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White Feather

To show the white feather. To show cowardice. No gamecock has a white feather. A white feather indicates a cross-breed in birds.

Showing the white feather.
Some years ago a bloody war was raging between the Indians and settlers of the backwoods of North America. A Quaker, who refused to fly, saw one day a horde of savages rushing down towards his house. He set food before them, and when they had eaten the chief fastened a white feather over the door as a badge of friendship and peace. Though many bands passed that house, none ever violated the covenant by injuring its inmates or property.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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