It was plain to be seen, when I put the first ques-
tion, that Master Boyd could give much more infor-
mation than he then seemed disposed to do.
He answered me almost curtly, never volunteering
even an opinion, and this was so entirely contrary to
his usual manner that my suspicions were aroused.
" It seems to me that Alec and I have the right to
know what is being done with the man," I said hotly.
" We captured him without aid from any one, and yet
it is forbidden us to know other than that he was put
on board the Caledonia."
" There's no call to lose your temper, lad, seein's how
the fellow has been held just as you delivered him,
except that a change of prisons was made, and I'm
allowin' the commodore ran away with the idea that
he might venture thus far without your permission."
I was ashamed, immediately after having spoken,
and the old man's reply only served to increase my
212 WITH PERRY ON LAKE ERIE.
" It is proving myself a simple, to speak in such a
tone," I said humbly. " There's no reason why either
Alec or I should know anything regarding the prisoner
which the commander wishes to keep a secret."
" From what I've heard and can guess, I allow you
two lads will not have the chance to complain of bein'
kept in the dark, so far as he's concerned, many days
"What do you mean?" I asked, my curiosity pro-
voked by his air of mystery.
" Time will show, and you're young enough to be
willin' to wait a few hours."
Having said this, old Silas turned away, as if his
breath was too valuable to be wasted on one like me,
and I went in search of Alec.
He w r as in the commodore's cabin, one of the officers
told me, and I, not daring to venture there without
special invitation, was forced to curb my impatience as
best I might.
An hour later, when I had heartily repented having
spoken so hastily to old Silas, a sailor came with an
order for me to present myself before the commander
in his quarters.
" The gunner has repeated what I said, and now I
must confess myself a meddling fool before the one
man above all others whose good opinion I wish to
PUT-IN-BAY. 2 1 3
keep," I muttered to myself while obeying the order,
and when I finally stood in the presence of the commo-
dore the expression on his face frightened me.
He looked as grave as if about to pronounce sentence
of death, and Alec, who sat on a locker near the bunk,
was pale and nervous.
"Surely," I said to myself, "there is no good reason
for their making so much ado about the words I spoke
thoughtlessly ; " for it seemed to me that I had been
summoned solely because of what I said to old Silas.
" Richard, did you know that Nathaniel Hubbard
was a prisoner on board this brig?" Commodore Perry
" Silas Boyd told me, when I was so foolish as to
"You must also understand that we cannot in justice
take him into action, and it is certain we shall engage
the enemy before many days have passed."
I nodded my head like any simple, wondering
what connection there was between such a proposi-
tion and my hasty words.
" You and my brother made a prisoner of the man,
and thereby performed most valuable service, because
if he had carried to the enemy information of what
we were about to do, it is probable the fleet would
not have gotten across the bar without a scratch."
214 WITH PERRY ON LAKE ERIE.
Again I nodded, and thinking now of that inter-
view, I can well understand what an idiot I must
" Because of the great service you performed, and
also since I believe both you lads may be trusted
implicitly, Captain Dobbins and myself decided, before
getting under way, that you were the only two who
should be allowed to know the outcome of the affair.
The man deserves death, for I have no doubt but
that he has played the spy upon the people of
Presque Isle these many days, but it is an open
question if he could be convicted of the dastardly
crime, owing to lack of proof. Then, again, your
father, Richard, is most eager to save an old neigh-
bor and former friend."
The commodore paused for an instant, as if at loss
for a word, and I looked in amazement at Alec, who
sat on the locker, gazing first at his brother and
then at me ; but it was impossible to read any
solution to the seeming mystery upon his face. He
answered my glance without a change of expression,
and I fancied he was questioning me with his eyes.
" Captain Dobbins and myself have decided that
no good can come of trying to punish the traitor,
while by showing mercy mistaken mercy, perhaps,
he yet has an opportunity to redeem himself.
PUT-IN-BAY. 2 1 5
Therefore it is that we take you lads into our confi-
dence, asking your assistance."
I was even more bewildered than before, and
gazed in open-mouthed astonishment at my comman-
" We depend upon you to liberate this man as
secretly as may be, trusting only Silas Boyd, who
will lend the necessary assistance, and allow it to
be believed that he escaped."
For a moment it seemed to me I must be dream-
ing ! I could not believe that my father, whom I
knew was devoted to his country, and Commodore
Perry, who had been literally consumed with impa-
tience because he could not come at our enemies,
would plot to release a traitor - - a man ready to sell
his friends and his native land to the highest bidder.
" I see that the proposition astonishes you, as it
did Alexander ; but it is a sound one, of which I
am not ashamed. Talk the matter over with my
brother, and by the time the plans can be put into
execution you lads will have come to a thorough
understanding concerning it."
Having said this the commodore arose, a move-
ment which I understood to be a token that the
interview was at an end, and as I turned to leave
the cabin Alec linked his arm in mine, walking in
2l6 WITH PERRY ON LAKE ERIE.
this fashion until we were come on deck, where I
observed old Silas gazing at us curiously.
Not until we were well forward on the forecastle-
deck where none could creep up on us unawares, did
I speak, and then it was to ask : -
"What do you think, Alec Perry, of this proposi-
tion to set free a traitor who would have delivered
us over to the enemy without remorse?"
" It has the approval of both your father and my
" Now you are begging the question. I asked for
" At first I looked at the matter much as I
believe you do ; but after thinking it over, and I have
had ample time, I fancy there is much of good
"In what way?"
It would be impossible for me to set down here
all the arguments Alec advanced in favor of the plan,
explaining as he spoke that he but repeated what
his brother had said. It is enough if I give the
chief points, and it appears to me that the case
should be made plain lest we be blamed for what we
First the difficulty of proving the man's guilt was
brought up, and I was free to admit that argument
PUT-IN-BAY. 2 1 7
a good one, because we had really seen nothing
which would absolutely fasten the crime upon him.
Then came the supposition that, being given a
chance to redeem himself, Nathaniel Hubbard might
become a better man. If he would do his part in
such a plan it was strong reason why he should be
set free ; but I doubted the man's desire for refor-
The shame which would come upon his family
with the publication of his guilt was another argu-
ment, and I did not try to answer it. The strongest
reason for freeing him was a general one, and did
more toward convincing me than any other. I knew
full well there were many in the United States who
cried out that this was an unjust war that Ameri-
cans had no right to uphold it, and once it was
noised about that a prominent citizen of the town
which had begged the hardest for troops was in full
sympathy with England, it would go far to\vard prov-
ing to the people at large that the wrongs of us on
the frontier were imaginary rather than real.
I know not, even now the words are written,
whether I have made my meaning plain ; but it is
the best I can do in the way of explanation. I
know for a certainty that the arguments convinced
me even against my will, and when we two lads came
2l8 WITH PERRY ON LAKE ERIE.
down from the forecastle-deck I was pledged to do
whatsoever lay in my power to set Nathaniel Hub-
bard free in such a manner that the crew of the
Lawrence, and all others in the fleet, for that matter,
should remain in ignorance of our movements.
"When is it to be done?" I asked, as we walked
aft, and Alec replied in a whisper : -
" After we have arrived at Put-in-Bay. There we
shall come to anchor, and ample time will be given
This was the ending to our conversation, and the
matter was not referred to again until the evening of
August i $th, when our fleet entered the harbor known
Then it was that Alec said to me, when our duties
were come to an end for the day, and we free to re-
main on deck or below as best pleased us : -
"The work must be done to-night. I will speak
privately with my brother, and do you broach the
subject to old Silas. We shall need the assistance
of at least one man, and Oliver believes the gunner
can be fully trusted."
Having said this Alec went into the commodore's
cabin, and I approached Master Boyd, who was pac-
ing the forward deck in a manner which told that he
had some weighty subject for thought.
" I would have speech with you, if it so be you
are at liberty," I began ; and before it was possible
to say more the old man interrupted gruffly : -
" Very well, lad ; but there's little need to make
many words over it, for I can guess what you would
talk about. It goes mightily agin the grain to help
such as that traitor ; but I suppose it must be done
if both the commodore and your father have set their
hearts upon it."
" How did you know what had been kept a pro-
found secret ? " I asked in surprise, forgetting for
the moment that the old man had intimated as much
a few moments before the plan \vas revealed to me.
" Your father, fearin' lest I mightn't take kindly to
the job, gave me a hint of what would be done, an'
there's no likelier spot than this in which to work the
traverse. I'll run the boat alongside near about mid-
night, an' you two lads must attend to the rest of the
Having said this much old Silas walked away, as
if unwilling to speak further on a disagreeable sub-
ject, and I sat on the rail aft, feeling more anger
against Nathaniel Hubbard because it was he who
forced us to such work, than for what he may have
done against his country.
Alec did not remain long below ; in less than half
220 WITH PERRY ON LAKE ERIE.
an hour he was by my side, holding up what I soon
saw was a key.
" With this we can unlock the door of his prison.
He is confined amidships in the petty officers' quarters."
" How are we to get him out secretly ? "
" That is for us to decide. My brother will aid
us so far as may be possible ; but he must not take
the chances of being known in the business. What
does old Silas say ? "
" No more than that he'll have a boat alongside at
midnight. That is to be the extent of his work, as
I understand it."
" How can it be done ? " Alec said, half to himself,
and it was beyond me to answer the question.
In silence we two sat on the rail with eyes fixed
upon the deck, trying to puzzle out what would have
perplexed older heads than were on our shoulders.
IT lacked half an hour of midnight when I saw dimly
in the gloom the outlines of a man in a boat on the
port side of the brig, and knew that old Silas had ful-
filled his promise.
Alec and I had moved restlessly to and fro during
the evening, sometimes walking together, and again
separating for a time, as if courting loneliness ; but
without having arrived at any decision regarding a
method by which the traitor could be secretly released.
We had formed plans in plenty ; but on discussing
them some fatal defect \vas presented, and midnight
was like to find us still undecided as to how the work
might be performed.
" We will trust to chances," Alec said finally, after
old Silas had made his boat fast and clambered up on
the brig's rail, where he seated himself. " It is not
possible to figure out every detail beyond liability of
failure, and we can only hold ourselves in readiness for
whatever may happen."
222 WITH PERRY ON LAKE ERIE.
This was not an unwise speech in view of the fact
that we had racked our brains in vain during four hours
or more, and it was with a most profound sense of
relief that I gave over the mental effort.
"Is it all arranged?" the old gunner asked in a
hoarse whisper, when I passed near where he was
" We have agreed upon nothing," I replied. " At
the last moment matters may turn in our favor."
" Does the traitor know what we are figuring on ? "
" I suppose Alec's brother has given him a hint of
how matters stand."
"Why not lounge around below, and see how the
land lays ? "
" Look here, Master Boyd," I said, seized by a sud-
den idea, " why should you not take this matter in
hand ? You can make a success where we would meet
only with failure."
"I'm not minded to dirty my hands more than is
necessary," the old man replied emphatically. " If
traitors are to be turned loose instead of hanged, let
some one else work the traverse."
There was little thought in my mind that I might be
able to convince Silas Boyd it was his duty to help us
yet further than had been promised ; but, having noth-
ing better to do, I set about the task, and by virtue
of soft words, mingled with much flattery, I finally suc-
ceeded so far that he said, as if angry because of hav-
ing yielded : -
" I'll make a try for it, lad, though it's hard lines
when a man at my time of life sets about lendin' trai-
tors a helpin' hand. Get into the boat, an' see that
Alec is with you, for if it so be I succeed, we'll need
to get away in a hurry."
Then the old gunner went below, and I walked
aft where my comrade was standing near the head
of the companionway, hoping, most likely, that his
brother might come on deck to offer some sugges-
An exclamation of relief and joy burst from his
lips when I repeated what had passed between Master
Boyd and myself, and it can readily be fancied that
we lost no time in taking our places in the little
craft, which had been borrowed from one of the gun-
boats, as I afterward learned.
During fully an hour we remained silent and mo-
tionless, alternately hoping old Silas would succeed,
and fearing lest he had been discovered, and then
two dark forms appeared on the rail above us.
I would have called aloud in order to make certain
who they were, but that Alec prevented any such in-
discretion by placing his hand firmly over my mouth,
224 WITH PERRY ON LAKE ERIE.
and while I was thus powerless to speak the gunner
and the traitor descended.
Old Silas cast off the painter, giving the light skiff
a vigorous push which sent her far away from the
brig's side, and when we were swallowed up by the
gloom Alec and I plied the oars.
"Where shall we land?" my comrade asked, when
we were midway between the brig and the shore.
" It makes little difference," Master Boyd replied
sulkily, as if angry with himself because of having
taken part in such business. " So that we gain the
mainland, one place is as good as another."
No other word was spoken until the skiff's bow
grated upon the sand, and our prisoner arose to his
feet. Then he said in a low tone, his voice trembling
with suppressed emotion :
" I shall never forget what has been done this
night. The word of one like me is not counted for
much by those who hold true to their country, yet I
ask you to believe it. I have come to realize fully
the enormity of my crime, although until taken pris-
oner I believed myself justified in the course pursued.
From this moment it shall be my earnest endeavor to
repair the wrongs committed against my countrymen."
Having said this he stepped ashore, and an instant
later was lost to view in the gloom.
i HE STEPPED ASHORE, AND AN INSTANT LATER WAS LOST TO VIEW."
THE NEW YORK
A8TOB, LENOX AND
" Perhaps it is best he should go free," Alec said
with a long-drawn sigh of relief, and old Silas replied
in an angry tone : -
" We have made ourselves akin to him by this
night's work, and I shall never have the same respect
for myself that I had four-and-twenty hours ago."
Then he took up the oars, pulling vigorously toward
the brig, and after a brief interval I made bold to
" How did you succeed in getting him off ? "
" It was a simple matter. The sentry went forward to
light his pipe; and, with the key you gave me, the door
was soon opened. Hubbard must have been warned
of what would happen, for he came forward immedi-
ately, and I had but to lead the way after having
locked the cabin as before. We met no one while
coming aft, and soon it was so dark that those on
deck might have rubbed elbows with us and not
known who walked by my side."
" It is well over, and 1 feel as if a great load had
been lifted from my shoulders," Alec exclaimed.
" With me it is as if a heavy burden had been put
on my back," old Silas added. " The business is done,
so far as concerns settin' the traitor free ; but now we
stand a chance of this night's work bein' known to
our messmates, in which case not one of 'em would so
226 WITH PERRY ON LAKE ERIE.
much as look at us again. There'll be a hue an' cry
when it's known he's no longer aboard, an' there's a
good show of our bein' suspected."
This last possibility did not trouble either Alec or I
as it did the old man, and we went on board the brig
with the belief that the disagreeable matter was finally
We turned in quietly, as may well be imagined, but
I had not gained any great amount of sleep when I
was awakened by a tumult on deck.
" Hubbard's escape has been discovered," Alec whis-
pered when I sprang up, so bewildered for the instant
that I failed to understand the meaning of the noise.
" Our best plan is to remain here as if yet asleep."
As he suggested, so we did, and after a short time
the confusion subsided ; when, despite the gravity of
the situation, slumber again closed my eyelids.
It was broad day when I awakened ; Alec was stand-
ing by the side of my hammock, and the report he
made was most assuring.
" I have just been on deck. Matters there are in our
favor ; it is believed that the key was left in Hubbard's
door by the marine who served him with supper "
"That can easily be disproven by finding the key."
" It has been kept in the mess-room, in charge of the
third officer, who now reports it missing. In my opin-
ion, old Silas got hold of it after coming aboard last
night. At all events, there appears to be little fear of
our being suspected, more particularly since we shall
put to sea again as soon as a fresh supply of water can
be taken aboard."
Although the escape of a prisoner through what
appeared to be carelessness on the part of his keepers
was a serious matter, it sank into insignificance when a
sail was sighted three miles off the entrance of the har-
bor, and signals were set for the Scorpion to put off in
The schooner was quickly gotten under way, and
while this was being done orders were given for the
entire fleet to follow.
In less than ten minutes after the lookout had re-
ported the stranger, our squadron was carrying full sail,
the Scorpion leading by half a mile or more, and every
man laboring under the greatest excitement, for it surely
appeared as if we were in a fair way to make a prize.
The escape of the traitor was entirely forgotten, for
the time being, and we lads knew full well that the
commodore would not press the matter unless it should
seem necessary in order to avoid suspicion.
Most exciting was this chase after we made out be-
yond doubt that the strange sail was a British vessel
228 WITH PERRY ON LAKE ERIE.
Every stitch of canvas was spread, and the question
as to which craft in the fleet was the best sailer bid fair
to be settled before we were come up with the chase.
The Britisher was a clipper, and soon gave evidence
that she could hold her own against our swiftest vessel ;
but where there were so many against one it seemed
almost certain we might succeed in cornering her.
I venture to say that every man aboard the Lawrence,
including the commodore himself, remained on deck
during the entire day, watching the chase eagerly.
Now and then it would seem as if the Scorpion,
which craft was by long odds the swiftest of the fleet,
gained on the stranger, and our hopes rose accordingly ;
but only to be dashed a short time later when the Brit-
isher recovered her lost ground, darting ahead at such a
pace as threatened to give her an advantage that could
not be overcome.
The chase headed for the Canadian shore on first dis-
covering our squadron ; but, fearing most likely that we
might cut her off on the west and east, she soon hauled
around on a course directly up the lake.
Then, when our vessels were strung out in a line, she
came about, actually doubling on us until headed for
the North Foreland.
Signals were set for the fleet to make for the Cana-
dian shore, and we were no more than on a new course
when the stranger hauled around once more, this time
making directly for Put-in-Bay.
" She counts on givin' us the slip among the islands,"
old Silas said late in the day, when it was certain the
Britisher could not safely make another turn, because
orders had been given for our vessels to take such a
course as would cut her off from any more twisting and
" She's lost, once she gets inshore," Alec replied glee-
fully. "We should be able to hem her in with but little
trouble, and I warrant that Oliver isn't losing the sight
of such a possibility."
" He may have such a plan in mind, but I mis-
doubt his being able to carry it out," the gunner said,
as he scanned the horizon. " Unless this is the time
when all signs fail, we'll soon have so much wind
that it will be a question of shortening canvas, and
the commodore won't be so venturesome as to fool
around among these islands, takin' the chances of
losin' one or more of the fleet."
Until this moment I had failed to note the un-
pleasant fact that the wind was rising rapidly.
Low-hanging clouds in the east told of a storm,
accompanied by more of a breeze than would be com-
fortable or pleasant, and, in addition, night was close
230 WITH PERRY ON LAKE ERIE.
" The Britisher is in as much danger of coming to
grief as we are," Alec said at length, after observing
the signs of which I have spoken. " Our pilot should
know the channels as well as theirs, and-
An exclamation of dismay from Master Boyd's lips
checked his speech, and, following the direction of
the gunner's outstretched hand, we saw the gallant
little Scorpion come to a sudden stop, roll to and fro
for an instant, after which she settled down in such
manner as told us she had taken ground.
An instant later her canvas was furled, and we
knew that, so far as she was concerned, the chase
had come to an end.
The Britisher had disappeared behind Put-in-Bay
island, and she was no more than shut out from our
view when the squall burst upon us with a fury such
as I have seldom seen equalled.
It surely seemed as if the elements conspired to
aid our enemies, and at that moment I lost hope.
Commodore Perry was a man who appeared to gain
courage when the outlook was most gloomy, and now
he gave new proof of his ability to command.
Signals were set for the fleet to heave to, and
when this had been done, the first officer was sent
to each vessel with instructions as to where they
The night had fully come before these orders could
be obeyed, and then, from the location of the riding-
lights, we could see that each craft had been sta-
tioned where she might best guard the outlet from
Unless the Britisher had put to sea during the
first outburst of the tempest, she was held prisoner,
and we might make her our prize when the day
Master Champlin had already sent word that his
schooner was resting easily on the sands, and could
readily be hauled off when the wind abated, there-