Richard Markham.

Colonial Days : being stories and ballads for young patriots ; as recounted by five boys and five girls ; in Around the yule log, Aboard the Mavis, On the edge of winter online

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Online LibraryRichard MarkhamColonial Days : being stories and ballads for young patriots ; as recounted by five boys and five girls ; in Around the yule log, Aboard the Mavis, On the edge of winter → online text (page 10 of 30)
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and there amid the wilderness, the French had built almost no towns
at all. But they had been busy in other directions. Bold explorers
had followed up the St. Lawrence to its source, had crossed the Great
Lakes, had discovered the Mississippi, and had sailed down it to the


Gulf of Mexico. The Ohio, too, they had navigated. All the lands
bordering on these great rivers they claimed for the king of France.

" If you will look on the map, you will see that these claims to
the valleys of the Mississippi and Ohio left to England but a strip
of seaboard on the Atlantic. Already the English settlers, westward
bound,, were on the outskirts of the Ohio. A struggle could not be
avoided, and war between England and France was declared. It
was long and bloody. Nearly all the Indians took part with the
French, and all the terrors of a border war came upon the poor out
lying settlers. At first, too, the French had success on their side ;
but soon the tide of battle turned. Gen. Wolfe was at the head of
the English and Colonial forces. One after another the enemy's
forts fell before him, Louisburg, where he leaped into the sea, and
led his troops to land through the surf ; l and at last Quebec, where,
on the Plains of Abraham, he found victory and a soldier's end.

" The capture of Quebec practically put an end to the war. The
Frencli possessions in Canada and the West came under English
rule, and one after another their outlying forts were surrendered.
It is with one of these, Detroit, then far beyond even the outskirts
of civilization, that my story has to do.

" The fort had now been for some little time in English hands.
Widespread discontent was felt among all the Indian tribes ; and
among them went Pontiac, chief of the Ottawas, rousing them by
stories of their wrongs, and by working upon their love for blood, to
go upon the war-path. His plan was to capture by treachery or a
sudden onslaught all the outlying forts, and then to fall upon the
lonely, unprotected settlers, who, unsuspicious of their plans, would

* See Frontispiece.


become an easy prey. In this way the credulous savages believed
the English might be driven out of the land to the last man.

"The fort at Detroit would nowadays be considered a sorry
structure. It was a palisade some twenty-five feet high, within which
were a hundred small wooden straw-thatched houses. Here and
there over the gates of the palisade were block-houses, while a bas
tion stood at each corner. The garrison consisted of one hundred
and twenty soldiers, though there were besides some forty fur-
traders. This was the place Pontiac proposed to surprise. His plan
was this : He was to demand a council. Sixty of his braves were
to attend him, each man muffled in a blanket, beneath which he had
ready his gun and scalping-knife. They would easily get access to
the fort ; for as yet the whites had no idea how widespread was the
disaffection among, them, and would admit them without hesitation.
At the council, Pontiac would deliver his speech. At the appointed
sign, when he should hold forth in his hand a peace-belt of wampum
in a reversed position, every man would drop his blanket, and, instead
of quiet Indians, there would appear a band of braves, knives in
hand, shouting their war-whoop. The officers were to be shot down
at once ; and the garrison, thrown into confusion, would soon be at
the mercy of their friends, who, on tne watch without, would crowd
in through the gates to help them.

" A day or two before this surprise was to take place, a woman
from the garrison, going into one of the Indian villages, found sev
eral of the men filing off the barrels of their guns, so as to make
them, stock and all, not more than three feet in length. It seemed
to her a very strange thing to do ; and, when she spoke of it, it was
found that during the past few days many Indians had tried to bor-


row files and saws of the blacksmith, and that they would not tell
what they wanted them for.

"The commander, Major Gladwin, was informed; but he did
not think it foreboded any mischief. The next day he received
intelligence which showed him that trouble was ahead. It is said
that a young Indian girl, who had fallen in love with him, on
the day before the treachery was to be consummated revealed
to him the whole plot. That night the watchful commander
doubled the sentinels at their posts ; for from afar through the
silent hours came the shouts of warriors as they danced about
the scalping- post in preparation for the bloody work before

" The next morning dawned bright and fair. About the fort
came swarming bands of Indians. They disposed themselves as
if to have a game of ball ; but it was noticed that they were in
great excitement, and kept a constant eye upon the fort. Soon
from the forest came Pontiac, at the head of his sixty warriors,
each man wrapped in his blanket. Stalking silently on, they
halted at the fort, and demanded a council. The gates were
thrown open, and they entered. As they did so, they started with
surprise ; for, instead of the every-day appearance which they
were accustomed to see there, they found themselves received
between lines of soldiers, while every few paces on stood groups
of hardy traders, armed to the teeth. They were thoroughly
startled. Could it be that their plan was discovered? It was
too late to retreat ; for the gates were closed behind them. They
moved onward to the council-hall. Here, meeting only Major
Gladwin and one or two of his officers, their suspicions were


lulled. Why was it, Pontiac demanded, that, when they came on
a peaceful errand, they found so many armed men about ?
Gladwin replied that it was because they were practising in the
use of their weapons.

" Pontiac then made his speech. The commander never took
his eye from him. As the Indian moved his hand to reach out
the belt that was the fatal signal, he made a sudden motion. In
an instant came the clash of arms from the troops outside,
while the long roll of the drums filled the room with their
deafening din. There was now no longer any doubt among the
Indians that their plans were known. Crestfallen and abashed,
they made their way through the ranks of soldiery to the gates,
and vanished into the forest. Detroit was saved."

" I should have thought," said Will, " that, when Gladwin had
them all there, he would have seized them. He would have
found the proofs of their villany on them."

" He did not know how widespread was the determination of
the Indians to have war, or he would have done so," said Mr.
Longwood. " Perhaps, too, he wanted to show them that he
could afford to despise them and their efforts. Had Pontiac
been seized then, no doubt a long struggle and many hundred
lives might have been saved."

" Tell us some more about him," said Ned.

" It is time for our story-telling to come to an end now,"
said Mrs. Longwood ; " for it is growing late, and we must all
be in bed early if we are to be up in time to take the morning
train for New York. Our week at the sea has been a happy
one ; but all good things must come to an end."


Just as she spoke, a great log on the fire, that had been
blazing and flashing all the evening, crumbled into a mass of
glowing embers.

"Yes," said Will: "let us go. Our Yule Log has burned


Aboard the Mavis.


IT was a day in early Sep
tember. Beyond the fields, yel
low with the golden-rod, or white
, with the tiny autumn daisy, lay
the ocean, more blue than the
sky above it, while the little Lake Agawam seemed like a sap
phire in a golden setting. A fresh, crisp wind was rustling the
grass, now turning brown in the falling year ; and the never-
ceasing thunder of the surf on the long stretch of beach-sands
filled the air.

Indoors about the dining-table were seated Mr. and Mrs.
Longwood, and Tom and Carrie. Tom had just laid down his
fork, and was looking out of the window with an air of forced

" And to think," he said, after a moment, " that a fellow
must leave all this, day after to-morrow, and go back to school ! "



No one answered ; for, indeed, if all Tom's regrets had been
sympathized with, some one of the family would have been talk
ing all the time.

The arrival of the pudding seemed to revive his spirits ; and
he did not speak again until it had all vanished from his plate,
when he said briefly,

" Sterscuseme ? "

To this enigmatical remark his mother gave a pleasant nod,
and Master Tom was quickly out of the room. As he reached
the piazza, he cried out, " Hallo ! there's Andrew ! " and, seizing
his cap, he started down the path to the pier, toward which a
boat driven by the sturdy arms of a young Irishman was rapidly

" Any letters ? " he asked, as he seized the painter of the
boat, and made it fast.

Andrew, who was a man of few words, silently took off his
hat, and, producing therefrom two envelopes, handed them over,
together with three or four newspapers, which he fished out of
a side pocket.

" All for papa," said Tom, looking at the superscriptions ; and
he set out for the house, and gave them to his father, who was
still sitting at the table. Then he was on his way out of doors
once more, when a sudden call from his father, who had broken
one of the seals, stopped him.

" Wait a moment, Tom," he said. " I think this letter con
cerns you ; " and, after reading it carefully through, he tossed it
over, and Tom picked it up. This was the letter :





No. 2000 MADISON AVENUE, NEW-YORK CITY, Sept. 8, 1879.


Dear Sir, It is with sincere regret that I am compelled to notify you of
the postponement of the opening of the autumn term of my school from Sept. 15,
to Oct. i.

A defect in the drainage-pipes of the house having made itself perceived, I
have decided that it was due to the health of my scholars to have a thorough
revision made of the plumbing of the establishment, in order that any suspicion
of trouble might be done away with. This revision is in progress, and is making
such headway that by the ist of October, prox., I hope to meet again all my
young friends.

The delay is of course detrimental to their interests ; but by home study of
three or four hours each day, until school begins, a great portion of the loss may
be made up. Your son was about to enter on Algebra, Sallust's Jugurthine Wars,
and Latin Prose Composition.

The idea that I have thrown out will, no doubt, commend itself to your judg
ment, and I shall hope for your hearty co-operation.

Yours with esteem,


Tom gave a wild shout of delight, and threw his cap into
the air, deftly catching it as it came down.

"Carrie! Mamma!" he shouted, rushing into the hall, "no

school !

Sound the loud timbrel o'er Egypt's dark sea :

Grinder's pipes are out of order, his pupils are free ! "
" Tom," said Carrie with great severity, " that is a hymn that


you are turning into ribald rhyme, and it is very wrong of

" You seem to have forgotten, Master Tom," said his father,
with a queer twinkle in his eye, as he came into the hall, " that
Mr. Grinder wishes you to study Latin prose and algebra four
hours a day, and confidently relies on my co-operation in seeing
that you do it. Had you not better get your books at once,
and begin ? "

Tom's countenance fell. That part of the letter had hardly
caught his eye at all.

" O papa!" he said, "that would be dreadful."

His father laughed. " I confess," he said, " that a different
plan had occurred to me. How would Carrie and you like to
ask down some of your friends, and all go next week on an
expedition to Montauk ? "

There was such a chorus of delighted shouts at this, that
Mrs. Longwood, who had come to the head of the stairs at
Tom's first call, deliberately put her hands over her ears, and
went back to her room.

When at last quiet was restored, Mr. Longwood said,

" Well, to-day is Wednesday. You will have two hours in
which to write the letters before the mail closes. I am going to
the village, and will post them. They ought to reach their des
tination to-morrow early, and you should have answers by Friday
noon. Ask them all to come on Saturday ; and Monday, bright
and early, we will set off. Whom do you intend to ask?"

"We must have Will and Charlie Morgan," said Tom.

"And Rose and Kate Waring," said Carrie.


" And Ned and Lou Grant, of course," said Tom.

"And Gertrude and Jack Hastings," added Carrie.

" That will be the same party that we had when we kept
up our Yule-tide festivities," said Mr. Longwood, " and will do
nicely. Now off to your letter-writing ; and don't make any more
noise than you can help, for I want to read my paper."

The letters were duly written and posted, and Tom and
Carrie were all impatience for the time to come when the
answers should arrive. Friday noon they were both on hand at
the office when the mail came in, and watched with eagerness
as one letter after another was thrust into their box. And at
last, when the little square window was opened for delivery,
Tom seized the handful of letters and papers that were passed
to him ; and both ran out together, where they could examine
them free from the curious eyes of the loungers in the store.

" Here are two for you, Carrie, and two for me," said Tom.
" Hallo ! where is papa? The dog-cart was here a moment

" Perhaps the horse was restless, and he has driven down the
road. Let us sit down here, and read the letters," said Carrie,
tearing one open.

They proved highly satisfactory. All wrote that they were
coming, but Gertrude and Jack, and from them there was no
reply. Tom turned over the whole package, and even went
back to see if by chance any thing could have been left in the
box ; but there was no trace of such to be found.

" Perhaps they may have been away from home," said Carrie :
"but, unless they were very far away, I think we shall hear by


to-morrow ; for I put ' Haste ' in big letters on the envelope,
and I fancy Mrs. Hastings would open it. Where can papa

If they had not been so intent on watching for the mail, they
would have noticed that Mr. Longwood had driven on slowly
down the village street. He had hardly passed the first bend in
the road when he noticed coming toward him a short, stout man,
with grizzled hair and beard, dressed in a pea-jacket, whose roll
ing gait at once proclaimed him a sailor. As he came abreast,
Mr. Longwood pulled up his horse suddenly, and said :

" Why, it's Capt. Jackson ! "

" Ay, ay, Mr. Longwood, here I am," said the captain.

"And where is the schooner?" asked Mr. Longwood; "and
how did you get so far from blue water ? "

" ' The Mavis ' is tied up at the wharf in Sag Harbor. You
see, my mate and two of the hands own an interest in her, and
they both came from this section, and we've been a-v'yagin*
pretty steadily for two years, and they thought they'd come
down and see their folks for a couple of weeks ; and that's how
it is the schooner's tied up idle. What I'm to do for two weeks,
I dono ; for I have neither chick nor child, and time passes
kind o' monotonous ashore."

" Well, I suppose, then," said Mr. Longwood, " that you
would consider favorably an offer from me to charter the
schooner for a week."

Capt. Jackson at once became all attention, and in ten
minutes it was arranged. Mr. Longwood was to furnish a crew
of four men, a thing that he knew could be easily done


in a place where every other man had been to sea ; and
Capt. Jackson and the Mavis were to be at his service for a

" We will arrange the trip in this way," Mr. Longwood ex
plained to Tom and Carrie that day at dinner : " Your mamma
and the girls will drive to Montauk, taking a day and a half to
reach the light-house. The rest of us will sail, joining them
there. Then we can make any further plans we fancy. Per
haps we might all go on board our craft, and make a trip to
New London.

" The first thing to do now, though, is to hunt up the crew
that I have agreed to furnish. So, Tom, if you will go with
me, we will start on our search in an hour."

The crew was easily obtained. Thomas John Wilsey from
North Sea was engaged as mate ; for he had been to sea, and
was quite a skilful sailor. The man whom they had met at
Shinnecock Bay was to be one of the hands, and two other
sturdy fellows were only too glad to go.

The night's mail brought no word from Gertrude ; but the
next morning, when Carrie was in the attic hunting out from an
old trunk something for the trip, she heard some one hurrying
up the crooked stairs ; and the next minute one of the maids
came panting toward her with a yellow envelope in her hand.

" It's a telegram, Miss Carrie. Your papa told me to take it
to you as quickly as I could."

Carrie tore it open, and read:

" Letter received. Hurrah ! We are coming.




The morning train brought Will and Charlie, Rose and Kate,
and Lou and Ned ; and it was a merry and noisy party that


gathered about the dining- table. And in the evening came Jack
and Gertrude. Jack could not sit still, but jumped out when he



came near, and raced across the fields to the house, beating by
several minutes the rumbling old stage that brought them.

And now our party is all together, and everv one is wishing
for Monday to come, that they may set out.



MONDAY came at last. At nine
o'clock, John, the coachman, brought
to the door the great Concord
wagon, while Andrew followed with
the farm-cart for the two small
trunks into which all the baggage
of the land party had been com
pressed. Then Mrs. Longwood and the girls climbed up to their
seats, John drew up the reins, and off they went at a spank
ing pace, the boys giving them a parting cheer as they turned
into the road, and disappeared. Then every boy rushed into the
house for his own luggage ; for the lumbering stage that was to
take them to the station was seen slowly approaching, half visible
through the cloud of dust by which it was enveloped.

A half-hour's ride on the railway brought them to Sag Har
bor, where they found Capt. Jackson waiting, his crew all on
board, and every thing in readiness for an immediate start ; and,
only delaying while Mr. Longwood made some purchases at one
of the provision-stores, they hurried aboard, and in ten minutes
had cast off, and were afloat.

Long before they had made their way out through the crooked


channel, into the open water of the Sound, Jack had been through
every part of " The Mavis." He had surveyed with unspoken
admiration the bunks around the little cabin where they were to
sleep ; he had pulled at every rope, and asked its name ; and
he had propounded to Capt. Jackson more questions on nautical
points than that worthy seaman had ever heard, even from an
examining board. The other boys, too, had not been idle ; so
that when the black head of the cook suddenly appeared, an
nouncing that dinner was ready, they all discovered that they
were ravenously hungry, and made a rush for the cabin.

" Come, Captain," said Mr. Longwood.

" No," said Capt. Jackson. " I'll wait till we get out of the
channel, into deep water, before I take a bite."

" Well, 17 said Jack, as he paused, after a vigorous attack on
a sweet-potato, " this is what I call jolly. Why, we might be a
party of bold navigators bound on exploring some unknown sea,
Columbus about to discover America, for instance."

" If you want to represent the discoverer of America," said
Mr. Longwood, " you will have to go nearly five hundred years
farther back than Columbus."

" Why, the question in my geography," said Jack, " is, ' Who
first discovered America ? ' and the answer is, ' Christopher Colum
bus, in 1492.'"

" Nevertheless," said Mr. Longwood, " it was discovered about
the year 1000, by a Northman."

"What was his name?" asked Tom; "and how did it come
about ? "

" Well, to make you understand it clearly," said Mr. Long-


wood, " I shall have to go back to the year 850, when there
lived in Norway a king, Harold Fairhair. He was a man of
great strength of will ; and he brought all the independent
chiefs, who had before been subject to no one, under his power.
But there were many who preferred to leave their country, rather
than submit. They flocked to the Orkney, and Shetland, and
Faroe Isles, and became Vikings, or sea-rovers. In their long-
ships, as the war-vessels were called, to distinguish them from
merchantmen, they were the terror of the world.

" Did you ever hear how one Hastings took the city of Luna,
in Italy ?


The guards on the walls of Luna,

As they seaward cast the eye,
See a mighty fleet of Vikings

Clear-cut against the sky.
* What, ho ! the town is threatened,

Quick sound the bell's alarm !
'Tis the sea-king Hastings cometh :

Bid every freeman arm.'

The dreaded fleet draws nearer,

Till each ship at anchor rides ;
But no gay-wrought pennons flutter,

No warriors crowd their sides.
Instead, a pall of blackness,

And the death-song chanted slow,
While two messengers in sable robes

To the gates of the city go.



'We come not here in anger,

Nor the battle-cry to sound;
But we seek a grave for our leader

In consecrated ground.
And if ye, of your courtesie,

Shall grant this our request,
Full many a roll of yellow gold

Will we pay for his spirit's rest.'

Next day the corpse of the sea-king,

In an oaken coffin lain,
Is borne on the shoulders of Vikings,

At the head of a goodly train.
Full reverently they bear him,

To music's mournful sound,
Before the great high altar,

And in silence stand around.

Why shrink the priests in terror?

Why blanch their cheeks with fear?
Can it be their craven hearts stand still,

At the pale corpse lying here?
Ha ! the coffin bursts asunder,

And the dead man leapeth out;
Above his head his good blade shines,

From his lips there rings the shout,

' Have at them now, ye sea-dogs !

Plunder, and burn, and slay !
Hew down these craven-hearted priests,

The town is ours this day !


Fear not the odds against us,
Glory waits him who falls :

For those who live there's treasure;
For the dead great Odin's halls.'

Down crash the half-burned rafters,
On the dead priests within'

Without, the shrieks of women
Above the battle's din.

So fell the town of Luna,

In the days long since gone by :

Give God true thanks that we live at peace,
Nor dread a battle-cry.

" Well, the Vikings harried England and all the Atlantic coast,
going, as we have seen, into the Mediterranean even ; but the
land they most loved to fall upon was that from which they had
been driven.

" Harold Fairhair was not a man to submit to such treatment ;
and no sooner had he established his authority over his own land
than he fitted out a great fleet, and fell upon the outlying islands
with such violence, that he broke the power of the Vikings for

" Those who were left alive after these bloody battles, having
now less than ever a mind to be the subjects of Harold Fair-
hair, turned their eyes to Iceland ; and such numbers went there,
that in a few years the habitable parts of the island were thickly

" They were, as I have said, a race of warriors. Their reli-


gion made them so. The hero who died in battle went straight
to live with Odin, at Valhal. Here the roof was made of the
golden shields of heroes ; and the time passed in stirring feats
of arms, and in drinking great horns of mead. Thor was another
god : he it was whose voice made the thunder. Ran was the
goddess of the sea ; and there were other gods and goddesses
without number.


" The Vikings recounted their valorous deeds in chants after

this fashion :

' Hewed we with the hanger,

When I young was ;

East in Eyra's channel,

Outpoured we blood for grim wolves.'

Online LibraryRichard MarkhamColonial Days : being stories and ballads for young patriots ; as recounted by five boys and five girls ; in Around the yule log, Aboard the Mavis, On the edge of winter → online text (page 10 of 30)