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[316] looked to the colonists for their supply. The inter-
Chap. VIII.}
course between the Plymouth colony and the Indians soon assumed the character of commercial familiarity. The exchange of European manufactures for beaver and other skins, was almost the only pursuit which promised to be lucrative.

The spot to which Providence had directed the planters, had, a few years before, been rendered entirely a desert by a pestilence, which had likewise swept over the neighboring tribes, and desolated almost the whole sea-board of New England. Where the Pilgrims landed, there were the traces of

a previous population, but not one living inhabitant. Smokes from fires in the remote distance alone in-
dicated the vicinity of natives. Miles Standish, ‘the best linguist’ among the Pilgrims, as well as the best soldier, with an exploring party, was able to discover wigwams, but no tenants. Yet a body of Indians
Feb. 16.
from abroad was soon discovered, hovering near the settlement, though disappearing when pursued. The colony, therefore, assumed a military organization; and
Standish, a man of the greatest courage, the devoted friend of the church, which he never joined, was appointed to the chief command. But dangers were not at hand.

One day, Samoset, an Indian who had learned a

Mar. 16.
little English of the fishermen at Penobscot, boldly entered the town, and, passing to the rendezvous exclaimed, in English, ‘Welcome, Englishmen.’ He was from the eastern coast, of which he gave them profitable information; he told also the names, number and strength of the nearer people, especially of the Wampanoags, a tribe destined to become memorable in the history of New England. After some

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