Page:Twice-Told Tales (1851) vol 2.djvu/243

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237
ENDICOTT AND THE RED CROSS.

handle our weapons like men of might. Well for them, if they put us not to prove it in earnest!'

The iron-breasted company straightened their line, and each man drew the heavy butt of his matchlock close to his left foot, thus awaiting the orders of the captain. But, as Endicott glanced right and left along the front, he discovered a personage at some little distance, with whom it behoved him to hold a parley. It was an elderly gentleman, wearing a black cloak and band, and a high crowned hat, beneath which was a velvet skull-cap, the whole being the garb of a Puritan minister. This reverend person bore a staff, which seemed to have been recently cut in the forest, and his shoes were bemired, as if he had been travelling on foot through the swamps of the wilderness. His aspect was perfectly that of a pilgrim, heightened also by an apostolic dignity. Just as Endicott perceived him, he laid aside his staff, and stooped to drink at a bubbling fountain, which gushed into the sunshine about a score of yards from the corner of the meeting-house. But, ere the good man drank, he turned his face heavenward in thankfulness, and then, holding back his gray beard with one hand, he scooped up his simple draught in the hollow of the other.

'What, ho! good Mr. Williams,' shouted Endicott. 'You are welcome back again to our town of peace. How does our worthy Governor Winthrop? And what news from Boston?'

'The Governor hath his health, worshipful Sir,' answered Roger Williams, now resuming his staff, and drawing near. 'And, for the news, here is a letter, which, knowing I was to travel hitherward to-day,