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and tossed overboard, as the penalty of this neglect of
duty. The others owed their lives to the circumstance of
being taken in their sleep, when resistance was out of the
question. In the morning, the brig's cable was cut, sail
was set, after a fashion, and an attempt was made to carry
the vessel over to Betto's group. It is very questionable
whether she ever could have arrived ; but that point was
disposed of by the opportune appearance of the Ran

Saunders could communicate nothing of the subsequent


course of the invaders. He had been kept below the whole
time, and did not even know how many canoes composed
the fleet. The gang in possession of the Mermaid was
understood, however, to be but a very small part of Waally's
force present, that chief leading in person. By certain
half-comprehended declarations of his conquerors, Captain
Saunders understood that the rest had entered the channel,
with a view to penetrate to the crater, where Socrates,
Unus and Wattles were residing, with their wives and fami
lies, and where no greater force was left when the Mer
maid sailed. The property there, however, was out of all
proportion in value to the force of those whose business it
was to take care of it. In consequence of the Rancocus's
removal, several buildings had been constructed on the
Reef, and one house of very respectable dimensions had
been put up on the Summit. It is true, these houses were
not very highly finished ; but they were of great value to
persons in the situation of the colonists. Most of the hogs,
moreover, were still rooting and tearing up the thousand-
acre prairie; where, indeed, they roamed very much in a
state of nature. Socrates occasionally carried to them a
boat-load of ' truck' from the crater, in order to keep up
amicable relations with them ; but they were little better
than so many wild animals, in one sense, though there had
not yet been time materially to change their natures. In
the whole, including young and old, there must have been
near two hundred of these animals altogether, their in
crease being very rapid. Then, a large amount of the
stores sent from Canton, including most of the iron, was
in store at the crater ; all of which would lay at the mercy
of Waally's men ; for the resistance to be expected from
the three in possession, could not amount to much.

The governor was prompt enough in his decision, as
soon as he understood the facts of the case. The first
thing was to bring the vessels close by the wind, and to
pass as near as possible over the ground where the swim
mers were to be found ; for Mark could not bear the idea
of abandoning a hundred of his fellow-creatures in the
midst of the ocean, though they were enemies and savages.
By making short stretches, and tacking two or three times,
the colonists found themselves in the midst of the swim-


mers ; not one in ten of whom would probably ever have
reached the land, but for the humanity of their foe. Along
side of the Mermaid were three or four canoes ; and these
were cast adrift at the right moment, without any parley
ing. The Indians were quick enough at understanding the
meaning of this, .and swam to the canoes from all sides,
though still anxious to get clear of the vessels. On board
the last canoe the governor put all his prisoners, when he
deemed himself happily quit of the whole gang.

There were three known channels by which the Ranco-
cus could be carried quite up to the crater. Mark chose
that which came in from the northward, both because it
was the nearest, and because he could lay his course in it,
without tacking, for most of the way. Acquainted now
with his position, Mark had no difficulty in finding the
entrance of this channel. Furnishing the Mermaid with
a dozen hands, she was sent to the western roads, to inter
cept Waally's fleet, should it be coming out with the booty.
In about an hour after the Rancocus altered her course,
she made the land ; and, just as the sun was setting, she
got so close in as to be able to anchor in the northern
roads, where there was not only a lee, but good holding-
ground. Here the ship passed the night, the governor not
liking to venture into the narrow passages in the dark.


" Fancy can charm and feeling bless

With sweeter hours than fashion knows ;
There is no calmer quietness,

Than home around the bosom throws."


ALTHOUGH the governor deemed it prudent to anchor for
the night, he did not neglect the precaution of reconnoi
tring. Betts was sent towards the Reef, in a boat well
armed and manned, in order to ascertain the state of things
in that quarter. His instructions directed him to push for-


ward as far as he could, and if possible to hold some sort
of communication with Socrates, who might now be consi
dered as commander at the point assailed.

Fortunate was it that the governor bethought him of this
measure. As Betts had the ship's launch, which carried two
lugg-sails, his progress was both easy and rapid, and he
actually got in sight of the Reef before midnight. To his
astonishment, all seemed to be tranquil, and Betts at first
believed that the savages had completed their work and
departed. Being a bold fellow, however, a distant recon
noitring did not satisfy him ; and on he went, until his
boat fairly lay alongside of the natural quay of the Reef
itself. Here he landed, and marched towards the entrance
of the crater. The gate was negligently open, and on
entering the spacious area, the men found all quiet, with
out any indications of recent violence. Betts knew that
those who dwelt in this place, usually preferred the Sum
mit for sleeping, and he ascended to one of the huts that
had been erected there. Here he found the whole of the
little garrison of the group, buried in sleep, and totally
without any apprehension of the danger which menaced
them. As it now appeared, Waally's men had not yet
shown themselves, and Socrates knew nothing at all of
what had happened to the brig.

Glad enough was the negro to shake hands with Betts,
and to hear that Master Mark was so near at hand, with a
powerful reinforcement. The party already arrived might
indeed be termed the last, for the governor had sent with
his first officer, on this occasion, no less than five-and-
twenty men, each completely armed. With such a garri
son, Betts deemed the crater safe, and he sent back the
launch, with four seamen in it, to report the condition in
which he had found matters, and to communicate all else
that he had learned. This done, he turned his attention
to the defences of the place.

According to Socrates' account, no great loss in pro
perty would be likely to occur, could the colonists make
good the Reef against their invaders. The Abraham was
over at the Peak, safe enough in the cove, as was the Ne-
shamony and several of the boats, only two or three of the
smaller of the last being with him. The hogs and cows


were most exposed, though nearly half of the stock was
now habitually kept on the Peak. Still, a couple of hun-
ired hogs were on the prairie, as were no less than eight
horned cattle, including calves. The loss of the last would
be greatly felt, and it was much to be feared, since the
creatures were very gentle, and might be easily caught.
Betts, however, had fewer apprehensions touching the cattle
Vhan for the hogs, since the latter might be slain with arrows,
while he was aware that Waally wished to obtain the first

Agreeably to the accounts of Socrates, the progress of
vegetation had been very great throughout the entire group.
Grass grew wherever the seed was sown, provided anything
like soil existed, and the prairie was now a vast range, most
of which was green, and all of which was firm enough to
bear a hoof. The trees, of all sorts, were flourishing also,
and Betts was assured he would not know the group again
when he came to see it by day-light. All this was pleasant
intelligence, at least, to the eager listeners among the new
colonists, who had now been so long on board ship, that
anything in the shape of terra jirma, and of verdure ap
peared to them like paradise. But Betts had too many
things to think of, just then, to give much heed to the
eulogium of Socrates, and he soon bestowed all his atten
tion on the means of defence.

As there was but one way of approaching the crater,
unless by water, and that was along the hog pasture and
across the plank bridge, Bob felt the prudence of imme
diately taking possession of the pass. He ordered Socrates
to look to the gate, where he stationed a guard, and went
himself, with ten men, to make sure of the bridge. It was
true, Waally's men could swim, and would not be very apt
to pause long at the basin ; but, it would be an advantage
to fight them while in the water, that ought not to be
thrown away. The carronades were all loaded, moreover ;
and these precautions taken, and sentinels posted, Betts
suffered his men to sleep on their arms, if sleep they could.
Their situation was so novel, that few availed themselves
of the privilege, though their commanding officer, himself,
was soon snoring most musically.

As might have been expected, Waally made his assault


just as the day appeared. Before that time, however, the
launch had got back to the ship, and the latter was under
way, coming fast towards the crater. Unknown to all,
though anticipated by Mark, the Mermaid had entered the
western passage, and was beating up through it, closing
fast also on Waally's rear. Such was the state of things,
when the yell of the assailants was heard.

Waally made his first push for the bridge, expecting to
find it unguarded, and hoping to cross it unresisted. He
knew that the ship was gone, and no longer dreaded her
fire ; but he was fully aware that the Summit had its guns,
and he wished to seize them while his men were still im
pelled by the ardour of a first onset. Those formidable
engines of war were held in the most profound respect by
all his people, and Waally knew the importance of success
in a rapid movement. He- had gleaned so much informa
tion concerning the state of the Reef, that he expected no
great resistance, fully believing that, now he had seized
the Mermaid, his enemies would be reduced in numbers
to less than half-a-dozen. In all this, he was right enough ;
and there can be no question that Socrates and his whole
party, together with the Reef, and for that matter, the
entire group, would have fallen into his hands, but for the
timely arrival of the reinforcement. The yell arose when
it was ascertained that the bridge was drawn in, and it
was succeeded by a volley from the guard posted near it,
on the Reef. This commenced the strife, which imme
diately raged with great fury, and with prodigious clamour.
Waally had all his muskets fired, too, though as yet he saw
no enemy, and did not know in what direction to aim.
He could see men moving about on the Reef, it is true,
but it was only at moments, as they mostly kept themselves
behind the covers. After firing his muskets, the chief
issued an order for a charge, and several hundreds of his
warriors plunged into the basin, and began to swim to
wards the point to be assailed. This movement admo
nished Betts of the prudence of retiring towards the gate,
which he did in good order, and somewhat deliberately
This time, Waally actually got his men upon the Reef
without a panic and without loss. They landed in a crowd,
snd were soon rushing in all directions, eager for plunder.


and thirsting for blood. Betts was enabled, notwithstand
ing to enter the gate, which he did without delay, per
fectly satisfied that all efforts of his to resist the torrent
without must be vain. As soon as his party had entered,
the gate was closed, and Betts was at liberty to bestow all
his care on the defence of the crater.

The great extent of the citadel, which contained an area
of not less than a hundred acres, it will be remembered,
rendered its garrison very insufficient for a siege. It is
probable that no one there would have thought of defend
ing it, but for the certainty of powerful support being at
hand. This certainty encouraged the garrison, rendering
their exertions more ready and cheerful. Betts divided
his men into parties of two, scattering them along the
Summit, with orders to be vigilant, and to support each
other. It was well known that a man could not enter from
without unless by the gate, or aided by ladders, or some
other mechanical invention. The time necessary to pro
vide the last would bring broad daylight, and enable the
colonists to march such a force to the menaced point, as
would be pretty certain to prove sufficient to resist the
assailants. The gate itself was commanded by a carronade,
and was watched by a guard.

Great was the disappointment of Waally when he ascer
tained, by personal examination, that the Summit could
not be scaled, even by the most active of his party, without
recourse to assistance, by means of artificial contrivances.
He had the sagacity to collect all his men immediately be
neath the natural walls, where they were alone safe from
the fire of the guns, but where they were also useless. A
large pile of iron, an article so coveted, was in plain sight,
beneath a shed, but he did not dare to send a single hand
to touch it, since it would have brought the adventurer
under fire. A variety of other articles, almost as tempting,
though not perhaps of the same intrinsic value, lay also in
sight, but were tabooed by the magic of powder and balls.
Eleven hundred warriors, as was afterwards ascertained,
landed on the Reef that eventful morning, and assembled
under the walls of the crater. A hundred more remained
in the canoes, which lay about a league off, in the western
passage, or to leeward, awaiting the result of the enterprise.


The first effort made by Waally was to throw a forct
upward, by rearing one man on another's shoulders. This
scheme succeeded in part, but the fellow who first showed
his head above the perpendicular part of the cliff, received
a bullet in his brains. The musket was fired by the hands
of Socrates. This one discharge brought down the whole
fabric, several of those who fell sustaining serious injuries,
in the way of broken bones. The completely isolated po
sition of the crater, which stood, as it might be, aloof from
all surrounding objects, added materially to its strength in
a military sense, and Waally was puzzled how to overcome
difficulties that might have embarrassed a more civilized
soldier. For the first time in his life, that warrior had
encountered a sort of fortress, which could be entered only
by regular approaches, unless it might be carried by a
coup de -main. At the latter the savages were expert
enough, and on it they had mainly relied ; but, disappointed
in this respect, they found themselves thrown back on re
sources that were far from being equal to the emergency.

Tired of inactivity, Waally finally decided on making a
desperate effort. The ship-yard was still kept up as a place
for the repairing of boats, &,c., and it always had more or
less lumber lying in, or near it. Selecting a party of a
hundred resolute men, and placing them under the orders
of one of his bravest chiefs, Waally sent them off, on the
run, to bring as much timber, boards, planks, &c., as they
could carry, within the cover of the cliffs. Now, Betts
had foreseen the probability of this very sortie, and had
levelled one of his carronades, loaded to the muzzle with
canister, directly at the largest pile of the planks. No
sooner did the adventurers appear, therefore, than he blew
his match. The savages were collected around the planks
in a crowd, when he fired his gun. A dozen of them fell,
and the rest vanished like so much dust scattered by a

Just at that moment, the cry passed along the Summit
that the Rancocus was in sight. The governor must have
heard the report of the gun, for he discharged one in return,
an encouraging signal of his approach. In a minute, a
third came from the westward, and Betts saw the sails of
the Mermaid over the low land. It is scarcely necessary


to add, that the reports of the two guns from a distance,
and the appearance of the two vessels, put an end at once
to all Waally's schemes, and induced him to commence,
with the least possible delay, a second retreat from the spot
which, like Nelson's frigates, might almost be said to be
imprinted on his heart.

Waally retired successfully, if not with much dignity.
At a given signal his men rushed for the water, plunged in
and swam across the basin again. It was in Betts's power
to have killed many on the retreat, but he was averse to
shedding blood unnecessarily. Fifty lives, more or less,
could be of no great moment in the result, as soon as a
retreat was decided on ; and the savages were permitted to
retire, and to carry off their killed and wounded without
molestation. The last was done by wheeling forward the
planks, and crossing at the bridge.

It was far easier, however, for Waally to gain his canoes,
than to know which way to steer after he had reached them.
The Mermaid cut off his retreat by the western passage,
and the Rancocus was coming fast along the northern. In
order to reach either the eastern, or the southern, it would
be necessary to pass within gun-shot of the Reef, and,
what was more, to run the gauntlet between the crater and
the Rancocus. To this danger Waally was compelled to
submit, since he had no other means of withdrawing his
fleet. It was true, that by paddling to windward, he greatly
lessened the danger he ran from the two vessels, since it
would not be in their power to overtake him in the narrow
channels of the group, so long as he went in the wind's
eye. It is probable that the savages understood this, and
that the circumstance greatly encouraged them in the effort
they immediately made to get into the eastern passage.
Betts permitted them to pass the Reef, without firing at
them again, though some of the canoes were at least half
an hour within the range of his guns, while doing so. It
was lucky for the Indians that the Rancocus did not arrive
until the last of their party were as far to windward as the
spot where the shipTiad anchored, when she was first brought
up by artificial means into those waters.

Betts went off to meet the governor, in order to make
an early report of his proceedings. It was apparent that



the danger was over, and Woolston was not sorry to find
that success was obtained without recourse to his batte
ries. The ship went immediately alongside of the natural
quay, and her people poured ashore, in a crowd, the instant
a plank could be run out, in order to enable them to do so.
In an hour the cows were landed, and were grazing in the
crater, where the grass was knee-high, and everything pos
sessing life was out of the ship, the rats and cock-roaches
perhaps excepted. As for the enemy, no one now cared for
them. The man aloft said they could be seen, paddling
away as if for life, and already too far for pursuit. It would
have been easy enough for the vessels to cut off the fugitives
by going into the offing again, but this was not the desire of
any there, all being too happy to be rid of them, to take
any steps to prolong the intercourse.

Great was the delight of the colonists to be once more
on the land. Under ordinary circumstances, the immi
grants might not have seen so many charms in the Reef
and crater, and hog-lot ; but five months at sea have a
powerful influence in rendering the most barren spot beau
tiful. Barrenness, however, was a reproach that could no
longer be justly applied to the group, and most especially
to those portions of it which had received the attention of
its people. Even trees were beginning to be numerous,
thousands of them having been planted, some for their
fruits, some for their wood, and others merely for the
shade. Of willows, alone, Socrates with his own hand
had set out more than five thousand, the operation being
simply that of thrusting the end of a branch into the mud.
Of the rapidity of the growth, it is scarcely necessary to
speak ; though it quadrupled that known even to the most
fertile regions of America.

Here, then, was Mark once more at horfle, after so long
a passage. There was his ship, too, well freighted with a
hundred things, all of which would contribute to the com
fort and well-being of the colonists ! It was a moment .
when the governor's heart was overflowing with gratitude,
and could he then have taken Bridget* and his children in
his arms, the cup of happiness would have been full. Brid
get was not forgotten, however, for in less than half an
hour after the ship was secured, Belts sailed in the Nesha-


raony, for the Peak ; he was to carry over the joyful tidings,
and to bring the ' governor's lady' to the Reef. Ere the
sun set, or about that time, his return might be expected,
the Neshamony making the trip in much less time than
one of the smaller boats. It was not necessary, however,
for Betts to go so far, for when he had fairly cleared Cape
South, and was in the. strait, he fell in with the Abraham,
bound over to the Reef. It appeared that some signs of
the hostile canoes had been seen from the Peak, as Waally
was crossing from Rancocus Island, and, after a council,
it had been decided to send the Abraham across, to notify
the people on the Reef of the impending danger, and to
aid in repelling the enemy. Bridget and Martha had both
come in the schooner ; the first, to look after the many valu
ables he had left at the ' governor's house,' on the Summit,
and the last, as her companion.

We leave the reader to imagine the joy that was exhi
bited, when those on board the Abraham ascertained the
arrival of the Rancocus! Bridget was in ecstasies, and
greatly did she exult in her own determination to cross on
this occasion, and to bring her child with her. After the
first burst of happiness, and the necessary explanations had
been made, a consultation was had touching what was next
to be done. Brown was in command of the Abraham, with
a sufficient crew, and Betts sent him to windward, outside
of everything, to look after the enemy. It was thought
desirable not only to see Waally well clear of the group,
but to force him to pass off to the northward, in order that
he might not again approach the Reef, as well as to give
him so much annoyance on his retreat, as to sicken him
of these expeditions for the future. For such a service the
schooner was much the handiest of all the vessels of the
colonists, since she might be worked by a couple of hands,
and her armament was quite sufficient for all that was
required of her, on the occasion. Brown was every way
competent to command, as Betts well knew, and he re
ceived the females on board the Neshamony, and put
about, leaving the schooner to turn to windward.

Bridget reached the Reef before it was noon. All the
proceedings of that day had commenced so early, that there
&ad been time for this. The governor saw the Nesha-


mony, as she approached, and great uneasiness beset him,
He knew she had not been as far as the Peak, and sup
posed that Waally's fleet had intercepted her, Betts coming
back for reinforcements. But,' as the boat drew near, the
fluttering of female dresses was seen, and then his unerring
glass let him get a distant view of the sweet face of his
young wife. From that moment the governor was incapa
ble of giving a coherent or useful order, until Bridget had
arrived. Vessels that came in from the southward were
obliged to pass through the narrow entrance, between the
Reef and the Hog Lot, where was the drawbridge so often
mentioned. There was water enough to float a frigate,
and it was possible to take a frigate through, the width
being about fifty feet, though as yet nothing larger thai*
the Friend Abraham White had made the trial. At this
point, then, Woolston took his station, waiting the arrival
of the Neshamony, with an impatience he was a little
ashamed of exhibiting.

Petts saw the governor, in good time, and pointed him
out to Bridget, who could hardly be kept on board the
boat, so slow did the progress of the craft now seem. But
the tender love which this young couple bore each other
was soon to be rewarded ; for Mark sprang on board the
Neshamony as she went through the narrow pass, and im

Online LibraryJames Fenimore CooperWorks (Volume 29) → online text (page 29 of 42)