Mourt’s Relation ~ A Relation of our Voyage to the Massachusets

It seemed good to the company in general, that though the Massachusets had often threatened us (as we were informed), yet we should go amongst them, partly to see the […]

It seemed good to the company in general, that though the Massachusets had often threatened us (as we were informed), yet we should go amongst them, partly to see the country, partly to make peace with them, and partly to procure their trucks.

For these ends the governors chose ten men fit for the purpose, and sent Tisquantum and two other savages to bring us to speech with the people, and interpret for us.

We set out about midnight, the tide then serving for us; we supposing it to be nearer than it is, thought to be there the next morning betimes:  but it proved well near twenty leagues from New Plymouth.

We came into the bottom of the bay, but being late we anchored and lay in the shallop, not having seen any of the people. The next morning we put in for the shore. There we found many lobsters that had been gathered together by the savages, which we made ready under a cliff.  The captain set two sentinels behind the cliff to the landward to secure the shallop, and taking a guide with him and four of our company, went to seek the inhabitants; where they met a woman coming for her lobsters, they told her of them, and contented her for them. She told them where the people were; Tisquantum went to them; the rest returned, having direction which way to bring the shallop to them.

The sachem, or governor of this place, is called Obbatinewat, and though he lives in the bottom of the Massachusetts Bay, yet he is under Massasoit. He used us very kindly; he told us, he durst not then remain in any settled place, for fear of the Tarantines. Also the Squaw Sachem, or Massachusets queen, was an enemy to him.

We told him of divers sachems that had acknowledged themselves to be King James his men, and if he also would submit himself, we would be his safeguard from his enemies, which he did, and went along with us to bring us to the Squaw Sachem. Again we crossed the bay, which is very large and hath at least fifty islands in it; but the certain number is not known to the inhabitants. Night it was before we came to that side of the bay where his people were. On the shore the savages went but found nobody. That night also we rid at anchor aboard the shallop.

On the morrow we went ashore, all but two men, and marched in arms up in the country. Having gone three miles we came to a place where corn had been newly gathered, a house pulled down, and the people gone. A mile from hence, Nanepashemet, their king, in his life-time had lived. His house was not like others, but a scaffold was largely built, with poles and planks some six feet from ground, and the house upon that, being situated on the top of a hill.

Not far from hence, in a bottom, we came to a fort built by their deceased king, the manner thus; there were poles some thirty or forty feet long, stuck in the ground as thick as they could be set one by another, and with these they enclosed a ring some forty or fifty feet over. A trench breast high was digged on each side; one way there was to go into it with a bridge; in the midst of this palisade stood the frame of a house wherein, being dead, he lay buried.

About a mile from hence, we came to such another, but seated on the top of a hill:  here Nanepashemet was killed, none dwelling in it since the time of his death. At this place we stayed, and sent two savages to look the inhabitants, and to inform them of our ends in coming, that they might not be fearful of us:  within a mile of this place they found the women of the place together, with their corn on heaps, whither we supposed them to be fled for fear of us, and the more, because in divers places they had newly pulled down their houses, and for haste in one place had left some of their corn covered with a mat, and nobody with it.

With much fear they entertained us at first, but seeing our gentle carriage towards them, they took heart and entertained us in the best manner they could, boiling cod and such other things as they had for us. At length, with much sending for, came one of their men, shaking and trembling for fear. But when he saw we intended them no hurt, but came to truck, he promised us his skins also. Of him we inquired for their queen, but it seemed she was far from thence—at least we could not see her.

Here Tisquantum would have had us rifle the savage women, and taken their skins and all such things as might be serviceable for us; for (said he) they are a bad people, and have oft threatened you:   But our answer was; were they never so bad, we would not wrong them, or give them any just occasion against us:  for their words, we little weighed them, but if they once attempted any thing against us, then we would deal far worse than he desired.

Having well spent the day, we returned to the shallop, almost all the women accompanying us to truck, who sold their coats from their backs, and tied boughs about them, but with great shamefacedness (for indeed they are more modest than some of our English women are). We promised them to come again to them, and they us, to keep their skins.

Within this bay the savages say there are two rivers; the one whereof we saw, having a fair entrance, but we had no time to discover it. Better harbors for shipping cannot be than here are. At the entrance of the bay are many rocks; and in all likelihood very good fishing ground. Many, yea, most of the islands have been inhabited, some being cleared from end to end, but the people are all dead, or removed.

Our victual growing scarce, the wind coming fair, and having a light moon, we set out at evening and, through the goodness of God, came safely home before noon the day following.

Copyright (c) Lee Drew 2013-06-04 07:00:00
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