THAT which causes me the greatest curiosity is why
the Indians spend so much time making small beads
of seashells, and then claim that they are money.
Wampum, the savages call these beads, and they are
 strung on strands of hide, or sinew, in certain lengths,
each strand standing for so much of value.
To make it more plain, a beaver skin is worth five
strings, or fathoms, of wampum, while the hide of a
mink sells for two; and it may surprise you to know
that we white people are using these same little shells
as if they were so much silver and gold.
When we first saw wampum, Jethro and I believed
we could make as much as we pleased by stringing
the beads, which our people had brought to trade with
the savages, on threads of tow; but, if you please, these
brown men would not consent to call our beads
wampum, although they were quite ready to buy them as
It seems, as Jethro and I learned after our scheme
of suddenly becoming rich, from an Indian's
standpoint, fell to the ground, that these beads from
seashells are of value because of so much time being
needed for the making. I have seen one of the
savages spend two full hours grinding into proper shape
a small bead from the thick part of a big mussel shell,
and when he was done the thing was by no means as
fair to look upon as the roughest of our beads.
In order to have the proper kind of wampum, only
certain portions of certain shells can be used, and it
is not easy to find these even when you are on the
seashore. The Indians go in their canoes near to
 an hundred miles after the shells, and a dozen men
may be away two weeks or more to get twenty of the
Jethro and I have watched an Indian, seated on
his blanket made of fiber from the wild hemp, working
half the day to bore
a hole in one of these
bits of wampum,
using no other tool
than a tiny bit of
flint rock fastened
to a thin stick of
Not only do the
brown men use this
wampum as money,
but they sew the
strands together to make belts, which are used as
gifts when something very valuable is wanted.
Wampum belts arc sent from one settlement to
another in token of friendship, or to bind some great
bargain, as was the case when one was given to our
William Penn, as I will set down later.
Perhaps I am spending too many words in telling
you about the Indians; but if you had come to have
them as neighbors, with whom it was necessary for your
very life's sake to live on friendly terms, you would
 have been likely to watch them closely, as did Jethro and
I, and to be interested in all their odd ways.