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The Governor's Story

Sample

 

 

I would like to send you one of my books: The Governor's Story - The Book That Couldn't Stay Lost.  It is the story of a manuscript: Of Plymouth Plantation, by Gov. Wm. Bradford.  Here is a taste so that you will want a feast.  The following are included:

Prelude In The Beginning God Created The Heavens And The Earth

Chapter III Tisquantum (1605-1615)

Chapter XI The New Governor - And Indians! (1620)

You may order the book The Governor's Story here.


 

Prelude

In The Beginning God Created The Heavens And The Earth

 

Let us stand out there beyond the stars and gaze across that vast space just created.  There our eyes light upon a tiny sphere, Earth, unclothed, a babe as it were, chaste, fresh, new-born.  Let us watch as the waters gather into seas, the land masses rise and form plains, hillocks, valleys, meadows.  Let us marvel as the softness of greens and blues, yellows and a sprinkle of red begin to clothe its pristine nakedness.  Earth has come forth from the womb of the morning; from the marvelous mind of God!  What next will he do?

Watch! those waters have begun to teem with living things.  Watch! through the trees and around each bush, leaping joyously, living things begin their investigation of this new-made world.  And watch!  Look carefully. Look!  What is that now moving with such grace, such dignity, such a sense of belonging and proprietorship? tall, handsome, god-like?  And now, see, there are not one but two!  And so the scene before us seems complete.  The Earth, the birth of which we have been observing, the Earth in all its beauty has become a stage upon which we shall see great and mighty events occur.

But we cannot now watch rehearsed all of the amazing works that have occurred as the days, the weeks, even centuries, have passed.  We are moving now into an era far different from the lovely one just described.  Strain your eyes, then, for a moment.  And let us concentrate our gaze upon one spot, that one lying surrounded by two vast oceans there in the northern hemisphere.  They say it is called North America.  Note its grandeur: "from sea to shining sea" long winding rivers, lakes, enormous mountains, plains, valleys-all clothed with all manner of trees, miles of waving grain, and shrubs harboring red, yellow, and blue fruit awaiting the hand of a hungry human.  And are there humans there?  Yes, this is the beginning of the known history of man on the North American Continent.  The time is the fifteenth century.....


 

Chapter III

Tisquantum (1605-1615)

 

On a sunny day near the cape now called Cape Cod, in the fall of 1605 a young man in the vigor of manhood gathered up his arrows and slung his bow across his back, ready for adventure.

"Son, watch out for those white men.  I hear some of them are very wily," a voice from the tent door called.  "Take care Tisquantum!” the young man's mother shouted at him as he jauntily strode out of sight.

Tisquantum had good reason to "take care" though it was only much later that he realized the value of this injunction.

"Ha!" thought Tisquantum.  "Mother forgets the friendly white men who were here many moons ago.  All they wanted was sassafras, not Indians.”  Tisquantum with some other Indian fellows had been discovering the exhilaration of associating with those "whites" as students: they were learning the white man's language.  Besides they were sure that, even if these white men were deceptive, they'd be able to get away in time.  Hadn't they learned to be as swift as eagles?  They were determined to learn English.  It would help them with the fur trade which they had begun to carry on with these new-comers.  Life was great.  Why, these white strangers were more patient than their own fathers.  And the way they had been entertained certainly proved these men were not their enemies.  But, of course, you know, mothers are always apprehensive and cautious.

"Greeting, friends!" Captain Weymouth shouted as the youths trooped down to the sea-side.

"Greetings!" shouted back the youths, imitating their teacher's hearty welcome.  How strong and healthy they felt.

"Today you shall dine with me on ship-board," the captain told the boys.

The boys each smiled inwardly.  "Eating with the captain on shipboard!  Patuxit braves ought to be honored," went through each mind.  Furthermore, they had come to enjoy the butter, cheese, and ship biscuit.  But, like mice lured by the smell of cheese, the snap of the trap suddenly acquainted these youths with the captain's treachery and it was a long time before mother's warnings, or any other Indian speech, was heard.  But they got to practice their English every day for nine long years-in England!

What Tisquantum did all those nine years we don't know but one thing we do know, he, at length, became acquainted with another adventurer, Captain John Smith.  Yes, the very same who had been involved with the Jamestown experiment.  In the course of time this captain was persuaded by Tisquantum to transport him back to New England.  This adventure, however, was only the prelude to more wanderings.  Most folks have never experienced one kidnaping let alone two.  How did it happen?

Captain John Smith, "the brave, vigilant, indefatigable, ready-witted, resourceful" (to quote Edward Eggleston) and bold adventurer set out from England with sixteen men (and Tisquantum) to do a little fishing and colonizing.  He came to New England (so named by him)  with another captain, one Thomas Hunt, in the year 1615.  There was, as Gosnold had said, plenty of cod in that harbour and the catching and drying of cod for sale was enough to satisfy any good entrepreneur.  But "enough" means a little bit more to some men.  And so having finished the fishing some days later Captain Smith, took off for Virginia.  However, his colonizing was cut short: Smith and his men, after leaving Captain Hunt, were "taken captive by a French privateer!”  One is almost tempted to agree with those who had decided that this part of the world had been cursed by the "devil's own," that is, if one doesn't take into account there's a plan behind it all.

The infamous Captain Hunt who had been left behind to finish off the business of drying cod had, however, other ideas.  Taking Tisquantum prisoner, he sailed down the coast in search of more quarry.  Soon he had on board twenty more Patuxit Indians with whom he set sail for Spain.  But one more stop along the American coast gained him a few more "fish"- seven Nauset Indians.  Now, he believed, his profits would be even larger.  Indian slaves brought at that time twenty pounds or, as we should say today, fourteen hundred dollars.  Much better than fish.

Providentially, the friars of Spain where Hunt took his "wares" often bought slaves in order to convert them to the true God.  Tisquantum was one of those.

Had Tisquantum stayed in those parts he might have become fluent in the Spanish language as well, but Tisquantum wanted to go home.  To reach "home," Tisquantum would have to go by way of old England so, as Peter Marshall tells us, "He attached himself to an Englishman bound for London, and there met and joined the household of a wealthy merchant, where he lived until he embarked for New England with Captain Dermer.... “  Governor Bradford verifies this: he "got away for England and was entertained by a merchant in London, and employed to Newfoundland and other parts, and lastly was brought hither into these parts [New England] by one Mr. Dermer,..."

If you have been following Tisquantum's wanderings on a map, you have seen that, as a young man, he "took a cruise" from New England to old England and back between 1605 and 1614.  Thereafter he traveled again (and, again, under constraint) to Spain.  From there he went to England and Newfoundland and thence back, in 1618, to New England.

How excited Tisquantum was.  "I'm home again!  But no one will recognize me.  My clothes are English, my speech is, well, almost English.  I guess I'm a little older.  How many moons have passed....?  I still think like an Indian."  He smiled to himself.  "Let's see.  I've been gone fourteen years altogether.”

As he leaped joyously up hill and down he felt like a leaf being blown through the morning.  "What a lovely morning!”  He splashed through a creek.  The water sparkled like shining exclamation points.  Soon he was almost over the hill beyond which was the place he had last seen his mother's tent.  "Mother!" he thought.  "I'll soon be home.”  It seemed to him rather more quiet than was usual when he lived in that area.  A strange feeling came over him.  He looked around.  "My people must have moved," he thought.

Everything had an air of desertion.  His footsteps were slower now.  He came to an old corn field.  "This cornfield looks as though it hasn't been planted for a long time.....”  Then, "What's this?" he exclaimed inwardly.  A tent fallen over like a tired old woman.  And another.  And another.  "How came this?”  Suddenly he became aware of whitened bones lying everywhere.  He leaned over to pick up a broken piece of pottery.  A skeletal hand lay lifelessly by it.  He stood up straight and looked around him.  "This is a ghost village," he thought.  "Where are my people?”  No one answered but he knew; his desolate thoughts told him,  "Now I am more homeless than ever.”  Yes, as he was once homeless in his travels, so now he was homeless where home once was.  "What have my gods done to me?  Have I offended them?  Or maybe...." the thought struck him,  "I have offended the white man's God?"  Tisquantum turned sadly away.  Death had stolen the joy he had looked forward to so long.  What could life now hold for him?....


Author’s comments: 

The adventures of Tisquantum make us sad but this is not the end for him.  No, for a short time he lived here and there, first with this tribe and then another where he found a friend in Samoset who eventually brought him to the Pilgrims.  At the time that Tisquantum met the Pilgrims, they had had their share of problems too.  In this excerpt the time is the next spring after their arrival in Cape Cod where they had spent a long, cold winter.  Spring has arrived and they are struggling to plant their gardens and prepare their homes for next year’s chilling winter.  You will get a slight feel of the difficulties these brave folks overcame as they planted the colony that grew to a great nation: Ours, as well as discovering how they related to the Indians!  (John Billington is the rascally son of one of the unruly “strangers” who came over on the Mayflower with the Pilgrims.)


 

Chapter XI

The New Governor - And Indians! (1620)

 

But, no matter how wise and prudent these wanderers were, a compact could not control the hand of death.  Within the next six months half of them died as a result of illnesses contracted during their voyage, exposure to the freezing elements of the Eastern seaboard, a lack of sufficient food.  One of these was Governor John Carver.  And that is when the long career of William Bradford as governor of "Plymouth Plantation" began.

"Governor!" cried John Billington, "I saw some Indians.  They're coming this way!"

"Ah," thought the Governor, "Now I wonder if this lad is up to mischief again.  But," he thought with a sigh, "I'd best look into it."

The "Indians" turned out to be one Indian and what a shock he gave Governor Bradford and the other men.  (The women and children were nowhere to be seen!)

"Welcome, Englishman!" English! from an Indian?  But, however broken it was, it was English.

The Pilgrims entertained Samoset courteously - and then he stayed and stayed and stayed.  At last he left - but he soon came back.  And this time he had with him - TISQUANTUM!

 

The "homeless" Bradford stretched out his hand to the "homeless" Tisquantum.  But neither are homeless now.  Bradford had found his home and Squanto (for that was what Bradford and everyone else called him for the rest of his life) Squanto had found a home too.  The Pilgrims didn't try to get rid of him!  Why?  First, he had no home except theirs and, secondly, as Bradford wrote of him, "...he was a special instrument sent of God for their good beyond their expectation."

Squanto taught them to plant corn.  Squanto taught them to fish.  Squanto was their guide.  Squanto was their interpreter.  Is there no end to Squanto's value?  One more thing we must mention.  Squanto cleared up a mystery for them.

“ I was gone when the terrible plague destroyed my people.  I was carried away by wicked white Englishmen.”

"When was that," asked Captain Myles Standish.

"That was many moons ago.  I was gone then.  Indians say it was about the time of the great light that came from the rising of the sun."

"That must have been the great fiery comet in 1618...." Mr. Winslow thought.

"I was young when I was stolen away from this very place where my people lived.  Your God must have wanted to save my life.  He must have wanted you to live here."

Elder Brewster could not restrain himself, "'My thoughts are not your thoughts, nether are your waies my waies, saith the Lord.  For as the heavens are hier then the earth, so are my waies hier then your waies, and my thoughts then your thoughts!'  From the ends of the earth He was watching out for his poor people!  Yes, brethren, he is the same yesterday, and today, the same also for ever."

"Squanto, what do you make of this?” Governor Bradford and Captain Myles Standish were looking at a strange package a messenger had brought to them from Canonicus, sachem of the Narragansetts: "a bundle of arrows tied about with a great snake skin," which they had brought "in a very braving manner!"

"Narragansetts wicked people.  They mean to white men.  This is a threatening and a challenge."

The response of the settlers was instantaneous.

"Let's set out immediately to show these "brave warriors" we are not afraid of them,” Captain Standish cried.

"How many Narragansetts are there, Squanto?" someone else asked.

"Well, if they'd rather have war than peace, let them begin.  We have better things to do."

"That's right.  We've done them no wrong."

"I suggest we send their snake skin back full of bullets."

"Captain Standish, that's a good idea."

"I was just going to suggest that myself.  Who'll we send it with?"

At this point Governor Bradford spoke to their Indian friend who had been standing silently listening.  "Hobomok, are you willing to take it?"

"Narragansetts talk big.  I am ready."

 

 

You may order the book The Governor's Story here.

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