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 23 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 23 of 30)
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" That would have been a very clever thing to do," said
Carrie sarcastically. " It would have taken the Ace about a



month to find out what he had done ; and then the American
merchant-ships would all have had a sweet time."

" May I inquire whom you mean by the Ace ? " asked Jack.

" You know per
fectly well, you foolish
boy," said Carrie with
great dignity. " The
man, whatever his name
was, would of course
have retaliated on every
American ship that fell
in his way. ,

Jack being suffi
ciently subdued by
this vigorous attack,
Mr. Longwood took
up the thread of his
story again.

" So The George
Washington ' sailed for
Constantinople with five
or six hundred thousand
dollars in money, and
some two hundred Mos
lem passengers. You
can well imagine that
the sailors were not in
the best humor at the work they were doing, and the poor pas



sengers had a rather hard time of it. The Moslems, as you
know, are very rigid in their prayers, and pray always with their
faces toward Mecca. Five times a day they swarmed the decks,
with their faces turned eastward. Hardly would they have begun,
before Jack Tar would find it necessary to tack the ship, when
an entire re-arrangement on the part of the praying band would
become imperative. At last the* ship at these times described
such an erratic course, and it grew so difficult to tell which was
east, that they found it necessary to station one of the faithful at
the binnacle, who, with one eye on the compass, pointed with
outstretched arm in the desired direction.

" Imagine the joy of those wicked sailors," said Kate.

" ' The George Washington ' was fifty-nine days in making
the passage to Constantinople, a passage alike tedious to pas
sengers and crew, who must all have rejoiced when the anchor
dropped in the lower part of the harbor. An official at once
came alongside, and requested to know from what country the
vessel came. He was answered, ' From the United States.' After
a short absence he returned, and said that no such country was
known to them, and asked for fuller information. Bainbridge
answered that he came from the New World discovered by
Columbus. Upon this information, the captain of the Porte was
ordered to conduct the frigate into the inner harbor. As it

passed the Sultan's palace, Bainbridge saluted it with twenty-one


guns, at which his Sultanic Majesty was highly pleased. He also
observed the American flag with great satisfaction, and said that
the two nations must have somewhat in common, as each had. a
part of the heavenly bodies in their flag.


" Throughout his whole stay Bainbridge was treated with the
utmost consideration. He was the guest of the Capudan Pacha,
or Turkish Admiral ; and when his ship left port, on its return,
it received a salute from a fortress which had never fired one,
except to the admiral himself; and by this high official he was
presented with a firmin"

" What is that ? " asked Gertrude.

" A kind of passport," said Mr. Longwood, " which, being
granted only by the Sultan, would protect him in any part of
his dominions.

" The treatment of the ambassador of the Dey was very
different from that received by Capt. Bainbridge. He was
ordered to the admiral's ship, and, having made due tender of
the lions and tigers and money he had brought, presented his
master's letter. The admiral seized it in a fury, first spat upon
it, and then stamped on it, and bade him go back and tell his
master, that unless he declared war with France instantly, and
sent to the Sultan at Constantinople, within sixty days, a million
piastres for his impudence, matters would go hardly with him.
Naturally the ambassador was in haste to be gone.

" ' The George Washington,' as if wishing to be through with
the disagreeable business on which she was engaged, made quick
time on her return -voyage, and in twenty-one days was anchored
in the Bay of Algiers, - this time, out of range of the batteries
on shore. This position did not suit the Dey at all. He had
forgotten the solemn oath he swore, not to ask Bainbridge to do
any further service for him, and would fain have made him carry
back the million piastres."



" I hope he didn't do it," exclaimed Carrie.

''You shall hear," said
Mr. Longwood. " Capt.
Bainbridge refused, and
presently waited upon the
Dey. He was in a state
of fury at being thwarted
in his plans, and broke
forth in the wildest way.
About him stood his fifty
janizaries ready to do his
bidding at a nod. Bain-
bridge, knowing that his
life was hardly worth a
moment's purchase, pulled
out the firmin which had
been given him at Constan
tinople. The effect on the
Dey was magical. His rage
ceased instantly, and he
became even crouching in
his manner."

" That firmin did the
business nicely," said Tom.
" I suppose Bainbridge was
not sorry to see the last of
the old scoundrel."

" He was free from this man," said Mr. Longwood ; " but he



was to see much more of another as bad, and he, too, in a most
disagreeable fashion. It was several years later. There was then
a fleet of American men-of-war in the Mediterranean, who were
making things very hot for the Barbary pirates. ' The Philadel
phia,' which Bainbridge commanded, had sighted a suspicious sail
on the horizon, had come within range, and was blazing away
at her with great vigor, when suddenly she ran aground on a
sunken ledge. The men did their best to get her off; but her
speed had driven her high up, and, though they threw overboard
guns and every thing else they could to lighten her, she was
immovable, and finally careened, and lay broadside on the ledge.

" Such guns as they now had left, pointed toward the sky ;
and a whole fleet of pirates was about them, peppering away with
all their might. They stood it for five hours, during which time
they threw overboard all the small arms, and floated the magazine,
and then they hauled down their flag, and surrendered. A wild
rabble boarded them at once, stealing even their clothing off their
backs. Ignominiously enough they were carried into Tripoli, and
led before the Bashaw, who ordered them all into confinement.
Nineteen long months passed before they were set at liberty.

" Dreary times were these for them all. By day the men
were forced to work on the fortifications : at night they were all
carefully locked up.

" The Bashaw was most anxious to have the earthworks hur
ried forward ; for he feared lest the remaining vessels of the
American fleet should knock his town about his ears before he
could get into a position to defend it. So he offered money for
what they did, to the men who would work when the day's labor



was ended. Poor Jack was only too glad to have a little cash r
which soon found its way into the hands of the sellers of


brandy ; while Jack himself, uproariously drunk, reeled through
the streets of Tripoli. The drinking of spirituous liquors is for-


bidden all true Moslems ; and these sailor habits excited great
contempt in the minds of the Tripolitans, which they showed in
their usual way of expressing contempt, spitting in the faces.
Jack was not the man to stand this ; and a bruised and damaged
follower of the prophet generally made prompt complaint at the


guard, and the bastinado was as promptly ordered for the

" I have heard of that punishment," said Will. " Is not that
the one where knees and ankles are tied fast, and the victim is
held while the bare soles of his feet are beaten with a flat board
or paddle ? "


" Yes," said Mr. Longwood. " At times the blows are so
heavy, that the blood is driven through the top of the foot."

" I should think the men would soon have been disabled by
such treatment."

" They made friends of the under slave-driver who adminis
tered the punishment. The chief slave-driver was much too
dignified to be present while this was going on. He stood out
side, and told by the sound, and by the cries of the victims, that
the blows were well laid on. The manner in which it was
actually done was for the executioner to call in harsh tones for
two of the sailors to hold the one to be bastinadoed. A third
held five or six straw mats over the soles of his feet, which were
then beaten furiously, while Jack himself shouted as if under
going tortures."

" What a jolly idea ! " said all the boys. " The under slave-
driver must have been a very decent fellow."

" Possibly his feelings may have been softened by a little
money from the sailors," said Carrie.

" It may have been so," said Mr. Longwood. " But we will
give him the benefit of the doubt."

" Were the officers treated in the same way as the men ? "
asked Jack.

" Oh, no ! " said Mr. Longwood. " They had quarters by
themselves, and at times had chances to see somewhat of the
city and surrounding country. Their treatment varied according
to the temper of the Bashaw. The months were long and dreary
enough to them.

" They made plan after plan to escape ; but each fell through.



To add to their chagrin, the Tripolitans
\\ succeeded in dragging 'The Philadelphia'

mfll I 1

U I i off the rocks, bringing her into the harbor,
and repairing her. There she lay in plain
sight, a beautiful new frigate, in the hands
of the enemy. It was more than
they could stand. By the aid of in
visible ink, Bainbridge communicated
with Commodore Preble, and sketched
out a plan for her destruc
tion. Preble approved, and
intrusted the execution to
Lieut. Decatur.

" About midnight one
uark night, the Tripolitan
watch on ' The Philadel
phia ' observed a small
ketch bungling into the
harbor, and so carelessly
managed, that they feared
that she would foul with
them. They called out to
her to anchor, or they would
fire into her ; but a Malay
pilot called back that she
had lost her anchors. The
wind dying away, she lay
becalmed some fifty feet




distant; and the guard, seeing a boat lowered, apparently to tow
her off, gave her no further thought. The boat, however, quietly


made fast the end of the rope it carried, to the anchor-chains of
the frigate. Stalwart arms pulled lustily on it from the ketch ; and,
before the sentries realized what was being done, she was along
side, and seventy men, sword in hand, had leaped from her deck.


" The startled crew of ' The Philadelphia,' roused from sleep,
retreated fighting to the forecastle. The struggle was bitter, but
short. Those who were not sabred leaped into the sea. Then
began the work of destruction. Every man had been assigned
his task before setting out, and almost in an instant the ship
was in a blaze in a hundred places.- The batteries on shore,
roused by the firing and the flames, awoke, and began to pour
shot and shell into the ketch, which was now a beautiful target
for their aim. Fortunately the wind sprung up, and she made
good her escape without the loss of a single man, and with but
four wounded."

" What a daring deed it was ! " said Will. " It would be great
fun to meet the men who figured in such acts as these, and get
them talking. They would have any quantity of stories of their

" There is one anecdote about this very enterprise that I have
heard," said Mrs. Longwood, who had sat silent all the evening.
" Mr. Longwood seems to have forgotten it."

" What was it ? " they asked.

" When Decatur called for volunteers to go on his expedi
tion, of course twice the number stepped forward that were
needed. So he selected such as he thought most suited for the
work in hand. Among those passed by was a slender young
fellow of nineteen, a Quaker."

" It seems to me that aboard a man-of-war is a strange place
to find a Quaker," said Carrie. " I thought they did not believe
in fighting."

" Nor do they," said Mrs. Longwood. " This fellow had, I


believe, committed some slight fault, and, rather than meet
reproof at the hands of his elders, had gone to sea."

" Perhaps he spoke in meeting," suggested Jack.

" I cannot say," said Mrs. Longwood, smiling. " At all events,
he was so much disappointed at being left behind, that he impor
tuned the lieutenant, as he was going over the side, to take him.

" ' Why do you wish to go ? ' asked Decatur sternly.

" His early training was too much for the young Quaker.
He could not say that he wanted to fight : Q o he stammered out
that he would ' like to see the parts.' '

" Did they take him ? " asked Ned.

" Yes ; and he led the boarders, ana was always afterward a
prime favorite with the men."

" At last the nineteen long months came to a close," said Mr.
Longwood, taking up the story, " and Bainbridge was again a
free man. The American squadron had bombarded the city two
or three times, and brought the Bashaw to beg for peace.
Though the bombardment was most efficacious toward our hero's
liberation, it nearly caused his death ; for a round shot from one
of the American guns fell in the prison within a foot of him,
throwing him down, and burying him beneath nearly a ton of
stone and mortar which it tore from the walls in its passage."

" It is to be hoped that Bainbridge had better luck after he
at last bade good-by to Africa," said Tom.

" He had a very quiet time, at all events," said Mr. Long-
wood ; " for the country was at peace. He superintended one or
two navy-yards, and even, to patch his torn fortunes, obtained
leave of absence, and made one or two voyages in the merchant-



service. Presently all this peaceful work was broken up. Ths
war of 1812 began.

" Bainbridge was once more in command of a frigate. And
now came the most brilliant action of his whole life."


The boys all stirred in their. chairs expectantly ; and Gertrude,
holding up her crewel-work to examine it critically by the light
of the lamp, exclaimed,


" I never saw such things as boys ! You know that some
thing bloodthirsty is coming, and yet you are as pleased as can
be at the idea of hearing it."

" You are much worse than boys, or than sailors and soldiers
even," said Jack, glancing at her work. " They do cruel things
for their country's good only. You do them for your personal

" That is very poor, Jack," said Charlie : " not even worth
smiling at. Please go on, Mr. Longwood."

" It was in the month of December that ' The Constitution/
which he commanded, was cruising off the Brazilian coast, when
she fell in with the British frigate ' Java.' Bainbridge's report of
the action that followed is a model description. Tom, you will
find a copy of his life somewhere about. I think it is lying on
the table. I was looking it over only an hour or two ago.

" Here is the place," he went on, turning over the leaves as
Tom handed him the book. " He tells at first of sighting her ;
then says,

" ' At twenty-six minutes past one P.M., being sufficiently from
the land, and finding the ship to be an English frigate, took in
the mainsail and royals, tacked ship, and stood for the enemy.

" ' At fifty minutes past one, the enemy bore down with an
intention of raking us, which we avoided by wearing. A general
action with round and grape then commenced, the enemy keep
ing at a much greater distance than I wished ; but could not
bring him to a closer action.

" ' At ten minutes past two, commenced the action within
good grape or canister distance, the enemy to windward, but much



farther than I wished. At thirty minutes past two, our wheel
was shot entirely away. At forty minutes past two, determined
to close with the enemy, notwithstanding his raking. Set the


fore and main sail, and luffed up close to him. At fifty minutes
past two, the enemy's jib-boom got foul of our mizzen rigging.
At three, the head of the enemy's jib-boom, and bowsprit, were


shot away by us. At five minutes past three, shot away the
enemy's foremast by the board. At fifteen minutes past three,
shot away his main topmast just above the cap. At forty min
utes past three, shot away the gaft and spancker-boom. At fifty-
five minutes past three, shot away his mizzen-mast nearly by
the board. At five minutes past four, having silenced the fire
of the enemy completely, and his colors in the main rigging
being down, we supposed he had struck ; we then hauled down
courses, and shot ahead to repair our rigging, which was
extremely cut, leaving the enemy a complete wreck ; soon after
ward discovered the enemy's flag was still flying. Hove to, to
repair some of our damage. At twenty minutes past four, wore
ship, and stood for the enemy. At twenty-five minutes past five,
got very close to the enemy in a very effectual raking position,
athwart his bows, and when about to fire, he most prudently
struck his flag.' '

" Hurrah ! " shouted Jack enthusiastically, waving his hand
above his head. " I knew we'd win. What a fine old cock
Bainbridge must have been !

' Simon was old but his heart itt was bold

His ordinance he laid right lowe
He put in chaine full nine yardes long

With other great shott less and moe
And he lette goe his great gunnes shott

So well he settled itt with his ee
The first sight that Sir Andrew sawe

He see his pinnace sunke in the sea.' "

" Jack," said Tom, " evidently imagines that he is back in


school. Hastings, I mark you ten for declamation. You have
done creditably."

" The commander of the English frigate had as hard a lot as
old Sir Andrew Barton of whom Jack tells us," said Mr. Long-
wood. " He saw his ship blown up by his enemy, and he him
self died of wounds received in the fight."

" Well, let us leave the table," said Mrs. Longwood. " For
I imagine that Mrs. Daniels would like to clear away the remains
of our dinner."


" FOR my part," said Charlie, an
hour or two later, " I feel as if I
should have the nightmare unless I
have some exercise before I sleep.
What do you say to some sort of a




know a splendid one,"
Ned. " A candle-race."

" What in the world is that ? "
they asked.

" You run three times around the
house, and the one who gets through
first wins. Each person carries two
lighted candles. The minute one goes
out, he has to stop short until he
has relighted it. It's no end of fun."

" Let's try it ! " they all exclaimed.
And Carrie hurried into the kitchen,
and presently returned with a heap of

candles, which they all seized upon, and hastened to light. Mr.


Longwood put on his coat and hat, and stood at the front-door
to see fair play ; while Daniels and the trim woman stood at the
back-door to see this new sport, which, as she observed to her
husband, " took a many candles." The cross dog, roused by the
noise and light, tugged and strained at his chain, and snapped
and snarled most wickedly.

" One, two, three, ind away," said Mr. Longwood, as they
stood in line ; and off they went. Now, to such of you as have
never tried it, a candle-race may seem a very simple thing ; but
it is nothing of the sort. In the first place, the candles go out
most unexpectedly, and will not relight, except by great coaxing.
And then, when you hold the candles before you, you cannot
see at all where you are going. Jack brought up violently
against an old apple-tree ; Kate found herself held fast by the
briers of a large rose-bush ; and Tom was flat on his face before
they had made half of the first circuit of the house. It was
fully ten minutes before Will struggled in, a winner, at the
starting-post. Once more they tried the contest ; but this time
Ned, by a little ingenuity, easily won. He held his candles
upside down.

But, when they came laughing and panting back into the
house, there was a sudden exclamation from them all, as they
looked at him ; for his clothes were white with the wax from
the candles. It took an hour of blotting-paper and hot flat-irons
to make him look presentable. After that they all went to bed.

When the boys opened their eyes the next morning, and
looked out of the window, they were filled with astonishment.
Could they have mistaken Christmas for Thanksgiving ! There



were two inches of snow on the ground, a lowering- sky over
head, and a wintry wind whistling about the house. Down far
below them in the distance, the broad river was cold and lead-


colored. As they looked, a wild rabbit, surprised, no doubt, at
this strange weather, darted across the field beneath their window.
They shivered as they watched him, and then all clambered back
into bed again to take counsel as to this unexpected state of
affairs. After a little, though, a rattling of plates showed that



the trim woman was setting the table for breakfast : so they
jumped up, and made haste to dress.

" Well, young people," said Mr. Longwood at breakfast,
" how do you propose to spend the day ? I am going to see
my old friend Dr. Stone this morning, and may not be back
until dinner, at four. You left my card there yesterday, did you
not, Tom?"

" Yes, papa," answered Tom. But, as he said the words, he
put his hand into his pocket, and produced the identical card


" I am sure I left something," he said, holding it up, and looking
at it blankly ; " but what, I have no idea ; for here is certainly
the card you gave me."

" It would be well to be more careful next time," said his
father. " However, I do not imagine that any very great harm
is done. But you have none of you answered my question as to
what you propose doing."

" I think we girls shall stay in doors," said Carrie and Rose,


" It looks very wet. I imagine that these winds, which are
whistling so vigorously around the house, will soon melt and
carry off the snow. How like a March day it seems ! Just
as if

The wild March winds have mustered ;

Their stormy bugles blow;
Aroused from sleep, in squadrons deep

They rush upon the foe.
The piled-up snows of winter

Cower and melt and flee ;
In sheltered nooks the little brooks

Once more splash merrily.

In all the sunny valleys

Is heard a stirring sound ;
Little green heads from wintry beds

Come peeping through the ground.
The pale wind-flower is swaying

Upon its slender stalk ;
And violets blue, a merry crew,

Ripple and laugh and talk."


" I shall not object to keeping quiet, for my part," said Kate.

" I feel somewhat used up by our activity yesterday."

" We boys will be close at hand," said Tom and Will, " in

case we can help to pass the time. Jack and Ned and Charlie

have challenged us to a great snow-ball fight. I believe that is

to come first in order after breakfast."

" Well," said Mr. Longwood, as they rose from the table, " I

will leave you to your own devices. I must be off. I am going


5 6 7

to walk across the fields, and through the woods. There will be
no mud there if the snow melts." And, taking his stick, he set
out briskly, and was soon lost to view in the forest.

Before the boys had fairly got into the thick of their snow
ball fight, he had reached the doctor's house, and rang the bell.
As he stood waiting for the door to be opened, he heard a
voice from up stairs call out,

"If that's the rascal who was here yes
terday, just let him come into the hall, and
I'll give him a piece of my mind."

" However, when the wrathful doctor learned
that it was an old friend, he was
overjoyed ; and they both had a
hearty laugh over Tom's

^\ x -"

blunder, as the facts came

The young people did
nothing in particular very
|j| actively all day long. The

5 68


snow-ball fight came off, and lasted more than an hour, with very
evenly matched results. The girls strolled into the kitchen, in the
hope of having an interview with the old lady ; but the trim woman

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 23 of 30)