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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

Woodland Adventures

By William Wood (fl. 1629–1635)

[From New-England’s Prospect. 1635.]

TO relate how some English bodies have borne out cold, will (it may be) startle the belief of some, it being so strange, yet not so strange as true. A certain man being something distracted, broke away from his keeper, and running into the wood could not be found with much seeking after; but four days being expired, he returned, to appearance as well in body as at his egress, and in mind much better. For a madman to hit home through the unbeaten woods, was strange; but to live without meat or drink in the deep of winter, stranger; and yet return home bettered, was most strange. But if truth may gain belief, you may behold a more superlative strangeness. A certain maid in the extremity of cold weather (as it fell out) took an uncertain journey, in her intent short, not above four miles, yet long in event; for losing her way, she wandered six or seven days in most bitter weather, not having one bit of bread to strengthen her; sometimes a fresh spring quenched her thirst, which was all the refreshment she had. The snow being upon the ground at first, she might have tracked her own footsteps back again, but wanting that understanding, she wandered till God by His special providence brought her to the place she went from, where she lives to this day….

Two men going a-fowling, appointed at evening to meet at a certain pond side, to share equally, and to return home; one of these gunners having killed a seal, or sea-calf, brought it to the pond where he was to meet his comrade, afterwards returning to the sea-side for more game, and having loaded himself with more geese and ducks, he repaired to the pond, where he saw a great bear feeding on his seal, which caused him to throw down his load, and give the bear a salute; which though it was but with goose shot, yet tumbled him over and over; whereupon the man, supposing him to be in a manner dead, ran and beat him with the handle of his gun. The bear perceiving him to be such a coward as to strike him when he was down, scrambled up, standing at defiance with him, scratching his legs, tearing his clothes and face, who stood it out till his six-foot gun was broken in the middle; then being deprived of his weapon, he ran up to the shoulders into the pond, where he remained till the bear was gone, and his mate come in, who accompanied him home.


These Indians are a people of a tall stature, of long grim visages, slender waisted, and exceeding great arms and thighs, wherein they say their strength lieth; and this I rather believe, because an honest gentleman told me, upon his own knowledge, that he saw one of them with a fillip of his finger kill a dog, who afterwards flayed him and sod him, and ate him to his dinner. They are so hardy that they can eat such things as would make other Indians sick to look upon. Being destitute of fish and flesh, they suffice hunger, and maintain nature with the use of vegetatives; but that which they most hunt after is the flesh of man; their custom is, if they get a stranger near their habitations, not to butcher him immediately, but keep him in as good plight as they can, feeding him with the best victuals they have; as a near neighboring Indian assured me, who found what he had spoke true by a lamentable experience, still wearing the cognizance of their cruelty on his naked arm; who, being taken by them, ate of their food, lodged in their beds; nay, he was brought forth every day to be new painted, piped unto, and hemmed in with a ring of bare-skinned morris-dancers, who presented their antiques before him. In a word, when they had sorted enough about this walking May-pole, a rough-hewn satyr cutteth a gobblit of flesh from his brawny arm, eating it in his view, searing it with a fire-brand, lest the blood should be wasted before the morn, at the dawning whereof they told him they would make an end as they had begun.

He answered that he cared as little for their threats as they did for his life, not fearing death; whereupon they led him bound into a wigwam, where he sat as a condemned prisoner, grating his teeth for anger, being for the present so hampered, and the next day to be entombed in so many living sepulchres; he extends his strength to the utmost, breaketh the bands from his hands, and loosening the cords from his feet, thought at once to be revenged for the flesh of his arm, and finding a hatchet, lays on with an arm of revenge to the unliving of ten men at the first onset; afterwards taking opportunity of the darkness of the dead of the night, fled through the woods, and came to his native home, where he still lives to rehearse his happy escape.