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Produced by Annie McGuire

[Illustration: HARPER'S



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Tuesday, February 24, 1880. Copyright, 1880, by HARPER & BROTHERS. $1.50
per Year, in Advance.

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"The sum of 3000 francs [$600] will be paid by the Scientific
Association of Morlaix to any one who shall succeed in tracing the
course of the Larve, and ascertaining whether it has any
under-ground communication with the sea.


Such was the announcement which, posted in the quaint three-cornered
market-place of the old French town of Longchamp, attracted a good many
readers, and among the rest two lads in sailor costume, one of whom
remarked to the other:

"What a holiday we'd have if _we_ could earn it! eh, Pierre, my boy?"

"I should think so! But nobody will earn _that_ reward very soon. Don't
you remember how, a year ago, they widened the cleft into which the
stream falls, and let down a man with a lantern, and how, before he'd
gone thirty feet, he got bumped against a rock, and broke his lantern,
and hurt himself so badly that he had to be hauled up again?"

"True; it's not a very likely job. Well, come along, and let's get the
boat out."

Pierre Lebon, the younger of the two, was a lithe, olive-cheeked, merry
little fellow, whose slim figure and jaunty black curls contrasted
markedly with the burly frame and thick sandy hair of his chum, Jacques
Vaudry. The latter ought rightly to have been called Jack Fordrey, for
he was an English boy, born in Guernsey; but having been adopted by a
Breton fisherman after his father's death, both he and his name had got
considerably "Frenchified."

The two boys had to manage by themselves the boat of which they were
joint owners, for old Simon Lebon, Pierre's real and Jack's adopted
father, was now too aged and rheumatic to help them in their work,
except by advising them when to start and where to go. But his advice
was always good, for in his time he had been one of the best fishermen
on the coast, and the lads were usually very successful.

On this particular day, however, their good luck seemed to have forsaken
them, for, try as they might, they could catch nothing worth mentioning.
Possibly they were thinking too little of their work, and too much of
the reward offered by the Scientific Association; for three thousand
francs would have been quite a fortune to them both. Moreover, the idea
of tracking an under-ground river had a spice of romance and adventure
about it which was the very thing to tempt them.

The little stream of the Larve had long been the acknowledged puzzle of
the whole neighborhood. After skirting the town for some distance, it
vanished into the earth through a narrow cleft, and was seen no more.
Where it went to after that, no one could tell; and, as we have seen,
the first attempt to find out had succeeded so badly that nobody felt
much inclined for a second.

Tired out at length, the unsuccessful fishers went home, inwardly
resolving to try whether they might not have better fortune by night
than by day. Pierre, indeed, when the night came, began to have some
doubts about the wisdom of the idea, having heard his father say once
and again that it was a very dangerous thing to attempt at that season.
But the hardest thing in the world for a boy to do is to draw back from
anything simply because it is dangerous. Rather than let Jack think him
afraid, Pierre would have gone to sea on a hen-coop; so they stole out
of the cottage as noiselessly as possible, and away they went over the
dim gray waste of sea, half lighted by the rising moon.

The "take" of fish was a very good one this time, and the boys began to
think their night voyage a lucky idea; but they were rejoicing too soon.
A little after midnight the sky began to cloud over and the sea to rise
in a way which showed that there was a storm brewing. They put about at
once, and made for the shore, but long before they reached it the storm
burst upon them in all its fury.

In an instant the boat was half full of water, and it was all they could
do to keep her from foundering outright, as they flew through the great
white roaring waves, thumped and banged about from side to side, and
drenched to the skin at every plunge by the flying gusts of spray.
Pierre grasped the tiller in his half-numbed hands, while Jack held on
with all his might to the "sheet" that steadied their little
three-cornered sail, at which the wind tugged as if meaning to tear it
away altogether.

The little craft held her own gallantly, and the young sailors began to
hope that, after all, they might make the entrance of the bay without
accident. But just then an unlucky shift of the wind tore the sail clean
away, and the boat, falling off at once, was swept helplessly toward the
formidable cliffs beyond.

"Not much chance for us now," said Jack, shaking his head. "Pierre, my
boy, I'm sorry I've brought you into this mess; it's all my fault."

"Not a bit, old fellow. I ought to have warned you of what I'd heard my
father say. However, if the worst comes to the worst, we can swim for

However, there seemed to be little hope, for not a foot of standing-room
was to be seen on the rocky sides of the vast black precipice upon which
they were driving headlong. All at once Jack shouted:

"Port your helm, Pierre - port! We'll do it yet."

His keen eye had detected a cleft in the rock, just wide enough for the
boat to enter.

Pierre had barely time to obey, when there came a tremendous crash, and
the boys found themselves floundering amid a welter of foam, nets, sand,
dead fish, and broken timbers, in a deep dark hollow that looked like
the mouth of a cave.

"There goes father's boat," sputtered Pierre, as soon as he could clear
his mouth of the salt-water.

"And there go our fish," added Jack. "Here's that loaf that we put in
the locker, though; and even wet bread's better than none, in a place
like this. Now, then, let's be getting higher up, for the tide will be
upon us here in no time."

But to get higher up was no easy matter. They were in utter darkness,
and (as they had already found by groping about) on the brink of a chasm
of unknown depth. The ledge upon which they had been cast was evidently
very narrow, and almost as slippery as ice; and Jack, being encumbered
with the loaf, and Pierre badly bruised against the rocks, they were not
in the best condition for climbing.

But the roar of the next wave as it came bursting in, splashing them
from head to foot where they sat, was a wonderful quickener to their
movements, and away they scrambled through the pitchy blackness,
clinging like limpets to the rough side of the cavern as they felt their
feet slide upon the treacherous rocks, and thought of the unseen gulf

Onward, onward still, deeper and deeper into the heart of the cold,
silent rock, fearing at every moment to feel their way barred by a solid
wall, and find themselves cut off from escape, and doomed to be drowned
by inches. But, no; the strange tunnel went on and on as if it would
never end, their only consolation being that they were unmistakably
tending _upward_, and already (as they calculated) beyond the reach of
the flood-tide.

Suddenly Jack uttered a shout of joy:

"Hurrah, Pierre! here's one of the lantern candles in my inner pocket,
and I know I've got my matches somewhere. We'll be able to see where we
are at last, my boy!"

The matches (luckily still dry) were produced, the candle was lighted,
and our heroes took a survey of their surroundings.

They were in a long narrow passage, rising to a considerable height
overhead, and with another ledge on its opposite side, steeper and more
broken than the one on which they were. In the centre lay the chasm
already mentioned; but instead of the frightful depth which they had
imagined, it was only six or seven feet deep at the most, and more than
half full of water.

"There's our terrible precipice," laughed Jack, stooping over it. "I
don't think _that_ would hurt us much. But - holloa! I say, Pierre, this
isn't sea-brine; it's _fresh-water_, running water! It's a stream that's
tunnelled its way through the rock; and if we follow it far enough,
we'll get out. Hurrah!"

"Hurrah!" echoed Pierre, brightening up. "We sha'n't run short of water,
anyhow; and as for food, we may as well have a bite of that loaf before
starting again."

The under-ground breakfast was soon finished, and the adventurous lads
started once more.

But the pain of Pierre's bruises, which he had manfully concealed
hitherto, began to master him at last. His tired limbs began to drag
more and more heavily; his feet slipped again and again, and only the
strong hand of his comrade saved him from more than one serious fall.

"Better sit down and rest a bit, old fellow," said Jack, kindly;
"there's no hurry, for this candle will burn a long while yet. I know
you won't own it, but you _did_ get a nasty bump against that rock

"I fancy you're right there," answered Pierre, sinking wearily upon the
ledge. "But we don't need the candle while we're sitting still, you
know. Blow it out, and light it again when we start."

Jack did so, and they sat silent in the darkness. All at once Pierre
heard his comrade call out,

"I say, don't you hear water falling somewhere?"

"To be sure I do," replied Pierre, after listening a moment. "We must be
close to the place where this stream falls down into the tunnel, and now
we'll have a chance of getting out at last. Bravo!"

Jack slapped his hands together, with a shout that made the cavern echo.

"I've got an idea, Pierre, my boy! What a fool I was not to think of it
before! This stream that we've been following is the Larve, and we've
got to the very place where it falls through the cleft. Now if we can
only get out with whole bones, it's fifteen hundred francs apiece to us.
Come along, quick!"

All Pierre's weariness was gone in a minute. Already, in his mind's eye,
he saw his ailing father comfortably provided for, and Jack and himself
standing out to sea in a brand-new boat. The instant the candle was
lighted they were off again at a pace which would have seemed impossible
a few minutes before.

Guided by the increasing din of the water-fall, they were not long in
reaching a huge perpendicular funnel or chimney in the rock, down one
side of which poured a stream of water, while through a cleft above,
dazzlingly radiant after the darkness of the buried passage, came a
bright gleam of _sunshine_. Just then a big stone, flung from above,
came thundering down into the chasm, falling close to the feet of the
two explorers.

"That's the boys at their fun," said Jack, laughing. "I've done it many
a time myself. Above there - hoy!"

The only answer was a howl of terror and the sound of flying feet.
Pierre, alarmed at the thought of being deserted, shouted in his turn,

"Help, comrades! help!"

"Who's that calling?" asked a gruff voice from above, while the light
was obscured by a broad visage peering down into the hole.

"Holloa, Gaspard! is that you?" cried Pierre, recognizing the voice of
one of his father's fisher cronies.

"What, Pierre Lebon! _you_ down there? Well, who ever saw the like? Just
wait a minute, while I run for a rope."

But before he could return there were already more than a hundred people
gathered around the hole, for the news of a human voice having been
heard out of the "Larve Chimney," as the chasm was called, had spread
far and wide.

The water-fall on one side and the sharp rocks on the other made it no
easy matter to draw the boys up safely. But at length they were dragged
forth into the daylight, to be embraced and shouted over by the whole
town, and to receive, a few days later, the praises of the entire
Scientific Association, together with the three thousand francs which
they had so bravely earned.




Do you remember Biddy O'Dolan, the little rag-picker and ash girl who
found Lily De Koven's broken doll in the ash-can that cold winter's
morning? I have not forgotten my promise to tell you the rest about her.

Biddy had a boy-friend, a little Irish boy, who called himself
"Chairlier-Shauzy." I suspect his name was Charley O'Shaughnessy. He was
just as poor and alone in the world as Biddy, and almost always staid in
the same cellar at night.

When Biddy ran off with her doll that cold morning, she not only thought
of the hospital and the little girl who had there brought her the
flowers, but she thought how she would tell Charley that night about her

The first thing to be done was to get Dolly a dress, and this was the
way Biddy managed it. She took an old knife and hacked out a piece of
her skirt, then she pulled out of her dingy pocket a little wad. A wad
of what? Pins. Pins that she had picked up on the street in the summer,
when she swept the street crossings, and had stuck thick and
"criss-cross" in a bit of woollen rag. With some of these pins Biddy
fastened together the two sides of the cut in her skirt. Next she took
the piece of cloth she had cut out, and punched her tough little
forefinger through it in two places, and through one of these holes
pushed the whole arm and through the other the broken arm of her doll,
and pinned the cloth together in the back.

Thus Dolly was dressed, and nearly as well as Biddy, too. Biddy had been
very quick about this, and had often looked over her shoulders to see
who came in and out of the cellar.

You who do not live in a cellar, and do not get shoved about and slapped
as Biddy did, can hardly imagine how glad she was that no one happened
to take notice of her.

She hid Dolly under the straw where she was to sleep at night, and then
hurried out to pick over as many more ash cans and barrels as she could,
in hopes of finding something this time which would please Mrs. Brown,
so that she could dare to show her doll, and perhaps be allowed to sit
up and play with it a little.

Mrs. Brown was the cross old woman who kept the cellar, and the children
on the street called her "Grumpy."

Biddy did not find anything in particular, and got fewer pennies than
usual for errands and for showing people the way to places, so that old
Mrs. Brown was very cross indeed, and Biddy went to bed without daring
to pull Dolly out where she could see her. She lay awake, with her hand
on it, waiting for Charley.

Charley was a newsboy, but he was not a lucky little boy. He had the
large and beautiful deep blue eyes you may often see in the children of
Irish immigrants. But he was weak in body, and very shy. He lived as
Biddy did, among rough people, who were all the more rough because they
were so poor and miserable. So he got knocked about a great deal, and
stood no chance at all among other newsboys, who shoved him aside, and
called their papers so loud that Charley's thin voice could not be
heard. Some newsboys make money selling papers - make so much that they
can start in other kinds of business for themselves, and get on very
well in the world among other successful men. I have seen this kind of
newsboy. They have bright, sharp, old-looking faces. They have wiry,
strong bodies, good health, and seem to be afraid of nothing.

Charley wasn't this sort of boy at all. He got poked, and pushed, and
cuffed, and tripped up, and laughed at. The girls called him
"fraid-cat," because they thought he was a coward. The boys said he was
just like a girl, and shouted, "Hallo, Polly!" when they saw him.
Charley did not say much to all this. He went with his papers every day,
and managed to sell a few; and, besides, he did errands quickly and
well. In these ways he earned enough to pay for his straw in Mrs.
Brown's cellar, and to buy enough to eat to keep life in him.

Charley's straw was next to Biddy's straw, and when he came in that
night Biddy whispered to him all about her doll, telling him especially
how one of its arms was broken off at the elbow. Charley put out his
hand in the dark, and asked her to let him take the doll a moment. He
felt it over carefully, and gave it back without saying anything. Biddy
whispered a little more, and then they went to sleep.

One day Biddy happened to come in a little after noon. She was going
right out again; but first she stooped, and felt under her straw - the
doll was gone! Biddy sat down, quite faint for a moment; then she sprang
to her feet, darted up the cellar steps, and around the corner where old
Mrs. Brown sat behind her apple and candy stand. Biddy reached over and
put both hands in the knot of gray hair in the old woman's neck, pulling
as if she would carry her off, stand and all.

Biddy's face was pale, and her eyes were like white-hot coals, as she
gasped out:

"Give it me! Give it me! I'll never leave go till ye give it me!"

"Howld an, an' lave go av me!" cried the old woman. She grasped Biddy's
wrists, and drew them toward her to ease the strain on her hair; but
Biddy's little fingers were strong. She tugged hard, and kept on

"I'll never, never leave go till ye give it me. Oh!"

Never had such an "Oh!" come from Biddy's lips before, and with the very
sound of it she had torn herself away from Mrs. Brown, and had seized
and almost knocked over little Charley, who had vainly been making signs
at her as he came up behind Mrs. Brown.

[Illustration: MENDING THE DOLL.]

Mrs. Brown rubbed her neck, smoothed down her apron, and jabbering
fiercely, came panting up to the children. Biddy had let go of Charley,
and was sitting right down on the cold pavement holding her doll, and
looking with wild delight and wonder at its wooden arm, new from the
elbow. Charley knew an old man who used to whittle out all sorts of
things with his jackknife, and who seemed as ready to give away as to
sell his work. Charley had taken Biddy's doll to this man, who had
willingly and quite skillfully mended it. He was on his way back to get
it hid under Biddy's straw for a surprise for her, when he found Biddy
struggling with Mrs. Brown. Charley's plan was perfect. The trouble was
that he couldn't plan for Biddy too, and she had spoiled everything
without knowing it.

"How ever _could_ ye git a new arm?" said Biddy. "It's a miracle."

"Be whisht wid yer mary-cles!" exclaimed old Mrs. Brown, snatching the
doll, holding it high out of reach, and spreading out her other hand to
keep Biddy off.

But Biddy did not spring at her this time. She stood up, and put her
hands together, and twisted them till the knuckles were white, and she
spoke as if there were cotton in her throat when she begged the old
woman to give her the doll. She promised never to be a bad girl any
more; to give every cent she could get to Mrs. Brown - every one; to do
everything Mrs. Brown asked her to do; and she called her over and over
again "_good_ lady," and "_dear_ lady."

Mrs. Brown kept on talking too fast to be understood. She was very
angry, and slapped Biddy's cheeks, and pushed her toward the cellar.
Biddy stumbled along as she was pushed, and kept on praying for her
doll, and making every promise she could think of to the old woman. When
they reached the cellar steps, Charley pulled Mrs. Brown's dress, showed
her a bright new quarter dollar, and said she might have it if she would
give up the doll to Biddy.

Mrs. Brown took the quarter, looked at it, rang it on the step, and then
handed the doll to Biddy, telling her that she might have it that night,
but that she must pay extra every day for what she called the
"craythur's boord an' lodgin'."

This idea seemed to please Mrs. Brown very much, for she called it a
great joke, and put her hands on her hips and laughed. Then she looked
savage again, and said, she would keep the doll herself on nights when
Biddy could not pay extra. She went off to her fruit stand, with her
hands on her hips, laughing and muttering by turns. Biddy sat down with
her doll. Now and then she looked at Charley and smiled, and seemed to
be thinking very hard about something.



Those who tread the floor of what was recently the Post-office, once the
great Middle Dutch Church, and now a Brokers' Exchange, at the corner of
Nassau Street and Cedar, can scarcely believe that it was once a
military prison, that its walls re-echoed the groans and cries of sick
and dying patriots, that a large part of Washington's army was once
confined on the very spot where now the broker is calling his stocks and
the photographer fitting his lenses. The fine church in 1776 was
converted at once into a royal prison. Its pews were torn out, its
interior defaced, but the walls are the same that shut in the
unfortunate Americans, and their only shelter was the lofty roof that
still rises among the haunts of trade. The ancient building is one of
the most touching of the historical remains of the early city. The
number of persons shut up at once within its precincts is variously
estimated; one account gives 800, another 3000, as the probable limit.
It is certain that they were crowded in with no care for comfort, no
regard for health or ease; that one aim of the royal captors was to
"break their spirit" by ill usage, and win them back to their loyalty by
no gentle means.

As the motley train of prisoners came down to the city after the capture
of Fort Washington, they were met by the royal officers with every mark
of contempt and hate. They were stripped of their arms and uniforms,
robbed of their money, insulted with rude taunts and even blows. War had
not yet been robbed of some of its brutality by the slow rise of
knowledge, and the British officers had not yet learned the politeness
of freemen. A savage Hessian made his way up to Graydon, the young
American officer, and threatened to kill him. "Young man," said to him a
Scotch officer of more humanity, "you should never rebel against your
king." The prisoners were taken before the British provost-marshal to be
examined. "What is your rank?" said the officer to a sturdy little
fellow from Connecticut, ragged and dirty, who seemed scarcely twenty.
"I am a _keppen_," said he, in a resolute tone; and the British
officers, clad in scarlet and gold, broke into shouts of laughter. It
was not long before they were flying before the "keppens" of New Jersey
and New York, glad to escape from the rabble they despised.


When they had been examined, plundered, ridiculed, the unlucky prisoners
were divided into companies, and marched away to the different prisons
of New York, that were for so many weary months to be their homes or
their graves. Those who were confined in the Middle Dutch Church were
probably the most fortunate of all; they had air and light; but two of
the prisons are covered with some of the saddest memories of the war for
freedom. One of them was a common jail in the Park, now the Hall of
Records, and the other was the old Sugar-House in Liberty Street, next
to the Middle Dutch Church. The jail was so crowded with the captured
Americans that they had scarcely room to lie on the bare floor. The air
was stifling, the rooms pestilential, full of filth and fever.


But the most painful circumstance of their lot was the character of the
keeper. His name was Cunningham; he seems to have been a monster. Many
years afterward he was executed in England for some hideous crime, and
boasted that he had put arsenic in the flour he served to the prisoners.
It was under this man - one of those horrible natures war often brings
into use - that the young men of New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey
were to pass their miserable captivity. Soon even the English officials
were forced to take notice of the horrors of the jail in the Park. The
neighbors complained that they could get no sleep for the outcries and
groans of the prisoners. Cunningham ruled over them with lash and sword.
They were starved, reviled, beaten, "to win them," he said, "to their
duty." The chill winter and the hot summer found them crowded in their
pestilential prisons. The old Sugar-House in Liberty Street was also

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Online LibraryVariousHarper's Young People, February 24, 1880 → online text (page 1 of 4)