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THE VALIANT EXPEDITION OF CAPTAIN SHRIMP

 

by Thomas Morton

 

Otherwise Miles Standish

THE Separatists envying the prosperity and hope of the plantation at Ma-reMount (which they perceived began to come forwardand to be in a good way forgain in the beaver trade)conspired together against mine host especially(whowas the owner of that plantation) and made up a party against him; and musteredup what aid they could; accounting of him as of a great monster.

Many threatening speeches were given out both against his personand hishabitationwhich they divulged should be consumed with fire. And takingadvantage of the time when his company (which seemed little to regard theirthreats) were gone up into the inlandsto trade with the savages for beaverthey set upon my honest host at a placecalled Wessaguscuswhere (by accident)they found him. The inhabitants there were in good hope of the subversion of theplantation at Ma-re Mountwhich they principally aimed atand the ratherbecause mine host was a man that endeavored to advance the dignity of the Churchof England; which theyon the contrary partwould labor to vilify with unciviltermsinveighing against the sacred book of common prayerand mine host thatused it in a laudable manner amongst his familyas a practice of piety.

There he would be a means to bring sacks to their millsuch is the thirstafter beaverand helped the conspirators to surprise mine host (who was thereall alone) and they charged him (because they would seem to have some reasonablecause against him to set a gloss upon their malice) with criminal thingswhichindeed had been done by such a personbut was of their conspiracy. Mine hostdemanded of the conspirators who it wasthat was author of that informationthat seemed to be their ground for what they now intended. And because theyansweredthey would not tell himhe as peremptorily repliedthat he would notsaywhether he had or he had not done as they had been informed.

The answer made no matter (as it seemed) whether it had been negativelyoraffirmatively madefor they had resolved what he should sufferbecause (asthey boasted) they were now become the greater number: they had shaken offtheir shackles of servitudeand were become mastersand masterless people.

It appearsthey were like bears' whelps in former timewhen mine host'splantation was of as much strength as theirsbut now (theirs being stronger)they (like overgrown bears) seemed monstrous. In briefmine host must endure tobe their prisoner until they could contrive it sothat they might send him forEngland(as they said) there to suffer according to the merit of the factwhich they intended to father upon him; supposing belike it would prove aheinous crime.

Much rejoicing was made that they had gotten their capital enemy (as theyconcluded him) whom they purposed to hamper in such sortthat he should not beable to uphold his plantation at Ma-re Mount.

The conspirators sported themselves at my honest hostthat meant them nohurt; and were so jocund that they feasted their bodiesand fell to tipplingas if they had obtained a great prize; like the Trojans when they had thecustody of Hippeus' pine-tree horse.

Mine host feigned griefand could not be persuaded either to eat or drinkbecause he knew emptiness would be a means to make him as watchful as the geesekept in the Roman capital: whereon the contrary partthe conspirators wouldbe so drowsythat he might have an opportunity to give them a slipinstead ofa tester. Six persons of the conspiracy were set to watch him at Wessaguscus.But he kept waking; and in the dead of night (one lying on the bedfor furthersurety) up gets mine host and got to the second door that he was to passwhich(notwithstanding the lock) he got open: and shut it after him with such violencethat it affrighted some of the conspirators.

The wordwhich was given with an alarmwas"Ohhe's gonehe's gone!What shall we do? He's gone!" The rest (half asleep) start up in a mazeand like ramsran their heads one at another full butt in the dark.

Their grand leader Captain Shrimp took on most furiouslyand tore hisclothes for angerto see the empty nestand their bird gone.

The rest were eager to have torn their hair from their headsbut it was soshort that it would give them no hold. Now Captain Shrimp thought in the loss ofthis prize (which he accounted his masterpiece) all his honor would be lostforever.

In the meantime mine host was got home to Ma-re Mount through the woodseight milesround about the head of the river Monatoquitthat parted the twoplantationsfinding his way by the help of the lightning (for it thundered ashe went terribly). And there he prepared powder three pounds driedfor hispresent employmentand four good guns for himand the two assistants left athis housewith bullets of several sizesthree hundred or thereaboutsto beused if the conspirators should pursue him thither; and these two personspromised their aids in the quarreland confirmed that promise with a health ingood rosa

solis.

Now Captain Shrimpthe first captain in the land(as he supposed) must dosome new act to repair this lossand to vindicate his reputationwho hadsustained blemishby this oversight. Begins now to study how to repair orsurvive his honor in this manner; calling of counsel: they conclude.

He takes eight persons more to himand (like the nine worthies of New Canaan)they embark with preparation against Ma- re Mountwhere this monster of a man (astheir phrase was) had his den; the whole numberhad the rest not been fromhomebeing but sevenwould have given Captain Shrimpa quondam dummersuch awelcomeas would have made him wish for a drum as big as Diogenes' tubthat hemight have crept into it out of sight.

Now the nine worthies are approached; and mine host preparedhavingintelligence by a savagethat hastened in love from Wessaguscusto give himnotice of their intent.

One of mine host's men proved a craven; the other had proved his wits topurchase a little valorbefore mine host had observed his posture.

The nine worthies coming before the den of this supposed monster(thisseven-headed hydraas they termed him) and beganlike Don Quixote against thewindmillto beat a parleyand to offer quarter if mine host would yieldforthey resolved to send him for Englandand bade him lay by his arms.

But he (who was the son of a soldier)having taken up arms in his justdefencereplied that he would not lay by those armsbecause they were soneedful at seaif he should be sent over. Yet to save the effusion of so muchworthy bloodas would have issued out of the veins of these nine worthies ofNew Canaanif mine host should have played upon them out of his port-holes (forthey came within danger like a flock of wild geeseas if they had been tailedone to anotheras colts to be sold at a fair) mine host was content to yieldupon a quarter; and did capitulate with them: in what manner it should be formore certaintybecause he knew what Captain Shrimp was.

He expressed that no violence should be offered to his personnone to hisgoodsnor any of his household: but that he should have his armsand what elsewas requisite for the voyage(which their herald returns) it was agreed uponand should be performed.

But mine host no sooner had set open the door and issued out but instantlyCaptain Shrimp and the rest of the worthies stepped to himlaid hold of hisarms and had him down; and so eagerly was every man bent against him (notregarding any agreement made with such a carnal man) that they fell upon him asif they would have eaten him. Some of them were so violentthat they would havea slice with scabbard and all for hasteuntil an old soldier (of the Queen'sas the proverb is) that was there by accidentclapped his gun under the weaponsand sharply rebuked these worthies for their unworthy practices. So the matterwas taken into more deliberate consideration.

Captain Shrimp and the rest of the nine worthies made themselves by thisoutrageous riot masters of mine host of Ma-re Mountand disposed of what he hadat his plantation.

This they knew (in the eye of the savages) would add to their glory; anddiminish the reputation of mine honest hostwhom they practised to be rid ofupon any termsas willingly as if he had been the very hydra of the time.

THE END