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dipped them into the water which Timothy brought from a brook hard by, and bound them firmly round the injured arm. Gradually the bleeding stopped. The Indian gave no sign of the agony he endured, but he drew one long breath, and a pleased look stole into his eyes. He rose to his feet without a word, and bent his head till it touched Cecile's little fingers. Then he plucked out a bit of the May-flower which she had fastened on her dress, placed it within his belt, and vanished into the forest as silently as he had come. Timothy shook his head. “It was but an Indian,” he said, “but he was painted like those who came out to fight a year ago, and my mother said that it was the cruel thoughts within that showed upon their faces.” The next morning Cecile was up before the sun had crimsoned the waves of Plymouth Bay. She crept down-stairs, May-basket in hand, and opened the street-door softly. She went on past the houses till she came to one over which an English flag floated. It was the home of Miles Standish, the captain of the colony. She twisted her basket-handle into the door-knocker; then she hid herself behind a bush in the garden, and waited. Meantime, within, Miles Standish was pacing to and fro, in grief and perplexity. Upon the shores of Massachusetts Bay another company of Englishmen had made a settlement some years before, and named it “Merry-Mount.” They were different men from the God-fearing Puritans. They gave fire-water to the Indians, which maddened their brains, and sold them firearms, so that a horrible danger threatened the infant colonies if the tribes should break out into warfare. Furthermore, these Englishmen loved wine and hunting, and spent much time in amusements which the settlers at Plymouth did not approve. The day before, word had come that they had raised a May-pole in their village, and had bidden the neighboring Indians to join them in a dance around it. All night long, the Plymouth elders had sat in solemn council. They decided that so great an insult to Puritan laws must be punished, and though they grieved to attack men of their own blood, Captain Standish was ordered to march at daybreak with twenty men, to wipe out the blot from the fair fame of New England. The light was just shining in the east, when the captain stepped out upon his threshold. His first thought was that the morning air smelled sweet; then he saw the swaying blossoms. Cecile held her breath. She thought he might
guess who hung the basket there, for had he not called her his little maid, and taken her upon his knee to tell her stories of the time when he was a boy in England, he, the fiery soldier, whom all the other children feared 2 Then the captain spoke, and his voice was so loud that it startled the people of the village, and several of them hurried into the street to listen. “Who hath done this thing?” he cried out. “Who hath dared to bring in this mummery of the May 2” The people looked at each other in wonder. Timothy and Huldah, who had come running out with flowers in their hands, drew closer together. Captain Standish saw them, and fixed his flashing look upon Timothy. “Timothy Speedwell, was it thou? What dost thou with flowers like these ? Nay, turn not like a coward. Speak " “Captain Standish, listen. Do not be angry with Timothy. It was I who hung the flowers.” Cecile pushed the bushes aside, and stood out before the captain. “I brought the May to thee, Captain Standish. I meant to give thee pleasure. I am sorry.” Her voice shook, but Miles Standish was in the throes of one of those terrible passions which made him dreaded throughout New England. He seized the basket, and hurled it far away from him. “There let it lie to be trodden on and die! Is it not enough that we go out by day to fight against these heathen customs, but must we watch all night lest they steal to our very doors? Away to thy spinning-wheel, child ! One may teach wisdom to a lad at a rod's end, but there is small hope for a foolish girl.” So saying, he turned abruptly into the house, seized his sword and musket, and strode forth through the astonished crowd to the end of the palisade, where his twenty men, among them Master Goodwin, were already assembling. Cecile hid her face, and burst into tears. A hand was laid heavily on her shoulder. “Come,” said the stern voice of Aunt Dorcas, “wilt thou make thyself a gazing-stock for the whole town This is what happens when maids wander idle abroad.” Cecile suffered herself to be led home without a word. Aunt Dorcas allotted to her bread and water, and many long turns of the distaff, but she made no complaint, and crept silently up to her little chamber. Meantime Miles Standish and his twenty men marched through the forest. As the sun rose high in the heavens, the captain ordered a short rest and called Master Goodwin to his side.
“What think you, my friend? Shall we reach the Bay of the Massachusetts before nightfall?”
Master Goodwin looked up at the sun, and sent a keen glance into the faces of his companions.
“The trail is heavy,” he said. “Would it not be
well to rest this night in the forest, that the men may be fresh to attack in the morning?” “And leave the sinners to finish their impious rites?” broke out the captain. “I will fight till my arm drop, before it shall be said that they of New England dance around a May-pole !” “God forbid!” replied Master Goodwin. “Then forward, say I,” said the fiery captain, “and make good speed.” As they had halted for a moment in the forest track, each man had taken the opportunity to
shift the burden of food and ammunition which he carried on his back. A tiny pink flower peeped above Master Goodwin's sword-belt. Miles Standish's eye fell upon it. “Ha!” he exclaimed. “Since when, my friend, do you wear a favor P” Master Goodwin's face softened; he had witnessed the scene that morning in the captain's garden. “It is a bit of bloom which my maid gave me ere I left her. May heaven keep her She loves each bird and blossom that she sees.” Miles Standish made an inarticulate sound, and strode forward. The day was far spent, when a trail of smoke was seen against the sky. Captain Standish called his men together, and proceeded cautiously, till they found themselves on the edge of a clearing. A strange sight met their eyes. On one side of the open space stood a dozen houses of bark. A huge bonfire had been kindled, which threw a ruddy glare over the place. In the center of the clearing stood the trunk of a tall tree, stripped of its branches. It bore large bunches of flowers upon its top, and from these hung down bright-colored streamers, which waved in the breeze. Around its base were groups of Indian squaws, wearing flowercrowns, and other groups of English colonists, with gay festoons pinned upon their - hunting-shirts. Hand in hand the settlers circled around the May-pole, singing a boisterous song, and making fantastic leaps into the air. Outside the circle sat a dark and silent group of lookers-on. These were the Indian braves, who, too dignified to join in the wild sports of the whites, yet watched them with grave curiosity. Miles Standish's eyes grew bloodshot. “Upon them " he whispered, “and spare neither powder nor sword '" Under cover of the trees half of his men moved to the other side of the clearing; then at a signal both parties rushed forward to the attack. Instantly the scene changed. Shouts of anger filled the air. The frightened squaws, dropping the toys with which they had been happily playing, fled, shrieking, to the Indians, who withdrew them into the woods. The careless settlers of Merry-Mount, who had stacked their guns with never a man to watch, found themselves surrounded by enemies, disposed to grant no quarter. In a short time, the entire company were overpowered, and secured within their own wigwams, and the Puritans were left masters of the field. “Tear down those baubles" cried Captain Standish, waving his sword toward the May-pole, “and throw them upon the fire. To-morrow we will kindle it anew, when we cut down this tree of iniquity.” No sooner said than done. In five minutes the May-pole stood bare, and the festoons of the Indian women lay black in the dying embers of the fire. “Now we may take rest,” said Captain Standish. “Two of us shall guard in turn. Friend Goodwin, thou and I will take the first watch.” Deep quiet fell upon the tiny village, so full of tumult an hour before. Master Goodwin, reclining upon his arms, felt drowsiness stealing upon him. Suddenly he was brought to himself by a grasp on his arm, and a sharp whispered, “Friend, what is that?” Miles Standish was standing beside him, peering into the encircling wood. Master Goodwin sprang to his feet. “I see nothing moving but the shadow of the trees,” he said. The captain shook his head without speaking, and moved off across the clearing. Master Goodwin followed. All was still at the forest edge. They advanced a few rods into the thicket. “All is well,” said the captain, in a low tone. “A weary brain creates strange fancies.” Just at that moment he felt his arms pinioned behind him, his musket was torn from his grasp, and he was thrown heavily to the ground. As soon as he could look up, he saw that he was surrounded by several dusky figures. Some yards off was Master Goodwin, also bound and helpless. The place still lay in perfect silence; the soldiers, sleeping heavily, had heard no sound. The captain addressed the tallest of the group in the Indian tongue. “Do the braves war against serpents, that they beat their enemies upon the ground 2 Let me arise, and look upon a man.” His request was granted in silence. Two of
the younger braves raised him to his feet, while a third did the same office for Master Goodwin. Then they drew back, loosening the tomahawks in their belts. “What dost thou advise?” said Standish to Goodwin in English. “If we halloo to our men, we shall have the whole pack of Indian braves upon us at once, for I doubt not there are at least a hundred lurking in the woods.” “It may well be,” replied Master Goodwin. “Then we must use persuasion,” said Standish, “though it ill fits the tongue of a soldier”; and turning to the Indians, he continued in their language: “Why does my brother wear the war-paint when the white man smokes the peace-pipe? Have hostile tribes dealt unjustly with the Massachusetts P Why does not the sachem come to his great white brother at Plymouth, that he may receive help ?” A look of contempt stole into the stolid face of the Indian. “Did the white chief wear the peace-plume when he came among my brethren of the Mount, six hours agone?” he asked. “Did he offer the peace-pipe to my squaw, that she fled to her husband? The raven flew in the trail of my brother, and his shadow darkened the sun.” “It was the avenging wrath of the Great Spirit,” replied Standish. “Does the Great Spirit command that the white man shall war against his brother ?” asked the Indian. “The Narragansetts may war against the Iroquois, and their young men may hang the scalp of the Delaware upon their breasts, but the hand of the Massachusetts is ever within the hand of the Massachusetts. The white chief of MerryMount is our friend, and he has been bound with thongs; therefore we bind the chiefs of Plymouth, and carry them to our wigwams, that our squaws may laugh. To-morrow we will meet their braves upon the war-path.” “Nay, then it is useless, Friend Goodwin,” said Standish, “and we must raise the halloo, though methinks our scalps will be severed before we have finished shouting.” “Wait yet a moment" exclaimed Goodwin. “Perhaps kindness may yet move these poor savages to mercy.” So saying, he came a step forward out of the tree's shadow into the starlight. Suddenly the manner of their captor changed. His face lighted with an expression of surprise; he uttered an exclamation, and, springing forward, he snatched something from Master Goodwin's belt. It was the May-flower which Cecile had given him in the morning. The Indian passed his hand within
He lifted one arm above his head, and broke into a passionate harangue. His prisoners waited in breathless suspense. He was interrupted now and then by grunts from his hearers, which Standish's practised ear interpreted as signs of disapproval, but still the eloquent voice went on, till little by little the discontented murmurs died away. At length, as the chief ended, the braves spoke out in chorus, uttering one word of assent.
Then the leader descended, and approached Master Goodwin. He took his hand and laid it upon his own right arm, which the colonist for the first time perceived was wrapped in a bandage, much spotted with blood. The Indian tapped it significantly, and pointed Southward in the direction of Plymouth. “Eyes of the sea, and hair of the setting sun,” he said in broken English. With a quick movement, he cut the withe that bound Goodwin, and in an instant he and his warriors had disappeared into the forest. The captain was the first to speak. “Art thou hurt, friend ?” he asked. “Not by a hair,” replied Goodwin. “The savage showed thee a token,” said Standish, in an oddly softened voice. “Aye,” replied Goodwin. “It was a strange thing, which I do not understand.” The captain was silent for a moment, then he said gravely: “My friend, I see that gentleness is more mighty than anger. Lie down and rest. I will end the watch, for I have no mind to sleep.” The next morning the captain was singularly thoughtful. He said little during the preparation for the homeward march until his men led out their prisoners to place them in the column, when he peremptorily ordered them to be released. “Let us leave the men here,” he said, “in possession of their homes. We will carry the ringleader, John Morton, to Plymouth, but who can tell whether his followers may not repent of their evil ways? It becomes us to show mercy.” “They will return more like to their dance around the May-pole,” grumbled one of the soldiers, a good deal chagrined at the unusually pacific mood of the leader of the expedition.
“Nay,” replied the captain. “Let the May-pole stand, till some fitter hand come to cut it down; that of Miles Standish has not earned the right.” It was nearing the close of the second day, when the little band came once more in sight of Plymouth. The people had been anxiously awaiting its return, and great was the rejoicing that the difficult mission had been accomplished without bloodshed. It did not take Master Goodwin long to unravel the mystery of the Indian. He took Cecile in his arms and kissed her, so that she straightway forgot all her troubles. “Oh, dear father " she whispered, “I do not mind the spinning, nor the hunger, nor even Aunt Dorcas since you are not angry with me.” Her father kissed her again, but contented himself with saying, “Thou must be obedient. Thy aunt is a good woman.” But a more wonderful thing was to follow. The next evening, Cecile was called down from
her chamber. Below stood the great Captain Standish, holding a bunch of flowers in each hand. One was withered, for it had lain in the dust of his dooryard; the other, which was sweet and fresh, he had searched the Plymouth woods to find. “My little maid,” he said, in the voice which could be the sternest and the gentlest in New England, “I am come to say to thee what Miles Standish says to few men: I have done wrong. I reproved thee harshly, and I scorned thy innocent flowers. I will keep thy May-gift that it may teach an old man a lesson; and I bring these blossoms to thee, that thou mayest show thou canst forgive.” Thus it came to pass that the May and the springtime gladness entered into the house of Miles Standish at Plymouth, and every year since, under their coverlet of fallen leaves and almost before the winter's snow has gone, have the Mayflowers bloomed in the Plymouth woods.