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Henry Tufts
Chapter VIII
The Daughter of King Tumkin

Transcribed 1997 by Ne-Do-Ba

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Venus presents me with a miss,
Who proves a source of present bliss;
Yet, tho' in manners wild and rude,
Know, pretty belles, she was no prude.

Now had the more vertical rays of propitious Phoebus subdued the rigors of the inclement year, and transformed the surly, hiemal blasts into pleasing zephyrus gales. Already had he renewed the beauties of the vernal bloom, and restored to the animate world the festive joys of a mild atmosphere. These were circumstances most congenial to my feelings. Already had I acquired such competent skill in the Indian dialect, as to be able to converse freely with the natives, and had moreover formed a personal acquaintance with most of them belonging to the vicinity, particularly so with Polly Susap, the niece of old king Tumkin Hagen[presumable the man known in Bethel as Tom Hegan], who inhabited near the borders of lake Umbagog. Upon this young squaw, who appeared more beautiful in my eyes, than any other female of her whole tribe, I had placed all my desires, and bestowed much of my attention. From time to time I had presented her with many little tokens of my love and esteem, till, by such assiduities, I attracted her notice, and captivated her fondest affections. From that time forth, she was always desirous of my company, and I was much in hers. As I was a frequent visitor at her father's hut, we had many opportunities of conversing together, and when I went into the forest, with Molly Occut or others, to collect vegetables, or for whatever purpose, she was generally a sure attendant in the train.

Her parents observed our growing partiality with much complacency, and fondly looked forward to that epoch, when they hoped to see us joined in the bands of wedlock. But to concur with propositions of that nature was foreign from my wishes, since I allotted to make no permanent residence in the society of this people.

My principal and indeed sole inducement in cultivating the friendship of this young woman, or if you please, savage, was to remedy the want of a female companion, while in these rude regions. It is the nature of man to need such helps and conveniences, as smooth the asperities and soften the rugged condition of life, and intercourse with the sex is not the smallest of those advantages. I have often heard it observed of a sailor, that he has a wife in every port, and indeed, at the time here spoken of, I supposed myself entitled to a like privilege, though belonging to a different element. However this might be, I successfully prosecuted my amour with the aforesaid beautiful savage, who now supplied to me the place of a wife, though without the fashionable appellation. By her unwearied condescension she rendered my abode, in this unpleasant wilderness, much more tolerable, furnishing me with many of the comforts and necessaries of life. My frequent rambles abroad and tedious hours at home were enlivened with her social company. Whether my employment happened to be hunting, or visiting traps, she was a careful follower of my footsteps, or faithful attendant at my side....

Amid the pursuits I have been describing, the second summer, since my arrival here, had taken its flight, and dreary winter, robed in snow, had again displayed its forbidding form.

It being altogether problematical how much longer I should abide in these parts, and my desire being ardent to acquire some further acquaintance with the situation of this extensive country, before taking a final leave of it, I purposed availing of the very first opportunities to explore it east and west.

Early in February, which is the commencement of the main hunting season, I was positive several parties would set out in quest of moose and deer, because on the improvement of this season, depends, in good measure, their livelihood for the whole year. With a view of joining some or other of those hunters, I carefully provided myself with whatever necessaries might be had, and when the time for departure arrived, we set out loaded with steel and squat-traps, guns, hatchets, ammunition and snowshoes; those accoutrements making up the bigger part of our luggage; since with itinerary provisions we were very little incommoded, our whole viaticum consisting of only a morsel of salt, and a mere bide of smoked or frozen venison. But, though our dependence for sustenance was altogether on the fruits of the chase, yet were we in no great jeopardy of famishing, for the sagacity of the hunters in starting game, and their dexterity in running it down with their dogs, far exceeds anything of the kind known among civilized people. Our daily stages were from twelve to twenty miles only, except when the heat of the chase tempted us to exceed those limits, as was sometimes the case.

What I disliked most of all, was our cold, uncomfortable mode of lodging, which absolutely forbade the reception of much repose. Our only accommodation of this sort was a parcel of hemlock or spruce twigs thrown upon the snow, on which we lay down, before a large fire, rolled up in our blankets. In this expedition, however, we met with extraordinary good fortune, killing a variety of moose, deer, bears, saple, minks, raccoons, wolverines, etc., and in the course of it visiting lake Memphremagog, and the Indians residing in that department.

After we had collected, as we supposed, a sufficient quantity of meat and skins to serve present exigencies, and had secured, Indian like, such materials, as were more cumbersome, we returned home, loaded with as many of the most valuable and portable articles, as we could well carry; leaving moreover in bass and pine troughs (for the purpose of freezing) several large parcels of moose and other wild meat, which we allotted to convey home at a more convenient season.

This winter, also, I took another excursion eastwardly, visited lake Umbagog, and made some acquaintance with old king Tumkin Hagen, who was at the head of the whole tribe. The dress of his family was somewhat gaudy, especially that of his wife, who was adorned with nose and ear jewels, and bracelets on her arms; besides a variety of trinkets and gewgaws decorating the other parts of her body. I tarried here several days, and received, during my stay, the politest attention, both from the king and his household....

On a certain day, in the beginning of April, 1774, having sojourned in this place almost two years, I went out towards Androscoggin river, in company with one Indian only. We carried a number of steel and squat-traps to set for saple, and other furred animals. When placing the machinery, I asked the Indian if he was willing to go shares with me in the game. He shook his head, and said, "No." We returned home, and the next day went out, as before, to visit the traps. On arrival it appeared that my success had been greater than his; but he wanted to share stakes, though he had refused my proposal to that purpose but the day before. I reminded him of his refusal then, and told him, on that account, I should decline doing the like now. Not satisfied with my reasoning, he insisted on an equal division of the game, while I as strongly remonstrated against the impropriety of his request. At length finding himself unable to gain my compliance, he grew infuriate, and holding up his tomahawk, made motions, as if in the act of hurling it at my head. At this moment I had no weapon of defense, having laid aside my fusee to unload the traps. I was fully sensible of the imminent danger I was in from the deadly weapon of so dextrous an adversary, and despaired of being able to evade the blow, in case he should let fly the fatal instrument. I had now no means of safety, but in my endeavors to assuage his turbulence, at least till I could recover my gun. This device I essayed to practice, by accosting him in the most soothing terms, intreating him to do me no violence, and I would comply with his wishes. Pacified, in some measure, by those concessions, he dropped his menacing attitude, and stepped up, as if to divide the spoil. This afforded me time to recover my fusee, seizeing which, I hastily cocked and presented it at his breast, bidding him drop his tomahawk instantly, or I would finish him upon the spot. Seeing my resolution the savage was appalled, and threw away his offensive weapon, which I gathered up speedily, and then drove him, as a prisoner, into the camps.

Each of us carried his own game, but at the moment of return, the offended savage repaired to the rulers, and entered a complaint against me. Whereupon, a counsel of inquiry being called, my antagonist came forward, and accused me of maltreatment and abuse, to wit, of defrauding him in the division of the game, of menacing his life, and of disarming and driving him, prisoner like, into the camps. Soon as I had permission to speak, I made my defense by stating the particulars, just as they occurred. The assembly was attentive, and after a patient hearing of all we had to say, the senior Indians held a sort of consultation, which over, one of them, addressing the complainant, delivered a long harangue, in substance, though not precisely, in the terms following.

At the first coming of this white man to reside among us, we received him with open arms, adopted him as a brother, and promised him hospitality and good usage, during his sojournment in our land. You, in particular, were not remiss in showing him offices of kindness and humanity. Encouraged by such tokens of our friendship, he has abode here a long time, and we hoped his confidence in us would never be shaken, especially by the ill treatment he should receive from any of our nation. But we are sorry to learn, that our hopes in this have been wholly defeated, by the late contention that has arisen betwixt you. We have heard all you had to say (respectively) in vindication of your conduct, and now we desire to render you both due justice, yet without partiality to either.

It has long been the privilege of our hunters to enjoy unmolested the fruits and effects of their individual exertions, whether acquired by successful stratagem, or the more arduous toils of the chase. That our English brother is entitled to like advantages none will deny. With whatview, then, did you require partition of his spoils? That a prior agreement, for that purpose, existed between you, we have no evidence, save your own assertion, which is inadmissible, in cases of this kind. For those reasons we consider you culpable, not only for requesting a part of his game, but for threatening his life and safety, seeing it was your duty to protect both.

But now listen to that part of our discourse, which more especially challenges your attention. We, the elders and chiefs of our nation, wishing to prevent a repetition of such disorderly conduct, and resolving to punish its perpetration in future, do strictly prohibit your further attempts to the prejudice of this stranger; for in case you be known, henceforth, to do him the least injury, we assure you beforehand, that we will bend down a young sapling, lash your legs fast to the top of it, and then, suffering the tree to recover its former position, will leave you hanging by the heels, as a spectacle of wretchedness, till death.

Such was the sentence they pronounced against the offender, and I firmly believe they would have put it in execution, had he afterwards rendered me the least essential mischief. This, however he attempted not, yet I perceived his secret enmity, and was fully convinced of his desires to obtain a bloody revenge. For that reason I was obliged to be very circumspect in my conduct for fear of some personal damage. Though here I would mention, that several months after, happening to have spirituous liquor, I sent for the same Indian, and gave him a good portion, at which mark of civility he was so highly pleased, that he told me, he should be glad to drop the animosity, and drink with me in friendship, which being as ready to do as himself, we agreed to bury the hatchet, and live in amity for the future. From the time of this settlement he appeared an altered man, and his behavior toward me was quite different.

This same spring I was out upon a hunting match with another Indian, when, happening to espy a female deer at some small distance, I leveled my piece, and dropped her dead upon the spot. The Indian ran toward the game, but presently called aloud for my approach. Drawing near, I descerned, in the bushes, about a rod from the deer, a large buck lying dead also. On examination it appeared, that I had killed both of them at the same shot, though the buck had been invisible at the time of fire.

All this while I had pursued my courtship with pretty Polly, but her parents began now to be importunate for our union. They urged the unusual length of our courtship, and said it was high time to think of marrying, if we intended to follow the worthy example of their ancestors. I excused the matter by saying I wished to procure, first, a better Indian habit; but Polly's mother thought my dress good enough, and insisted upon a speedy consummation of the nuptials. This pertinacity of theirs put me to numerous shifts, but at last it was agreed to let the affair rest, till such time, as I should procure a more fashionable apparel, corresponding with the etiquette of the country. But here I leave my fond companion to speak of other particulars.

It had long been an approved custom, among the savages of Sudbury, to visit Quebec, every spring of the year. All who had ability were desirous of performing this necessary duty. The principal motives of such journeys were the purchase of absolution of sin, and to have the souls of deceased friends prayed out of purgatory. Those spiritual benefits the Roman catholic priests and friars had taught the Indians to consider, as of very essential consequence, but for favors of this kind they had to pay in furs or money, and sometimes at a very dear rate. Many were the egregious frauds and impositions practiced by those selfish, hypocritical beings upon the poor, ignorant Indians, as I have heard them frequently complain, notwithstanding which they still continued their visits every spring, though the travel was one hundred and sixty miles.

However the Indians had other purposes to subserve, (beside the spiritual ones above mentioned) by those vernal expeditions to Quebec; for thither, at such season of the year, they practiced the conveyance of their winter hunt of furs, with which they purchased blankets, muskets, ammunition, and other warlike implements; the rest of their conveniences being obtained from the New England settlements. About the beginning of May, this year, a considerable party, laden with furs, as customary, set out for Quebec, but now Molly Occut herself made one of the itinerants. Her motives, in undertaking so troublesome an expedition, were the pardon of her own sins, and the strong desire she had that the soul of her deceased husband should be prayed out of purgatory. He had been dead several years, and she had hitherto neglected to discharge this pious duty. Resolving to atone now for former remissness, she set out, as above, with the rest of the company, and with a valuable pack of furs at her back. After an absence of two weeks they returned, bringing home divers articles, which they had in exchange for their furs. On arrival several of the adventurers recounted, in my hearing, a pretty ludicrous anecdote of the worthy doctoress. It related to a transaction that took place between her and a certain Catholic priest, at the time of his praying her husband out of purgatory. On account of the drollery of the incident I will here insert it.

Molly having disposed of her furs for cash, about forty dollars, was not forgetful of the pious purposes of her journey, so with several others, she went directly to a priest, and acquainted him with her wishes, requesting to know the sum he should ask for performing the godly services. The crafty priest, knowing the sum she had recently received, demanded the whole forty dollars, and insisted on the money being told down, previous to his entrance on the sacred duties. With this unreasonable request she complied, though with some reluctance, and then the treacherous old Levite, with much pretended sanctity, began the solemn farce. In the first instance he gave her pardon and absolution, and next undertook to petition for the departed soul of her late husband. At length making a finish of his foolish ceremony, he informed her that the business was happily completed, and that her husband's soul was safely delivered from the bonds of purgatory. She, however, was very particular in her inquiries, whether he were certainly clear or not. The old priest asseverated repeatedly that he was absolutely free. On this she scraped the money off the table into the corner of her blanket, and tying it up was about to depart. The priest somewhat nettled, demanded the meaning of her maneuver, and threatened to remand her husband back to purgatory, unless she gave him the money. Her reply was that she knew her husband too well to believe it in a priest's power to do that, for (added she) my husband was always a very prudent man. I have often observed, when we used to traverse the woods together, if he chanced to fall into a bad place, he always stuck up a stake, that he might never be caught there any more. Without further ado, she made the best of her way off, leaving the poor ecclesiastic to console himself for the loss of the money in the best manner he could.

But to continue my own story -- The late expeditions I had accomplished had impeded for a spell, my medical improvements; though I was far from losing sight of that favorite object, and now when Molly had returned from Quebec, and I was more at leisure, I renewed my intense application to medicinal inquiries; generally attending my patroness, when she visited her patients, gaining, by those means, a much better insight into the Indian methods of cure than had otherwise been possible.

I fondly hoped to reap the benefit of all my acquirements at some future period, and my expectations have not been wholly abortive. Indeed, frequency since, has the little medical skill I possessed procured me a night's lodging, or a morsel of bread, which otherwise I had dearly wanted.

The third summer since my residence in these barbarous regions now came on apace, moderating the intemperature of the cold northern latitudes and dissipating the huge masses of snow; these to me were no unjoyous circumstances, for not being so well inured to excessive hardships, as the Indians, I frequency suffered much in their company, not only from the inclemency of the weather, but also from the want of suitable apparel.

During this summer my pursuits were much of the same tenor, as those above related. However, in the course of it, one occurrence happened that requires a more particular recital because it affected my feelings so greatly at the time, and my health so considerably afterwards, that scarce ever can it be erased from my memory.

On a certain day, about midsummer, I went a distance into the forest, with several other hunters, in quest of a little venison. In the course of our travels I separated from the rest of the company, intending to join it again upon occasion. Not being acquainted sufficiently with the country, and the atmosphere becoming cloudy, I mistook the way, and wandered about (unconscious whither) till approach of night. When not hearing any tidings of the Indians, I struck up a fire and lay myself down before it, in hopes to take some little repose. But in this I was disappointed, for not being used to encamp alone in such a dismal wilderness, I was in constant dread of being torn in pieces by the wild beasts of prey. Their terrific notes and echoing responses, forming altogether a most horrid melody, which assailed me from all points of the compass, and sometimes within a stone's throw of my encampment. The night seemed almost an age, and when morning appeared, I knew not which way to shape my course, as it still continued cloudy and rainy. What added to my distress was, I had no sort of provision to satisfy the craving of appetite, for by traveling and fasting for twenty-four hours together, I already began to feel quite feeble.

Conscious it could answer no good end to remain in my camp, I set out, early in the morning and traveled the whole day, greatly fatigued, without finding food, other than leaves and a few wild berries. When night overtook me, a second time, I was still utterly at a loss to know where I was, or which way to proceed on the morrow. With those gloomy prospects before my eyes, I kindled up a fire to warm and dry my weary limbs; but hunger and anxiety became so poignant, and the howling of the savage beasts so dismally terrifying, that I received very little refreshment from sleep. Next morning the sun rose clear, and I trusted in being fortunate enough, in the course of the day, to find some settlement, where possibly the means of preserving me from famishing might be procured. With fainting hopes indeed, but with the utmost exertion, I took the direction most likely to answer my purpose, but my expectations were again foiled, for the third night arrived without bringing the smallest prospect of relief.

By this time the reader may well suppose, I was so far debilitated with hunger and fatigue as seriously to apprehend inevitable death in this woody labyrinth. The greater part of this night was spent in considering what steps I should pursue on the approaching dawn. At last I came to a resolution to steer a southerly course, which, of necessity, must conduct me to some English settlements before I should have traveled, at farthest, one hundred miles. But how to accomplish a journey of such extent, under present disadvantages, was the fearful question. The very thought of it seemed to stagger my utmost resolution and dishearten my wishes. Yet I thought it more eligible to proceed, than to lie down without a struggle, and await the hour of dissolution. Accordingly, the next morning I prosecuted my travels southwardly, guiding my steps, by the help of the sun, in the best manner possible. I proceeded this day, as far as I found myself in any capacity of traveling, being convinced, that of consequence I must grow weaker, every day, upon such miserable ailments. as the wilderness afforded; for, as yet I had caught no living thing, not even a squirrel.

As soon as night, for the fourth time, overtook me, I struck up a fire, as usual, by the help of my gun, which as yet though with great difficulty, I had made shift to carry. This night was more painful to me, than any of the preceding, for although the raging keenness of hunger had in some measure abated, without being satisfied, yet a faint, listless weakness, with incessant griping pains, had succeeded. The ensuing day I renewed my journey with scarcely surviving strength to enable me to drag along my debilitated limbs. Having traveled two or three miles, as near as I could guess, to my great joy, I was so fortunate as to strike into a hunting path, following which, I found the Indian encampment from whence I had wandered.

My arrival was about evening twilight. Thus after having wandered in the lonely deserts, without food, for five whole days and four nights, did fortune conduct me to my kind Indian friends; an event much to their satisfaction, as well as my own. Upon reflection it appeared, that my distance from the settlements had not been so remote, as my apprehensions had painted, and that, in all probability, the different circuitous direction, I had meandered, during the overcast weather, had consumed the above period, as no other hypothesis would account for my arrival at the time above noted. However this misfortune gave me a distaste against hunting in future, and it was several months, ere I gained the entire re-establishment of my health.

After the above, nothing memorable befell me during the residue of that summer, but, in the winter ensuing, I began to harbor serious thoughts of leaving this rude, though hospitable people, and of returning to the land of my nativity. I had already seen as much of the manners and customs of the Canadians, as I wished; had become acquainted with their language, and had acquired (as I conceived) such a competent share of medical knowledge, as might enable me to practice physic with some prospect of success. For those reasons I formed a design of quitting the country sometime in the spring ensuing, or whenever the weather and traveling should permit

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Chapter VII
Molly Ockett