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Child, Lydia Maria Francis, 1802-1880 [1824], Hobomok (Cummings, Hilliard & Co., Boston) [word count] [eaf041].
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Know ye the famous Indian race?
How their light form springs, in strength and grace,
Like the pine on their native mountain side,
That will not bow in its deathless pride;
Whose rugged limbs of stubborn tone,
No plexuous power of art will own,
But bend to Heaven's red bolt alone!

Jacob's heart could not have swelled with more exultation,
when he journeyed from Padan-aram with
his two bands, than was evinced by our forefathers,
when they exhibited their newly arrived riches to the

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wondering natives. As for the poor, unlettered Indians,
it exceeded their comprehension how buffaloes,
as they termed them, could be led about by the horns,
and be compelled to stand or move at the command
of men; and they could arrive at no other conclusion
than that the English were the favorite children of the
Great Spirit, and that he had taught them words to
speak to them. To these, and similar impressions,
may be ascribed the astonishing influence of the
whites over these untutored people. That the various
tribes did not rise in their savage majesty, and crush
the daring few who had intruded upon their possessions,
is indeed a wonderful exemplification of the superiority
of intellect over mere brutal force. At the
period of which we speak, the thoughtless and dissipated
Morton, whom we find mentioned so frequently
in our early history, had done much to diminish their
reverence for the English. Partly from avarice, and
partly from revenge of Governor Endicott's spirited
proceedings against his company at Merry Mount, he
had sold them rifles, and taught them to take a steady
and quick-sighted aim; so that they now boasted they
could speak thunder and spit fire as well as the white
man. Of late, too, their councils became dark and
contentious, for their princes began to fear encroachments
upon their dominions, and their prophets were
troubled with rumors of a strange God. The Pequods
looked with hatred upon the English, as an obstacle
to their plan of universal dominion; the Narragansets
stood trembling between the increasing power
of their new neighbours, and the haughty threats of
their enemies; some of the discontented sachems of
Mount Haup had broken out in open rebellion; and
even the firm faith of Massasoit himself had, at times,
been doubted. In such a state of things, embassies
and presents were frequently necessary to support

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the staggering friendship of the well disposed tribes.
Accordingly, the second day after his arrival from
Plymouth, Hobomok proceeded to Saugus, carrying
presents from the English, and a message from Massasoit
to Sagamore John. At this wigwam he met
Corbitant, a stubborn enemy to the Europeans, and
all who favored them. He had been among the Pequods
of late, and was exasperated beyond measure
that he had in vain offered their war-belt (in token of
alliance against the English) to Miantonimo, the great
sachem of the Narragansets. Possessed of a mind
more penetrating, and a temper even more implacable
than most of his brethren, his prophetic eye foresaw
the destruction of his countrymen, and from his
inmost soul he hated the usurpers. Besides, there
was a personal hostility between him and Hobomok
concerning an affair of love, in which Corbitant
thought one of his kindred had been wronged and insulted;
and more than once they had sought each
other's life. At the moment Hobomok entered, he
was engaged in eager conversation with Sagamore
John, concerning his connexion with the English, and
scarcely was he seated, ere he exclaimed,

“Shame on you, Hobomok! The wolf devours not its
own; but Hobomok wears the war-belt of Owanux,* and
counts his beaver for the white man's squaw. Oh cursed
Owanux! The buffalo will die of the bite of a wasp, and
no warrior will pluck out his sting. Oh cursed Owanux!
And yet Miantonimo buckles on their war belt, and
Massasoit says, their pipe smokes well. Look to the
east, where the sun rises among the Taratines; to the
west, where he sets among the valiant Pequods: then
look to the south, among the cowardly Narragansets,

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and the tribes of Massasoit, thick as the trees of his
forests; then look far to the north, where the Great
Spirit lifts his hatchet* high above the head of the
Nipnet! And say, are not the red men like the stars
in the sky, or the pebbles in the ocean? But a few
sleeps more, let Owanux such the blood of the Indian,
where be the red man then? Look for yesterday's
tide, for last year's blossoms, and the rainbow that has
hid itself in the clouds! Look for the flame that has
died away, for the ice that's melted, and for the snow
that lights on the waterfall! Among them you will
find the children of the Great Spirit. Yes, they will
soon be as an arrow that is lost in its flight, and as
the song of a bird flown by.”

This was uttered with a smile of bitter irony, and
in a tone so loud and fierce, that every eye was fixed
on the speaker. Sagamore John laid down his pipe
to listen; his squaw shook her head mournfully as he
uttered his predictions; and his sons stood gazing
upon Corbitant, till the fire flashed from their young
eyes, and their knives were half drawn from the belt.
Even Hobomok, whose loves and hates had become
identified with the English, admired the eloquence of
his enemy, and made a melancholy pause ere he answered,
“Corbitant knows well that the arm of Hobomok
is not weak, nor his cheek pale in time of
battle; but if the quiver of the Narragansets be filled
against the Yengees†, know you not, that they themselves
will be trodden down, like snow, in the warpath
of the Pequods?”

“That's the song of the lame bird, to lead from its
nest,” replied Corbitant, sarcastically. “Would Hobomok
weep, if the Pequod should lift his head to the

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clouds, and plant one foot among the Taratines, and
the other far, far away among the Caddoques? Would
he utter one groan, if the hatchet of Sassacus were
buried deep in the brains of Pokanecket's child?
No! and yet Hobomok asked that the child of Pokanecket
might be his squaw; but his beaver skins
were not brought, and she cooked the deer for Ninigret's
son.* Hobomok saves his tears for the white-faced
daughter of Conant, and his blood for the arrow
of Corbitant, that his kinswoman may be avenged.”

Hobomok lifted his tomahawk in wrath, as his adversary
uttered these insulting words. “Who dares
speak of groans and tears,” said he, “to him whose
heart has been calm in the fight, and whose eye winked
not at the glancing of arrows?”

Corbitant answered by a scornful laugh, and the
hatchet would have descended on his head, had not
Sagamore John stept between them, as he said,
“Listen to the words of an ancient chief. The Great
Spirit loves not the sacrifice of young blood, when it
is shed in quarrel. Smoke the pipe of peace, my
children; and I will tell you of days that are gone by,
when the war-whoop of John was heard the loudest
among his tribe, and his arrow brought down the deer
at her swiftest speed.”

To have refused to listen to the stories of an old
man would have been contrary to all rules of Indian
decorum; but before the fierce, young spirits composed
themselves to respectful silence, a challenge of
proud looks was exchanged, as Corbitant muttered,
“When the big sea-bird up yonder, go back to their
great land-chief, king Charles, the white squaw's father,
say Indian arrow be broken at Naumkeak. Let him
look to't that the wolf be not near his wigwam.”

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Hours passed away while the young sons sat devouring
the words of their father, and even his guests
seemed to have forgotten their own hatred, in the
eager reverence with which they listened to him. His
squaw, in the mean time, had taken her coarse, roasted
cakes from the fire, and placed some cold venison
before her visitors, and pointed to it with a look of
pride, as she said, “The arm of my sanup is old, but
you see his arrow is yet swifter than the foot of the
deer. May his sons bring him food in his old age.”

The hospitable meal was gratefully partaken, and
all John's exploits in war and hunting being told, Hobomok,
having found means to transact the business for
which he came, arose to depart. Corbitant, too, threw
his quiver over his shoulder, and tightened his belt,
as if preparing for a journey. Sagamore John, laying
his hand upon his arm, whispered something in
his ear, and he reluctantly resumed his seat. In the
height of gratitude for some recent favor, he had promised
to obey the old chief in his first request, provided
it had no connexion with the English; and now
that twenty minutes of his time were asked, he would
gladly have given all the animals he ever caught, to
be released from his promise. However, his word
was unbroken; and Hobomok went forth alone. For
a few moments he hesitated whether or not to go back
and seek satisfaction for the insults he had received
from the kinsman of his once betrothed bride. But
he remembered what Corbitant had said about the
Indian arrows being broken at Naumkeak, and though
he did not exactly understand the import of his words,
he well knew that an Indian never spoke thus, without
some deep laid plan of vengeance. An undefined apprehension
of danger to Mr. Conant's family passed
over his heart, and after a few reluctant steps

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backward, he turned round hastily and walked forward,
as he said, “It isn't the love of life,—but if I should
be killed in these woods, who will be left to tell her of
her danger? 'Twould be pity so young a bird should
be brought down in its flight.”

As he walked on in a hurried, irregular pace, love,
resentment, and wounded pride, were all busy at his
heart-strings. He had left Pokanecket's daughter,
because he loathed the idea of marriage with her;
but he never had thought, and till now he never had
been told, that Mary Conant was the cause. Soon
after her arrival at Plymouth, Mary had administered
cordials to his sick mother, which restored her to
life after the most skilful of their priests had pronounced
her hopeless; and ever since that time, he
had looked upon her with reverence, which almost
amounted to adoration. If any dregs of human feeling
were mingled with these sentiments, he at least,
was not aware of it; and now that the idea was forced
upon him, he rejected it, as a kind of blasphemy.
With these thoughts were mixed a melancholy presentiment
of the destruction of his race, and stern,
deep, settled hatred of Corbitant.

As he came in sight of the seacoast, the sun was
just setting behind the ledge of rocks which stretched
along to his right; and the broad blue harbour of
Salem lay full in his view, as tranquil as the slumbers
of a young heart devoid of crime. The spring birds
were warbling among the trees, or floating along so
lightly, that they scarcely dipped their wing in the
still surface of the water. There was something in
the unruffled aspect of things, which tended to soothe
the turbulence of human passion. By degrees the
insults of Corbitant, the remembrance of Pokanecket's
child, the clouds which imagination had seen lowering
over the fate of his nation, and even the danger

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of his English friends, became more dim and fleeting;
till at length, the spirit of devotion sat brooding over
the soul of the savage. The star, which had arisen
in Bethlehem, had never gleamed along his path; and
the dark valley of the shadow of death had never
been illuminated with the brightness of revealed truth.
But though the intellect be darkened, there are rays
from God's own throne, which enter into the peacefulness
and purity of the affections, shedding their
mild lustre on the ignorance of man.

Philosophy had never held up her shield against
the sun, and then placed her dim taper in his hand,
while she pointed to the “mundane soul,” in which all
human beings lost their identity; nor had he ever
read of that city “whose streets were of gold, and
her gates of pearl, in the light of which walked the
nations of them which were saved;” but there was
within him a voice loud and distinct, which spoke to
him of another world, where he should think, feel,
love, even as he did now. He had never read of
God, but he had heard his chariot wheels in the distant
thunder, and seen his drapery in the clouds. In
moods like these, thoughts which he could not grasp,
would pass before him, and he would pause to wonder
what they were, and whence they came. It was
with such feelings that he stopped, and resting his
head againt a large hemlock, which lifted its proud
branches high above the neighboring pines, he gazed
on the stars, just visible above the horizon. He stood
thus some moments, when a rustling sound broke in
upon the stillness, and an arrow whizzed past him,
and caught in the corner of his blanket. He turned
round suddenly, and saw Corbitant advancing towards
him with an uplifted hatchet.

“Ha! said he, with his accustomed laugh of scorn,
I thought Hobomok winked not at the glancing of

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arrows. When did Corbitant flee to the woods, to save
life, when he had been dared to the fight?”

Few words passed between them, and desperate
was the struggle which ensued. For awhile it seemed
doubtful who would get the victory, amid the
fierceness of their savage warfare; till at length a
violent blow on the temple laid Corbitant senseless
on the ground.

“Love your enemy,” was a maxim Hobomok had
never learned, and the tomahawk was already raised
above the head of his stupified victim, when the
sound of voices was heard in the thicket, and springing
into his former path, he pursued his way homeward,
as fleetly as some wild animal of the forest.
A few moments brought in view the settlement of
Salem; and amid the lights, which here and there
twinkled indistinctly through the trees, he quickly distinguished
the dwelling of Mary Conant.

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Child, Lydia Maria Francis, 1802-1880 [1824], Hobomok (Cummings, Hilliard & Co., Boston) [word count] [eaf041].
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