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when, with boat hooks and other means, he was res-
cued.

The first land they made was Cape Cod. But it
had been their intention to seek a settlement some-
where near the mouth of Hudson river. They there-
fore tacked about and stood for the southward. But
after sailing with a fair wind for half a day, they found
themselves becalmed in the midst of dangerous shoals
and wild breakers. Alarmed by the perils which sur-
rounded them in such unknown seas, they resolved to
make their way back and seek the protection of the
cape. A gentle breeze rose in their favor, and swept
them away from the shoals before night came on.
The next morning they anchored their storm-shat-



40 MILES STANDISH.

tered vessel in a safe harbor at the extremity of Cape
Cod.

Governor Bradford writes feelingly : " Being thus
arrived in a good harbor, and brought safe to land,
they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of
Heaven, who had brought them over the vast and furi-
ous ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and
miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and
stable earth, their proper element."

He continues in language which we slightly mod-
ernize : " But here I cannot but stay and make a pause,
and stand half amazed at this poor people's present
condition. And so I think will the reader too, when
he well considers the same. Being thus past the vast
ocean, and a sea of troubles before in their prepara-
tion, they had now no friends to welcome them, nor
inns to entertain or refresh their weather-beaten bod-
ies, no houses, or much less, towns to repair to, to
seek for succor.

" It is. recorded in Scripture, as a mercy to the
apostle and his shipwrecked company, that the barba-
rians showed them no small kindness in refreshing
them ; but these savage barbarians, when they met
with them, as after will appear, were readier to fill
their sides full of arrows than otherwise. And for the
season, it was winter ; and they that know the winters
of this country, know them to be sharp and violent.



THE VOYAGE. 41

and subject to cruel and fierce storms, dangerous to
travel to known places, much more to search an un-
known coast. Besides, what could they see but a hid-
eous and desolate wilderness, full of wild beasts and
wild men ? And what multitudes there might be
of them they knew not. Neither could they, as
it were, go up to the top of Pisgah to view, from
this wilderness, a more goodly country to feed their
hopes.

" For, which way soever they turned their eyes,
save upward to the heavens, they could have little sol-
ace or content in respect of any outward objects.
For, summer being done, all things stand upon them
with a weather-beaten face, and the whole country,
full of woods and thickets, presented a wild and sav-
age view. If they looked behind tfiem there was the
mighty ocean, which they had passed, and which was
now as a main bar and gulf to separate them from all
the civil parts of the world. If it be said they had a
ship to succor them, it is true ; but what heard they
daily from the master and company, but that with
speed they should look out a place with their shallop,
where they would be at some near distance ; for the
season was such that he would not stir from thence
till a safe harbor was discovered by them, where they
would be left, and where he might go without danger ;
and that victuals Consumed apace, but that he must



42 MILES STANDISH.

and he would -keep sufficient for the crew and their
return. Yea, it was muttered by some, that if the
Pilgrims got not a place soon, they would turn them
and their goods ashore and leave them."

It was in the morning of Saturday, November
nth, that the Mayflower, rounding the white sand
cliffs of what is now Provincetown, on the extremity
of Cape Cod, entered the bay on the western side of
the Cape, where they cast anchor. Just before enter-
ing this harbor the Pilgrims had drawn up a brief
constitution of civil government, upon the basis of re-
publicanism, by which they mutually bound them-
selves to be governed. This was the germ of the
American Constitution. John Carver they had unan-
imously chosen as their Governor for one year.

That afternoon a party of sixteen men, well armed,
under Captain Miles Standish, was sent on shore to
explore the country in their immediate vicinity. They
returned *in the early evening with rather a discourag-
ing report. The land was sandy and poor, but cov-
ered with quite ' a dense forest of evergreens, dwarf
oaks and other deciduous trees. They could find no
fresh water, and met with no signs of inhabitants.
The peninsula there seemed to be a mere sand bank,
a tongue of barren land, about a mile in breadth.
The water in the bay, however, abounded with fish
and sea fowl. They brought on board much-needed



THE VOYAGE. 43

fuel of the red cedar, which emitted, in burning, a
grateful fragrance.

The next day was Sunday. These devout men,
who had left their native land to encounter all the
hardships and perils of the wilderness, that they might
worship God freely, according to their own sense of
duty, kept the day holy to the Lord. They had brought
with them, as their pastor, as we have mentioned, the
Rev. William Brewster. He was a gentleman by
birth and in all his habits ; a man of fervent piety and
of highly cultivated mind, having graduated at Cam-
bridge University, and having already filled several
responsible stations in church and state. Mr. Brew-
ster preached from the deck of the Mayflower. In
their temple, whose majestic dome was the overarch-
ing skies, their hymns blended with the moan of the
wintry wind, and the dash of the surge on the rock-
bound shore.

"Amidst the storm they sang,

And the stars heard, and the sea,
And the sounding aisles of the. dim woods rang,
To :he anthems of the free."



CHAPTER III.

Exploring the Coast.

Repairing the Shallop. The Second Exploring Tour. Interesting
Discoveries. Return to the Ship. A Week of Labor. The
Third Exploring Tour. More Corn Found. Perplexity of the
Pilgrims. The Fourth Expedition. The First Encounter. He-
roism of the Pilgrims. Night of Tempest and Peril. A Lee
Shore Found. Sabbath on the Island.

The next morning, refreshed by the repose of the
Sabbath, the Pilgrims rose early to enter upon the ar-
duous duties before them. The prospect of gloomy
forests, barren sands and wild ocean, was any thing
but cheerful. No alluring spot of grove or meadow
or rivulet invited them to land. Weary as they were
of their small and crowded bark, it was still prefera-
ble to any residence which the shore offered them.
Still these heroic men indulged in no despondency.
The martyr spirit of Elder Brewster animated his
whole flock. Just before sailing for the New World,
he had said to Sir Edward Sandys :

" It is not with us as with other men, whom small
things can discourage, or small discontents cause to
wish themselves home again. We believe and trust
that the Lord is with us, unto whom and whose ser-



EXPLORING THE COAST- 45

vice we have given ourselves, and that he will gra-
ciously prosper our endeavors according to the sim-
plicity of our hearts therein."

The captain of the Mayflower was unwilling to
leave the harbor at Cape Cod and peril his vessel by
coasting about in those unknown seas in search for a
suitable location for the colony. The Pilgrims had
taken the precaution to bring with them a large shal-
lop, whose framework, but partially put together, was
stowed away in the hold of the vessel. They now got
out these pieces, and their carpenter commenced
vigorously the work of preparing the boat for service.
It would require some days to put the shallop in or-
der for a tour of exploration along the shore. There
were twenty-eight females among the emigrants.
Eighteen of these were married women, accompany-
ing their husbands. These females, attended by a
strong guard of armed men, were landed Monday
morning to wash the soiled clothes which had accu-
mulated through the long voyage. The weather was
excessively cold, and the water so shoal that the boat
could not come within several rods of the shore. The
men were compelled to wade through the water, car-
rying the women in their arms ; thus with many of
them was laid the foundation of serious and fatal
sickness.

In the meantime, while these labors were being



46 MILES STANDISH.

performed, Captain Miles Standish, on Wednesday
morning, the I5th of November, set out with a party
of fifteen men, well armed and provisioned, for a more
extended tour of exploration. It was deemed rather
a hazardous enterprise, as they knew not but that the
woods were rilled with savages, lying in ambush.
The Mayflower was anchored, it is supposed, about a
furlong from the end of what is now called Long
Point, and at that place the men were probably set
on shore.

Mourt writes : " The willingness of the persons
was liked, but the thing itself, in regard to the danger,
was rather permitted than approved. And so, with
cautious directions and instructions, sixteen men were
set out, with every man his musket, sword -and cors-
let, under the conduct of Captain Miles Standish,
unto whom was adjoined, for counsel and advice, Wil-
liam Bradford, Stephen Hopkins and Edward Tilley."

The exploring party followed along the coast foi
the distance of about a mile, when they saw six or seven
Indians, with a dog, approaching theni. As soon as
the savages caught sight of the party of white men,
they seemed to be much terrified, and fled precipi-
tately into the woods. The Pilgrims hotly pursued,
hoping to open with them amicable relations. The
Indians, seeing themselves thus followed, turned
again from the woods to the sea shore, where, upon



EXPLORING THE COAST. 47

the beach, their flight would be unobstructed by the
bushes and branches, which impeded their flight in
the forest. Their pursuers kept close after them,
guided by the tracks of their feet in the sand.

Night now came on. The Pilgrims constructed a
rude camp, with protecting ramparts of logs, built a
rousing camp fire, for the night was cold as well as
dark, and having established faithful sentinels, slept
quietly until morning. The place of the bivouac, they
supposed to be about ten miles from the vessel. The
next morning, Thursday, November i6th, at the ear-
liest dawn, the Pilgrims resumed their tour. They
followed the track of the Indians from the shore into
the woods. " We marched through boughs and bushes
and under hills and valleys, which tore our very ar-
mor in pieces, and yet could meet with none of them,
nor their houses, nor find any fresh water, which we
greatly desired and stood in need of."

About ten o'clock in the morning they entered a
deep valley, where they perceived tracks of deer, and
found, to their great joy, a spring, bubbling cool and
fresh from its mossy bed. Having refreshed them-
selves with a beverage which they pronounced to be
superior to any wine or beer which they had ever
drank, they pressed on their way, pushing directly
south, and soon found themselves again upon the sea
shore where they built a large fire, that its smoke



48 MILES STANDISH.

ascending through the silent air, might inform those
on board the ship of the point which they had
reached.

Then, continuing their journey, they soon entered
another valley, where they found a fine clear pond of
fresh water. This was undoubtedly the little lake
which now gives name to the Pond Village in Truro.
As they journeyed on they came to a plain of cleared
land, consisting of about fifty acres, where the plough
could be driven almost without obstruction. There
were many indications that this land had formerly
been planted with corn. Turning again into the in-
terior, they came to several singular looking mounds,
covered with old mats. Digging into one of these,
they found decaying bows and arrows, and other in-
dications that they were Indian graves. Reverently
they replaced the weapons and again covered up the
grave, as they would not have the Indians think that
they would violate their sepulchres.

Further on they found an immense store of straw-
berries, large and very delicious. This seems very
remarkable at that season of the year. Roger Wil-
liams writes : " This berry is the wonder of all fruits,
growing naturally in those parts. In some places,
where the natives have planted, I have many times
seen as many as would fill .a good ship within a few
miles compass." They found, also, abundance of wal-



EXPLORING THE COAST. 49

nuts and grape vines, with some very good grapes.
Coming upon a deserted dwelling, they found, to their
astonishment, a large iron kettle, which must have
been taken from some ship, wrecked upon the coast.
Upon examining the remains of the hut more care-
fully, they became satisfied that it must have been
erected by some sailors from Europe, who probably
had been cast away upon the coast.

Here they came upon another mound, newly made,
so different from the others that they were induced to
examine it. " In it we found a little old basket, full
of fair Indian corn, and digged further and found a
fine, great new basket, full of very fair corn of this
year, with some six and thirty goodly ears of corn,
some yellow and some red, and others mixed with
blue, which was a very goodly sight. The basket was
round and narrow at the top. It held about three or
four bushels, which was as much as two of us could
lift from the ground, and was very handsomely and
cunningly made." *

The Pilgrims had never seen corn before. Though
they knew from its appearance that it must constitute
an important article of food, they could have had no
conception of the infinite value those golden kernels
would contribute to the millions of inhabitants des-
tined to throng this broad continent. These holes in

* Mourt's Narrative.



50 MILES STANDISH.

the earth were the Indian barns. They were con-
structed so as to hold about a hogshead each. The
corn having been husked and thoroughly dried in the
sun, was placed in baskets surrounded with mats,
which were woven or braided with flags. As the pro-
visions of the Pilgrims were nearly expended, from
their unexpectedly long voyage, the sight of the golden
ears of corn was more grateful to them than so many
doubloons would have been.

" We were in suspense," writes one of these ex-
plorers, "what to do with it and the kettle. At
length, after much consultation, we concluded to take
the kettle and as much of the corn as we could carry
away with us. And when our shallop came, if we
could find any of the people, and come to parley with
them, we would give them the kettle again, and satis-
fy them for their corn."

About eight months after this, as we shall have
occasion hereafter to mention, they met the Indians
and paid them to their " full content." The loose corn
they put in the kettle, for two of the men to carry away
on a staff. They also filled their pockets with the
corn. The remainder they carefully buried again, " for
we were so laden with armor that we could carry no
more." It is worthy of note that the Pilgrims were
cased in armor. One of the grandsons of Miles
Standish is said to have in his possession the coat of



EXPLORING THE COAST. 51

mail which his illustrious ancestor wore upon this oc-
casion. The Pilgrim Society of Plymouth claims also
to have the identical sword blade used by Miles Stan-
dish.

Not far from this place they found the remains of
an old fort, which had doubtless been built by the
same persons who erected the hut and owned the ket-
tle. This was near a spot which they at first sup-
posed to be a river, but which proved to be an arm of
the sea, and which was doubtless the entrance of
what is now called Parmet River. They found here
a high cliff of sand, since called Old Tom's Hill, after
an Indian chief who had his wigwam upon its summit.
They were, at this spot, about nine miles from Cape
Cod harbor. Two birch bark canoes had been left
here by the Indians, one on each bank of the creek.
As the adventurers had received directions not to be
absent more than two days, they had no time for ex-
tensive explorations. Returning to the fresh water
pond, they established their rendezvous for the night
Building an immense fire, with the barricade to the
windward, and establishing three sentinels, each man
to take his turn as it came, they sought such sleep as
could be found in a drenching rain, for the night
proved dark and stormy.

In the morning they set out on their return home,
and lost their way. As they wandered along they



52 MILES STANDISH.

entered a well-trodden deer path in the entangled
forest. Here they came upon a singular contrivance,
apparently some sort of a trap, which they were care-
fully examining, when Mr. Bradford, subsequently
Governor, found himself suddenly caught by the leg
and snapped up into the air. As he experienced no
serious injury, the incident afforded only occasion for
merriment. It was a deer trap, ingeniously construct-
ed by bending a strong sapling to the earth, with a
rope and noose concealed under leaves covered with
acorns.

" It was a very pretty device," writes Mourt,
" made with a rope of their own making, having a
noose as artificially made as any roper in England can
make." These traps were so strong that a horse would
be tossed up if he were caught in one of them. " An
English mare," writes Wood, "having strayed from
her owner, and grown wild by her long sojourning in
the woods, ranging up and down with the wild crew,
stumbled into one of these traps, which stopped her
speed, hanging her, like Mahomet's coffin, betwixt
earth and heaven."

Toiling along through the wilderness, they saw
three bucks and a flock of partridges, but could not
get a shot at them. " As we came along by the creek
we saw great flocks of wild geese and ducks, but they
were very fearful of us, so we marched some while in



EXPLORING THE COAST. 53

the woods, some while on the sands, and other while
in the water up to the knees, till at length we came
near the ship, when we shot off our pieces, and the
long boat came to fetch us." * Those familiar with
the locality can trace their route as they passed round
the head of East Harbor Creek, and went down on
the north side of it. They then waded through
Stout's Creek, near Gull Hill, and passed on to the end
of Long Point, near which the ship was anchored.

It was Friday afternoon, November i/th, when
the expedition returned, with rent clothes and blis-
tered feet, and with a discouraging report ; for they
had found no place suitable for the location of their
colony.

Another Sunday came, and this little band of ex-
iles was again assembled, on the deck of the May-
flower, to attend to their accustomed worship. The
whole of the ensuing week was employed in refitting
the shallop, which required the labor of seventeen
days, and in making preparation for another and more
extensive tour along the coast.

On Monday of the next week, the 2/th of Novem-
ber, twenty-four of the colonists and ten of the sea-
men, in the shallop, all under command of Captain
Jones, of the Mayflower, again set out in search of a
spot where they might commence their lonely settle-

* Mourt's Narrative.



54 MILES STANDISH*

ment in the wilderness. It was a dreary winter's day,
with clouds, a rough sea, freezing winds and flurries
of rain and sleet. The sand hills, whitened with snow,
swept by the wind and covered with a stunted growth
of oaks and pines, presented nothing alluring to the
eye. As the day wore away and the storm increased
in violence, they ran in towards the shore for security.
Here the shallop cast anchor, under the lee of the sand
hills, in comparatively smooth water. The crew passed
the night in the boat, which probably afforded shelter
for a few persons. A party landed, and following
along the beach about six miles, encamped, with a
glowing fire at their feet.

The next morning, the storm still continuing, the
shallop reached them about eleven o'clock, and taking
them on board, continued their voyage until they ar-
rived at Pamet Creek, which the previous expedition
had visited. Here they found a sheltered cove, which
they called Cold Harbor. It afforded a safe refuge
for boats, but was not a suitable harbor for ships, as
it had a depth of but twelve feet of water at flood tide.
The creek here separates into two streams, running
back about three and a half miles into the country,
and separated by the high cliff of which we have spo-
ken, called Tom's Hill.

A party landed at the foot of the cliff and marched
into the interior, between the streams, four or five



EXPLORING THE COAST. 55

miles. The country was broken with steep hills and
deep valleys, and there was six inches of snow upon
the ground. As night darkened over them they en-
tered a small grove of pine trees, where they built
their camp and kindled their fire, and established their
sentinels for the night. They supped luxuriously
upon three fat geese and six ducks, which they had
shot by the way.

It was their intention in the morning to follow up
this creek to its head, supposing that they should
there find emptying into it a river of fresh water. But
in talking the matter over, it seemed to the majority
that the region was very undesirable. It was rough,
hilly, with poor soil, and a harbor fit only for boats.
In the morning, consequently, the shallop returned to
its anchorage at the mouth of the creek, while the
party on land crossed over to the other stream to get
the rest of the corn which they had left behind.
Here they found one of the canoes, of which we have
previously spoken, which was sufficiently capacious to
carry seven or eight over at a time. Here they found
several other depositories of corn, so that they ob-
tained seven or eight bushels.

" And sure it was God's good providence," writes
Mourt, " that we found this corn, for else we know not
how we should have done ; for we knew not how we
should find or meet with any of the Indians, except it



56 MILES STANDISH.

be to do us a mischief. Also we had never, in all
likelihood, seen a grain of it if we had not made our
first journey ; for the ground was now covered with
snow, and so hard frozen that we were fain, with our
cutlasses and short swords, to hew and carve the
ground a foot deep, and then wrest it up with levers,
for we had forgot to bring other tools."

Captain Jones, satisfied that there was no place
here for the location of the colony, was quite discour-
aged and wished to return to the ship. Several oth-
ers were quite sick from exposure and fatigue. They
therefore returned to the shallop, while eighteen re-
mained to continue their exploration until the next
day, when the shallop was to come to take them.
Several Indian trails were discovered, leading in va-
rious directions into the woods. One of these they
followed five or six miles without finding any signs of
inhabitants. Returning by another route, they came
to a plain which had been cultivated, where they
found several Indian graves, and among them mani-
festly the grave of a white man. In it they found fine
yellow hair, some embalming powder, a knife, a pack-
needle, and two or three iron instruments, bound up
in a sailor's canvas coat. It was supposed that the
Indians had thus buried the man to honor him.

While thus ranging about, some of them came
upon two deserted Indian huts. They were made



EXPLORING THE COAST. 57

round, like an arbor, of long saplings, each end being
stuck into the ground. The door was about three
feet high, protected by a mat. The chimney was a
hole in the top. In the centre of them, one could
easily stand upright. The fire was built in the centre,
around which the inmates slept on mats. The sides
and roof were warmly sheathed, as a protection from
wind and rain, with thick mats. A few very mean
articles of household furniture were found within,
such as bowls, trays and earthen pots. There were
also quite a variety of baskets, some of them quite
curiously wrought. Some of these baskets were filled
with parched acorns, which it subsequently appeared
they often used instead of corn.

During the day the shallop arrived. The latter
part of the afternoon they hastened on board, with
their treasures, and, it is supposed, reached the May-
flower that evening. In Mourt's narrative it is re-
corded : " We intended to have brought some beads
and other things, to have left in the houses in sign of
peace, and that we meant to truck with them. But
it was not done, by means of our hasty coming away


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Online LibraryJohn S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) AbbottMiles Standish, the Puritan captain .. → online text (page 3 of 21)