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THE NEW HOME
Goodman Pepperell and his wife rose early the next morning, and,
leaving the two children still sleeping; crept down the ladder to the
floor below. There lay Zeb, also sound asleep, with his toes toward
the ashes like a little black Cinderella. The Goodwife's mother heart
was stirred with pity as she looked down at him. Perhaps she imagined
her own boy a captive in a strange land, unable to speak the language,
with no future but slavery and no friends to comfort his loneliness.
"Poor lad—let him sleep a bit, too," she said to her husband.
They unbolted the door and stepped out into the sunlight of a perfect
June morning. The dew was still on the grass; robins and bobolinks
were singing merrily in the young apple trees, which, owing to a late,
cold spring, were still in bloom, and the air hummed with the music of
The Goodman drew a deep breath as he gazed at the beauty about him.
"'Tis good to be at home again," he said to his wife. "And 'tis a
goodly land—aye, better even than old England! There's space here,
room enough to grow." He looked across the river to the hills of
Boston town. "I doubt not we shall live to see a city in place of yon
village," he said; "more ships seek its port daily, and there are
settlements along the whole length of the bay. 'Tis a marvel where
the people come from. The Plymouth folk are scattering to the north
and south, and already villages are springing up between Plymouth and
New Amsterdam. God hath prospered us, wife."
"Praise be to his holy name," said the Goodwife, reverently. "But,
husband," she added, "what shall we do with our increase? Thou hast
brought home a horse and the black lad. The horse can stay out
of doors during the summer, but there is not room for him in the
cow-shed, and the lad cannot sleep always before the fire."
"I have thought of that," said the Goodman, "and when the crops are in
I purpose to build a larger house."
"Verily it will be needed," she answered. "The crops grow like weeds
in this new soil. If there were but a place for storage, I could put
away much for winter use that now is wasted. Go thou and look at the
garden, while I uncover the coals and set the kettle to boil."
"Wait a moment, wife," said the Goodman, "I have somewhat to tell
thee. There is ever a black spot in our sunshine. Though the danger
grows less all the while as the settlements increase, it is still true
that the Indians are ever a menace, and I fear they are over watchful
of us." Then he told her of the attack in the forest. "I have reason
to think the red-skins spied upon us all the way to Boston town," he
finished. "I did not tell Daniel, but twice I saw savages on our trail
after we left Kittredge's. I wounded one in the encounter, and they
will not forget that. I know not why they should plot against the
black boy, unless it is to revenge themselves upon me, but it is
certain they tried to drag him away with them into the woods." The
Goodwife listened with a pale face.
"'Tis well, then, that we have a watchdog added to our possessions,"
she said at last. "Gran'ther Wattles's shepherd hath a litter of pups,
and he hath promised one to the children. Nancy hath waited until Dan
came home that he might share the pleasure of getting it with her."
"She hath a generous heart," said her father, tenderly. "Aye,—she is
a good lass, though headstrong."
When their mother reached the cabin, she found the Twins up and
dressed and Daniel trying to rouse the sleeping Zeb. "Wake up," he
shouted, giving him a shake. Zeb rolled over with a grunt and opened
"Take him outdoors while I get breakfast," said the Goodwife. "Mercy
upon me, what shall I do with a blackamoor and a dog both underfoot!"
"A dog!" cried Daniel. "What dog? Where is he?"
"Nancy will tell thee," said his mother, and, not able to wait a
moment to hear and tell such wonderful news, the two children rushed
out at once, followed by Zeb. When their mother called the family
to breakfast half an hour later, Zeb had been shown the garden, the
corn-field, the cow-shed, the pig-sty, the straw-stack where eggs were
to be found, the well with its long well-sweep, and the samp-mill. He
had had the sheep pointed out to him, and been introduced to Eliza,
the cow, and allowed to give Penny a measure of corn. The children had
shouted the name of each object to him as they had pointed it out,
and Zeb had shown his white teeth and grinned and nodded a great many
times, as if he understood.
"I know he's seen eggs before, for he sucked one," Dan told his
mother. Zeb was given his breakfast on the door-stone, and Dan tried
to teach him the use of a spoon, without much success; and afterwards
he was brought in to family prayers. His eyes rolled apprehensively
as he looked from one kneeling figure to another, but, obeying Dan's
gesture, he knelt beside him, and for ten minutes he stuck it out:
then, as the prayer continued to pour in an uninterrupted stream
from the Goodman's lips, he quietly crawled out on all fours and
disappeared through the door. Dan found him afterwards out by the
straw-stack, and as there was a yellow streak on his black face,
concluded he had learned his lesson about the hen's nest altogether
too well. He was given a hoe and taken to the corn-field at once.
Here Daniel showed him just how to cut out the weeds with the hoe and
loosen the earth about the roots of the corn. Zeb nodded and grinned
so cheerfully that, after watching him a few moments, Daniel called
Nancy and they started for Gran'ther Wattles's house in the village to
get the puppy. They had gone but a short distance when Nancy, glancing
around, saw Zeb following them, grinning from ear to ear.
"No—no—no—go back," bawled Daniel, pointing to the corn-field. Zeb
nodded with the utmost intelligence and followed right along. "Oh,
dear!" groaned Daniel. "I've taught him to do things by showing how,
and now he thinks he must do everything that I do."
He sat down on a stone and gazed despairingly at Zeb. Zeb promptly sat
down on another stone and beamed at him! In vain Daniel pointed and
shouted, and shook his head. Zeb nodded as cheerfully as ever and
conscientiously imitated Dan's every move. In spite of all they could
do he followed them clear to Gran'ther Wattles's house.
"Oh, dear!" said Nancy, "it's just like having your shadow come to
life! You'll have to work all the time, Dan, or Zeb won't work at
Even with the wonderful new puppy in his arms Dan took a gloomy view
of the situation. "I'm sick of being an example," he said. "I had to
be one at Aunt Bradford's all the time, for she told Mercy and Joseph
to watch how I behaved, and now here's this crazy blackamoor mocking
everything I do! I guess Father'll wish he had n't bought him."
The days that followed were trying ones for everybody. The Goodwife
was nearly distracted trying to house her family and do her work in
such crowded quarters. Zeb followed Dan like a nightmare, and the
Goodman delved early and late to catch up with the work which had
waited for his return. Among other duties there were berries to be
picked in the pasture and dried for winter use, and this task fell to
the children. It was work which Zeb thoroughly enjoyed, but alas, he
ate more than he brought home. On one occasion he ate green fruit
along with the ripe, and spent a noisy night afterward holding on to
his stomach and howling at each new pain. In vain the Goodwife tried
to cure him with a dose of hot pepper tea. Zeb took just enough to
burn his mouth and, finding the cure worse than the disease, roared
more industriously than ever. She was at her wit's end and finally
had to leave him to groan it out alone beside the fire. It was weeks
before he learned to understand the simplest sentences, and meanwhile
poor Dan had to go on being an example.
Finally one day the Goodman brought home a large saw from Boston, and
he and Dan showed Zeb how to use it. Then day after day Dan and Zeb
sawed together, making boards for the new house, while Nancy brought
her carding or knitting and sat on a stump near by with the puppy at
her feet or nosing about in the bushes. They had named the dog Nimrod,
"because," as Nancy said, "he is surely a mighty hunter before the
Lord, just like Nimrod in the Bible. He sniffs around after field mice
all the time, and if he only sees a cat he barks his head off and
tears after her like lightning!"
The summer passed quickly away, with few events to take them outside
the little kingdom of home in which they lived. Twice the Captain
stopped to see them when the Lucy Ann put in at Boston Harbor, and it
was from him they got such news as they had of the world without. By
October, Nimrod had grown to be quite a large dog and was already
useful with the sheep, and Zeb could understand a good deal of what
was said to him, though it was noticeable that he was very dull when
it concerned tasks he did not like. With Dan to guide him he was able
to help shock the corn and pile the pumpkins in golden heaps between
the rows. He could feed the cattle and milk the cow and draw water for
them from the well. While the Goodman and the two boys worked in the
fields gathering the crops, Nancy and her mother dried everything that
could be dried and preserved everything that could be preserved, until
there was a wonderful store of good things for the winter.
One day when all the rafters were festooned with strings of
crook-necked squashes, onions, and seed corn braided in long ropes by
the husks, the Goodman appeared in the doorway with another load of
seed corn and looked in vain for a place to put it.
"There is no place," said the Goodwife. "The Lord hath blessed us so
abundantly there is not room to receive it. As it is, I can hardly do
my work without stepping on something. If it is not anything else, it
is sure to be either Zeb or Nimrod. Truly I can no longer clean and
sand my floor properly for the things that are standing about."
The Goodman sat down on the settle and looked long and earnestly at
the crowded room, whistling softly to himself. Then he rose and went
to the village, and as a result the neighbors gathered the very next
week to help build the new house. They came early in the morning,
the men with axes and saws on their shoulders and the women carrying
cooking-utensils. Then while the men worked in the forest felling
trees, cutting and hauling timbers, and putting them in place, the
women helped the Goodwife make whole battalions of brown loaves and
regiments of pies, beside any number of other good things to eat.
Nancy, Dan, and Zeb ran errands and caught fish and dug clams and
gathered nuts to supply materials for them, and were promptly on hand
when meal time came.
There were so many helpers that in a wonderfully short time the
frame-work was up, the roof boards were on, and a great fireplace had
been built into the chimney in the new part of the house. Also a door
had been cut through to connect the new part with the old cabin, which
was now to be used for storage and as a stable for Penny and Eliza,
and a sleeping-space for Zeb. When all this was done and the roof on,
the neighbors returned to their own tasks, leaving the Pepperells to
lay the floors, cover the outside with boards, and do whatever was
necessary to finish the house. It was late in the fall before this was
accomplished and the family had settled down to the enjoyment of their
One day as Dan and Zeb were bringing in boards to sheathe the room on
the inside, they were startled to see two Indians peering out at them
from the shelter of the near-by woods. Dropping the board they were
carrying, they ran like deer to the house, and Dan told his father
what they had seen. The Goodman looked thoughtful as he went on with
his task of sheathing, and that very evening he worked late building
a secret closet between the chimney and the wall. "It will be a handy
place to hide thy preserves," he said to his wife, "and a refuge
should the Indians decide to give us trouble." He cut a small square
window high up in the outside wall and contrived a spring, hidden in
the chimney, to open the door. When this spring was pressed a hole
would suddenly appear in what seemed a solid wall, revealing the
well-stored shelves. This closet was the Goodwife's special pride, but
to Zeb it was a continuous mystery. At one moment there was the solid
wall; the next, without touch of human hands, a door would fly open,
giving a tantalizing glimpse of things to eat which he could never
touch, for if he came near, the door would close again as mysteriously
as it had opened. Dan loved to tease him with it, and Zeb, fearing
magic, would take to his heels whenever this marvel occurred.
One day the Goodman said to his wife: "Thanksgiving draws near, and
surely we have much cause for thankfulness this year, for the Lord
hath exceedingly blessed us. There are yet some things to be done
before the day comes, and I wish to meet it with my task finished. I
hear there is a ship in the harbor loaded with English merchandise,
and to-morrow I go to Boston, and if thou art so minded, thou canst go
This put the Goodwife in quite a flutter of excitement, for she had
not been away from home except to go to church for many months. She
got out her best gown that very evening, to be sure it was in proper
order, and while she got supper gave Nancy and Dan an endless string
of directions about their tasks in her absence.
Early the next morning she mounted the pillion behind her husband, and
the three children watched their departure, Dan clutching Nimrod, who
was determined to go with them, and the Goodwife calling back last
instructions to the little group until Penny was well on the road to
The house seemed strangely lonely without the mother in it, but there
was no time for the children to mope, for there was all the work to
do in their parents' absence. Dan took command at once. "You'll both
have to mind me now," he said to Nancy and Zeb. "I'm the man of the
"If thou 'rt the man of it, I'm the woman, and thou and Zeb will both
have to do as I say," retorted Nancy, "or else mayhap I'll get thee
no dinner! Mother said I could make succotash, and thou lov'st that
better than anything. Mother said above all things not to let the fire
go out, for it would be hard to bring a fire-brand all the way from
the village. So do thou bring in a pile of wood and set Zeb to
Dan counted his chances. "Very well," he said at last, with
condescension, "thou art a willful baggage but I'll give thee thy
way! Only make the big kettle full."
All that day Nancy bustled importantly about the house, with her
sleeves rolled up and her skirts looped back under her apron in
imitation of her mother. She was better than her word and made
johnny-cake besides the succotash for dinner, and after they had eaten
it said to Dan, "If thou wilt go out to the field and bring in a
pumpkin, I'll make thee some pies for supper."
Dan dearly loved pumpkin pie, and in his zeal to carry out the plan
brought in two great yellow globes from the corn-field instead of the
one Nancy had asked for. "Mercy upon us," said Nancy when he appeared,
beaming, with one under each arm, "those would make pies enough for
all Cambridge. Thine eyes hold more than thy stomach."
"There's no such thing as too many pies," said Daniel stoutly, "and
if there's any pumpkin left over, I'll feed it to the pig."
"I'll tell thee what we will do," said Nancy. "We will make a great
surprise for Mother and Father. When they come home they will be tired
and hungry and ready for a grand supper. Do thou and Zeb run down to
the bay and bring back a mess of clams. We'll have the table all
spread and a bright fire burning to welcome them!"
Dan agreed to this plan and went out at once to call Zeb. He found him
by the straw-stack with an egg in each hand. "Take them in to Nancy,"
commanded Dan, pointing sternly toward the house. Zeb had meant to
dispose of them otherwise, for he had a bottomless appetite for eggs,
but he trotted obediently to the house at Dan's order, and then the
two boys started together for the bay, with Nimrod barking joyfully
and running about them in circles all the way.
The fall days were short, and it was dusk before the evening chores
were done, and Dan came in to the bright kitchen with Zeb and Nimrod
both at his heels, and announced that he had a hole in his stomach as
big as a bushel basket. For answer Nancy pointed to four golden-brown
pies cooling on a shelf, and Dan smacked his lips in anticipation. Zeb
came alongside and, copying Dan, smacked his lips too.
"Go away, both of you," said Nancy. "You can only look at them now,
for I have everything ready for Father and Mother, and we must n't eat
until they come."
Dan looked about the room to see what Nancy's surprise might be. It
was a cheerful picture that met his eye. First of all there was Nancy
herself with her neat cap and white apron, putting the finishing
touches to the little feast she had prepared. She had spread the table
with the best linen and decorated it with a bunch of red berries. She
had even brought out the silver tankard from its hiding-place under
the eaves of the loft and placed it beside her father's trencher. The
clams were simmering on the fire, sending out an appetizing smell, and
the brown loaf was cut. The hickory logs snapped and sputtered, and
the flames danced gayly in the fireplace, setting other little flames
dancing in the shining pewter dishes arranged on a dresser across the
room. Nimrod was lying before the fire with his head on his paws,
asleep, and Zeb, squatted down beside him, was rolling his eyes
hungrily in the direction of the pies.
"I hope they'll come soon," said Daniel, lifting the cover of the
kettle and sniffing. "If they do not't is likely they'll find me as
dead as a salt herring when they get here."
Nancy laughed and, breaking a slice of brown-bread in two, gave a
piece to each boy. "Take that to stay your stomachs," she said, "and,
for the rest, have patience."
For a long time they waited, and still there was no sound of hoofs
upon the road. Dusk deepened into darkness, and the harvest moon came
out from behind a cloud and shed a silvery light over the landscape.
Nancy went to the door and gazed toward the road.
"Dost think, brother, the Indians have waylaid them?" she asked Dan at
"Nay," answered Dan. "They are likely delayed at the ferry. Should the
ferry-man be at his supper wild horses could not drag him from it,
I'll be bound. They'll come presently, never fear, but it will
doubtless grieve them much to see me lying stiff and cold on the
hearth! Nancy, thou takest a fearful chance in denying thy brother
But Nancy only laughed at his woebegone face. "Thou art indeed a
valiant trencher-man," she said. Then, suddenly inspired, she brought
him the extra pumpkin, which she had not used for the pies, set it
before him upon the hearth-stone, and gave him a knife. "Carve thyself
a jack-o'-lantern," she said. "'T will take up thy mind, and make thee
forget thy stomach." Dan took the knife, cut a cap from the top of the
pumpkin, and scooped out the seeds. Then he cut holes for the eyes and
nose, and a fearful gash, bordered with pointed teeth, for the mouth,
and Nancy brought him the stub of a bayberry candle to put inside. Zeb
watched the process with eyes growing wider and wider as the thing
became more and more like some frightful creature of his pagan
imagination. They were just about to light the candle when Nimrod gave
a sharp bark; there was a creaking noise outside, and Nancy, springing
joyfully to her feet, shouted, "They've come!—they've come!" She
was halfway to the door, when suddenly she stopped, stiff with fright.
There, looking in through the open shutter, was the face of an Indian!
Dan and Zeb saw it at the same moment, and Nimrod, barking madly,
rushed forward and leaped at the window. Giving one of his wildcat
shrieks, Zeb instantly went up the ladder to the loft with the agility
of a monkey. The head had bobbed out of sight so quickly that for an
instant Nancy hardly believed her own eyes, but in that instant
Dan had been quick to act. He pressed the catch concealed in the
fireplace, and, springing to his feet, seized Nancy and dragged her
back into the secret closet. They nearly fell over the pumpkin, which
lay directly in their path, and it rolled before them into the closet.
Once inside, they instantly closed the door, and, with wildly beating
hearts, sank down in the darkness. About a foot above the floor there
was a small knot-hole in the door, which the Goodman had purposely
left for a peep-hole, and to this Dan now glued his eyes. In spite of
Nimrod's frantic barking the house door was quietly opened, and when
the dog flew at the intruder, he was stunned by a blow from the butt
end of a musket, and his senseless body sent flying out of the door by
a kick from a moccasined foot.
Then two Indians crept stealthily into the room. They were surprised
to find it empty. Where could the children have gone? They prowled
cautiously about, looking under the table and behind everything that
might afford a hiding-place, and, finding no trace of them, turned
their attention in another direction. Dan was already near to bursting
with rage and grief over Nimrod, and now he had the misery of seeing
the larger of the two Indians take his father's musket from the
deer-horn on the chimney-piece, while the other, who already had a
gun, with grunts of satisfaction took the silver tankard from the
table and hid it under his deer-skin jacket. At first they did not
seem to notice the ladder to the loft. Soon, however, they paused
beside it, and after they had exchanged a few grunts the larger Indian
began to mount. It was plain they meant to make a thorough search for
the children who had so miraculously disappeared.
Dan remembered what his father had said about the Pequots; Nancy, with
sick fear in her heart for Zeb, was shivering in a heap on the floor,
her hands over her eyes, though that was quite unnecessary, since the
closet was pitch dark. Dan found her ear and whispered into it a brief
report of what he had seen. They could now hear the stealthy tread of
moccasined feet above them on the floor of the loft.
"While they're upstairs," whispered Dan, "I'm going to slip out and
get Father's pistol. It's hanging behind a string of onions, and they
have n't found it."
"Oh, no!" gasped Nancy. She clung to him, and in trying to get up he
struck the pumpkin, which rolled away toward the outside wall of the
closet. Just then there was a fearful outburst of noise overhead.
There was the sound of something being dragged from under a bed across
the floor, something which clawed and shrieked and fought like a
wildcat. There were grunts and the thump of moccasined feet dancing
about in a lively struggle.
"Now is my chance," said Dan to himself, and, opening the door
cautiously, he made a dash for the pistol and snatched it from its
hiding-place. As he was leaping back to the closet, he saw the
bayberry candle lying on the hearth, and in that instant a wonderful
idea flashed into his mind. He picked up the candle, lit it from the
flames, and scurried back to his hiding-place just as the legs of an
Indian appeared at the top of the ladder. He shut the door swiftly
behind him, and, giving the candle to Nancy, told her to set it inside
the pumpkin. Crawling to the other end of the closet, Nancy did as she
was bid, while Dan, with his eye at the peep-hole, watched the two
Indians drag poor Zeb between them down the ladder and out the door.
Eager to see where they went, Dan climbed up to the little window of
the closet and peered out into the night. By the moonlight he could
see the two men dragging Zeb in the direction of the straw-stack. They
were having a hard time of it, for Zeb struggled fiercely, and they
had their guns and the tankard to take care of as well, and in
addition, to Dan's horror, one of them was waving a burning brand
which he had snatched from the fire in passing! Dan trembled so with
excitement that he nearly fell from his perch, but kept his wits about
him. "Give me the pumpkin," he said to Nancy, and when she reached it
up to him, he set the lurid, grinning face in the window. "Now the
pistol," he said, and, sticking the muzzle through the opening beside
the jack-o'-lantern, he fired it into the air.
The shot was answered by a chorus of yells from the three figures by
the straw-stack. Scared out of their wits by the unexpected shot and
by the frightful apparition which suddenly glared at them out of the
darkness, the Indians took to their heels and ran as only Indians can
run, dragging poor Zeb with them.
"They're gone," shouted Dan, dropping to the floor, "but they've set
the straw-stack afire!"
By the dim light of the jack-o'-lantern grinning in the window, he
found the catch of the door, and the two children burst out of the
closet. Seizing a bucket of water which stood by the hand-basin in
the corner, Dan dashed out of doors, followed by Nancy, whose fear of
Indians was now overmastered by fear of fire. If their beautiful new
house should be burned! She ran to the well-sweep, and while Dan
worked like a demon, stamping on burning straws with his feet, and
pouring water on the spreading flames, she swiftly plunged first one
bucket, then another, into the well and filled Dan's pail as fast as
it was emptied. In spite of these heroic efforts the fire spread. All
they could do was to keep the ground wet about the stack and watch the
flying sparks lest they set fire to the house. Over the lurid scene
the jack-o'-lantern grinned down at them until the candle sputtered
and went out.
The straw-stack was blazing fiercely, lighting the sky with a red
glare, when in the distance they heard the beat of a drum. Gran'ther
Wattles had seen the flames and was rousing the village. Then there
were hoof-beats on the road, and into the fire-light dashed Penny with
the terrified Goodman and his wife on her back. Once they knew their
children were safe, they did not stop for questions, but at once set
to work to help them check the fire, which was now spreading among the
dry leaves. The Goodwife ran for her broom, which she dipped in water
and then beat upon the little flames as they appeared here and there
in the grass. The Goodman mounted to the roof at once, and, with Dan
to fetch water and Nancy to bring up buckets from the well, they
managed to keep it too wet for the flying sparks to set it afire. At
last the neighbors, roused by Gran'ther Wattles's frantic alarm, came
hurrying across the pastures; but the distance was so great that
the flames had died down and the danger was nearly over before they
There was now time for explanations, and, surrounded by an eager and
grim-visaged circle, Nancy and Dan told their story. "There's a brave
lad for you!" cried Stephen Day, when the tale was finished, patting
Dan on the shoulder. "Aye, and a brave lass, too," added another.
Their father and mother said no words of praise, but there was a glow
of pride in their faces as they looked at their children and silently
thanked God for their safety.
"We can do nothing to-night," said Goodman Pepperell at last, "but,
neighbors, if you are with me, to-morrow we will go into the woods and
see if we can find any trace of the black boy. Doubtless by stealing
him and burning the house they thought to revenge themselves for the
Indian whom I wounded on my way home from Plymouth. They must have
been watching the house, and, seeing us depart this morning, knew well
that they had naught but children to deal with."
"Aye, but such children!" said Stephen Day, who had been greatly
impressed by the story of the jack-o'-lantern. "We'll follow them,
indeed, and if we find them"—his jaw shut with a snap and he said no
While the men laid their plans for the morrow, the children and their
mother stole round to the front of the house, and Dan began a search
for Nimrod. He had been neither seen nor heard since the Indian had
given him that fearful blow and thrown him out. They found him lying
a few feet from the house still half stunned, and Dan lifted him
tenderly in his arms, brought him into the house, and laid him down
before the fire, where he had slept so peacefully only one short hour
before. Nimrod licked his hand, and rapped his tail feebly on the
hearthstone. Nancy wept over him, while Dan bathed his wounded head,
and tried to find out if any bones were broken.
"Poor Nimrod," said the Goodwife, as she set a bowl of milk before the
wounded dog, "thou art a brave soldier. Drink this and soon thou wilt
be wagging thy tail as briskly as ever."
She stirred the fire and lit the candles, and when the Goodman came in
a few moments later, the little family looked about their new home to
see what damage had been done. Nancy's little feast was a sad wreck.
There were the pies, to be sure, but the table-cloth was awry and the
flowers were tipped over and strewn about the floor, which was
covered with the tracks of muddy feet. In the scuffle with Zeb the
spinning-wheel had been overturned and the settle was lying on its
back on the floor. The room looked as if a hurricane had passed
through it. The Goodman mourned the loss of his gun, and the Goodwife
grieved for her tankard, but all smaller losses were forgotten in
their distress about Zeb. Not only had he cost the Goodman a large sum
of money, but in the weeks he had been with them he had found his own
place in the household, where he would be sadly missed. Worst of all
was their anxiety about his fate at the hands of the Indians.
"Come," said the Goodwife at last, when they had heard every event of
the day twice over, "we must eat, or we shall have scant courage for
the duties of the morrow. We have none of us tasted food since noon."
The clams were still simmering gently in the pot, and she gave them
each a porringer of broth, which they ate sitting in a circle about
the hearth-stone. Then she put the room in order, and though her heart
was heavy, tried to talk of the events of their day in Boston as if
nothing had happened.
"We saw Captain Sanders in town," she said to the children. "He hath
brought the Lucy Ann to port with a load of cod for the market and
with fish and game for Thanksgiving. I have his promise that he will
dine with us if God wills. He hath not yet seen our new house. Alas! I
shall have no tankard to set before him; yet, ungrateful that I am,
we are still rich in blessings! 'Tis well we have a day set aside to
remind us of them."
It was very late when at last the excitement had died down enough to
think of sleep. The Goodman went out to make sure there was no fire
left lurking in the grass, and to take a look at the horse and cow.
As he passed the smoking ashes of the straw-stack, his foot struck
something which rang like metal, and in the moonlight something
glistened in the path before him. Stooping, he felt for it, and was
overjoyed to grasp the tankard, which the Indian had lost in the
struggle with Zeb. He carried it in to his wife at once. She seized it
with a cry of joy.
"'Tis a good omen," she said. "Mayhap thou'lt find thy musket
too." Her husband shook his head gravely. "I'll have need of one
to-morrow," he said. "'Tis well I still have my fowling-piece and my
pistol." Then he called the family together and, kneeling beside the
settle, committed them to God's keeping for the night.