Gateway to the Classics: Stephen of Philadelphia by James Otis
Stephen of Philadelphia by  James Otis

A Day of Festivities

The Indians had come out from their villages for a frolic, and the fact that the governor was hidden from their view did not prevent them from having it.

Some of the younger ones ran races, in which we lads joined; but we did not make a very good showing, for when it came to fleetness of foot, the savages could beat us out of sight.

That the day might be remembered, some of the women sent out food for all who were gathered around the pond; the Indians brought acorns, which we roasted by fires built for that purpose, and the squaws came laden with hominy, or Indian corn roasted before being bruised in one of the stone mortars, and then boiled. They also had baked a large lot of taw-ho, the root of a plant said to be poisonous; but the savages seem to thrive on it, as they do on katniss, which looks to be much the same as taw-ho, save that the roots are larger.

Well, as I have said, all the men and lads of the town who were not gathered at the tavern, as well as the Indians, squaws, and papooses, which last are brown babies, were gathered by the pond taking part in racing and leaping, when who should appear but our William Penn, having come to see those who were making his city.

As a matter of course, all the chief men followed at his heels, and we lads gave way, thinking it was not seemly to indulge in such trifling sports while the governor was present; but he, speaking as if we were his equals, insisted that the sports should go on.

He even seated himself on the ground where he could see what was being done, and one of the squaws, most like not knowing that William Penn was the owner of all the country, offered him roasted acorns and hominy.

To my surprise he took the food as if it were something of which he stood greatly in need, and ate heartily while he watched the savages jump over each other's backs, every man striving to outstrip his neighbor in the distance leaped.

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