William’s Thanksgiving Hunt – A Story of the First Thanksgiving

In Plymouth Colony there lived a young Pilgrim boy named William. One afternoon, William was reading next to the fire with his dog, Spartacus, when the door opened. Pa walked in, carrying a large turkey. 

“This bird will be the main course for the feast tonight!” Pa said proudly. 

Spartacus sniffed the large bird on the table, and licked his lips. 

“You’d better watch that dog, William,” Pa warned. “I don’t want him getting hold of that turkey.”

“Yes Pa,” replied William, and he tugged Spartacus away from the table by his collar. 

Pa went out to chop firewood. William returned to his school books. But soon William felt distracted and his eyelids grew heavy. A few minutes later he fell into a gentle sleep. 

William slept peacefully, and dreamt of the young Native American girl with long braids, who he had glimpsed the day before.

Suddenly William was rudely awakened by the deep angry voice of his father. 

“WILLIAM!” Pa exclaimed. William’s eyes snapped open. Right away, he saw what was wrong. The turkey on the table was gone! In its place stood Spartacus, licking the plate, with his belly protruding. 

“Spartacus, get off the table!” William yelled. Pa grabbed Spartacus by the collar and pulled him out the door. Spartacus yelped with dismay. Pa slammed the door shut and turned to his son. 

“I told you to watch that dog! You let him eat the entire turkey! Now we have no bird for tonight’s feast!” 

William stared at the floor sheepishly. “Spartacus didn’t know what he was doing, Pa,” he said. 

“It’s not Spartacus I’m upset with,” answered Pa. “He doesn’t know any better, but you should have! It was your responsibility to keep him away from the turkey. It took me all morning to catch that bird, and I’m not going out hunting again.”

“So we’re not having the feast?” asked William. 

“That’s up to you now, son,” said Pa. “You caused this problem, so you better solve it. Go find us a new turkey, or there will be no feast tonight!” 

And with that, Pa nudged his son out the door.

William stood next to Spartacus. They looked at one another. 

“Thanks a lot, boy,” William grumbled. Spartacus yawned.

They set out into the forest. 

William and Spartacus wandered down a gently sloping hill, traveling through tall ferns and among towering pine trees. An hour passed before William stopped. 

“Look, Spartacus,” he said, pointing to the ground. “Turkey tracks!” Spartacus sniffed the ground, following the arrow-shaped prints with his nose. They followed the trail to a collection of dark green bushes. 

William peered over the bushes and spotted a plump turkey pecking at a few seeds on the ground. 

William turned to Spartacus. “All right, boy,” he whispered. “Stay very quiet. I’m going to sneak around and grab him by his feet.”

He crept around the bushes. When he got to the other side, Spartacus let out a loud bark and jumped over the bushes. Spartacus dashed after the turkey. The turkey let out a series of ridiculous gobbling noises and broke into a sprint. As Spartacus drew closer the turkey flapped its wings and flew off into the air. 

Spartacus barked one more time and then trotted happily back to William, with his tongue hanging from his mouth. 

“As a hunting dog, you’re worse than useless,” said William with a sigh. “Come on, let’s find ourselves another turkey.” And off they went. 

As William and Spartacus wandered through the forest, they soon came upon a winding stream.  Spartacus played in the water, jumping and splashing, and then running back and shaking water all over William. 

Near the stream grew a massive ancient oak tree, and at the base of the tree William spotted a turkey nest. 

“I’ll just wait here by the stream until the turkey returns to its nest, and then I’ll have my dinner!” 

He waited for an hour and a half and indeed, the turkey did return.  

“Once I catch this turkey,” said William, “Pa will no longer be mad at me, and I’ll be able to join everyone for the great feast.” 

William stepped back to throw a weighted net over the turkey. But at that moment, two tiny turkey chicks peeked out from the edge of the nest. William’s stomach dropped. 

“It’s a mother turkey!” he exclaimed. He lowered his net. “If we eat this turkey, those little chicks will perish.” 

William let out a heavy sigh. “Let’s keep looking, Spartacus.” They continued on their way. 

They traveled through a golden meadow. Spartacus disappeared into the tall grass, and William could only see him by the tip of his tail. When the meadow ended William and Spartacus found themselves at the foot of a rocky mountainside. 

Without a warning, a turkey shot out from the golden meado and scrambled up a steep and narrow mountain path. William and Spartacus dashed after the bird. The turkey turned left and ran out of sight at a sharp corner marked by an enormous rectangular stone. 

When William arrived at the corner he saw that the path split. To the left loomed a dark, ominous cave, and to the right the path continued. Which way had the turkey gone? 

“Spartacus, this your chance to redeem yourself,” William said to his dog. “Use your nose to track down the scent of that turkey!” 

Spartacus started sniffing the ground. He roamed in circles until he picked up a strong smell. He stopped in front of the dark cave. 

“Is the turkey in there? Good work boy!” said William. “I’ll make a torch using sticks and some grass from the meadow. Otherwise, I won’t be able to see in there.” 

William got to work, collecting the materials he needed to make his torch. When he had tied all the tinder into a tight bundle with the grass, he lit the torch using a piece of flint and iron pyrite. 

He followed Spartacus into the cave. The small torch illuminated the stone corridor. Spartacus pursued his scent, keeping his nose close to the ground. 

The cavern corridor expanded, and stone ceiling grew higher. William and Spartacus arrived in a room in the cave, and there William saw the silhouette of the animal Spartacus had been tracking. His heart skipped a beat. 

“That’s not a turkey. That’s a BEAR! RUN!” He turned on his heels. At that moment the bear’s nostrils flared. It opened its eyes and spotted the two intruders. With a horrible roar the bear’s heavy paw lashed out at Spartacus, who jumped out of the way just in time, and ran after William toward the mouth of the cave. 

The pair of hunters dashed out of the cave and ran down the path to the right. The bear charged to the mouth of the cave, let out a menacing growl, and then halted. He waited for a moment, and then, apparently satisfied that the intruders were gone, he turned around and walked back into the cave. 

William’s heart beat rapidly. He sat down on the mountainside to calm down and catch his breath. He looked down the path, and realized that the turkey they had been chasing would surely be gone by now. He felt upset about how the whole day had turned out. 

“This is all your fault!” he said angrily to Spartacus. “You ate the turkey! Then you scared off the turkey behind the bushes, and now you led us into a cave with a bear! Dogs are supposed to help their masters. You’re not helpful at all!” 

Spartacus stared blankly at William. Then he jumped up, licked William in the face, and bounded off into the wilderness, absentminded and carefree. 

A moment later Spartacus stopped. He lifted his nose into the air and sniffed. His tail started to wag and he ran up the hill and out of sight. William walked after him, and when he reach the top of the hill he saw that Spartacus was not alone. 

There was a younger dog with him, with yellow fur and spots. They wrestled and chased one another. 

“Where did this dog come from?” William wondered. He reached out to the yellow dog, and immediately it rolled over so William could pet its belly. 

“You’re certainly used to humans,” William said, “But where is your owner?” 

William scanned his surroundings. He saw no sign of anyone else.

“There you are!” a voice suddenly called. William turned and his cheeks flushed. It was the Native American girl he had seen the other day. 

“Is this your dog?” William asked. 

The girl nodded. “His name is Maize. I am Weetamoo.”

“My name is William, and that’s Spartacus.” 

“You’re from the colony near the sea, aren’t you?” asked Weetamoo. 

“That’s right,” answered William. “It’s called Plymouth.” 

“But that’s far away,” replied Weetamoo. “What are you doing all the way out here?” 

And William told her all about the unfortunate morning, how he had fallen asleep and how Spartacus had eaten the turkey. Then he told her about his misfortune with trying to catch a new turkey for the feast.

“A feast? Tonight? That sounds exciting,” said Weetamoo. “Maybe I can help!” And she ran into the woods, with her dog Maize trailing behind her. 

William wondered what she was up to. He waited in the woods with Spartacus. A long time passed. The sun was beginning to reach the tree tops, and sky was starting to glow gold and pink. 

Just when he began to wonder if Weetamoo was ever going to return, Maize ran down the path and started to tussle with Spartacus. A moment later Weetamoo appeared at the top of the hill, along with many other Native Americans. Some were carrying large sacks of corn, beans, and squash. A tall Native American who walked beside Weetamoo was holding a large turkey. 

Weetamoo took the turkey and handed it to William. 

“Now we can all have a feast together,” Weetamoo said happily. 

“I don’t know what to say!” William replied gratefully. “Thank you, Weetamoo. This makes everything better!” 

William led the Native Americans to Plymouth, feeling triumphant. When William’s father saw the large turkey and the new guests, he smiled proudly. 

“We’d better bring out some more chairs!” he said. “This is going to be a spectacular feast.” 

And indeed it was. The feast went on all night, and afterward, it would be remembered as the First Thanksgiving. 

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