Love and Treason

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The tribes that inhabited Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard before the whites settled the country were constantly at war, and the people of the western island once resolved to surprise those of Nantucket and slay as many as possible before they could arm or organize for battle. The attack was to be made before daybreak, at an hour when their intended victims would be asleep in their wigwams, but on rowing softly to the hostile shore, while the stars were still lingering in the west, the warriors were surprised at finding the enemy alert and waiting their arrival with bows and spears in hand. To proceed would have been suicidal, and they returned to their villages, puzzled and disheartened. Not for some years did they learn how the camp had been apprised, but at the end of that time, the two tribes being at peace, one of their young men married a girl of Nantucket, with whom he had long been in love, and confessed that on the night preceding the attack he had stolen to the beach, crossed to Nantucket on a neck of sand that then joined the islands, and was uncovered only at low tide, sought his mistress, warned her of the attack, that she, at least, might not be killed; then, at a mad run, with waves of the rising tide lapping his feet, he returned to his people, who had not missed him. He set off with a grave and innocent face in the morning, and was as much surprised as any one when he found the enemy in arms.

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