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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 406 pages of information about The Knight of the Golden Melice.

CHAPTER XXXIII.

  Deserted at his utmost need
  By those his former bounty fed,
  On the bare earth, exposed, he lies.

  DRYDEN.

The colonists were exasperated at the breaking of the prison, justly concluding that it was not entirely the work of Indians, notwithstanding Bars, faithful to the impression made on him by the gold pieces, stoutly maintained such to be the fact; and that Cowlson was unable to contradict him.  But it was, after all, only suspicion—­a suspicion, too, that pointed at various persons.  While some, with a lucky sagacity, ascribed the violence done their authority to the Knight, as a leader; there were those who suspected others, of whom they would gladly be rid.  For, however desirous the great bulk of the colonists were that only they of their own moral habits and modes of thinking should be connected with their enterprise, it was impossible completely to exclude the obnoxious.  Some would creep in, and the colony resembled a draught of fishes from the rivers in the spring, when the schools are running; wherein, although the great majority are shad or salmon, occasional intruders of other scales and stripes are found.  This little minority were watched with Argus eyes—­every transgression being visited with exemplary punishment—­the hand of Justice being made heavier by two considerations, viz:  difference of opinion, and a desire to drive away recusants, who were regarded as vessels doomed to destruction, and whose presence was held to be dangerous.  That was no era of toleration, but of fierce, intractable dogma.  The breach betwixt Protestants then was almost, if not quite, as wide as between Protestants and Catholics now.  Opinion, bold, enthusiastic opinion, calling itself by the gracious name of saving faith, usurped the place and prerogative of reason; and, as from a Papal chair, denounced, as damnable error, whatever harmonized not with itself.  In this strife of ignorances, the amenities and charities of life were lost sight of and forgotten; and, if not quite trampled out of existence, it was owing more to that celestial spark which, with a dimmer or a brighter light, guides every man who comes into the world than to the lessons of the teachers.  Men were dismissed from the colony, or otherwise punished, on bare suspicion of wrong-doing or wrong-thinking.  Nor is it unlikely that hostility in high places may have availed itself of this laxity of law to gratify private malignity.

Hence, let it not be wondered at, that, in consequence of the prison breach, several innocent persons were arrested, whose modes of life or principles of faith came not up to the orthodox standard.  If their apprehension answered no other purpose, it, at least, served to weaken the desire of the suspected persons to remain where they were not wanted.

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