Gateway to the Classics: Ruth of Boston by James Otis
Ruth of Boston by  James Otis

Savages on the War-path

It was not many days, however, before word was brought to Boston that the Pequot Indians were trying to coax the Narragansett savages to join them in killing every Englishman that could be found in the land.

Father had said that this might be done, if the brown people all over the country should come together, and we who lived in Boston and Salem were in great fear.

The soldiers were called together from every village. The gates of the fort on the Neck were kept closed, with men stationed there night and day to see that no enemy came through, and the preachers prayed most fervently that our lives might be spared because of our doing our utmost to serve God as He would have us.

Then it was that the Lord heard our prayers, else had we all been killed, and it was brought about in a way such as, my mother said, heaped coals of fire upon our heads.

The same Master Roger Williams who had been driven out into the wilderness, because of holding a belief contrary to ours, and who had lived with the Narragansett Indians since then, so pleaded with the savages of the tribe that they sent some of their chief people to Boston, with promises of friendliness.

Sir Harry Vane received the visitors with great state. All our soldiers were paraded through the streets, and in front of the Governor's house. The drummers marched to and fro making music, and the people came out on the streets that the Indians might believe we had not been afraid.


It was much like Training Day, save that only the magistrates of the town were allowed to know what was being done in the Governor's house after the savages had gone into the building, decked out in a brave array of feathers, and in clothing embroidered with fanciful colored quills of porcupines, and with their faces painted in a most hideous fashion.

We were told, after the Indians had marched out of the town, near to sunset, one behind the other in a manner as solemn as if they were coming from church, that the tribe of Narragansett savages had promised to aid us white people against the brown men of the Pequot tribe, in every way possible, and greatly did we rejoice that night, for it seemed as if all trouble had passed.

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