It was a stake driven into the ground, at a distance of not more than a rod from where he stood, around which several Indians were heaping up faggots of dry sticks and broken branches. Spikeman shuddered, and tasted, in almost as lively a manner as if he were already experiencing them, the agonies that awaited him, for he could not doubt that the preparations were made on his account. The conduct of his keepers, therefore, was unnecessary, who pointed first to the pile, and then to himself, intimating thereby that one was designed for the other. The effect produced on him was such that he could hardly restrain himself from attempting to burst through his guards, either by some miracle to get free, or to obtain an easier death from the tomahawk or arrow. But in all the horrors of these dreadful moments, the mind of Spikeman remained as clear as ever, and he saw plainly the impossibility of evasion, and the folly of supposing that the Indians would be tempted to throw a tomahawk, or discharge an arrow against an unarmed man, whereby they might rob themselves of the fiendish pleasure they anticipated—besides, thought the miserable Spikeman, I should be more likely to receive the stroke of death when their passions are excited, than at present; and with a desperate calmness, and striving to defy the worst, he awaited what should happen.
These the sole accents from his tongue
But volumes lurked below that fierce farewell.
When Sassacus left Spikeman, it was only to step into a lodge not half a dozen rods distant. Though smaller than the one into which the prisoner had been introduced, it was superior in comfort, as was, indeed, to be expected, being that of the Sagamore himself. Here he found the soldier, Philip Joy.
“What means this, Sassacus?” exclaimed the soldier, as the Pequot entered. “Was it not our covenant that the life of the white man should be spared?”
“My brother did not mean what he said when he asked that his enemy might be permitted to run away. Who, when he catches a wolf, says, ’Wolf, Indian set the trap only to see whether it would hold fast your legs. The wise hunter talks not so, but strikes the wolf on the head.’”
“Sassacus,” said Joy, “this may not be. If you had caught Master Spikeman, by your own cunning, it might have been different; but it was the white girl and I who devised the scheme, and I told you where to place the ambuscade, which has been successful. Were you to murder this man, the guilt would rest more on Prudence and me than on you, whose savage and un-Christian notions may partly excuse so dreadful an act.”
“My brother’s heart is soft, like moss, but the heart of Sassacus is a stone. My brother must learn to harden his heart, and he shall soon behold a punishment becoming a great Sagamore. My brother thinks and feels like a Christian. Good! but he must let Sassacus feel like an Indian.”