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    Original Essays | August 14, 2015

    Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz: IMG The Blind Spot of United States History

    The most frequent question readers ask about An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States is "Why hasn't this book been written before?" I'm... Continue »
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So this was freedom. The canoe went with the river's tide, water bumping against the bow. Dirk van Dyck looked at the little girl and wondered: Was this journey a terrible mistake? Big river, calling him to the north. Big sky, calling him to the west. Land of many rivers, land of many mountains, land of many forests. How far did it continue? Nobody knew. Not for certain. High above the eagles, only the sun on its huge journey westward could ever see the whole of it. Yes, he had found freedom here, and love, in the wilderness. Van Dyck was a large man. He wore Dutch pantaloons, boots with turnover tops, and a leather jerkin over his shirt. Now they were approaching the port, he had put on a wide-brimmed hat with a feather in it. He gazed at the girl. His daughter. Child of his sin. His sin for which, religion said, he must be punished. How old was she? Ten, eleven? She had been so excited when he'd agreed to take her downriver. She had her mother's eyes. A lovely Indian child. Pale Feather, her people called her. Only her pale skin betrayed the rest of her story. "Soon we shall be there." The Dutchman spoke in Algonquin, the lan­guage of the local tribes. New Amsterdam. A trading post. A fort and little town behind a pal­isade. But it was important, all the same, in the worldwide com mercial empire of the Dutch.

Van Dyck was proud to be Dutch. Their country might be small, but the indomitable Netherlanders had stood up to the mighty, occupying Spanish Empire, and won their independence. It was his people who had constructed the great dykes to reclaim huge tracts of fertile land from the rage of the sea. It was the maritime Dutch who had built up a trading empire that was the envy of the nations. Their cities—Amsterdam, Delft, Antwerp—where the rows of tall, gabled houses lined stately canals and waterways, were havens for artists, scholars and freethinkers from all over Europe, in this, the golden age of Rembrandt and Vermeer. Yes, he was proud to be Dutch.

In its lower reaches, the great river was tidal. This morning it was flow­ing down toward the ocean. During the afternoon, it would reverse itself and flow back toward the north.

The girl was looking forward, downstream. Van Dyck sat facing her, his back resting against a large pile of skins, beaver mostly, that filled the center of the canoe. The canoe was large and broad, its sides made of tree bark, sturdy but light. Four Indians paddled, two fore, two aft. Just behind them, a second boat, manned by his own men, followed them down the stream. He'd needed to take on this Indian canoe to carry all the cargo he had bought. Upriver, the late-spring sky was thunderous; above them, gray clouds. But ahead, the water was bright.

A sudden shaft of sunlight flashed from behind a cloud. The river made a tapping sound on the side of the boat, like a native drum giving him warning. The breeze on his face tingled, light as sparkling wine. He spoke again. He did not want to hurt her, but it had to be done.

"You must not say I am your father."

The girl glanced down at the little stone pendant that hung around her neck. A tiny carved face, painted red and black. The face hung upside down, Indian fashion. Logical, in fact: when you lifted the pendant to look at it, the face would be staring at you the right way up. A lucky charm. The Masked One, Lord of the Forest, the keeper of nature's balance.

Pale Feather did not answer him, but only gazed down at the face of her Indian god. What was she thinking? Did she understand? He could not tell.

From behind the rocky cliffs that stretched up the western bank like high, stone palisades, there now came a distant rumble of thunder. The little girl smiled. His own people, the Dutchman thought, as men of the sea, had no liking for thunder. To them it brought harms and fears. But the Indians were wiser. They knew what it meant when the thunder spoke: the gods who dwelt in the lowest of the twelve heavens were pro­tecting the world from evil.

The sound echoed down the river, and dissolved in space. Pale Feather let the pendant fall, a tiny gesture full of grace. Then she looked up.

"Shall I meet your wife?"

Dirk van Dyck gave a little intake of breath. His wife Margaretha had no idea he was so near. He'd sent no word ahead of his return. But could he really hope to bring the girl ashore and conceal her from his wife? He must have been mad. He twisted round, awkwardly, and stared down the river. They had already reached the northern end of the narrow territory called Manhattan, and they were running with the tide. It was too late to turn back now.


Margaretha de Groot took a slow draw on the clay pipe in her sensual mouth, looked at the man with the wooden leg in a considering kind of way, and wondered what it would be like to sleep with him.

Tall, upright, determined, with piercing eyes, he might be gray, and well into middle age now, but he was still indomitable. As for the peg leg, it was a badge of honor, a reminder of his battles. That wound might have killed some men, but not Peter Stuyvesant. He was walking down the street with surprising speed. As she gazed at the hard, polished wood, she felt herself give a tiny shudder, though he did not see it.

What did he think of her? He liked her, she was sure of that. And why shouldn't he? She was a fine, full-bosomed woman in her thirties with a broad face and long blonde hair. But she hadn't run to fat, like many Dutchwomen. She was still in good trim, and there was something quite voluptuous about her. As for her liking for a pipe, most of the Dutch smoked pipes, men and women alike.

He saw her, stopped, and smiled.

"Good morning, Greet." Greet. A familiar form of address. Like most Dutchwomen, Margaretha van Dyck was normally known by her maiden name, Margaretha de Groot; and that is how she had expected him to address her. Of course, he'd known her since she was a girl. But even so . . . He was normally such a formal man. She almost blushed. "You are still alone?"

She was standing in front of her house. It was a typical Dutch town house, a simple, rectangular dwelling, two stories high, with wooden sides and its narrow, gabled end turned to the street. This end displayed a handsome pattern of black and yellow brick. A short stairway led up to the street door, which was large and protected by a porch. This was the Dutch "stoop". The windows were not large, but the ensemble was made impressive by the high, stepped gable that the Dutch favored, and the roof ridge was crowned with a weathervane.

"Your husband is still upriver?" Stuyvesant repeated. She nodded. "When will he return?"

"Who knows?" She shrugged. She could hardly complain that her hus­band's business took him north. The trade in furs, especially the all-important beaver pelts, had been so great that the local Indians had hunted their animals almost to extinction. Van Dyck often had to go far north into the hinterland to get his supplies from the Iroquois. And he was remarkably successful.

But did he have to stay away so long? In the early days of their mar­riage, his journeys had only taken a couple of weeks. But grad ually his absences had extended. He was a good husband when he was at home, attentive to her and loving to his children. Yet she couldn't help feeling neglected. Only that morning her little daughter had asked her when her father would be home. "As soon as he can," she had answered with a smile. "You may be sure of that." But was he avoiding her? Were there other women in his life?

Loyalty was important to Margaretha de Groot. So it was not surpris­ing if, fearing her husband might be unfaithful, she told herself that he was morally weak and, dreaming of solace in more righteous arms, allowed a voice within her to whisper: "If only he were a man like Gover­nor Stuyvesant."

"These are difficult times, Greet." Stuyvesant's face did not show it, but she could hear the sadness in his voice. "You know I have enemies."

He was confiding in her. She felt a little rush of emotion. She wanted to put her hand on his arm, but didn't dare.

"Those cursed English."

She nodded.

If the trading empire of the Dutch extended from the Orient to the Americas, the English merchants were not far behind. Sometimes the two Protestant nations acted together against their common enemies, the Catholic empires of Spain and Portugal; but most of the time they were rivals. Fifteen years ago, when Oliver Cromwell and his godly army took away King Charles of England's crown—and his head—the rivalry had intensified. The Dutch had a lucrative slave trade between Africa and the Caribbean. Cromwell's mission was clear.

"The slave trade must belong to England."

Many honest Dutchmen wondered if this brutal trafficking in humans was moral; the good Puritans of England had no such doubts. And soon Cromwell had taken Jamaica from the Spanish, to use as a slaving base. When Cromwell had died four years ago, and a second King Charles had been restored to the English throne, the same policy had continued. Word had already reached New Amsterdam that the English had attacked the Dutch slaving ports on the Guinea coast of Africa. And the rumor across the ocean was that they wanted not only the Dutchman's slave trade, but his port of New Amsterdam as well.

New Amsterdam might not be large: a fort, a couple of wind mills, a church with a pointed spire; there was one small attempt at a canal, more like a large ditch really, and some streets of step-gabled houses which, together with some modest orchards and allotments, were enclosed within a wall that ran from west to east across Manhattan's southern tip. Yet it had a history. Ten years before even the Mayflower sailed, the Dutch West India Company, seeing the value of the vast natural harbor, had set up a trading post there. And now, after half a century of fits and starts, it had developed into a busy port with outlying settlements scattered for dozens of miles around—a territory which the Dutch called the New Netherland.

It already had character. For two generations the Dutch and their neighbors, the Protestant, French-speaking Walloons, had been fighting for independence from their master, Catholic Spain. And they had won. Dutch and Walloons together had settled in New Amsterdam. It was a Walloon, Pierre Minuit—a name that was still pronounced in French, "Minwee"—who had bargained with the native Indians, four decades ago, to purchase the right to settle on Manhattan. From its birth, the tough, independent spirit of these mixed Protestant merchants had infused the place.

But above all, it had position. The fort, to a soldier's eye, might not be impressive, but it dominated the southern tip of Manhattan Island where it jutted out into the wide waters of a magnificent, sheltered harbor. It guarded the entrance to the big North River.

And Peter Stuyvesant was its ruler.

The English enemy was already close. The New England men of Mass­achusetts, and especially of Connecticut with their devious governor, Winthrop, were always trying to poach territory from the outlying Dutch settlements. When Stuyvesant built up the stout wall and palisade across the northern side of the town, the New Englanders were politely told: "The wall is to keep the Indians out." But nobody was fooled. The wall was to keep out the English.

The governor was still gazing at her.

"I wish that the English were my only enemy."

Ah, the poor man. He was far too good for them, the worthless people of New Amsterdam.

The town contained some fifteen hundred people. About six hundred Dutch and Walloons, three hundred Germans and almost as many En ­glish who'd chosen to live under Dutch rule. The rest came from all parts of the world. There were even some Jews. And among them all, how many upright, righteous men? Not many, in her opinion.

Margaretha was not a religious woman. The Dutch Reform Church was stern and Calvinistic; she didn't always abide by its rules. But she admired the few strong men who did—men like Bogard, the old dominie preacher, and Stuyvesant. At least they stood for order.

When Stuyvesant clamped down on the excessive drinking in the town, or forbade some of the more obviously pagan folk festivals, or tried to keep the town free of the foolish Quakers or wretched Anabaptists, did any of the merchants support him? Hardly any. Not even the Dutch West India Company, whose servant he was, could be relied upon. When a par­cel of Sephardic Jews arrived from Brazil, and Stuyvesant told them to go elsewhere, the company ordered him: "Let them in. They're good for business."

No one could deny that he'd been a fine governor. The men who came before him had mostly been corrupt buffoons. One idiot had even started an unnecessary war with the Indians that had nearly destroyed the colony. But Stuyvesant had learned to rule wisely. To the north, he kept the En ­glish at bay. To the south, he had made short work of an upstart Swedish colony on the Schuylkill River when it had become an irritation. He'd encouraged the sugar trade, and started to bring in more slaves. Every ship from Holland brought, as ballast, the best Dutch bricks to build the city's houses. The streets were clean, there was a little hospital now, and the school had a Latin master.

Yet were the people grateful? Of course not. They resented his rule. They even thought they could govern themselves, the fools. Were these men capable of governing? She doubted it.

The worst of them had been a two-faced lawyer, van der Donck. The Jonker, they'd called him: the squire. He was the one who went behind the governor's back, who composed letters to the West India Company and published complaints—all to bring down Stuyvesant. And for what? "The Jonker is a lover of liberty," her husband used to tell her. "You're all fools," she would cry. "He loves only himself. He'll rule you in Stuyvesant's place if you give him half the chance."

Fortunately the Jonker had failed to destroy Stuyvesant, but he'd man­aged to get his hands on a big estate north of the city. He'd even written a book on New Netherland which her husband assured her was fine. The wretch was dead and gone now—thank God! But the people of New Amsterdam still called his big estate "The Jonker's Land", as if the fellow were still there. And his example had so infected the merchants that, in her opinion, Stuyvesant shouldn't trust any of them.

The governor's hard eyes were fixed on her.

"Can I count upon you, Greet?"

Her heart missed a beat. She couldn't help it.

"Oh yes."

He was happily married, of course. At least, she supposed he was. He and Judith Bayard lived up at their bouwerie, as the Dutch called their farms, with every appearance of contentment. Judith was older than Peter. It was she who'd nursed him back to health after he lost his leg, and married him afterward. So far as Margaretha knew, he'd only once had an affair, and that had been when he was a young man, long before he met Judith. A small scandal. She thought the better of him for it. If it hadn't been for that little scandal, he might have become a Calvinist minister like his father, instead of joining the West India Company and going to seek his fortune on the high seas.

"And your husband? Can I count on him?"

"My husband?" Wherever he might be. Avoiding her.

Well, that was about to change. While he'd been away, she had given the matter some thought and formulated a plan for his future that would be more satisfactory. It was lucky that Dutch custom gave women far more freedom—and power—than the women of most other nations. And thank God for Dutch prenuptial agree ments. She had some very def­inite plans for Dirk van Dyck, when he came home.

"Oh yes," she said. "He'll do as I say."

"I am going down to the fort," Stuyvesant said. "Will you walk with me?"


London. A cheerful spring day. The River Thames was crowded with ships. Thomas Master gazed at the vessel before him and tried to decide.

In his hand was the letter from his brother Eliot, telling him that their father was dead. Tom was too honest to pretend he was sorry. He was twenty-two, and now he was free.

So which should it be? England or America?

On his left lay the great, gray mass of the Tower of London, silent, giv­ing nothing away. Behind him, as he glanced back, the long, high roof of Old St. Paul's suggested disapproval. But of what? Of himself, no doubt. After all, he'd been sent to London in disgrace.

Thirty years ago, when Adam Master from England's East Coast and Abigail Eliot from the West Country had first met in London, these two earnest young Puritans had agreed that England's capital was a shocking place. King Charles I was on the throne; he had a French Catholic wife; he was trying to rule England like a despot, and his new henchman, Arch­bishop Laud, was determined to make all Englishmen conform to the high ceremonies and haughty authority of an Anglican Church that was papist in all but name. After they married, Adam and Abigail had stuck it out in London for a few years, in the hope that things might get better. But for Puritans the times had only got worse. So Adam and Abigail Mas­ter had joined the great migration to America.

Englishmen had been going to Virginia for two generations. By the time Shakespeare's Globe Theater was performing his plays on the Thames's south bank, half the population of London were smok ing clay pipes of Virginia tobacco. But the number who'd actually left for Virginia was still modest. A few hardy souls had ventured to Massachusetts; other settlements had also started. But it was hardly a migration.

In the second half of King Charles's reign, however, something com­pletely different occurred. The Puritans of England started leaving. From the south, the east, the west, they gathered in groups, sometimes families, sometimes whole communities, and took ship across the Atlantic. There was hardly a week when a vessel wasn't sailing from somewhere. From the mid-1630s, King Charles of England lost about a fiftieth of all his sub­jects in this manner. Gentlemen like Winthrop, young men of means like Harvard, merchants and craftsmen, laborers and preachers, with their wives and children and servants—they all took ship for America, to avoid King Charles and his Archbishop. This was the first real peopling of the American colonies, and it took place in little more than a decade.

King Charles never seemed to have felt any embarrassment at this loss. Indeed, it wasn't a loss; more of a gain. Rather than give him trouble at home, where he was trying to establish his authoritarian rule, they had obligingly gone to settle a huge new extension to his kingdom. Wherever they went on this huge, uncharted American continent, the land was England's; for they were still all his subjects, every one. As for the freedom of worship they enjoyed, it was out of sight, and could probably be cor­rected, later on.

Adam and Abigail Master had gone to Boston. There they had found the harsh, sometimes cruel godliness of the congregation to their liking. They were not, after all, seeking tolerance; they were setting up God's kingdom. And their elder son Eliot had followed them closely in this regard. Studious, cautious, determined, Eliot was everything a Boston father could wish for. But Tom had been another matter.

Tom Master was a fair-haired, blue-eyed fellow. Though he had slightly protruding teeth, women found him attractive. As a little boy, he was slim, always on the move, inventive. By the time he approached man­hood, his whole demeanour suggested a quick, good-humored sharpness. He was full of vigor. But his behavior and his choice of friends left much to be desired.

For even in those early days, it had to be confessed, there were those— seafarers and fishermen, merchants and farmers, to speak nothing of the meaner sort—who were more concerned with the money to be made in Massachusetts than the saving of their souls. The congregation imposed its will as much as possible, but there were many backsliders.

And young Tom, to the great regret of his parents and of his brother Eliot, seemed destined to be heading straight for hell. He did not work at his lessons. He had the ability, but he would not apply himself. He got drunk. He kept bad company. Once, he even missed Sunday worship. And though his father had not spared the rod, he could see after a while that it was not a question of discipline, or precept. There was something deep in Tom that his father did not know how to change.

Adam Master had built up a good, sound practice as a lawyer. He'd bought a farm. He owned a ship. Eliot had studied law, but wanted to preach. Tom had been apprenticed to a merchant, and shown an aptitude for business. That was something, at least.

But two events had broken his father's heart. The first had been when Abigail lay dying. She had sent for her second son and, in the presence of his father, begged him to reform his life. For his own sake, and to help her depart in peace, she begged him to promise her that he would never drink another drop of liquor in his life. By that first step, she hoped, he might yet turn to better ways. And what had he said?

"Aw, hell, Ma. You know I can't promise that." To his mother on her deathbed. Adam could never forgive his son for this incident. He did not quarrel with Tom. He knew it was not what Abigail would have wished. He was polite. He did all that a father should. But he knew that Tom was no good.

So when Tom, at the age of nineteen, had enjoyed his first affair with the wife of a sea captain while that worthy man was away on a voyage— the captain of the very ship that Adam owned—his father managed to keep it quiet, for Eliot's sake. But he told young Tom that he was to leave Massachusetts at once. He had sent him, with a somewhat bleak letter of introduction, to a merchant he knew in London. And with instructions not to return.

Tom had been exiled back to the Old World. He was not good enough for the New.

Tom had liked London. It suited him. Though Cromwell and the Puri­tans had ruled England for a decade, the great experiment in ruling with­out a king had finally descended into confusion and martial law. By the time Tom arrived, the English had restored the dead king's son, a second King Charles, to the throne. And King Charles II was a merry fellow. His younger brother James, the Duke of York, might be proud and stiff, but the King himself was flexible and cautious. He had no wish to be turfed out like his father. After years of exile, he wanted to have fun, and was glad if his subjects did too. He loved chasing women, racing horses and visiting the theater. He also took a genuine interest in science.

The London Tom encountered was on the cusp between two worlds: the medieval, and the modern. With Britain's overseas domains expand­ing, London's busy merchants had many opportu nities to make their for­tunes. Rich aristocrats and gentlemen set the tone of fashion. There were all kinds of entertainment. For a year Tom had been very happy.

And yet, after a while, he'd begun to yearn for America. Not for Boston or his Puritan family, but for other things that were harder to define. A sense of space, of new frontiers, of making the world anew. A longing for freedom. The freedom of the wilderness, perhaps. He couldn't have put it into words.

And now, with his father dead, he supposed there was nothing to stop him returning.

There was another development, also, to be considered. Here in Lon­don, there were rumors that King Charles II and his brother James were taking a new interest in the American colonies. If so, that would be all the more reason for an ambitious young fellow like himself to look toward America again.

So what should he do? Should he stay and enjoy the amusements of London, or venture across the ocean? It would be easy enough to tell the merchant he worked for that with his father dead, Eliot had summoned him home. It certainly wouldn't take him long to pack his few posses­sions. The ship in front of him was leaving tomorrow for Boston. The captain had a berth for him. Should he take it?

He paused, laughed to himself, took out a coin and tossed it. Heads: Boston. Tails: London.


Up in the north, the thunder spoke. But ahead, as the big river reached the open waters of the harbor, was a lake of liquid gold.

Van Dyck had tried to show Pale Feather the significance of the place the night before, using a map he had made himself. Pointing with the stem of his pipe he had explained.

"This line, which runs straight from top to bottom, is the North River. Many days upriver there are big lakes and waterways that extend all the way up to the regions of ice. To the left of the river"—he swept his pipe across the paper—"lies the whole continent of America. To the right," and here he indicated a huge, triangular wedge of land, with its point down and its wide base sweeping out into the Atlantic, "are the territories of Connecticut, Massachusetts and many other places. And here beside them is the great ocean that my people crossed." Tracing his pipe down to the southern tip of the wedge, he indicated another striking feature. For here a long island, about twenty miles across and a hundred miles from end to end, lay moored as it were, alongside the wedge in the Atlantic. Between this island and the mainland coast there was a long, sheltered sound. "All round this area"—he indicated the bottom of the wedge and the neighboring end of the island—"your people dwelt for many genera­tions. And this"—he tapped the southernmost point of the wedge—"is Manhattan."

Manna hata: it was an Indian name. So far as he knew, it just meant "the Island". The place was a narrow peninsula, really; except that at its northern tip, a small, steep gorge allowed a channel of water from the North River to snake round into the long island's sound, converting the peninsula of Manhattan, technically, into an island.

Had it not been for the great breakwater of the long island protecting its ocean side, Manhattan would have been exposed to the full force of the Atlantic. But thanks to this happy circumstance, as the North River came down to the tip of Manhattan, it entered a splendid, sheltered harbor about four miles wide and seven long—a spacious anchorage known to mariners as the Upper Bay. Better yet, as one passed through the narrows at the harbor's southern end to encounter the Atlantic, two huge sand­bars, one on each side, served as outer breakwaters against the ocean swell, creating the calm waters of the Lower Bay, so vast that all the ships in the world could well have lain at anchor there.

"It's the gateway to the north," he had explained. But Pale Feather had not understood. And though he had spoken to her further of trade and transport, he could see that she did not grasp the significance of the white man's map.

White men had been coming there since the days of Christopher Columbus. At first they had been seeking gold, or trying to find a route to the Orient. One, Verrazano, who arrived in 1524, was known by name; others had been forgotten. And not always white men either: the Por­tuguese sea captain Gomez had been black. He'd come, grabbed nearly sixty of the local Indians to sell as slaves, then disappeared over the hori­zon. But it was the arrival of another man which had changed everything for the people of the great North River and its harbor.

Henry Hudson had been an Englishman, employed by the rival Dutch, to find a shorter route to China by sailing east. Having had a look for this fabled North-East passage above Russia and decided it was useless, he'd ignored all his orders, doubled back across the Atlantic, and looked for a passage round the North-West instead. It was Hudson who had ven­tured into the bay below Manhattan, and gone up the big river for several days before concluding: "It isn't the way to China."

"It may not lead to China," he'd told his Dutch employers upon his return, "but the land is magnificent. And full of beavers."

And the people of northern Europe had an insatiable greed for beavers.

"The beaver," van Dyck would tell his children, "is a most useful crea­ture. Beaver oil cures rheumatism, toothache and stomach pains. A beaver's testicles, powdered and dissolved in water, can restore an idiot to sanity. Its fur is thick and warm." But it was the soft pelt under the outer fur that men really desired. And why? Because it could be made into felt.

Hats. Everyone wanted a felt hat, though only the richer souls could afford one. It was the height of fashion. The hatters who made them sometimes went mad, poisoned by the mercury that used to separate the felt from the fur. And perhaps, van Dyck admitted to himself, there was a certain madness in this—that a whole colony, an empire perhaps, could be founded, men risk their lives and kill in turn—all on account of a fash­ionable hat. But such was the way of the world. The coast of north-east­ern America might have been colonized for the Atlantic fishing trade, but the great harbor of New Amsterdam and its big North River were settled because of the felt hat.

And it was in gratitude to the intrepid explorer that van Dyck and fur traders like him would often refer to the big river not as the North, but as Hudson's River.


"There it is. New Amsterdam." The Dutchman smiled to see his daugh­ter's shiver of excitement. Ahead, the southern tip of Manhattan jutted out into the harbor's watery immensity. Seabirds wheeled over the small waves. There was a bracing saltiness in the air.

Pale Feather gazed at the big sails of the windmill and the squat mass of the fort which presided over the open waterfront. As they rounded the tip of Manhattan, where the merchants' gabled houses had gathered them­selves, more or less, into rows, van Dyck pointed out some sights to her.

"You see those houses near the fort? Your people had a camp there before the White Men came. They left such piles of oyster shells behind that we called it De Peral Straet—the street of pearls. That pale house belongs to Stuyvesant. It's called the White Hall."

Passing the southern point, they turned into the long, broad channel that ran up the eastern side of Manhattan. Though not really a river, this waterway was known as the East River. Van Dyck indicated the land on the opposite bank.

"Brooklyn." The Dutch had named it after a place near Amsterdam.

"My people's land," the girl said.

"It was."

The wharf had been built on the east side of the point. The canoe made toward it. Several ships lay at anchor in the East River nearby. As they reached the landing, curious eyes were turned upon them.

It did not take long to arrange for the pelts to be carried in a pair of large handcarts to the West India Company's big storehouse. Van Dyck walked beside the carts, with Pale Feather moving lightly beside him. He nodded briefly to men he knew. There were all kinds of folk by the water­front: sailors in open shirts, merchants in broad pantaloons, even a dominie, dressed in black and wearing a tall, conical, wide-brimmed hat. As they left the shore, he met a pair of Dutch merchants, Springsteen and Steenburgen, men of some sub stance, with whom it was necessary to pause for a moment to exchange greetings.

"Your wife was talking to Stuyvesant by the fort, Meinheer van Dyck," remarked Springsteen.

"You may meet her any minute," said Steenburgen.

Van Dyck cursed inwardly. Yesterday the plan had seemed easy enough. His men would unload his boat and the Indian canoe. The Indi­ans would wait to return with the tide. That would give him time to show Pale Feather around the little town and give her some Dutch cookies— the happy culmination of the brief time they'd spent together. Then the Indians would take her safely back upstream, and he'd go home to his wife and children.

Normally, even if Margaretha heard that he was at the wharf, she'd know he needed to deal with business at the warehouse first, and she'd wait for him at the house. He hadn't counted on her being down at the fort.

Well, he'd keep his promise to his daughter, but he'd have to be careful.

"Come, Pale Feather," he said.

It wasn't easy keeping an eye out for his wife while he showed Pale Feather around. But she seemed quite happy. He found he was quite proud of the town. You couldn't deny that Stuyvesant had improved the place. The broad, muddy bankside had been partly cobbled. Even in the busiest area, close to the market, the houses with their high, stepped gables had spacious, well-tended gardens behind. Moving up the east side, they crossed over the small canal and came to the city hall, the Stadt Huys. This was a big building with a central doorway, three rows of win­dows, another two in the steep mansard roof, and a widow's walk on the roof above. It stood together with a group of other buildings, like so many Dutch merchants, gazing stolidly out at the East River. In front of the Stadt Huys was a double stocks for punishing malefactors. He had to explain to Pale Feather how people were locked in the stocks to be humil­iated.

"Over there," he pointed along the bank, "we also have a gallows where people are choked to death with a rope for more serious offenses."

"My people have no such custom," she said.

"I know," he answered kindly. "But we do."

They had just paused in front of a tavern where some sailors were drinking when from round the corner, strolling toward them in her loose gown, and with a pipe in her hand, came Margaretha van Dyck.


Margaretha gazed at her husband and the little girl. It was only a few min­utes since Meinheer Steenburgen's wife had told her that van Dyck was in town. It might have been her imagination, but when the woman had imparted this news, Margaretha thought she'd seen a little glint in her eye—the sort of look one might give to a wife whose husband has been seen with another woman—and this had put her on her guard.

Would Dirk do such a thing to her, in public? A sudden cold fear had seized her, but she had controlled herself, and smiled at the woman as though she'd been quite expecting her husband that day anyway.

And here he was with an Indian girl. Not a mistress, anyway. But a girl who looked . . . a little pale for a pure Indian, perhaps.

"You're back," she said, and embraced him briefly. Then she stepped back.

"Yes. We were unloading at the storehouse."

Did he look nervous? Perhaps.

"Your trip was successful?"

"Very. So many pelts I needed an Indian canoe as well, to get them all back."

"That's good." She stared at Pale Feather. "Who's the girl?"

Dirk van Dyck glanced at Pale Feather and wondered: Did she under­stand what they were saying? He suddenly realized that he did not know. Some of the Indians spoke Dutch, but he had always spoken to his daugh­ter in her native tongue. He said a silent prayer.

"She came with the Indians in the canoe," he answered coolly. "One of the Turtle clan." Among the local Indians, the clan, or phratry, passed down the female line. You belonged to your mother's clan. "I am friendly with the Turtle clan."

Margaretha eyed Pale Feather thoughtfully.

"You know the mother?"

"No." Van Dyck shook his head. "She's dead."

"The child looks half-caste."

Had she guessed? He felt a stab of fear, and quickly fought it down.

"I think so too."

"The father?"

"Who knows?" He shrugged.

His wife sucked on her pipe.

"These Indian women are all the same."

It was strange, van Dyck considered. Despite their Calvinistic Church, Dutch women quite often had lovers before they were married, and it was tolerated. But because some of the Indian women, whose people had been dispossessed by the white man, had been reduced to selling their bodies at the trading ports for small sums of a currency they did not understand, his wife could believe that every Indian woman was a common whore.

"Not all," he said quietly.

"She's a pretty little thing." Margaretha blew smoke out of the side of her mouth. "It's a pity their looks never last."

Was she right? Would his little daughter's looks fade away even in his own lifetime?

He saw that Pale Feather was staring ahead, looking numb. Dear God, had she understood what they were saying? Or had she divined their meaning from their tone of voice?

Dirk van Dyck loved his wife. Not as much as he should, perhaps, but she was a good woman in her way, and a fine mother to their children. He supposed that no marriage was perfect, and whatever the shortcomings of his own, they were as much his fault as hers. He had been faithful to her, mostly—apart from Pale Feather's mother, whom he regarded as a special case.

Anyway, there was no reason why Margaretha should guess that Pale Feather was his daughter. No reason, except her woman's instinct.

"Don't bring her to the house," said Margaretha quietly.

"Of course not," he heard himself say.

She'd guessed. He was almost certain of it. Was she going to accuse him when he got home? Was she going to make a scene? Perhaps. But then quite likely he'd deny it, and that would leave her looking like a fool. She was too proud for that.

He wished he had not hurt her though.

"Send her away," said Margaretha firmly. "Your children are wait ing for you." She turned to go.

He certainly couldn't blame her. Indeed, he admired her. She was behaving with dignity, holding her family together. But then he looked at Pale Feather.

She was still staring ahead, but the blank shock on her face said it all. She did not need to understand their words. Their tones and their looks said it all. The magical time he'd promised her was turning into hurt and misery. He hadn't meant to, but he'd betrayed her. A great wave of remorse washed over him. He couldn't leave her like this.

Margaretha was moving away. Whatever pain he'd caused his wife, it was already done. Besides, she was a grown woman, and strong. Whereas the girl at his side was an innocent child. He thought quickly.

"I still have business to finish, Greet, after the Indians go," he called after her. "I have to go up to Smit's bouwerie. You remember, a quarter of the pelts are for him." It was quite true that he had to ride up to see the farmer, though he hadn't been planning to go today. "Tell the children I shall be home tomorrow."

"And when do you plan to leave again?" She had turned.

"Leave?" He smiled. "Not for months."

Margaretha nodded. Was she mollified?

"Until tomorrow, then," she said.

For a little while, neither he nor Pale Feather spoke. He wanted to put his arm round her, to comfort her, but did not dare. So they walked along the street in silence, until she asked: "That is your wife?"


"Is she a good woman?"

"Yes. A good woman."

They went on a few paces.

"Are you sending me back now?"

"No." He smiled at her. "Come with me, my daughter," he said.


It took him less than an hour to get ready. He sent one of his men to get his horse. He also bought some food, and two blankets. Then, after giving the Indian men their instructions, he and Pale Feather set out.

The main route out of New Amsterdam was a broad thorough fare that began at the market in front of the fort and ran up the western half of the town to the wall.

Van Dyck rode slowly. Pale Feather was content to walk along beside him. The Dutch houses soon gave way to pleasant allotments and orchards. They reached the town's wall and went out through the gate with its stone bastion. The broad way continued straight for a few hun­dred yards, past a cemetery and a mill. The track then led to the right. On the East River side they passed a small tobacco plantation and a swamp. Soon after, on their left, they came to a big pond. And from there the track led north all the way to the top of the island.

Manhattan Island was a strange place: only a mile or two across, but thirteen long miles from top to toe. A wilderness of marsh, meadow and woodland, dotted with hillocks and outcrops of bedrock, it had been a magnificent Indian hunting ground. Indeed, the very track they were tak­ing had long been an Indian trail.

The Manates had been the name of the Indians who'd occupied the island. But they were just one of so many groups of Algonquin-speaking people who had settlements in the region. There were the Canarsee Indi­ans over the East River in Brooklyn; across the harbor, by the broad piece of land the Dutch called Staten Island, dwelt the Raritan. Starting up the great river to the north one encountered the Hackensack and the Tappan. There were a score of names. From the start, the White Men had noticed that all these folk were handsome: the men tall and graceful, the women with finely cut features. As van Dyck gazed down at the girl walking beside him, he felt proud.

But few of the White Men bothered to study the Indians. Would he have done so himself, he wondered, if it hadn't been for the girl's mother?

Even the settlement on Manhattan had been born of confusion. When the local Indians had taken a parcel of goods from Pierre Minuit, their understanding had been clear: the White Men were giving the usual gift for the right to share their hunting grounds for a season or two. In Euro­pean terms, it might be thought of as a rent. Since Indians did not per­sonally own land, the idea that Minuit was buying the land in perpetuity would never have occurred to them. Not that the good burghers of New Amsterdam would have cared if they had understood, van Dyck consid­ered wryly. The Dutch idea of land entitlement was practical: if you set­tled it, you owned it.

No wonder there had been friction down the years. Aggrieved Indians had attacked. Outlying settlements upriver had been abandoned. Even here on Manhattan, two Dutch hamlets—Bloomingdale, a few miles up the west side, and Harlem in the north—had suffered severe damage.

But always, in the end, the White Man took more land. Vast tracts upriver were granted to Dutch patroons. A Dane called Bronck had paid the local Indians to vacate his huge parcel just north of Manhattan. Some small Indian groups were still eking out an existence on Bronck's land and the wilder parts of Manhattan. That was all.

They had gone about five miles along the trail, and reached an area of woodland in the center of the island, when van Dyck decided it was time to eat. Taking a small path that led westward, they went past dells and outcrops of bedrock until they came to a glade where wild strawberries sprinkled the grass. There van Dyck dismounted, and tethered his horse to a sapling. Tossing a blanket on the ground, he told Pale Feather to sit.

"Now," he smiled, "let us see what your father has brought."

It had been easy enough to buy corn porridge, dried raisins, hickory nuts and some pieces of smoked meat—the mixture that the Indians called "pimekan". Also, Dutch coleslaw and rye bread. But he had also bought some Dutch treats—chocolates and cookies—which would please any child. Sitting side by side, father and daughter shared their meal con­tentedly. She had just eaten her first cookie when she turned to him and asked: "Do you think I should get a tattoo?"

Van Dyck paused. What an enchanting figure she was. Her little feet were encased in moccasins, her long, dark hair tied back with a thong.

Like most Indian girls of her age, in the warm months of the year, she cov­ered only the lower part of her body with a deerskin skirt that reached to her knees. Her chest was bare, except for the little hanging pendant; her breasts had not started to grow yet. Her skin—protected from the sun and from mosquitoes by a light smearing of raccoon oil—was perfect. When she was older, she'd probably put a little red paint on her cheeks and darken the area round her eyes. But until then, he hoped she would remain exactly as the perfect little girl she was. Not that the Indian women went in for big tattoos like the men. But even so . . .

"I think you should wait," he said carefully, "until you are married, and then choose a tattoo that will be pleasing to your husband."

She considered, and nodded.

"I will wait."

She sat quietly, but it seemed to him that she was thinking about some­thing. After a while she looked up at him.

"Did you ever kill a bear?"

The rite of passage. To become a man, among her people, every boy had to kill a deer—and rightly so. It was proof that he could feed a family. But to prove that he was truly a brave, he must accomplish the far more difficult and dangerous task of killing a bear. When a man had done that, he was truly a warrior.

"I have," he answered. Seven years ago, out in Iroquois territory, the local Indians had warned him that some men had been attacked recently on the mountain path he was to travel. Bears did not usually attack, but when they did, they were formidable. He had gone prepared. But when the beast suddenly appeared and came at him with a rush, he had been lucky to kill it outright with a single shot from his musket. "It was a black bear," he told her, "in the mountains."

"You killed it alone?"


She said nothing, but he could see that she was pleased that her father was a proper warrior.

It was still early afternoon. The sunlight was cascading through the leaves onto the grassy banks where the wild strawberries grew. He felt at peace, and leaned his head back. The plan that he had so suddenly formed was to spend all day with her. In the morning, the Indians and the canoe would meet them at the north end of the island and take Pale Feather back upriver. Then he could go back by Smit's bouwerie and be home long before dark. It was a good plan, and they had plenty of time. He closed his eyes.

He might have dozed a few minutes when, sitting up, he realized that Pale Feather had disappeared.

He looked around. No sign of her. He frowned. Just for a foolish moment, he felt a little pang of fear. What if something had happened to her? He was about to call her name when a tiny movement caught his eye. About a hundred yards away in the trees, a deer had raised its head. Instinctively, he kept still, and silent. The deer stared in his direction, but did not see him. The deer lowered its head.

And then he saw Pale Feather. She was away on the right, upwind of the deer, standing behind a tree. She put her finger to her lips, signaling: Silence. Then she stepped out from her concealment.

Van Dyck had often seen the stalking of the deer; he'd done it himself. But never like this. As she carefully slipped between the trees, she seemed lighter than a shadow. He listened for the softest sound of moccasin on moss. Nothing. As she worked her way closer, she sank down almost to a cat's crouch—slower and slower, each pace forward hovering, weightless as a whisker, over the ground. She was behind the deer now, only fifteen yards away... then ten... five. Still the deer did not sense her. He couldn't believe it. She was behind a tree, three paces from the animal, which was cropping the grass, head down. She waited. The deer raised her head, paused, lowered her head again. And Pale Feather sprang. She went through the air like a flash. The deer started, leaped, and raced away through the trees—but not before, with a cry of joy, the girl had touched her.

Then, laughing, she ran over to her father who scooped her up into his arms. And Dirk van Dyck the Dutchman realized that he never had been, and never would be, as proud of any child as he was of his elegant little Indian daughter at that moment.

"I touched her," she cried with glee.

"You did." He hugged her. To think that he should be the father of a child who was perfect. He shook his head in wonderment.

They sat together for a little while after that. He did not say much, and she did not seem to mind. He was wondering whether it was time to move on when she turned to him.

"Tell me about my mother."

"Well," he considered. "She was beautiful. You are like her."

He thought of their first meeting at the camp on the sound where her people used to collect shellfish in summer. Instead of the usual long-houses, her people pitched wigwams by the shore. They would dry the shellfish, scrape them out of their shells, bury the shells and store the dried oysters, mussels and clams to be made into soup at a later date. Why should he have been so struck by this particular young woman? Because she was unattached? Perhaps. She had been married but lost her husband and her child. Or was it something, a special light of curiosity in her eyes? That too. He had stayed two days there, spent a whole evening talking with her. The attraction had been mutual; but he had business to attend to and nothing more than conversation had passed between them before he had continued on his way.

A week later, he had come back.

It was during the time he had spent with her that he had truly come to know the Indians. He came to understand also why some of the first Dutch settlers, having no women of their own, had married Indian women and afterward refused even the most powerful religious persua­sion to give them up. She was lithe as a wild animal, yet if he was tired, or angry, she would be gentle as a dove.

"You loved her very much?"

"Yes. I did." It was true.

"And then you had me."

It was the custom of her people that there was always a place for such extra children in the extended family of the mother's clan.

"If you had not had a wife in the White Man's trading post, you would have married my mother, wouldn't you?"

"Of course." A lie. But a kindly one.

"You always came to see her."

Until that terrible spring, three years ago, when he arrived at the village and learned that Pale Feather's mother was sick. "She was in the sweat lodge yesterday," they told him, "but it did no good. Now the medicine men are with her."

He knew their customs. Even for a severe fever, an Indian would retire to a little cabin heated with red-hot stones until it was like an oven. Sit­ting there until he was pouring with sweat, the sick one would emerge, plunge into the cold river, then wrap himself in a blanket and dry out by the fire. The treatment often worked. If not, there were the medicine men, skilled with herbs.

As van Dyck approached the house where she lay, an old man had come out. "Only the meteinu can help her now," the old fellow said sadly. The meteinu had skills beyond the ordinary medicine men. They com­muned with the spirit world and knew the secret spells. If they alone could help her, she must be close to death.

"What kind of sickness has she?" van Dyck asked.

"A fever." The old man seemed uncertain, but grimaced. "Her skin . . ." He seemed to be indicating pockmarks. He walked quietly away.

Pockmarks. The Dutchman gave a shiver of fear. The greatest curse the White Man had brought to America was disease. Influenza, measles, chickenpox—the common maladies of the Old World, against which the Indians had no resistance. Whole villages had died. Perhaps half the native population of the region had already faded away. Malaria had come with the White Men's ships, and syphilis too. But the most fearsome import of all had been smallpox. Only last year, that terrible scourge had wiped out nearly a whole tribe south of New Netherland, and then appeared even in New Amsterdam.

Could it be smallpox?

Then he had done a terrible thing. He could explain it, of course. He had to think of himself, his wife and children, the good people of New Amsterdam. The dominie would have told him: consider the greater good. Oh yes, he was justified. He had done the right thing when he hes­itated and then, avoiding even Pale Feather, hurried back to his boat, and gone downriver.

But couldn't he have waited, instead of running like a coward? At a time when her family were preparing to be at her side, he'd deserted his Indian woman. Couldn't he at least have seen the child? The pain, the awful, cold shame of it, haunted him still. Several times a year he awoke in the middle of the night, crying out at the horror of what he had done.

A month later, he'd returned, to find Pale Feather safe in the bosom of her extended family, and to learn that her mother had died the day after he had fled, not of smallpox, but the measles.

He'd tried to make it up to his daughter. Every year, when her people celebrated the feast of the dead, he had arrived. Normally one did not speak of the dead, but at this yearly feast, it was appropriate to do so, and to pray for their souls. This was what he had been doing for the last few days, before taking Pale Feather downriver.

"Tell me what you remember about me when I was little," she said.

"We should move on," he answered, "but I will tell you as we go."

So they left the glade where the wild strawberries grew, and found the old Indian trail again, and as he rode slowly along, he did his best to call to mind all the little incidents he could remember from her childhood, of days he had spent together with her and her mother; and this seemed to please Pale Feather. After a time, though she was not tired, he put her up on the horse in front of him.

They reached the top of Manhattan well before dusk and camped on high ground above some Indian caves. Wrapping themselves in two blan­kets, they lay staring up at the sky, which was clear and full of stars.

"Do you know where my mother is now?" she asked him.

"Yes." He knew what the Indians believed. He pointed his arm along the line of the Milky Way. "Her spirit has traveled along the path of stars to the twelfth heaven. She is with the Maker of all things."

She was silent for a long time, and he wondered if she were still awake. But then, in a sleepy voice, she said: "I think of you often."

"I think of you too."

"If you cannot see me, you can always hear me."

"Tell me how."

"When there is a little breeze, listen to the voice of the wind sighing in the pine trees. Then you will hear me."

"I will listen," he said.

The next morning they made their way down to the water and found the two Indians with the big canoe. There they parted and Dirk van Dyck went home.


Margaretha van Dyck waited three weeks. It was a Sunday afternoon. Her husband had been reading a story to their children, and Quash the slave boy, in the parlor while she sat in a chair watching. These were the times she liked him best. Their son Jan was thirteen, a strong boy with a mop of brown hair, who admired his father and who wanted to follow in his foot­steps. Dirk would take him to the company warehouse, explain the work­ings of the ships, the ports they called at, and the trade winds their captains had to follow. But Jan also reminded her of her own father. He had less waywardness of spirit than Dirk, more love of the counting house. She thought he'd do well.

They had lost two other children a few years ago to a fever. That had been a terrible blow. But the compensation had been the arrival of little Clara. Fair-haired and blue-eyed, she was now five years old, and looked like an angel. A wonderfully sweet-natured child. Her father adored her.

As for Quash the slave boy, he was coming along very well. He was about the same age as Jan, and had been allowed to play with him when he was younger. He was very good with Clara, too. But Quash knew his place.

And watching her husband contentedly reading to his family, Mar­garetha thought that perhaps her marriage might still become a very happy one, if she could make some small adjustments.

So after the reading was over and the children had gone to a neighbor's, and her husband had remarked that he'd need to make another trip upriver soon, she nodded quietly. Then she sprang her trap.

"I was thinking, Dirk, that it's time you joined a syndicate."

He looked up quickly, then shrugged.

"Can't afford it."

But she knew he was paying attention.

Dirk van Dyck had a talent for the fur business. A quarter-century ago, when the West India Company still monopolised the trade of the port, he would have been a more significant figure. But since then, the economy of New Amsterdam had opened up and expanded hugely; and it was the golden circle of leading families—Beekmans, van Rensselaers, van Cort­landts and a score of others—who formed the syndicates to finance the shipping of tobacco, sugar, slaves and other growing commodities. This was where a man could make a fortune. If he had the price of entry.

"We may have more money than you think," she said quietly. We: a team, husband and wife. She made it sound as if they shared the money jointly, but they both knew it wasn't so. When her father had died six months ago, Margaretha had inherited; and under the terms of her prenuptial agreement, her husband had no control over her fortune. Nor had she let him discover how large that fortune was. "I think we could invest a little in a syndicate," she added.

"There is risk," he warned.

She knew. Some of the largest investors in the colony were rich widows and wives. She had consulted them all.

"No doubt. But I trust your judgment." She watched him consider. Had he guessed her plan? Probably. But it was hardly an offer to be refused. He thought, then smiled.

"My dear wife," he answered in an affectionate voice, "I am honored by your trust and I will do whatever I can for our family."

It had been the richest woman in the colony, a widow who'd just taken her third young husband, who'd given her the advice. "Don't rule your husband. But arrange the conditions in which he will make his choices." It would not take long, Margaretha judged, for van Dyck to get a taste for larger transactions. And for the busy social life that went with them. He'd soon be too occupied in New Amsterdam to go running after Indian women in the wilderness. And once he became accustomed to his new life, he'd also be too afraid of her cutting off the funds, even if he were tempted to stray.

"I shall still need to go upriver," he remarked.

"Oh?" She frowned.

"I can't abandon the fur business I have. Not yet, anyway. We still need that income, don't we?"

She hesitated. Actually, his earnings were useful; and unless she was willing to tell him how much money she really had, his argu ment was sound. But she saw his game. He was trying to slip off the hook. Damn him.

Did he have a woman out there in the wilderness? Or several? That Indian child, she was sure, had been his. Strictly speaking, he could be in serious trouble. In his passion for moral order, Stuyvesant had actually made it illegal to have sexual relations with Indians. But whatever her feelings, bringing her husband before the governor's court was hardly going to solve anything. No, she'd remain calm. Let him wriggle as much as he liked, she could still outwit him. She'd keep him so busy that he wouldn't have time to go upriver for long.

"You are right," she said sweetly. Let him think he was winning.


The next few weeks went well for Dirk van Dyck. He soon became involved with a group of large merchants who were shipping tobacco to the great blending and flavouring factories across the Atlantic in old Am ­sterdam. He and Margaretha found themselves being entertained in some big merchant houses where he'd hardly set foot before. He'd bought a new hat and even some pairs of fine silk stockings. In the parlor, the chimney piece had been decorated with handsome, blue-and-white delft tiles. Margaretha had even taken Quash the slave boy, who had run about the place doing the odd jobs, dressed him up, and taught him to wait at table. When the old dominie had done them the honor of calling, he had par-tic ularly complimented them upon the smartness of the slave boy.

One day in June, when van Dyck was leaving a game of ninepins in a tavern, a young Dutch merchant had addressed him as Boss. And when a Dutchman called you "Baas", it meant you were a big man, a man of respect. He walked with a new confidence; his wife seemed delighted with him.

So the quarrel, when it came, took him by surprise.

It was an evening in July. He was due to go upriver the next morning. Margaretha had known this for some time. So it seemed hardly reasonable to him when she suddenly said: "I think you should not go tomorrow."

"Why ever not? The arrangements are made."

"Because you shouldn't leave your family when there is so much danger."

"What danger?"

"You know very well. The English."

"Oh." He shrugged. "The English."

She had a point of course. Springsteen the merchant, whose opinions he respected, had put it to him very well the other day. "The English want our fur and slave trade, of course. The tobacco that's shipped through this port would be worth ten thousand pounds a year to them. But above all, my friend, if they have New Amsterdam, they have the river, and then they control the whole of the north."

English aggression had been growing. Out on the long island, the En­glish who controlled the far end had always left the territory nearer Man­hattan to the Dutch. In the last year, however, Governor Winthrop of Connecticut had been demanding taxes from some of the Dutch settle­ments too; and not all had dared to refuse.

An even bigger scare had come more recently.

If King Charles II of England was an amusing rogue, his younger brother James, the Duke of York, was another matter. Not many people liked James. They thought him proud, inflexible and ambi tious. So it had come as a shock when news arrived: "The king has given the American colonies to his brother, from Massachusetts almost down to Maryland." That territory included the Dutch New Netherland. And the Duke of York was sending a fleet to America, to make good his claim.

Stuyvesant had been beside himself. He'd started strengthening defenses, posted lookouts. The West India Company, though they sent no troops or money, had ordered him to defend the colony. And the gallant governor was determined, at least, to hold New Amsterdam itself.

But then another message came from Holland. The British govern­ment had promised the Dutch—with absolute and cate gorical assur­ances—that they had no designs on their colony. The fleet was going to Boston. Soon after that came comforting news. The fleet had arrived at Boston, and was staying there. The crisis was over. Stuyvesant was already on his way upriver to deal with some problems with the Mohawk Indians up there.

So when Margaretha used this threat of the English to tell him not to go upriver, van Dyck saw her ploy for what it was: an attempt to control him. And which he did not intend to allow.

"And my business?" he asked.

"It can wait."

"I think not." He paused while she eyed him. "You and the children will be in no danger," he continued.

"So you say."

"Because it's true."

"Does this mean you refuse to remain here?"

"Even the Muscovy Duke thinks it's safe now," he remarked easily. The people of New Amsterdam, who often resented Stuyvesant's dictatorial ways, would call him that behind his back.

"There's no need to refer to the governor by that stupid name," she said angrily.

"As you like." He shrugged. "Peg Leg then."

The fact was that few of the merchants, including his wife's rich friends, had much love for Stuyvesant, or even the West India Company, come to that. Some of them, van Dyck reckoned, couldn't care less what nation claimed the colony, so long as their trade wasn't disturbed. It amused him, faintly, that his wife's friends shared his own view rather than hers.

"He's worth ten of any of you," she cried furiously.

"My God," he laughed, "I believe you're in love with him."

He had gone too far. She exploded.

"Is that all you can think of? Perhaps you should not judge others by yourself. As for your own visits to Indians..." She let the words fall with a bitter contempt—there could be no mistaking her meaning. "You had better return in three weeks, if you want to use my money any more." This last threat was shouted as she rose to her feet. Her eyes were blazing with rage.

"I shall return," he said with icy quietness, "when my business is done." But she had already stormed out of the room.

He left the house at dawn the next day, without having seen her again.


It was a lovely summer morning as the broad, clinker-built boat, rowed by four oarsmen, made its way northward. Instead of taking Hudson's great river, however, van Dyck's journey today began the other side of Manhat­tan, on the East River. In the center of the boat was a great pile of the thick, tough Dutch cloth known as duffel. This legitimate cargo would satisfy any prying eyes.

It was a peaceful scene. After a time, they inched past a long, low slip of land that lay midstream and then, having come nearly eight miles from the wharf at New Amsterdam, they swung across to their right, to a small jetty on the eastern side where a group of men with a wagonload of casks was awaiting them. For this was their real cargo.

It took some time to load all the casks. The foreman, a corpulent Dutch farmer, asked if he wished to test the goods.

"Is it the same as before?" van Dyck inquired.


"I'll trust you." They'd done business many times.

Brandy. The Indians couldn't get enough of it. Selling brandy to the Indians was, strictly speaking, illegal. "But the crime is less," the foreman had genially informed van Dyck, "because I've watered it." Only a little— the Indians couldn't tell the difference—but enough to add ten extra per­centage points to van Dyck's profits. When the casks were all loaded, the boat pulled away into the stream.

There was only one problem with this operation: the cargo had to be loaded up the East River. Unless he returned all the way back past New Amsterdam, it would be necessary to continue up the eastern side of Manhattan in order to join Hudson's great North River. And that involved dangers.

For at the top of the East River, the waterway forked. On the left, a nar­row channel led around the northern tip of Manhattan. On the right, a broader channel led eastward to the huge sound whose placid waters, shel­tered from the ocean by the long island, stretched for nearly a hundred miles. The danger lay at the fork. For even if all three waterways seemed calm, they were secretly pushed or pulled by subtly different tides and cur­rents so that, at their meet ing, a complex hydraulic churning took place, made even harder to read by the positioning of several small islands in the inter section. Even on the calmest day when, out in the sound, the soft waters scarcely seemed to stir the reeds, any unpracticed waterman com­ing to the fork could suddenly find his boat sucked into eddies and whirl ­pools and smashed uncontrollably into a wall of water that seemed to have arisen like an angry god from the deep. "Hell Gate" they called this place. You avoided it if you could.

Cautiously, therefore, keeping close to the Manhattan side, they entered the narrow channel on the left; and though buffeted, they came through safely.

On their left lay the little settlement of Harlem. Though the northern­most part of Manhattan was only a mile across, it rose to impressive heights. On their right was the beginning of Bronck's land. The narrow channel continued for a few miles until, passing some ancient Indian caves and encampments, it led through a steep and winding gorge into the great North River. Here, too, there was another place of dangerous cross-currents to be negotiated. Once out into the big river, van Dyck gave a sigh of relief.

From here the going was easy. When the Atlantic tide came in through the harbor, and gently pushed the river into reverse, the current flowed back upstream for many miles. The tide was in their favor. With only a light exertion from the oarsmen, therefore, the laden boat moved swiftly northward. On their right they passed the Jonker's estate. On their left, the tall stone palisades of the western bank continued, until at last they gave way to a hump-backed hill. And now, to his right, Van Dyck saw his destination, the Indian village on the slope of the eastern bank. "We shall rest here," he told the oarsmen, "until the morning."


She was so pleased to see him, and she happily led him round the little vil­lage so that he could greet all the families. The houses, made of saplings bent, tied and covered with bark, were arranged, without any protective palisade, on a pleasant shelf of land above the water. The largest house, a long, narrow dwelling, provided quarters for five families. There were two walnut trees near this house and, in the bushes behind, clusters of wild grapes. On the riverbank below, huge fishing nets were folded on frames. Swans and mallard ducks fed in the shallows by the reeds.

Poor though she is, van Dyck thought, my daughter lives no worse than I.

They ate in the early evening, succulent fish from the river. There were still hours of daylight left when Pale Feather asked him to walk up the slope with her to an outcrop with a fine view over the water. He noticed that she was carrying a small object with her, wrapped in leaves. They sat together very comfortably in the evening sun and watched the eagles that circled high above. After a little while she said: "I have a gift for you. I made it myself."

"May I see it?"

She handed him the little package. He unwrapped the leaves. And then he smiled in delight.

"Wampum," he cried. "It is beautiful." God knows how many hours it had taken her to make it.

Wampum. Tiny slices of seashell drilled through the center and strung in strands. White from the periwinkle; purple or black from the hard-shell clam. Woven together the strands became belts, headbands, all kinds of adornment.

And currency. Among the Indians, strings of wampum paid for goods, marriage proposals, tribute. And since it represented wealth, the wise men of the tribe always made sure that wampum was distributed among the various families.

But it was more than adornment and currency. Wampum often had meaning. White signified peace and life; black meant war, and death. But in wearing wampum it was also easy to make elaborate patterns and little geometric pictograms which could be read. Huge, ceremonial belts many feet long might signify important events or treaties. Holy men wore wampum bearing symbols deep in significance.

It had not taken the Dutch long to learn that they could buy fur with wampum—which they called sewan. But the English Puritans up in Massachusetts had gone one better. Traditionally, the Indians had dug the shells from the sand in summer and done the tedious work of piercing them with a stone drill in winter. But, using steel drills that speeded production, the English had started to manu facture their own wampum, cutting out the local Indians. Worse, as the supply of wampum rose and demand for goods grew also, it took more wampum to buy the same goods. To the Dutch and English merchants, this inflation was normal; but to the Indians, accustomed to thinking of wampum's beauty and intrinsic worth, it seemed the White Men were cheating them.

What van Dyck now held in his hands was a belt. It was less than three inches wide, but six feet long, so that it would go more than twice round his waist. On a background of white shells were some little geometric fig­ures picked out in purple. The girl pointed to them proudly.

"Do you know what it says?" she asked.

"I don't," he confessed.

"It says"—she ran her finger along it—" 'Father of Pale Feather'." She smiled. "Will you wear it?"

"Always," he promised.

"That is good." She watched happily as he put it on. Then they sat together for a long time, watching the sun as it slowly grew red and sank over the forests across the river.

In the morning, when he was leaving, he promised that he would come in to see her again on his return.


Dirk van Dyck's journey that summer was a pleasant one. The weather was fine. On the western bank stretched the vast, forested regions that were still controlled by the Algonquin-speaking tribes like his daughter's people. He passed creeks he knew well. And he traveled, as he liked to say, as the guest of the river. That mighty tidal flow from the ocean could send its pulse up Hudson's River for a hundred and fifty miles, all the way to Fort Orange. In summer, even the salt seawater came upstream nearly sixty miles. So, for the most part, he let the current take him in a leisurely fashion toward his destination up in Mohawk territory.

Many people feared the Mohawks. The Indians who dwelt in the regions around Manhattan all spoke Algonquin, but the powerful tribes like the Mohawks who controlled the vast tracts of land to the north of them spoke Iroquois. And the Iroquois Mohawks had no love for the Algonquin. It was forty years, now, since they had started to press down upon them. They raided the Algonquin and took tribute. But despite the Mohawks' fearsome reputation, the attitude of the Dutch had been sim­ple and pragmatic.

"If the Mohawks raid the Algonquin, so much the better. With luck, that'll mean the Algonquin are too busy fighting the Mohawks to give trouble to us." The Dutch had even sold guns to the Mohawks.

In van Dyck's view, this policy had some risk. The northern outposts of New Netherland, up at Fort Orange and Schenectady, lay in Mohawk ter­ritory. Sometimes the Mohawks up there gave trouble. It was just such trouble that had called Stuyvesant up to Fort Orange the other day. Little as he liked Stuyvesant, van Dyck had no doubt that the tough old gover­nor would cope with the Mohawks. They might be warlike, but they'd negotiate, because it was in their self-interest.

As for himself, van Dyck wasn't afraid of the Mohawks. He spoke Iro­quois and he knew their ways. In any case, he wasn't going as far as Fort Orange, but to a trading post on a small river about a day to the south of the fort. In his own experience, whatever was passing in the world, traders were always welcome. He'd go into the wilderness and sell the Mohawks adulterated brandy, and return with a fine cargo of pelts.

"Put your trust in trade," he liked to say. "Kingdoms may rise and fall, but trade goes on forever."

It was a pity, of course, that he needed to trade with the Mohawks. For he liked his daughter's Algonquin people better. But what could you do? The White Man's eagerness for pelts and the Indians' eagerness to supply them had wiped out so many of the beavers in the lower reaches of Hud­son's River that the Algonquin hadn't enough to sell. Even the Mohawks had to raid up into the territory of the Huron, still further to the north, to satisfy the White Man's endless demands. But the Mohawks supplied. That was the point. So they were his main trading partners now.

His journey took ten days. Venturing into the interior, he encountered no trouble. The Mohawk trading post, unlike most Algonquin villages, was a permanent affair with a stout palisade around it. The Mohawks there were tough and brisk, but they accepted his brandy. "Though it would have been better," they told him, "if you had brought guns." He returned with one of the largest loads of pelts he had ever brought down-river. Yet despite the valuable cargo he now carried, he was still in no hurry to return to Manhattan. He considered ways of delaying, a day here, a day there.

He intended to keep Margaretha waiting.

Not too long. He'd calculated carefully. She had set a deadline, so he was going to break it. He'd tell her of course that the business had taken longer than anticipated. She'd suspect he was lying, but what could she do about it? Leave her with a little uncertainty: that was the way. He loved his wife, but he had to let her know that she couldn't order him around. An extra week or so should do it. So, on his orders, the oarsmen did not exert themselves too much as they journeyed slowly south; and van Dyck counted the days, and kept a cool head.

There was only one thing that troubled him—one thing he had failed to do. A small matter perhaps, but it never left his mind.

He had no present for his daughter.

The wampum belt she'd given him. It had a price, of course. But it was beyond all price. His little daughter had made it for him with her own hands, threaded the beads, sewn them, hour after hour, into this single, simple message of love.

And how could he respond? What give her in return? He had no skill with his hands. I cannot carve, or carpenter, or weave, he thought. I am without these ancient skills. I can only buy and sell. How can I show my love, except with costly gifts?

He'd nearly bought a coat, made by the Mohawks. But she might not like a Mohawk coat. Besides, he wanted to give her something from his own people, whose blood, at least, she shared. Try as he might, he had not been able to decide what to do, and the problem remained unsolved.

They had come back into Algonquin territory when he directed his men to pull over to the western bank, to a village where he'd done busi­ness before. He liked to keep up his contacts, and it was a good way of delaying his return a little more.

He received a friendly welcome. The people of the village were busy, because it was harvest time. Like most of the local Indians, they had planted maize in March, then kidney beans, which served as useful props for the tall maize plants, in May. Now both were being harvested. For two days, van Dyck and his men remained in the village, helping with the har­vest. It was hard work in the hot sun, but he enjoyed it. Though they had little fur to sell, the Algonquin were still able to trade maize to the White Man, and van Dyck promised he would return in a month to take a cargo of maize downriver for them.

The harvest went well. On the third day they had all sat down for the evening meal, and the women were bringing out the food, when a small boat came in sight. It was paddled by a single man.

As the boat drew near, van Dyck watched. When it reached the shore, the man stepped out and dragged the boat up the bank. He was a fair­haired young fellow, still in his early twenties, with slightly protruding teeth. His face was pleasing, but quite hard. Despite the warm weather, he was wearing riding boots and a black coat that was splashed with mud. His blue eyes were keen. From the boat he lifted a leather bag, which he slung over his shoulder.

The Indians looked at him suspiciously. When one of them addressed him, it was clear that he did not speak Algonquin. But by an easy gesture he made clear that he was asking for food and shelter; and it was not the custom of the Algonquin to refuse. Van Dyck motioned the stranger to sit beside him.

It took only a few moments to discover that the young man did not speak Dutch either. He was English, which van Dyck could speak well enough. But the fair-haired man in the dark coat seemed cautious about saying much in that language also.

"Where are you from?" van Dyck asked.


"What's your business?"


"What brings you here?"

"I was in Connecticut. Got robbed. Lost my horse. Thought I'd go downriver." He took the bowl of corn he'd been offered and started to eat, avoiding further questions.

There were two kinds of men van Dyck knew in Boston. The first were the godly men, the stern Puritans whose congregations lived in the light of the Lord. It was a harsh light, though. If Stuyvesant was intolerant of outsiders like the Quakers, and kicked them out when he could, that was nothing to what the people of Massachusetts did to them. Flogged them half to death, from all accounts. It did not seem to him that the stranger was one of the godly, though. The second kind were the men who'd come to New England for the money to be made in fishing and trading. Tough, hard men. Maybe the young stranger fell into this category.

But his story seemed unlikely. Was he a fugitive of some kind who'd gone west to shake off his pursuers? Stolen the boat too, maybe. He resolved to keep a careful eye on him.


Tom Master had not been having a very good time. His voyage to Boston with the English fleet had encountered storms. When he had reached

Boston and gone to the family house, now occupied by his brother, Eliot had greeted him with a look of horror, followed by hours of silence that, Tom decided, were even more unpleasant than the storms at sea. His brother did not actually throw him out of the house, but he made it clear in his quiet, serious way that, dead or not, their father should be obeyed; and that Tom had violated every rule of decency by attempting to re-enter the family circle.

At first Tom had been hurt, then angry. The third day, he'd decided to treat the whole business as a joke; out of sight of his brother, he had laughed.

But finding employment in Boston proved to be no laughing matter. Whether he had a bad reputation, or whether Eliot had been busy warn­ing everybody about him, he could find no encourage ment from any of the merchants he knew. Evidently, if he remained in Boston, life was going to be difficult.

He also wondered if his father had made any provision for him in his will. But when he asked his brother, and Eliot told him, "Only under cer­tain conditions, which you do not fulfill," he had no doubt that his brother was telling the truth.

So what was he to do? Should he return to London? Eliot would prob­ably pay for his passage, if that would remove him permanently from Boston. But it irked him to be run out of town by his own brother.

Besides, there was still the other consideration that had brought him here.

The Duke of York's fleet remained in Boston harbor. The com mander was making a show of attending to the Duke's affairs in Boston. But a conversation with a young officer had soon confirmed what Tom had sus­pected all along. The fleet was going down to New Amsterdam, and soon. "If the Duke can take New Netherland from the Dutch, he'll be master of an empire here," the officer told him. "We're carrying enough cannon­balls and powder to blow New Amsterdam to bits." The King of En ­gland's assurance to the Dutch had been that amusing monarch's favorite tactic: a brazen lie.

And if this was the case, then the opportunities for a young English­man in the American colonies were about to improve. It would be fool­ishness on his part to return to England now. What he needed was a plan.

The idea came to him the next day. Like many of Tom's ideas, it was outrageous, but not without humor. He'd met a girl he remembered, in a tavern—a girl of no good reputation—and talked to her for a while. The day after that, he returned to talk to her again. When he told her what he wanted, and named the price he'd pay, she laughed, and agreed.

That evening, he spoke to his brother.

He started with an apology. He told Eliot that he felt repentance for his past misdeeds. This was greeted by silence. Tom then explained that he wanted to settle down, no matter how humbly, and try to lead a better life.

"Not here, I hope," his brother said.

Indeed that was his plan, Tom told him. And not only that, he thought he'd found a wife. At this news, Eliot had gazed at him in blank astonish­ment.

There was a woman he had known before, Tom explained, a woman who had also led a less than perfect life, but who was ready to repent. What better way of showing Christian forgiveness and humility than to save her?

"What woman?" demanded Eliot coldly.

Tom gave the girl's name and the tavern where she worked. "I was hop­ing," he said, "that you would help us."

By noon the next day, Eliot had discovered enough. The girl was noth­ing less than a common whore. Yes, she had told him, she'd be glad to marry Tom, and be saved, and live here in Boston no matter how humbly. For anything was better than her present, fallen condition. Though Eliot saw at once that this might be a hoax, he did not see the humor of it. Nor did it matter whether the thing was true or not. Clearly Tom was prepared to make trouble, and embarrass him. Alternatively, Eliot assumed, Tom would be prepared to leave—for a price. That evening they spoke again.

The interview was conducted in the spirit of mournfulness in which Eliot seemed to specialize. It took place in the small, square room he used as an office. On the desk between them was an inkwell, a Bible, a book of law, a paper cutter and a little pine box containing a newly minted silver dollar.

The offer Eliot made was the inheritance that Adam Master had left for his younger son if, and only if, he showed evidence that he had joined the community of the godly. With perfect truth, Eliot informed his brother: "I am disobeying our father by giving you this."

"Blessed are the merciful," said Tom, solemnly.

"You refuse to return to England?"

"I do."

"This letter, then, will give you credit with a merchant in Hartford, Connecticut. They are more tolerant," Eliot said drily, "of people like you down there. The condition is that you are never, ever to return to Massa­chusetts. Not even for a day."

"In the Gospels, the Prodigal Son returned and was welcomed," Tom remarked pleasantly.

"He returned once, as you have already done. Not twice."

"I shall need money for the journey. Your letter gives me nothing until I reach Hartford."

"Will that be enough?" Eliot handed him a quantity of wampum and a purse containing several shillings. Some of those shillings would pay the girl in the tavern and the rest, Tom reckoned, would be enough for his journey.

"Thank you."

"I fear for your soul."

"I know."

"Swear that you will not return."

"I swear."

"I shall pray for you," his brother added, though evidently without much conviction it would do any good.

Tom rode away early the next morning. Before he left the house, he slipped into his brother's office, and stole the silver dollar in the box. Just to annoy him.

He had taken his time, riding westward across Massachusetts, staying at farms along the way. When he came to the Connecticut River, he should have turned south. That would have brought him to Hartford. But it irked him to take orders from his brother, and so, for no particular reason, he had continued westward for a few days. He was in no hurry. The money, which he kept in a small satchel, would last him a while. He'd always heard that the great North River was a noble sight. Perhaps he'd go as far as that before turning back to Hartford.

Leaving Connecticut, he'd passed into Dutch territory. But he saw no one and, keeping an eye out for Indians, proceeded cau tiously for a cou­ple of days. On the evening of the second day, the land began to slope down, and soon he saw the sweep of the big river. On the terrace above the riverbank he came to a Dutch farmstead. It was small: a single-story cabin with a wide porch, a barn on one side, a stable and a low outbuild­ing on the other. A meadow ran down to the riverbank where there was a wooden dock and a boat.

He was met at the door by a thin, sour-faced man of maybe sixty, who spoke no English. When Tom made clear that he was seeking shelter for the night, the farmer grudgingly indicated he might sup in the house, but that he must sleep in the barn.

After stabling his horse, Tom entered the cabin to find the farmer, two men he took to be indentured workers, and a black man he assumed was a slave, all gathering for supper. The mistress of the house, a short, fair-haired woman a good deal younger than the farmer, ordered the men to table, and pointed to where he should sit. He didn't see any sign of chil­dren. Tom had heard that the Dutch farmers ate with their slaves, and cer­tainly everyone sat together at this table.

The woman was an excellent cook. The stew was delicious, washed down with ale. It was followed by a large fruit pie. Conversation, however, was limited, and since he spoke no Dutch, he could contribute nothing himself.

He wondered about the woman. Was the farmer a widower who'd mar­ried again? Could she be his daughter? Or was she a housekeeper of some kind? Though small, she was full-breasted, and there was something decidedly sensual about her. The gray-haired farmer addressed her as Annetie. The men treated her with respect, but between the farmer and herself there seemed to be a kind of tension. When he addressed the men, he appeared to ignore her. When she brought the bowl of stew toward him, Tom noticed that he leaned away from her. And though she sat qui­etly listening to the conversation, Tom noticed a look of suppressed irrita­tion on her face. Once or twice, however, he had the impression that she'd been watching him. Just once, when their eyes met, she gave him a smile.

When the meal was over, the hired hands and the slave retired to the outbuilding to sleep, and Tom went out to the barn. Dusk was falling, but he found some bales of straw in the barn and spread his coat on them. And he was about to settle down when he saw a figure with a lamp com­ing toward him.

It was Annetie. In her hand she held a jug of water and a napkin con­taining some cookies. As she gave them to him, she touched his arm.

Tom looked at her with surprise. He was no stranger to the advances of women, and there was no mistaking what this was. He looked at her in the lamplight. How old was she? Thirty-five? She was really quite attrac­tive. He looked into her eyes and smiled. She gave his arm a light squeeze, then turned; and he watched the lamp as it crossed the yard back to the house. After this he ate the cookies, drank a little water, and lay down. The night was warm. The door of the barn was open. Through it he could see light coming through the shutters of the farmhouse window. After a time the light went out.

He wasn't sure how long he'd been dozing when he was awakened by a sound. It was coming from the farmhouse and it was loud. The farmer was snoring. It could probably be heard all the way across the river. Tom stopped his ears and tried to sleep again, and he had almost succeeded when he became aware that he was not alone. The door of the barn had been closed. Annetie was lying down beside him. And her body was warm. From the house, the snores of the farmer still rang out.

Dawn was almost breaking when he awoke. He could see a faint pale­ness under the barn door. Annetie was still beside him, asleep. There was no sound of snoring coming from the house. Was the farmer awake? He nudged Annetie, and she stirred. And as she did so, the barn door creaked and a pale, cold light fell across them.

The old farmer was standing in the doorway. He had a flintlock. It was pointed at Tom.

Annetie was gazing at the old man blankly. But the farmer was intent upon Tom. He indicated to Tom that he should get up. Pulling on his clothes, Tom did so, picking up his coat and his satchel. The farmer motioned him toward the door. Was he going to shoot him outside? But once in the yard, the farmer pointed to the track that led back up the slope. His message was clear: Get out.

Tom in turn pointed to the stable where his horse was. The farmer cocked his gun. Tom made another step. The farmer took aim. Would the old Dutchman really shoot him? They were miles from anywhere. Who would do anything about it if he disappeared? Reluctantly, Tom turned toward the track and made his way up into the woods.

But once out of sight, he paused. After waiting a while, he crept back toward the farmstead. The place was silent. Whatever had passed between the farmer and Annetie, there was no sign of any activity now. Skirting the house, he stole toward the stable door.

The bang almost made him jump out of his skin. The shot passed over his head and smacked into the stable door in front of him. He turned and saw the old farmer. He was standing on the porch, reloading his flintlock.

Tom looked for an escape. He started to run down toward the river. He made for the little dock and the boat. It was only the work of a moment to untie it. Thank God there was a paddle in the boat. But he'd hardly clambered in before another shot rang out, and a splash in the water told him that the old man had only missed him by a foot or two. Seizing the paddle, he pushed off and paddled furiously downstream. He didn't pause or even look back until he'd gone a quarter-mile. He'd gone downstream with the tide after that, pulling into the bank and resting when it turned.

During his rest, however, it had occurred to him that he still didn't know whether Annetie was the old man's wife, daughter, or had some other relationship entirely. Only one thing was certain. The farmer had his horse, which was worth a lot more than the boat he'd taken.

The thought had bothered him.


Van Dyck let Tom eat in silence. But after a while he asked him whether he'd seen the English fleet in Boston. At this, Tom seemed to hesitate for a moment, but then allowed that he had. "And what's the fleet doing, exactly?" van Dyck asked. Again the young man hesitated, then he shrugged.

"They were busy in Boston when I left." He took a corncake and chewed on it for a few moments, staring down at the ground. But van Dyck had a feeling he knew more than he was telling. The Indians asked him if the stranger was a good man. "I don't know," he answered in Algo­nquin. "You should watch him."

The Indians told van Dyck he should return to them when the sum­mer was over, to join in the hunt. Van Dyck had hunted with them before. The big hunts were enjoyable, but ruthless. Locating the deer, a huge party would fan out in a great arc—the more people the better— and come through the forest beating the trees, driving the deer toward the river. Once the deer were slowed up in the water, it was easy to kill them. So long as there were deer, these Algonquin lived well. Van Dyck promised he would come. And he continued to talk and laugh with them for some time.

It was clear that his obvious friendship with the Indians intrigued the young Englishman. For after a while he asked van Dyck if it was usual for the Dutch to be so friendly with the natives.

"You English do not care to know the Indian customs?" the Dutchman asked.

The young man shook his head.

"The Boston men are busy getting rid of their Indians. It isn't difficult. They just need one thing."

"What's that?"

"Wampum." The young man gave a wry smile. "The Boston men make the Indians pay tribute in wampum, according to how many men, women and children there are. But usually the Indians can't manu facture the wampum quickly enough. So then they make them give us land instead. The Indian population shrinks, every year."

"And if they do pay?"

"Then our English magistrates fine them, for their crimes."

"What crimes?"

"It depends." Tom shrugged. "Massachusetts can always think of something that's a crime. The Indians there will all be gone one day."

"I see." Van Dyck looked at the young Englishman with disgust. He'd have liked to strike him. Until it occurred to him: Was the conduct of his own Dutch people any better? Every year the number of Algonquin in New Netherland diminished. The hunting grounds on Manhattan were already nearly gone. On the Bronck's and Jonker's estates, the Indians were being purchased and pushed off their grounds. It was the same out on Long Island. In due course, no doubt, up here across the great river, where so far the Dutch only had a few outposts, the Algonquin would also be forced back. Add to that the ravages of European diseases— measles, smallpox and the like. No, he thought sadly, it matters not from which quarter we come, the White Man destroys the Indian sooner or later.

If these reflections tempered his feelings, van Dyck felt a desire to put this young fellow in his place. And when Tom observed that although wampum was considered good enough for the Indians, all reckoning in Boston was nowadays done in English pounds, he saw his chance.

"The trouble with you English," he said, "is that you talk of pounds, but you have nothing a man can put his hands on. At least the Indians have wampum. It seems to me," he added coolly, "that the Indians are ahead of you in that regard." He paused to watch the fellow take this in.

For it was absolutely true. Back in England, you could find the tradi­tional pennies, shillings and gold florins. But the higher coinage was in short supply. And out in the colonies, the situation was downright primi­tive. In Virginia, for instance, the currency was still tobacco, and business was often done by barter. In New England, though merchants would keep the reckonings between them in pounds sterling, and write their own bills of credit, there was practically no English silver or gold coinage to be had.

But if he aimed to embarrass the young Englishman, it didn't seem to work. Tom laughed.

"I can't deny it," he acknowledged. "Here's the only money I trust." And from inside his black coat he took out a little flat box which he tapped lightly and handed to van Dyck. The box was made of pine and sat in the palm of the Dutchman's hand. He slid back the lid. The inside was padded with cloth, and contained a single coin, which gleamed in the fading light.

It was the silver dollar he'd stolen from his brother.

Daalders, the Dutch called them, but the word sounded more like the German "Thaler"—dollar. Merchants had been using dollars for nearly a century and a half now, and the Dutch made most of the dollars found in the New World. There were three kinds. There was the ducatoon, better known as the ducat, which had a horse and rider stamped upon it and was worth six English shillings. Next came the rijksdaalder, which the English called the rix dollar, worth five shillings—or eight Spanish real, if you were sailing south. But most common of all was the lion dollar.

It was actually worth a bit less than the other dollars, but it was the most handsome. Its face was larger. On the obverse it showed a standing knight, holding a shield which bore the image of a lion rampant; and on the reverse, the same lion splendidly filled the whole face. The coin had a small fault: it was not always well struck. But that hardly mattered. The handsome Dutch lion dollar was used from New England to the Spanish Main.

"Dutch money," Tom said with a grin, as van Dyck took the coin out of the box and inspected it.

Lion dollars were usually worn, but this one hadn't even a scratch. It was new-minted; it shone splendidly. And as the Dutchman gazed at it, a thought suddenly came to him.

Getting up, he went over to where two Indian girls, about the same age as Pale Feather, were sitting. He showed them the coin, letting them hold it. As they turned the shining disk over in their hands, examined the images and the way the falling sun reflected upon it, their faces lit up. Why was it, van Dyck wondered, that gold and silver objects seemed to fascinate both men and women alike? "It is beautiful," they said. Return­ing to the young fellow from Boston, van Dyck told him: "I'll buy it."

"It will cost you," Tom considered, "a ducat and a beaver pelt."

"What? That's robbery."

"I'll throw in the box," Tom added cheerfully.

"You're a young rogue," the Dutchman said, with amusement. "But I'll take it." He didn't bother to bargain. He had just solved his problem. The pelt was a sacrifice he almost felt better for making. For now he had a pre­sent for his daughter.

That night, to make sure Tom didn't steal anything, he slept in his boat. And as he lay back on the pelts, and felt the little wooden box with its silver dollar safe in the pouch on his belt, and listened to the faint breeze in the trees, he imagined that, as she had promised, he could hear his daughter's voice. And he smiled with contentment.


Van Dyck left the young Englishman in the morning. He'd be at Pale Feather's village before evening, stay there with his daughter all through tomorrow, and continue to Manhattan the day after that.

The weather was warm. He wore an open shirt. Around his waist, he had changed his usual leather belt and put on the wampum belt she'd given him. A little pouch containing the silver dollar hung from it.

The river was almost free of traffic. Occasionally they saw an Indian canoe in the shallows; but as they slipped downstream with the tide, they had the great waterway to themselves. The high western banks protected the river from the light breeze. The water was still. They seemed to be traveling in an almost unearthly quiet. After a time, they came past a bend where, from the west bank, a high point jutted out above the water, look­ing like a sentinel. Van Dyck had his own names for these landmarks. This one he called West Point. A while later, the river curved again to pass around the small mountain whose flattened hump had caused van Dyck to name it Bear Mountain. After that, the river opened out into a wider flow, two or three miles from bank to bank, which would extend south­ward fifteen miles until it narrowed into the great, long channel that ran down past Manhattan to the mighty harbor.

Time passed, and they were still some miles above the channel when one of the oarsmen nodded to him and van Dyck, turning to look back up the river, saw that some five miles back, another boat was visible, fol­lowing them. As he stared he realized that the boat was gaining on themfast. "They must be in a hurry about some thing," he remarked. But he wasn't much interested.

Half an hour later, approaching the entrance to the channel, he glanced back again, and was astonished to discover how far the other ves­sel had come. It was much bigger than his own, with a mast for a sail; but as the breeze was from the south, the men were rowing. It had halved the distance between them and was advancing rapidly. He couldn't see how many oars it carried, but one thing was certain.

"Those boys," he said, "are rowing like fury."

They were entering the narrow channel now, and van Dyck let the oars­men take it easy. They were coming down the west side of the stream. Above them, the gray stone palisade of cliffs were catching the rays of the afternoon sun. A slight choppiness now appeared in the water. He glanced back, but the curve of the river now hid the boat that, he assumed, must be following him into the channel.

And then, suddenly, the boat was upon them. It was coming fast and he could see every detail of the vessel now: a big, clinker-built longboat, with a covered section in the middle from which the mast rose. Eight men were rowing four pairs of oars. It was high in the water, so it could not be carrying any cargo. Why should this empty vessel be in such a hurry? There was a figure standing in the stern, but he couldn't see what sort of man it was.

The vessel pulled closer. It was only a few lengths behind them, then a length. Now it was level. Curious, he looked across at the figure in the stern.

To find himself staring into a face he knew only too well. A face which, some instinct told him, he did not wish to encounter. And the man was staring straight back at him.


He quickly looked away, but it was too late.

"Dirk van Dyck." The harsh voice came ringing over the water.

"Good day, Governor," he called back. What else could he say?

"Hurry, man! Why aren't you hurrying?" Stuyvesant was level with him now. Then, without waiting for a reply, Stuyvesant turned to van Dyck's oarsmen. "Row faster," he shouted. "Pull." And the oars men, recognizing the fearsome governor, obeyed at once and sent the boat hurtling through the water. "That's it," he yelled. "Well done. Keep up with me. We'll go down together, Dirk van Dyck."

"But why?" called van Dyck. The governor had already gone a little past him, but his men were managing to keep up the same pace now, so that the two of them could continue their shouted conver sation down­stream.

"You don't know? The English are in Manhattan harbor. The whole fleet."

So the English fleet had come after all. He'd heard nothing, but that wasn't surprising. The people at New Amsterdam would have sent a swift rider up to Fort Orange to tell the governor, who was now racing down-river with the benefit of the tide. No doubt word would spread among the Indians soon, but it would take some time.

Clearly the English had lied. He thought of the young fellow from Boston. Had Tom known they were coming? He must have. That's why he'd hesitated when asked about the English fleet.

"What are we going to do?" van Dyck shouted downstream to Stuyvesant.

"Fight, van Dyck. Fight. We'll need every man."

The governor's face was set hard as flint. Standing tall and erect on his peg leg, he had never looked more indomitable. You had to admire the man. But if the whole English fleet had come down from Boston, it would be a powerful force. The ships would be carrying cannon. Despite all Stuyvesant's recent efforts, van Dyck couldn't imagine the shore defenses of New Amsterdam holding up for long. If Stuyvesant meant to fight, it would be a bloody and unrewarding business.

As though in tune with his thoughts, a cloud crossed the sun and the high stone palisades above them suddenly turned to a sullen gray that seemed grim and threatening.

Whatever Stuyvesant might be saying, another thought quickly occurred to van Dyck. If I can see the danger of this course, he realized, so can every other merchant in the place. Would the men of New Amster­dam support their governor against the English? Probably not, if the En ­glish came in force. Was his family in danger? Unlikely. Would the En ­glish want to blow the place to bits and make enemies of the Dutch merchants? He didn't think so. The English wanted a rich port, not an angry ruin. They had every incentive to offer generous terms. It was poli­tics and religion, in van Dyck's private view, that made men dangerous. Trade made them wise. Despite Stuyvesant, he guessed, there would be a deal.

So did he want to blow in to Manhattan with Stuyvesant, like an avenging angel?

He looked at the river ahead. Another hour at this rate and they'd be at the northern tip of Manhattan. He glanced at his oarsmen. Would they be able to keep up this pace? Probably not. And so much the better. If he could discreetly fall behind, then he should be able to separate himself from Peg Leg before reaching New Amsterdam.

He waited. The governor's boat was already a couple of lengths ahead.

"Keep up," Stuyvesant cried. He had turned completely round to watch them.

"I'm with you, my General," van Dyck called back. Hearing this, his men pulled harder still, and for a little while kept pace with the bigger boat. So much the better. Let them wear themselves out. If he could just satisfy the governor for the time being.

The prow of the boat hit a tiny wave, rising and smacking down on the water, causing him to lean forward. He straightened up, and as he did so, the pouch on his belt tapped lightly against the top of his thigh. He glanced down, thought of the silver dollar in its box, safely secreted in the pouch, and realized with a shock: they were almost at Pale Feather's vil­lage. This unexpected business with Stuyvesant had caused him to forget his daughter. The tap on his leg had been a reminder.

Pale Feather. What was he going to do?

Stuyvesant was still watching him intently. He dare not pull across to the village now. For all he knew, the governor would turn and drag him downriver by force. The man was quite capable of such a thing.

Minutes passed. The two boats, held in place by the invisible force of Stuyvesant's will, sped together down the stream. They were coming past the village now, away on the eastern bank. Van Dyck could see the Indi­ans with fishing nets in the shallows. Other figures, women probably, were watching from higher up the bank. Was Pale Feather among them?

He could not tell. Was she looking at him now? Did she know he was going past her, not stopping even for a moment, despite his promise? Would she suppose her father had turned his back on her?

He stared across the river, then looked away. If his daughter was there, he did not want her to see his face. A foolish gesture. Even with her keen eyes, she could not see his face from there. He lowered his head, gazed at the pelts at his feet, and felt ashamed. Away on the far bank, the little Indian village began to fall behind. He glanced back. He could still see the line of women, but they were becoming blurred and indistinct.

They slipped downstream another hundred yards. Then another.

"Pull across stream." He gave the order. The oarsmen looked aston­ished.

"But, Boss—" said one.

"Pull across." He pointed to the eastern bank. He was the Boss, after all. Unwillingly, they obeyed him.

As the boat began to turn, Stuyvesant saw at once.

"What the devil are you doing?" he shouted over the water.

Van Dyck hesitated. Should he reply? He thought quickly.

"I'll follow," he cried, in a voice which, he hoped, suggested that his only desire was to be with the governor. "We'll catch up shortly."

"Maintain your course," Stuyvesant bellowed back. A second later, Stuyvesant's voice came over the water again. "Never mind your Indian bastard, van Dyck. Think of your country."

How did he know about Pale Feather? Van Dyck cursed the governor under his breath. It had been a mistake to take the girl to New Amster­dam. He should never have done it.

"Follow me, Dirk van Dyck," Stuyvesant's voice rang out again. "For­get your half-breed and follow me, or your wife shall hear of this, I promise you."

Van Dyck cursed again. Had the governor and his wife discussed the girl? What was the relationship between Stuyvesant and his wife anyway? Who knew? But the threat to tell Margaretha was serious. It was one thing to leave her in doubt about where he was. But to have her know that he'd defied the governor, failed to protect his family—for that was what she'd say—all for the sake of his half-breed daughter . . . Such an accusation would be a serious matter. Margaretha wouldn't let this go. God knows what it would do to his business, and his family life. Curse Peg Leg. Damn him. He nodded to his men.

"We'll follow," he said, resignedly.

The prow of the boat swung round, pointing once again down the flow of the stream.

Van Dyck stared ahead. What an exercise in futility! Was he con­demned to follow Peg Leg all the way, now? The very thing he had been trying to avoid.

His hesitation had caused quite a distance to open up between his boat and the governor's. He thought of the English fleet ahead, of the deter­mined, wrong-headed governor, and of his wife's hurt and angry face. He thought of his innocent, defenseless little daughter who had waited for him. The gray palisade of rock above him seemed to echo with a sound­less lament as the water rushed by. He glanced back again. The village was out of sight, hidden by the trees. He had come to his daughter, then passed by on the other side.

"Turn back."


"We're going back. Turn round," he ordered them. The men were looking at each other, hesitating. "Do you want to fight the English, then?" he cried. The men glanced at each other again. And obeyed. The prow swung round toward the eastern bank.

Stuyvesant was still watching. He saw, and understood. And now his voice came up the stream in a great cry.

"Traitor!" The word reached van Dyck like a clap of thunder. And for all he knew, it went echoing up the great river, all the way to its origins in the distant north. "Traitor."

He gazed toward the governor's boat, but he did not alter his course. It was a parting of the ways, and they both knew it, as the great river swept Stuyvesant southward in its mighty current, and he, free for a moment at least, turned back to give the shining dollar to his daughter.

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nicolemarie, November 15, 2012 (view all comments by nicolemarie)
An amazing, entertaining, and educational novel. I learned so much about American history but was entertained with the stories that tied it all together. Read it!
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Product Details

Rutherfurd, Edward
Doubleday Books
Rutherford, Edward
Historical - General
Historical fiction
New York (N.Y.) History.
Literature-A to Z
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
9.46x6.44x1.79 in. 2.63 lbs.

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Product details 880 pages Doubleday Books - English 9780385521383 Reviews:
"Review" by , "History has never been so fun to read....Rutherfurd's research is exhaustive...fun....This is history, but with a very readable story line."
"Review" by , "Like James Michener and Leon Uris, Rutherfurd does a magnificent job of packaging a crackling good yarn within a digestible overview of complex historical circumstances and events."
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