By E. F. POLLARD
The first glow of morning was creeping over the
land as an Indian emerged from the forest. He ran
swiftly, with that easy swing of the body and lightness
of foot for which his race is remarkable. Leaping a
wooden fence, he paused and stood, for the space of a
second, looking up at a large square house, plain and
unornamented, such as the early settlers in New England
were wont to build for themselves.
The inhabitants were still buried in sleep, and the
Indian's approach had been so noiseless that it had failed
even to rouse the watch-dog. Taking a handful of gravel
he threw it with unerring aim at a window on the second
floor. An instant afterwards the lattice was opened and a
young man's head thrust out, a voice asking, "What's up,
The Indian made a peculiar sign, which might easily
be interpreted into "Come down."
"All right," said Josiah Blackstone, and disappeared.
Then Josh, as he was familiarly called, came down the
broad staircase, removed noiselessly the bars and bolts
which secured the front door, and slipped out into the
porch, against the great oak post of which the Indian was
leaning. A huge mastiff came bounding round from the
back of the house with an ominous growl, but he evidently
recognised the Indian, for he ran up to him wagging his tail
and fawning upon him with unmistakable signs of pleasure.
"What has brought you, Will? I thought you were
off fishing in the Great Lakes," said Josiah. Then eyeing
him carefully, he added, "You look as if you had travelled
far and fast."
"So Will has," answered the Indian in English. "Will
Narburton ran a day and a night to bring news, bad
"Sorry to hear it," said Josh. "Is Philip up to mischief?"
The Indian made a sign of assent.
"Tobias, the Sachem of Nipmuck's son, and two
others, have slain John Susaman, the missionary," he
"Killed gentle John!" exclaimed Josh—"are you
"My own eyes saw it," said the Indian. "They waylaid
John, knocked him on the head, and thrust him dead
into the pond near Middleborough. I was on the other
side and watched the Sachem's son, Tobias, and the two
others, do the deed. Knowing they do not love the
men of my tribe, I was afraid, and hid myself in the long
rushes. They struck John from behind, so that he did
not see. He never moved again. Then they put him into
the hole. I waited till the wicked ones were on their way
back to tell the Sachem the evil work was finished, then I
ran all day and all night to warn you. King Philip is
angry; he has sworn he will drive the white man out of
the hunting grounds."
"I know it," answered Josh. "I fear this means
"As the arrow flies through the air swiftly and slays,
so the Indian will drop down into your midst, and the
scalps of the white men will be his reward," said Will
"Hush!" said Josh, "I hear my mother's step on the
stairs; she must not be alarmed."
The Indian raised his head and whispered: "No tell
missis, she woman, she frightened; tell master."
He had hardly given utterance to this sentiment when
a tall comely woman, in the close cap, plain black gown,
and white bibbed apron of the New England matron,
came out into the porch, and seeing Will Narburton,
smiled a welcome.
"I wondered who you might be entertaining at this
early hour, Josh," she said, laying her hand on her son's
arm. "Has Will come to tempt you to go fishing or
hunting with him?"
"No, mother; but he has brought some important
news, which I must communicate to my father. Will you
see that Narburton has food and drink, for he has travelled
a long distance to do us service?"
"Gladly," answered Mrs. Blackstone. "Go ye round
to the kitchen, Will; if Mary be not there, I will open to
you and see to your needs myself. Your father will be
down directly, Josh," she added, addressing her son, and
then she hastened away intent upon her household duties.
The Blackstones had been amongst the first settlers
on the borders of Connecticut. By the banks of the river
Seek-ouk they had built a house and named it "Study
Hill"; they had also planted orchards, and the fruitful land
rewarded their labour with rich harvests. It was but a
few weeks since the grandsire had been laid to rest among
his apple-trees, and his son, Nathan Blackstone, now
reigned in his stead. Josh was the only surviving son of
this third generation; he dwelt at home, and was his father's
right hand. Nathan was an elder of the Church and a
civil magistrate, revered by the settlers, and scarcely less
so by the Indians, to whom he had always been well
inclined; declaring the safety of the English lay in a just
recognition of the natural rights of the natives, and attaching
much blame to those who would have had the red
man rooted out as being of the accursed race of Ham.
Nevertheless he deemed it necessary they should be
watched, feeling by no means assured that they were
other than the children of the devil, more especially as
the effects of Christianity and civilisation on the Indian
were far from conducive to virtue.
The Puritan fathers were remarkably unsuccessful in
their efforts to propagate Christianity, may-be because of
the harshness of their doctrines; but it is a fact that after
fifty years' labour amongst the thousands of natives in New
England, less than 1500 Indians were converted. These
were known as the "Praying Indians," and their position
was far from enviable, they being despised by their own
people, and not wholly trusted by the colonists themselves.
Will Narburton and the murdered John Susaman belonged
to this class—indeed the latter was employed as a
missionary, and was much esteemed by the Brethren; his
death, therefore, was an event not likely to be passed over.
Hearing his father's step coming down the stairs, Josh
turned and greeted him, and the two went out together,
pacing side by side along the garden-walk in front of the
house, as was their wont when they had any matter under
discussion. They resembled each other greatly, being of
the same height, broad-shouldered, and powerful of limb;
their features were strongly marked; their complexions
ruddy, deep-set grey eyes and dark-brown hair; Nathan's,
however, was cropped short, after the fashion of the
Puritan fathers, but Josh wore his somewhat longer; also
Nathan was clean shaven, but his son had both beard and
They were fine, well-built men, with honest, open
countenances, God-fearing and true-hearted, ready to
do their duty alike to God and man.
As Nathan listened to the news Will Narburton had
brought, his face grew serious.
"I foresee trouble," he said. "John Susaman has
warned the men of Boston for some time past that the
Sachem of the Wampanoags was disaffected, and they paid
no heed to his words; I fear it is now too late. We have
been at peace with the Indians for many years; but if war
were to break out now, it would be far worse than in the
early days, because the red man has possessed himself of
firearms in addition to his own weapons. It is a serious
"It were well that the news should be carried to
Boston without delay," said Josh. "If you be willing,
father, I will ride in at once and take Will with me, he
being an eye-witness to the deed."
"Certainly, I think it desirable," said Nathan; "but
you must go well armed, for there is no saying what the
Indians may be up to, now they are roused. They are as
likely as not to waylay you, if they suspect you to be
carrying news of their misdoing to Boston."
And so accompanied by Will Narburton, both mounted
on good horses, Josh left his peaceful home, never doubting
but that he should return thither within a few days
and find it even as he had left it. He wore the New England
Ranger's dress, namely, a deep ash-coloured hunting
shirt, leggings and moccasins; he was armed with a
rifle-barrelled gun, a small axe, and a long knife, which
served for all purposes in the woods; a broad-brimmed
hat completed this somewhat sombre attire, which nevertheless
became him well, at least so his mother and Rena,
his young sister, thought as they watched him ride away.
Josh and his companion reached the city without hindrance,
and on Will's testimony the three murderers were
arrested within a week. They were tried before a mixed
jury of Indians and English, and Tobias was hanged.
Now the Sachem of Mipmuck and King Philip, or Metacomet,
as the men of his own tribe called him, Sachem of
the Wampanoags, were allies, and they were therefore
united in their anger against the settlers. So it came
to pass on a certain day King Philip summoned to his
camp at Mount Hope the chiefs, not only of his own
tribe, but of all those with whom he was on friendly
terms, to consult whether it was to be war or peace with
the white man.
The Sachem sat in his chair of state (a common
wooden chair with a straw bottom), surrounded by his
counsellors and captains in full battle array, with their
war paints and feathers, their tomahawks in their belts,
their bows and arrows slung across their naked shoulders.
Standing before the King was a woman. The skins of
beasts of prey hung from her shoulders and were girded
round her waist, strings of beads encircled her neck, her
long black hair hung loosely to her waist, and on her
head was a high crown made of the plumage of all manner
of birds. Her attitude was majestic, as with outstretched
arm, tears streaming from her eyes, she addressed the
"O brother of my murdered husband! I bring you
three hundred warriors, to war against the white man,
who slew my beloved, not on the battlefield as a warrior
should depart, but by treachery. Long years have I
waited to avenge him, but now surely the time has come.
The white men are driving us from our hunting-fields;
they destroy our forests, so that the wild beasts forsake
their lairs, and soon we shall lack food for our children.
Let us unite and drive them across the sea from whence
they came! I am but a woman, made to carry burdens
and to bear sons; but my husband has been slain, and
the son I bore him died on my bosom. Shall I not avenge
them? Is the time not come?"
Thus spake the squaw, Sachem Weetamoo, the widow
of King Philip's brother Alexander, who, being accused of
plotting against the English, had been taken as a prisoner
to Plymouth, where he died, his people said of poison,
but in truth of a fever brought on by anger and vexation
at his position.
This had happened upwards of fifteen years ago, but
the widowed squaw, Sachem, had never ceased wailing,
and importuning Philip to avenge her husband, and now,
hearing that he had been called to account for the murder
of the missionary, she hastened down with three hundred
warriors from the fort on the Pocasset shore, where she
dwelt, and urged him, with all the passion of a woman's
deadly hatred, to take up arms and drive the white man
out of the land.
She had chosen her time well, for but a few days
previously Philip had been summoned to Boston and
compelled to promise that he would deliver up all English
arms in the possession of his tribe, and both he and his
chief men were angered, so that Weetamoo's arguments,
and the presence of the armed warriors she had brought
with her, fired them, and they shouted that she spoke
Philip assented, and straightway swift messengers were
sent forth with the wampum belt from village to village,
from tribe to tribe, and Weetamoo went to her wigwam
triumphant. Before the people of New England had time
to realise the fact, the flames of burning homesteads, the
flight of terrified women and children, spread terror far
But even then the elders, the men of Boston and New
Plymouth, made an effort to maintain peace, promising to
all Indians who would lay down their arms, life and liberty.
Further, they decided to send a deputation to Philip with
offers of conciliation.
It was a dangerous mission, and there was some
hesitation in asking any one to undertake it; but the
matter was settled when Josh Blackstone came forward
and proposed being the bearer thereof. He and his father
were on friendly terms with the Indians, especially with
Philip; Josh had often been a guest at Mount Hope for
weeks together during the hunting season. He declared
he had no fear; he would go alone to Philip. His assurance
had the effect of encouraging others, and six young
men offered to accompany him.
"That is too many; it looks distrustful," he said, and
chose three, with whom he set forth at once, sending
Will back to Study Hill, with a letter to his father, telling
the errand upon which he was bound, and assuring him
he anticipated no danger. Nathan was not quite so well
satisfied, but he refrained from saying aught which might
alarm his wife and Rena.
"The lad is doing his duty; it will be well whatever
betides him," he said, and he went about his farm cheerfully,
encouraging his neighbours, and taking all due precaution
against the enemy.
The country over which Josh and his companions
had to travel to Mount Hope was so well known to the
former that he was able to lessen the distance by short
cuts across country. For the most part it was thickly
wooded, but sometimes they had to skirt vast tracts of
swampy land overgrown with reeds, bulrushes, and long
grass. Josh knew that such places were usually resorted
to by Indians when they wished to waylay their enemies;
he therefore kept a sharp look-out.
Within a few miles of the Mount they came upon a
great lake. On one side was an almost impenetrable
forest, and on the other an immense swamp.
Unfortunately it was evening, and as there was no
path they dismounted and were leading their horses, when
suddenly a wild unearthly yell rose on the still air, and a
horde of Indians came scrambling up the banks of the
lake; in a second they were upon the English.
"Run!" shouted Josh to his companions, "it's your only
chance." He, slipping his horse's bridle, placed himself
with his back to a tree and fired into the enemy, to keep
them, if only for a few minutes, at bay. He knew from
the first that resistance was hopeless. The savages literally
swarmed upon them. He saw two of his three men fall,
their skulls cloven; then an Indian, taller than his fellows,
with bigger feathers on his head, felled him to the ground.
He did not even then lose consciousness, expecting to feel
the sharp scalp-knife do its cruel work, when, to his surprise,
he was dragged by the hair of his head out of the
fray, hoisted on to one of the horses, an Indian sprang
up behind him uttering a loud whoop, and they were
scouring through the forest out into the open plain. The
natural instinct of self-preservation made Josh cling desperately
to the horse's mane, as the animal, terrified by
the Indian's savage yells, leaped through the thick undergrowth,
waded across streams, then bounding over a high
barrier, was drawn suddenly up, almost on to his haunches,
and so stopped short. Josh would have been done to
death, scalped then and there, but for his captor, to whom,
according to the laws of war, he belonged solely. The
natives leaped and yelled around them as the chief flung
himself to the ground, spoke a few words to them which
elicited shouts of delight, and strode away. Amidst loud
jeering and yells, to say nothing of two or three heavy
blows, Josh was overthrown, his limbs bound with strong
reeds, and in this helpless condition he was dragged some
distance and thrust into an empty hut. He lay for a time
insensible from the ill-usage and blows he had received;
but gradually he recovered consciousness, and the horror
of his position rushed upon him. He knew that, as a
prisoner, he would be subject to frightful tortures before
he was even allowed to die—surely it was a refinement of
cruelty to have spared his life!
As the cold dews of night crept on, strong man as he
was, he shivered, and the smarting of his wounds, the
soreness of his bruises, became almost intolerable. It
was many hours also since he had tasted food. That
did not trouble him; as a hunter he was accustomed to
long fasts. But his thirst was growing more and more
intense, his lips were parched, his tongue clave to the roof
of his mouth. To add to his misery, as he lay on the
damp ground, he could see the fires of his enemies, and
hear their unearthly deafening yells, as they feasted and
made merry. Once, nay, twice, he tried to break his
bonds; but it was useless, they were too tightly woven.
Probably from sheer exhaustion he dropped asleep. Surely
he was dreaming, for he felt a hand laid upon him and
heard a voice whisper, "Fear not, but drink;" then his
head was raised, a gourd put to his lips; he drank eagerly
a long draught of pure water, and sank back refreshed.
"Who are you?" he asked.
"I am Thusick, King Philip's daughter," answered the
same voice. "I do not hate the white men; they are wise
and brave, have taught us many things; therefore I have
brought you water, knowing that the fever must be on you."
Thusick's voice was gentle, and the hand she laid on
his head was wondrous cool and soft, so that a wave of
renewed hope and vigour came to Josh, and he said
"It is good of you to bring me water, but it were
kinder still to unloose my bonds and help me to escape."
It was night, so he could not see how pitiful the dark
"It were useless," she said, "the camp is too well
guarded; you could not escape. My father has saved
your life; he does not will that you should die, because
you were his friend. If you have courage you may live.
To-morrow at dawn your bonds will be cut, and you will
be brought forth to run the gantlet. If you are swift of
foot, and are not beaten down, but reach the King and
touch his knees, they will spare you. Three separate
times must you run that race, and afterwards you will be
adopted by our people, in place of the Black Hawk, whom
your men slew to-day; you will take a wife from amongst
us, and it will be well with you."
Josh did not, even under present circumstances, see
it in the same light as Thusick, but he was young, and
the mere chance of life was welcome. He was in no
mood to trouble about the future; the present hour was
too fraught with anxiety. He knew from hearsay what
was meant by the cruel ordeal of the gantlet, and how
not one man in ten came forth from it alive, and overpowered
as he was with a sense of physical weakness,
his heart sank within him.
"This girl has brought me water; surely she could
also bring me food to strengthen me," he thought, so he
"I shall never run to-morrow, for I have had no
food, and I shall faint."
"I have brought food," she answered, "also wherewith
to dress your wounds and make you strong."
Cautiously she raised a corner of the matting which
hung over the entrance of the hut, so that a glimmer of
light from the now dying fires crept in. Then she fed
him with meat, and afterwards she bathed his head, and
stripping his shirt as best she could, washed his wounds.
When all was finished, she put a nut into his mouth,
"It is bitter to the taste, but it is sweet, for it will
give you strength; let it lie all night in your mouth,
and to-morrow you will run swiftly. Our warriors eat
thereof when they go on the war trail, and they are
strong. Now, farewell!"
Through the dimness he saw the tall, lithe figure
glide out and disappear into the night. Then a sort of
lethargy stole over him; his eyelids closed and he slept.
A prolonged whoop, and Josh awoke with a start.
The sun was creeping into the hut, and he knew it was
morning. If he had needed any reminder of what lay
before him, it was there unmistakably, in the presence of
half-a-dozen red men, who stood talking and gesticulating,
whilst one of their number cut the thongs which bound
him, and by a sign bade him rise. He obeyed, and instantly
heavy hands were laid upon him, his clothes were
torn off his back, and he stood stark naked in their midst.
A momentary feeling of the utter hopelessness of his
position swept over him; as he looked at the savages,
armed with tomahawks and scalping-knives, he felt that
his chances of life were indeed small.
"Have good courage, be swift of foot, and it will be
well with you;" Thusick, the King's daughter, had so
spoken, and he believed her; moreover, he was conscious
that the fatigue of the previous day had passed away. His
limbs felt light and strong. He tossed back his head defiantly,
and a flash of determination lighted up his blue
"I'll not give in without a good try," he thought,
remembering those at home—"father, mother, Rena!"
A push from behind sent him out of the hut into the
broad sunlight of a July morning. Amidst hundreds of
dark skins he stood forth in his naked whiteness alone,
a target for all eyes. Shrieks, yells, whoops, greeted his
appearance from the vast crowd gathered to witness the
torture of the white man.
He might well be excused if the horror of the situation
caused his cheek to pale and a tremor to run through his
"Drink, drink quickly!" and a gourd was thrust into
his hand. Instinctively, without hesitation, he put it to
his lips and drained the contents, then threw it on the
ground. The action was so rapid that it passed unperceived,
but the effect of the liquor was almost magical.
It was like an electric shock coursing through his veins.
The mist which had obscured his vision was cleared away;
he saw the road stretched out before him along which he
was to run, savages on either side waving thongs and
sticks wherewith to scourge him, and at the farther end,
surrounded by his chiefs, King Philip, with feathered
crests and beaded trappings. The rising of the King to
his feet was the token that the ordeal was to begin.
Strange as it may seem, all sense of fear had left Josh;
he was quite calm now. Setting his teeth tight, he
gathered himself together, and with one foot forward,
awaited the signal.
"Others have done it, so, please God, will I," he
murmured. A clash! a wild shout rang out through
the summer air, and he was driven forward. Over the
ground he flew, with the steady pluck of a practised
runner, his nerves wrought to their highest tension, heedless
alike of the blows which hailed upon him, of the
thongs which tore his flesh. Faster, ever faster, on he
went, blood pouring down his body until the white skin
was red and mauled. As he neared the goal the yells
of rage grew louder, the onslaught fiercer, but he never
wavered, though his breath came short and hard; verily,
they were beating it out of him.
A blow struck him high up on the neck; he staggered,
but the yells of delight which greeted this sign of failing
strength so maddened him, that with a supreme effort
he leaped forward, threw out his arms, and caught at something
which stayed his course. A rushing sound as of
the incoming tide surged round him, died out, and stillness
as of death crept over him as he slipped unconscious to
That last spurt saved Josh Blackstone's life. His outstretched
arms had clasped neither pillar nor post, but
King Philip's knees! and straightway Thusick sprang
forward and pleaded that the white man should be
delivered to her, that she might heal him, and so he
would once again afford them sport. Her words were
greeted with shouts of approval, for he had done bravely.
Usually victims failed to traverse half the appointed space
before they succumbed, but he had fallen at the goal
and was still living! So Thusick's prayer was granted,
and he was delivered into her hands.
Hardly had the judgment been passed when a messenger
arrived bringing news to Philip that the Boston
men were sending troops against him, and that it were
well for him to hasten and destroy the nearest villages
and homesteads before they came up to give him battle.
Philip needed no urging; in an incredibly short time the
camp of Mount Hope was left to the old men, women,
and children, and before the mid-day sun was high in
the heavens the last plumed savage had disappeared.
Strange stillness reigned where, but a short time before,
shouts and yells had filled the air. On the outskirts of
the camp, close to the wooden palisades, was a solitary
wigwam; thither, by Thusick's orders, the unconscious
Josh was carried, and laid on a bed of fresh rushes.
Indian women had much knowledge of medicinal
herbs and plants, and Thusick was skilled even more than
others. Quickly she washed his wounds in fresh water,
covered his body with unguents and newly-plucked leaves,
so that when he recovered consciousness and opened his
eyes it was to a sense of comparative comfort. He
tried to raise himself, but Thusick bade him lie still.
"Philip is gone," she said; "have no fear, the chiefs
are with him."
"Gone to kill my people, and I am helpless! Let
me go too," he said, and again he strove to rise; but the
movement caused his wounds to break out bleeding afresh,
and in utter despair he threw himself back on his couch
of reeds, and broke out into bitter weeping, the outburst
of mental agony long restrained, and great physical pain.
"Father! mother! Rena! they will be done to death!"
he cried, "and I cannot strike a blow to save them."
"The days are long," said the Indian girl; "by night
the great pain will have passed away, and, brave man,
you can go. If you have courage and can walk till dawn,
you will come to an Indian village, friends of your people;
they will save you."
"Is it true? Shall I be able to do this?" he asked
wearily, feeling so helpless.
"Yes, if you are strong," said the girl. "Now sleep,
for sleep gives strength." She handed him a gourd, saying,
Suddenly a great passion took possession of Josh, a
feeling of deadly hatred until now unknown to him. All
the suffering, all the indignity he had undergone, seemed
to madden him.
"Why do you try to save my life," he said, "when I
hate your people, and if I live will slay them? I will
never rest day or night till I have overcome your father
and exterminated his warriors. I will not take life at
your hands and give you death."
Thusick shook her head; her unreasoning mind could
not follow him. She was but a savage, guided by instinct.
She gave no name to her actions. Mercy and
love were unknown in her vocabulary. Out of her own
gentle nature she did the deeds of mercy.
"Drink," she repeated in answer to his angry words,
and sullenly he obeyed. "Now sleep, Thusick will
watch," and sitting down beside him with a bunch of
gorgeous feathers in her hand, she waved them over him
to keep the noxious flies and insects from settling on his
When again he awoke it was night, and Thusick was
standing beside him.
"It is time you went forth," she said, holding out her
hand to help him to rise. He was astonished to feel no
pain, and that his limbs obeyed his will so that he was
able to stand erect.
"Clothe yourself and come forth," said Thusick;
"fear not, the old men and women are sleeping; they
will not hear," and she went to the door of the wigwam.
By the light of an oil lamp Josh saw a portion of his
own clothing lying in a heap within his reach. He
noticed also that a gun and a hatchet were placed beside
them, food and drink were on the ground. He did not
know that throughout that long day, whilst he slept, the
Indian woman had so tended him, that, not only the pain
of his wounds had ceased, but they were fast healing. A
few seconds later, he stood at the entrance of the wigwam
by Thusick's side. She raised her hand, pointed to the
west, and speaking in a low voice, said—
"The summer nights are short; before dawn you will
reach the Mohawks' village."
Josh looked down at her, and even in that supreme
moment, when his soul was still bitter within him, he remembered
what he owed her, and speaking gently, said—
"Your men I will not spare, I will slay them; but for
your sake, Thusick, I will protect every woman of your
race, so help me God!"
"It is well," she answered; "now depart."
He obeyed, and Thusick watched him until he had
disappeared down the side of the Mount; then she returned
to her own wigwam, with a dull pain at her
As Josh reached the bottom of the hill, he heard a
horse neigh, and at the same moment a hand was laid
upon his shoulder.
"Caught again," he thought, instinctively making a
supreme effort to escape from his invisible foe, but the
grip was of iron, and he knew at once who it was that
held him down, when a voice said, speaking in English,
but with a soft Indian intonation—
"Quiet! Josiah Blackstone, do you think, if I had not
willed it, you would be alive now? Twice I have saved
your life, and now a third time, because we have been
friends and you have smoked the calumet in my wigwam;
but from henceforth we are as strangers. I know you no
more." As he spoke he loosed his hold, and Josh, turning,
saw the gigantic form of the Sachem King Philip,
with the crested plume on his head, looming forth, a huge
shadow in the darkness.
"You have saved me from death, but you have subjected
me to indignities worse than death," said Josh;
"nevertheless I thank you, for surely you meant well."
"If I had not carried you off they would have killed
you as they did your companions," said Philip, "and a
prisoner's fate is torture and death; only to the few is it
granted to run the gantlet and to live. I gave you a
chance, you have won, and I let you go forth free. Would
your people have done as much for me? Have you
not driven us out of our own lands, where our fathers
hunted? When the white men first trod our shores we
bade them welcome, offering, in exchange for a few cartloads
of cloths, trinkets, and guns, to share the land with
them and dwell together in peace. We were foolish, not
knowing that where the white man sets his foot he must
be sole master. You clear our forests, you build houses,
you make towns, and we are driven farther and farther
into wilds, and our familiar hunting-grounds know us no
more. We have suffered much, and so we have risen, and
will burn your houses and your towns, and send you back
from whence you came. I will show your people that the
red man can fight for his own and conquer."
"Fight you may, but you will not conquer," said Josh.
"I do not say you are wrong, Philip; if I were in your
stead I should doubtless feel as you do. But the time is
past for you to drive us out; we have made this land
our own, rightly or wrongly, and we shall keep it. Be
wise while it is yet time; do not light a torch which will
set your forests on fire and destroy your people."
"It is too late; I am bound," answered the King.
"Farewell, Josiah Blackstone. There is your horse, ride
quickly south, and warn your people; avoid the great
forest." And having so spoken, the huge form leaped up
the Mount, bounding from hillock to hillock, and so disappeared.
"A child of nature, a man with a big heart, worthy to
be a king. I am sorry to lose him for my friend!" sighed
Josh. Then mounting his horse, he rode in the direction
Philip had indicated. As Thusick had said, the summer
nights were short, but the day had not yet dawned when
Josh perceived flames and smoke rising in various directions.
The settlements and homesteads were far apart,
there were few roads, and communication was difficult.
Checking his horse, Josh looked around, and was startled
by the lurid redness of the sky, and by every other sign of
a vast conflagration near at hand.
"I must be approaching Brookfield," he thought; "I
have ridden farther west than I imagined."
Suddenly the flames shot up, shrieks of agony filled
the air, and by the fierce light he saw a crowd of men,
women, and children coming in the direction of the forest.
He remembered Philip's words, and knew the danger lay
there. Riding quickly forward he placed himself in front
of them, shouting, "Back! back! for God's sake, keep
out of the forest!"
At the same moment a gust of wind dispersed the
smoke, and showed him a few hundred yards distant a
house, which, owing to its isolated position, away from
the burning town, was untouched by fire.
"Follow me," he cried, and dashed towards it.
His sudden appearance, his assurance of voice and
manner, had the desired effect; the fugitives crowded
round him, some even clinging to his stirrups. All vaguely
in their terror wondered from whence he had sprung.
"Surely he must have been sent to save them from the
heathen." So he drew them on until they reached the
house, entered the courtyard, and some one closed the
gates, thus ensuring safety for a short time at least.
The day was just dawning, but it was hardly perceptible
because of the fierce light from the burning town, which
reddened land and sky with a deeper glow than the rising
sun. Coming ever nearer and nearer they heard the yells
of the savages, and the children clung in terror to their
mothers, who, in their anguish, called upon the men to
"Quick to the house and barricade doors and windows,"
"You are driving us into a trap; we shall be either
murdered or burnt alive," cried a farmer.
"You will at least have a chance of defending yourselves,"
answered Josh; "in the forest you would have
been slaughtered. I do not say we shall escape now, but
at least we can fight and die like men."
"He's right," said James Carter, the owner of the
house. "My father built the homestead; it is strong
and well seasoned. Comrades, if we must die, we will
sell our lives dearly. Quick, do as the young man bids
you," and throwing open the doors, he hurried the
women and children within.
Josh still sat on his horse looking round, considering
rapidly the possibility of holding the place against such
terrible odds. The physical and mental sufferings through
which he had passed had told upon him in no ordinary
degree: his face was drawn and perfectly colourless, his
eyes were sunk deep in his head, and his lips cracked
with a consuming fever; from a bright, happy-looking
man, he had grown stern and forbidding. Truly the iron
had entered into his soul.
"I must find some place for my horse; I cannot let
him loose, we may need him. Do you know where I
can put him with any degree of safety?" he asked a
young man of about his own age who for the last few
minutes had been watching him attentively.
"If you will dismount, I will stow him away," was
the quiet answer.
Josh made an effort to throw himself off, but as he
reached the ground he staggered and almost fell.
"Are you hurt?" asked Stephen Carter, eyeing him
"Only stiff," answered Josh with an effort, pulling
himself together. "We must hurry up. Do you hear?
The Indians are close at hand."
"This way then," said the young man, preceding him
to an inner courtyard, where there was a shed. "He will
be all right here."
"Are you acquainted with this house?" asked Josh.
"I ought to be; it is my father's," was the short
answer. "I am Stephen Carter."
"That is well; then you have a right to command.
Will you see that the doors and windows are closed?
All the men who have arms must guard the entrances.
Those who have none, with the women, must draw water
from the wells and fill every bucket and utensil, for the
Indians will try to burn us out; it is their way."
He had hardly finished speaking, when the frantic
yells of the savages, the shots pouring in on all sides, told
only too plainly that the siege had already begun.
"Young man, whoever you may be," said the farmer,
who had at first protested, "you brought us into this trap,
and you must get us out."
"I'll do the best I can for you," answered Josh, and
he went off one way, Stephen Carter another, to organise
They were indeed in a desperate strait; to enter the
house and massacre every white man, woman, and child,
was the determined object of the besiegers, and they left
no device untried to accomplish this.
"The devils! I told you they'd fire us," said Josh to
Stephen, as looking through a chink he saw the Indians
piling wood and other combustible materials up against
the walls of the house.
"Quick, make a chain and give them a shower-bath,"
He was obeyed with right good-will, and the flames
Then firebrands, fastened on long poles, were hoisted
against the cornices and projections, in the hope of setting
them on fire. Then arrows wound round with burning
rags filled with sulphur were shot down on to the roof;
whilst the savages swarmed on to the window-sills and
balconies, trying to find some unguarded place; but they
were thrust back, more often shot down, and falling on
those below, created great confusion.
The first terror over, the besieged entered heart and
soul into the spirit of the defence, and at every turn, by
every device and cunning, baffled the Indians. Josh was
indefatigable, Stephen following close on his heels, for his
daring, unceasing energy excited the latter's admiration and
fascinated him. He was seen to tear the firebrands from
the poles and dash them amongst the enemy, then mounting
on the roof he hurled the sulphured arrows back to
whence they came; and his example being quickly followed
by others, no wonder if the savages lost heart, so that
when at last Josh and Stephen, with a dozen other men,
dashed into their midst, an almost hand-to-hand fight
ensued, and they gradually gave way and fled to the
shelter of the forest, leaving many dead and wounded
behind them on the ground. Then the besieged had a
short respite, and were able to take counsel together.
Men pressed forward to shake Josh by the hand, forgetting
he was a stranger. His white set face now begrimed
with smoke was ghastly to behold. Stephen brought him
food. "You are doing the work of half-a-dozen men,"
he said; "your strength will fail you if you do not eat."
Silently Josh acquiesced, thanking him.
A man came up to him.
"Have you heard that Colonel Willard of Boston has
been despatched westward?" he asked.
"No; how should I?" said Josh. "If that is a fact,
and our plight were made known to him, he might come
to our rescue."
"It is a fact; he was sent to punish Philip for the
murder of the deputation," said the man.
Josiah started. "All were not murdered," he said,
"for I, Josiah Blackstone, am here amongst you. I was
taken prisoner, carried to Mount Hope, and—" he
paused—"with Philip's aid I escaped." He would not
tell of the torture he had undergone; but continued, without
noticing the astonishment his words occasioned, "If
Colonel Willard is anywhere within reach we must get
"Impossible, the Indians are all around; if we attempt
to move they will start up again."
Josh made no answer. The subject was discussed
generally, and unanimously decided to be impracticable;
any man leaving the house would be seen and murdered.
There was nothing to do but to wait, on the chance that
a fugitive from Brookfield would carry the news to the
Night fell, and still the savages remained quiet.
Stephen was on guard at the back of the house when
Josh appeared leading his horse.
"Surely you are not going to do it?" he said.
"I am going to try," answered Josh grimly. "I guess
about where I can catch Willard. It will be sharp work;
but if I succeed by to-morrow at this time he may have
given those red devils a lesson which they will not forget
in a hurry. I am afraid they will wake up and worry you
to-morrow; be on your guard, and do your uttermost to
hold out till evening. Good-bye."
"Good-bye," said Stephen. "It is awfully plucky of
you. I hope you will get through; it is our only chance.
But you hardly look fit for such a ride."
"I am tougher than you think," said Josh; "most
men would look worse than I do if they had gone through
what I have done," and he held out his hand.
Stephen wrung it, saying, "I'll unbar the back gate for
you, it opens on to the water-meadows; the ground is soft,
so that the horse's hoofs will not be heard if you walk him,
and I believe the savages are on the other side in the
forest. It is less than half a mile to the river, and a mile
farther up it is so shallow that you can easily ford it; on
the other side you will be comparatively safe."
"Thanks," said Josiah. "The night's dark; that is in
my favour," and he disappeared.
Throughout that night and the following morning the
Indians remained quiet; but soon after noon they emerged
from the forest, dragging and pushing forward a sort of
cart of enormous dimensions mounted on rudely-constructed
wheels. Bundles of hay, flax, and hemp, besides
other combustible materials, were piled in it to a great
height. They brought the thing within a short distance of
the house, screening themselves behind it from the shots
which the besieged fired down upon them. Then a party of Indians with long poles
came running, shouting, and yelling triumphantly out of the forest; evidently
they felt sure now of victory.
The besieged watched these preparations with painful
anxiety, not daring to give expression to their fears.
Suddenly a cloud of smoke arose, tongues of fire leaped
up, and the Indians, using long poles, began pushing the
cumbersome vehicle nearer to the house. Then indeed
the English knew they were lost. The men turned pale
and looked aghast at the awful sight, and the women in
their terror cried aloud to God to help them. Their doom
was sealed; either they must perish in the flames, or rushing
out, be murdered by the savages. Slowly but surely
the horrible machine came on, long tongues of fire already
licked the front of the house, and the small amount of
water the besieged were able to throw upon that great
mass of combustible substance was of no avail; besides,
the heat would not allow of their opening the windows or
ascending to the roof.
"Let us out, let us out!" shrieked the terror-stricken
"Nothing but the bursting of the clouds from heaven
can save us," exclaimed Stephen in despair.
At that moment, above the cries of the women and
children and the yells of the savages, there was heard a
"What is it? what new horror is coming upon us?"
cried several voices at once. Again it came rolling nearer
and nearer, and some one said, "It is thunder!" Then an
aged woman, raising her wrinkled hands, cried with a loud
voice, "The Lord is with us; who shall be against us?"
But the rain, the blessed rain from heaven, would it
fall and extinguish the flames, which kept rising higher
and higher? The trees of the forest waved, bowing before
the coming storm; the wind rose, and the house
rocked under the fury of the elements; and the women,
falling on their knees, prayed, "Good Lord, deliver us!"
and the men, uncovering their heads, prayed also. They
were powerless; God alone could save them!
If the rain held off only a little longer, it would be too
late! Already a buttress had caught fire, and at the risk
of their lives the two Carters, father and son, with the aid
of several other men, hewed at it to separate it from the
main building. Suddenly a flash of lightning, so lurid
that the whole heavens were illumined, followed by a
crash of thunder, rolling as it seemed in the nethermost
parts of the earth and in the heavens above, struck English
and Indians alike with terror. The latter, throwing
themselves with their faces on the earth, lay as if stunned.
And then the clouds burst, a sheet of water poured down,
a perfect deluge! In the space of a few minutes the land
was submerged, the fire was extinguished, and the burning
mass reduced to smoking embers.
The besieged knew that for the present they were
saved, and the Indians knew they were conquered by the
"Great Unseen," and so, rising half drowned, they fled to
the forest. As suddenly as the storm had risen so suddenly
did it abate.
Then another sound reached the ears of the besieged,
the tramping of horses' hoofs coming at full speed through
the deserted village, and a troop of some fifty or sixty
horsemen pursued the Indians, shooting and hewing them
down. Many were slain, and those who escaped dispersed.
Before sunset all fear was over for that brave little garrison,
the house-doors were thrown open, and they came forth
to welcome their rescuers.
"Josiah Blackstone? where is Blackstone? We owe
our lives to him," said James Carter.
"Ay, verily we do!" shouted a chorus of voices.
"You say truly," responded Colonel Willard. "When
he arrived at my camp this morning both he and his horse
were dead beat; he could not have ridden back with me.
There comes a time when even the strongest man has to
give in, and Josh Blackstone had reached that stage. Do
you know where he came from?"
"From Mount Hope; he was made prisoner by Philip,
and escaped," said Stephen Carter.
"After running the gantlet, and coming out of it
alive, which not one man in fifty succeeds in doing,"
said the colonel; "and it seems to me he has been on the
go ever since. No marvel if he dropped from his horse in
a dead faint after he had delivered your message. He's a
Spartan! A cheer for brave Josh Blackstone!"
And the cheer went up right gladly, whilst the women
brushed the tears from their eyes, and the men muttered
in their beards, "He's a brave lad! a right brave lad!"
All through that winter and the following spring and
summer the war raged; a reign of terror spread over the
When Josiah Blackstone reached his home he found
the house burnt to the ground, the trees in the orchard
felled, only the trodden-down grave of his grandsire left
to mark where his inheritance had been.
Father, mother, Rena, were no more! He stood desolate
and alone. His father, he was told, had defended
himself bravely; more than one Indian had fallen by his
hand; but at last overpowered by numbers, he had been
slain. Of his mother and Rena's fate he failed to learn
anything; they had disappeared. One thing he discovered,
namely, that it was not the Wampanoags, Philip's tribe of
Indians, who had wrought this destruction, but the squaw
Sachem Weetamoo's, and Josh there and then made up his
mind that he would follow her up and discover the fate of
his mother and sister. The Plymouth Colony had put the
conduct of all military affairs into the hands of Colonel
Church, a friend of the Blackstones, and straightway Josh
offered him his services, which were readily accepted, and
he was enrolled in the corps, and rapidly rose to the rank
of captain. The knowledge of Indian warfare he had
gained from his friend was only equalled by Colonel Church
himself, and these two men, working together, became an
absolute terror to the Indians, for they not only fought them
with their own weapons of cunning and ruse, but with the
superior arms of the trained soldier.
Gradually but surely the red men felt the weight of
the white man's arm; they lost many of their best chiefs
and warriors; they could no longer undertake large expeditions,
but were reduced to a sort of predatory warfare.
Twice in the course of a few weeks Philip was nearly
captured; he fled, escaping in disguise, no one knew
whither. But even then he would not yield. One of
his chiefs venturing to propose that peace should be asked
for, Philip ordered him at once to be put to death.
The sorely-tried population of New England would
gladly have made peace. The strain of never-ceasing
anxiety had whitened the heads of men still in their prime,
and young men had even grown to look old. They could
bear to die and suffer themselves, if need be; but their
hearts ached for the women and children, above all for
those who were missing and whose fates were dark
"It will never end until that she-devil Weetamoo and
her tool Philip are taken or killed, Josh," said Colonel
Church, as they paced together in front of their tent, they
having during the last few days pitched their camp near
Tiverton in the North.
"If you can devise any plan by which this can be
accomplished, I am ready," said Josh. "As far as it has
been consistent with my duty, I have avoided Philip. I
have told you how he saved my life. But for this squaw
Sachem I have no such feeling, and I believe she is at the
bottom of all this mischief."
Even as he spoke, an Indian came out from amongst
a clump of trees and stood before them.
Always on his guard against treachery, Josh raised his
"Stand!" he shouted.
"No fear; I have come to speak with you and tell you
what you desire to know," said the Indian, halting at a
"Who are you?" asked the colonel.
"I am the brother of the chief whom Philip slew because
he spake of peace. I have lost two sons in the war;
I have but one left, and he is a babe. I also would dwell
at peace, so have I come to you that you may slay the
squaw Sachem Weetamoo. She has but a few men left
of her three hundred warriors, and when she is conquered
I will lead you to Philip's hiding-place."
"How are we to know that you are true, and will not
rather lead us unto our death?" said Colonel Church.
"My squaw and my babe are here with me," and he
pointed to the clump of trees; "take them and slay them
if I lie."
"Let it be so," said Church, with a glance at Josh;
The Indian disappeared.
"He's true; I know the man," said Josh.
Leading a fine boy of five, and followed by a squaw,
the savage reappeared.
"It is well," said Church; "let them remain yonder.
Now, what have you to tell us? We will reward you,
and your wife and child shall be cared for; therefore
speak without fear."
"The Sachem Weetamoo is camped on the banks of
the Matipoisett; her warriors are dead; she has but a
score of men left. I will lead you to her this night."
"Let me go with him, colonel," said Josh eagerly.
"This woman laid my home waste, slew my father, and
has, may-be, kept my mother and sister in captivity; it is
but right that I should capture her. Above all things, I
would not run the risk of her being killed, I must question
"I am quite willing you should go; I am expecting
reinforcements, and cannot move forward myself. Take
twenty men, and let the Indian guide you," said the
In the briefest possible space of time, Josh was on
his way with a small but well-armed force, for they reasoned
the Indian might be numerically mistaken, and
Weetamoo be stronger than he represented. The Indian
led them along roads known only to native hunters, creeping
through the forest stealthily as the tiger ready to
pounce upon his prey; then they worked their way up
towards the far-away river, where Weetamoo had taken
refuge. The day was dawning when they came in sight
of her camp, the outlines of the tents just visible through
the river mist resting in white clouds over the marshy
land. Quickly, noiselessly, with practised skill, Josh disposed
his men along the river front and round the camp,
in such a manner as to render escape almost impossible.
The orders were, not to kill the savages, but to make
them prisoners. This order applied more especially to the
squaw Sachem; she of all others was to be taken alive.
Then headed by Josh, a rush was made into the midst of
Aroused from their slumbers, wholly unprepared and
unarmed, this last remnant of the three hundred warriors
made but a faint resistance, and finding they could save
their lives by yielding, they did so. At the first alarm a
woman crept out of her tent through the long rushes.
Quickly as a serpent she glided down towards the river.
"Cowards!" she had hissed when she saw her people
yield, and yet in her heart she knew they could not well
do otherwise. Favoured by the mist, she had evaded the
guard, reached the water's edge, when suddenly she lifted
her head and looked back. Josh, feeling sure she would
make for the river, was close at hand, and saw the passionate
face and angry eyes flash out upon him. He sprang
forward; but before he could reach her, with a shout of
triumph she leaped into the water and was swimming rapidly
down with the current. To throw himself in after her
was the work of a second. He saw her disappear, thought
she was lost, when lo! she rose again far ahead of him.
She had but dived, swimming under the water to scare
him. Throwing out all his strength, he was gaining upon
her, when to his horror he became aware they were
approaching some rapids, where the river fell from a
great height into a lake. The noise was terrific. He
slackened speed, shouted to her, but either she did not
or would not hear. She must have known full well the
fate which awaited her; but on she went, swept forward
by the strong current, down over the brink into the dark
lake below, and the rushing of the waters was the dirge
of Weetamoo. It was with much difficulty that Josh
succeeded in reaching the bank and walking back to the
camp. His men were for giving him up as lost, especially
when the Indians told them how and where that river
ended; his reappearance was therefore greeted with enthusiastic
cheers, though the general disappointment at
the escape of the squaw Sachem was great.
It had been agreed between Josh and Colonel Church
that the latter should advance as soon as he had received
the expected reinforcements, and that together they should
go on to where the Indian stated Philip had taken refuge,
namely, on a bit of upland at the south end of the swamp
at the foot of Mount Hope. The day following the capture
of Weetamoo's camp Church arrived, but without the
promised reinforcements; they had been delayed.
"I decided to come on all the same," said the colonel;
"for if we are to take him at all, it must be done quickly,
or he will get wind of our movements and escape us."
"You are right," replied Josh; "we must just do the
best we can."
The following day they moved forward, and by night
were within a short distance of the swamp. Josh, knowing
the ground, went on in front with about twenty men,
and stationed them, as far as their numbers would permit,
at every outlet; then guided by the Indian, he and Church,
with a mere handful of soldiers, crept up the hillside. The
Indians were sleeping. They were roused by the firing
of a shot; instantly all was confusion. Philip sprang to
his feet, seized his gun, and rushed straight down the hillside
towards the swamp, to the very spot where the Indian
who had betrayed him stood, with an Englishman on
guard. They both saw him and fired simultaneously.
The Englishman missed the mark, but the Indian's bullet
entered Philip's heart. He fell forward dead in the black
"I am glad I did not do it," said Josh, as he stood
with Colonel Church looking down on the dead body of
"And yet," said Church, "through him your house
has been made desolate."
"That is our view of the war," answered Josh; "in
his eyes we are the intruders. He but fought for what he
considered to be his own, and where he could be generous
he was. He did not slay my father; it was Weetamoo.
I have no personal grudge against Philip; he was my
friend. To such a nature as his our yoke was insupportable.
It is well his spirit is set free; he could not have
brooked captivity." And with a last look at the dead
warrior Josh turned away.
So ended this great struggle, known as "King Philip's
War." The white man had conquered; the Indian power
throughout southern New England was broken; whole
tribes and families of Indians had been destroyed; the
remnants fled farther west into the unexplored wilds,
whither the white man's foot had not yet strayed. The
settlers gazed sadly around upon the ruins of their towns
and homesteads; but they were brave men and women,
and looked the future steadily in the face. They had
fought and bled for this New England, even as they would
have done for the "old countrie," and they loved it all
the better for the sacrifices they had made.
So Josiah Blackstone stood beside old William Blackstone's
grave and thought. He was alone. "Should he
build a new house, where the old one had stood?
Should he replant the orchard with trees, in the hope of
seeing them blossom and bear fruit?" It seemed dreary
work; but a voice whispered that such as he, with youth
and health and strength, were the marrow of the land, to
build up and make strong with Christian faith what the
heathen had overthrown; and taking up a pickaxe he
struck it into the ground, saying in his heart: "So help
me, God! I will rebuild my father's house; it is my duty."
He set to work and laboured diligently, and a fair new
house arose, and young saplings were planted where the
old trees had been hewn down; and still men said,
"Josiah Blackstone is a sad man!" and truly by day and
by night he mourned. "If only my mother, and Rena,
my little sister, had been spared to me!" but he could
hear nothing of them, and they were to him as dead.
Friends counselled him to take a wife, and he pondered
thereon; but no maiden pleased him, and he waited.
The weeks and months passed by, the harvest was
gathered in, and it was very plenteous; and when the
labourers had gone to their homes, Josh sat smoking in
the porch of the new house, because it seemed less lonesome
than in the empty rooms; and as he sat the sound
of wheels fell on his ear, but he paid no heed thereto,
until they stopped at his gate. Then looking up, he saw a
covered cart. Out of it sprang a girl, tall and slim; then
another. And last of all an older woman laid her hands on
those young shoulders; but Josh, pushing them on one
side, took her in his arms, crying, "Mother! my mother!"
and he carried her over the new threshold to the living-room
and placed her by the hearth; and she kissed him
weeping, with her arms about his neck, and Rena did likewise.
But the maiden stood apart gazing wistfully, and
Josh saw that it was Thusick, King Philip's daughter! A
moment he hesitated; seeing which, his mother arose, and
taking Thusick's hand, said: "She is my daughter; but for
her we had all perished. Now she has no home among her
people, for they are all dead; she must dwell amongst us,
our God must be her God, our people her people. Shall
it not be so, my son?"
"It shall," answered Josh, "she is welcome. Philip
was my friend, and she is a king's daughter."
And Thusick dwelt with them and was as one of them.
When the orchard was white with apple-blossom, Love
passed that way, and under the eaves of the new homestead
was whispered an old, old story!