Gateway to the Classics: Peter of Amsterdam by James Otis
Peter of Amsterdam by  James Otis

The Gathering of the Savages

It seemed, as I afterward learned, that Master Minuit had given orders for me to follow him on shore, while the other two were to remain aboard the ship, and this it was, most like, which displeased Hans.

However that may be, it has nothing to do with my tale, and perhaps I am giving overly many words to it; yet would I have you know how I, the youngest body servant of Master Minuit, Director of the West India Company's lands in America, came to see so much of that which was, in fact, important business, such as a lad would not be likely to have any part in.

We were yet on board the Sea Mew, when I, who was standing by the rail on the quarter-deck, where I could hear the slightest summons from my master, saw the brown men gathering on shore and verily it was a sight to cause wonder.


These brown men, with their hair standing upright on the middle of their heads, and naked to the waist, but wearing leggings fringed with strips of hide, and queer, soft shoes ornamented with colored quills of the porcupine, which I afterwards learned were called moccasins, seated themselves on the sand of the shore, gazing out toward the Sea Mew.

Below, in the great cabin, I could see that my master and his companions were arraying themselves as if about to set out for an audience with the king, and why this should be I failed to understand, save that they counted to surprise the savages by their bravery of attire.

Master Minuit wore a long coat of blue cloth, which was fastened around his waist with a silken sash, and black velvet breeches, gathered in at the knee with a knot of blue ribbon, while his low shoes, ornamented with huge silver buckles, set off, as it seemed to me, the shiny blackness of his silken hose.


He had on a broad-brimmed hat of felt, in which was a plume of blue, and over his shoulder was a blue sash, which, coming to a point under the left arm, gave a hanging for his sword.

The gentlemen with him were decked out in no less brave apparel, and I said to myself that if the savages of Manhattan Island gave heed to gay adorning then they were like to be pleased on this day.

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