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 19 of 30)
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" Well, then," said Tom, " since nothing can prevent these
two young madcaps from going off by themselves, what time
shall the rest of us start ? "

" I would go pretty early, if I were you," said Carrie. " It
grows quite cold toward evening now."

" Oho ! " exclaimed they all. " One thought for us, and two
for yourself. We'll wait until quite late, and have you set out
first ; and then we'll follow you, and find out your little game."

But, in spite of this malevolent determination, the big wagon
drove away that afternoon, leaving Will and Carrie alone on the

" Hurrah ! " cried Will, as the horses started. " Come along:
I thought they would never go. We must be off."

And now I will explain to you their plan. It was this ;


Carrie had noticed flying over the moors some birds with beauti
ful wings; and she had cried out to Will, who was with her at
the time, " What lovely wings ! Wouldn't they be perfectly
beautiful on a hat ? " Will had thereupon assured her that she
should have one ; and this afternoon they were to secure it.
They had borrowed of the cattle-keeper his double-barrelled gun,
and they had hired his horse and old box-wagon ; and this
turnout was now harnessed, and waiting for them at the barn.

They hurried out, and scrambled in. Will set the loaded gun
carefully between his knees, and, drawing up the reins, said,
" Get up ! "

" Had you not better let me drive," said Carrie, " and you
manage the gun ? "

"Oh! I don't think I shall have any trouble," said Will.
" The horse seems very gentle. Which way shall we go ? "

" Anywhere," said Carrie ; " only, don't let's follow the road,
but drive right across the downs."

So, off they set. The cattle-keeper's dog, at sight of the
gun, seemed to consider himself invited, and ran along by their
side, plunging into the reedy ponds, and startling the wild fowl
that were idling away the sunny hours, and wondering much, in
his own canine fashion, that none of the many birds that he
started up were considered worth shooting. Such a sportsman
he had never known before. But these young people had one
kind of game in their minds, and were not to be diverted from
their intention by any other.

They jogged on for perhaps an hour. They were having a
very good time, but not a sign of the wished-for bird had been




" What a regular old worn-out beast this is ! " said Will. " I
haven't been able to get him off a jog-trot once. I don't believe
he could hurry, to save his life. Hallo ! there's a bird ! Whoa ! "

The horse stopped short. Will dropped the reins, raised the
gun, and pulled the trigger. Bang ! went the gun. The next
minute he and Carrie thought that there must have been a con
vulsion of nature. They felt themselves flying backward through
space, and in their flight were conscious of another bang, as the
other barrel of the gun went off wildly in the air. Then they
came down at full length on the soft turf, and, picking them
selves up in a dazed way, found presently that they were sound
of wind and limb.

But across the moors, a full quarter of a mile away, they saw
the old worn-out horse, whom nothing could persuade to go off
a slow trot, tearing madly toward home, the old wagon rattling
along at his heels in the wildest fashion.

" What has happened ? " asked Carrie.

" Well," said Will, " as nearly as I can judge, I should sa^
that the horse sprang at the report of the gun, and that the
seat, being only set in, instead of fastened in, tipped backward,
and it and we both went out the back of the wagon. At all
events, we seem to be here; and the wagon, I should judge,
must be nearly home by this time."

" How fortunate that the other barrel did not hit us ! " said
Carrie. " I wonder if you killed the bird."

" Yes," said Will, after looking about a little. " Here he is."

" Oh ! what a beauty ! " exclaimed Carrie. " But here come
all the rest of our party. What shall we say to them ? "


" Don't tell them how it happened, for any thing," said Will.
" Leave it to me."

Just at that moment, the big wagon, which had suddenly
come in sight over a ridge, drew up beside them.

" Your coming is very fortunate," said Will, speaking at once,
to forestall the host of inquiries that he saw were ready to be
rained down upon them. " We got out of our wagon, and the
horse took that occasion to go off home, without waiting for us."

" I see," said Mr. Longwood ironically. " You must have
devised a new way of getting out ; for I notice that you took
the seat with you. And Carrie has a long green grass-stain on
her shoulder. However, as you seem sound in body, both of
you, we won't ask any embarrassing questions. Stow away that
seat behind, and hop on. What a beautiful bird you have,.
Carrie ! "

" I can tell you how it happened," said their driver confiden
tially and in a low tone, to Jack, who sat behind them. " That
hoss they had always jumps at a gun. They was spilled out."

" Oh, ho ! " said Jack. " They needn't think they're going to
get off so easily. Hear Will talking about the color of the
ocean, to turn the conversation ! Wait a bit, my lad. You'll
get it presently. But I should think," he said to the driver,
" that a horse down here would get used to the sound of a

" Some hosses never do," said the man. " My father had an
old mare that used to get frightened out of her wits at the
sound. Men were around the field where she was, off and on,
half the time, shootin' game. By and by, she seemed to kind


of put two and two together ; and, if a plover came down in
the field where she was, she'd take to her heels in no time, just
the same as if 'twas a gun."

Jack, as soon as they reached home, made haste to communi
cate to Ned what the driver had told him as to the probable
cause of Will and Carrie's being found on the open heath alone.
These two young scapegraces proposed a series of such apt
questions during supper, to the two discomfited bird-hunters,
that they fully believed that their whole performance had been
seen. And it was a happy release for them when the pushing-
back of chairs announced that the meal was over, and that they
could escape from their tormentors.

" This is the last night of our trip when we shall be all
together," said Jack ,- " and we must have one more story. And
it must be a regular jolly one ; an Indian story, I think."

" O Jack ! " said Gertrude. " Let's have a nice quiet one,
that a body can sleep after."

" Gertrude," said Jack briefly and authoritatively, " I am
ashamed of you. It is very rude, when Mr. Longwood offers to
tell us an Indian story, for you to object."

So Gertrude, finding that no one would take her part, meekly
subsided, and Mr. Longwood began :

" If you want an Indian story," he said, " I can tell you a
little bit of history, the scene of which was around about New
London, where we were yesterday, In the early days of the
country a savage tribe, the Pequots, lived there, and the harbor
was known as Pequot Harbor. At the time I am about to tell
you of, this tribe had become most troublesome. They had fallen



upon two captains, who had ventured up the Connecticut to
trade, and, taking them unexpectedly, had killed them and their
entire crews. Off Block Island, too, they had murdered Capt.
Oldham. The colonists were alarmed. Something must be done,
or they would be all slaughtered. No man's life would be safe

for a minute, un
less the Indians
were taught some
severe lesson.
So an expedition
was sent out
from Massachu-
setts, which
sailed along the
coast, and burned
a few wigwams,
and destroyed a
little corn, but
succeeded in do
ing nothing more
than arousing the
savages to a pitch
of fury.

" As soon
as the backs of

their invaders were turned, they fell upon all the settlers on the
Connecticut. Their pow-wows, or medicine-men, assured them
that they should soon drive out every Englishman from the land.




A sorry time the poor wretches had of it. They had prayed for
a force that should teach the red men a lesson of the white
man's strength. Instead, their troubles had been only increased.
' You,' said one of these settlers derisively to the commander
of this fiasco, ' will keep yourselves safe in the bay, but myself
you will leave at the stake to be roasted.'


" Sorry times followed. Not a day passed without some one
falling a victim. Many were the hairbreadth escapes. No man
went to the* field without having his rifle within reach. The
settlers fought desperately ; for it was better to be killed outright
than made prisoner, for the captives were tortured frightfully.
One Tilly, for instance, was taken when he was out in a canoe,


hunting. He made a hard fight for liberty, but was unsuccessful.
Determined that they should not make him wince at any pain
they might inflict, he sat grimly, without moving a muscle, while
they cut off his hands, and then his feet, and so killed him by

" Of course this state of things could not continue. Those
who were not killed outright would soon have to fight ' Capt.
Hunger ; ' for no fields could be tilled, and the cattle were slain
by the hundred. So an expedition set out from Connecticut, an
army of ninety men, under the command of Capt. John Mason.
Their orders were to sail along the coast until they came to
Pequot Harbor. There they were to make a landing, and attack
the foe. Capt. Mason did not like this plan at all. The Pequots
would know of their coming, and could watch every movement
they made. He proposed that they should sail by the harbor,
on to Narragansett Bay, and by forced marches reach their forts,
and attack them, as it were, in the rear.

" The other officers of the fleet disagreed with their captain.
They thought they had much better follow their instructions. In
this juncture the chaplain of the fleet was summoned, and bade
to spend the night in prayer, that they might decide wisely. He
did so, and in the morning reported in favor of Capt. Mason's

" So the fleet sailed past Pequot Harbor, and the watching
savages saw it depart with joy. Once again their prowess had
frightened away their foe, and they returned to carouse and
dance in triumph in their villages.

" Meantime Mason was sailing onward. Uncas, chief of the




Mohegans, had joined him with a band of warriors eager to fight


against their old enemies. They landed in the country of the
Narragansetts, and marched at once to their chief fort, where
they stated the business on which they had come. The Narra
gansetts, while they highly approved of the plan of the whites,
doubted much if so small a party could stand for a moment
against such terrible fighters as the Pequots. However, they
said they would go along, and take a hand in the fray.

" The next day the little army, with its following of Mohegans
and Narragansetts, marched twenty miles to a place called Nyan-
tick, where lived Ninigret, another Narragansett sachem."

" Why, that is the name of the man who made things so hot
for the Montauks, as Capt. Jackson said," exclaimed Jack.

" It is the same fellow," said Mr. Longwood. " He was a
great nuisance to the English for many years. Capt. Mason
found him so surly, that he distrusted him at once, and suspected
that he intended sending word to the enemy of his approach.
That night he stationed guards about his fort, and gave him
notice that any of his men who left it, did it at the peril of
their lives."

" That was a high-handed proceeding, at all events," said

" Yes," said Mr. Longwood, " it seems to us, under the cir
cumstances, the height of effrontery ; but Capt. Mason was not
one to stop at any obstacle, after he had gone through so much.
And the morning showed that he did wisely ; for many of the
warriors then announced their intention of joining him, and they
danced a war-dance before starting, with great vigor and zest

" At last the Pequot country was reached. Their great lort


was close at hand. It was strongly stockaded, and in it were
some seven hundred warriors, with their wives and children. The
invaders as, close at hand, they nearly held their breaths for fear
of discovery, could hear them chanting of their prowess, and of
the English scalps they had taken.

" All night long they waited, till the gray dawn came. The
noisy Pequots were now deep in sleep. Mason summoned his
Indian allies, but they were not to be found. The nearness of
the dreaded Pequots had filled them with terror. He sent them
word to look on, and see how Englishmen could fight.

" The fort had an entrance at either end. The invaders
divided their force, and made their way in. The enclosure was
full of wigwams, behind which the suddenly-roused warriors
took refuge, pouring in a shower of arrows on their foe. Seeing
that this would soon prove a losing game, Mason caught up a
firebrand, and, thrusting it into the mats and straw which lay
about, cried out to burn them out. The light wind fanned the
flames, and in a few moments the whole fort was in a blaze.
The English made their way out, and, forming a circle about it,
cut down every soul that attempted to escape. If, perchance,,
one more fortunate than the rest passed them, he fell before
the tomahawks of the Mohegans and Narragansetts, whose cour
age had somewhat returned, and who hung on the outskirts,,
cutting down every flying survivor.

" The Indians had at last received a lesson. Ninety men had
put to the sword nearly seven hundred of their greatest warriors.
The power of the Pequots was broken forever.

" The position of the victors, though, was by no means pleas-


ant. They were miles inland ; many were wounded. They had
almost no provisions; and another body of Pequot warriors, some
three hundred in number, who had been at another fort, learning
the fate of their brethren, followed them, mad with rage. Vic
tors though they were, it was a joyful moment when from a
hilltop they saw New London Harbor in the distance, with their
ships, that they had ordered to meet them there, awaiting them."

" It's a pity they didn't go back, and wipe out those other
three hundred Pequots, when they had their hand in," said Jack

" These poor wretches met their end soon enough," said Mr.
Longwood. "Another expedition destroyed many; and the Mo-
hegans and Narragansetts, now grown bold, hunted them up and
down the country, till the miserable remnant came to the English,
and besought protection. Make them but secure of their lives,
and they asked no more. To such desperation had they come."

" And what oecame of them ? " asked Jack.

" They were divided up. Uncas, the sachem of the Mohe-
gans, took a hundred ; Miantonimoh, sachem of the Narragan
setts, took eighty ; and your old friend Ninigret was given twenty.
He had, however, as usual, been making trouble; and he was not
allowed to have his men until he had made satisfaction for the
mare of one Pomeroye, which he or his men had killed."

" What did they do with them ? " asked Ned. " Put them to
death ? "

" Oh, no ! they adopted them into their tribe. They ceased
to be Pequots, and became Mohegans and Narragansetts, though
I do not imagine that they had the foremost seats in the council,
nor, indeed, that life was made very sweet to them."


" Go on," said Jack, as Mr. Longwood paused.

" Why, I think I have made a pretty thorough ending of the
Pequots," said that gentleman.

" Yes," said Jack ; " but of course the Mohegans and Narra-
gansetts fought."

" They did, indeed," said Mr. Longwood. " When the Pequots
- were out of the way, Miantonimoh aspired to be the sachem of
all the tribes about. There was but one obstacle to his plans,
and that was Uncas. He had made a formal treaty of friendship
with him, after the fall of their common enemy. But this he
treacherously ignored. He hired one of Uncas's captive Pequots
to shoot him. The man, watching his chance : fired, and shot
him through the arm. Then, making his way to the Narragan-
setts, he boasted that he had killed his chief.

" Presently, however, Uncas turned up as well as ever. This
was unexpected. Miantonimoh, finding that his doings were
somewhat known, quietly knocked the Pequot on the head, on
the principle that dead men tell no tales. It was too late, how
ever : his treachery was evident.

" Presently he made another attempt. As Uncas was going
down the Connecticut, Miantonimoh tried to shoot him. This
attempt, too, failed, as the first had done.

" Then he raised an army of a thousand warriors, and made
all his plans to fall upon his enemy when he did not expect
him. Uncas had warning from his scouts, not a moment too
soon. He summoned half a thousand of his bravest men, all
that he could gather in that short time, and marched forward to
meet his foe. There is a good account of this battle by an old
historian, which is something like this :


1 " ' When they had advanced within fair bow-shot of each other, Uncas had
recourse to a stratagem with which he had previously acquainted his warriors. He
desired a parley ; and both armies halted in the face of each other. Uncas, gal
lantly advancing in front of his men, addressed Miantonimoh to this effect : " You
have a number of stout men with you, and so have I with me. It is a great pity
that such brave warriors should be killed in a private quarrel between us only.
Come, like a man as you profess to be, and let us fight it out. If you kill me,
my men shall be yours ; but if I kill you, your men shall be mine."

" ' Miantonimoh replied : " My men came to fight : and they shall fight."
Uncas falling instantly upon the ground, his men discharged a shower of arrows
upon the Narragansetts, and, without a moment's interval, rushing upon them in a
furious manner, with their hideous Indian yell, put them immediately to flight.
The Mohegans pursued the enemy with the same fury and eagerness with which
they commenced the action. The Narragansetts were driven down rocks and
precipices, and chased like a doe by the huntsman. Among others, Miantonimoh
was exceedingly pressed. Some of Uncas's bravest men, who were most light of
foot, coming up with him, twitched him back, impeding his flight, and passed him,
that Uncas might take him.

" ' Uncas was a stout man, and, reaching forward like a lion greedy of his
prey, seized him by his shoulder. He knew Uncas, and saw that he was now in
the power of the man whom he had hated and by all means attempted to destroy ;
but he sat down sullen, and spoke not a word. Uncas gave the Indian whoop,
and called up his men who were behind, to his assistance. The victory was com
plete. About thirty of the Narragansetts were slain, and many more wounded.

" ' Miantonimoh made no request, either for himself or his men, but continued
in the same sullen, speechless mood. Uncas therefore demanded of him why he
would not speak. Said he, " Had you taken me, I should have besought you for
my life." ' "

" And now I suppose," said Jack, " that he lopped off his

1 We are again indebted to Tom Longwood, who has copied the extract for us from the
book in his father's library, so that we can give it as it was written.



" You are in rather too much of a hurry," said Mr. Long-
wood. " He did not quite dare to do it off-hand, for fear that
the English might not approve ; though he longed, in his savage
way, for his death. So he carried the speechless sachem to
Hartford, where his case was laid before the authorities. They
decided, in their solemn way, that Miantonimoh should be delivered
over to him, because he had repeatedly tried to kill him, and
because Uncas could never be safe as long as his enemy was

" So Uncas, with some of his trustiest braves, was summoned
to Hartford, where they took their prisoner, and departed. The
authorities knew, of course, that the Narragansett would be
killed ; and so they sent two white men along, to see that no
tortures were inflicted. In single file they strode away. Sud
denly, at a sign from his leader, the man who was directly
behind Miantonimoh, raised his hatchet, and, at a single blow,
split his skull. Without a groan, he fell prostrate ; and his sav
age captor, cutting a large piece from his shoulder, ate it,
exclaiming that ' it was the sweetest meat he ever ate : it made
his heart strong. '

" What an old villain ! " exclaimed Gertrude. " Jack, how can
you want to hear such awful stories ? "

" I think they are splendid," said Jack. " Go on, please, Mr.
Longwood. I am sure there is something to tell about Ninigret."

" Nothing in especial, that I know of," said that gentleman,
" except that he was a dreadful nuisance all his days. For two
seasons the Connecticut- Colony had to keep an armed vessel
cruising between Montauk and Block Island, to prevent his
making incursions on the Long-Island Indians."


" WELL," said Tom,
after a little, as they sat
about, chatting idly, " to
morrow we start for
home. Our jig is nearly
danced out."

" That's a capital idea,"
said Ned, starting up.

" What ? " said Tom.

" A jig" answered
Ned. " Why shouldn't

we all go out to the barn,

and have a Virginia reel ?

We can hang up some
lanterns to light it. We will just sit here stupidly, if we don't,
for an hour ; and then you girls will politely try to stifle your
yawns, and go off to bed."

" But what shall we do for music ? " asked the girls.
" Listen," said Ned, holding up his hand.

They all stopped talking, and at once the sound of an old
fiddle in the kitchen became audible. It was squeaking out with


great vigor, " Gabril, come blow de horn," and involuntarily the
boys' and girls' feet all began to beat time to the music.

Ned made haste to secure the services of the fiddler, who
was nothing loath to give his services to secure a little jollifica
tion. The cattle-keeper produced three lanterns, and went him
self to hang them up, so as to see that his barn was not set
on fire by inexperienced hands. For an hour or two the old
building resounded with peals of merriment, and the fiddle
squeaked almost without cessation. Then, at the same moment,
Mr. Longwood announced that they must turn in for the night,
and the fiddler announced that his arm had given out.

" What a shame it is that our good time is over ! " said Tom.

" Let us hope that it will rain pitchforks to-morrow," said
Jack ; " and then we can't get away."

" No hope of that, I reckon," said the cattle-keeper morosely,
he would have liked to have had them stay on indefinitely,
" the wind is sou'- west. We'll have a fine day, 'thout a doubt."

And so it turned out ; for the next morning, when, after a
hearty breakfast, the big wagon was loaded with the girls, and
the boys made ready to tramp across to " The Mavis," the moors
were everywhere glistening with dew, which the rising sun
turned into drops of gold and fire. The sea was bluer than the
sky above it. The fresh wind came softly, laden with odors from
the moorlands, odors which it would carry many a mile out to
sea, to gladden the incoming mariner, Nature's cry of " Land

The ist of October had arrived. The hands of the clock in


the steeple of the church close by pointed to five minutes of
nine. Around the door of Mr. Grinder's select school, at No.
2,000 Madison Avenue, stood a large group of boys, busily
talking. Nearly all of them were tanned from the sun, though
here and there a white face told of a summer in the hot city.
But five were especially brown. They looked almost copper-
colored. They were the centre of an admiring group, who were
plying them with questions, and regarding them with ' envious

" Well, fellows," said Will, " the clock has almost reached the
hour. We had better go up and say ' How do you do ? ' to our
revered instructor. Come on."

So the whole group broke up, and tramped noisily up the
winding stairs.

The room was a large one. In the centre, against the wall,
was Mr. Grinder's desk, and beside it, on either hand, were two
long benches on which the classes sat to recite. All the rest of

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 19 of 30)