| America First|
|by Lawton B. Evans|
|Collection of one hundred action-packed stories, covering the range of American history, from the first visit of Leif the Lucky to the exploits of Sergeant York in World War I. In relating the long, thrilling story of the trials and triumphs of the pioneers and patriots, the author aims to gratify the love of children for the dramatic and picturesque, to satisfy them with stories that are true, and to make them familiar with the great characters in the history of their own country. Ages 8-12 |
THE ADVENTURES OF MILES STANDISH
CAPTAIN MILES STANDISH was an English soldier who, in his wanderings, came across the Pilgrim settlement in Holland. He liked the
courage of these brave countrymen of his, and attached himself to their community, though he would not join
their Church. When they began to discuss a plan for coming to America, he spoke up heartily in favor of it.
He was fond of adventure, and knew there were Indians and bears and wild creatures of all kinds in America to
fight; and, since fighting was his main business and pleasure, he resolved to be among the very first to go
over with the Puritans.
Accordingly, Miles Standish was among the
co-  lonial passengers on the Mayflower. For nine weeks, the little ship battled with wind and waves. It was a
trying voyage, but Miles Standish was among those who did not lose courage. He strode the deck in the worst
weather, and helped the sailors manage the ship. He had a cheerful voice and a kindly manner with his
fear-smitten companions,—all of which aided many a discouraged soul in standing the long voyage.
When the ship reached Cape Cod, Standish, with a few followers, went on shore, looking for a place to
establish a settlement. Such a. place was found almost at the very end of Cape Cod. The men went in single
file for about a mile, when they saw five or six Indians, with a dog, coming towards them. When the savages
caught sight of the white men, they ran into the wood and whistled for the dog to follow.
Standish and his men pursued the Indians, but could not overtake them. When night came, they built a fire, set
three men to act as sentinels, and slept on the ground until morning. By daybreak they were up and after the
Indians, but found no trace of them nor of any houses.
They next discovered some mounds of sand that looked like graves. These they dug into, and came upon bows and
arrows. But they covered
 them over again, knowing the Indians did not like their dead to be disturbed. Other mounds contained baskets
of corn, which the men very promptly carried away, since they were much in need of it for bread.
As they went through the woods, they came upon a deer-trap, which was such a curious contrivance that William
Bradford examined it with much curiosity. Stepping upon the hidden spring, the trap closed on his leg so
tightly that he called lustily for his companions to hasten and relieve him.
After wandering through the woods all day, they came to the shore, shot off their guns as a signal to the
ship, and then were taken on board the vessel. This ended the first adventure of Miles Standish at Cape Cod.
After exploring the land several times for a place to found their colony, and locating none to suit them, the
company spent about a month in the Mayflower, making the best of a very uncomfortable situation. At last,
toward the end of December, they came to a place which John Smith, of Virginia, in one of his voyages along
this coast, had named Plymouth. Here they landed and founded their colony.
An Indian tribe had lived among the Plymouth hills, but a plague had swept the entire tribe away.
 The stubble in the fields was several years old, and the rude shelters of the Indians were rotting. There was
no one to dispute the rights of the settlers to claim the soil for their own.
Rough houses of logs were soon built, the spaces between the cracks of the logs being daubed with mud. Oiled
paper was used instead of glass for the windows. The weather was now very cold, the snow covered the ground,
and almost blocked the people in their homes. There was little fuel and scant food. The colonists suffered
Many of them died, including Rose Standish, the beautiful young wife of the brave Captain. But the Captain
himself kept up staunchly, and went among the sick and dying, doing all he could to help them. At one time he
and six others were the only well ones in the place. These well ones brought all the wood, made all the fires,
cooked all the food, attended to all the beds, and even washed the clothes for the entire colony. When spring
came, only fifty of the company were left alive. It was a dreadful winter, but the Pilgrims were not dismayed
by this bad beginning.
For fear the Indians would discover the weakness of the whites, and attack them in their sick and helpless
condition, the graves of those who had died were ploughed over and sown with seed.
 During the spring they made friends with some of the Indians, particularly with Massasoit, an Indian Chief,
and with Squanto, another chieftain who knew how to speak English. Squanto was very helpful to the colonists.
He taught them how to catch fish and how to tread eels out of the mud. He told them to plant corn when the oak
leaf was as big as a mouse's ear, and to drop a dead herring in each hill for fertilizer. He informed the
unfriendly Indians that the white settlers kept the plague in their cellars, beside the black thunder powder,
and could let it loose whenever they chose. In fact, he saved the little colony from utter destruction at the
hands of the unfriendly savages.
At one time, Captain Standish had gone in a boat to buy corn from a tribe of Indians down the coast. When he
arrived, the Indians formed a plot to kill him. One of them invited him to spend the night in his house. The
wary Captain did not close his eyes. He could not understand what they said, but their actions were
suspicious. Pacing to and fro, keeping his gun always ready, he watched through the long night for any sign of
attack. "Why do you not sleep?" asked an Indian. "I have no desire to sleep in the house of a stranger,"
replied Standish. In the morning,
 Standish backed out of the house, making the Indian follow him to his boat, and even back to Plymouth.
The Massachusetts Indians formed a plot to destroy all the English at Plymouth. Massasoit sent word to the
colonists that, if they would save their lives, they must kill the Massachusetts Chiefs. Standish, with eight
men, undertook the mission. He went to their village, and pretended to trade for furs. The trade was very
smooth, for smiling and fair words were spoken. But the Indians said, "The Captain's eyes are watchful, and
there is anger in his heart."
Then came a Chief, whetting his knife. He said boastfully, "By and by it shall see, and by and by it shall
eat, but not speak." Then, turning to Standish, he said, "You are a great Captain, if you are a little man. I
am not a Chief, but I have great strength."
Then Standish gave a signal, and sprang upon the boasting Indian. Snatching the knife from the hands of the
astonished savage, he drove it through his heart, laying him dead on the floor. The companions of the Captain
made an onslaught on the other Indians, whereupon they all fled shrieking to the woods. This ended the combat
and the conspiracy. From that time on the name of
 Standish was enough to make the Indians tremble with fear.
In this way, Captain Standish kept down the Indians, inspired hope and courage among the colonists, and
secured peace and prosperity for Plymouth.
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