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

The Gratitude of the Indians

Then a great feast of bread smeared with molasses, pickled beef, roasted pumpkins, nookick, hominy, and a dozen other dishes, all of which had been made by our mothers, was set before the savages, and the governor and chief men of Philadelphia, after eating a little to show their good will, went back to the tavern, for by this time it was fully built and had been given the name of Blue Anchor.


It is in my mind that the Indians were well pleased when our fathers left them, for each one was eager to handle the price of the land, but did not want to show his eagerness while the white men were nearby to see him.

As for the lads, they cared not one whit, and when the governor and his following had disappeared, they fell upon the goods like crows upon a newly planted cornfield. Each chose what he most wanted, and it was left to the chief, an old fellow who was wrapped in two or three blankets, to say how the stuff might be divided.

The squaws didn't dare make too great a show of themselves; but now and then you would see one edge up to a package of paint, or a paper of beads, as if tempted to take possession boldly without asking leave. The children looked on the treasures from a distance, knowing only too well what would be the result if they dared lay hands on the poorest article.


Jethro and I had great sport watching the brown people, and at the same time I must confess that it would have pleased us right well to have some of the goods for our own,—until the sun had set, when the savages, each man staggering under a burden, went to their villages, leaving us lads to attend to our chores for the night.

It was well that the Indians carried their goods away early, for otherwise Jethro and I would have been keen to stay until the last man had disappeared, even though there was good reason why we should get into bed at an early hour.

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