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 24 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 24 of 30)
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was alone. Her mother, she said, had taken a cold, and she had
persuaded her to stay in bed. Lou found a dish of bread-crusts,
and scattered crumbs to a few hungry birds that gathered about
her at the back-door.

Finally they drew their chairs about the fire, each with her


Avork, and talked and chatted. Rose, after a little, found on the
shelves a scrap-book filled with newspaper clippings. They had
been cut out at different times by Mr. Longwood's brother, as
the fancy seized him. Poetry and prose were mixed in great
confusion. Rose read to them, now and then, an extract. Here
is one :


" How shall I tell them ? " the sergeant said,

And he shook his old and grizzled head,

And a tear rolled down his dust-grimed face.

(They were marching home, and they marched apace)

From over the ocean, a war-worn band,

To their homes in the German fatherland.

" The good God's mercies have gone astray :
Why were they slain on the self-same day?
Why came I alive from the cruel strife,
Useless and old, with no child nor wife?
How tell a mother of two sons dead,
A wife, and a sweetheart?" the sergeant said.

" How can I tell how we found one slain
Shot through the head, on the lonely plain;
How 'neath the colors one dropped and lay
Dead ere his red lips a word could say?"
And the sergeant marched with head bent down,
Nor heard the cheers as they reached the town;

Raised not his eyes as they marched along,
Saw not around him the gathering throng,



Till three pale women clutched hard his arm,
Their wild eyes haggard with strange alarm.
" The good God help you they are dead !
'Twas for king and country," the sergeant said.


" For king and country ! " their mother cried.
" Not for their country have my sons died.
One tyrant sold them, poor helpless slaves,
To another tyrant beyond the waves.



God judge between us. Daughters, come home,
By our vacant hearth we will make our moan."

" Is it true, as the poem says, that they were sold ? " asked

" George the Third obtained the Hessian regiments from
Frederick II. of Hesse-Cassel. For the twenty-two thousand men
which were furnished he paid about three million pounds sterling.
It was said and believed that many of the men were kidnapped, and
that their families never knew what had become of them. Many
of them had no mind to return to Germany after the war, but
deserted, and settled among the people whom they came to fight.

" Here comes papa," said Carrie. " And, would you believe
it ! it is half-past three. How the day has gone ! We had better
go up stairs, and get ready for dinner, girls."


"In the year
1747," said Mr.
Longwood, as they
drew about the fire
again, after dinner
was over, "among
the many new set
tlements in New
Hampshire was one
at Epsom ; and
among the settlers was a man named McCoy. He was a rough
specimen, but withal a daring man. Having heard rumors that
hostile Indians were committing depredations on some of the
other settlers round about, he took his gun, and set out through
the forest to find for himself whether any were in his own
neighborhood. Presently he saw signs that showed only too well
that there were, and he made haste to retrace his steps.

"But unknown to him, the Indians had seen him, and noise
lessly followed him home. They told his wife, when they were
hurrying her away a prisoner, that they looked through the



cracks of their log-house that night, and saw what they ate for

At this point Jack wickedly gave his chair a sudden scrape,
and Gertrude jumped.

"The time for them to strike, however, was not yet come.
They wanted to find out the strength of the new settlement
first. For two days there was no sign of trouble. But, on the
afternoon of the second day, Mrs. McCoy went to see if a neigh
bor, who had fled at the first report of trouble, had returned.
As she was coming homeward, her dogs, who had gone around
to the back of the block-house as she passed it, came running
to her, with their hair standing up along their backs, and growl
ing savagely.

" When McCoy heard this, he made up his mind that the
Indians were already in the town, and that it was time to fly.

"So he watched that night ; and the next morning he and
his wife and his son set out for a garrison at Nottingham. The
two men had muskets ; but they had used up all their powder
and ball in hunting, so that they were of no use to them.
They strode along a narrow path through the woods, until they
began to climb a hill. They were some distance up the hill ;
and Mrs. McCoy, who for some unknown reason had straggled
behind, was just at its foot, when two Indians reached out
suddenly from the bushes, and seized her. At the same time
they clapped their hands over her mouth, so that her husband
and son might not hear her screams for help. They heard, how
ever, and, putting their pieces to their shoulder, advanced hastily
to the rescue. The Indians, of course, at once levelled their



guns, when Mrs. McCoy struck them down, and called to her
son and husband to run. They hesitated for an instant, then
remembering that their weapons were useless, and that they had
no chance of success, leaped into the woods, and fled.

" Mrs. McCoy now natu
rally expected that she should
be tomahawked ; but her
conduct had probably pleased
the Indians, and they treated
her with great consideration.
They took her to the banks
of a little stream not far
away, and left her in charge
of a boy, while they went
back, and burned her house.
During this interval she de
bated whether she would not
do well to kill the boy, and
make her escape. A heavy
piece of iron was there, with
which she could easily have
done the deed. But, in case
they should retake her, she
knew too well that she would probably be burned alive, and so*
decided to take her chances, and stay quietly where she was.

" Before long her captors returned, grimed with smoke ; and,
pleasantly informing her in broken English of their having suc
cessfully burnt up all her possessions, they set out on the long



march for Canada. The names of these three worthies were
Plausawa, Sabatis, and Christi : the boy's name is not given.

" Mrs. McCoy was a sturdy woman, and marched along
stanchly. Probably, had she been feeble, and unable to keep
up, they would have lost patience, and tomahawked her. As it
was, she did not suffer. They had carried off with their other
plunder a dozen ripe apples from the solitary tree that bore in
the new settlement ; and they gave her one of these a day as
long as they lasted. They carried her on their backs over the
streams, and at night covered her with one of their blankets ;
and, as this all took place in the summer, she experienced hardly
any hardship."

" It must have been jolly," said Ned. " A sort of perpetual

" I fear Mrs. McCoy did not look at it in that way," said

" Well," went on Mr. Longwood, " at last they reached Cana
da, and here the captive was sold by her captors to a French
family, as servant. After a time she was ransomed, and returned
to her home."

" How glad she must have been to see her husband again ! "
said Carrie.

" In point of fact," said Mr. Longwood, smiling, " she ought
to have been glad. But McCoy was a man of violent temper,
from which she had suffered somewhat. And she was indiscreet
enough to say, that, if it had not been for her children, she
would have preferred to stay in Canada, where she was very


" She must have seen her captors quite frequently after her
return ; for, when the war was over, they built their wigwams,
and lived quite close to her. Plausawa and Sabatis both were
killed in a drunken bout, and buried near at hand."

" How frightful those times must have been to live in ! " said
Gertrude. " The men must have been ready to run at the word
' Indian.' "

" Not a bit of it," said Will. " I was looking over that
stanch old warrior, ' Gardener's History of Pequot Warres,' a short
time ago. Let me just get the book from the shelves, and read
you a little :

" ' In the 22d of February I went out, with ten men and
three dogs, half a mile from the house, to burn the weeds,
leaves, and reeds upon the neck of land, because we had felled
twenty timber trees, which we were to roll to the water-side to
bring home, every man carrying a length of match with brim
stone matches with him to kindle the fire withal. But when we
came to the small of the Neck, the weeds burning, I having
befoie this set two sentinels on the small of the Neck, I called
to the men who were burning the reeds to come away ; but
they would not until they had burnt up the rest of their matches.
Presently there starts up four Indians out of the fiery reeds, but
ran away. I calling to the rest of our men to come away out
of the marsh. Then Robert Chapman and Thomas Hurlbut,
being sentinels, called to me, saying there came a number of
Indians out of the other side of the marsh. Then I went to
stop them, that they should not get to the woodland ; but
Thomas Hurlbut cried out to me that some of the men did not



follow me ; for Thomas Rumble and Arthur Branch threw down

their two guns, and ran away ; then the Indians shot two of them

that were in the reeds, and sought to get between us and home,

but durst not come before us, but kept us in a half-moon, we

retreating, and exchanging

many a shot, so that Thomas

Hurlbut was shot almost

through the thigh, John

Spencer in the back, myself

in the thigh : two more were

shot dead.

" ' But on our retreat, I
kept Hurlbut and Spencer
still before us, we defending
ourselves with our naked
swords, or else they had
taken us all alive : so the
two sore woimded men, by
our slow retreat, got home
with their guns, when our
two sound men ran away,
and left their guns behind

" ' But, when I saw the cowards that left us, I resolved to
let them draw lots which of them should be hanged, for the
articles did hang up in the hall for them to read. But at the
intercession of old Mr. Michell, Mr. Higgison, and Mr. Pell, I
did forbear.


5 8o


" ' Within a few days after, when I had cured myself of the
wound, I went out with eight men to get some fowl for our
relief, and found the guns that were thrown away, and the body
of one man shot through, the arrow going in at the right side,

the head sticking fast half
through a rib at the left
side ; which I took out, and
cleansed it, and presumed
to send to the Bay, because
they had said that the ar
rows of the Indians were of
no force.' '

" That doesn't sound as
if Gardener, at least, were
much afraid," said Charlie.
"Wait a little," said WilL
" I'll read you some more of

" ' You, Robert Chapman,
you know that when you and
John Bagley were beating
samp at the Garden Pales,
the sentinels called you to
run in ; for there was a number of Pequits creeping to you to
catch you. I, hearing it, went up to the Redoubt, and put two
cross-bar shot into the two guns that lay above, and levelled
them at the trees in the middle of the limbs and boughs, and
gave order to John Frend and his man to stand with handspikes,



to turn them this way or that as they should hear the Indians
shout ; for they should know my shout from theirs, for it should
be very short.

" ' Then I called six men and the dogs, and went out run
ning to the place, and keeping all abreast in sight, close
together. And when I saw my time, I said " Stand ! " and called
all to me, saying, " Look on me ; and, when I hold up my hand,
then shout as loud as you can ; and, when I hold down my
hand, then leave : " and so they did. Then the Indians began a
long shout, and then went off the two great guns, and tore the
limbs of the trees about their ears, so that divers of them were
hurt ; for there is one of them in this present year, '60, that
lieth above Harford, that is fain to creep on all four. And we
shouted once or twice more, but they would not answer us
again : so we returned home, laughing.

" ' Another pretty prank we had with three great doors of
ten feet long and four feet broad, being bored full of holes, and
driven full of long nails as sharp as awl-blades, sharpened by
Thomas Hurlbut. These we placed in certain places where they
should come, fearing lest they should come in the night, and fire
our redoubt or battery. And in a dry time and a dark night,
they came as before, and found the way a little too sharp for
them ; and as they skipped from one they trod upon another,
and left the nails and doors dyed with their blood, which you
know we saw the next morning, laughing at it. And this I write
that young men may learn, if they should meet with such trials
as we met with there, and have not opportunity to cut off their
enemies, yet they may, with such pretty pranks, preserve them-


selves from danger ; for policy is needful in wars, as well as
strength.' '

" His idea of a pretty prank is unique, at all events," said
Charlie. " He must have been a tough customer to meet. Did
he keep his scalp on his head ? "

" Oh, yes ! " said Mr. Longwood. " He died in his bed at a
good old age."

" How did they scalp people ? " asked Rose.

" I shall be happy to show any of you young ladies," said
Jack, bloodthirstily drawing from his pocket and opening a knife
with a most formidable blade, a new one bought especially for
this expedition to the country.

" Jack," said Gertrude, " do put up that dreadful knife ! "

" My sister," said Jack, looking around with a wicked glance,
" has in her character a vein of what we will, for lack of a
better term, call timidity. Possibly some of you may have
noticed it. She is especially timid on the subject of Indians. I
propose to cure her of this. This is to be my method of treat
ment. I will now scalp her. When she has acquired that thor
ough familiarity with this process that breeds contempt, I advance
to the next step. Just before she goes up to the room where
she is to sleep alone, I shall tell her the story of an Indian
massacre, and the tortures that followed, that will cause each
hair of her luxuriant tresses to stand on end. Then, when she
has just put out the light, and before she fairly has her head
under the blanket, I shall madly hurl a tomahawk into the door,
and give the war-whoop. Gentle measures in the training of
the young, these are always successful."



" Will you please tell us how you are to make her locks
stand on end after she has been scalped ? " asked Carrie.

" Your theory apparently needs a little more elaboration,"
said Will. " Perhaps, therefore, you had better postpone carrying
it out until you have given it further thought. In the mean
time we can go on with our talk."

" There are several good stories about these Indian wars,"
said Mr. Longwood. " Thomas Toogood had a rather curious
experience. He was seen by three Indians, and took to his
heels, they following at the top of their speed in pursuit.
Presently one overtook and seized him, whereat the other two
turned back. But, while his captor was hunting about him for
some string to tie his arms, Toogood suddenly wrested his gun
from him, and, presenting it at his head, threatened to shoot if
he made a sound. Then he quietly retreated with the musket to
the nearest garrison, while the chagrined savage made the best
of his way back to his comrades, there, no doubt, to be the
subject of ridicule for many a long day."

" I remember to have heard of one great Indian fighter,"
said Ned, "whom the savages called the man with two heads.
He wore a wig, and always, when he got warmed up in a fight,
used to take it off, and hang it on a bush. They had never
seen a wig, and their amazement was without bounds."

" By the by," said Charlie, " do you fellows remember how
suddenly Mr. Grinder's hair turned gray at the last Christmas
holidays ? It was a dark brown the day before Christmas ; and
the day after New Year's, when school opened, it was positively


11 Pity the sorrows of a poor old man," said Kate. " It was
probably grief at the conduct of you boys."

" Well," said Will, " to leave Mr. Grinder's scalp, and get
back to those of the early settlers, I suppose all this bloody
work did not increase a Christian spirit in the whites."

" No, indeed ! " said Mr. Longwood. " They often became
rivals of the Indians in brutality. One ought not to expect
much at the hands of men whose wives and children have been
killed, and perhaps tortured. The Province of Massachusetts
at one time offered a reward of forty pounds for every Indian
scalp ; and the historian grimly states, that one Capt. Tyng at
once set out, and soon returned with five, for which he received
two hundred pounds.

" Out of deference to Gertrude's feelings, and in view of the
lesson that Jack is preparing for her," said Mr. Longwood, smil
ing, " we will avoid the subject of massacres, and the torture of
captives. It happened, however, not unfrequently, that a white
man was adopted into a tribe to take the place of some warrior
who had fallen. It was sometimes years before such a one
could manage to make his escape. There are quite a number of
narratives in existence, written by these captives. Here and
there, in them, one comes on quite interesting accounts of hunt
ing, and wild life experience. Listen to this. The writer was
carried off from Pennsylvania by the Delawares, and was with
them five years. He says,

" ' I went out with Tecaughretanego and some others, a
beaver-hunting, but we did not succeed ; and on our return we
saw where several raccoons had passed while the snow was soft,


though there was now a crust upon it. We all made a halt,
looking at the raccoon-tracks. As they saw a tree with a hole
in it, they told me to go and see if they had gone in thereat ;
and, if they had, to halloo, and they would come and take them
out. When I went to that tree, I found they had gone past ;
but I saw another, the way they had gone, and proceeded to
examine that, and found they had gone up it. I then began to
halloo, but could have no answer.

" ' As it began to snow and blow most violently, I returned,
and proceeded after my company, and for some time could see
their tracks ; but the old snow being only about three inches
deep, and a crust upon it, the present driving snow soon filled
up the tracks. As I had only a bow, arrows, and tomahawk with
me, and no way to strike fire, I appeared to be in a dismal situa
tion ; and, as the air was dark with snow, I had little more pros
pect of steering my way than I would in the night. At length
I came to a hollow tree, with a hole at one side that I could go
in at. I went in, and found that it was a dry place, and the
hollow about three feet diameter, and high enough for me to
stand in. I found that there was also a considerable quantity of
soft, dry rotten wood about this hollow. I therefore concluded
that I would lodge here, and that I would go to work and stop
up the door of my house. I stripped off my blanket, which was
all the clothes that I had, except a breech-clout, leggings, and
moccasins, and with my tomahawk fell to chopping at the top
of a fallen tree that lay near, and carried wood, and set it up on
end against the door, until I had it three or four feet thick all
around, excepting a hole I had left to creep in at. I had a


block prepared that I could haul after me to stop the hole; and,
before I went in, I put in a number of small sticks, that I
might more effectually stop it on the inside. When I went in,
I took my tomahawk, and cut down all the dry rotten wood I
could get, and beat it small. With it I made a bed like a
goose-nest, and with the small sticks stopped every hole, until
my house was almost dark. I stripped off my moccasins, and
danced in the centre of my bed for about half an hour in
order to warm myself. In this time my feet and whole body
were agreeably warmed. The snow, in the mean time, had
stopped all the holes ; so that my house was dark as a dungeon,
though I knew that it could not yet be dark out of doors. I
then coiled myself up in my blanket, lay down in my little
round bed, and had a tolerable night's lodging. When I awoke,
all was dark : not the least glimmering of light was to be seen.
Immediately I recollected that I was not to expect light in this
new habitation, as there was neither door nor window in it. As
I could hear the storm raging, and did not suffer much cold, as
I then was situated, I concluded I would stay in my nest until I
was certain it was day.

" < When I had reason to conclude that it was surely day, I
arose, and put on my moccasins, which I had laid under my
head to keep from freezing. I then endeavored to find the dour,
and had to do all by the sense of feeling, which took me some
time. At length I found the block ; but it being heavy, and a
large quantity of snow having fallen on it, at the first attempt
I did not move it. I then felt terrified. Among all the hard
ships I had sustained, I never knew before what it was thus to


be deprived of light. I once again attempted to move away the
block, which proved successful : it moved about nine inches.


With this a considerable quantity of snow fell in from above,
and I immediately received light ; so that I found a very great


snow had fallen, above what I had ever seen in one night. I
then knew why I could not easily move the block ; and I was so
rejoiced at obtaining the light, that all my other difficulties
seemed to vanish. I belted my blanket about me, got my toma
hawk, bow and arrows, and went out of my den.

" ' I was now in tolerably high spirits, though the snow had
fallen above three feet deep in addition to what was on the
ground before ; and the only imperfect guide I had in order to
steer my course to camp was the trees, as the moss generally
grows on the north-west side of them if they are straight. I
proceeded on, wading through the snow ; and about twelve o'clock
I came upon the creek our camp was on, about half a mile below
the camp ; and, when I came in sight of the camp, I found there
was great joy, by the shouts and yellings of the boys.

" ' When I arrived, they all came around me, and received
me gladly ; but at this time no questions were asked, and I
was taken into a tent, where they gave me plenty of fat beaver-
meat, and then asked me to smoke. When I had done, Tecaugh-
retanego desired me to walk out to a fire they had made. 1
went out; and they all collected around me, both men, women,
and boys. Tecaughretanego asked me to give, them a particular
account of what had happened from the time they left me yes
terday until now. I told them the whole of the story, and they
never interrupted me ; but, when I made a stop, the intervals
were filled with loud acclamations of joy.' '

" It was a lucky thing for him that he found that hollow
tree," said Ned. " But go on, please, Mr. Longwood."

" ' Shortly after/ went on that gentleman, after turning over



two or three pages of the book, ' the squaws began to make
sugar. They made the frost, in some measure, supply the place
of fire. Their large bark vessels for holding the stock water
they made broad and shallow ; and, as the weather is very cold
here, it frequently freezes at night in sugar time, and the ice
they break, and cast out of the vessels. I asked them if they
were not throwing away the sugar. They said No : it was water
they were casting away : sugar did not freeze, and there was
scarcely any in that ice. They said I might try the experiment,
and boil some of it, and see what I would get. I never did try ;
but I observed, that, after several times freezing, the water that
remained in the vessel changed its color, and became very brown

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 24 of 30)