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Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete

Page: 133

Butler, in "Hudibras," quotes the story, but makes the offence more serious—

    "This precious brother, having slain,
    In time of peace, an Indian,
    Not out of malice, but mere zeal,
    Because he was an infidel,
    The mighty Tottipotimoy
    Sent to our elders an envoy
    Complaining sorely of the breach Of league."

But the Puritans, having considered that the offender was a teacher and a cobbler,

    "Resolved to spare him; yet, to do
    The Indian Hoghan Moghan, too,
    Impartial justice, in his stead did
    Hang an old weaver that was bed-rid."

The whole circumstance is cloudy, and the reader may accept either version that touches his fancy.





THE UNKNOWN CHAMPION

There was that in the very air of the New World that made the Pilgrims revolt against priests and kings. The Revolution was long a-breeding before shots were fired at Lexington. Stout old Endicott, having conceived a dislike to the British flag because to his mind the cross was a relic of popery, paraded his soldiers and with his sword ripped out the offending emblem in their presence. There was a faint cry of "Treason!" but he answered, "I will avouch the deed before God and man. Beat a flourish, drummer. Shout for the ensign of New England. Pope nor tyrant hath part in it now." And a loud huzza of independence went forth.

With this sentiment confirmed among the people, it is not surprising that the judges who had condemned a papist king—Charles I.—to the block should find welcome in this land. For months at a time they lived in cellars and garrets in various parts of New England, their hiding-places kept secret from the royal sheriffs who were seeking them. For a time they had shelter in a cave in West Rock, New Haven, and once in that town they were crouching beneath the bridge that a pursuing party crossed in search of them. In Ipswich the house is pointed out where they were concealed in the cellar, and the superstitious believed that, as a penalty for their regicidal decision, they are doomed to stay there, crying vainly for deliverance.

Philip, the Narragansett chief, had declared war on the people of New England, and was waging it with a persistence and fury that spread terror through the country. It was a struggle against manifest destiny, such as must needs be repeated whenever civilization comes to dispute a place in new lands with savagery, and which has been continued, more and more feebly, to our own day. The war was bloody, and for a long time the issue hung in the balance. At last the Indian king was driven westward. The Nipmucks joined him in the Connecticut Valley, and he laid siege to the lonely settlements of Brookfield, Northfield, Deerfield, and Springfield, killing, scalping, and burning without mercy. On the 1st of September, 1675, he attacked Hadley while its people were at church, the war-yelp interrupting a prayer of the pastor. All the men of the congregation sallied out with pikes and guns and engaged the foe, but so closely were they pressed that a retreat was called, when suddenly there appeared among them a tall man, of venerable and commanding aspect, clad in leather, and armed with sword and gun.


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