“Is it possible,” inquired the Knight, “that thou believest not in the sincerity of the professions of peace made by these poor savages?”
“I trust them not,” answered the suspicious Dudley. They are of the seed of the serpent; and as well might one expect light from the caverns of the earth, as fidelity and truth from Indians.”
“I pray thee, be not so harsh of judgment,” said Sir Christopher. “I have some knowledge of the tribes, and have observed that they are ever mindful of favor, however studious of revenge; nor is it their wont, without provocation, to break their word. Canst thou say that the Taranteens have departed without seeming justification?”
“I suspect that these savages know more of the fate of their companions, and of the cause of the death of this Pieskaret than they choose to disclose. The longer my mind broods over the subject, the more am I convinced that, without fault on their part, they would not have drawn upon themselves destruction.”
But this was a view of the case which seemed to find no favor with Sir Christopher. With a courtly grace and insinuating address, without contradicting the other, but rather by the recital of acts of generosity and evidences of nobleness of spirit which had fallen under his own observation among the Indians, he endeavored to dispose the Deputy Governor to a milder judgment. But the prejudices of Dudley were too deeply rooted to be removed by persuasive manners, or tales however skilfully framed.
The unfortunate result of the embassy was deeply regretted by the colonists. They had looked forward to it as a means of increasing their security, and establishing a trade from which they hoped to derive large profits. They must now renounce both expectations. Henceforth their cabins were to be guarded with greater vigilance than ever, and the courted trade was to remain monopolized by the French. Moreover, the evil would probably not end there, but distrust and apprehension spread among the tribes; and if such a feeling were to become universal, and a general union be the consequence, the condition of the colony might become one of extreme danger. The character which the whites would then sustain would be that of men disregardful of the most sacred obligations; of wretches who, after offering the rights hospitality, had taken advantage of the unsuspecting confidence of their guests to murder them. It was true, that the whole twelve ambassadors might have been destroyed, and a part were suffered to leave; but it was feared that the undiscriminating minds of the savages might not give proper weight to the consideration, or might ascribe it to some policy which was the more dreadful because so mysterious. It was seen now how great had been the mistake in permitting Sassacus, the terrible chief of the Pequots, the most dreaded and implacable foe of the Taranteens, to be present at the council. Him the Taranteens had seen in apparent good understanding