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

An Unexpected Question

That I should be counted as among those to accom- pany the expedition, never once had lodgment in my

mind, until Master Tienhoven came to me the day before the fleet was to sail, asking if all my preparations for the voyage had been made.

I was in a maze of perplexity because of the question. He who has charge of a company's goods is supposed to remain where he can keep them under his hand, more particularly in time of war, and for lrne to be pinned to Master Stuyvesant's coat sleeves not only seemed useless, but positively foolish.


It may be that I said something of this kind to the Secretary, for he shut me up in short order by curtly saying, as if he had his instructions so to do, that the Director had supposed I would know my duty sufficiently well to follow the army because of its being possible there might be much plunder, in which case I was the one person who should take charge of the Company's share.

I was not such a simple but that I could understand it would please Master Tienhoven right well if I made protest against going, for there was little love lost between us two, and, believing he would repeat to the Director in his own fashion whatsoever might be said by me, I held my peace, save in so far as to ask on what ship I would be expected to sail.

He told me that Master Stuyvesant would himself embark upon one of the vessels which had been sent out from Amsterdam, called the De Waag, and that as an officer of the Company, even though an humble one, I would be expected to journey on the same vessel.

To one who had not been given to spending his wages upon brave attire, and who owns little more than that in which he stands, it is not a lengthy task to make ready for a voyage, however long.

And here, by the way, let me say, lest any should think I was not prudent, that I had carefully saved the wages paid me by the West India Company, to the end that I might have sufficient of money to start in some business on my own account, when the day came—as I believed it would soon, yet without having much reason to do so—that my services would no longer be required in New Amsterdam.

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