Gulder waded through the muck and swatted at the spit of flies hovering around his face.
New Netherland. Such a grandiose name for this shabby place, but that was Stuyvesant all over. Pompous and self-important, quick to take insult, and––above all––immensely ambitious, Stuyvesant’s first action upon landing was to read the proclamation declaring himself Director-General before bothering to inquire if anyone else lived here.
Gulder had seen signs unnoticed by the others. Strips of bark peeled from birch trees, ax marks on a few of the oaks. He stared into the deep forest, thinking he saw movement. He unslung his arquebus and blew on the smoldering match to freshen its spark.
Two men with copper-colored skin, leather breechclouts and fringed leggings walked into the clearing. They carried lances that appeared ceremonial, being decorated with long feathers beneath stone points.
Gulder waved, other hand steady on his weapon.
Historical Note: In 1645, Peter Stuyvesant was made Director-General of the New Netherland colony. Known for his heated temper, he soon became involved in a border dispute with New Haven Governor Theophilius Eaton, and he later argued with Brant van Slechtenhorst over the ownership of a region of land—including Fort Orange–outside his colony. In 1653 New Amsterdam became an official settlement. Shortly afterward, a convention of deputies from the various villages met to demand reforms, but Stuyvesant refused to listen to them, maintaining that his authority was God alone.
Stuyvesant was not a religiously tolerant man, and on one occasion he ordered the public torture of Robert Hodgson, an influential Quaker preacher.