Errol Lincoln Uys - Notes on Brazil, Great Depression and James A. Michener

"Imagining Boston" is on hold. Please visit the links to read the outline and research archived on my new website.

I"m the author of the epic novel of Brazil and the non-fiction work, Riding the Rails: Teenagers on the Move During the Great Depression . I worked with James A. Michener for two years on his South African novel, The Covenant.


I searched for the story of Brazil for five years, a literary pathfinder wandering in quest of the untold saga of the Brazilians and their epic history.

In these pages, I share my mighty journey of twenty thousand kilometers across the length and breadth of Brazil in 1981. I traveled through the heart of a nation in which the flame of freedom was newly lit after years of military dictatorship, the journal I kept colored by the voices and emotions of the era.

I explore the exhaustive processes that go into the making of a novel with a first draft of three-quarters of million words written in the old-fashioned way, by hand. I reveal the early genesis of my ideas for plot lines and characters, the detailed planning of my outline. 

Of all the accolades a writer could hope for at the end of an epic work like Brazil none brought more joy than a simple question asked by the famed Brazilian historian and sociologist Gilberto Freyre.

"I should like to know if Uys had an unpublished jornal intime of a Brazilian family?"

There was no private journal, just the will to understand the Brazilian "thing" and a passion for writing and storytelling, which lies at the heart of every good novel.

Riding the Rails

During the Great Depression, more than a quarter of a million teenagers left their homes and hopped freight trains looking for work or adventure. This is their story.
I first became interested in the boxcar boys and girls when I read Boy and Girl Tramps of America by Thomas Minehan, who rode the rails with the young nomads in summer 1932. I suggested to my son, Michael, a film maker, that the subject would make a powerful documentary. The suggestion led to the award-winning PBS "American Experience" film, Riding the Rails, made by Michael and Lexy Lovell. 
In the book, I draw on 3,000 letters from boxcar boys and girls sent to the documentary makers. I had access to 40 hours of filmed interviews with 20 men and women chosen as potential candidates for the film. 
Many letters are handwritten, as from old friends sharing honest-to-God stories. Time and again, I held a letter in my hand and felt a connection to a lonely boy or girl standing beside the railroad tracks 60 years ago. It left me with a deep sense of the inner strength and faith of ordinary Americans and their belief in this land.
We learn of their struggle to survive on the streets of America and know their bitter disappointments, their sense of loss of childhood, their frustrations at the lack of opportunity. “When I think of all this traveling across the land, searching for the things we had lost, there is a place inside my chest that still hurts,” recalls one rider.
When they left the rails and got a hold on their lives, they never let go. Many tell of keeping the jobs they found for 30 or 40 years. And the girls they met, too: many write joyously of their enduring devotion to the sweethearts they married when they settled down. Their stories told in their own words resonate with the pluck and courage they showed in going to seek a better life.
Illustrated with rare archival photos and drawing primarily on letters and oral histories of three thousand men and women who hopped freight trains, Riding the Rails brings to life a neglected saga of America in the 1930s. Self-reliance, compassion, frugality, and a love of freedom and country are at the heart of the lessons these teens learned.
This unforgettable narrative of a daring generation of America's children who rode the rails in search of a better life is a powerful reminder of what might turn up around the next curve. They are an inspiration to all who share a nostalgia for the road and the freedoms sought there.

James A. Michener, one of America’s best-loved authors, won the Pulitzer Prize. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor. His books topped the New York Times best-seller list. Michener was at the peak of his career, when he took the ideas and words of a young immigrant from South Africa and told the world they were his own.
I was that young South African. I worked with Michener for two years from 1978 to 1980, a collaboration that produced The Covenant. I plotted the book with Michener, I did the major research, and I wrote thousands of words for key sections of the novel. 
These archives contain examples of my original handwritten drafts that Michener retyped and pasted into his manuscript, my plot lines and character sketches. The items in these pages range from the profound to the seemingly trivial as with names of characters derived from my personal circle of friends.
When our work was completed, Michener penned an author's note for his book in which he wrote:". . . Working together for two years, we read the finished manuscript seven times, an appalling task. I thank him for his assistance."
As these pages show, my contribution to The Covenant went far beyond an exhaustive reading and revision of a finished manuscript.
In an age of zero tolerance for purloined words, I marvel at statements by Michener that he came to see as gospel: “I write every word of my books;” “I do all the research myself;” “One of the saddest aspects of my writing is that I have never come upon any young person of obvious talent whom I might have helped to a professional career.”
The story of my collaboration with Michener is discussed in a chapter of Stephen J. May’s biography, Michener: A Writer’s Journey.
“Michener committed a scarlet literary crime and used his celebrated status in publishing to get away with it, ” concludes Stephen May.

Puritans Condemn Good Woman as "Instrument of the Devil"

The Sinner
1634 - 1638
On March 15, 1638, Anne Hutchinson is summoned to a second trial, this time in the meetinghouse. No persecution is more devastating than denunciation by her once-beloved minister, John Cotton. He accuses Anne of filling the minds of Boston’s young women with promiscuous opinions that open the door to free love.
Reverend John Cotton
Thomas is mortified to see his mother sitting on one side of Anne; Mary Dyer, the milliner’s wife, is on the other side. From ten in the morning until eight at night, Anne is subjected to the harangues of vituperative black-coats. When the hearing adjourns, she can barely walk by herself. She’s led to the house of John Cotton, where her persecutors make one last attempt to browbeat her into admitting her errors.

A week later, Anne returns to the meetinghouse to hear John Wilson deliver the ultimate condemnation against an “instrument of the Devil.”
Detail of a 16th-century painting by Jacob de Backer
 in the National Museum in Warsaw. via Wikipedia
“In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and in the name of the Church, I cast you out and deliver you up to Satan . . . I do account you from this time forth to be a Heathen and a Publican . . . I command you in the name of Christ Jesus and of this church as a Leper to withdraw yourself.”

Thomas is standing with Winthrop when Anne leaves the church with his mother and Mary Dyer. The governor doesn’t recognize Mary Dyer and asks Thomas who she is.

“The woman who bore the monster,” Thomas blurts out. On further questioning, he reveals his mother’s involvement in the secret burial of the stillborn child.

Five days after Anne leaves Massachusetts, Winthrop and Thomas supervise the exhumation of Martha Dyer’s daughter. The governor describes the infant in his diary:

“It had a face, but no head, and the ears stood upon the shoulders and were like an ape’s; it had no forehead, but over the eyes four horns, hard and sharp . . . It had two mouths, and in each of them a piece of red flesh sticking out; it had arms and legs as other children; but instead of toes, it had on each foot three claws, like a young fowl, with sharp talons.”

Agnes is hauled before the General Court. Two magistrates are in favor of expelling her from the colony, but Winthrop extends mercy toward his clerk’s fifty-eight-year old mother. Agnes is forbidden to meddle in surgery or physic and cannot question any matters of religion, except with the elders of the church. Should she disobey the gag order, she will face excommunication and banishment.

Deeply ashamed at betraying his mother, Thomas flees Boston aboard a vessel sailing for England. Even as the Jewel departs, another ship beats into the bay, bringing Nat Steele home from the Caribbean.
View of Boston in 1723

Trial and Tribulations of Anne Hutchinson

The Sinner
1634 - 1638
In November 1637, Anne Hutchinson is summoned before the General Court at Newtowne. She is called to respond to a synod that declares eighty-two opinions held by Anne and her disciples blasphemous. The ministers rule that while a few women might meet to say prayers and edify one another, “Mistress Hutchinson’s gatherings are disorderly, disruptive and inappropriate for a female to conduct.”

Agnes and Anne make the journey to Cambridge on foot, passing through an ice storm in backwoods still haunted by wolves. The women arrive half-frozen and exhausted. The axe has already fallen on several of Anne’s followers, disenfranchised and banished from the colony for signing the Wheelwright petition. John Wheelwright himself is given fourteen days to get out of Massachusetts.

Finally, it’s Anne’s turn to face Governor Winthrop and forty-eight inquisitors in a barn-like meetinghouse – nine magistrates, thirty-one deputies, eight ministers and one church elder, all at their wit’s end because of one woman and the trouble she is bringing to Paradise.

The black-coats sit on wooden benches, except their leader who has a desk and a chair with a cushioned seat. Anne, who is expecting her fifteenth child, is made to stand throughout the proceedings. Agnes and other spectators are jammed into the back of the cold, dark building.

Anne: I am called here to answer before you, but I hear no things laid to my charge.

Gov. Winthrop: I have told you some already and more I can tell you.

Anne: Name one, Sir.

Gov. Winthrop: Have I not named some already?

Gov. Winthrop: You did harbor and countenance those that are parties in this faction.

Anne: That’s a matter of conscience, Sir.

The trial lasts two days. It is from the outset, a personal clash between Anne and the man who seeks to destroy her. At the end of the hearing, Winthrop calls for a vote on Anne’s “delusions.”

“The court hath declared themselves satisfied concerning the troublesomeness of her spirit and the danger of her course among us, which is not to be suffered. Therefore if it be the mind of the court that Mrs. Hutchinson is unfit for our society, let them hold up their hands.”

All but three vote in favor of banishment.

Anne is permitted to stay in Boston until spring but forced to live apart from her husband and children. She’s held in the house of Joseph Weld, brother of a fiery minister, Thomas Weld, who keeps watch on the heretic day and night.

Twelve days after sentencing Anne, the General Court carries out a pre-emptive strike against the Hutchinsonians. Fifty-eight Boston men are served with notices ordering them to surrender their guns and pistols. The list is headed by Captain Underhill, who is stripped of all offices and disenfranchised. Nat Steele’s name is on the list, though he won’t return from his voyage for several months.

Thomas has the duty of seeing the order is obeyed, making him the most hated man in the town. He quickly transports the powder and ammunition of Boston to Newton and Roxbury to dampen the threat of insurrection. Thirty men publicly recant their support for Wheelwright and get to keep their guns. The rest finally give in and hand over their weapons.
Images:  Trial of Anne Hutchinson by Edwin Austin Abbey; Reverend John Wheelwright; Governor John Winthrop; Anne Hutchinson Memorial at Massachusetts State House by Cyrus Edwin Dallin - Images from Wikipedia

How Captain John Underhill and his Company Smote the Pequots

The Sinner
1634 - 1638
Lion Gardiner in the Pequot War from a Charles Stanley Reinhart
drawing circa 1890  fro m Wikipedia
The Boston company’s arrival at Fort Saybrook coincides with that of the Mohegan chief, Uncas, and sixty warriors. The Pequots were known as the Mohegan, when they originally invaded southern New England. The Algonquin gave them the name, Pequot, which means “Destroyer.” In 1636, a splinter group under Uncas broke away from Sassacus, great sachem of the Pequots, and set themselves up as the re-formed Mohegans.

When the English question their loyalty, Uncas and his warriors demonstrate their good faith by exterminating a party of Pequots and presenting their allies with four decapitated heads. They also deliver a spy of Chief Sassacus to Fort Saybrook. One of the man’s legs is tied to a post, a rope is secured to the other, and the man is torn limb from limb by English soldiers. As the Pequot’s screams rend the air, Nat demands that Underhill stop the atrocity. The captain’s weapon misfires. Nat raises his own pistol and shoots the prisoner.
A 19th-century engraving depicting an incident in the Pequot War
from Wikipedia Commons
Away from the war zone, Thomas is in the battle lines at Newtowne on Election Day, May 17, 1637. So fierce is the contest between the Winthrop-Vane factions that Thomas and several rivals come to blows. Henry Vane is ousted before the Wheelwright petition can be submitted. Winthrop is elected governor, with Dudley as his deputy. Their first move is to pass an alien exclusion act aimed at Boston and the Hutchinsonians, forbidding the landing of “any persons as might be dangerous to the commonwealth.”

At dawn on May 26, 1637, the English attack the Pequot stronghold at Mystic. Nat and Underhill breach the stockade from the southwest; John Mason and his Connecticut men storm in on the northeast. Eighty huts housing men, women and children are set on fire. In one hour, four hundred Pequots die, most burned alive. Seven are captured, and seven escape. Two Englishmen are killed and a third of the force wounded.

Adam and Jacques Petit witness the Pequots’ last stand in a swamp near New Haven. Two hundred old men, women and children are taken prisoner. Chief Sassacus and twenty followers escape to the west seeking refuge with the Mohawks. Awed by the violence of the Cut-Throats, no tribe will offer Sassacus sanctuary. Instead, the Pequot chief and his bodyguards are butchered. Sassacus’ head and the forty hands of his followers are delivered to John Wilson, serving as army chaplain. The zealot carries the trophies back to Boston.

Scores of captive Pequot men, women and children are placed in holding pens next to Frog Pond. Most will be distributed among English settlers as farm laborers and house servants. Fifteen men, three boys and a girl who begs not to be separated from her brother are chosen for transportation. – Nat Steele is appointed factor in a ship sailing to the Caribbean, where the cargo of Pequots will be sold as slaves.

In the dark of night, Jacques Petit hurries across Boston Common, moving as stealthily as when he was a boy taking food to William Blaxton, only now his mission is personal. In the inferno at Mystic, Jacques pulls a Pequot girl out of a blazing wigwam. Sixteen-year-old Tanawaka, Little Cloud, is the lone female held in the slave pen with her brother, Mikweh, The Squirrel.

Jacques and Little Cloud come to love each other, a love growing desperate with each hour that brings the girl closer to perpetual banishment. Jacques goes to the only people who can help him. When Adam and Recompense hear his impassioned appeal, they don’t hesitate. “I’ve thirty shillings from a saint of Plymouth,” declares Recompense. “It’s enough to buy one little Pequot devil!” When Nat sails for the Caribbean, Adam also arranges for the girl’s brother to stay behind.

In the Shadow of the Great Elm on Boston Common

The Sinner
1634 - 1638
Agnes often assists Anne in her work as midwife. In February 1637, the two women are at the bedside of Mary Dyer, a milliner’s wife, suffering excruciating pain with her third pregnancy in four years. A tiny infant is stillborn two months before term, so terribly deformed that the women hide it from Mary, who lies close to death.
Agnes and Anne consult Reverend Cotton, now in Boston, and with Cotton’s tacit approval, they go to bury the child beside the great elm on Boston Common. – They’re obeying ancient English custom that charges midwives with interring the stillborn “in such place as neither hog nor dog, nor any other beast may come unto it, and in such sort done, as it may not be found or perceived.”
Stereoscopic view of Great Elm, 19th century
Robert Dennis collection New York Public Library
Thomas Steele follows the pair and witnesses the burial. His mother swears him to secrecy, arguing that concealment of the deformed fetus is not only merciful to Mary Dyer but also essential to avoid alarming other pregnant women.

Nat has no knowledge of this event. He is himself involved in secret meetings of Boston’s leading citizens: Fifty sign a petition protesting the Star Chamber-like condemnation of Wheelwright. The Boston men are also in uproar over a decision to hold the next General Court at Newtowne (Cambridge,) where the country gentry will rally for “Lord” Winthrop.
Reverend John Wheelwright
In the south, the Pequots begin raiding English outposts and attacking isolated farms. By April 1637, Pequot ambushes kill thirty settlers, many suffering the unholy wrath of their enemies. Captured in sight of Fort Saybrook, John Tilley’s hands are cut off, and then his feet. Tilley lives three days without his limbs, greatly impressing his captors “because he cried not in his torture.”

On April 18, the General Court declares war on the Pequots and calls for a levy of one hundred and sixty men. A stormy meeting in the Hutchinsons’ living room gives rise to an anti-war party, who refuse to donate money or supplies for the campaign.

Agnes and Recompense side with the anti-war group. They remember the misery of the Massachusett and are reluctant to see their menfolk slaughter other Indians. Nat and Adam respect the opinions of their wives but feel honor-bound to serve Captain John Underhill. Jacques Petit marches with them.
Raised relief sculptural bust of Captain John Underhill
 from Underhill Burying Ground near Oyster Bay, New York

"Not a Hair Fell from any Man of Boston"

The Sinner
1634 - 1638
The Narragansett reparations aren’t enough to forestall a punitive expedition against the Block Islanders. On August 24, Adam Trane and Nat Steele march with a twenty-six-man company led by Captain John Underhill, “an eccentric soldier who generally went to excess in whatever he undertook.”

Forty Block Islanders resist the landing, their arrows proving no match for English muskets. One Indian is killed, before the rest flee. Disappointed at their failure to exterminate the natives, the soldiers “destroy some dogs instead of men and put the Indian settlements to the torch.”
The expedition sails to the mainland and invests a Pequot town, where they demand the surrender of Oldham’s murderers. When the parley breaks down, the English slay thirteen Pequots and plunder the wigwams and fields.

On September 14, three weeks after setting out, the Boston troops return to the bay, “a marvelous providence of God that not a hair fell from any, nor any sick or feeble person among them.”

In winter 1636, Winthrop and his supporters open a new front, not against Pequots but the Hutchinsonians. Anne’s followers in First Church want John Wheelwright appointed assistant teacher, initial step toward replacing incumbent John Wilson. At a Sunday meeting, Winthrop leads the counter-attack against Wheelwright and succeeds in getting him sent out of Boston as minister to the settlers at Wollaston.

Winthrop’s next salvo is aimed at Governor Vane himself. The debate between the two is so painful to young Henry that he bursts into tears and offers his resignation. To Winthrop’s surprise, the General Court refuses to let Henry go, at least not until the regular annual election in May.
Sir Henry Vane the Younger - Portrait by Peter Lely
As the strife between the two factions grows, a day of fast and humiliation is kept on January 20, 1637. Invited to talk at Boston, John Wheelwright illuminates Anne’s belief in a Covenant of Grace offering personal salvation through faith alone and rejection of a covenant demanding godly deeds and total obedience to the elect. Wheelwright ends with a rallying call to his “brethren and sisters” (unique in including ‘sisters’ of the church, ever mute and virtually unseen by most black-coats): “We must all prepare for battle against the enemies of the Lord. If we do not strive, those under a Covenant of Works will prevail. If we be called, we must be willing to lay down our lives.”

Two months later, a closed session of the General Court judges Wheelwright “guilty of sedition and contempt.” His sentence is postponed until the May election, when Winthrop’s supporters confidently expect they will unseat Vane.
Sir Henry Vane - Boston Public Library
Sculptor - Frederick William MacMonnies

Devils Come to Torment the Black-Coats of Boston

The Sinner
1634 - 1638
On Election Day in May 1636, Boston’s merchants sweep Vane into the governor’s seat, with John Winthrop relegated to be his deputy. Young Henry takes up office amid pomp and splendor, trooping down Cornhill (present Washington Street) to the meetinghouse with an honor guard of halberdiers. Fifteen ships in the harbor fire a salute, their captains invited to a banquet with the first proper Bostonian. This roaring affair takes place in Cole’s ordinary, no guzzler cut off for raising one mug too many.
Map showing Cole's Inn location on Washington Street
(from Old Boston Taverns by Samuel Adams Drake
Samuel Maverick is a favorite of the new governor, who becomes a patron of the rustic arts that flourish on Noddles Island. It’s not these revels that give greatest offence to Winthrop and his supporters. It’s Governor Vane’s attendance at meetings in the Hutchinson house, where he hangs on every word of the American Jezebel.

Anne has the liveliest constituency of any leader in the colony. “A woman who preaches better than any of your black-coats who’ve been to the ninneversity,” an ebullient follower tells Edward Johnson, a London visitor.

In May 1636, John Wheelwright, Anne’s brother-in-law, arrives in Boston. Wheelwright, a respected minister, is a staunch supporter of Anne and her beliefs. To men like John Winthrop and Thomas Steele, Anne’s followers threaten colonial authority by preaching sedition and slandering ministers who disagree with them. Before they can begin to eradicate the “filthy sins of an abominable community of women,” Satan unleashes another group of devils to torment them.

On July 20, 1636, Adam Trane is en route to Narragansett Bay with fellow trader John Gallop, going to barter for wampum.
They spy a pinnace riding off Block Island, its deck crowded with Indians and no sign of its owner, John Oldham. They maneuver alongside and board with their men. Oldham’s mutilated body lies before their eyes. His two sons are missing. All but two Indians in the vessel are slaughtered. The pair who surrender are bound with ropes: “Gallop being well acquainted with their skill to untie themselves, if two be together, threw one into the sea and let him drown.”
Adam carries news of Oldham’s murder back to Boston. He is immediately dispatched with an embassy to Canonicus and Miantonomo, Narragansett sachems to whom the Block Island Indians are subject. The sachems produce Oldham’s sons and return his goods. They tell Adam that two surviving assassins fled to the Pequots, most fearsome tribe in New England.
Block Island by Charles Lanman - Walters Art Museum

How the Saints of Boston Greeted a Gifted Woman

The Sinner


On September 18, 1634, Nat Steele is at the Great Cove, already being called the Town Dock, when the Griffin drops anchor with some hundred passengers from England. Nat sees Hannah Fletcher for the first time, as the romping eighteen-year-old leaps ashore from Griffin’s longboat. – In 1635, Nat will marry Hannah, a union filled with love and support through some of the darkest days in early Boston.

At the dock, Nat witnesses a heated exchange between two Griffin passengers, who’ve been hurling broadsides at each other throughout the voyage. Reverend Zecheriah Symmes is a strait-laced black-coat given to five-hour sermons spiked with barbs against women. His opponent is forty-three-year-old Anne Hutchinson, herself a minister’s daughter, a witty charismatic woman unafraid of speaking her mind against bigots like Symmes.
Anne Hutchinson, memorial, Massachusetts State House

In her home town of Alford, Lincolnshire, people consider Anne a prophet. She regularly traveled twenty miles to Boston to hear Reverend John Cotton preach at ancient St. Botolph’s. On her return, her own “congregation” would attend her discourse on Cotton’s sermons. Sometimes Anne preached to them herself, like other gifted women filled with the grace of the Lord.

Anne is a midwife and skilled nurse married to William Hutchinson, a wealthy merchant. The couple land in New England with ten of their living children, one son already in the colony to prepare for the family’s arrival. Young Edward has bought a house directly across from the home of Governor Winthrop. It is an auspicious location for the Hutchinsons, though one that will soon bring Anne under the glare of her most determined detractor.

Agnes Steele is one of the first “disciples” of Anne Hutchinson. They’re drawn together because of a common interest in folk medicine. Agnes’ work with the Indians brought a wide knowledge of the native pharmacopoeia, which she eagerly shares with the gifted newcomer.

Thomas is filled with dread seeing Agnes befriend “a haughty female, more bold than a man.” – “I beg you, mother, keep your wits,” he pleads. “Don’t let this American Jezebel deceive you.”

Thomas and his mother are members of First Church, which is headed by the over-zealous John Wilson. So devout is the reverend, that at Sunday meals, he commands all at his table to speak only of God or keep silent.
Reverend John Wilson, First Church, Boston

Like every colonist, Nat attends services on the Sabbath, but has yet to demonstrate worthiness as an elected saint. Nat sees no wrong in his mother’s friendship with Anne Hutchinson. He himself joins a group of merchants who attend the prophet’s meetings that soon attract as many as eighty people, one in six of the town’s population.
In October 1635, the merchants get a second champion, when one of England’s brightest young men lands at the settlement. Henry Vane is twenty-two, with flowing locks and flashy clothes, the very image of a Puritan nightmare. Henry is nonetheless a visible saint come to “savor the power of religion in New Jerusalem.”

Governor Winthrop Wonders Why God Dimishes the Natives

The Beaver
1629 - 1634

Rumors of an Indian conspiracy to expel the fledgling colony rise periodically. The Massachusett are beginning to recoup their numbers decimated in the Great Sickness but are still too few to pose a serious threat. The southern New England tribes – Wampanoag, Narragansett and Pequot – have thousands of warriors. Besides enforcing a ban on the sale of arms to Indians, Boston colonists form a militia company commanded by master gunner John Underhill. Nat Steele serves as Captain Underhill’s second-in-command. Adam Trane and Jacques Petit enroll as scouts and interpreters.

In winter 1633/34, any immediate threat from the Indians vanishes when a smallpox epidemic sweeps through their ranks. One of the first victims is fifty-seven-year-old Chitanawoo, last sachem of the Shawmut, who survived the horrors of the Great Sickness. A week later, Chickataubut dies at his village in Blue Hills. Only two English families are affected by the epidemic that spreads to the Wampanoag and Narragansett, until now mercifully spared from European diseases.
New England Indigenous People
Observes Governor Winthrop: “If God was not pleased with our inhabiting these parts, why did He drive out the natives before us? And why does He still make room for us by diminishing them as we increase?”

No person shows greater solicitude toward the Indians than a gray-haired Englishwoman who enters the wigwams on Boston Common, separating the living from the dead and carrying them into the open.

Agnes Steele selflessly devotes herself to caring for victims of the epidemic. She enlists the help of Recompense West, the pair working at the Indian camp on the Common and crossing the Neck to Blue Hills, where two-thirds of Chickataubut’s band is wiped out. – A stricken Jacques Petit owes his survival to the help he gets from Agnes.

Thomas sees the hand of God raised against the devil in New England. It disturbs him to witness his mother nursing the natives with a notorious sinner at her side, but he keeps silent. Nat is personally involved with Samuel Maverick in aiding native groups north of the Charles.

At Blue Hills, the survivors of the Massachusett greet Agnes Steele as a manitou of mercy. As is custom among their people, they honor the Englishwoman with a praise name. “Chitanawoo,” they call Agnes, not only in memory of their beloved tribeswoman, but a fitting tribute to one they see as equally Strong-and-Bold.

When the epidemic passes, Agnes visits the Frog Pond on Boston Common, walking beside the shimmering pool. She is not alone, sensing the presence of Chitanawoo, whose spirit will live forever at Sha-um-ut. Once on a moonlit night, Agnes catches sight, too, of Oshuam, Old Dog, waiting patiently for his young master.
Frog Pond in the late 19th Cen

Why Adam and Recompense Got No Sympathy from the Governor's Watchdog

The Beaver
1629 - 1634

Another buxom newcomer lands on the peninsula, not from England but nearby Plymouth, where she has served out her time with the Separatists. Recompense West is twenty-four, newly released from her yoke by Brother Stone, who sends her into the world with thirty shillings, a kyrtle of coarse woolen stuff and a blue bonnet. At Boston, Recompense is reunited with her old flame and joyfully falls back into sin with him.

With a whipping post in place, things may have gone badly for Adam was he not the only Englishmen enjoying full confidence of the Massachusett sachem, Chickataubut.

In March 1631, Trane arranges a meeting between Winthrop and Chickataubut, who dines at the governor’s table   “ . . . as soberly as an Englishman. The next day Chickataubut returned home, the governor giving him cheese and peas, a mug and some other small things.”

Adam gets no respect from Governor Winthrop’s clerk, who considers him the equal of the heathens, “without faith, law or religion.”

Thomas’s vigilance is finally rewarded, not through an act of rebellion but transgression of one of the burgeoning set of rules for society.

Way of Good and Evil - John Hailer 1862 - Library of Congress
It’s forbidden for single men and women to live alone, a rule Adam and Recompense happily violate. – The couple is severely punished. Recompense is stripped naked to the waist, given twenty stripes and made to walk behind a cart in shame. Adam is fined £20.

Reverend Blaxton intervenes to prevent his former servant from thrashing Thomas Steele. William takes Recompense into his own house, where she stays until July 1633, when the couple marries. – They are progenitors of the Tranes of Boston, who through the generations hark back to the wild boy of the fens and his lusty love, more often than not marching to a different drummer than other Boston folk.

The Puritan, lithograph (1846)
Blaxton himself resents the growing list of puritanical laws, including a prohibition against smoking a pipe in public, a small pleasure that the bookish recluse enjoys. In 1634, the townspeople buy all but six acres of William’s property; the forty-four acres purchased are laid out as a training field and cattle pasture, the future Boston Common. (In 1635, Blaxton quits the peninsula for Narragansett Bay, remarking that he left England because “he did not like the Lord Bishops and finds the rule of the Lord Brethren not one jot better.”)