealing softly
on, in unseen, unpraised loveliness; the other, formed by art,
restrained within prescribed and formal limits, and devoted to utility.
Neither could any thing in outward show, be more unlike a modern belle,
arrayed in the mode de Paris of the last Courier des dames, than Hope
Leslie, in her dress of silk or muslin, shaped with some deference to
the fashion of the day, but more according to the dictates of her own
skill and classic taste, which she followed, somewhat pertinaciously,
in spite of the suggestions of her experienced aunt.
Fashion had no shrines among the pilgrims; but where she is most
abjectly worshipped, it would be treason against the paramount rights
of nature, to subject such a figure as Hope Leslie's to her tyranny. As
well might the exquisite classic statue be arrayed in corsets, manches
en gigot, garnitures en tulle, Her height was not above the medium
standard of her sex; she was delicately formed; the high health and the
uniform habits of a country life, had endowed her with the beauty with
which poetry has invested Hebe; while her love for exploring hill and
dale, ravine and precipice, had given her that elastic step and ductile
grace which belong to all agile animals, and which made every
accidental attitude, such, as a painter would have selected to express
the nymphlike beauty of Camilla.
It is in vain to attempt to describe a face, whose material beauty,
though that beauty may be faultless, is but a medium for the
irradiations of the soul. For the curious, we would, if we could, set
down the colour of our heroine's eyes; but, alas! it was undefinable,
and appeared gray, blue, hazle, or black, as the outward light touched
them, or as they kindled by the light of her feelings.
Her rich brown hair, turned in light waves from her sunny brow, as
if it would not hide the beauty it sheltered. Her mouth, at this early
period of her life, had nothing of the seriousness and contemplation
that events might afterwards havetraced there. It rather seemed the
station of all sportive, joyous, and kindly feeling, and at the
slightest motion of her thoughts, curled into smiles, as if all the
breathings of her young heart were happiness and innocence.
It may appear improbable that a girl of seventeen, educated among
the strictest sect of the puritans, should have had the open, fearless,
and gay character of Hope Leslie; but it must be remembered that she
lived in an atmosphere of favour and indulgence, which permits the
natural qualities to shoot forth in unrepressed luxuriance—an
atmosphere of love, that like a tropical climate, brings forth the
richest flowers and most flavorous fruits. She was transferred from the
care of the gentlest and tenderest of mothers, to Mr. Fletcher, who,
though stern in his principles, was indulgent in his practice; whose
denying virtues were all self-denying; and who infused into the
parental affection he felt for the daughter, something of the romantic
tenderness of the lover of her mother. Her aunt Grafton doated on her;
she was the depository of her vanity, as well as of her affection. To
her simple tutor, she seemed to embody all that philosophers and poets
had set down in their books, of virtue and beauty; and those of the old
and rigid, who were above, or below, the influence of less substantial
charms, regarded the young heiress with deference. In short, she was
the petted lamb of the fold.
It has been seen that Hope Leslie was superior to some of the
prejudices of the age. This may be explained, without attributing too
much to her natural sagacity. Those persons she most loved, and with
whom she had lived from her infancy, were of variant religious
sentiments. Her father had belonged to the established church, and
though he had much of the gay spirit that characterized the cavaliers
of the day; he was serious and exact in his observance of the rites of
the church. She had often been her mother's companion at the proscribed
'meeting,' and witnessed the fervor with which she joined in the
worship of a persecuted and suffering people. Early impressions
sometimes form moulds for subsequent opinions; and when at a more
reflecting age, Hope heard her aunt Grafton rail with natural good
sense, and with the freedom, if not the point, of mother wit, at some
of the peculiarities of the puritans, she was led to doubt their
infallibility; and like the bird that spreads his wings and soars above
the limits by which each man fences in his own narrow domain, she
enjoyed the capacities of her nature, and permitted her mind to expand
beyond the contracted boundaries of sectarian faith. Her religion was
pure and disinterested—no one, therefore, should doubt its intrinsic
value, though it had not been coined into a particular form, or
received the current impress.
Though the history of our heroine, like a treasured flower, has
only left its sweetness on themanuscript page, from which we have
amplified it; yet we have been compelled to infer, from some
transactions which we shall faithfully record, that she had faults; but
we leave our readers to discover them. Who has the resolution to point
out a favourite's defects?
As our fair readers are not apt to be observant of dates, it may be
useful to remind them that Miss Leslie's letter was written in October.
In the following May, two ships, from the mother country, anchored at
the same time in Boston-Bay. Some passengers, from each ship, availed
themselves of the facility of the pilot-boat to go up to the town.
Among others, were two gentlemen, who met now for the first time: the
one, a youth in manhood's earliest prime, with a frank, intelligent,
and benevolent countenance, over which, as he strained his eyes to the
shore, joy and anxiety flitted with rapid vicissitude. The other had
advanced further into life; he might not be more than five and thirty,
possibly not so much; but his face was deeply marked by the ravages of
the passions, or perhaps the stirring scenes of life. His eyes were
black and piercing, set near together, and overhung by thick black
brows, whose incessant motion indicated a restless mind. The
concentration of thought, or the designing purpose, expressed by the
upper part of his face, was contradicted by his loose, open flexible
lips. His complexion had the same puzzling contrariety—it was dark and
saturnine, but enlivened with the ruddy hue of a bon-vivant. His nose
neither turned up nor down, was neither Grecian nor Roman. In short,
the countenance of the stranger was a worthless dial-plate—a practical
refutation of the science of physiognomy; and as the infallible art of
phrenology was unknown to our fathers, they were compelled to ascertain
the character (as their unlearned descendants still are) by the slow
developement of the conduct. The person of the stranger had a certain
erect and gallant bearing that marks a man of the world, but his dress
was strictly puritanical; and his hair, so far from being permitted the
'freedom of growing long,' then deemed 'a luxurious feminine
prolixity,' or being covered with a wig, (one of the abominations that,
according to Eliot, had brought on the country the infliction of the
Pequod war,) was cropped with exemplary precision. But though the
stranger's apparel was elaborately puritanical, still there was a
certain elegance about it, which indicated that his taste had
reluctantly yielded to his principles. His garments were of the finest
materials, and exactly fitted to a form of striking manly symmetry. His
hair, it is true, was scrupulously clipped, but being thick and jet
black, it becomingly defined a forehead of uncommon whiteness and
beauty. In one particular he had departed from the letter of the law,
and instead of exposing his throat by the plain, open linen collar,
usually worn, he sheltered its ugly protuberance with a fine cambric
ruff,arranged in box-plaits. In short, though, with the last exception,
a nice critic could not detect the most venial error in his apparel;
yet, among the puritans, he looked much like a 'dandy quaker' of the
present day, amidst his sober-suited brethren.
Whilst the boat, impelled by a favouring tide, and fair breeze,
glided rapidly towards the metropolis of the now thriving colony, the
gentlemen fell into conversation with the pilot. The elder stranger
inquired if Governor Winthrop had been re-elected?
"Yes—God bless him," replied the sailor; "the worthy gentleman has
taken the helm once more."
"Has he," asked the stranger, eagerly, "declared for King or
"Ho! I don't know much about their land-tackle," replied the
seaman; "but, to my mind, the fastings we have had all along when the
King won the day, and the rejoicings when the Parliament gained it, was
what you might call a declaration. Since you speak of it, I do remember
I heard the boys up in town saying, that our magistrates, at election,
did scruple about the oath, and concluded to leave out that part which
promises to bear true faith and allegiance to our sovereign lord King
"So, we have thrown his Majesty overboard, and are to sail under
Parliament colours," said the young gentleman. "Well," he
continued,"this might have been predicted some five or six years since,
for, I remember, there were then disputes, whether the King's ensign
should be spread there," and he pointed to the fortifications on Castle
Island, past which the boat was, at that moment, gliding. They scruple
now about the oath. Then their consciences rebelled against the red
cross in the ensign; which, I remember, was called, 'the Pope's gift,'
'a relique of papacy,' 'an idolatrous sign,'
"Scruples of conscience are ever honourable," said the elder
stranger; "and doubtless your Governor has good reason for not
complying with the scripture rule—'render unto Cæsar, the things that
"There is no doubt of it," replied the seaman. "The Governor—God
bless him—knows the rules of the good book as well as I know the ropes
of a ship; and there is no better pilot than he for all weathers, as he
shows by not joining in the hue and cry against the good creature
tobacco. Fair winds through life, and a pleasant harbour at last, do I
wish him for this piece of christian love!"— at the same time he
illustrated his benediction by putting a portion of the favourite
luxury in his mouth.
"I am sorry," said the young gentleman, "that our magistrates have
volunteered a public expression of their feelings—their sympathies, of
course, are with the Parliament party—they virtually broke the yoke of
royal authority, when they lefttheir native land, and shewed what value
they set on liberty by sacrificing for it every temporal good. Now they
have a right to enjoy their liberty in peace."
"Peace!" said the elder gentleman, emphatically—"thus it ever is
with the natural man, crying peace—peace—where there is no peace.—
Think you, young man, that if the King were to recover his power, he
would not resume all the privileges he has formerly granted to these
people, who—thanks to Him whose ark abideth with them!—shew
themselves so ready to cast off their allegiance?"
"The King, no doubt," replied the young gentleman, "would like to
resume both power and possession; but still, I think we might retain
our own, on the principle that he had no right to give, and in truth
could not give, what was not his, and what we have acquired, either by
purchase of the natives, or by lawful conquest, which gives us the
right to the vacuum domicilium."
"I am happy to see, sir," said the elder gentleman, slightly bowing
and smiling, "that your principles, at least, are on the side of the
"My feelings and principles both, sir; but that does not render me
insensible to the happiness of the adverse party, or the wisdom of all
parties, which is peace; the peace which the generous Falkland so
earnestly invokes, every patriot may ardently desire. Peace, if I may
borrow a figure from our friend the pilot here, is a fair wind and a
flood-tide—and war a storm, that must wreck some, and may wreck both
friend and foe."
The young gentleman seemed tired of the conversation, and turned
away, fixing his eager gaze on the shore, towards which his heart
bounded. His companion, however, was not disposed to indulge him in
silence. "This town, sir," he said, "appears to be familiar to you. I,
alas! am a stranger and a wanderer." This was spoken in a tone of
"Of such this country is the natural home," replied the young man,
regarding his companion for the first time with some interest, for he
had been repelled by what seemed to him to savour of cant, of which he
had heard too much in the mother country. "I should be happy, sir," he
said, courteously, "to render my acquaintance with the town of any
service to you."
The stranger bowed in acknowledgment of the civility. "I would
gladly," he said, "find entertainment with some godly family here. Is
Mr. Wilson still teacher of the congregation?"
"No, sir—if he were, you might securely count on his hospitality,
as it was so notorious, that, 'come in, you are heartily welcome,' was
said to be the anagram of his name. But if he is gone, the doors in
Boston are always open to the stranger. Mr. Cotton, I believe, is the
present minister—is he not, pilot?"
"Yes—an please you, sir—but I'm thinking," he added, with a leer,
"that that butterfly will bean odd fish to harbour with any of our
right godly ones." The young gentleman followed the direction of the
pilot's eye, and for the first time observed a lad, who sat on one side
of the boat leaning over, and amusing himself with lashing the waves
with a fanciful walking-stick. He overheard the pilot's remark, and
raised his head, as it appeared involuntarily, for he immediately
averted it again, but not till he had exposed a face of uncommon
beauty. He looked about fifteen. He had the full melting dark eye, and
rich complexion of southern climes; masses of jetty curls parted on his
forehead, shaded his temples and neck, and "smooth as Hebe's was his
unrazored lip." It was obvious that it was his dress which had called
forth the sailor's sarcasm. The breast and sleeves of his jerkin were
embroidered, a deep-pointed rich lace ruff embellished his neck, if a
neck round and smooth as alabaster could be embellished, and his head
was covered with a little fantastic Spanish hat, decorated with
"Does that youth appertain to you, sir?" asked the young gentleman
of the elder stranger.
"Yes—he is a sort of dependant—a page of mine," he replied, with
an embarrassed manner; but in a moment recovering his self-possession,
he added, "I infer from the gratuitous remarks of our very frank pilot,
and from the survey you have taken of the lad, that you think his
"It might, possibly," replied the young man, with a smile, "offend
against certain sumptuary laws of our colony, and thus prove
inconvenient to you."
"Roslin, do you hear," said the master to the page, who nodded his
head without raising it; "thy finery, boy, as I have told thee, must be
retrenched;" then turning to his companion, and lowering his voice to a
confidential tone, he added; "the lad hath lived on the continent, and
hath there imbibed these vanities, of which I hope in good time to
reform him; perhaps his youth hath overwrought, with my indulgence, in
suffering them thus long."
The young gentleman courteously prevented any further, and as he
thought, unnecessary exculpation, by saying, "that the offence was
certainly a very trifling one, and if observed at all, would be, by the
most scrupulous, considered as venial in so young a lad." He now again
turned his ardent gaze to the shore. "Ah! there is the spire of the new
meeting-house," he said; "when I went away the good people assembled
under a thatched roof, and within mud walls."
"And I can remember," said the pilot, "for I was among the first
comers to the wilderness, when for weeks the congregation met under an
oak tree—and there was heart-worship there, gentlemen, if there ever
was on the ball."
A church standing where Joy's buildings are now located, was the
only one then in Boston. Thegreater part of the houses were built in
its vicinity, just about the heart of the peninsula, on whose striking
and singular form, its first possessors aver they saw written
prophecies of its future greatness. Some of its most prominent features
have been softened by time, and others changed by the busy art of man.
Wharves, whole streets, and the noble granite market-house, (a prouder
memorial to its founder than a triumphal arch) now stand where the deep
"cove" stretched its peaceful harbour, between the two hills that stood
like towers of defence at its extremities. That at the north rose to
the height of fifty feet above the sea, and on its level summit stood a
windmill; towards the sea it presented an abrupt declivity, and was
fortified at its base by a strong battery. The eastern hill was higher
than its sister by some thirty feet; it descended kindly towards the
town, and was, on that side planted with corn. Towards the sea its
steep and ragged cliffs announced that nature had formed it for
defence; and accordingly our fathers soon fortified it with "store of
great artillery," and changed the first pastoral name of Cornhill,
which they had given it, to the more appropriate designation of
Fort-hill. A third hill flanked the town, rising to the height of one
hundred and thirty-eight feet. "All three," says Johnson, "like
over-topping towers, keepe a constant watch to foresee the approach of
forrein dangers, being furnished with a beacon, and loudbabbling guns,
to give notice by their redoubled eccho, to all their sister townes."
Shawmut, a word expressing living fountains, was the Indian name of
Boston. Tri-mountain, its first English name, and descriptive of
Beaconhill, which, as we are told, rose in three majestic and lofty
eminences; the most eastern of these summits having on its brow three
little hillocks. Its present, and, as we fondly believe immortal name,
was given with characteristic reverence in honour of one of its first
pastors, Mr. Cotton, who came from Boston, in England.
But we return from this digression to our pilot-boat, which now had
nearly reached its landing place. A throng had gathered on the
"town-dock" in expectation of friends, or news from friends. In vain
did the young stranger's eye explore the crowd for some familiar face;
he was obliged to check the greetings that rose to his lips, and
repress the throbbings of his heart. "Time," he said, "has wrought
strange changes. I fancied that even the stones in Boston would know
me; but now, I see not one welcoming look, unless it be in those
barbary and rose bushes, that appear just as they did the last time I
scrambled over wind-mill hill." They now landed at the foot of this
hill, and the young gentleman told his companion, that he should go to
his old home at Governor Winthrop's, where he was sure of finding
friends to welcome him. "And if you will accompany me thither," he
said, "I amcertain our kind Governor will render you all the
courtesies, which, as a stranger, you may require."
This opportune offer was, of course accepted; and the gentlemen
proceeded like old acquaintances, arm in arm together, after a short
consultation between the master and page, the amount of which seemed to
be that the boy should attend him, and await without Governor
Winthrop's door, further orders.
They had not gone far, when, as they turned a corner, two young
ladies issued from the door of a house a little in advance, and walked
on without observing them. The young gentleman quickened his steps. "It
must be she!" he exclaimed, in a most animated tone. "There is but one
person in the world that has such tresses!" and his eye rested on the
bright golden ringlets that peeped from beneath a chip gipsy hat, worn
by one of the ladies.
"That is not a rational conclusion of yours," said his companion.
"Women have cunning devices, by which to change the order of nature in
the colouring of the hair. I have seen many a court dame arrayed in the
purchased locks of her serving-maid; besides, you know it is the vain
fashion of the day to make much use of coloured powders, fluids, and
"That may all be; but do you not see this nymph's locks are, as
Rosalind says, of the colour God chooses?"
"It were better, my friend, if you explainedyour meaning without a
profane quotation from a play; a practice to which our godless
cavaliers are much addicted; but pardon my reproof—age has
"I do not know," replied the young gentleman, "what degree of
seniority may confer this privilege—if some half dozen years, I submit
to your right; and the more readily, as I am just now too happy to
quarrel about any thing; but excuse me, I must quicken my pace to
overtake this girl, who trips it along as if she had Mercury's wings on
those pretty feet."
"Ah, that's a foot to leave its print in the memory," said the
elder gentleman, in an animated and natural tone, that eagerly as his
companion was pressing on, did not escape his observation.
They had now approached the parties they were pursuing, near enough
to hear their voices, and catch a few words of their conversation. "You
say it's edifying, and all that," said the shortest of the two young
ladies, in reply to what seemed, from the tone in which it was
concluded, to have been an expostulation; "and I dare say, dear Esther,
you are quite right, for you are as wise as Solomon, and always in the
right; but for my part, I confess, I had infinitely rather be at home
drying marigolds, and matching embroidery silks for aunt Grafton."
"Hope Leslie! by Heaven!" exclaimed the young man, springing
forward. The young lady turned at the sound of her name, uttered a
screamof joy, and under the impulse of strong affection and sudden
delight, threw her arms around the stranger's neck, and was folded in
the embrace of Everell Fletcher.
The next instant, the consciousness that the street was an awkward
place for such a demonstration of happiness, or, perhaps, the thought
that the elegant young man before her was no longer the play-fellow of
her childhood, suffused her neck and face with the deepest crimson; and
a sort of exculpatory exclamation of, "I was so surprised!" burst from
her lips, and extorted a smile even from Everell's new acquaintance,
whose gravity had all the fixedness of premeditation.
For a moment, Everell's eyes were rivetted to Hope Leslie's face,
which he seemed to compare with the image in his memory. "Yes," he
said, as if thinking aloud, "the same face that I saw, for the first
time, peeping through my curtains, the day Digby brought me home to
Bethel—how is Digby?—my dear father?—Mrs. Grafton?—the
"All, all well; but I must defer particulars till I have introduced
you to my friend, Miss Downing."
"Miss Downing! is it possible!" exclaimed Everell, and a
recognition followed, which shewed, that though he had not, before,
observed the lady, who had turned aside, and was sheltered under the
thick folds of a veil, the parties were not unknown to each other. Miss
Leslie now drew her friend's arm within hers, and as she did so, she
perceivedshe trembled excessively; but too considerate to remark an
agitation, which it was obvious the lady did not mean to betray, she
did not appear to notice it, and proceeded to give Everell such
particulars of his friends, as he must be most impatient to hear. She
told him that his father was in Boston, and that in compliance with his
son's wishes, he had determined to fix his residence there. Everell was
rejoiced at this decision, for gloomy recollections were, in his mind,
always associated with Bethel, and he was never happy when he thought
of the dangers to which Miss Leslie was exposed there.
"My last letters from America," he said, "informed me that you had
as yet no tidings from your sister, or my friend Magawisca."
"Nor have we now—still I cling to my belief, that my poor sister
will some day be restored to me; Nelema's promise is prophecy to me."
They had by this time reached Governor Winthrop's. Miss Downing
withdrew her arm from her friend, with the intention of retiring to her
own apartment; but her steps faltered, and she sunk down in the first
chair she could reach, hoping to escape all observation in the bustle
of joy occasioned by the unexpected arrival of Everell; and she did so,
excepting that her aunt called the colour to her cheek, by saying, "My
dear Esther, you have sadly fatigued yourself—you are as pale as
death!" and Hope Leslie, noticing that Everellcast stolen glances of
anxious inquiry at her friend, made, with the usual activity of a
romantic imagination, a thousand conjectures as to the nature of their
acquaintance. But there was nothing said or done to assist her
speculations, and while the governor was looking over a letter of
introduction, presented to him by Everell's chance acquaintance, who
had announced himself by the name of Sir Philip Gardiner, the young
ladies withdrew to their own apartment.
A "pensive Nun, devout and pure,
Sober, stedfast, and demure."
— Il Penseroso
When the two ladies were alone, there were a few moments of
embarrassed and uninterrupted silence, a rare occurrence between two
confidential young friends. Hope Leslie was the first to speak. "Come,
my dear Esther," she said, "it is in vain for you to think of hiding
your heart from me; if you do not fairly conduct me through its mazes,
I shall make use of the clue you have dropped, and find my own way
through the labyrinth."
"Hope Leslie—what clue do you mean? You should not trifle thus."
"Well then, I will be as serious as you please, and most solemnly
demand why thou hast never hinted to the friend of thy bosom, that thou
hadst seen, in thine own country, this youth, Everell Fletcher, of whom
I have, at divers times and sun-dry places, most freely spoken to
"I never told you I had not seen him."
"Oh no! but methinks, for a godly, gracious maiden, as thou art,
Esther; approved by our elders, the pattern of our deacons' wives; your
actions, as well as your language, should be the gospel 'yea, yea, and
nay, nay;' this 'paltering with a double sense,' as the poet has it,
would better become a profane damsel, like myself."
"If I have lacked sincerity, I merit your reproach; but I meant to
have told you. Mr. Fletcher's arrival now was unexpected"—
"And you were indisposed? your nerves deranged? your circulations
disordered? I thought so, when I saw that burning blush, that looked,
even through the folds of your veil, as if it would set it on fire; but
now your surprise is over, why look so like the tragic muse? Raise up
your eyes and look at me, dear Esther, and do not let those long
eye-lashes droop over your pale cheek, like a weeping willow over the
"Oh, Hope Leslie! if it were not sinful, I could wish that
monumental marble might press the clods on my cold bosom."
Hope was startled at the unaffected solemnity, and deep distress,
of her friend: every pulsation of her heart was audible, and her lips,
which before were as pale as death, became absolutely blue. She threw
her arms around her, and kissed her tenderly. "Dear, dear Esther," she
said, "forgive me for offending thee. I never will ask thee any thing
again—never, so long as I live. You may look glad, or sorry—blush, or
faint—do any thing you please, and I never will ask you for a reason."
"You are very kind, very generous, Hope; but have you not, already,
guessed the secret I have striven to hide?—you hesitate—answer me
"Why, then, if I must answer truly—perhaps, I have," replied Hope,
looking, in spite of herself, as archly as the mischievous little god,
when he sees one of his own arrows trembling in the heart; " 'set a
thief to catch a thief,' dear Esther, is an old maxim; and though I
have never felt this nervous malady, yet, you know, I am skilled in the
books that describe the symptoms, thanks to aunt Grafton's plentiful
stock of romances and plays."
"Oh most unprofitable skill! but I have no right to reproach thee,
since what hath been but the sport of thy imagination, is my experience
—degrading experience. Whatever it may cost me, you shall know all,
Hope Leslie. You have justly reproached me with insincerity—I will, at
least, lighten my conscience of the burden of that sin."
Hope's curiosity was on tiptoe; and notwithstanding her generous
resolution, not voluntarily to penetrate her friend's mystery, she was
delighted with the dawn of a disclosure, which, she believed, would
amount to a simple confession of a tender sentiment. She sincerely
pitied Miss Downing's sufferings; but it is, perhaps, impossible for a
third person to sympathise fully with feelings of this nature. "Now,
Esther," she said,sportively, "fancy me to be the priest, and yourself
the penitent. Confess freely, daughter—our holy church, through me,
her most unworthy servant, doth offer thee full absolution."
"Stop, stop, Hope Leslie—do not trifle with holy words, and most
unholy rites; but listen, seriously, and compassionate a weakness that
can never be forgotten."
Miss Downing then proceeded to relate some of the following
particulars; but as her narrative was confused by her emotions, and as
it is necessary our readers should, for the sake of its illustration,
be possessed of some circumstances which were omitted by her, we here
give it, more distinctly, in our own language.
Esther was the daughter of Emanuel Downing, the husband of Governor
Winthrop's sister, so often mentioned by that gentleman in his journal,
as the faithful and useful friend of the pilgrims, whom he finally
joined in New-England.
Esther Downing was of a reserved, tender, and timid cast of
character, and being bred in the strictest school of the puritans,
their doctrines and principles easily commingled with the natural
qualities of her mind. She could not have disputed the nice points of
faith, sanctification and justification, with certain celebrated
contemporary female theologians, but no one excelled her in the
practical part of her religion. In the language of the times,
justification was witnessed, both by word, and work.
That young ladies were then indulged in a moderate degree of
personal embellishment, we learn from one of the severest pilgrim
satirists, who avers, that he was 'no cynic to the due bravery of the
true gentry,' and allows that 'a good text always deserves a fair
margent.' Miss Downing was certainly a pure and beautiful 'text,' but
her attire never varied from the severest gospel simplicity. It is
possible that she was fortified in this self-denying virtue, by that
lively little spirit, (that ever hovers about a woman's toilette)
whispering in her ear, that all the arts of the tyring-woman could not
improve the becomingness of her Madonna style. She wore her hair, which
was of a sober brown hue, parted on her forehead, and confined behind
in a braid that was so adjusted, it may be accidentally, as to
perfectly define the graceful contour of her head. Her complexion was
rather pale, but so exquisitely fair and transparent, that it showed
the faintest tinge of colour, and set off, to the greatest advantage,
features, which, if not striking, had the admitted beauty of perfect
symmetry. She was, at least, half a head taller than our heroine, or
the Venus de Medicis; but as neither of these were standards with the
pilgrims, no one who ventured to speak of the personal graces of Esther
Downing, ever impeached their perfection. Spiritual graces were then,
(as they should always be) in far higher estimation, than external
charms, and Miss Downing, who would have been a reigning belle in
ourdegenerate times, was always characterized by a religious
epithet—she was the 'godly,' or the 'gracious maiden.' She attained
the age of nineteen, without one truant wish straying beyond the narrow
bound of domestic duty and religious exercises; but the course of youth
and beauty 'never doth run smooth,' and the perils that commonly beset
it, now assailed the tender Esther.
Everell Fletcher came to her father's, to pass two months. He had
then, for some years, resided in the family of his uncle Stretton, a
moderate churchman; who, though he had not seen fit to eradicate the
religious and political principles that had been planted in the mind of
the boy, had so tempered them, that, to confess the truth, the man fell
far below the standard of puritanism. At first Esther was rather
shocked, by the unsubdued gaiety, the unconstrained freedom, and the
air of a man of society, that distinguished Everell from the few demure
solemn young men of her acquaintance; but there is an irresistible
charm in ease, simplicity, and frankness, when chastened by the
refinements of education, and there is a natural affinity in youth,
even when there is no resemblance in the character; and Esther Downing,
who, at first, remained in Everell's presence but just as long as the
duties of hospitality required, soon found herself lingering in the
parlor, and strolling in the walks, that were his favourite resort. It
seemed as if the sun had risen on her after a polar winter, and
cheerfulness andher pleasant train sprung up in a mind that had been
chilled and paralyzed by the absence of whatever cherishes the gay
temper of youth; but it was, after all, but the stinted growth of a
She felt a change stealing over her—new thoughs were in her
"And love and happiness their theme."
She did not investigate the cause of this change, but suffered the
current of her feelings to flow unchecked, till she was roused to
reflection by her serving maid, who said to her mistress, one evening
when she came in from a long moon-light walk with Everell, "our worthy
minister has been here to-day, and he asked me, what kept you from the
lecture-room, so oft, of late? I minded him it rained last night. He
said, that in months past no tempest detained you from the place of
worship. I made no answer to that—beside, that it was not for me to
gainsay the minister He stood, as if meditating a minute, and then he
took up your psalm-book, and, as he did so, a paper dropped with some
verses written on it, and he said, with almost a smile, 'ah, Judy, then
your young lady tries her hand, sometimes, at versifying the words of
the royal psalmist?' "
"Did he look at the lines, Judy?" asked Esther, blushing deeply
with the consciousness that they were but a profane sentimental
"Yes, my lady—but he looked solemnized and said nothing more about
them; but turning to meand speaking as if he would ask a question, he
said, 'Judy, it was your mistress' wont to keep the wheel of prayer in
perpetual motion. I doubt not her private duty is still faithfully
done?' I answered to him, that your honoured parents had been absent
the last week, and you had company to entertain, and you were not quite
as long at closet-exercise as usual."
"Judy, you were very ready with your excuses for me," said her
mistress, after a moment's thoughtfulness.
"It must be a dumb dog, indeed," replied the girl, "that cannot
bark for such a kind mistress as thou art."
How often does an accident—a casual word even—serve as a key to
unlock feelings of which the possessor has been unconscious. The
conscientious girl was suddenly awakened from what appeared to her a
sinful dream. Had she perceived, on investigation, a reciprocal
sentiment in Everell Fletcher, she would probably have permitted her
feelings to flow in their natural channel; but not mingling with his,
they were, like a stream, that being dammed-up, flows back, and spreads
desolation, where it should have produced life and beauty.
The severest religionists of the times did not require the
extinction of the tenderest human affections. On the contrary, there
was, perhaps, never a period when they were more frequently and
perfectly illustrated. How many delicate women,whom the winds of heaven
had never visited roughly, subscribed with their lives to that beatiful
declaration of affection from a tender and devoted wife—"Whithersoever
your fatall destinie," she said to her husband, "shall dryve you,
eyther by the furious waves of the great ocean, or by the manifolde and
horrible dangers of the lande, I will surely beare you company. There
can be no peryll chaunce to me so terrible, nor any kynde of deathe so
cruell, that shall not be much easier for me to abyde than to live so
farre separate from you."
But though human affections were permitted, they were to be in
manifest subservience to religious devotion—their encroachments were
watched with a vigilance resembling the jealousy with which the
Israelites defended, from every profane footstep, the holy circle
around the ark of the living God. It was this jealousy that now alarmed
the fearful superstitious girl; and after some days of the most
unsparing self-condemnation, embittered by an indefinite feeling of
disappointment, she fell into a dangerous illness; and in the paroxysms
of her fever, she prayed fervently that her Creator would resume the
spirit, which had been too weak, to maintain its fidelity. It seemed as
if her prayer were soon to be granted—she felt herself, and was
pronounced by her physician, to be on the verge of the grave. She then
was inspired with a strong desire, proceeding, as she believed, from a
divine intimation,but which might possibly have sprung from natural
feeling, to open her heart to Everell. This disclosure, followed by her
dying admonition, would, she hoped, rescue him from the vanities of
youth. She accordingly requested her mother to conduct him to her
bedside, and to leave them alone for a few moments; and when her
request was complied with, she made, to the astonished youth, in the
simplicity and sincerity of her heart, a confession, that in other
circumstances the rack would not have extorted.
At first, Fletcher fancied her reason was touched. He soothed her,
and attempted to withdraw, to call her attendants. She interpreted his
thoughts, assured him he was mistaken, and begged that he would not
waste one moment of her ebbing life. He then knelt at her bedside, took
her burning hand in his, and bathed it with tears of deep
commiseration, and tender regret. He promised to lay up her
exhortations in his heart, and cherish them as the law of his life; but
he did not intimate that he had ever felt a sentiment responding to
hers. There was that in the solemnity of the death-bed, in her purity
and truth, that would have rebuked the slightest insincerity, however
benevolent the feeling that dictated it.
This strange interview lasted but a few moments. Miss Downing, in
the energy of her feeling, raised herself on her elbow—the effort
exhausted her, and she sunk back in a stupor which appeared to be the
immediate precursor of death. Her friends flocked around her, and
Fletcher retired to his own room, filled with sorrowful concern at the
involuntary influence he had exercised on this sensitive being, who
seemed to him far better fitted for heaven, than for earth.
But Miss Downing was not destined yet to be translated to a more
congenial sphere. Her unburthened heart reposed, after its long
struggles—the original cause of her disease was lightened, if not
removed, and the e!asticity of a youthful constitution rose victorious
over her malady. She never mentioned Everell Fletcher; but she heard,
incidentally, that he had remained at her father's, till she was
pronounced out of danger, and had then gone to his uncle Stretton's, in
The following autumn, her father, in compliance with a request of
Madam Winthrop, and in the hope that a voyage would benefit her health,
which was still delicate, sent her to Boston. There she met Hope
Leslie—a bright gay spirit—an allegro to her penseroso. They were
unlike in every thing that distinguished each; and it was therefore
more probable, judging from experience, that they would become mutually
attached. Whatever the theory of the affections may be, the fact was,
that they soon became inseparable and confidential friends. Hope
sometimes ventured to rally Esther on her over-scrupulousness, and Miss
Downing often rebuked the laughing girl's gaiety; but, however variant
their dispositions, theymelted into each other, like light and shade,
each enhancing the beauty and effect of the other.
Hope often spoke of Everell, for he was associated with all the
most interesting recollections of her childhood, and probably with her
visions of the future; for what girl of seventeen has not a lord for
her air-built castles?
Miss Downing listened calmly to her description of the hero of her
imagination, but never, by word or sign, gave token that she knew aught
of him, other than was told her; and the secret might have died with
her, had not her emotion, at Everell's unexpected appearance, half
revealed the state of her heart to her quick-sighted friend. This
revelation she finished by a full confession, interrupted by tears of
"Oh!" she concluded, "had I but known how to watch and rule my own
spirit, I should have been saved these pangs of remorse and shame."
"My dear Esther," said Hope, brushing away the tears of sympathy
that suffused her eyes, "I assure you I am not crying because I
consider it a crying case; you people that dwell in the clouds have
always a mist before you; now I can see that your path is plain, and
sure the end thereof; just give yourself up to my guidance, who, though
not half so good and wise as you are, am far more sure-footed. I do not
doubt in the least, Everell feels all he ought to feel. I defy any body
to know you and notlove you, Esther. And do you not see, that if he had
made any declaration at the time, it might have seemed as if he were
moved by pity, or gratitude. He knew you was coming to New-England, and
that he was to follow you; and now he has anticipated his return by
some weeks, and why, nobody knows, and it must be because you are
here—don't you think so? You will not speak, but I know by your smile
what you think, as well as if you did."
Arguments appear very sound that are fortified by our wishes, and
Miss Downing's face was assuming a more cheerful expression, when
Jennet (our old friend Jennet) came into the room to give the young
ladies notice to prepare for dinner, and to inform them that Sir Philip
Gardiner was to dine with them—"and a godly appearing man he is," said
Jennet, "as ever I laid my eyes on; and it is a wonder to me, that our
Mr. Everell should have fallen into such profitable company, for, I am
sorry to see it, and loath to say it, he looks as gay as when he used
to play his mad pranks at Bethel— when it was next to an impossibility
to keep you and him, Miss Hope, from talking and laughing even on a
Sabbath day. I think," she continued, glancing her eye at Miss Downing,
"sober companions do neither of you any good; and it is so strange Mr.
Everell should come home with his hair looking like one of those
heathen pictures of your aunt's."
"Oh! hush Jennet! It would be a sin to crop those dark locks of Mr.
"A sin indeed, Miss Leslie! That is the way you always turn things
wrong side out; a sin to to have his hair cropped like his father's—or
the honourable Governor's—or this Sir Philip Gardiner's—or any other
"Well, Jennet, I wish it would come into your wise head, that
christian tongues were not made for railing. As to my being serious
to-day, that is entirely out of the question; therefore, you may spare
yourself hint and exhortation, and go to my aunt, and ask her for my
blue boddice and necklace. But no—"she said, stopping Jennet, for she
recollected that she had directed the blue boddice because it matched
her blue fillet, Everell's gift, and a secret voice told her she had
best, under existing circumstances, lay that favourite badge aside.
"No, Jennet, bring me my pink boddice, and my ruby locket." Jennet
obeyed, but not without muttering as she left the room, a remonstrance
against the vanities of dress.
Jennet was one of those persons, abounding in every class of life,
whose virtues are most conspicuous in "damning sins they are not
inclined to." We ought, perhaps, to apologise for obtruding so humble
and disagreeable a personage upon our readers. But the truth is, she
figured too much on the family record of the Fletchers, to be
suppressed by their faithful historian. Those personages, yclep'd bores
in the copious vocabulary of modern times, seem to be a necessary
ingredient in life, and like pinching shoes, and smoky rooms,
constitute a portion of its trials. Jennet had first found favour with
Mrs. Fletcher from her religious exterior. To employ none but godly
servants was a rule of the pilgrims; and there were certain set phrases
and modes of dress, which produced no slight impression upon the minds
of the credulous. To do Jennet justice, she had many temporal virtues;
and though her religion was of the ritual order, and, therefore,
particularly disagreeable to her spiritual Mistress, yet her household
faculties were invaluable, for then, as now, in the interior of
New-England, a faithful servant was like the genius of a fairy tale—no
family could hope for more than one.
Long possession legalized Jennet's rights, and increased her
tyrannical humours, which were naturally most freely exercised on those
members of the family, who had grown from youth to maturity under her
eye. In nothing was the sweetness of Hope Leslie's temper more
conspicuous, than in the perfect good nature with which she bore the
teasing impertinencies of this menial, who, like a cross cur, was ready
to bark at every passer by.
Youth and beauty abridge the labours of the toilet, and our young
friends, though on this occasion unusually solicitous about the
impressionthey were to make, were not long in attiring themselves; and
when Mrs. Grafton presented herself to attend them to dinner, they were
awaiting her. "Upon my word," she said, "young ladies, you have done
honour to the occasion; it is not every day we have two gentlemen fresh
from Old England to dine with us; I am glad you have shown yourselves
sensible of the importance of the becomings. It is every woman's duty,
upon all occasions, to look as well as she can."
"And a duty so faithfully performed, my dear aunt," said Hope,
"that I fancy, like other duties, it becomes easy from habit."
"Easy," replied Mrs. Grafton, with perfect naiveté; "second nature,
my dear—second nature. I was taught from a child, to determine the
first thing in the morning, what I should wear that day; and now it is
as natural to me as to open my eyes when I wake."
"I should think, madam," said Esther, "that other and higher
thoughts were more fitting a rational creature, preserved through the
Hope was exquisitely susceptible to her aunt's frailties, but she
would fain have sheltered them from the observation of others. "Now, my
gentle Esther," she whispered to Miss Downing, "lecturing is not your
vocation, and this is not lecture day. On jubilee days slaves were set
free, you know, and why should not follies be?
Miss Downing could not have failed to have made some sage reply to
her friend's casuistry, but the ringing of a bell announced the dinner,
and the young ladies, arm in arm, followed Mrs. Grafton to the
dining-room. Just as they entered, Hope whispered, "remember, Esther,
the festal day is sacred, and may not be violated by a sad
countenance." This was a well-timed caution; it called a slight tinge
to Miss Downing's cheeks, and relieved her too expressive paleness.
Everell Fletcher met them at the door. The light of his happiness
seemed to gild every object. He complimented Mrs. Grafton on her
appearance; told her she had not, in the least, changed since he saw
her—an implied compliment, always, after a woman has passed a certain
age. He congratulated Miss Downing upon the very apparent effect of the
climate on her health, and then, breaking through the embarrassment
that slightly constrained him in addressing her, he turned to Hope
Leslie, and they talked of the past, the present, and the future, with
spontaneous animation; their feelings according and harmonising, as
naturally as the music of the stars when they sang together.
"Our New-England shall tell and boast of her Winthrop, a Lawgiver
as patient as Lycurgus, but not admitting any of his criminal
disorders; as devout as Numa, but not liable to any of his heathenish
madnesses; a Governor in whom the excellencies of christianity made a
most improving addition unto the virtues, wherein, even without those,
he would have made a parallel for the great men of Greece or of Rome,
which the pen of a Plutarch has eternized."
— Cotton Mather
We hold ourselves bound by all the laws of decorum, to give our
readers a formal introduction to the government-mansion, and its
inmates. The house stood in the main street, (Washington-street) on the
ground now occupied by 'South-row.' There was a little court in front
of it: on one side, a fine garden; on the other, a beautiful lawn, or,
as it was called, 'green,' extending to the corner on which the 'Old
South' (church) now stands, and an ample yard and offices in the rear.
The mighty master of fiction has but to wave the wand of his
office, to present the past to his readers, with all the vividness and
distinctness of the present; but we, who follow him at an immeasurable
distance—we who have no magician'senchantments, wherewith we can
imitate the miracles wrought by the rod of the prophet; we must betake
ourselves to the compass and the rule, and set forth our description as
minutely and exactly, as if we were making out an inventory for a
salesman. In obedience to this necessity, we offer the following
detailed description of the internal economy of a pilgrim mansion, not
on any apocryphal authority, but quoted from an authentic record of the
"In the principal houses was a great hall, ornamented with
pictures; a great lantern; velvet cushions in the window-seat to look
into the garden: on either side, a great parlour, a little parlour or
study, furnished with great looking-glasses, turkey carpets,
window-curtains and valance, picture and a map, a brass clock, red
leather back chairs, a great pair of brass andirons. The chambers well
furnished with feather-beds, warmingpans, and every other elegance and
comfort. The pantry well filled with substantial fare and dainties,
Madeira wine, prunes, marmalade, silver-tankards and wine-cups, not
If any are incredulous as to the correctness of the above extract,
we assure them that its truth is confirmed by the spaciousness of the
pilgrim habitations still standing in Boston, and occupied by their
descendants. These pilgrims were not needy adventurers, nor ruined
exiles. Mr. Winthrop himself, had an estate in England, worth seven
hundred pounds per annum. Some of his associatescame from lordly halls,
and many of them brought wealth, as well as virtue, to the colony.
The rigour of the climate, and the embarrassments incident to their
condition, often reduced the pilgrims, in their earliest period, to the
wants of extreme poverty; but their sufferings had the dignity and
merit of being voluntary, and are now, as the tattered garments of the
saints are to the faithful, sacred in the eyes of their posterity.
Our humble history has little to do with the public life of
Governor Winthrop, which is so well known to have been illustrated by
the rare virtue of disinterested patriotism, and by such even and
paternal goodness, that a contemporary witty satirist could not find it
in his heart to give him a harsher name than 'Sir John Temperwell.' His
figure, (if we may believe the portrait that honourably decorates the
wall of his lineal descendant) was tall and spare; his eye, dark blue,
and mild in its expression: he had the upraised brow, which is said to
be indicative of a religious disposition; his hair, and his beard which
he wore long, were black. On the whole, we must confess, the external
man presents the solemn and forbidding aspect of the times in which he
flourished; though we know him to have been a model of private virtue,
gracious and gentle in his manners, and exact in the observance of all
His wife was admirably qualified for the station she occupied. She
recognised, and continuallytaught to matron and maiden, the duty of
unqualified obedience from the wife to the husband, her appointed lord
and master; a duty that it was left to modern heresy to dispute; and
which our pious fathers, or even mothers, were so far from questioning,
that the only divine right to govern, which they acknowledged, was that
vested in the husband over the wife. Madam Winthrop's matrimonial
virtue never degenerated into the slavishness of fear, or the
obsequiousness of servility. If authorised and approved by principle,
it was prompted by feeling; and, if we may be allowed a coarse
comparison, like a horse easy on the bit, she was guided by the
slightest intimation from him who held the rein; indeed—to pursue our
humble illustration still farther—it sometimes appeared as if the
reins were dropped, and the inferior animal were left to the guidance
of her own sagacity.
Without ever overstepping the limits of feminine propriety, Madam
Winthrop manifestly enjoyed the dignity of her official station, and
felt that if the governor were the greater, she was the lesser light.
There was a slight tinge of official importance in her manner of
conferring her hospitalities, and her counsel; but she seemed rather to
intend to heighten the value of the gift, than the merit of the giver.
Governor Winthrop possessed the patriarchal blessing of a numerous
offspring; but as they were in no way associated with the personages
ofour story, we have not thought fit to encumber it with any details
We return from our long digression to the party we left in Governor
The tables were arranged for dinner. Tables, we say, for a
side-table was spread, but in a manner so inferior to the principal
board, which was garnished with silver tankards, wine cups, and rich
china, as to indicate that it was destined for inferior guests. This
indication was soon verified, for on a servant being sent to announce
dinner to Governor Winthrop, who was understood to be occupied with
some of the natives on state business; that gentleman appeared attended
by four Indians—Miantunnomoh, the young and noble chief of the
Narragansetts, two of his counsellors, and an interpreter. Hope turned
to Everell to remark on the graceful gestures by which they expressed
their salutations to the company—"Good heavens!" she exclaimed,
"Everell, what ails you?" for she saw he was as pale as death.
"Nothing, nothing," said Everell, wishing to avoid observation, and
turning towards the window: he then added in explanation to Hope, who
followed him, "these are the first Indians I have seen since my return,
and they brought, too vividly to mind, my dear mother's death."
Governor Winthrop motioned to his Indian guests to take their seats
at the side-table, and the rest of the company, including the elder
Fletcher and Cradock, surrounded the dinner table, and serving-men and
all, reverently folded their arms and bowed their heads, while the
grace, or prefatory prayer, was pronouncing.
After all the rest had taken their seats, the Indians remained
standing; and although the governor politely signified to the
interpreter that their delay wronged the smoking viands, they remained
motionless, the chief drawn aside from the rest, his eye cast down, his
brow lowering, and his whole aspect expressive of proud displeasure.
The governor rose and demanded of the interpreter the meaning of
their too evident dissatisfaction.
"My chief bids me say," replied the savage, "that he expects such
treatment from the English saggamore, as the English receive in the
wigwam of the Narragansett chief. He says, that when the English
stranger visits him, he sits on his mat, and eats from his dish."
"Tell your chief," replied the governor, who had urgent state
reasons for conciliating Miantunnomoh, "that I pray him to overlook the
wrong I have done him; he is right; he deserves the place of honour. I
have heard of his hospitable deeds, and that he doth give more than
even ground to his guests; for our friend, Roger Williams, informed us,
that he hath known him, with his family, to sleep abroad to make room
in his wigwam for English visitors."
Governor Winthrop added the last circumstance, partly as a full
confession of his fault, and partly as an apology to his help-mate, who
looked a good deal disconcerted by the disarrangement of her dinner.
However, she proceeded to give the necessary orders; the table was
remodelled— a sufficient addition made, and the haughty chief, his
countenance relaxing to an expression of grave satisfaction, took his
seat at the governor's right hand. His associates being properly
accommodated at the table, the rest of the company resumed their
Everell cast his eye around on the various viands which covered the
hospitable board.— "Times have mended," he said to Madam Winthrop, "in
my absence. I remember once sitting down with my father, to a good
man's table, on which was nothing but a sorry dish of clams; but our
host made up for the defect of his entertainment by the excess of his
gratitude, for, as I remember, he gave thanks that 'we were permitted
to eat of the abundance of the seas, and of treasures hid in the sand.'
Hope Leslie understood so well the temper of the company she was
in, that she instantly perceived a slight depression of their mercury
at what appeared to them, a tone of levity in Everell. She interposed
her shield. "What may we expect for the future," she said, "if now it
seems strange to us, that ten years ago, the best in the colony were
reduced to living upon muscles,acorns, and ground nuts; and that our
bountiful governor, having shared his flour and meat with the poorest
in the land, had his last batch of bread in the oven, when the ship
with succours arrived? the Lion, or the Blessing of the Bay—which was
it, Master Cradock? for it was you who told me the story," she added,
bending towards Cradock, who sat opposite to her.
Cradock, who always felt, at the slightest notice from Hope, an
emotion similar to that of a pious catholic, when he fancies the image
of the saint he worships to bend propitiously towards him; Cradock
dropped his knife and fork, and erecting his body with one of those
sudden jerks characteristic of awkward men, he hit the elbow of a
servant who was just placing a gravy-boat on the table, and brought the
gravy down on his little brown wig, whence it found its way, in many a
bubbling rill, over his face, neck, and shoulders.
A murmur of sympathy and suppressed laughter ran around the table;
and while a servant, at his mistress' bidding, was applying napkins to
Cradock, he seemed only intent on replying to Miss Lesile. "It was the
Lion, Miss Hope—ha —indeed—a wonderful memory—yes, yes—it was the
Lion. The Blessing of the Bay was the governor's own vessel."
"That name," said Sir Philip Gardiner, in a low tone to Hope
Leslie, next whom he sat, "should, I think, have been reserved,
wherenames are significant, for a more just appropriation."
He spoke in a tone of confidential gallantry so discordant with his
demeanor, that the fair listener lost the matter in the manner, and
turning to him with one of those looks so confounding to a man who
means to speak but to one ear in the company—"What did you say, sir?"
"He said, my dear," said Mrs. Grafton, who sat at the knight's left
hand, and who would have considered it worse to suppress a compliment,
than to conceal treason; "he said, my dear, that you should have been
named, the Blessing of the Bay."
Sir Philip recoiled a little at this flat version of his
compliment; but he had other interests to sustain, more important than
his knightly courtesy, and he was just contriving something to say,
which might secure him a safe passage past Scylla and Charybdis, when
Madam Winthrop, who was exclusively occupied with the duty of
presiding, begged Sir Philip would change his plate, and take a piece
of wild turkey, which she could recommend as savoury and tender; or, a
piece of the venison—the venison, she said, was a present from the son
of their good old friend and ally, Chicatabot, and she was sure it was
of the best.
The knight declined the proffered delicacies, alleging he had
already been tempted to excess by the cod's-head and shoulders—a
rarity to a European.
"But," said Miss Leslie, "you will not dine on fish alone, and on
Friday too—why we shall suspect you of being a Romanist."
If there was any thing in the unwonted blush that deepened the
knight's complexion, which might lead an observer to suspect that an
aimless dart had touched a vulnerable point, he adroitly averted
suspicion by saying, "that he trusted temperance and self-denial were
not confined to a corrupt and superstitious church, and that for
himself, he found much use in voluntary mortifications of appetite."
"Fastings oft," said Cradock, who had been playing the part of a
valiant trencherman, taking liberally of all of the various feast,
"fastings oft are an excellent thing for those who have grace for them;
and yours, Sir Philip, if one may judge from the ruddiness of your
complexion, are wonderfully prospered." The knight received the simple
compliment with a silent bow.
Cradock turned to Miss Downing, who sat on his right—"Now, Miss
Esther, you do wrong yourself; there is that pigeon's wing, just as I
gave it to you."
Hope Leslie looked up with a deprecating glance, as if she would
have said, 'Heaven help my tutor! he never moves without treading on
"Is not Miss Downing well?" asked the elder Fletcher, who now, for
the first time, noticed that she looked unusually pale and pensive.
"Perfectly well," said Esther.
"Indifferently well, my dear, you mean," said Madam Winthrop.
"Esther," she added, "always feeds like a Canary bird; but I never
despair of a young lady—they have all the cameleon gift of living upon
"Will Miss Downing mend her appetite with wine," asked young
Fletcher, "and allow me the honour of taking it with her?"
Everell!" exclaimed Hope, touching his elbow, but not in time to
"My son!" said his father, in a voice of rebuke.
"Mr. Fletcher!" exclaimed Governor Winthrop, in a tone of surprise.
"What have I done now?" asked Everell of Hope Leslie; but Hope was
too much diverted with his mistake and honest consternation to reply.
"You have done nothing inexcusable, my young friend," said the
governor; "for you probably did not know that the vain custom of
drinking, one to another, has been disused, at my table, for ten years;
and that our general court prohibited this 'employment of the creature
out of its natural use,' by their order, in the year of our Lord, 1639,
four years since; so that the custom hath become quite obsolete with
us, though it may be still in practice among our laxer brethren of
"With due deference I speak," said Everell, "to my elders and
superiors; but it really appearsto me to border on the quixotism of
fighting wind-mills, to make laws against so innocent a custom."
"No vanity is innocent, Mr. Everell Fletcher," replied the
governor, "as you will, yourself, after proper consideration, confess.
Tell me, when but now, you would have proffered wishes of health to my
niece, Esther, was it not an empty compliment, and not meant by you for
an argument of love, which should always be unfeigned?"
The governor's proposition appeared to himself to be merely an
abstract metaphysical truth; but to the younger part of his audience,
at least, it conveyed much more than met the ear.
Miss Downing blushed deeply, and Everell attempted, in vain, to
stammer a reply. Hope Leslie perceived the pit, and essayed a safe
passage over it. "Esther," she said, "Everell shall not be our knight
at tilt or tournament, if he cannot use the lance your uncle has
dropped at his feet. Are there not always, Everell, in your heart,
arguments of love unfeigned, when you drink to the health of a fair
Before Everell had time to reply, except by a sparkling glance, the
governor said, "This is somewhat too light a discussion of a serious
This rebuke quenched, at once, the spark of gaiety Hope had
kindled, and the dinner, never a prolonged meal in this pattern
mansion, wasfinished without any other conversation than that exacted
by the ordinary courtesies of the table.
After the repast was ended, the Indian chief took his leave with
much fainter expressions of attachment than he had vouchsafed on a
former visit, as the governor had afterwards occasion to remember.
The party dispersed in various directions, and the governor
withdrew, with the elder Fletcher, to his study. When there, Governor
Winthrop lighted his pipe, a luxury in which he sparingly indulged; and
then, looking over a packet of letters, he selected one, and handed it
to Mr. Fletcher, saying, "There is an epistle from brother Downing
which your son has brought to me. Read it, yourself; you will perceive
that he has stated his views on a certain subject, interesting to you,
and to us all; and stated them directly, without any of the
circumlocution and ambiguity, which a worldly-minded man would have
employed on a like occasion."
Mr. Downing introduced the important topic of his epistle, which
Mr. Fletcher read with the deepest attention, by saying that "Fletcher,
junior, returns to the colony, a fit instrument, as I trust, to promote
its welfare and honour. He is gifted with divers and goodly talents,
and graced with sufficient learning.
"I have often been sorely wounded at hearing the censures passed on
our brother Fletcher, for having sent his son into the bosom of a
prelaticalfamily, but I confidently believe the youth returns to his
own country with his puritan principles uncorrupted; although, it is
too true, as our stricter brethren often remark, that he has little of
the outward man of a 'pilgrim indeed.'
"He is, brother Winthrop, a high-metalled youth, and on this
account I feel, as you doubtless will, the urgency of coupling him with
a member of the congregation, and one who may, in all likelihood,
accomplish for him that precious promise of the apostle, 'the believing
wife shall sanctify the unbelieving husband.'
"I have already taken the first step towards bringing about so
desirable an end, by inviting the young man to my house, where he spent
two months of the summer. I then favoured his intimate intercourse with
my well-beloved daughter Esther, whose outward form, I may say without
boasting, is a fit temple for the spirit within."
Mr. Downing then proceeded to state some circumstances already
known to the reader, and particularly dwelt on Everell's remaining at
his house during his daughter's dangerous illness; touched lightly on
their having had an interview, very affecting to both parties, and in
regard to the particulars of which, both, with the shyness natural to
youth, had been silent; and finally, set forth in strong terms, the
concern evinced by Everell while Esther's recovery was doubtful.
"Notwithstanding," the letter proceeded to say, "these
circumstances are so favourable to my wishes, I have some
apprehensions; and therefore, brother, I bespeak your immediate
interposition in behalf of the future spiritual prosperity of this
youth. He hath been assiduously courted by Miss Leslie's paternal
connexions, and I have reason to believe, they have solicted him to
marry her, and bring her to England. But without such solicitation the
marriage is a probable one. Miss Leslie is reported here, to be wanting
in grace, a want that I fear would not impoverish her in young
Fletcher's estimation; and to be a maiden of rare comeliness, a thing
precious in the eyes of youth—too apt to set a high price on that
which is but dust and ashes. The young lady is of great estate too; but
that I think will not weigh with the young man, for I discern a lofty
spirit in him, that would spurn the yoke of mammon. Nor do I think,
with some of our brethren, that 'gold and grace did never yet agree.'
Yet there are some, who would make this alliance a ground of further
scandal against our brother Fletcher. It is whispered that his worldly
affairs are not so prosperous as we could wish. Mark me, brother— my
confidence in him is unmoved, and I think, and am sure, that he would
not permit his son to espouse this maiden, with the dowry of a queen,
if thereby he endangered his spiritual welfare. But, brother, you in
the new world, are as a city set on a hill. Many lie in wait for
yourhalting, and all appearance of evil should be avoided. On this
account and many others, brother Fletcher and all of us should duly
prize that medium and safe condition for which Agur prayed.
"One more reason I would suggest, and then commend the business to
thy guidance, who art justly termed by friend and foe—the Moses of
God's people in the wilderness.
"It seemeth to me, the motive of Miss Leslie's mother, in going
with her offspring to the colony, should be duly weighed and respected.
Could her purpose, in any other way, be so certainly accomplished, as
by uniting her daughter speedily with a godly and approved member of
Every sentence of this letter stung Mr. Fletcher. He repeatedly
threw it down, rose from his seat, and after taking two or three turns
across the study, screwed his courage to the sticking point, and
returned to it again. Governor Winthrop's attention appeared to be
rivetted to a paper he was perusing, till he could no longer, from
motives of delicacy to his friend, affect to abstract his attention
from him. Mr. Fletcher finished the letter, and leaning over the table,
covered his face with his hands. His emotion could not be hidden. The
veins in his temples and forehead swelled almost to bursting, and his
tears fell like rain-drops on the table. Governor Winthrop laid his
hand on his friend's arm, andby a gentle pressure, expressed a sympathy
that it would have been difficult to embody in words.
After a few moments' struggle with his feelings, Mr. Fletcher
subdued his emotion, and turning to Governor Winthrop, he said, with
dignity—"I have betrayed before you a weakness that I have never
expressed, but in that gracious presence, where weakness is not
degradation. Thus has it ever pleased Him, who knows the infirmity of
my heart, to try me. From my youth, my path hath been hedged up with
earthly affections. Is it that I have myself forged the fetters that
bind me to the earth? Is it that I have given to the creature what I
owed to the Creator, that one after another of my earthly delights is
taken from me? that I am thus stripped bare? Oh! it has been the
thought that came unbidden to my nightly meditations, and my daily
reveries, that I might live to see these children of two saints in
heaven united. This sweet child is the image of her blessed mother. She
was her precious legacy to me, and she hath been such a spirit of love
and contentment in my lone dwelling, that she hath inwrought herself
with every fibre of my heart."
"This was natural," said Governor Winthrop.
"Ay, my friend—and was it not inevitable? I did think," he
continued, after a momentary pause, "that in their childhood, their
affections, as if instinct with their parents' feelings, mingled in
natural union; if their hearts retain this bent, I think it were not
right to put a force upon them."
"Certainly not," replied his friend; "but the affections of youth
are flexible, and may be turned from their natural bent by a skilful
hand. It is our known duty to direct them heaven-ward. In taking care
for the spiritual growth of our young people, who are soon to stand in
their father's places, we do, as we are bound, most assuredly build up
the interests of our Zion. I should ill deserve the honourable name my
brethren have given me, if I were not zealous over our youth. In
fearing any opposition from the parties in question, I think, my worthy
brother, you disquiet yourself in vain. It appeareth from Downing's
letter, that there have been tender passages between your son and his
daughter Esther; and even if Hope Leslie hath fed her fancies with
thoughts of Everell, yet I think she would be forward to advance her
friend's happiness, for, notwithstanding she doth so differ from her in
her gay carriage, their hearts appear to be knit together."
"You do my beloved child but justice; what is difficult duty to
others, hath ever seemed impulse in her; and I have sometimes thought
that the covenant of works was to her a hindrance to the covenant of
grace; and that, perhaps, she would hate sin more for its unlawfulness,
if she did not hate it so much for its ugliness."
Governor Winthrop thought his friend went a little too far in
magnifying the virtue of his favourite. "Pardon," he said, "the wounds
inflictedby a friend—they are faithful. I have thought the child rests
too much on performances; and you must allow, brother, that she hath
not, I speak it tenderly, that passiveness, that, next to godliness, is
a woman's best virtue."
"I should scarcely account," replied Mr. Fletcher, "a property of
soulless matter, a virtue." This was spoken in a tone of impatience
that indicated truly that the speaker, like an over fond parent, could
better endure any reproach cast on himself, than the slightest
imputation on his favourite. Governor Winthrop was not a man to shrink
from inflicting what he deemed a salutary pain, because his patient
recoiled from his touch, he therefore proceeded in his admonition.
"Partiality is dangerous, as we see in the notable history of David
and Absalom, and elsewhere; and perhaps it was your too great
indulgence that emboldened the child to the daring deed of violating
the law, by the secret release of the condemned."
"That violation rests on suspicion, not proof," said Mr. Fletcher,
"And why," replied Governor Winthrop, smiling, "is it permitted to
rest on suspicion? from respect to our much suffering brother Fletcher,
and consideration of the youth of the offender, we have winked at the
offence. But we will pass that—I would be the last to lift the veil
that hath fallen over it; I only alluded to it, to enforce the
necessity of a stricter watch over this lawlessgirl. Would it not be
wise and prudent to take my brother's counsel, and consign her to some
one who should add to affection, the modest authority of a husband?"
Governor Winthrop paused for a reply, but receiving none, he
proceeded—"One of our most promising youth hath this day discoursed to
me of Hope Leslie, and expressed a matrimonial intent towards her."
"And who is this?" demanded Mr. Fletcher.
"William Hubbard—the youth who hath come with so much credit from
our prophets' school at Cambridge. He is a discreet young man, steeped
in learning, and of approved orthodoxy."
"These be cardinal points with us," replied Mr. Fletcher, calmly,
"but they are not like to commend him to a maiden of Hope Leslie's
temper. She inclineth not to bookish men, and is apt to vent her
childish gaiety upon the ungainly ways of scholars."
Thus our heroine, by her peculiar taste, lost at least the golden
opportunity of illustrating herself by a union with the future
historian of New-England.
After a little consideration, the governor resumed the
conversation. "It is difficult," he said, "to suit a maiden who hath
more whim, than reason—what think you of Sir Philip Gardiner?"
"Sir Philip Gardiner! a new-comer of to-day! and old enough to be
the father of Hope Leslie!"
"The fitter guide for her youth. Besides, brother, you magnify his
age—he is still on the bestside of forty. He is a man of good family,
who, after having fought on the side where his birth naturally cast
him, hath been plucked, as a brand from the burning, by the preaching
and exhortation of the godly Mr. Wilkins; and feeling, as he declares,
a pious horror at the thought of imbruing his hands any further in
blood, he hath come to cast his lot among us, instead of joining our
friends in England."
"Hath he credentials to verify all these particulars?"
Governor Winthrop coloured, slightly, at an interrogatory that
implied a deficiency of wariness on his part, and replied, "that he
thought the gentleman scarcely needed other than he carried in his
language and deportment, but that he had come furnished with a letter
of introduction, satisfactory in all points."
"From whom?" inquired Mr. Fletcher.
"From one Jeremy Austin—who expresseth himself as, and Sir Philip
says is, a warm friend to us."
"Is he known to you?"
"No—but I think I have heard him mentioned as a well-willer to our
This was not perfectly satisfactory to Mr. Fletcher, but he forbore
to press the point further, and turned his attack to that part of the
suggestion that appeared most vulnerable. "Methinks," he said, "you are
over-hasty in proposing to match Hope Leslie with this stranger."
"Nay, I meant not a formal proposition. I noted that Sir Philip was
struck with Hope's outward graces. He is an uncommon personable man,
and hath that bearing that finds favour in maidens' eyes, and the
thought came to me, that he may have been sent here, in good time, to
relieve all our perplexities; and to confess the truth, brother, if I
may use the sporting language of our youth, I am impatient to put
jesses on this wild bird of yours, while she is on our perch. But to be
serious, and surely the subject doth enforce us to it, I am satisfied
that you will not oppose any means that may offer to secure the lambs
of our flock in the true fold."
"I shall oppose nothing that will promote the spiritual prosperity
of those dear to me as my own soul. I have no reason to doubt my son's
filial obedience; he hath never been wanting, and though both he and I
have fallen under censure, I see not that I erred in sending him from
me, since I but complied with the last request of his sainted mother,
and that compliance deprived me of the only child left of my little
flock. I speak not vauntingly; but let not those who have remained in
Egypt, condemn him who has drank of the bitterest waters of the
wilderness." Mr. Fletcher, finding himself again yielding to
irrepressible emotions, rose and hastily left his more equal-tempered
and less interested friend.
Thus did these good men, not content with their magnanimous
conflict with necessary evils,involve themselves in superfluous trials.
Whatever gratified the natural desires of the heart was questionable,
and almost every thing that was difficult and painful, assumed the form
of duty. As if the benevolent Father of all had stretched over our
heads a canopy of clouds, instead of the bright firmament, and its
glorious host, and ever-changing beauty; and had spread under our feet
a wilderness of bitter herbs, instead of every tree and plant yielding
its good fruit.—But we would fix our eyes on the bright halo that
encircled the pilgrims' head; and not mark the dust that sometimes
sullied his garments.
"Then crush, even in their hour of birth
The infant buds of love,
And tread his glowing fire to earth,
Ere 'tis dark in clouds above."
The observance of the Sabbath began with the puritans, as it still
does with a great portion of their descendants, on Saturday night. At
the going down of the sun on Saturday, all temporal affairs were
suspended; and so zealously did our fathers maintain the letter, as
well as the spirit of the law, that, according to a vulgar tradition in
Connecticut, no beer was brewed in the latter part of the week, lest it
should presume to work on Sunday.
It must be confessed that the tendency of the age is to laxity; and
so rapidly is the wholesome strictness of primitive times abating,
that, should some antiquary, fifty years hence, in exploring his garret
rubbish, chance to cast his eye on our humble pages, he may be
surprised to learn, that even now the Sabbath is observed, in the
interior of New-England, with an almost judaical severity.
On Saturday afternoon an uncommon bustle isapparent. The great
class of procrastinators are hurrying to and fro to complete the
lagging business of the week. The good mothers, like Burns' matron, are
plying their needles, making "auld claes look amaist as weel's the
new;" while the domestics, or help, (we prefer the national descriptive
term) are wielding with might and main, their brooms, and mops, to make
all tidy for the Sabbath.
As the day declines, the hum of labour dies away, and after the sun
is set, perfect stillness reigns in every well-ordered household, and
not a foot-fall is heard in the village street. It cannot be denied,
that even the most spiritual, missing the excitement of their ordinary
occupations, anticipate their usual bed-time. The obvious inference
from this fact, is skilfully avoided by certain ingenious reasoners,
who allege that the constitution was originally so organised, as to
require an extra quantity of sleep on every seventh night. We recommend
it to the curious, to inquire, how this peculiarity was adjusted, when
the first day of the week was changed from Saturday to Sunday.
The Sabbath morning is as peaceful as the first hallowed day. Not a
human sound is heardwithout the dwellings, and but for the lowing of
the herds, the crowing of the cocks, and the gossipping of the birds,
animal life would seem to be extinct, till, at the bidding of the
church-going bell, the old and young issue from their habitations, and
with solemn demeanor, bend their measured steps to the meeting-house.
The family of the minister—the squire—the doctor—the merchants—the
modest gentry of the village, and the mechanic and labourer, all
arranged in their best, all meeting on even ground, and all with that
consciousness of independence and equality, which breaks down the pride
of the rich, and rescues the poor from servility, envy, and discontent.
If a morning salutation is reciprocated, it is in a suppressed voice;
and if perchance, nature, in some reckless urchin, burst forth in
laughter, "my dear, you forget it's Sunday!" is the ever ready reproof.
Though every face wears a solemn aspect, yet we once chanced to see
even a deacon's muscles relaxed by the wit of a neighbour, and heard
him allege in a half deprecating, half laughing voice, "the squire is
so droll, that a body must laugh, though it be Sabbath-day."
The farmer's ample waggon, and the little one-horse vehicle, bring
in all who reside at an inconvenient walking distance,—that is to say,
in our riding community, half a mile from the church. It is a pleasing
sight to those who love to note the happy peculiarities of their own
land, to seethe farmer's daughters blooming, intelligent, and
well-bred, pouring out of these homely coaches, with their nice white
gowns, prunel shoes, leghorn hats, fans, and parasols, and the spruce
young men with their plaited ruffles, blue coats, and yellow buttons.
The whole community meet as one religious family, to offer their
devotions at the common altar. If there is an out-law from the
society—a luckless wight, whose vagrant taste has never been subdued,
he may be seen stealing along the margin of some little brook, far away
from the condemning observation, and troublesome admonitions of his
Towards the close of the day, or, (to borrow a phrase descriptive
of his feelings who first used it) 'when the sabbath begins to abate,'
the children cluster about the windows. Their eyes wander from their
catechisms to the western sky, and though it seems to them as if the
sun would never disappear, his broad disk does slowly sink behind the
mountain; and while his last ray still lingers on the eastern summits,
merry voices break forth, and the ground resounds with bounding
footsteps. The village-belle arrays herself for her twilight walk; the
boys gather on 'the green;' the lads and girls throng to the
'singing-school;' while some coy maiden lingers at home, awaiting her
expected suitor—and all enter upon the pleasures of the evening with
as keen a relish as if the day had been a preparatory penance.
After having favoured our readers with this longskipping-place, we
resume the thread of our narrative. We have passed over eight days,
which glided away without supplying any events to the historian of our
heroine's life; though even then the thread was spinning that was to
form the woof of her destiny.
Intent on verifying the prediction she had made to Esther, that
Everell would soon declare himself her lover, she promoted the
intercourse of the parties in every way she could, without making her
motive apparent. While she treated Everell with frank sisterly
affection, and was always easy and animated in his society, which she
enjoyed above all other pleasures, she sedulously sought to bring
Esther's moral and mental graces forth to the light. In their
occasional walks, she took good care that Everell should be the
companion of her friend, while she permitted Sir Philip Gardiner to
attend her. He was a man of the world, au fait in all the arts of
society, and though he sometimes offended her by the excess of his
flattering gallantries, yet he often deeply interested her with his
lively descriptions of countries and manners unknown to her.
It was just at twilight, on Saturday evening, when the elder Mr.
Fletcher coming into Madam Winthrop's parlour, found his son sitting
there alone, and interrupted a very delightful meditation on the
eloquence of Hope Leslie, who had just been with him, descanting on the
virtues of her friend Esther. The charms of the fair speakerhad, we
believe, a far larger share of his thoughts, than the subject of her
"We have a lecture extraordinary to-night," said Mr. Fletcher; "our
rulers some time since, issued an order limiting our regular religious
meetings to one, during the week. Shall you go, my son?"
"Sir—go to the lecture?" replied Everell, as if just waking from a
dream, and then added, for then he caught a glimpse of Hope through the
door, with her hat and mantle. "Oh, yes—certainly sir, I shall go to
He snatched his hat, and would have joined Miss Leslie; but she saw
his intention, and turning to him, as she passed the threshold of the
door, she said, "You need not go with me, Everell; I have to call for
aunt Grafton, at Mrs. Cotton's."
"May not I call with you?"
"No; I had rather you would not," she said decidedly, and hurried
away without any explanation of her preference.
"What can have disturbed Hope?" asked Mr. Fletcher, for both he and
his son had observed that her cheek was flushed, and her eye tearful.
"I cannot imagine," replied Everell; "she left me not half an hour
since, all smiles and gaiety."
"It is but the April-temper of youth," said the father. "Hope is of
a feeling make: she often reminds me of the Delta lands, where the
fruits spring forth before the waters have retired. Smiles are playing
on her lips before the tear is dry on her cheek. But this sensitiveness
should be checked; the dear child's feelings have too long been
"And as long as they are all innocent, Sir, why should they not be
"Because, my son, she must be hardened for the cross-accidents and
unkind events, or, rather I should say, the wholesome chastisements of
life. She cannot—we can none of us—expect indulgence from the events
of life." Mr. Fletcher paused for a moment, looked around, then shut
the door, and returned to his son. "Everell," he said, "you have ever
been dutiful to me."
"And ever shall be, my dear father," replied Everell with frank
confidence, little thinking how soon the virtue might become difficult.
"Trust not, my son, to thine own strength; it may soon be put to a
test that will make thee feel it to be but weakness. Everell, thou
seest that Hope loves thee even as she loved thee in thy childhood. Let
her affection remain of this temper, I charge thee, as thou respectest
thy father's, and thine own honour. And, Everell, it were well if you
fixed your eye on"—
"Stop, sir!—stop, I beseech you, and tell me —not because I have
any thoughts—any intentions, I mean—any formed purpose, I would say
—but tell me, I entreat you, why this prohibition?"
Everell spoke with such earnestness and ingenuousness, that his
father could not refuse to answer him: but his reasons seemed even to
himself to lose half their force as they emerged from their shroud of
mystery. He acknowledged, in the first place, what his most cherished
wishes had been, in relation to Hope, and Everell. He then communicated
the intimations that had been thrown out, that his views for his son
Everell laughed at the idea. "No one," he said, "can so well afford
such an imputation as you, sir, whose whole life has been a practical
refutation of it: and for my own part, I am satisfied with the
consciousness that I would not marry any woman with a fortune, whom I
would not marry if the case were reversed, or even if we were both
"I believe this is not an empty boast, my son; but we have set
ourselves up for a mark to the world, and, as brother Winthrop has
said, and repeated to me, we cannot be too solicitous to avoid all
appearance of evil. There are covetous souls, who, on the slightest
ground, would suspect us of pursuing our own worldly by-ends."
"And so, sir, to win the approbation, or rather the good word of
these covetous souls, we are to degrade ourselves to their level, and
act as if we were capable of their mean passions."
"Everell! my son, you speak presumptuously; we are capable of all
evil;—but we will waivethat question at present. Our individual wishes
must be surrendered to the public good. We who have undertaken this
great work in the wilderness, must not live to ourselves. We have laid
the foundation of an edifice, and our children must be so coupled
together, as to secure its progress and stability when the present
builders are laid low."
"And so, my dear father, a precious gem is to be mortared in like a
common brick, wherever may best suit the purposes and views of the
builders. You are displeased, Sir. Perhaps I spoke somewhat hastily.
But, once for all, I entreat you not to dispose of us as if we were
mere machines: we owe you our love and reverence."
"And obedience, Everell."
"Yes, sir, as far as it can be manifested by not doing what you
command us not to do."
"Have I then strained parental authority so far, that you think it
necessary thus to qualify your duty?"
"No, indeed, my dear father; and it is because your authority has
ever been too gentle to be felt, that I wince at the galling of a new
yoke. You will admit that my submission has not been less perfect, for
being voluntary. Trust me, then, for the future; and I promise"—
Everell was perhaps saved from rashly committing himself, by the
entrance of Madam Winthrop, who inquired if the gentlemen were ready to
attend her to the lecture.
"Come, Mr. Everell," she said, "here is Esther to show you the way,
than whom there can be no safer guide."
Miss Downing stood beside her aunt, but she shrunk back at
Everell's approach, hurt at what seemed to her a solicitation for his
attention. He perceived her instinctive movement, but without appearing
to notice it, he offered his arm to Madam Winthrop, saying, "As there
is no skill in guiding one quite willing to be led, I will not impose
the trouble on Miss Downing, if you will allow me the honour of
Madam Winthrop submitted with the best grace to this cross purpose.
The elder Fletcher offered his arm to Miss Downing, and endeavoured to
draw her into conversation; but she was timid, downcast, and reserved;
and mentally comparing her with Hope Leslie, he felt how improbable it
was that Everell would ever prefer her. The old, even when grave and
rigid, are said to affect the young and gay; on the same principle,
perhaps, that a dim eye delights in bright colours.
"Is that Gorton's company?" asked Everell, pointing towards several
prisoners, who, in the custody of a file of soldiers, appeared to be
going towards the sanctuary.
"Yes," replied Madam Winthrop; "the governor and our ruling elders
have determined, that as they are to be tried next week, they shall
have the benefit of all our public teaching in the mean time."
"I should fear they would deem this punishment before trial," said
"They did reluct mightily at first; but on being promised that if
they had occasion to speak, after sermon, they should be permitted,
provided they only spoke the words of sobriety and truth, they
consented to come forth."
This Gorton, whom Hubbard calls 'a prodigious minter of exorbitant
novelties,' had been brought, with his adherents, from Rhode-Island, by
force of arms, to be tried for certain civil and ecclesiastical
offences, for which, according to the most learned antiquary of our new
world, (Mr. Savage,) they were not amenable to the magistracy of
The prisoners were ushered into the church, and placed before the
ruling elders. The governor then entered, unattended by his
halberd-bearers,—(a ceremony dispensed with, except on Sunday)—and,
followed by his family, he walked slowly to his pew, where Miss Leslie
was already seated between Mrs. Grafton, and Sir Philip Gardiner. She
rose, and contrived to exchange her location for one next Miss Downing.
"Look, Esther," she said in a whisper to her friend, "at that lad who
stands in the corner of the gallery, just beside the lamp."
"I see him; but what of him?"
"Why, just observe how he gazes at me: his eye is like a
burning-glass—it really scorches me.I wish the service were over. Do
you think it will be long?"
"It may be long, but I trust not tedious," replied Esther, with a
gravity which was the harshest rebuke she could ever command.
"Oh, it will be both!" said Hope, in a despairing tone; "for there
is Mr. Wheeler in the pulpit, and he always talks of eternity till he
"My dear Hope!" said Esther, in a voice of mingled surprise and
The service presently began, and Hope endeavoured dutifully to
assume a decorous demeanour, and join Esther in singing the psalm; but
her mind was soon abstracted, and her voice died away.
The preacher had not proceeded far in his discourse, before all her
patience was exhausted. Even those who are the most strenuous advocates
for the passive duties of the sanctuary, might have bestowed their pity
on our heroine, who had really serious cause for her feverish
impatience; obliged to sit, while a young man, accounted a 'universal
scholar,' seemed determined, like many unfledged preachers, to tell all
he knew in that one discourse, which was then called a prophesying—an
extempore effusion. He was bent, not only on making 'root and branch
work' of poor Gorton's heresies, but on eradicating every tare from the
spiritual field. To Hope, he appeared to maintain one even pace
straight forward, like the mortal inthe fairy tale, sentenced to an
eternal walk over a boundless plain.
"Do, Esther, look at the candles," she whispered; "don't you think
it must be nine o'clock?"
"Oh hush!—no, not yet eight."
Hope sighed audibly, and once more resumed a listening attitude.
All human labours have their end, and therefore had the preacher's.
But, alas for our heroine! when he had finished, Gorton, whose face for
the last hour had expressed that he felt much like a criminal condemned
to be scourged before he is hung—Gorton rose, and, smarting under a
sense of wrongs, he repeated all the points of the discourse, and made
points where there were none; refuted and attacked, and proved (to his
own satisfaction), 'that all ordinances, ministers, sacraments, were
but men's inventions—silver shrines of Diana.'
While this self-styled 'professor of mysteries' spoke, Hope was so
much interested in his genuine enthusiasm and mysticism, (for he was
the Swedenborg of his day,) that she forgot her own secret subject of
anxiety: but when he had finished, and half a dozen of the ruling
elders rose at the same moment to prove the weapons of orthodoxy upon
the arch heretic, she whispered to Esther, "I can never bear this;—I
must make an apology to Madam Winthrop, and go home."
"Stay," said Esther; "do you not see Mr. Cotton is getting up?"
Mr. Cotton, the regular pastor, rose to remindhis brethren of the
decree, "that private members should be very sparing in their questions
and observations after public sermons;" and to say, that he should
postpone any farther discussion of the precious points before them, as
it was near nine o'clock—after which it was not suitable for any
christian family to be unnecessarily abroad.
Hope now, and many others instinctively rose, in anticipation of
the dismissing benediction; but Mr. Cotton waved his hand for them to
sit down, till he could communicate to the congregation the decision to
which the ruling elders and himself had come, on the subject of the
last Sabbath sermon. 'He would not repeat what he had before said upon
that lust of costly apparel, which was fast gaining ground, and had
already, as was well known, crept into godly families. He was pleased
that there were among them gracious women, ready to turn at a rebuke,
as was manifested in many veils being left at home, that were floating
over the congregation like so many butterflies' wings in the morning.
Economy, he justly observed, was, as well as simplicity, a christian
grace; and therefore the rulers had determined, that those persons who
had run into the excess of immoderate veils and sleeves, embroidered
caps, and gold and silver lace, should be permitted to wear them out,
but new ones should be forfeited.'
This sumptuary regulation announced, the meeting was dismissed.
Madam Winthrop whispered to Everell thatshe was going, with his
father, to look in upon a sick neighbour, and would thank him to see
her niece home. Everell stole a glance at Hope, and dutifully offered
his arm to Miss Downing.
Hope, intent only on one object, was hurrying out of the pew,
intending, in the jostling of the crowd, to escape alone; but she was
arrested by Madam Winthrop's saying, "Miss Leslie, Sir Philip offers
you his arm;" and at the same moment her aunt stooped forward, to beg
her to wait a moment till she could send a message to Deacon Knowles'
wife, that she might wear her new gown with the Turkish sleeves the
"Oh martyrdom!" thought Hope, with indeed little of the spirit of a
martyr. She dared not speak aloud, but she continued to whisper to Mrs.
Grafton—"For pity's sake, do leave Mrs. Knowles to take care of
herself; I am tired to death with staying here."
"No wonder," replied her aunt, in the same low tone, "it is enough
to tire Job himself;—but just have a minute's patience, dearie; it is
but doing as a body would be done by, to let Mistress Knowles know she
may come out in her new gown to-morrow."
"Well, just as you please, ma'am; but I will go along with Sir
Philip, and you can follow with Mr. Cradock. Mr. Cradock, you will wait
for Mrs. Grafton?"
"Surely, surely," said the good man eagerly; "there is nothing you
could ask me, Miss Hope,as you well know—be it ever so disagreeable—
that I would not do."
"Thank you for nothing, Mr. Cradock," said the testy dame, with a
toss of her head; "you are over civil, I think, to-night. It is very
well, Miss Hope, it is very well;—you may go;—you know Cradock at
best is purblind at night;—but it is very well;—you can go—I can get
home alone. It is very peculiar of you, Mr. Cradock."
Poor Cradock saw he had offended, but how, he knew not; and he
looked imploringly to Hope to extricate him; but she was too anxious
about her own affairs, to lend her usual benevolent care to his
"My dear aunt," said she, "I will not go without you, if you prefer
to go with me; only do let us go."
Mrs. Grafton now acquiesced, for in her flurry she had lost sight
of the messenger whom she intended to entrust with the important
errand. Sir Philip arranged her hood and cloak; with a grace that she
afterwards said "was so like her dear deceased," and in a few moments,
the party was in the street, and really moving homeward.
Mrs. Grafton prided herself on a slow, measured step, which she
fancied was the true gait of dignity. Hope, on the contrary, always
moved, as the spirit moved her; and now she felt an irresistible
impulse to hurry forward.
"My dear," said her aunt, "how can you flyso? I am sure, if they in
England were to see you walk, they would think you had been brought up
here to chase the deer in the woods."
Hope dared not confess her anxiety to get forward, and she could no
longer check it.
"It is very undignified, and very unladylike, and very unbecoming,
Hope; and I must say, it is untoward and unfroward of you, to hurry me
along so. Don't you think it is very peculiar of Hope, Sir Philip?"
The knight suspected that Miss Leslie's haste was merely impatience
of his society; and he could scarcely curb his chagrin, while he said,
that "the young lady undoubtedly moved with uncommon celerity;—indeed
he had before suspected she had invisible wings."
"Thank you for your hint, Sir Philip," exclaimed Hope. "It is a
night," she continued, looking up at the bright moon, "to make one long
to soar —so I will just spread my wings, and leave you to crawl on the
earth." She withdrew her arm from Sir Philip's, and tripping on before
them, she soon turned a corner, and was out of sight.
We must leave the knight, biting his lips with vexation, and
feeling much like a merchant obliged to pay a heavy duty on a lost
article. However, to do him justice, he did not make an entire loss of
it, but so adroitly improved the opportunity to win the aunt's favour,
that she afterwards said to Hope, that if she must see her wedded to a
puritan, she trusted it would be Sir Philip, for he had nothing of the
puritan but the outside.
Hope had not proceeded far, when she heard a quick step behind her,
and looking back, she saw the young man whose gaze had disturbed her at
the lecture. She had an indefinite womanly feeling of fear; but a
second thought told her she had best conceal it, and she slackened her
pace. Her pursuer approached till he was parallel to her, and slackened
his also. He looked at her without speaking; and as Hope glanced her
eye at him, she was struck with an expression of wretchedness and
passion that seemed unnatural, on a countenance so young and beautiful.
"Any thing is better than this strange silence," thought Hope; so she
stopped, looked the stranger full in the face, and said inquiringly,
"You have perhaps lost your way?"
"Lost my way?" replied the youth, in a half articulate voice: "Yes,
lady—I have lost my way."
The melancholy tone and mysterious look of the stranger, led Hope
to suspect that he meant to convey more than the natural import of his
words; but without seeming to understand more, she said, "I perceive,
by your foreign accent, that you are a stranger here. If you will tell
me where you wish to go, I will direct you."
"And who will guide you, lady?" responded the stranger, in a
thrilling tone. "The lost may warn, but cannot guide."
"I need no guidance," said Hope hastily, still persisting in
understanding him literally: "I am familiar with the way; and if I
cannot be of service to you, must bid you good night."
"Stop one moment!" exclaimed the stranger, laying his hand on
Hope's arm, with an imploring look: "You look so good—so kind—you may
be of service to me;" and then bursting into a passionate flood of
tears, he added—"Oh, mon Dieu!—No, no—there is no help for me!"
Hope now lost all thought for herself, in concern for the unhappy
being before her. "Who— or what are you?" she asked.
"I!—what am I?" he replied in a bitter tone: "Sir Philip
Gardiner's slave—or servant—or page—or—whatever he is pleased to
call me. Nay, lady, look not so piteously on me!—I love my master—at
least, I did love him;—but I think innocence is the breath of
love!—Heaven's mercy, lady! you will make me weep again, if you look
at me thus."
"Nay, do not weep; but tell me," said Hope, "what I can do for you:
I cannot remain here longer."
"Oh! you can do nothing for me—no one can do any thing for me.
But, lady—take care for thyself."
"What do you mean?" demanded Hope, in a tone of mingled alarm and
impatience: "do you mean any thing?"
The boy looked apprehensively about him, and approaching his lips
close to Hope's ear, he saidin a whisper—"Promise me you will not love
my master. Do not believe him, though he pledge the word of a true
knight always to love you;— though he swear it on the holy crucifix,
do not believe it!"
Hope now began to think that the youth's senses were impaired; and,
more impatient than ever to escape from him, she said—"Oh, I can
promise all that, and as much more in the same way, as you will ask of
me. But leave me now, and come to me again, when you want a much more
"I never shall want any thing else, lady," he replied, shaking his
head sorrowfully: "I want nothing else, but that you would pity me! You
may, for angels pity; and I am sure you look like one. Pity me!—never
speak of me, and forget me." He dropped on his knee—pressed her hand
to his lips—rose to his feet, and left her so hastily, that she was
scarcely conscious of his departure till he was beyond her sight.
Whatever matter for future reflection this interview might have
afforded her, Hope had now no time to dwell on it; and she hastened
forward, and surmounting a fence at the south-eastern extremity of the
burial ground, she entered the enclosure, now the church-yard of the
stone chapel. The moon was high in the heavens; masses of black clouds
were driven by a spring gale over her bright disk, producing startling
changes, from light to darkness, and from darkness to thatgleamy,
indefinite, illusive brightness, which gives to moonlight its dominion
over the imagination.
At another time, Hope Leslie would have shrunk from going alone, so
late at night, to this region of silence and sad thoughts; and her
fancy might have embodied the shadows that flitted over the little
mounds of earth, but she was now so engrossed by one absorbing, anxious
expectation, that she scarcely thought of the place where it was to be
attained—and she pressed on, as if she was passing over common clods.
Once, indeed, she paused, as the moon shot forth a bright ray—stooped
down before a little hillock—pressed her brow to the green turf, and
then raising her eyes to heaven, and clasping her hands, she exclaimed,
"Oh, my mother! if ever thy presence is permitted to me, be with me
now!"— After this solemn adjuration, she again rose to her feet, and
looked anxiously around her for some expected object. "But I cannot
know," she said, "till I have passed the thicket of evergreens;—that
was the appointed spot."
She passed the thicket—and at that moment the intensity of her
feelings spread a mist before her eyes. She faltered, and leaned on one
of the grave-stones for support;—and there we must leave her for the
present, to the secresy she sought.
END OF VOLUME FIRST.