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Child, Lydia Maria Francis, 1802-1880 [1824], Hobomok (Cummings, Hilliard & Co., Boston) [word count] [eaf041].
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“The church was umpire then.”

Among all the varieties of human character, from the
refined enthusiast in classic literature, down to the ignoramus
who signs a cross in behoof of his name, there
are very few who have strength enough to resist the
flattering suffrage of exclusive preference. Gratified
vanity proves a powerful pleader in most hearts upon
such occasions; and if love itself be not induced, the
resemblance passes for awhile as current coin. I say
for awhile, for most of the unhappy marriages which
have come under my own observation, have originated
in this mistake. However, I shall not stop to moralize
upon the subject. Suffice it to say, that Collier,
under the dominion of such feelings, returned to Plymouth
with a lightsome and happy heart; nothing
disturbed, save by his anticipated eclaircissement
with Hopkins. Much as he dreaded the interview, he
found his friend even more unwilling to relinquish his
claims, than he had expected.

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The low, flat-roofed fort of Plymouth, and the adjacent
wigwam of Hobomok, were just rising on the
sight, when the anxious young man came out to meet

“What's the news, John?” inquired he.

“That twenty Indians have been surprised in a plan
of setting fire to the house of that wise and godly man,
Mr. Roger Conant,” rejoined the traveller. “They
are this day sent, under guard, to the sachem of
Mount Haup; and with them we came some ways in

“Ah, indeed,” replied Hopkins. “I thought the
Indians were quiet enough of late; but it is plain there
will be no peace in the land while Corbitant is therein.
That sachem is a hot-headed fellow, and implacable
withal. Albeit,” continued he, as they entered
the house, “I will hear your Indian stories at a more
convenient season. What did Sally say, when she
found she had been thought of these three years, and
she all the while knew nothing about the matter?”

“Why, to speak the truth, James, I have no very
pleasant duty to perform in this business; for the
damsel hath expressly declared, she doth not look
upon you with as favorable eyes as upon some

“That's what they always say,” answered the confident
lover. “Peradventure she thinks that dear
bought goods are most valued. I tell you, man, she
hath expressed her liking for me a hundred times,
and would now, if you had been bold in the business.”

“Hath she?” inquired his messenger. “Bethink
you, Hopkins; hath she ever told you she loved you
before others?”

“A hundred times,” replied he. “That is, I mean,—
you know I don't mean,—I would'nt say it if I did—

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that she hath done so unbecoming a thing as to tell
me she would marry me, before she knew whether I
would or no; but, nevertheless, I repeat she hath said
it a hundred times over, by her looks and actions.
And I should like to know, forsooth, whom she may
prefer to me, in this wilderness? Haven't I loved her
these three years? And didn't I do all I could for 'em
when the elders saw fit to dismiss her father? And
haven't I put up the best house in Plymouth, wherewithal
to please her?”

“I know all that,” rejoined his friend; “and assuredly
I thought your suit would be favorably received.
I marvel that it was not; but I had as good tell it at
once, as not.—The maiden hath declared she loveth
another man better.”

“And I should like to know who it might be?”
said the indignant lover.

The young man judged by his countenance, that he
was “nursing his wrath to keep it warm,” and he felt
more and more the awkwardness of his ungracious
mission. He blushed, stammered, hesitated, and finally
answered, “The maiden told me in express words,
that if you and I had changed places, the messenger
would have returned with `yea' in his mouth.”

Mr. Hopkins turned his face toward the window,
and bit his thumb some time, without speaking a word.

“I suppose you will take it unkind,” observed Collier,
interrupting the silence. “But what could be
done in such a case?”

“Talk to me no more about it,” replied the disappointed
suitor. “I am not the man to break my heart
about a foolish damsel. If she pleases to shape her
course in this way, I can assure her there is no love
lost between us. But after all, Collier, this is a confounded
unfriendly job, on your part; and I shall
state as much to the church.”

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“I beg of you not to make the the affair public,”
said his friend; “if you will hear to reason, you
will see I could not have done otherwise than I have.”

“I don't want to hear any reasons about it,” retorted
his offended companion. “I tell you once more,
I don't care a pin concerning the matter; but when I
see wolves walking about in sheep's clothing, I'll e'en
strip off their fleece.” And without waiting for an
answer, he took up his hat and walked out of the
house. He had said and thought that he cared nothing
about his disappointment; but when he was alone,
and all restraint of manly pride was removed, he found
that the thread, so unexpectedly broken, was interwoven
with the whole web of his existence; and spite
of himself, a few reluctant tears rolled down his weather-beaten
face. However, resentment was uppermost;
and the following day his rival was summoned
to appear before the church, to answer certain
charges brought against him by James Hopkins. Collier
would gladly have avoided a public conference
on such a subject, but under existing circumstances,
there was but one alternative. He must either suffer
under a suspicion of his good faith, or he must candidly
state events as they happened. In these degenerate
times, when even plighted love is broken
with such frequent impunity, it would excite a smile
to have seen the elderly men assembled at Mr. Brewster's,
and with serious aspects discussing so important
an affair. But in those days, the church kept careful
watch upon the out-goings and in-comings of her children,
and suffered not the pollution of a butterfly's
feather to rest upon her garments.

After the disputants were seated, the worthy clergyman

“It is with much grief we notice the falling out of
two godly young men, sons of right worthy gentlemen

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among us. Especially as one is accused of having
dealt treacherously with the other, and spoken deceitful
words unto him.”

Then Mr. Collier answered; “I feel it is an unpleasant
duty to vindicate myself from this aspersion,
inasmuch as Mr. Hopkins is my valued friend, and
hath been somewhat too hasty in this matter, refusing
to hear explanations which I have sought to give unto
him. I likewise think that the things appertaining to
love are of too light a nature to be brought before the
church, that they should discuss thereupon. But that
you may know that in nothing have I dealt treacherously
with my friend, you shall hear the conclusion
of the whole matter. Hearing that the vessels were
soon to leave Naumkeak, and having business wherewithal
they were connected, I had a mind to take Hobomok
for my guide, and journey thither. Whereupon
Mr. Hopkins gave me a letter for Mr. Oldham's
daughter (whom you all know is a comely damsel,
and, withal of a cheerful behaviour); which letter I
delivered to the same, and asked an answer thereto.
Then she said to me, that had I sent by Mr. Hopkins,
instead of he by me, she should verily have said,
`I will go.' I spoke much to her concerning my
friend's merits, but finding her mind was determined in
this matter, I e'en told her I would have come out to
meet her, as Isaac of old, when he brought the daughter
of Bethuel into his tent. The maiden, you know, is well
to look upon, and altogether such an one as no man
need be averse to, as an help-meet. Now whether or
not guile be found in me, I leave to your judgments;
and if you so decide, I'm willing to be lopped off, as
an unworthy member, from the church of Christ
gathered in this place.”

“Hear him,” interrupted Hopkins. “He saith not
a word about relinquishing the damsel. It seems he

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had even rather be cast out as `an heathen and a
publican.' His love must have grown up wonderous
sudden; for he denieth that he bewitched her with
love potions, and implieth that when he went to
Naumkeak he had no thoughts save of procuring her
for my wife.”

“I not only imply it,” answered Collier, “but I expressly
declare that I then had no thought respecting
her wherewithal you were not connected. And now
I do truly say, that I had rather be sent out from
among my brethren, although it would be very grievous
unto me, than to dismiss the maiden, whom of a
surely, I do regard with much complacency since she
hath so declared her sentiments.”

“Of a truth, I see nothing wherein you have erred,
according to your own account,” observed elder
Brewster; “but there is a gentleman soon going to
Naumkeak, to convey a letter from our honorable
chief magistrate to the reverend Mr. Higginson, respecting
the baptism of his son, and, for the further
satisfaction of Mr. Hopkins, it may be well that he
return with a written statement of facts. Till which
time, we do defer our decision.”

Poor Sally was in great consternation when the
Plymouth messenger arrived, and informed her of the
serious aspect which the business had assumed.

“Oh, Mary,” said she, “what shall I do? You
know that Mr. Hopkins who bawled himself into love
with me, and had'nt courage to sing the last note after
all? Well, he has made a great fuss between Mr.
Collier and the church, and they have sent to me to
write all that I said concerning him.”

“I always wondered how you could have spoken to
Mr. Collier after such a fashion,” replied Mary. “I
see nothing you can do but to write the whole truth.”

“Will you write it for me?”

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“Oh, yes, if you'll provide words to the purpose.”

So the pen and ink was brought forward, and Mary
wrote a letter which she indited as follows:

“Reverende Sirs,

“Wheras Mr. Collier hathe beene supposed to
blame concerning some businesse he hath of late endeavoured
to transacte for Mr. Hopkins, this cometh
to certifie that he did faithfully performe his dutie,
and moreover that his great modestie did prevente his
understanding many hints, until I spoke even as he
hath represented. Wherefore, if there be oughte unseemly
in this, it lieth on my shoulders.

“With all dutie and respecte,
Sally X Oldham.
“Her marke.”

N. B. “Sence my Dawter hathe shewed mee this
Yepistall I dwoe furthere righte with my owne Hande
a feu wordes of Add vice untwoe you att Plimouth,
respecting Churche Govermente. Twoe my thinking
you runn ewer Horses over harde, draweinge the
Ranes soe tite, thatt maybee thale rair upp and caste
thare rideers intwoe the mudd. U may rubb folkse
Nose on the Grinnstone thinking to ware them twoe
the Gristell, and in the eende you maye make them
twoe Sharppe for ewer owne cumfurt. Dwoe nott
constrew this intwoe Dishrespecte from hymm whoe
hathe mutch Occashun to remember thatt you awl
gave hymm a helping Hande in the Race he runn
among you
. U sea by this thatt I am noe Skribe and
you new heretoefore thatt I was noe Farisee.

“john Oldham.”

Upon the receipt of this document, the elders
thought fit to take no notice of Mr. Oldham's advice,

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though all thought it contained too much of his accustomed
impudence. Sally's testimony was so simple
and decisive, that Mr. Brewster at once gave a
concluding answer.

“Although we deem it unseemly for young women
to pursue such like courses (indeed were she within
our jurisdiction, we should give her public reproof
therefor), and though we do fear that the daughter
hath much of the corrupt leaven of the father, yet we
do not see that we have a right to constrain the consciences
of men in these particulars, especially as the
apostle saith `the believing husband may sanctify
the unbelieving wife.' Therefore, we do leave Mr.
Collier to pursue whatsoever course he deemeth expedient,
trusting that, whatever he doth, he will do it in
the name of the Lord. Moreover, we do think it proper
that Mr. Hopkins make an apology to him, inasmuch
as he hath not been slow to anger, nor charitable
concerning his brother in the church.”

The penance was performed with as good a grace
as could be expected, and the young men returned to
their respective employments.

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