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James Otis

Beginning the Work

There was little chance for me to gratify my curiosity in these first days after we were come to America, for Master Minuit counted on having much work done during the summer, in order that we might be prepared for the frosts of winter, and I had no idle time for making acquaintance with this New World.

My master put the interests of the West India Company even before the well-being of the people who were to make a new town, and his first act, after buying the island of Manhattan for much the same as no price at all, was to begin the gathering of furs.

The people who had come ahead of us were cutting timber in the forest, and dragging, or rafting, it down to the point where it would be in good position to be taken on board the first ship that was to be loaded, and with such tasks Master Minuit did not interfere.

The gentlemen who had come with him were to go, each in a different direction, up the rivers in search of savages who would exchange valuable furs for trumpery toys, and it was my duty to assort these goods, under the direction of my master, as a matter of course, into various lots to the end that each of the traders would have some portion of every kind.

When this had been done, and I was kept at the task during the greater part of two days, each assortment was packed into a chest like unto the one we had taken ashore when the island was purchased of the savages.

To Hans and Kryn was given the duty of putting these goods into the boats; packing up food for the many crews, and doing the heavy work generally, which was not to the liking of the sour-faced servant, who would have been better pleased could he have remained snug in the great cabin, as did I.