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 20 of 30)
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the room was filled with rows of desks.

The boys walked toward Mr. Grinder. He was at that mo
ment listening to a pale-faced, lantern-jawed young man, whom
they heard say, " Yes, sir : I have translated twenty pages of
Sallust, and I have made corresponding progress in my other

" It gives me great pleasure, Master Jones," Mr. Grinder
replied, " to hear of such commendable assiduity in study. A
like energy shown in the affairs of after-life will be sure to
secure you a position of mark. Here are some of your class
mates. I hope we may hear an equally good report from them.


Ah ! Morgan primus, and secimdus, and Longwood, how do you
do ? Your classmate, Timothy Jones, here, tells me "

But at this moment the clock struck nine, and Mr. Grinder
broke off abruptly, to call the school to order, and the boys
made haste to gain their desks before any awkward questions
should be asked.

As soon as the roll had been called, Mr. Grinder opened the
school, as usual, with prayer. All listened reverently; though I
must confess that there was a little smile on more than one
face, when he returned thanks that this separation, alike painful
to instructor and scholar, was over.

Then he called, " The first Latin."

This was the name of a class. Timothy Jones, the lantern-
jawed boy, came forward at once. Tom, the two Morgans, Ned
Grant, and one or two other boys, followed more slowly.

" I presume," said Mr. Grinder, " that your parents all received
the circular which I sent, informing them of the cause of the
untoward postponement of the opening of the school, and sug
gesting that you should make up the loss by home study. I am
glad to know that at least one of you, and, I have no doubt,
all, have followed my suggestion."

But somehow, as his glance rested on the sunburned counte
nances of our four friends, his voice seemed to lose a little of
the confident tone that it had when he began.

" Jones, here," he went on, " tells me that he has read twenty
pages. Perhaps he has gone farther than others of you. Mor
gan primus, you may begin at tne first paragraph on page 8.
We will consider this first recitation somewhat in the nature of
a review of your home study."


Will opened the book, and looked at it hopelessly.

" I have not been able to do any thing at my studies at all.
sir," he said.

Mr. Grinder looked sober.

" Longwood, you may try it."

Tom made haste to avow his innocence of any home study.

Mr. Grinder looked solemn.

At this moment a half-suppressed chuckle was distinctly audi
ble. It came from a distant corner of the room, where Jack
was watching with glee the discomfiture of his cronies.

Mr. Grinder looked up, and caught him.

" Hastings," he said severely, " I am truly sorry that you
should begin, thus early in the session, to merit reproof. I give
you one mark for misconduct."

Jack subsided.

" How many of this class," said Mr. Grinder, returning to the
subject in hand, " have done any study whatever, on their Latin ?
Let them raise their hands."

Timothy Jones's hand went up. No other kept it company.

" It is as I feared," said Mr. Grinder with great severity.
" When you get to be men, young gentlemen, you will look
back, and regret in sackcloth and ashes these wasted opportuni
ties. To your desks ! It will take persistent application to make
up for these two weeks of idleness."


On the Edge of Winter.


NOVEMBER had come.
Out in the woodlands the
wild fowl were ruffling their
feathers, and looking for the
red berries of the black-
alder, if perchance their
hungry fellows had not al
ready stripped the branches
bare. The sharp west wind
went rushing through the
naked forests, followed by
a train of reluctant leaves.
But these are sights of
which the city lad sees
little ; for November is the
month when he is expected
to be hard at work at his books. And so, on this particular
morning, in the main room of Mr. Grinder's school, there was a



busy hum from the fifty boys who were bending over their desks
intent upon their studies.

In the farther corner, however, there was one boy whose
thoughts were not upon his .lessons. He was scribbling away
upon a piece of paper, which he presently folded up, and, with
a dexterous flip of his thumb, sent flying skilfully through the
air to the desk of a lad some distance away. But, alas ! just as
it alighted safely, the eye of the master was raised, and a severe
voice said,

" Hastings, bring that note to me."

The detected culprit took the note, which his comrade handed
him with a half suppressed grin, and, slowly making his way to
the master's desk, presented it.

" You may take your stand upon the platform, .and read it
aloud to the school," said that gentleman grimly.

Hastings was heard to make some objections to this in a low
tone ; but the master was peremptory.

Accordingly the young man proceeded to the platform, opened
the note, and began to read. He was blushing furiously; and, in
his haste to get through, he paid little attention to his stops, so
that his reading was somewhat unintelligible. But the boys who
were near heard something like this :

" I say Will have you heard we five are to cut school the
day after Thanksgiving and Monday won't old Grinder be mad
just and with the girls are going up to Tom's uncle's on the
Hudson we are to go on the boat Wednesday and come back
Monday afternoon five days what larks and no old Grinder with
his everlasting improve your opportunities young gentlemen hip
te doodle do ! "



As Jack Hastings finished, he looked up sheepishly. To his
astonishment there was a twinkle in the master's eye. " You
may take your seat," he said. " ' Old Grinder ' congratulates you
on the pleasure you have in prospect."

The trip which Jack had thus publicly announced as in pros
pect, in due season grew to be a reality. It was Monday when
he stood upon the platform, and read what the boys called his
" open letter." That day and Tuesday passed as slowly as the last


two or three days before a vacation always do pass. Wednesday
came at last ; and at three o'clock a merry and noisy party stood
on the deck of the boat, watching the hurrying laborers as they
trotted with loaded trucks up the rattling, shaking gang-plank,
and deposited their burdens between-decks, and then clattered
back again.


But after a time the freight was all aboard, the whistle blew,
the ropes were cast off, the wheels began to revolve with a tre
mendous splashing, and the boat slowly left the pier. And now,
while she is fairly getting out into the stream, I must give you
some more definite information as to the plans of our party.

Mr. Longwood, then, you must know, had a brother, whose
home was on the farther slopes of the Hudson Highlands. He
had never been strong ; and so he had bought himself a farm, on
which he lived, sheltered by the hills about him from the strong
sea-winds. He was not much of a farmer, if the truth be told,
but much more of a student. And so the management of the
farm fell to the lot of his factotum, Daniel Daniels, who, with
his wife and children, lived in one wing of the old house, and
gave due attention to all the wants of the land, the cattle, and
his employer. At the time when the events we are chronicling
took place, this Mr. Longwood was abroad ; and, in his absence,
our Mr. Longwood, Tom's father, had supervision of his farm.
And it chanced that the idea had occurred to him that Tom and
Carrie should make up a party with their friends, and eat their
Thanksgiving dinner in the old farmhouse.

The party had been made up without a moment's hesitation,
Will and Charlie Morgan, Kate and Rose Waring, Ned and
Lou Grant, and Gertrude and Jack Hastings, the same ten
who had been together at Christmas, and had cruised together
in " The Mavis " in August. They were now all together in the
bows, watching with great interest the shipping about them.
Close at hand a great ocean-steamer lay in the stream, just in
port after the long voyage. As they swept by, they could see-



her passengers crowding down the gangway to the tug that lay

Before them, up the long course of the shining river, the
Palisades stood out distinctly against the clear band of autumn


sky along the horizon. The wind that came strong and fresh
out of the cold north-west drove before it sullen masses of cloud ;,


while here and there a little flurry of snowflakes came fluttering
down from their dark edges. "It is just like a little piece of
poetry that I once learned," said Gertrude.

Across the autumn sky

The flocks of cloudland hie,
Hurrying in reckless flight their course along;

While with loud voice and hoarse,

Urging them on their course,
Behind, their shepherd comes, the west wind strong.

Over the meadows bare,

Through the chill autumn air,
Over the woodlands turning russet brown,

They pass, in broken bands,

To the far Southern lands ;
Their lusty shepherd following with scoff and frown.

A leader not less fleet,

With gentle voice and sweet,
Brought them to wander o'er our Northern hills,

When spring's first blossoms broke,

And the south wind awoke,
And led them forth, heedless of autumn's ills.

Beneath their passing feet

Bent down the daisies sweet,
The violet and frail anemone ;

While in a single night,

Donning her robes of white,
In many an orchard bloomed the apple-tree.


But now the roughening blast,

Seizing upon the last,
Scatters their fleece with icy fingers cold.
See through the darkening air

The snowflakes everywhere.
Alas ! poor sheep, haste to your Southern fold.

" Don't you think it is rather cold out here ? " asked Kate.
" If we were to go into the for ward -cabin, we should be shel
tered from the wind, and we could see every thing through the
windows almost as plainly as if we were actually on the deck."

" That's a good suggestion," said Carrie. " Mamma is in
there too. Come, boys, will you go with us ? "

" We'll come in a few minutes," said Tom, ''just as soon as
we have got the bearings of things."

So the girls went in, and settled themselves in the comfortable
chairs, drawing them up about Mrs. Longwood, while the boys
proceeded to get the " bearings of things." This process con
sisted in inspecting the boat from stem to stern. They looked
into the engine-room ; they glanced over the scanty supply of
literature that was offered, with apples, oranges, peanuts, and
papers of tobacco, at the news-stand ; in short, they could, before
they finished, have passed a very creditable examination on the
boat and its entire contents down to the very freight.

" ' O running stream of sparkling joy
To be a soaring human boy ! ' "

" What a comfort it is to be no longer one ! " said Mr. Long-
wood, in the upper cabin, to the girls, as he drew a book from


his pocket. " I can sit here comfortably, without the slightest
curiosity as to what is going on in the boat. I can even in the
city see a cat in the street, without wanting to throw a stone at
it." So saying, with a sigh of content, he turned the leaves, and
was soon absorbed.

The girls and Mrs. Longwood sat looking at the shores for
a little. Away behind them, just coming out of the city, they
could see a train hurrying along the river's edge. Nearer and
nearer it drew, until, with a rush and a roar, it shot by, and dis
appeared around some curve. Then they passed close to a num
ber of oyster-boats. They were anchored fast ; and the men in
them were busy with their long rakes in dragging the unwilling
oyster from his comfortable bed. But presently all these sights
palled upon them ; and they pulled their chairs together, and began
to play " my minister's cat." That much abused domestic ani
mal ran the whole gamut of praise and blame, amid many peals
of laughter, until Mr. Longwood at last laid down his book.

" We are just entering the Tappan Zee," he said, looking
about. " This is that famous sheet of water considered so dan
gerous by the old Dutch sailors, that each one always put up a
prayer to St. Nicholas before he ventured upon it."

" What a different thing travelling must have been in those
days ! " said Kate. " People then, I fancy, hardly crossed the seas
for pleasure."

" The book I have been looking over was the journal of a
traveller to the New World," said Mr. Longwood. " He crossed
in 1638, nearly two hundred and fifty years ago."

" Do tell us a little about it," urged the girls. So Mr. Long-
Wood opened his book again, and read them extracts.


" ' ANNO DOM. 1638. April the 26th being Thursday, I
came to Gravesend and went aboard the New Supply, alias, the
Nicholas of London, a Ship of good force, of 300 Tuns burden,
carrying 20 Sacre & Minion, manned with 48 Sailers, the Master
Robert Taylor, with 164 Passengers, men, women, and children.'"

" What are Sacre and Minion ? " asked Grace.

" Small cannon used in old times, but out of date long since,"
said Mr. Longwood.

" ' The 28. we turned into the Downs, where Captain Clark
one of His Majesties Captains in the Navy, came aboard of us
in the afternoon, & prest two of our Trumpeters. Here we had
good store of Flounders from the Fishermen, new taken out of
the Sea and living, which were fry'd while they were warm ;
methought I never tasted of a delicater Fish in all my life

" It took our voyager's ship five days to get clear of the
English Channel, and fairly out to sea," went on Mr. Longwood :
" and his journal for those five days has little of interest : so I
will skip it.

" ' The Eighth day, one Boreman's man a passenger was
duck'd at the main yards arm (for being drunk with his Masters
strong waters which he stole) thrice, & fire given to two whole
Sacre, at that instant. Two mighty whales we now saw, the one
spouted water through two great holes in her head into the Air
a great height, and making a great noise with puffing &
blowing, the Seamen called her a Soufler ; the other was further
off, about a league from the Ship, fighting with the Sword-fish,
and the Flail-fish, whose stroakes with a fin that grows upon her


back like a flail, upon the back of the whale, we heard with
amazement ; when presently some more than half as far again
we spied a spout from above, it came pouring down like a River
of water ; So that if they should light in any Ship, she were in
danger to presently sunk down into the Sea, and falleth with
such an extream violence all whole together as one drop, or as
water out of a Vessel, and dured a quarter of an hour, making
the Sea to boyle like a pot, and if any Vessel be near, it sucks
it in. In the afternoon the Mariners struck a Porpisce, or Sea-
hogg, with an harping Iron, and hoisted her aboard, they cut
some of it into thin pieces, & fryed, it tastes like rusty Bacon,
if not worse ; but the Liver boiled & soused sometime in
Vinegar is more grateful to the pallat.

" ' About 8 of the clock at night, a flame settled upon the
main mast, it was about the bigness of a great Candle, & is
called by our Seamen St. Elmes fire, it comes before a storm,
and is commonly thought to be a Spirit ; if two appear they
prognosticate safety'.' '

" Oh ! I say," interrupted Jack, who had come into the
saloon, and had heard the latter part of what Mr. Longwood
was reading, " this begins to be interesting. It was no doubt
the Banshee, or a corpse-candle."

" I am sorry to check your imagination, Jack," said Mr. Long-
wood ; " but the cause of St. Elmo's Fire is too well known to be
attributed to evil spirits. It is supposed to be electricity.

" But to go back to our voyager. ' The Twelfth day being
Whitsunday, the partie that was sick of the small pox now dyed,
whom we buried in the Sea, tying a bullet (as the manner is)


to his neck, and another to his leggs, turned him out of a Port
hole, giving fire to a great Gun. In the afternoon one Martin
Joy a stripling, servant to Captain Thomas Cummock was whipt
naked at the Cap-stern, with a Cat with Nine tails, for filching
9 great Lemrnons out of the Chirurgeon's Cabbin, which he eat
rinds and all in less than an hours time.' '

" I suppose the whipping acted as an antidote to the lemons,"
said Carrie.

" The next two weeks in our voyager's diary are very barren,"
continued Mr. Longwood. " Now and then he speaks briefly of
meeting a ' tall ship ; ' but he has nothing more to say about food
that is ' grateful to the pallat.' Possibly the cause of it may be
found in one sentence : ' All this while a very great grown Sea
& mighty winds.'

" ' June the first day in the afternoon, very thick foggie
weather, we sailed by an inchanted Island, but could see nothing
by reason of the mist.' '

" Oh, come ! " said Jack : " that's too thin, you know."

" ' The Fourteenth day of June, very foggie weather, we
sailed by an Island of Ice three leagues in length mountain
high, in form of land, with Bayes & Capes like high clift land,
and a River pouring off it into the Sea. We saw likewise two
or three Foxes, or Devils skipping upon it. Here it was as cold
as in the middle of January, & so continued till we were some
leagues beyond it. These Islands of Ice are congealed in the
North, and brought down in the spring-time with the Current to
the banks on this side Newfoundland & there stopt where they
dissolve at last to water.


" ' The Sixteenth day we sounded & found 35 fathom water
we cast out our hooks for Cod-fish, thick foggie weather, the
Codd being taken on a Sunday morning the Sectaries aboard
threw those their servants took into the Sea again, although they
wanted fresh victuals.

" ' The twentieth day we saw a great number of Sea-bats or
Owles called also flying fish, they are about the bigness of a
Whiting with four tinsel wings with which they fly as long as
they are wet when pursued by other fishes. Here likewise we
saw a great fish called the Sword fish, having a long, strong,
and sharp finn like a Sword blade on the top of his head, with
which he pierced our Ship & broke it off with striving to get
loose one of our Sailers dived & brought it aboard.'

" From this time on the voyage was very commonplace.
Sixty-eight days after leaving England, they anchored in Boston
Harbor. What a contrast, in point of time, to that of the great
steamer we just saw, which has made the same distance in less
than ten days ! "

" Well," said Jack meditatively, " after all, it couldn't have
been such bad fun in the old times. Think of seeing a man
ducked at the yard-arm ! That must have been prime. But I
say," he went on, " this fellow must have drawn a very long
bow with his enchanted islands, and so forth. I wonder if people
believed him ! "

" He published an account of a second voyage to America,"
said Mr. Longwood ; " and in the preface to it he says snap
pishly, that there are ' certain spirits who have never travelled so
much sea as is between Heth ferry & Lyon Key yet notwith-


standing sitting in the chair of the scornful will desperately
censure the relations of the greatest Travellers.' So that I
imagine that his stories were not all implicitly believed.

" He went into the Province of Maine, too, after he had
landed, and records one or two pretty stiff stories of wonders
there, one of a sea-serpent that ' lay quoiled up like a Cable
upon a rock at Cape Ann.' Another was of one Mr. Mitten,
who had an encounter with a triton in Casco Bay. ' The Gentle
men was a great Fouler, and used to goe out with a small Boat
or Canow, and fetching a compass about a small Island for the
advantage of a shot was encountered with a Triton who laying
his hands upon the side of the Canow had one of them chopt
off with a Hatchett by Mr. Mitten which was in all respects like
the hand of a man, the Triton presently sunk, dying the water
with his purple blood & was no more seen.' '

" I should fancy that the ships of those days would have had
hard times in the great storms," said Will.

" They often did succumb," said Mr. Longwood. " Some
found themselves suddenly on an unknown coast, like Somers
and his men, who lost their ship on the Bermudas, though they
escaped with their lives : others, less fortunate, went down in the
swirling fury of an angry sea, leaving never a trace behind to
tell how their fate had come upon them."

" Why, yes ! " said Carrie, " there was that expedition of Sir
Humphrey Gilbert's, don't you know ? "

' We don't know," said Rose and Lou. " Tell us about it."

" I think I will ask papa to tell," said Carrie ; " for T am not
very sure that I know myself."


England with a little fleet of five ships,
' The Delight/ ( Raleigh,' ' Golden Hind,'
' Swallow,' and ' Squirrel.' ' The Delight '
carried the admiral's flag. Two days after,
when they hailed one another in the even
ing, they learned that the captain and
many of the men of ' The Raleigh ' were
down with a strange fever ; and that night
the ship left them, and made her way back
to England.

" The other four kept on their west
ward course, though much disheartened
at the loss of their most puissant ship. Storms and fog assailed
them, and drove them asunder ; but they met on the New
foundland coast. And here the men of the other ships were
much astonished to see how greatly the attire of the men
of ' The Swallow ' had improved since they parted company.
Then they were sadly straitened. Presently the cause of the
improvement leaked out. ' The Swallow ' had been originally a


pirate, and had been captured in the narrow seas, as the English
and Irish Channels were called, just as she had overhauled a
Frenchman. Probably to escape hard usage for piracy, her crew
had consented to go on this expedition. So a new captain was
set over them. In mid ocean they met a fisherman, homeward
bound from the Banks ; and, being very short of clothes, they
persuaded the captain to let them go off in the small boat, to
buy such things as they stood most in need of. They had no
sooner boarded her than they made good use of their past ex
perience. The unfortunate fishermen were triced up, and tortured
with cords, which were wound about their heads, and then
tightened. In this way they were made to give up all that they
had, even the clothes off their backs. So terrified were the poor
wretches, that when their tormentors left them, and their boat
in getting away was swamped, instead of sailing away, and leav
ing them to drown, they fished up all they could, and, with their
own boat, put them back on ' The Swallow.'

" After more stormy weather, the little fleet met in the
harbor of St. John's. Here they recruited their empty larders
from the fishing-fleet that was always to be found in these
waters. The turbulent spirits of the crews broke out afresh.
They plotted to run away with the ships while the officers were
ashore, and were only prevented by great vigilance. A party of
them actually did seize a fishing-craft, putting her men on land,
to shift as best they might. Numbers deserted, and hid them
selves ashore : others were taken ill in such quantities, that it
was decided that ' The Swallow ' should be sent back to England
with the sick. Her captain and piratical crew were transferred


to ' The Delight ; ' and the fleet, now reduced to three sail, set
out southward to explore the coast. Sir Humphrey Gilbert him
self went in 'The Squirrel,' a tiny craft of only ten tons. Her
decks were fitted with the guns from ' The Swallow/ far too
heavy a weight for the little ship, as was most disastrously
proved later on.

" They sailed away, as we have said, rounding the headlands,
and exploring the bays, and in constant danger from sudden
shoals. At the end of a week a great calamity befell them.
4 The Delight,' their largest ship, and the one which bore their
store of provisions, was lost. The evening before, as she led
the fleet, she laid her course north-west, following the trend of
some cape. The other captains remonstrated ; but she held her

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 20 of 30)