By William Bradford
Bradford was born in England in 1590 and died at Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1657. He was governor of Plymouth Colony from 1627 to 1657, except for five years. He wrote History of the Plymouth Plantation, which included the period 1602 to 1647, which was published in 1856 after being lost and refound in a library the year before. .
Having the wind good, we sailed all that day along the coast about fifteen leagues; but saw neither river nor creek to put into. After we had sailed an hour or two, it began to snow and rain, and to be bad weather. About the midst of the afternoon the wind increased, and the seas began to be very rough; and the hinges of the rudder broke, so that we could steer no longer with it, but two men, with much ado, were fain to serve with a couple of oars. The ses were grown so great that we were much troubled and in great danger; and night grew on. Anon, Master Coppin bade us be of good cheer; he saw the harbor. As we drew near, the gale being stiff, and we bearing great sail to get in, split our mast in three pieces, and were like to have cast away our shallop. Yet, by God's mercy, recovering ourselves, we had the flood with us, and struck into the harbor.
Now he that thought that had been the places, was deceived, it being a place where not any of us had been before; and coming into the harbor, he that was our pilot, did bear up northward, which if he had continued, we had been case away. Yet still the Lord kept us and we bare up for an island before us, and recovering of that island, being compassed about with many rocks, and dark night growing upon us, it pleased the Divine Providence that we fell upon a place of sandy ground, where our shallop did ride safe and secure all that night; and coming upon a strange island, kept our watch all night in the rain upon that island. And in the morning we marched about it, and found no inhabitants at all; and here we made our rendezvous all that day, being Saturday, 10th of December. On the Sabbath day we rested; and on Monday we sounded the harbor, and found it a very good harbor for our shipping. We marched also into the land, and found divers cornfields, and little running brooks, a place very good for situation. So we returned to our ship again with good news to the rest of our people, which did much comfort their hearts.
Some of us, having a good mind, for safety, to plant in the greater isle, we crossed the bay, which is there five or six miles over, and found the isle about a mile and half or two miles about, all wooded, and no fresh water but two or three pits, that we doubted of fresh water in summer, and so full of wood as we could hardly clear so much as to serve us for corn. Besides, we judged it cold for our corn, and some part very rocky; yet divers thought of it as a place defensible, and of great security. That night we returned again a shipboard, with resolution the next morning to settle on some of those places.
So in the morning, after we had called on God for direction, we came to this resolution, to go presently ashore again, and to take a better view of two places which we thought most fitting for us; for we could not now take time for further search or consideration, or victuals being much spent, especially our beer, and it being now the 19th of December. After our landing and viewing of the places, so well as we could, we came to a conclusion, by most voices, to set on the main land, on the first place, on a high ground where there is a great deal of land cleared, and hath been planted with corn three or four years ago; and there is a very sweet brook runs under the hill side, and many delicate springs of as good water as can be drunk, and where we may harbor our shallops and boats exceeding well; and in this brook much good fish in their seasons; on the further side of the river also much corn-ground cleared. In one field is a great hill, on which we point to make a platform, and lant our ordnance, which will command all round about. From thence we may see into the bay, and far into the sea; and we may see thence Cape Cod. Our greatest labor will be fetching of our wood, which is half a quarter of an English mile; but there is enough so far off. What people inhabit here we yet know not, for as yet we have seen none. So there we made our rendezvous, and a place for some of our people, about twenty, resolving in the morning to some of ashore and to build houses.
But the next morning, being Thursday, the 21st of December, it was stormy and wet, that we could not go ashore; and those that remained there all night could do nothing, but were wet, not having daylight enough to make them a sufficient court of guard, to keep them dry. All that night it blew and rained extremely. It was so tempestuous that the shallop could not go on land so soon as we meet, for they had no victuals on land. About eleven o'clock the shallop went off with much ado with provision, but could not return, it blew so strong; and was such foul weather that we were forced to let fall our anchor, and ride with three anchors ahead.
Friday, the 22d, the storm still continued, that we could not get a land, nor they come to us aboard.
Saturday, the 23d, so many of us as could went on shore, felled and carried timber, to provide themselves stuff for building.
Sunday, the 24th, our people on shore heard a cry of some savages, as they thought, which caused an alarm and to stand on their guard, expecting an assault; but all was quiet.
Friday, the 16th, a fair warm day toward. This morning we determined to conclude of the military orders, which we had begun to consider of before, but were interrupted by the savages, as we mentioned formerly. And while we were busied, hereabout, we were interrupted again; for there presented himself a savage, which caused an alarm. He very boldly came all alone, and along the houses, straight to the rendezvous; where we intercepted him, not suffering him to go in, as undoubtedly he would out of his boldness. He saluted us in English, and bade us "Welcome!" for he had learned some broken English among the Englishmen that came to fish at Monhiggon, and knew by name the most of the captains, commanders and masters, that usually come. He was a man free in speech, so far as he could express his mind, and of a seemly carriage. We questioned him of many things; he was the first savage we could meet withal. He said he was not of these parts, but of Morattiggon, and one of the sagamores or lords thereof; and had been eight months in these parts, it lying hence a day's sail with a great wind, and five days by land. He discoursed of the whole country, and of every province, and of their sagamores, and their number of men and strength. The wind beginning to rise a little, we cast a horseman's coat about him; for he was stark naked, only a leather about his waist, with a fringe about a span long or little more. He had a bow and two arrows, the one headed, and the other unheaded. He was a tall, straight man, the hair of his head black, long behind, only short before, non on his face at all. He asked some beer, but we gave him strong water, and biscuit, and butter, and cheese, and pudding, and a piece of mallard; all which he liked well, and had been acquainted with such amongst the English. He told us the place where we now live is called Patuxet, and that about four years ago all the inhabitants died of an extraordinary plague, and there is neither man, woman, nor child remaining, as indeed we have found non; so as there is none to hinder our possession, or to lay claim unto it. All the afternoon we spent in communication with him. We would gladly have been rid of him at night, but he was not willing to go this night. Then we thought to carry him on shipboard, wherewith he was well content, and went into the shallop; but the wind was high and the water scant, that it could not return back. We lodged him that night at Steven Hopkin's house, and watched him.
The next day he went away back to the Masasoits, from whence he said he came, who are our next bordering neighbors. They are sixty strong, as he saith. The Nausites are as near, southeast of them, and are a hundred strong; and those were they of whom our people were encountered, as we before related. They are much incensed and provoked against the English; and about eight months ago slew three Englishmen, and two more hardly escaped by flight to Monhiggon. They were Sir Ferdinando Gorge's men, as this savage told us; as he did likewise of the huggery, that is, fight; that our discoverers had with the Nausites, and of our tools that were taken out of the woods, which we willed him, should be brought again, otherwise we would right ourselves. These people are ill affected toward the English by reason of one Hunt, a master of a ship, who deceived the people and got them under color of trucking with them, twenty out of this very place were we inhabit, and seven men from the Nausites, and carried them away, and sold them for slaves, like a wretched man (for twenty pound a man) that cares not what mischief he doth for his profit.
Saturday, in the morning, we dismissed the savage, and gave him a knife, a bracelet, and a ring. He promised within a night or two to come again and to bring with him some of the Masasoits, our neighbors, with such beavers skins as they had to truck with us.
Saturday and Sunday reasonable fair days. On this day came again the savage, and brought with him five other tall, proper men. They had every man a deer's skin on him, and the principal of them had a wild cat's skin, or such like, on the one arm. They had most of them long hosen up to their groins, close made, and above their groins to their waist another leather; they were altogether like the Irish trousers. They are of complexion like our English gipseys; no hair or very little on their faces; on their heads long hair to their shoulders, only cut before; some trussed up before with a feather, broad-wise, like a fan; another a fox-tail, hanging out. These left (according to our charge given him before) their bows and arrows a quarter of a mile from our town. We gave them entertainment as we thought was fitting them. They did eat liberally of our English victuals. They made semblance unto us of friendship and amity. They sang and danced after their manner, like antics. They brought with them in a thing like a bow-case (which the principal of them had about his waist) a little of their corn pounded to powder, which, put to a little water, they eat. He had a little tobacco in a bag; but none of them drank but when he liked. Some of them had their faces painted black, from the forehead to the chin, four or five fingers broad; others after o ther fashions, as they liked. They brought three or four skins; but we would not truck with them at all that day, but wished them to bring more, and we would truck for all; which they promised within a night or two, and would leave these behind them, tho we were not willing they should; and they brought us all our tools again, which were taken in the woods, in our men's absence. So, because of the day, we dismissed them so soon as we could. But Samoset, our first acquaintance, either was sick or feigned himself so, and would not go with them, and stayed with us till Wednesday morning. Then we sent him to them to know the reason they came not according to their words; and we gave him a h at, a pair of stockings and shoes, a shirt, and a piece of cloth to tie about his waist. -30-