The Day Henry Hudson Arrived
(Henry Hudson’s Half Moon arrives on Hudson River by Andrew Weiss)
“I remember my father’s face on the day Henry Hudson’s ship arrived in 1609.
“I was on the shore, probably not far from where we are seated now. My father and my three brothers were fishing in a canoe. Others in our tribe were also out in the same waters.
“The boats all came back in one big cluster. It was clear by their quick strokes with the paddles that something had happened. When I spotted my father’s canoe, I was surprised to find him glaring at me. He very rarely regarded me so closely.”
“I was the runt of the family. I was my mother’s child, meek, arched posture. I had a shy smile. It seemed I was the faithful and attendant daughter she had never had. I was her crutch of love and tenderness. Those were two things my father was incapable of providing.”
Benny’s head tilted and his grayish eyes were distant, showing the same light as his gentle smile. “I can still see my father now in the canoe. It seemed his face was hardened like steel, and his eyes were made of black glass.
“Seated ahead of him, rowing, were two of my brothers. They were tall and lean. Their faces were chiseled just like my father’s.
(Half Moon on Hudson River)
“I ran into the water to my father’s canoe and took two large baskets, heavy with live fish. My brothers jumped overboard and dragged the boat ashore. Those around us did the same.
“The voices of my tribesmen were deep, and they boomed in the lush forest that came right up to the shoreline. They declared the great Mannitto–the Supreme Being was coming. The fisherman had seen Him out on the horizon where the sea-widens. My father offered up no such proclamation. He was more reticent than usual.
“By the time we were on dry land, braves had already been dispatched to spread the news to the neighboring chieftains. Plans were quickly made for rituals and a great celebration.
“I began to step away from my father. I wanted to fall in with my friends and join in their unbridled excitement. My father surely sensed my desire as he came and gripped my shoulder. His head bent to my ear. We listened to the others prattle on about the great Mannito.
“Finally, my father spoke, addressing me in the same manner as he would in his later years, when he was senile and suffering from dementia. Even then he liked to repeat the words he had told me that day.”
“’I saw a great seabird,'” he said. “‘It was resting on the waters. Its large wings were spread wide and drying in the sun.'”
Coming next is Benny’s firsthand recollection of seeing Henry Hudson and his ship, the Half Moon.
Here are all the posts in this series: Episode Eighteen – October 2009