arms, and sometimes those of the enemy.
General Ames handled his men with great
skill ; his deadliest foe could not deny that.
Once he outgeneralled our commander in the
following manner : He massed his gunners on
our left and opened a brisk fire, under cover of
which a single company (six men) advanced on
that angle of the fort. Our reserves on the
right rushed over to defend the threatened
point. Meanwhile, four companies of the ene
my s sealers made a detour round the foot of
the hill, and dashed into Fort Slatter without
opposition. At the same moment General
Ames s gunners closed in on our left, and there
we were between two fires. Of course we had
to vacate the fort. A cloud rested on General
Harris s military reputation until his superior
tactics enabled him to dispossess the enemy.
148 THE STORY OF A BAD BOY
As the winter wore on, the war-spirit waxed
fiercer and fiercer. Finally the provision against
using heavy substances in the snowballs was
disregarded. A ball stuck full of sand-bird
shot came tearing into Fort Slatter. In re
taliation, General Harris ordered a broadside
of shells ; /. e. snowballs containing marbles.
After this, both sides never failed to freeze
It was no longer child s play to march up to
the walls of Fort Slatter, nor was the position
of the besieged less perilous. At every assault
three or four boys on each side were disabled.
It was not an infrequent occurrence for the
combatants to hold up a flag of truce while
they removed some insensible comrade.
Matters grew worse and worse. Seven
North-Enders had been seriously wounded,
and a dozen South-Enders were reported on
the sick list. The selectmen of the town
awoke to the fact of what was going on, and
detailed a posse of police to prevent further
disturbance. The boys at the foot of the hill,
South-Enders as it happened, finding them
selves assailed in the rear and on the flank,
turned round and attempted to beat off the
watchmen. In this they were sustained by
numerous volunteers from the fort, who looked
upon the interference as tyrannical.
THE STORY OF A BAD BOY 149
The watch were determined fellows, and
charged the boys valiantly, driving them all
into the fort, where we made common cause,
fighting side by side like the best of friends.
In vain the four guardians of the peace rushed
up the hill, flourishing their clubs and calling
upon us to surrender. They could not get
within ten yards of the fort, our fire was so de
structive. In one of the onsets a man named
Mugridge, more valorous than his peers, threw
himself upon the parapet, when he was seized
by twenty pairs of hands, and dragged inside
the breastwork, where fifteen boys sat down on
him to keep him quiet.
Perceiving that it was impossible with their
small number to dislodge us, the watch sent
for reinforcements. Their call was responded
to, not only by the whole constabulary force
(eight men), but by a numerous body of citi
zens, who had become alarmed at the prospect
of a riot. This formidable array brought us to
our senses : we began to think that may be
discretion was the better part of valor. Gen
eral Harris and General Ames, with their
respective staffs, held a council of war in the
hospital, and a backward movement was de
cided on. So, after one grand farewell volley,
we fled, sliding, jumping, rolling, tumbling
down the quarry at the rear of the fort, and
escaped without losing a man.
150 THE STORY OF A BAD BOY
But we lost Fort Slatter forever. Those
battle-scarred ramparts were razed to the
ground, and humiliating ashes sprinkled over
the historic spot, near which a solitary lynx-
eyed policeman was seen prowling from time
to time during the rest of the winter.
The event passed into a legend, and after
wards, when later instances of pluck and endur
ance were spoken of, the boys would say, " By
golly ! you ought to have been at the fights on
Slatter s Hill ! "
THE CRUISE OF THE DOLPHIN
IT was spring again. The snow had faded
away like a dream, and we were awakened, so to
speak, by the sudden chirping of robins in our
back garden. Marvellous transformation of
snow-drifts into lilacs, wondrous miracle of the
unfolding leaf! We read in the Holy Book
how our Saviour, at the marriage feast, changed
the water into wine ; we pause and wonder,
but every hour a greater miracle is wrought
at our feet, if we have but eyes to see it.
I had now been a year at Rivermouth. If
you do not know what sort of boy I was, it is
not because I have been lacking in frankness
with you. Of my progress at school I say
little ; for this is a story, pure and simple, and
not a treatise on education. Behold me, how
ever, well up in most of the classes. I have
worn my Latin grammar into tatters, and am
in the first book of Virgil. I interlard my
conversation at home with easy quotations
from that poet, and impress Captain Nutter
152 THE STORY OF A BAD BOY
with a lofty notion of my learning. I am like
wise translating Les Aventures de Te*le"maque
from the French, and shall tackle Blair s Lec
tures the next term. I am ashamed of my
crude composition about The Horse, and can
do better now. Sometimes my head almost
aches with the variety of my knowledge. I
consider Mr. Grimshaw the greatest scholar
that ever lived, and I do not know which I
would rather be a learned man like him, or
My thoughts revert to this particular spring
more frequently than to any other period of my
boyhood, for it was marked by an event that
left an indelible impression on my memory.
As I pen these pages, I feel that I am writing
of something which happened yesterday, so
vividly it all comes back to me.
Every Rivermouth boy looks upon the sea
as being in some way mixed up with his des
tiny. While he is yet a baby lying in his
cradle, he hears the dull, far-off boom of the
breakers ; when he is older, he wanders by the
sandy shore, watching the waves that come
plunging up the beach like white-maned sea
horses, as Thoreau calls them ; his eye follows
the lessening sail as it fades into the blue hori
zon, and he burns for the time when he shall
stand on the quarter-deck of his own ship, and
THE STORY OF A BAD BOY 153
go sailing proudly across that mysterious waste
Then the town itself is full of hints and
flavors of the sea. The gables and roofs of
the houses facing eastward are covered with
red rust, like the flukes of old anchors ; a salty
smell pervades the air, and dense gray fogs,
the very breath of Ocean, periodically creep up
into the quiet streets and envelop everything.
The terrific storms that lash the coast ; the
kelp and spars, and sometimes the bodies of
drowned men, tossed on shore by the scornful
waves; the shipyards, the wharves, and the
tawny fleet of fishing-smacks yearly fitted out
at Rivermouth these things, and a hundred
other, feed the imagination and fill the brain
of every healthy boy with dreams of adventure.
He learns to swim almost as soon as he can
walk ; he draws in with his mother s milk the
art of handling an oar : he is born a sailor,
whatever he may turn out to be afterwards.
To own the whole or a portion of a rowboat
is his earliest ambition. No wonder that I,
born to this life, and coming back to it with
freshest sympathies, should have caught the
prevailing infection. No wonder I longed to
buy a part of the trim little sailboat Dolphin,
which chanced just then to be in the market.
This was in the latter part of May.
154 THE STORY OF A BAD BOY
Three shares, at five or six dollars each, I
forget which, had already been taken by Phil
Adams, Fred Langdon, and Binny Wallace.
The fourth and remaining share hung fire.
Unless a purchaser could be found for this, the
bargain was to fall through.
I am afraid I required but slight urging to
join in the investment. I had four dollars and
fifty cents on hand, and the treasurer of the
Centipedes advanced me the balance, receiving
my silver pencil-case as ample security. It was
a proud moment when I stood on the wharf
with my partners, inspecting the Dolphin,
moored at the foot of a very slippery flight of
steps. She was painted white with, a green
stripe outside, and on the stern a yellow dol
phin, with its scarlet mouth wide open, stared
with a surprised expression at its own reflec
tion in the water. The boat was a great bar
I whirled my cap in the air, and ran to the
stairs leading down from the wharf, when a
hand was laid gently on my shoulder. I turned,
and faced Captain Nutter. I never saw such
an old sharp-eye as he was in those days.
I knew he would not be angry with me for
buying a rowboat ; but I also knew that the
little bowsprit suggesting a jib and the taper
ing mast ready for its few square feet of can-
THE STORY OF A BAD BOY 155
vas were trifles not likely to meet his approval.
As far as rowing on the river, among the
wharves, was concerned, the Captain had long
since withdrawn his decided objections, having
convinced himself, by going out with me sev
eral times, that I could manage a pair of sculls
as well as anybody.
I was right in my surmises. He commanded
me, in the most emphatic terms, never to go
out in the Dolphin without leaving the mast in
the boat-house. This curtailed my anticipated
sport, but the pleasure of having a pull when
ever I wanted it remained. I never disobeyed
the Captain s orders touching the sail, though
I sometimes extended my row beyond the
points he had indicated.
The river was dangerous for sailboats.
Squalls, without the slightest warning, were of
frequent occurrence ; scarcely a year passed
that three or four persons were not drowned
under the very windows of the town, and these,
oddly enough, were generally sea-captains, who
either did not understand the river, or lacked
the skill to handle a small craft.
A knowledge of such disasters, one of which
I witnessed, consoled me somewhat when I
saw Phil Adams skimming over the water in
a spanking breeze with every stitch of canvas
set. There were few better yachtsmen than
156 THE STORY OF A BAD BOY
Phil Adams. He usually went sailing alone,
for both Langdon and Binny Wallace were
under the same restrictions I was.
Not long after the purchase of the boat, we
planned an excursion to Sandpeep Island, the
last of the islands in the harbor. We purposed
to start early in the morning, and return with
the tide in the moonlight. Our only difficulty
was to obtain a whole day s exemption from
school, the customary half-holiday not being
long enough for our picnic. Somehow, we
could not work it ; but fortune arranged it for
us. I may say here, that, whatever else I did,
I never played truant (" hookey " we called it)
in my life.
One afternoon the four owners of the Dol
phin exchanged significant glances when Mr.
Grimshaw announced from the desk that there
would be no school the following day, he hav
ing just received intelligence of the death of
his uncle in Boston. I was sincerely attached
to Mr. Grimshaw, but I am afraid that the
death of his uncle did not affect me as it ought
to have done.
We were up before sunrise the next morn
ing, in order to take advantage of the flood-
tide, which waits for no man. Our prepara
tions for the cruise were made the previous
evening. In the way of eatables and drink-
THE STORY OF A BAD BOY 157
ables, we had stored in the stern of the Dol
phin a generous bag of hard-tack (for the chow
der), a piece of pork to fry the cunners in,
three gigantic apple pies (bought at Pettingil s),
half a dozen lemons, and a keg of spring water
the last-named article we slung over the
side, to keep it cool, as soon as we got under
way. The crockery and the bricks for our
camp-stove we placed in the bows with the
groceries, which included sugar, pepper, salt,
and a bottle of pickles. Phil Adams contrib
uted to the outfit a small tent of unbleached
cotton cloth, under which we intended to take
We unshipped the mast, threw in an extra
oar, and were ready to embark. I do not be
lieve that Christopher Columbus, when he
started on his rather successful voyage of dis
covery, felt half the responsibility and impor
tance that weighed upon me as I sat on the
middle seat of the Dolphin, with my oar rest
ing in the rowlock. I wonder if Christopher
Columbus quietly slipped out of the house
without letting his estimable family know what
he was up to ? Charley Marden, whose father
had promised to cane him if he ever stepped
foot on sail or row boat, came down to the
wharf in a sour-grape humor, to see us off.
Nothing would tempt him to go out on the
158 THE STORY OF A BAD BOY
river in such a crazy clam-shell of a boat. He
pretended that he did not expect to behold us
alive again, and tried to throw a wet blanket
over the expedition.
"Guess you 11 have a squally time of it," said
Charley, casting off the painter. " I 11 drop
in at old Newbury s " (Newbury was the parish
undertaker) " and leave word, as I go along ! "
" Bosh ! " muttered Phil Adams, sticking the
boat-hook into the string-piece of the wharf,
and sending the Dolphin half a dozen yards
towards the current.
How calm and lovely the river was ! Not a
ripple stirred on the glassy surface, broken only
by the sharp cutwater of our tiny craft. The
sun, as round and red as an August moon, was
by this time peering above the water-line.
The town had drifted behind us, and we
were entering among the group of islands.
Sometimes we could almost touch with our
boat-hook the shelving banks on either side.
As we neared the mouth of the harbor, a little
breeze now and then wrinkled the blue water,
shook the spangles from the foliage, and gently
lifted the spiral mist-wreaths that still clung
alongshore. The measured dip of our oars and
the drowsy twitterings of the birds seemed to
mingle with, rather than break, the enchanted
silence that reigned about us.
THE STORY OF A BAD BOY 159
The scent of the new clover comes back to
me now, as I recall that delicious morning
when we floated away in a fairy boat down a
river like a dream !
The sun was well up when the nose of the
Dolphin nestled against the snow-white bosom
of Sandpeep Island. This island, as I have said
before, was the last of the cluster, one side of
it being washed by the sea. We landed on the
river-side, the sloping sands and quiet water
affording us a good place to moor the boat.
It took us an hour or more to transport our
stores to the spot selected for the encampment.
Having pitched our tent, using the five oars to
support the canvas, we got out our lines, and
went down the rocks seaward to fish. It was
early for cunners, but we were lucky enough
to catch as nice a mess as ever you saw. A
cod for the chowder was not so easily secured.
At last Binny Wallace hauled in a plump little
fellow clustered all over with flaky silver.
To skin the fish, build our fireplace, and cook
the chowder, kept us busy the next two hours.
The fresh air and the exercise had given us
the appetites of wolves, and we were about
famished by the time the savory mixture was
ready for our clam-shell saucers.
I shall not insult the rising generation on
the seaboard by telling them how delectable is
160 THE STORY OF A BAD BOY
a chowder compounded and eaten in this Rob
inson Crusoe fashion. As for the boys who
live inland, and know not of such marine feasts,
my heart is full of pity for them. What wasted
lives ! Not to know the delights of a clam
bake, not to love chowder, to be ignorant of
How happy we were, we four, sitting cross-
legged in the crisp salt grass, with the invigor
ating sea-breeze blowing gratefully through our
hair ! What a joyous thing was life, and how
far off seemed death death, that lurks in all
pleasant places, and was so near !
The banquet finished, Phil Adams drew
from his pocket a handful of sweet-fern cigars ;
but as none of the party could indulge without
imminent risk of becoming ill, we all, on one
pretext or another, declined, and Phil smoked
The wind had freshened by this, and we
found it comfortable to put on the jackets
which had been thrown aside in the heat of
the day. We strolled along the beach and
gathered large quantities of the fairy-woven
Iceland moss, which, at certain seasons, is
washed to these shores; then we played at
ducks and drakes, and then, the sun being suf
ficiently low, we went in bathing.
Before our bath was ended a slight change
THE STORY OF A BAD BOY 161
had come over the sky and sea ; fleecy-white
clouds scudded here and there, and a muffled
moan from the breakers caught our ears from
time to time. While we were dressing, a few
hurried drops of rain came lisping down, and
we adjourned to the tent to wait the passing
of the squall.
" We re all right, anyhow," said Phil Adams.
" It won t be much of a blow, and we 11 be as
snug as a bug in a rug, here in the tent, par
ticularly if we have that lemonade which some
of you fellows were going to make."
By an oversight, the lemons had been left in
the boat. Binny Wallace volunteered to go
" Put an extra stone on the painter, Binny,"
said Adams, calling after him ; " it would be
awkward to have the Dolphin give us the slip
and return to port minus her passengers."
"That it would," answered Binny, scram
bling down the rocks.
Sandpeep Island is diamond shaped one
point running out into the sea, and the other
looking towards the town. Our tent was on
the river-side. Though the Dolphin was also
on the same side, she lay out of sight by the
beach at the farther extremity of the island.
Binny Wallace had been absent five or six
minutes, when we heard him calling our sev-
162 THE STORY OF A BAD BOY
eral names in tones that indicated distress or
surprise, we could not tell which. Our first
thought was, " The boat has broken adrift ! "
We sprung to our feet and hastened down
to the beach. On turning the bluff which hid
the mooring-place from our view, we found the
conjecture correct. Not only was the Dolphin
afloat, but poor little Binnyj,Wallace was stand
ing in the bows with his arms stretched help
lessly towards us drifting out to sea !
"Head the boat inshore!" shouted Phil
Wallace ran to the tiller; but the slight
cockle-shell merely swung round and drifted
broadside on. Oh, if we had but left a single
scull in the Dolphin !
" Can you swim it ? " cried Adams desper
ately, using his hand as a speaking-trumpet,
for the distance between the boat and the
island widened momently.
Binny Wallace looked down at the sea, which
was covered with white caps, and made a de
spairing gesture. He knew, and we knew,
that the stoutest swimmer could not live forty
seconds in those angry waters.
A wild, insane light came into Phil Adams s
eyes, as he stood knee-deep in the boiling surf,
and for an instant I think he meditated plun
ging into the ocean after the receding boat.
THE STORY OF A BAD BOY 163
The sky darkened, and an ugly look stole
rapidly over the broken surface of the sea.
Binny Wallace half rose from his seat in the
stern, and waved his hand to us in token of
farewell. In spite of the distance, increasing
every moment, we could see his face plainly.
The anxious expression it wore at first had
passed. It was pale and meek now, and I love
to think there was a kind of halo about it, like
that which painters place around the forehead
of a saint. So he drifted away.
The sky grew darker and darker. It was
only by straining our eyes through the unnat
ural twilight that we could keep the Dolphin
in sight. The figure of Binny Wallace was no
longer visible, for the boat itself had dwindled
to a mere white dot on the black water. Now
we lost it, and our hearts stopped throbbing ;
and now the speck appeared again, for an in
stant, on the crest of a high wave.
Finally, it went out like a spark, and we saw
it no more. Then we gazed at one another,
and dared not speak.
Absorbed in following the course of the
boat, we had scarcely noticed the huddled
inky clouds that sagged heavily all around us.
From these threatening masses, seamed at in
tervals with pale lightning, there now burst a
heavy peal of thunder that shook the ground
164 THE STORY OF A BAD BOY
under our feet. A sudden squall struck the
sea, ploughing deep white furrows into it, and
at the same instant a single piercing shriek
rose above the tempest the frightened cry
of a gull swooping over the island. How it
startled us !
It was impossible any longer to keep our
footing on the beach. The wind and the
breakers would have swept us into the ocean if
we had not clung to one another with the des
peration of drowning men. Taking advantage
of a momentary lull, we crawled up the sands
on our hands and knees, and, pausing in the
lee of the granite ledge to gain breath, returned
to the camp, where we found that the gale had
snapped all the fastenings of the tent but one.
Held by this, the puffed-out canvas swayed in
the wind like a balloon. It was a task of some
difficulty to secure it, which we did by beating
down the canvas with the oars.
After several trials, we succeeded in setting
up the tent on the leeward side of the ledge.
Blinded by the vivid flashes of lightning, and
drenched by the rain, which fell in torrents,
we crept, half dead with fear and anguish, un
der our flimsy shelter. Neither the anguish
nor the fear was on our own account, for we
were comparatively safe, but for poor little
Binny Wallace, driven out to sea in the merci*
THE STORY OF A BAD BOY 165
less gale. We shuddered to think of him in
that frail shell, drifting on and on to his grave,
the sky rent with lightning over his head, and
the green abysses yawning beneath him. We
suddenly fell to crying, and cried I know not
Meanwhile the storm raged with augmented
fury. We were obliged to hold on to the ropes
of the tent to prevent it blowing away. The
spray from the river leaped several yards up
the rocks and clutched at us malignantly. The
very island trembled with the concussions of
the sea beating upon it, and at times I fancied
that it had broken loose from its foundation,
and was floating off with us. The breakers,
streaked with angry phosphorus, were fearful
to look at.
The wind rose higher and higher, cutting
long slits in the tent, through which the rain
poured incessantly. To complete the sum of
our miseries, the night was at hand. It came
down abruptly, at last, like a curtain, shutting
in Sandpeep Island from all the world.
It was a dirty night, as the sailors say. The
darkness was something that could be felt as
well as seen it pressed down upon one with
a cold, clammy touch. Gazing into the hollow
blackness, all sorts of imaginable shapes seemed
to start forth from vacancy brilliant colors,
1 66 THE STORY OF A BAD BOY
stars, prisms, and dancing lights. What boy,
lying awake at night, has not amused or terri
fied himself by peopling the spaces around his
bed with these phenomena of his own eyes ?
"I say," whispered Fred Langdon, at last,
clutching my hand, "don t you see things
out there in the dark ? "
" Yes, yes Binny Wallace s face ! "
I added to my own nervousness by making
this avowal ; though for the last ten minutes I
had seen little besides that star-pale face with
its angelic hair and brows. First a slim yellow
circle, like the nimbus round the moon, took
shape and grew sharp against the darkness ;
then this faded gradually, and there was the
Face, wearing the same sad, sweet look it wore
when he waved his hand to us across the awful
water. This optical illusion kept repeating
" And I too," said Adams. " I see it every
now and then, outside there. What would n t
I give if it really was poor little Wallace look
ing in at us ! O boys, how shall we dare to go
back to the town without him ? I Ve wished a
hundred times, since we Ve been sitting here,
that I was in his place, alive or dead ! "
We dreaded the approach of morning as
much as we longed for it. The morning would
tell us all. Was it possible for the Dolphin to
THE STORY OF A BAD BOY 167
outride such a storm ? There was a lighthouse
on Mackerel Reef, which lay directly in the
course the boat had taken when it disappeared.
If the Dolphin had caught on this reef, perhaps
Binny Wallace was safe. Perhaps his cries had
been heard by the keeper of the light. The
man owned a life-boat, and had rescued several
persons. Who could tell ?
Such were the questions we asked ourselves
again and again, as we lay huddled together