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 22 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 22 of 30)
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Little brown hands seize the trembling prize.


Little red lips for a moment ope,

Strawberry's gone ere his prayers be said :

Vain was the nook 'neath the plaintain-leaf ;
Empty is now his grassy bed.

" What a magnificent country this must have been for Indian
fighting- ! " said Charlie. " These wild ravines and rugged hills no-
doubt saw many a hard tussle."



"Yes," said Mr. Long-wood: "we are on the territory of what
was the most powerful confederation of Indians ever known on
this continent."

" Do you mean the Five Nations ? " asked Ned.

" Yes," said Mr. Longwood. " They were called Iroquois by
the French. Their own name for
themselves was Hodenosaunee ;
or, the ' People of the Long
House.' "

" What a strange name ! "
exclaimed Rose.

" You will understand the
meaning of it better, if you know
how these people built their
houses. They were not rude
wigwams, such as the inferior
natives of New England lived
in, but large houses, which sev
eral families often occupied.
They were long and narrow,
built with rafters, with an open
ing at the peak the whole length,
for the smoke to escape. Each

family built its fire, and lived around it. The five tribes who made
up the confederacy were stretched westward, one after the other,
in nearly a straight line, Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas,
Senecas, like so many families around the fires in one of their
houses : hence the name."


11 Were they great fighters ? " asked Jack.

" They were the terror of every tribe, from the Atlantic to
the Mississippi, and from Canada to the Carolinas. When they
lost a warrior, they adopted a prisoner in his place, and in this
way kept their strength up."

" I should have thought that the prisoners might object," said

" If they did," said Charlie, " they had only to say so, and
they could be burned at the stake instead."

" They most certainly would have been," said Mr. Longwood.
" Besides, it was a great honor to belong to so great a confed
eracy. When the Dutch settled New York, they foolishly traded
guns and ammunition with them for beaver-skins, and they
became far more than ever the terror of their enemies.

" Lying, as they did, between the French in Canada and the
English in New York, their friendship was courted by both. But
they were too wily to commit themselves definitely to either,
though they finally became much more the friends of the English
than of their northern rivals.

" One of the most wonderful things in the whole history of
this country is the attempt of the Jesuits to convert these
savages. Leaving their homes in France, where many of them
held high rank, they threw aside forever the world in which they
had lived, with all its luxuries and comforts, penetrated the
forests to the Indian villages, and spent their lives amid their
filth and squalor, in the hope of winning souls to heaven. Some
of them were tortured ; more than one died at the stake ; but
none of these things daunted their courage."


" But they did not succeed, did they ? " asked Tom.

" No," said his father. " The Five Nations declared for
the English, and marched against the French in Canada. The
Hurons, enemies of the confederacy, among whom the Jesuits
had met with the greatest success, were exterminated. Those of
the missionaries who had labored among the Iroquois were forced
to depart, and so the Jesuit mission came to an end."

" I should imagine," said Will, " that our friends of New
England, who thought that Popery was born of the Evil One,
would have looked with most unfriendly eyes on these efforts of
the Jesuits."

" They did, indeed," said Mr. Longwood. " And what inten
sified their views was the dread lest these Jesuits, being French,
should bring over the Indians to be , the allies of France ; in
which case they would not only lose a profitable trade, but have
an active enemy at their very doors.

" In the valley of the Kennebec dwelt a Romish priest,
Sebastian Rasles. For nearly forty years he had dwelt among
the savages, hewing his wood, and drawing his water, and living
on the same scanty fare as they. A man of wonderful ability,
he gained great influence over them, and taught them many of
the arts of civilization, while he converted them to his form of
belief. He appealed to their love for color by painting the walls
of his chapel in glowing hues. His life was pure and blameless.
Besides all this, he was strong and expert with the snow-shoes,
and in other feats that gained the Indians' respect.

" The sober-minded colonists of New England viewed with
great disfavor the success that attended his efforts. And when


they found that he was striving to make the tribes about him
declare for the French, and renounce their old alliance, their rage
knew no bounds. They sent one expedition after another against
the Indians who had attacked the border-towns, and at last sur
prised his town at a time when nearly all the warriors were away.
Rasles was slain by a soldier, although orders had been given
that he should be taken prisoner, and not injured ; and his town
was burned. And, when his absent warriors returned, they found
his dead body, and with many lamentations buried it at what
had been the altar of his ruined church, vowing dire vengeance
on his murderers.

" But here we are at our church," said Mr. Longwood, break
ing off abruptly. " And the bell has stopped ringing."

They all trooped in, their cheeks red and glowing from the
exercise in the cool air. Half of the congregation twisted their
heads around to see who all these strangers were ; and the
clergyman, who had just begun to read the hymn, stopped short
in surprise for an instant, at the end of the first line :

" Lord of the seasons, oh ! how fair "

Tom and Will wickedly whispered that he was so astonished
at the good looks of the party, that this was an involuntary com
pliment ; but, as he shortly recovered and went on, the next line
completely refuted their suggestion :

" Thy works : how vile thy creatures are ! "

And so, smiling broadly at the sudden reversal of the compli
ment, they took the seats which were hospitably offered them on
all sides.


The sermon was long, and somewhat tedious. Jack, I suspect,
would have ventured on a surreptitious bite out of a big apple
which he had in his pocket ; but whenever he managed to screw
his courage up to the sticking-point, and put his hand to the
forbidden fruit to bring it out, an old lady of severe countenance,
who sat at the end of his pew, looked at him fixedly through
her glasses, and he reluctantly gave up his little scheme.

They lost no time in getting out after the Doxology had been
sung. Daniel was at the door with the large wagon. Mrs,
Longwood, Lou, and Gertrude climbed into it, preferring to ride,
rather than walk, up the long hills. Mr. Longwood, too, decided
that he was rather too lazy for the walk ; but the rest of the
party scouted the idea of riding, and set out briskly.

" O Tom ! " called out his father just as they were starting,
" my old friend Dr. Stone was not at church, and I hear that
he is ill. Take my card, and leave it at his house. Ask how
he is, and say that I will come to see him in the morning."

" All right, sir," said Tom, taking the card, and putting it in
his pocket. " Fellows, walk slowly, and I will overtake you. It's
only a step ; " and he set off on a run for the doctor's house.

A couple of minutes brought him to it, and a vigorous ring
at the bell brought a red-faced Irish girl to the door.

" How is the doctor ? " asked Tom.

" Faith, he's bether the day, sorr," said she.

" Well, give him this card, and tell him he'll call in the
morning," and thrusting it into her hand, and turning around, he
ran on to overtake his party.

" And it's in a fine hurry ye are, troth and sure," said the
girl, as she closed the door, and carried the card to her master.



Now, Tom was like every other boy : his pockets had in them
nearly every thing that can be thought of, knife, string, cards
that had been handed him by advertising men in the streets.
Of these latter he had a half-dozen that he had tucked away
without ever looking at them : so it was not strange, if, in his
hurry, he left another card than the one his father gave him.

This was what the astonished doctor read on the pasteboard
that his servant handed him :





" Where is the fellow ? " demanded the wrathful doctor, as he
read it. He was evidently convalescing. Being cross is a sign
of returning health.

" Says he'll be afther callin' in the mornin', sorr," said the

" Impudent rascal ! " exclaimed the angry man. " If he does,
I'll lay my stick over his shoulders ! "

Meantime, Tom, ignorant of his blunder, was well up the hill ;
and, as the wagon stopped at the door of their house, the
walking-party were close behind it.

" I wonder at what time we are to have dinner," said Will.

" I will go and see," said Carrie with alacrity.



She came back presently. " Four o'clock," she said. " It's
now just half-past one. There is a luncheon, though, of sand
wiches and milk all ready."

After the edge of hunger had been taken off, the girls
decided that they would stay indoors for a time : so they settled
themselves comfortably, one to
write, others to read, while the
boys strolled out to the barn,
where they found Daniels putting
away the horses.

" Powerful sermon," said Dan
iels, by way of opening conver

"Did you hear it?" asked
the boys.

" No. But the dominie gen- |j
erally comes out strong on sech
occasions. He's a prime hand
at managing a boat, is the dom
inie. Nary man on the river
can beat him. Last winter he

thought he'd try an ice-boat. Never had tried one ; but one of
his deacons had a boat, and he'd often told him to take her.
' Manage her jist as ye do your sail-boat, dominie,' he said.
'Tain't no trouble 'tall.'

" So the dominie one afternoon tried the boat. Weather had
been mighty cold, river smooth as glass, and that afternoon 'twas
kind o* warm and sunshiny, though a stiff wind was blowing ; and



nigh half the town was on the ice. So he hysted up the sail
and, whist ! away she went, seventy miles an hour. Pretty soon
he thought he'd turn around : so he fetched her about, and away
she went back on the same track she'd come, seventy miles an
hour again, right toward the people skatin.' They see the dan
ger, and put for the shore like mad ; and sech a scrambling up
the banks was never seen.

" The dominie he tried to change the boat's course, but
nothing he could do would make her change. She was like a
runaway hoss. Another minit, and he'd been in the thick of
'em ; and he did say he calcalated he'd have furnished material
for three funerals a day for a fortnit, if he hadn't jammed the
helm hard down. That fetched her ; but then she began to go
round in a circle, so fast that he expected 'twould twist his head
off. And then, all of a sudden, over she went. He don't go
ice-boatin' any more."

The boys laughed at Daniel's story, and then began to amuse
themselves in various ways, until, before they realized it, a
couple of hours had gone, and Carrie came running bareheaded
from the house to bid them come to dinner.

The trim woman seemed to have outdone herself, for the
table fairly groaned beneath the good things upon it. In the
centre was a great heap of red and yellow apples, and upon
them three golden ears of corn, with the husks drawn back.

" The corn is my idea," said Carrie, with satisfaction in her

" It is very pretty," said Ned. " Are we to eat it with
pepper and salt ? or to gnaw it undressed from its native cob ? "


" You are not to eat it at all, you foolish boy ! " said Carrie
severely. "It is symbolical of the first Thanksgiving Day ever

" Pray lighten our darkness," said Charlie. " I know nothing
about it."

" Well," said Carrie, " you must learn, that, when the Pilgrim
Fathers came to Plymouth, they had a very hard time. Their
provisions gave out so nearly, that one day they had only three
ears of corn, or some such small number, left. And just at this
time a ship came from England with provisions ; and they
appointed a day of thanksgiving, which is the origin of the day
we are now keeping." And Carrie took up the knife and fork,
which she had laid down in order to give greater effect to her
little speech, and hastened to make up for lost time.

The trim woman hurried to and fro between the kitchen and
the table, bringing fresh dishes, while the chatter of many
tongues made a merry noise. But all at once, as sometimes
happens, there was a sudden lull ; and in that moment's silence
the shrill voice of the old grandmother was heard distinctly to

"That little freckled gal has trimmin' of real silk on her frock
three inches wide, a sinful waste and a shame. ' Tremble, ye
women that are at ease : strip you, gird sackloth upon ' "

At this a heavy step suddenly strode to the door, which
closed with a bang, and they heard no more.

" The question now is," said Jack mischievously, " which of
you young ladies answers to the description of the ' little
freckled gal.' "


" I have made a hurried examination of the dresses," said
Ned, " and fear that it is my own dear sister Lou who has
aroused the old lady.'s indignation."

Lou blushed very much at rinding herself the object of such
sudden attention ; and Carrie came to her aid by saying, " I think
her dress is perfectly sweet. People seem to forget that there is
such a thing as an apostolic injunction to dress well."

" Will you kindly let us know which of the apostles gave
this injunction ? " said Mr. Longwood. " It has escaped my

" Why, St. Paul," answered Carrie, " when he said, ' Forsake
not the adornment of the person, as the manner of some is'"

At this there was a shout of laughter ; and Mr. Longwood
ventured the assertion that he hardly thought St. Paul would be
willing to be responsible for such a command. " As I remember
it," said he, " it reads, ' Forsake not the assembling of your
selves together.' '

By and by, as they sat about the table, the twilight began to
thicken ; and, before they had reached the nuts and raisins, it was
quite dark. Then some one suggested that Mr. Longwood should
give them another of his stories.


" TELL us of some old
sea-dog," said Jack indis
tinctly, his teeth fast in a
great red apple.

"There was a boy," be
gan Mr. Longwood, "whom
his parents intended should
be a great scholar, but
whose mind was set on
going to sea."

" Ah ! " interrupted Jack.
"Runs away clothes in
handkerchief nearest sea
port ships before the
mast mutiny kills offi
cers takes command turns pirate many years hands red
with blood great grizzled beard lots of money comes home
no one knows him nabob from the East marries beautiful
young girl maltreats her neighbors hear shrieks at night -



break in, find papers showing his past history hang him
strong moral curtain falls."

" Upon my word, Jack," said Will, " you are not very polite
to interrupt Mr. Longwood in that way."

" I beg pardon, sir," said Jack very much abashed. " I did
not mean to be rude. Please go on."

" This boy, then," said Mr. Longwood, " did not run away,
but like a sensible fellow told his parents of his wishes, and with
their aid found a good ship, and a good captain, and at fifteen
went to sea. And he soon showed that he was made of good
stuff ; for in three years, and when he was only eighteen, he won
the position of first mate.

" On his very first voyage as mate a mutiny broke out. The
men seized the captain, and were just throwing him overboard,
when our hero, hearing the scuffling on deck, rushed from below,
and attacking the mutineers, backed only by the second-mate and
one old sailor, after a hard fight, drove them into the bows, and
secured the ringleaders in irons.

" And the owners of the vessel, seeing that here was a man
who could not only sail a ship, but command one, lost no time
in making him captain."

" You have not told us his name," said Gertrude.

" His name was William Bainbridge," said Mr. Longwood.
" He is more generally known in history as Commodore Bain-
bridge of the United States navy. The year in which, at the
age of nineteen, he was made captain, was 1793. These were
the days when the country was recovering from the Revolutionary
war, when we had no navy, when the seas swarmed with pirates


and privateers, and every merchant-ship left port well armed, and
ready to fight jor fly, according to the size of the enemy.

" And so, as you may imagine, it was not very long before
Capt. Bainbridge had a chance to smell burnt powder. He
was commanding the good ship ' Hope,' and was on his way
from Bordeaux to St. Thomas, when he was attacked by a
schooner carrying eight heavy guns. ' The Hope ' had but four
nine-pounders and a crew of eleven, against the other's thirty.
But the eleven managed their small weapons with such skill, that
they cut the schooner's rigging to pieces, tore away her spars, and
riddled her hull, till she hauled down her flag, and struck.

"His men were wild to board her, and carry her as a prize
into port ; but Capt. Bainbridge reflected that his first duty
was to the owners of his vessel, and that he must get the valua
ble cargo he had aboard safe into harbor without loss of time.
So putting up his helm, he sailed close by the conquered craft,
and, hailing her, ordered her captain, in his most contemptuous
tones, to go about his business, and to tell his masters, that, when
they wanted his ship, they must send a greater force, or a more
skilful commander ; and so sailed away."

" How enraged the schooner's captain must have been ! " said

" Yes," said Mr. Longwood. " No doubt he had calculated on
making a rich haul, and he came to signal grief. But we must
leave him to repair damages, and go on with Capt. Bainbridge and
his fortunes.

" A few voyages after this he was stopped by a British man-
of-war, whose lieutenant boarded him, and ordered his crew to be


mustered, that they might press any British seamen whom he
might chance to have."

" Had they any right to do this ? " asked Tom.

" It was the old case of the strong and the weak," said Mr.
Longwood. " The British claimed the right to seize their seamen
wherever they could be found, and the Americans were then too
too weak to resist. They have long ago been forced to aban
don the claim. Impressment of seaman has from time imme
morial enraged Americans. In 1748, when we were colonies of
Great Britain, Commodore Knowles, who was in command of
some British war-ships in New England, sent his boats to Boston
Harbor, and seized all the seamen on the ships and wharves.
The whole town rose in anger. The governor called out the
militia to restore order ; but they refused to act, and the gov
ernor, in terror, fled to the castle for protection ; while all the
officers of the ships on shore were seized, and held as hostages
for the return of the pressed men."

" And how was it all settled ? " asked Carrie.

" The pressed men were returned, and the affair blew over
after a time," said Mr. Longwood. " But to get back to our
story. You may imagine the wrath with which Capt. Bain-
bridge found himself obliged to summon his men. The first one
called was Allen McKinsey, the first mate. The British officer
declared that the man was Scotch. Bainbridge denied it, and
said that he was born in Philadelphia. On the British lieuten
ant announcing that he should carry him off, Bainbridge turned
to McKinsey, and told him to find pistols and a sabre in his cabin
to defend himself. The mate lost no time in getting the


weapons, and announced that he would shoot the first man who
touched him. Seeing that he had a tough subject to handle,
the lieutenant discreetly abandoned his designs on the mate, and
took, instead, a common seaman.

" Bainbridge remonstrated ; stated that his vessel was insuf
ficiently manned, and that its safety was in danger if his force
were lessened. Finding that he could not save his man, he
boldly declared to the British officer that he would stop the first
English merchant-vessel he met, and take off a man to supply
his place. The lieutenant remarked, with a sneer, that he would
never dare to do such an illegal thing, and went over the side
into his boat, and left with his victim.


" Five days after, Bainbridge fell in with an armed English
brig. He mustered his crew, cleared his decks for action, and
made her lie to by firing a shot across her bow. He then trained


his guns upon her, while his first mate, McKinsey, went aboard
in a small boat, seized an able-bodied sailor, and brought him
off". Then, hailing the captain of the English vessel, he directed
him to report that Capt. William Bainbridge had seized one of
his Majesty's subjects in retaliation for a seaman taken from the
American ship ' Hope ' by Lieut. Norton of ' The Indefatigable
Razee,' commanded by Sir Edward Pellew."

" What a plucky fellow he was ! " said Charlie.

" Such acts as these, of course, soon caused him to be known
as a brave man, and one fitted for an emergency ; and so, as
the government was just fitting out ships as the beginning of a
navy, he was chosen to command one.

" We have no time now to tell of all his doings, -of how at
first he was unfortunate, and was captured, but will hurry on to
the year 1800, when he was appointed to the frigate ' George
Washington,' for the purpose of carrying to the Dey of Algiers
the tribute paid every year by the United States."

" What ! " exclaimed the boys, " did the United States pay
tribute, and to the Dey of Algiers ? It's impossible."

" Nevertheless, it is so," said Mr. Longwood. " It was to
protect American merchant-vessels from the Barbary pirates.
You must remember that those were the early days of the
Republic, before she had waxed strong, and shown her teeth.
And she was not alone in paying tribute : England and France
endured the same humiliation.

" Capt. Bainbridge reached Algiers, and handed over the
money to the American consul. The Dey was at this time in
great trouble. His sovereign lord and master, the Sultan of




Turkey, was in a rage with him because he had concluded a


peace with France at the time that the Sultan was fighting
Napoleon in Egypt ; and the Dey was in fear that he should
lose not only his office, but his head. He demanded that Capt.
Bainbridge should carry for him to Constantinople a present
to the Sultan, which he hoped would appease his rage. Capt.
Bainbridge politely regretted that his orders would not allow him
to do this. The Dey fell into a fury. ' You pay me tribute,'
he shouted, ' and by this you become my slaves. I will order
you where I think proper.'

" Besides, he gave Bainbridge distinctly to understand that his
ship was in the harbor under the fire of all the guns of his
forts, and that, if he attempted to sail, she should be blown in
pieces, and that he and his crew should be cast iirto prison.
Every American merchant-ship, too, in the Mediterranean, would
at once fall before the swarms of Barbary pirates. There was no
help for it. ' The George Washington ' had to go to Constan
tinople. Bainbridge, in his report, said, ' I hope I may never
again be sent to Algiers with tribute, unless I am authorized to
deliver it from the mouth of our cannon.' '

" If I had been he," said Jack, who had been slowly recover
ing his spirits, " I would have taken the presents for the Sultan
on board, and as soon as I got out of the harbor I would have
cut stick, and let the Sultan whistle."

" Your language is highly enigmatical," said Tom. " Do I
gather that you would have run away with the presents ? "

" That's about the size of it," responded Jack the incorrigible.

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 22 of 30)