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 Out steps, with cautious foot and slow,
And quick, keen glances to and fro,
The hunted outlaw, Boniton!1
A low, lean, swarthy man is he,
With blanket-garb and buskined knee,
And naught of English fashion on;
For he hates the race from whence he sprung,
And he couches his words in the Indian tongue.
“Hush,—let the Sachem's voice be weak;
The water-rat shall hear him speak,—
The owl shall whoop in the white man's ear,
That Mogg Megone, with his scalps, is here!”
He pauses,—dark, over cheek and brow,
A flush, as of shame, is stealing now:
‘Sachem!’ he says, “let me have the land,
Which stretches away upon either hand,
As far about as my feet can stray
In the half of a gentle summer's day,
From the leaping brook 2 to the Saco river,—
And the fair-haired girl, thou hast sought of me,
Shall sit in the Sachem's wigwam, and be
The wife of Mogg Megone forever.”
There's a sudden light in the Indian's glance,
A moment's trace of powerful feeling,
Of love or triumph, or both perchance,
Over his proud, calm features stealing.
“The words of my father are very good;
He shall have the land, and water, and wood;
And he who harms the Sagamore John,
Shall feel the knife of Mogg Megone;
But the fawn of the Yengees shall sleep on my breast,
And the bird of the clearing shall sing in my nest.”
‘But, father!’ —and the Indian's hand
Falls gently on the white man's arm,
And with a smile as shrewdly bland
As the deep voice is slow and calm,—
“Where is my father's singing-bird,—
The sunny eye, and sunset hair?
I know I have my father's word,
And that his word is good and fair;
But will my father tell me where
Megone shall go and look for his bride?—
For he sees her not by her father's side.”
The dark, stern eye of Boniton
Flashes over the features of Mogg Megone,
In one of those glances which search within;
But the stolid calm of the Indian alone
Remains where the trace of emotion has been.
1 John Boniton was the son of Richard Bonython, Gent., one of the most efficient and able magistrates of the Colony. John proved to be ‘a degenerate plant.’ In 1635, we find by the Court Records that, for some offence, he was fined 40s. In 1640, he was fined for abuse toward R. Gibson, the minister, and Mary, his wife. Soon after he was fined for disorderly conduct in the house of his father. In 1645, the ‘Great and General Court adjudged John Boniton outlawed, and incapable of any of his Majesty's laws, and proclaimed him a rebel.’ (Court Records of the Province, 1645.) In 1651, he bade defiance to the laws of Massachusetts, and was again outlawed. He acted independently of all law and authority; and hence, doubtless, his burlesque title of ‘the Sagamore of Saco,’which has come down to the present generation in the following epitaph:—
‘Here lies Boniton, the Sagamore of Saco;
He lived a rogue, and died a knave, and went to Hobomoko.’
By some means or other, he obtained a large estate. In this poem, I have taken some liberties with him, not strictly warranted by historical facts, although the conduct imputed to him is in keeping with his general character. Over the last years of his life lingers a deep obscurity. Even the manner of his death is uncertain. He was supposed to have been killed by the Indians; but this is doubted by the able and indefatigable author of the History of Saco and Biddeford.— Part I. p. 115.
2 Foxwell's Brook flows from a marsh or bog, called the ‘Heath,’ in Saco, containing thirteen hundred acres. On this brook, and surrounded by wild and romantic scenery, is a beautiful waterfall, of more than sixty feet.
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