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Peter of Amsterdam by  James Otis


 

 

GOING ASHORE

I was the one sent ashore in charge of the chest of trinkets, and that I was thus given a position of trust did not serve to sweeten the sour look on Hans' face, for he acted much as if believing he was the only one of Master Minuit's following who could be depended upon for any service of note.

It is impossible for me to say in such words as would be understood, how delighted I was to be on dry land once more. The scent of the flowers, the odors that came from the forest, and the songs of the birds, so filled me with delight that it was indeed a difficult matter to act as if I still held possession of my wits. Perhaps, if the savages had not been seated nearby, noting every movement made by those concerned in the care of the chest, I should not have succeeded so well.

Before these half-dressed, brown men, who watched intently, with never the ghost of a smile or show of interest on their faces, one could not but act in a dignified manner, and I held myself as if I, not Peter Minuit, [37] were the Director of New Netherland come to take possession of my office.

Save for long reeds, at one end of which was a small stone vessel, which I afterward learned was a contrivance used for burning that Indian weed, tobacco, the savages had nothing in their hands. It seemed to me that it would have been only natural had they brought with them some of their weapons, and I was disappointed because of their not having done so, for my curiosity was great regarding what sort of blood-letting instruments were in use among them.

During a full hour I sat on the chest, while two of the seamen loitered near at hand to make certain the brown men did not attempt to find out what we had brought ashore, and then came my master, followed by all the gentlemen of the Sea Mew.


[Illustration]

[38] Every one was dressed in his bravest garments, and on stepping out of the small boat on the sand, all gave particular respect to my master, as if to show the savages that he was the man who had been sent to rule over this country of New Netherland.


[Illustration]

This company of gentlemen walked gravely in procession to where the chest was standing, giving no heed to the savages until they were gathered around the useless trinkets, and then they bowed as if each brown man before them were a king.


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