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

. (page 17 of 30)
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 17 of 30)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Arnold had only the backwoods about him. And so it came
about, that, when the two fleets met in fight, the British had
more than twice the weight of guns, and twice as many ships,
as he, and had skilled seamen to navigate them, while he had
but land-lubbers."

" I suspect this will be as vigorous a scrimmage as the other,"
said Ned.

" You shall see," said Mrs. Longwood. " When the British
ships, with all their flags proudly flying, came sailing down to
attack the American, the English captain, seeing the smallness
of the American fleet, said that he thought they should have
little trouble ; but Gen. Carleton, who was aboard, remembered
the march through the Maine woods, and thought differently.
And he was right. It was half-past twelve when the two fleets
were within musket-shot and hard at work. Arnold had that
morning lost the ship on which he was, ' The Royal Savage,'
and now had taken his station on ' The Congress ' galley. He
anchored her in the hottest part of the fire, and there she stayed
until, at five o'clock, the British retired.

" Not only were he and his men exposed to the fire of the
enemy's ships, but the whole shore close at hand blazed with


the rifles of the Indians. Fortunately, though, he had foreseen
this, and had protected his sides so that the bullets did little
harm. He was omnipresent on his ship. His men were inexpe
rienced, and he himself pointed and discharged most of the guns.
He knew no such word as submission. His vessel was hulled
eleven times. Seven shots had passed through her, above the
water-line, her mast and rigging were cut to pieces, while around
him lay the dead and wounded ; and yet he fought as madly as
at first.

" That night the British fleet, confident that another day
would see the Americans in their power, stationed themselves in
the channel through which they must pass to escape. Arnold
called a council. His fleet was in a dreadful way : three-fourths
of their ammunition was spent. They must escape if possible.
The night was a hazy one. Each ship put out all lights save
one at the stern, to guide the vessel that followed her, and,
raising their sail, they stole noiselessly away. And when morn
ing awoke the British commander, to go on with the struggle of
the day before, his enemy had escaped him."

" How provoked he must have been ! " said they all.

" He was indeed," said Mrs. Longwood. " He hoisted all
sail, and set out in pursuit ; and after a little he came up with
the hinder vessels of the flying fleet. Two had sunk from their
injuries ; and the others, crippled and struggling, were making
the best of their way to Crown Point and safety. Arnold, in his
' Congress ' galley, with one or two gondolas, determined to fight
the whole fleet, and so detain them till the others had time to
escape. His poor old craft was in a terrible way from the en-


counter she had just had ; but for four hours she fought des
perately. Seven Englishmen surrounded her, and poured into
her one steady round of shot and ball, and still Arnold's cry
was, No surrender ! At last, when he saw that the rest of his
fleet had made good their escape, he ran her ashore, and com
manded his men to leap overboard, and wade to land. With his
own hand he set her on fire, and, keeping off the enemy's small
boats till the flames had such headway that they could not be
extinguished, he left his flag still flying, and escaped to land.

" I am going to tell you only one story more of Arnold's
daring," said Mrs. Longwood. " It was at the battle of Saratoga.
You remember about that in the wagoner's story. It was the
battle which caused the surrender of Burgoyne, and allowed our
worthy wagoner to return to his home.

" Gates, who had command of the American forces, had thrown
up earthworks at a place called Bemis Heights, and here the
battle took place. The two armies were within earshot of one
another. Early in the morning the British troops were seen to
be moving. Arnold was wild with impatience. He was not now
in command, and so had to await orders. At last they came.
All day long the battle raged, until night put an end to the
strife. Like a madman he rushed into the wildest danger, lead
ing the troops in person to the charge. He was so well known
that his presence alone seemed to bring success.

" The battle was a drawn one. Both armies rested on the
field. But Burgoyne's advance was checked. He no longer
thought of marching to Albany, but of how to escape. It was
too late. His camp was surrounded, his provisions were growing



shorter. Not a mouthful could he gain by foraging, so closely
was he watched. His only chance was in another battle ; and, a
little more than a fortnight after the first conflict, came the
second and decisive one.

" Arnold had in this interval quarrelled with his commanding
officer, and had been relieved of his command. When the sound
of the guns came to his ears, telling that the battle had begun,
he paced up and down his tent in a fever of impatience. ' I
can stand it no longer ! ' he exclaimed. ' If I cannot command,
I can at least serve as a volunteer ; ' and, leaping on his great
brown horse, he tore madly to the fight. Above the noise of
the guns could be heard the yells of the men, as they welcomed
their old leader back. Placing himself once more at their front,
he led them on, waving his broadsword above his head, and
utterly disregarding the leaden missives of death that filled the

" And he led them to victory ; for at the end of that day,
when he fell, wounded in the same leg that received the ball at
Quebec, the British were routed.".

" What a hero he must have been ! " exclaimed they all.

" Yes," said Mrs. Longwood. . " An historian has well said,
that, if that bullet had ended his life, no one would have stood
higher on the roll of patriot heroes than Arnold.

" Among the British officers who were killed in this battle
was Gen. Frazer. He begged that he might be buried at six
o'clock in the evening, on the top of a neighboring mountain,
in a redoubt that had been built there.

" Slowly the mournful procession moved up the hillside in


the sight of. both armies, just as the sun was setting. It was so
far distant that the Americans mistook it for a body of troops,
and opened fire upon them. As the chaplain read the burial-
service the shot were whistling over his head, and at times he
was covered with loose earth as one struck near him ; but his
voice never faltered.

" Then, all at once, as the Americans discovered the nature
of the work they were intent upon, the cannonading ceased,
and, in its place, the solemn minute-guns echoed through the
hills, bearing token of their sympathy and admiration of him
who was gone."

" How thankful I am," said Rose, " that there is no war
now ! Think of going through such dreadful scenes ! "

" How could such a man as Arnold turn traitor ? " said Ned.
" He had reached such a height in the affections of his country
men, and had fought so bravely for his native land ! "

" The height he had reached only made his fall the greater,
and the lustre of his name only made his treason blacker," said
Mrs. Longwood. " I have shown you only one side of his
character, and the brightest side. Unfortunately he was arrogant
and overbearing, he made enemies by the score, and it was
openly said that he was not honest. In his Canada campaign,
as well as at other times, he was accused of taking property
and using it for his own advantage. His enemies, and they
were many, worked busily. When Congress raised five briga
diers to higher rank they were all his juniors, and men who-
had done nothing, while his great services were ignored. There
is no doubt that this slight was most unjust. His wrongs grew
in his mind, bearing bitter fruit.


" Then the British emissaries began their work. They praised,
and they flattered, and they promised. It was in vain, they told
him, for the colonies to succeed in their struggle against such a
mighty country as England. If he would go over to the British,
and yield up possession of some important post, the war would
be ended all the sooner, and great credit would be his. And,
besides, it should be to his pecuniary advantage. He should be
a major-general in the British army, and should receive a certain
sum in cash. And so he listened, and he fell."

" How he must have wept tears of rage and mortification in
after-life," said Tom, " when he saw what he had thrown away !
How did he turn traitor ? "

" He obtained the command of West Point, a post of such
importance, that, had he succeeded in delivering it up to the
enemy, as he intended, it would have, no doubt, put an end to
the war.

" The plan was this : Arnold was to weaken the garrison as
much as possible, by sending men away on one pretext and
another. Then the British, who were to be embarked in readi
ness, were suddenly to appear before the fort, and he was to
surrender it. All these plans had been fully discussed and
arranged with Major Andre, and, had it not been for the fortu
nate capture of that officer, would have succeeded.

" His capture came about in this way : Andre had come up
the river in the British man-of-war ' Vulture.' Arnold had sent
a boat for him, and had a conference, lasting until daylight, by
the river-side. Then, as all the arrangements had not been fully
made, Andre accompanied the traitor to a house near at hand.


While he was there, a patriot battery opened fire on ' The Vul
ture,' with such effect that she was driven to hoist her anchors,
and fall down with the current. Consequently Andre could not
return to her. Arnold furnished him with maps and plans of
West Point, which he put inside his stockings ; and then, with a
pass in his pocket, Andre set out to make the journey to New
York on horseback.

" All went well for a time ; but when he reached Tarry town,
and thought himself in comparative safety, he was stopped by
three men, who seized and searched him. As soon as they saw
the plans in his stockings, they knew that he was no common
man, and they carried him to the nearest American post. Here
he managed to get a letter sent Arnold, telling of his capture.
It came to the traitor just as he, with his aides, was at break
fast. Without a moment's delay, he went to his wife's room,
and broke to her the intelligence that he must fly for his life.
Then, springing on a horse that stood at the door, he tore madly
down the hill to the river, and, entering a barge, bade the men
row him to ' The Vulture,' which still lay in the stream. His
treason had failed, but he himself was safe."

" And what became of Andre ? " asked Lou.

" He was tried as a spy, and was hanged," said Mrs. Long-

" It seems hard that Arnold should escape, and he suffer,"
said Carrie.

" I think it served him right," said Will. " It was not a very
creditable piece of business for an officer to be engaged in.
Trying to bribe a man to be a traitor is not generally considered



to be work for a gentleman, in the army or out. But it is an
awful pity that Arnold could not have been hung too."

" His treason benefited him little," said Mrs. Longwood ;
" for he was distrusted, and held in secret if not open contempt,
by the English, and despised by his countrymen.

" Once, anxious to know how he was regarded, he asked a
patriot captain who had been taken prisoner, what would be his
fate, should he be taken by the Americans.

" ' They will cut off,' said the captain, ' that shortened leg of
yours, wounded at Quebec and Saratoga, and bury it with all
the honors of war, and then hang the rest of you on a gibbet.'

" When the Revolution came to an end, Arnold saw that
America could never more be a home for him. With his family
he removed to England, and there passed the rest of his days in
obscurity. Business reverses came upon him ; and, when he lay
dying, he knew that, except the pensions w r hich his treason had
bought, his family had almost nothing wherewith to buy their
daily bread.

" So much for treason."


JUST as Mrs. Long-
wood finished, the head
and shoulders of Mr.
Longwood appeared,
coming up the hill.
Tom and Carrie ran to
meet him, and soon he
was sitting on the grass
beside them.

" That tiresome busi
ness is through with, at
last," he said; "and now
what shall we do ? Do
you propose to stay at
a hotel in New London
all night ? or what are your plans, young people ? "

" Shall we not get back to House No. 2 in time to sleep ? ""
asked the girls.

" Hardly," said Tom. " Why, it is now half-past four ; and,
if we set out at once, with the light wind there is blowing, we
should hardly get back to Fort Pond before twelve o'clock.


And I presume you would not enjoy the walk across the moors
to the house, in the pitchy blackness of midnight."

" No, indeed," said Gertrude.

' A hotel is so stupid ! " said Carrie ; " but I suppose there
is nothing else for it."

" I have an idea," said Jack. " Why not all spend the night
on the schooner ? The cabin will take Mrs. Longwood and you
girls very snugly, and Mr. Longwood can have a hammock, I
am sure there must be an extra one. We fellows could roll
ourselves up, each in a rug, and camp down anywhere. It will
be delicious sailing to-night. There is a moon ; and it is so
warm that we can be on deck late, without feeling the slightest

The girls all seemed to fancy Jack's idea ; and so it was
decided to adopt it.

" Well, then," said Mr. Longwood, " unless you wish to sit
longer on this hill, suppose we go over to the town, and see
what is to be seen. I should like to get a newspaper, and learn
what has been going on in the world while we have been away
from it. Possibly, too, we may find something to supplement
'The Mavis's' larder."

So they started off for the town. Apparently they did find
something there to add to their table ; for when, an hour later,
they came straggling down to the waterside, to once more get
aboard their schooner, every boy and girl was carrying a package
of some kind, while Jack led the way with two huge melons
under his arms.

" There," he said, with a sigh of relief, as he handed them-


to Thomas John, who laid them carefully in the bottom of the
boat, " I've earned my supper, anyway ! "

The sun was low down in the west as " The Mavis " glided
slowly out of the harbor. The air was full of sea-gulls, and
here and there, as they moved onward, they passed an incoming
craft. One of these attracted their especial attention, for the
skipper was no other than a young girl. The sun was shining
brightly on her slender figure, as she grasped the tiller firmly ;
and, just as they passed, they heard her father's gruff call,
" Luff a little, lassie ! " and her clear answer, " Luff it is, sir ! "

The girls all waved their handkerchiefs, as they passed close
by. What effect the sight of her had on the boys, I can only
judge from its effect on one. Jack disappeared : at least, they
saw nothing of him for ten minutes. At the end of that time
he came back, with a piece of paper and a stump of a pencil
in his hand, and inquired softly of Will, " I say, what rhymes
with skipper ? "

" Hallo ! " said Charlie, who overheard. " Jack wishes to
write a poem about the pretty skipper, but is balked by the
lack of a rhyme. Let's see, Jack : what rhymes with skipper ?
Why "

" I'd rather know what rhymes with supper," said Rose.
" Do, boys, see when we are to have it."

So two or three of them went forward at once, and, return
ing after a little, announced that it was almost ready.

" You sat a long time on the hill-top this afternoon," said
Mr. Longwood, as they lingered about the remains of their
meal. " I suppose you learned all aboicl New London in the
olden times."



" No, indeed," said Ned. " We learned a great deal about
Arnold ; but we heard nothing of New London. Do tell us

" Didn't Mrs. Longwood tell you about the Rev. Mather
Byles and his troubles ? "

" No," said Jack. " What were his troubles ? Colds in the
head ? His name sounds like that."

" I do not know that he was troubled in that way," said Mr.
Longwood, smiling. " He was a minister."

" Do let us hear about him," said they all, drawing nearer.

" You know," said Mr. Longwood, " that our excellent ances
tors of many generations ago came to this country for religious
toleration. By religious toleration they understood that any
person should be free to believe as they did. If he did not so
believe, they made short work of him. Roger Williams, for
instance, was driven out of the Massachusetts Colony in winter,
and travelled through the woods alone and unprotected to Provi
dence, where he could found a new settlement, and hold his
opinions undisturbed.

" But everywhere, whatever difference on doctrines there might
be, they agreed on one thing, and that was, that Sunday was to
be kept in the strictest way possible. The Pilgrims who came
in ' The Mayflower ' fined any one of their number who might
be seen walking in the fields on Sunday ; and, if you look over
the old court records of New London, you will find, in the year
1670, an entry like this:

" John Lewis and Sarah Chapman are presented for sitting together on the
Lord's day, under an apple-tree in Goodman Chapman's orchard.' "



" He must have been
an awfully mean fellow who
told of them," said Jack.

" They ought to have
been reading their Bibles,"
said Carrie, with great se

" I imagine that some
times the young people were
hard to manage, even when
they did come to church,"
said Mr. Longwood. " A
year or two before John
Lewis and Sarah Chapman
came to such signal grief
for defying public opinion,
a town in Massachusetts
held a meeting, and

" ' The town ordered that no
woman, maid, nor boy, nor gall,
shall sit in the South Alley & East
Alley of the M. House, upon penalty
of twelvepence for every day they
sit in the alley after the present day.
It was further ordered that every
dog that comes to the meeting after
the present day, either of Lord's
days or lecture days, except it be

their dogs that pays for a dog whipper. the owner of these dogs shall pay sixpence
for every time they come to the meeting, that doth not pay the dog whipper.' "




" I say," said Jack, " it must have been fun to go to church
in those days ! "

" Especially for the dog-whipper," said Ned.

" Well," continued Mr. Longwood, " the Rev. Mather Byles
lived about a hundred years after John Lewis and Sarah Chap
man ; but the people in his day did much worse things to trouble
him than sitting together under apple-trees on Sunday. A sect
sprang up, called Rogerines, who considered it their duty to
bear testimony against the ministers of the day, because, among <
other things, they preached for hire, and because they made long
prayers, which are forbidden in the New Testament, and because
they observed the first day of the week, which they said was no
sabbath by God's appointment. Their way of bearing testimony
was peculiar. One of them has written a book on the subject,
and this is what he says :

" ' yune 10, 1764. We went to the meeting house and some of our people
went in and sat down ; others tarried without & sat upon the ground. And when
Mather Byles their priest began to say over his formal synagogue prayer, some of
our women began to knit, others to sew, that it might be made manifest they
had no fellowship with such unfruitful works of darkness. But Justice Coit and
the congregation were much offended at this testimony and fell upon them in the
very time of their prayer and drove us all out of the house in a most furious

" These testimony-bearing Quakers were brought before the
justices the next day, and sent to prison for a short time for
disturbing the peace. But this only egged them on. The women
brought their spinning-wheels ; and every Sunday they bore their
testimony in the same disagreeable way, and were ejected. They



visited every church in the neighborhood ; but were especially
fond of Mather Byles, because of his choleric temper. If all
were quiet in the church, and he were proceeding with his ser
mon, a Quaker had but to put on his hat, to bring on a tempest.


The minister would stop short ; nor could he be persuaded to
go on, until the obnoxious covering was removed. He was so
touchy on this subject, that he would not leave his house to go


to church, if one were in the path. The wily Quakers knew
this ; and on Sunday morning a couple might, perhaps, sit on
his doorstep, and one or two more loiter by the path that led to
church. Then the congregation would assemble, and take their
seats. The hour would pass ; but no minister would come.
There would the people sit, and the bell would keep on tolling,
perhaps fifty or sixty minutes ; but Mr. Byles would not budge
from his house until a constable arrived, to drive the obnoxious
Quakers from his path."

" Why wasn't I born in those days ? " said Jack earnestly.

" I fear, you young rogue, that you would have been a
Quaker," said Mr. Longwood.

" Well, at each new outbreak the testimony-bearers were
brought up for trial. For each fresh offence the time of impris
onment was doubled ; so that presently the jail was crowded.
At length, one Sunday, the imprisoned Quakers saw a fresh
party approaching, under the care of the constables. They
decided that they had already as- many in the jail as could be
comfortable. So they barred the door. Their historian says :

"'We blew a shell in the prison in defiance of their idol Sabbath, and to
mock their false worship, as Elijah mocked the worshippers of Baal. The authority
gave orders to break open the prison door, so they went to work and labored
exceeding hard on their Sabbath, cutting with axes and heaving at the door with
iron bars for a considerable time till they were wearied, but could not break open
the door."

" The constables were not to be balked, however : finding
the door so stout, they cut a hole in the roof, and dropped the
fresh arrivals on the heads of their friends below."


" And how did all these troubles end ? " asked Lou.

" I am sorry to say that the authorities proceeded presently
to very brutal measures, for they began to whip men and
women ; but this produced a re-action, and gradually the whole
thing died out."


I HAVE forgotten to mention,
that, among the purchases at
New London, was one by Jack,
of a very shrill whistle. It had
lain forgotten in his trousers
pocket, until now ; but, of a
sudden remembering it, he drew
it forth, and gave a blast upon
it that caused them all to put
their hands to their ears.

" I have noticed, with great

pain," said he, attempting to hold the whistle between his lips,
and talk at the same time ; and, in consequence, uttering some
unintelligible sounds, "I have noticed, with great pain, that
this vessel was so insufficiently manned and provided, that it had
not a boatswain, or even a boatswain's whistle. At great trouble,
and out of my limited resources, I have procured a whistle,
which, while lacking in proper force, is yet a fair substitute for
that in ordinary use."

And he gave another blast upon it, by way of illustration,
grinning with mischief, as the girls again covered their ears with

4 2 3


their hands, to deaden the shrill sounds. " By a little practice,
I think I can make myself heard quite a distance," he added.
" Henceforth you will please address me as Hastings the bo'sun.
I say, Carrie, toss me over a peach, will you ? "

"It is not customary for the bo'sun to mess with the pas
sengers," said Carrie with great dignity. "I do not know
whether Capt. Jackson has provided peaches for the crew, or
not. If he has, you will probably find them forward ; " and she
took up one, and commenced to munch it with great satisfaction.

The laugh was decidedly against Jack ; but that young man

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 17 of 30)