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Child, Lydia Maria Francis, 1802-1880 [1824], Hobomok (Cummings, Hilliard & Co., Boston) [word count] [eaf041].
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The light within enthusiasts, who let fly
Against our pen-and-ink divinity;
Who boldly do pretend, (but who'll believe it?)
If Genesis were lost they could retrieve it.
Nicholas Noyles.

During their solitary stay at Naumkeak, wasted as
the young colony had been with sickness, famine, and
fearful apprehension, the buoyant spirits and kind
heart of Sally Oldham, had proved an almost solitary
source of enjoyment to Mary Conant. True,
there were few points of congeniality either in native
character, or habitual tendency of mind. The nobler

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principles of the soul may long remain latent amid the
depressing atmosphere of circumstance and situation;
but the rich-toned instrument needs but a skillful
hand to produce the finest combinations of harmony,
and even to the rude touch of the winds, it will occasionally
yield its sweet response of wayward melody.
Indeed it seemed as if the chilling storms, which had
lowered over the young life of Mary Conant, had not
only served to call forth the fervid hues of feeling in
their full perfection, but had likewise strengthened her
native elegance of mind. The intellectual, like the
natural sun, sheds its own bright and beautiful lustre
on the surrounding gloom, till every object on which
it shines seems glowing into life; and amid all the
dreariness of poverty, and the weight of affliction (the
heavier, that it was borne far from the knowledge and
sympathy of the world), Mary found much to excite
her native fervor of imagination. The stars were
there, in their silent, sparkling beauty, and the fair-browed
moon smiled on the hushed, still loveliness of
nature. The monarch of day paused ere he gathered
around him his brilliant drapery of clouds, and
gazed on these wild dominions with as much pride as
upon fairer and warmer climes. But all associations
of this nature formed a “sanctum sanctorum” in the
recesses of Mary's heart, and Sally Oldham was one
of the last to penetrate it. She thought nothing of the
stars but of their luckly or unlucky influences, viewed
the moon as a well-favored planet, that had much to
do with the weather, and saw nothing in the setting
sun but a hint to do her out-door work. But whether
the understanding finds reciprocation or not, the heart
must have sympathy; and amid the depression of
spirits, naturally induced by the declining health of
her mother, and the disheartening influence of the
stern, dark circle in which she moved, Mary found a

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welcome relief in unlocking all her hopes, fears, and
disappointments to her untutored friend. Her usual
placid state of feeling had been restored by the ample
confession she had made concerning an action, which
she more than half feared would call down the vengeance
of Heaven upon her; and when Hobomok entered
the room, after the excursion mentioned in the
last chapter, she was quietly seated amid the circle,
which had assembled at her father's house. It was
indeed a scene of varied character. The mother and
daughter, as we have already observed, possessed
that indefinable outline of elegance, which is seldom
entirely effaced from those of high birth and delicate
education. In immediate contrast were the stern,
hard features of Mr. Conant, and the singular countenance
of Mr. Oldham, which reminded one of gleams
of light through a grated window, for the deep furrows
of passion, and the shadows of worldly disappointment,
were in vain cast over its natural drollery
of expression. Then there was the fine, bold expression
of Governor Endicott, and the dolorous visage of
Mr. Graves, which seemed constantly to say, “the
earth is a tomb and man a fleeting vapour;' and lastly
the manly beauty of Hobomok, as he sat before
the fire, the flickering and uncertain light of a few decaying
embers falling full upon his face. This Indian
was indeed cast in nature's noblest mould. He was
one of the finest specimens of elastic, vigorous elegance
of proportion, to be found among his tribe. His long
residence with the white inhabitants of Plymouth had
changed his natural fierceness of manner into haughty,
dignified reserve; and even that seemed softened as
his dark, expressive eye rested on Conant's daughter.

“We have heard somewhat of an alliance between
the Pequods and Narragansets,” said Governor

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Endicott, as Hobomok seated himself. “What says Sagamore
John concerning this matter?”

“He said it was a cloud gone by,” was the laconic

“And do you think the Pequods will ever prevail
on them to join against us, Hobomok?”

“The quivers of the Pequod is full of arrows,” replied
the Indian; “his belt is the skin of a snake, and
he suffers no grass to grow upon his war-path. He
needs not the sinew of the Narraganset to draw the
arrow to the head.”

“When you were among the Narragansets what
was their speech thereupon?” inquired the chief magistrate.

“Miantonimo called king Charles his good English
father,” answered Hobomok. “He wore not the belt
of the Pequod, and his sachems smoked not the pipe
of Sassacus. But that was a few sleeps ago. A
man may tell the changes of the moon, but it is not so
with the word of a Narraganset.”

He rose as he said this, and stood for some moments
at the aperture which admitted the light, gazing
intently on the surrounding woods; but if there was
any thing like anxiety in his mind, it was cautiously
concealed from the view of others.

“Well,” said Mr. Conant, interrupting the silence,
“even if Massasoit joins himself unto them, we are
strong in numbers and doubly strong in the Lord of

“The sachem of Mount Haup is true as the course
of the sun,” rejoined the Indian, somewhat indignant
that his friendship should be doubted. “If an arrow
comes among us, it comes from Corbitant's quiver.
But though the rattlesnake's death be on its feather,
the wise man must aim it, and the Good Spirit must
wing it to the mark. When you pray to the

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Englishman's God, he sends your corn drink, and you say he
make the waters in two tribes, for the white man to
pass through. Is he not bigger than the Pequods and
the Mohegans, the Narragansets and the Tarateens?”

Without waiting for an answer, he took up the cap
which lay on the floor beside him, and left the house.

“It is a shame on us that an Indian must teach us
who is `our shield and our buckler,” observed Mr.
Conant. “To my mind there is more danger of Satan's
killing us with the rat's-bane of toleration, than
the Lord's taking us off with the Indian arrows. It
behoveth the watchmen of Israel to be on their guard,
for false prophets and false Christs are abroad in the
land. `One saith he is in the desert, and another saith
he is in the secret chambers;' and much reason have
the elect to laud the God of Israel, that his right hand
upholdeth them in slippery places.”

“I am much in the dark whether you can clearly
prove, from Scripture, that the elect are always upheld
in slippery places,” said Mr. Oldham. “What
do you make of the falling off of Judas Iscariot?”

“What do I make of it, man? Why that he never
was among the elect. Christ saith, “none of them
have I lost but the son of perdition, that the Scriptures
might be fulfilled.”

“Why, Paul himself seems not to have been clear
upon the subject,” continued Mr. Oldham; “for he
says, `lest when I have preached unto others, I should
myself prove a cast-away.' And know you not that
God's chosen people staid so long in Egypt that they
forgot the name of Jehovah? And what with the
brick bondage of spiritual Egypt on the one hand,
and the flesh-pots on the other, I think there is much
danger that the elect may so lose the sound of his
voice, that they will not know it, when it calls them
from the four winds of heaven.”

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“I have found by experience,” said Governor Endicott,
“that the more doubts we let in at the floodgate,
the faster gripe Satan hath upon our souls. St. Augustine
hath it, `Nullum malum pejus libertate errandi;
' and I believe he is in the right.”

“I don't know any thing about your outlandish
tongue,” replied Mr. Oldham; “and, I mean no disrespect
to your Honor, but I think it savors of Babylon
to be calling on the name of this saint and that
saint. I marvel when christians have turned the pope
out of doors, they don't send his rags out of the window.
To my thinking, the devil will send him back
again after his duds, forasmuch as they are suffered
to remain in the church.”

“Augustine was a holy man,” rejoined Governor
Endicott; “though in many things, the Lord suffered
him to remain in darkness. He it was, who left a
burning coal upon the altar, wherewithal Calvin and
Luther lighted up the great fire of the Reformation;
a fire which burneth yet, and which will burn, until
Babylon be consumed, with her robes and her mitres,
her cross and her staff, her bishops and her prelates,
her masses and her mummeries. Yea, let the disciples
of the hell-born Loyola strive against it as they
will. But as for St. Augustine, my friend, you'll acknowledge
the spirit of the matter to be good, though
it is clothed in outlandish dress, when I tell you that
it meaneth, `there is no evil worse than the liberty of

“There is much truth in that, no doubt,” replied
Mr. Graves; “but I maintain it is contrary to the declarations
of Scripture, unless you can prove that it
appertains to the unpardonable sin.”

“St. Augustine probably wrote it without any especial
reference to that passage,” said the Governor.

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“And I maintain that it's popish blasphemy to write
any thing without an especial reference to the declarations
of Scripture,” replied his antagonist, who seemed
to stand on the battle ground of controversy, calling
out, like Goliah, `Choose you a man for you, and let
him come down to me that I may fight him.' “And as
for you, Mr. Oldham, if you have such doubts as
you've been speaking of, it is because you have sinned
yourself into them; and I marvel if it be not by
the leaven of idle words, and levity of speech.”

“God gave us laughter as well as reason, to my apprehension,”
rejoined Mr. Oldham, “Solomon saith,
`there is a time for all things;' and the commentary
that I put upon the text is, that there is a time to
smoke a pipe and crack a joke, as well as to preach
and pray.”

“You know not what you say, nor whereof you affirm,”
answered Mr. Conant. “Recreation is no
doubt good to oil the wheels as we travel along a rugged
road; but a wise man will do as Jonathan, who
only tasted a little honey on the end of his rod. As
for that text of Solomon, it is a sort of flaming cherubim
that turneth every way, and many a man hath it

“I'm thinking at any rate,” retorted Oldham, “that
a scythe cuts the better, if a man stops to whet it
atween whiles.”

“That's true enough,” replied he from the Isle of
Wight, “but what would you say to see a man whetting
his scythe the whole day instead of mowing? I
tell you, Mr. Oldham, he that gives up, even for an hour;
the blessed comforts of the gospel and the inward out-pouring
of prayer, for the mere crackling thorns of
worldly mirth, does but exchange his pearls for old

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“I think,” interrupted Governor Endicott, “that
there is much appertaining to error implied in the
doctrine of inward outpouring. That egg was laid
in the Netherlands, and if it be kept warm, I've a suspicion
that the viper will hereafter spring out of its
shell, and aim at the vitals of the church. It is a
wandering meteor of human pride, and doth but serve
to lead from the true light of revelation.”

“Ah, it is a sad thing,” observed Mr. Conant, “that
before we have got the church of Christ well balanced,
Satan, seeing the dominion of the beast going down in
one quarter, straightway sendeth forth his ministers
to and fro in the earth, and teacheth them to cry
down Antichrist as much as the boldest of us, at the
same time that they lead poor souls into more horrid
blasphemies than the papist. These gross errors,
broached in the dark, are sliding like the plague into
the veins of the church; but in none of them the devil
so plainly sheweth his horns, as in this doctrine of
inward light.”

“According to my notions,” said Mr. Graves, scripture
would be but a dead letter without inward light.
I'm thinking a clock would be but a sorry thing, with
its clever-figured face, if there was no wheel-work to
set it agoing.”

“Your comparison hath no savor of similitude,” replied
the Governor. “I grant there is a concealed
life and spirit in the letter of the Bible; but God hath
hidden it, and it is not for man to penetrate into the
mysteries of godliness. The index of the clock sufficeth
to do our daily work by, and is of no further use
to him that knows the wheels which move it, than to
him who never thought thereupon.”

This probably would have paved the way for fresh
controversy, had not the entrance of Hobomok interrupted
the conversation. His appearance betrayed

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no marks of agitation, nor was any surprise excited
when he stooped and spoke to the Governor, who immediately
followed him out of the room. As soon as
they were out of hearing, Hobomok told him his suspicions
of Corbitant, and added that he was certain
there were a number of Indians in ambush in the
woods below. The chief magistrate determined at
once that a company should be collected silently and
speedily. Hobomok was deputed to give orders to
several individuals to proceed to his house with as
little appearance of alarm as possible; and the Indian
set forth upon the expedition; first requesting the
Governor not to lose sight of Mr. Conant's house.
When Governor Endicott returned to the company he
had left, he stated the fears of their Indian friend as
gently as possible; but cautiously as they were told,
it proved too much for the weak nerves of Mrs. Conant.
Since her residence in the wilderness, alarms
of this kind had been frequent, and she had borne
them with fortitude; but now the body weighed down
the firmness of the soul; and her husband was obliged
to leave his fainting wife to the care of her daughter,
with an assurance that their safety should be cared
for. They were indeed well protected; for Hobomok,
the moment his errands were hastily delivered,
had returned to guard them with the quick eye of
love, and the ready arm of hatred.

The company so suddenly collected, pursued a circuitous
rout, and came at once upon the unguarded
enemy. The band which they discovered consisted
of twenty Indians, most of whom were petty sachems
of Massasoit, who had been wrought upon by the eloquence
of Corbitant, for the purpose of setting fire to
Mr. Conant's house, and murdering the inhabitants, if

From his own account, it seemed that Mr. Conant's

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quotation with regard to the arrows being broken at
Salem, had been construed by Corbitant into a defiance
of the neighbouring tribes; and that he had taken
this step to revenge the insult; however, it is probable
that the blow was aimed, through them, at the
heart of Hobomok. Ambush and stratagem are the
pride of Indian warfare, and now that their designs
were so completely traversed, they attempted no resistance.
The captives were placed in an enclosed
piece of public land, and a guard of thirty men set
over them. Mr. Conant returned to his family, and
Mary, inured to such occurrences, slept peacefully
within their humble dwelling, unconscious that Hobomok
watched it the livelong night, with eyes that
knew no slumber. Every man saw that his gun was
loaded and his pistols within reach; and at midnight
nothing was seen in motion but the sentinels, as they
passed backward and forward, their arms gleaming in
the moon.

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