Abby Morton Diaz.

The Jimmyjohns, and other stories online

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Mrs. Moore. Florinda felt loath to let him go. It
was a long distance : there was snow in the woods, and
no track. But Philip said that he wasn t afraid : the
oldest boy ought to take care of the family. And at
last Florinda said he might go : indeed, there seemed
no other way ; for, unless he did, they might all starve,
especially if there should come on a heavy snow-storm.

" Philip had a hand-sled made of barrel-staves. He
took this hand-sled, and took a shovel to dig his way
through the open places where the snow would be
drifted. Mrs. Moore had him start from her house,
because she wanted to be sure he was well wrapped


up. She, as well as Florinda, felt badly about his
going. There was danger that he would lose his way ;
and there were other dangers, which neither of them
liked to speak of. He left home in good spirits, about
nine o clock in the morning, on the thirty-first day
of December, promising to be back before evening.

" Florinda spent the day in spinning and in other
work for the family. As soon as it .began to grow
dark, Mrs. Moore sent her little boy over to inquire.
Florinda sent word back that Philip had not come, but
that she expected him every minute, and that she
should wait until he did come before going over to
Mrs. Moore s.

" After the boy had gone back, Florinda barred the
door, and shut all the window-shutters but one. She
left that open, so that Philip might see the firelight
shining through. The children began to cry because
Philip was out all alone in the dark woods ; and Flo
rinda did every thing she could to take up their minds.
Nathaniel told afterward of. her rolling up the cradle-
quilt into a baby for little Polly, and pinning an apron
on it ; and of her setting him letters to copy on the
bellows with chalk. He said she tied a strip of cloth
round his head to keep the hair out of his eyes when
he bent over to make the letters. He remembered her
telling them stories about the people in France, of their
out-door dancings and their grape-pickings ; and that, to
amuse them, she took from her clothes-box a spangled
work-bag that was made in France ; and then took out
a funny high-crowned cap her mother used to wear,
and put the cap on her own head to make them laugh ;
and that, when little Polly wanted a cap too, she twisted


up a handkerchief into the shape of a cap for her ;
and he remembered her stopping her wheel very often
to listen for Philip. He always spoke of Florinda. as
a sprightly, bright-eyed girl, who was pleasing both
in her looks- and her manners.

"At last little Polly fell asleep, and was placed on
the bed. Nathaniel laid his head on Florinda s lap,
and dropped asleep there, and slept till she got up to
put more wood on. It was then nearly twelve o clock.
He woke in a fright, and crying. He had been dream
ing about wolves.

In the midst of his crying there came a tap at the
door. Florinda made no answer. Then a voice said,
4 St, st! Still she made no answer. Then the
voice said softly, Florinda ! It was the } r oung man
David Palmer, Mrs. Moore s brother. He had crawled
all the way from the other house to see if they were
safe, and ask if they would not come over. Florinda
said no ; that it would soon be morning ; that she had
plenty of work to do, and that she was not afraid : the
Indians had always been kind to the family, and the
family to them. The j oung man told her that what
had happened in far-off neighborhoods might happen
there ; that, at any rate, the window-shutter ought to be
shut to keep the light from shining out, in case any
Indians passed through the woods ; and that, when
Philip got within half a mile of the house, he could
keep his course by the brook. Florinda closed the
shutter. He pointed to a knot-hole in the shutter, and
she hung a shawl over it. Then he dried his fur
mittens a few minutes longer at the blaze, and went
back to stay with his sister.


i When the } 7 oung man had been gone a little
while, Nathaniel climbed up and looked through the
knot-hole, and told Florinda he saw a fire in the
woods. Florinda said she thought not ; that maybe it
was the moon rising ; and kept on with her spinning. By
and b}^ he looked again, and said he did see a fire, and
some Indians sitting down by it. Florinda left her
wheel then, and looked through, and said yes, it was
so. She kept watch afterward, and saw them put out
the fire, and go away into the woods toward the Point.
She told Nathaniel of this, and then held him in her
arms and sang songs, low, in a language he could not
understand. By this time the night was far spent.

"On the back-side of the hut, near the fireplace,
there had been in the summer a hole or tunnel dug
through to the outside under the logs. It was begun by
a tame rabbit that belonged to Nathaniel. The rabbit
burrowed out, and got away. The children at play dug
the hole deeper and wider, and it came quite handy in
getting in firewood. This passage was about four feet
deep. They called it the back doorway. "When winter
came on, it was filled up with sand and moss. Florinda
thought it well to be prepared for any thing which might
happen ; and therefore she spent the latter part of that
night in taking the filling from the back doorway. The
outer part was frozen hard, and had to be thawed with
hot water. When this was done, she took the work-bag
out of her clothes-box, and put into it Mr. Bowen s
papers and the teaspoons (among the papers were
deeds of property in England). Little Polly waked
and cried, and both children complained of being
hungry. There were a few handfuls of meal left.


Florinda baked it into a cake, and divided it between
them. She said a great deal to Nathaniel about taking
care of little Polly ; told him, that, if an} 7 bad Indians
came to the door, he must catch hold of her hand, and
run just as quick as he could, through the back way,
to Mrs. Moore s. Her chief care, then and afterward,
seemed to be for the children. And, when danger
came in earnest, she made no attempt to save herself:
her only thought was to save them.

While she was talking to Nathaniel in the way
I have said, they heard a step outside. It was then a
little after daybreak. Some one tapped at the door ;
and a strange voice said, A friend ; open quick I
She opened the door, and found a white man standing
there. This white man told her that unfriend!} 7 In
dians were prowling about to rob, to kill, and to burn
dwelling-houses, and that several were known to be in
that very neighborhood. The man was a messenger
sent to warn people. He could not stop a moment.
This was on the morning of the 1st of January. As
soon as the man had gone, Florinda double-barred the
door, raked ashes over the fire, put on her things and.
the children s things, and got reacty to go with them
over to Mrs. Moore s. She made up several bundles ;
gave one to each of the children, and took one herself.
But, before starting, she opened the shutter a crack,
and looked out ; and there she saw two Indians coming
toward the door. She flung down her bundle ; snatched
the children s away from them ; hung the work-bag
round Nathaniel s neck, whispering to him, Run, run !
you ll have time; I ll keep them out till you get away !
all the while pulling at the clothes-chest. lie heard the


Indians yell, and saw Florinda brace herself against
the door, with her feet on the chest. ; Run, run!
she kept sa} T ing. Take care of little Polly! don t
let go of little Polly !

4 Nathaniel ran with little Polly ; and on the way
they met the young man, David Palmer, creeping along
with his gun. He had got the news, and had come
to tell Florinda to hurry away. Just at that moment
he heard the yells- of the Indians, and the sound of
their clubs beating in the door. David Palmer said
afterward, that it seemed to him he never should reach
that house : and, when he had almost reached it, his
gun failed him ; or rather his hands failed to hold it.
He started without his mittens ; and his lingers were
stiff and numb from creeping over the frozen snow.

" He threw the gun down, and went on just as fast
as a man could in such a condition, and presently saw
two Indians start from the house, and run into the
woods, dropping several things on the way, stolen
articles, some of which were afterward found. He
listened a moment, and heard dogs barking ; then crept
round the corner of the house. The door had been cut
away. Florinda lay across the chest, dead, as he
thought ; and indeed she was almost gone. They had
beaten her on the head with a hatchet or a club. One
blow more, and Florinda would never have breathed
again. David Palmer did every thing he could do to
make her show some signs of life ; and was so intent
upon this, that he paid no attention to the barking of
the dogs, and did not notice that it was growing louder,
and coming nearer every moment. Happening to glance
toward the door, he saw a man on horseback, riding


very slowly toward the house, leading another horse
with his right hand, and with his left drawing some
thing heavy on a sled. The man on horseback was
Mr. Moore. He was leading Mr. Bowen s horse with
his right hand, and with the other he was dragging Mr.
Bowen on Philip s hand-sled. "

" Philip?" cried two or three. " Did lie come? "
" No, yes ; that is, he came at last. He had not
come, though, at the time of their finding his sled.
Mr. Moore found the sled, or rather Mr. Moore s
dog found it, as they were riding along. Those two
men had a good reason for staying away ; though such
a reason can hardly be called good. Coming home from
Dermott s Crossing, Mr. Bowen was taken sick. They
knew of a house a mile or two out of the way, and
went to it. There was nobody there. The family had
left on account of the Indians ; but Mr. Moore found
some means of getting in.

Just as soon as Mr. Bowen was able to be bound
to his horse, and carried, they set out for home, but
had to travel at a very slow pace. AVhen they had
almost reached home, Mr. Moore s dog, in racing
through the woods, stopped at a clump of bushes ; and
there he sniffed and scratched and 3 elped, and made a
great ado. Then Mr. Bowen s dog did the same. Mr.
Moore hitched the horses, and went to see, and found
Philip s sled among the bushes, with a bag of meal on
it, and a shoulder of bacon. Mr. Bowen being then
weary and faint, and much travel-bruised, Mr. Moore
put the bag of meal and the bacon on the horse, then
covered the sled with boughs, and laid Mr. Bowen on
top of them, and drew him along. It was supposed that
the barking of those dogs frightened away the Indians.


"Philip himself left the sled under those bushes.
That day he went to the Point, he had to wait for corn
to be ground, which made him late in starting for home.
He heard a good many reports concerning the In
dians, and thought, that, instead of keeping in his own
tracks, it would be safer to take a roundabout course
back ; and, by doing this, he lost his way, and wandered
in the woods till almost twelve o clock at night, when
he came out upon a cleared place, where there were
several log-huts. The people in one of these let him
come in and sleep on the floor, and they gave him a
good meal of meat and potatoes. He set out again be
tween four and five in the morning, guided by a row of
stars that those people pointed out to him.

" A little after daybreak, being then about a quar
ter of a mile from home, in a hilly place, he thought he
would leave iiis sled, the load was so hard to draw,
and run ahead and tell the folks about the Indians.
So he pushed it under some bushes ; and then, to mark
the spot, he took one of his "shoe-strings, and tied one
of his mittens high up on the limb of a tree."

"One of his leather shoe-strings! " cried some of
those who knew the whole story.

" Yes, my dears," said the old lady, looking pleased
again, " one of his leather shoe-strings; and then he
ran toward home. Just as he came to the brook he
heard some strange sounds, and climbed up into a
hemlock-tree which overhung the brook, to hide out of
sight, and to look about. He lay along a branch listen
ing, and presently saw Nathaniel, with the work-bag
around his neck, hurrying toward the brook, leading
little Polly, and was just* going to call out, when he


caught sight of three Indians, standing behind some
trees on the other side, watching the two children.
Little Polly was afraid to step on the ice. She cried ;
and at last Nathaniel made her sit down and take hold
of a stick, and he pulled her across l)y it. Philip moved
a little to see better, and by doing this lost sight of
them a moment ; and, when he looked again, they were
both gone. lie heard a crackling in the bushes, and
caught sight of little Polly s blanket flying through the
woods, and knew then that those Indians had carried
off Nathaniel and little Polly ; and, without stopping to
consider, he jumped down and followed on, thinking, as
he afterward said, to find out where they went, and tell
his father. Philip was a plucky fellow, as } ou will find
presently, His pluck brought him into danger, though ;
and, if it had not been for an Indian woman of the
name of Acushnin, he might have lost his life in a very
cruel way. This woman, Acushnin, lived in a white
family when a child. She had a son about the age of
Philip. It was perhaps on account of both these rea
sons that she felt inclined to save him. But I must
not get so far ahead of my story.

" Philip, by one way or another, kept on the trail of
those Indians the whole day. Once it was by finding
the stick that little Polly dropped ; once it was by
seeing a shred of her blanket ; another time it was by
coming across a butcher-knife the Indians had stolen
from some house : and he had wit enough to break a
limb or gash a tree now and then, so as to find his way
back ; also to take the bearings of the hills. When the
Indians halted to rest, he had a chance to rest too.

"At last they stopped for the night in a sheltered


valley where there were two or three wigwams. He
watched them go into one of these, and then he could
not think what to do next. The night was setting in
bitter cold. The shoe he took the string from had
come off in his running ; and that foot was nearly
frozen, and would have been quite if he had not tied
some moss to the bottom of it with his pocket-hand
kerchief. The hand that had no mitten w T as frozen. He
had eaten nothing but a few boxberry-plums and box-
beriy-leaves. It was too late to think of finding his
way home that night. He lay down on the snow ; and,
as the Indians lifted the mats to pass in and out, he
could see fires burning, and smell meats cooking. Then
lie began to feel sleepy, and, after that, knew nothing
more till he woke inside of a wigwam, and found two
Indian women rubbing him with snow. They after
wards gave him plenty to eat. He did not see Na
thaniel and little Polly : they were in another wigwam.
There were two Indians squatting on the floor, one
of them quite old. Pretty soon another came in ;
and Philip knew he was one of those that carried off
the children, because he had Florinda s work-bag hang
ing around his neck. He thought, no doubt, from see
ing it on Nathaniel s neck, that there was the place to
wear it. Philip suffered dreadful pain in his foot and
hand, but shut his mouth tight, for fear he might groan.
He said afterward, when questioned about this part of
his story, that lie was not going to let them hear a white
bo}^ groan.

It was probably from seeing him so courageous
that they decided to offer him to their chiefs wife
for adoption. It was a custom among them, when a


chief s wife lost a male child by death, to offer her
another, usually a captive taken in war, for adoption.
If, after seeing the child offered in this way, she re
fused to adopt him, he was not suffered to live.

" Now, one of those two squaws in the wigwam, the
older one, was the Acuslinin I spoke of just now ; and
she felt inclined to save Philip from being carried to
Sogonuck, which was where the chief lived : so next
morning before light, when the Indians all went off
hunting, she sent the other squaw out on some errand,
and then told Philip in broken English what was going
to be done with him, and that it would be done in two
days ; and told him in a very earnest manner, partly by
signs, that he must run away that very morning. She
bound up his foot ; she gave him a moccasin to wear on
it ; she gave him a bag of pounded corn and a few strips
of meat. Philip had found out that the Indians sup
posed him to be a captive escaped from another party ;
and he thought it would be better not to mention Nathan
iel and little Poll} , but to get home as quick as he
could, and tell people where the} were.

" When the young squaw came in, the old one set
her at work parching corn, with her back to the door ;
then made signs to Philip, and he crept out and ran.
After running a few rods, he came unexpectedly upon a
wigwam : this made his heart beat so that he could
hardly breathe. There was a noise of some one pound
ing corn inside ; and, when that stopped, he stopped ;
and, when that went on, he went on, and so crept by.

"As soon as it began to grow light, he kept along
without much trouble, partly by means of the signs on
the trees : but as he got farther on, there being fewer


of these signs (because they came so swift that part of
the way), he took the wrong course, very luckily, as
it proved ; for by doing so he fell in with two men on
horseback, and one of these earned him home.

44 As they came near the house, Philip saw by the
chimney smoke that there was some one inside, and
began to whistle a certain tune.

" Up to this time, Mr. Bowen had not been able to
shed a tear ; but, the moment he heard that familiar
whistle, he fell down on the floor, and cried like a little

"Florinda seemed dull, stupid, indifferent, and scarce
ly noticed Philip at all. It was found that she had no
clear recollection of any thing that took place after
Mr. Bowen s going to meet the council. Indeed, even
after she was her own self again, she never could wholly
recall the events of those few days ; which was, perhaps,
quite as well for her."

And did those two ever get found ? asked a small

"Yes. Philip described the place; and that very
night a party was sent out, which captured the Indians,
and brought back Nathaniel and little Polly."

"And the work-bag, and the papers, and the tea
spoons ?

" Yes, all. Florinda had half the teaspoons. She
was married, not many years after all this happened,
to David Palmer ; and Mr. Bowen gave them to her
for a wedding-present. Mr. Bowen did a great deal
for Florinda, as well he might. One of those spoons
has come down in the Palmer family, and is now owned
by Mr. Thomas Palmer of DermotviUe.


" And here is one of those that Mr. Bowen kept,"
continued the old lady, going to a corner cupboard, and
holding up a small, thin, slim teaspoon, veiy oval in
the bowl, and very pointed at the handle. " This was
given to your grandfather s grandfather s grandfather
by Mr. Nathaniel Bowen himself. Nathaniel Bowen
was your ancestor. Your grandfather s grandfather s
grandfather remembered him \cry well, as I told 3*011
at the beginning. You may be sure that this story is
eveiy word true ; for the Palmer family have it in writ
ing^ copied from the account which David Palmer wrote
down at the time it happened."


OH ! Jack was the fellow who lived long ago,
And built him a house, as you very well know,
With chimneys so tall, and a cupola too,
And windows set thick, where the light could go through.

And this is the house that Jack built.


Now, Jack he was so tender-hearted and true,
He loved every dear little childling that grew.
" The old folk can do very well without me,
And I ll be the friend of the children," quoth he.

So away in his store-room he stored up a heap
Of corn-bags well filled, full seven yards deep ;
While ranged very near them, in beautiful show,
Were a great many corn-poppers, set in a row.

And this is the corn that lay in the house that
Jack built.


And a blazing red fire was ever kept glowing
By a great pair of bellows that ever kept blowing ;
And there stood the children, the dear little souls !
A-shaking their corn-poppers over the coals.



Soon a motherly rat, seeking food for her young,
Came prying and peeping the corn-bags among.
"I ll take home a supply, sa id this kindest of mothers :
44 My children like corn quite as well as those others."
And this is the rat, &c.

Run quick, Mother Rat ! Oh, if you but knew

How slyly old Tabb} T is watching for you !

She s creeping so softly ! pra} T , pray do not wait !

She springs ! she has grabbed you ! ah, now tis too *

And this is the cat, &c.



Too late ! yes, too late ! All your struggles are vain
You never will see those dear children again !
All sadly they sit in their desolate home,
Looking out for the mother that never will come.



When Pussy had finished, she said with a smile,
" I think I will walk in the garden a while,
And there take a nap in some sunshiny spot."
Bose laughed to himself as he said, " I think not ! "

Just as Puss shuts her eyelids, oh ! what does she hear?
" Bow-wow ! " and "Bow-wow ! " very close at her ear.
Now away up a pole, all trembling, she springs ;
And there on its top, all trembling, she clings.
And this is the dog, &c.

Said Bose to himself, What a great dog am I !
When my voice is heard, who dares to come nigh?
Now I ll worry that cow. Ha, ha, ha ! Oh, if she
Should run up a pole, how funny twould be ! "

Poor Bose ! You will wish that you d never been born
When you bark at that cow with the crumpled horn.
Way you go, with a toss, high up in the air !
Do you like it, old Bose ? Is it pleasant up there ?
And this is the cow, &c.


Now, when this old Moolly, so famous in story,
Left Bose on the ground, all bereft of his glory,
She walked to the valley as fast as she could,
Where a dear little maid with a milking-pail stood.
And this is the maiden, &c.


Alas ! a maiden all forlorn was she,

Woful and sad, and piteous to see.

With weary step she walked, and many a sigh :

Her -cheek was pale ; a tear bedimmed her eye.

She sat her down with melancholy air

Among the flowers that bloomed so sweetly there,

And thus with clasped hands she made her moan :

" Ah me ! " she said ; " ah me ! I m all alone !




In all the world are none who care for me ;
In all the world are none I care to see ;


No one to me a kindly message brings ;
Nobod} 7 gives me any pretty things ;
Nobody asks me am I sick or well ;
Nobody listens when I ve aught to tell ;
Kind words of love I ve never, never known :
Ah me ! " she said, " tis sad to be alone ! "

Now up jumps the man all tattered and torn,
And he says to the maiden, " Don t sit there forlorn.
Behind this wild rose-bush I ve heard all you said ;
And I ll love and protect you, you- dear little maid !
For oft have I hid there, so bashful and shy,
And peeped through the roses to see you go by :
I know every look of those features so fair ;
I know ever} r curl of }~our bright golden hair.
My garments are in bad condition, no doubt ;
But the love that I give you shall never wear out.
Now, I ll be the husband, if you ll be the wife ;
And together we ll live without trouble or strife."
And this is the man, &c.

Thought the maid to herself, "Oh, what beautiful words !
Sweeter than music, or singing of birds.
How pleasant twill be thus to live all my life
With this kind little man, without trouble or strife !
If his clothes are all tattered and torn, why, tis plain
What he needs is a wife that can mend them again.
And he brought them to such sorry plight, it may be,
Mong the thorns of the roses while watching for
me! "

And, when this wise maiden looked up in his face,
She saw there a look full of sweetness and grace.

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Online LibraryAbby Morton DiazThe Jimmyjohns, and other stories → online text (page 7 of 13)