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

Our Humble Preparations

There was little we could do toward adorning the settlement. Houses were half built, with a great litter of logs lying around them, and the roads, not having been cleared of stumps, could be found only after much hunting for the marks on the trees that had been cut by Thomas Holme, when he measured the land so it should be in accord with the plan William Penn himself had made.

There were already up, in fairly good condition, fourteen or fifteen houses, including my father's, and the timbers of the dwelling to be made for William Penn himself were already in place; but there was no building which, to our minds, would lodge him properly.

However, as father said, he was coming to his own, knowing full well we had followed his instructions to the best of our ability, and if things were not fine enough, we could not be blamed.

The one matter which we did settle, was as to where he should first come ashore, for there we wanted to gather in order to give him such welcome as was within our power.

William Guest was building a tavern on the shore at the foot of the street which we counted to call Valley, because of its running through the lowest portion of the land. It was needed that we should have such a building in our town, for there were many men coming who had no wives and therefore could not well set up housekeeping alone, and some place had to be provided where they might have food and beds for a fair price.

Because of this tavern's being, so far as built, the largest house in the city, and because of its standing close by the water, our people decided that we would gather at that point, and the half-finished building was covered with all the gay cloths and high colored blankets we could muster.

There is no need to say that the Indians soon understood that something unusual was afoot, and by sunrise next morning they came in from the villages until I question if there was left a single person to look after the huts.

At first Jethro and I believed the savages ought to be sent to their homes, for our governor should be welcomed only by his own people; but before many minutes had passed, we decided it was well for them to be there, because of their swelling the number waiting to receive him, and of giving to the throng a coloring which it otherwise would have lacked.

The headdresses of feathers worn by the savages could be seen here and there, making quite as brave a display as did our gay cloths, and I dare venture to say that never had this river of ours flowed past quite so important looking an assemblage.

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