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 25 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 25 of 30)
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and sweet.

" ' About the time we were done making sugar, one night a
squaw raised an alarm. She said she saw two men, with guns
in their hands, upon the bank on the other side of the creek,
spying our tents : they were supposed to be Johnston's Mohawks.
On this, the squaws were ordered to slip quietly out some dis
tance into the bushes, and all who had either guns or bows were
to squat in the bushes near the tents ; and, if the enemy rushed
up, we were to give them the first fire, and let the squaws have
an opportunity of escaping.

" ' Before we withdrew from the tents, they had carried
Manetohcoa to the fire, and gave him his conjuring tools, which
were dyed feathers, the bone of the shoulder-blade of a wild
cat, tobacco, etc. And, while we were in the bushes, Manetoh-
zoa was in a tent at the fire, conjuring away to the utmost of his
ability. At length he called aloud for us all to come in, which


was quickly obeyed. When we came in, he told us, that after he
had- gone through the whole of his ceremony, and expected to
see a number of Mohawks on the flat bone when it was warmed
at the fire, the pictures of two wolves only appeared. So he
said we might all go to sleep, for there was no danger. And
accordingly we did.

" ' The next morning we went to the place, and found wolf-
tracks, and where they had scratched with their feet, like dogs ;
but there was no sign of moccasin-tracks. If there is any such
thing as a wizard, I think Mafcetohcoa was as likely to be one
as any man, as he was a professed worshipper of the Devil.
But, let him be a conjurer or not, I am persuaded that the
Indians believed what he told them on this occasion as well as
if it had come from an infallible oracle, or they would not, after
such an alarm as this, all go to sleep in an unconcerned
manner.' '

" It certainly was very strange," said Carrie. '' How in the
world do you suppose the medicine-man found out that they
were wolves ? "

" There used to be witches in the time of Saul," said Lou.
" Perhaps he was a real witch : it might have been so, you

" Pshaw ! " said Jack. " The thing is simple enough. Give
me some dyed feathers, the bones of the shoulder-blade of a
wildcat, and some tobacco, and an intelligent squaw who will rush
in and tell the company what I have told her beforehand to say,
and I will perform no end of wonders."

The girls looked at Jack with admiration. " I never should
have thought of that," said Carrie.







" When the warm weather came," said Mr. Longwood, " the
tribe to which our hero belonged moved off to Detroit to trade
the skins and furs that they had gained in their winter's hunt
ing. He says,

" ' We took up our birch-bark canoes which we had buried,
and found that they were not damaged by the winter. All
embarked ; and the wind being fair, and the lake not extremely
rough, we hoisted up sails, and arrived safe at the Wyandot
town, nearly opposite to fort Detroit. Here we found a num
ber of French traders, every one very willing to deal with us.

" ' We bought ourselves fine clothes, ammunition, paint,
tobacco, etc., and, according to promise, a new gun for me ;
yet we had parted with only about one- third of our beaver. At
length a trader came to town with French brandy : we purchased
a keg of it, and held a council about who was to get drunk,
and who was to keep sober. I was invited to get drunk, but I
refused the proposal. Then they told me that I must be one of
those who were to take care of the drunken people. I did not
like this ; but of two evils I chose that which I thought the
lesser, and fell in with those who were to conceal the arms, and
keep every dangerous weapon we could out of their way, and
endeavor, if possible, to keep the drinking-club from killing each
other, which was a very hard task. Several times we hazarded
our own lives, and got ourselves hurt, in preventing them from
slaying each other. Before they had finished this keg, near
one-third of the town was introduced to this drinking-club.
They could not pay their part, as they had already disposed of
all their skins ; but that made no odds : all were welcome to


" ' When they were done with this keg, they applied to the
traders, and procured a kettleful of brandy at a time, which
they divided out with a large wooden spoon ; and so they went
on, and never quit while they had a single beaver-skin.

" ' When the trader had got all our beaver, he moved off.

" ' When the brandy was gone, and the drinking-club sober,
they appeared much dejected. Some of them were crippled,
others badly wounded, a number of their fine new shirts torn,
and several blankets were burned. A number of squaws were
also in this club, and neglected their corn-planting.' '

" That is just like Indians," said Will. " They work at hunt
ing and trapping all winter, and then spend all the result of
their labors in a drunken debauch."

" Doesn't the fellow tell how they caught the wild beasts ? "
asked Charlie.

" There are accounts of how they chased deer on snow-
shoes," said Mr. Longwood, " and, somewhere in the book, one
of killing a bear. Perhaps I can find it. Yes : here we have it.

" ' In the course of the month of January I happened to
observe that the trunk of a very large pine-tree was much torn
by the claws of a bear, made both in going up and down. On
further examination I saw that there was a large opening in the
upper part, near which the smaller branches were broken. From
these marks, and from the additional circumstance that there were
no tracks on the snow, there was reason to believe that a bear
lay concealed in the tree.

" ' On returning to the lodge, I communicated my discovery ;
and it was agreed that all should go together in the morning.



to assist in cutting down the tree, the girth of which was not
less than three fathom. The women at first opposed, because
our axes, being only of a pound and a half weight, were not
well adapted to so heavy a labor ; but the hope of finding ?
large bear, and obtaining from its fat a great quantity of oil,
an article at the time much wanted, at length prevailed.


" ' Accordingly, in the morning we surrounded the tree, both
men and women, as many at a time as could conveniently work
at it ; and here we toiled like beavers till the sun went down.
This day's work carried us about half-way through the trunk ;
and the next morning we renewed the attack, continuing it till
about two o'clock in the afternoon, when the tree fell to the
ground. For a few minutes every thing remained quiet, and I
feared that all our expectations were disappointed ; but, as I


advanced to the opening, there came out, to the great satisfac
tion of all our party, a bear of extraordinary size, which, before
she had proceeded many yards, I shot.

" ' The bear being dead, all my assistants approached, and all
took her head in their hands, stroking and kissing it several
times, begging a thousand pardons for taking away her life ;
calling her their relation and grandmother, and requesting her
not to lay the fault upon them, since it was truly an English
man that had put her to death.

" ' This ceremony was not of long duration ; and, if it were I
that killed their grandmother, they were not themselves behind
hand in what remained to be performed. The skin being taken
off, we found the fat in several places six inches deep. This,
being divided into two parts, loaded two persons ; and the flesh
parts were as much as four persons could carry.

" ' As soon as we reached the lodge, the bear's 'head was
adorned with all the trinkets in the possession of the family,
such as silver arm-bands and wrist-bands, and belts of wampum,
and then laid upon a scaffold set up for its reception within the
lodge. Near the nose was placed a large quantity of tobacco.

" ' The next morning no sooner appeared than preparations
were made for a feast to the manes. The lodge was cleaned
and swept, and the head of the bear lifted up, and a new
blanket, which had never been used before, placed under it.
The pipes were now lit ; and Wawatam blew smoke into the nos
trils of the bear, telling me to do the same, and thus appease
the anger of the bear on account of my having killed her. I
endeavored to persuade him that she no longer had any life,


60 1

and assured him that I was under no apprehension from her
displeasure ; but the proposition obtained no credit.

" ' At length, the feast being 1 ready, Wawatam commenced a
speech resembling in many things his address to the manes of
his departed companions. The speech ended, we all ate heartily


of the bear's flesh ; and even the head itself, after remaining
three days on the scaffold, was put into the kettle.' '

" For my part," said Will, as Mr. Longwood laid down the
book, " I believe that the popular idea that the Indians were
wonderfully skilful as hunters is a mistake. I have in my book


here an account of how a white man taught them how to catch
fish. It will only take a moment to read it.

" ' We diverted ourselves several days by catching rock-fish
in a small creek. The Indians fished in the night with lights,
and struck the fish with spears. The rock-fish here, when they
begin first to run up the creek to spawn, are exceedingly fat.
The first night we scarcely caught fish enough for present use
for all that was in the town.

" ' The next morning I met with a prisoner at this place by
the name of Thompson, who had been taken from Virginia.
He told me, if the Indians would only omit disturbing the fish
for one night, he could catch more than the whole town could
make use of. I told Thompson, that, if he were certain he could
do this, I would use my influence with the Indians to let the
fish alone for one night. I applied to the chiefs, who agreed to
my proposal, and said they were anxious to see what the Great
Knife (as they called the Virginian) could do. Thompson, with
the assistance of some other prisoners, set to work, and made a
hoop-net of elm-bark. They then cut down a tree across the
creek, and stuck in stakes at the lower side of it, to prevent
the fish from passing up, leaving only a gap at one side of the
creek. Here he sat with his net, and, when he felt the fish
touch the net, he drew it up, and frequently would haul out two
or three rock-fish that would weigh about five or six pounds each.
He continued at this until he had hauled out about a wagon-
load, and then left the gap open in order to let them pass up,
for they could not go far on account of the shallow water. Before
day he shut it up to prevent them from passing down, in order


to let the Indians have some diversion in killing them in day

" ' When the news of the fish came to town, the Indians
all collected, and with surprise beheld the large pile of fish, and
applauded the ingenuity of the Virginian. When they saw the
number of them that were confined in the water above the tree,
the young Indians ran back to the town, and in a short time
returned with their spears, etc., and were the chief part of that
day engaged in killing rock-fish, insomuch that we had more
than we could use or preserve.' '


SATURDAY morning dawned bright
and clear. The sunlight fell in long
bars across the floor of the rooms
where the girls slept ; and finally
one ray, growing bolder than its
fellows, fell full upon Carrie's closed
eyelids, forcing them open. She
sat up sleepily, half inclined to lie
down again ; but at that moment
the clock began solemnly to strike :
one, two, three, four, five, six, seven,
eight. There was nothing to be
done but to get up.

Lou and Gertrude were soon
roused by Carrie's movements.

Rose and Kate in the next room were apparently already up ;
for through the closed door they could be heard singing softly.
Carrie threw the door open, and they were all soon chatting
away as fast as ever before. Rose presently, for mere lightness
of heart, broke out singing again ; and one after another they


all joined in, making the room ring with their sweet voices.
It was a Christmas carol.

Tis said, at that blessed season

(Kept alike in heaven and earth),
When the winter wild winds usher in

The time of the Saviour's birth,
That above, in great high heaven,

The dear Lord Christ again
Becomes once more a little child

As when he came to men.
And with all the baby-angels

He plays in childish play
Through the winding courts of heaven

For one long heavenly day.

The holy saints and martyrs,

Who through toil have entered in,
Look on with the blessed penitents

Now shrived from every sin ;
And anon they break into chaunting,

Led by the seraphim.

Lord Christ, in this joyous pleasaunce

Grant unto us to share ;
Make us as little children,

That we may enter there.

" We are very much obliged to you," said Mr. Longwood, as
they came trooping down stairs in a body, and found all waiting
for them, " for a very pleasant little concert. Have you looked
out of the window, and seen what a glorious day it is ? The

<5o6 WHOA !

snow is all gone, and the weather is warm and mild. It is like
Indian summer."

" What are we to do this morning ? " asked Carrie.

" The big wagon is to be at the door at ten, and I am going
to take you all to drive," said Tom.

" It will have to be a pretty big wagon to hold us all," said

" Just wait until you see it," said Tom.

And surely enough, when ten o'clock came, and with it the
big wagon, it was found to be a huge affair. There were four
seats, and each seat held three people comfortably. Two big
strong horses were before it ; and with much laughter they all
climbed in, Tom, Rose, and Will in front, and the rest in the
other seats behind.

It was just the morning for a drive. The big horses plodded
steadily on ; the boys jumping out to lighten their load when
the way led up some hill, and then scrambling back, or running
races alongside. In one sunny hollow they came on a great
cluster of wild asters which the snow had not blighted, and they
picked handfuls for the girls. They found the red bitter-sweet,
too, running on the fences ; and in one place the scarlet berry
of the black-alder flamed out against a background of gray
woods. After a little, their wagon looked like a great moving
mass of red and purple, from the quantity that the girls' arms
held. The sun grew warmer, so that they loosened their wraps ;
and presently, when they passed a tiny house close by the road
side, in whose window was a sign, " Sarsaparilla and root-beer,"
there broke simultaneously from every one of the party the cry,


" What is the matter ? " asked Tom, drawing in the horses.

" We are so thirsty ! " they said. " Don't you see the sign ? "

A little man bent nearly double came out of the door.

" Yes, sir," he said to Mr. Longwood. " Sarsaparilla, yes,
sir ; root-beer, yes, sir ; nice and cool, hanging in the well,
sir ; " and he toddled around the house, Jack and Charlie at his
heels, and commenced turning an old windlass. They both took
a hand ; and in a moment up came a big basket full of bottles,
each as cold as ice. How good it tasted ! The old man chinked
the money in his hand that Mr. Longwood gave him, and
looked at them with great satisfaction as they emptied bottle
after bottle. This was a party just after his own heart.

They drove on, feeling much refreshed, and presently found
themselves back in the little village near their home. To their
astonishment, the bell of the school was ringing, and the scholars
hurrying in the door.

" It must be one o'clock," said Mr. Longwood. " We have
been driving three hours."

" It seems not half that time," said the boys.

" Stop at the post-office, Tom," said Mr. Longwood.

So they drew up there. Presently Mr. Longwood came out
with his hands full of letters, which he handed to the young
people. " I find one among my own," he said, " which needs
an immediate answer. I will write it here, and then walk home.
Don't wait for me."

Three or four of the party at once said that they would
walk too ; and their example proved so contagious, that Mrs.
Longwood, Tom, and Will found themselves left alone.


" Well, it will be just so much easier for the horses," said
Tom, and drove on.

As they came to their door, they were met by the old grand
mother, wringing her hands.

" Help, help ! " she cried. " Little Cynthy's in the well ! "

Now, it happened that Mrs. Longwood, too, had got out a
little way back, saying that she would sit down by the roadside,
and wait for the others. Had she been with them, she could
have told them that there was no such person in the world ;
but, knowing nothing of the old lady's fancy, the boys were
struck with alarm.

" Tie the horses, Will," cried Tom. " I'll run to the barn for
Daniels and a rope ; " and, springing out, he made off at the top
of his speed.

Daniels was thrashing. Tom burst . in on him breathless.
" Little Cynthy's in the well ! " he exclaimed.

Daniels slowly dropped his flail, and wiped his brow with his
sleeve. Tom looked at him in astonishment. What kind of a
father was this, who did not care whether or no his child was
drowned ? Perhaps he had not heard aright.

" In the well ! " he exclaimed. " Cynthy's in the well ! "

" And 'tain't the first time, neither," said Daniels stolidly
Then, going to a corner of the barn, he took a long pole that
stood there. In one end was a sharp iron something like a
harpoon. He threw the pole over his shoulder, and walked
slowly toward the well.

They found Will bending over, and looking in.

" She's on top of the water," he exclaimed, " but face


The old grandmother ran back and forth, wringing 1 her hands,
and feebly crying for help.

" You run in and get blankets ready," said Daniels kindly.
" I'll get her out all right."

So the old lady toddled in to get blankets ; and Daniels,
turning the pole so that the sharp end was down, lowered it
into the well, and stabbed it into the back of little Cynthy.
Then he commenced drawing it up ; and, before the boys could
express their horror of this fiendish treatment, little Cynthy lay,
a wet and drabbled spectacle, on the grass beside them. It was,
as you all know, no real baby at all, but a big stuffed doll.

" Why why ! " they stammered in astonishment. " We
thought it was little Cynthy."

" So 'tis," said Daniels, " little Cynthy, my youngest ; that
is, 'cording to mother-in-law. She's a little cracked, you know.
Says it takes after me in looks, more than its mother," he went
on, gazing with amusement at its flabby features.

" Well," he continued, when the boys had had their laugh
out, taking it up by one leg to shake the water off, " I
don't know but it's better'n if 'twas a real child. Gives its
grandmother just as much pleasure, and I don't have to walk
the floor o' nights as I did with the real one ; " and, so saying,
he walked to the back-door, and handed it over to the old . lady,
who stood waiting with a blanket in hand. Then he unfastened
the horses, and led them off to the barn, while Tom and Will
set off to meet the rest of their party, and tell them the story
of little Cynthy.

They all had a hearty laugh ; but this was not the last that


they were to hear of the old grandmother on that day, as you
shall presently know.

It was about half-past three o'clock. Mrs. Longwood and the
girls had gone up stairs for a nap ; the boys were out in the
barn, listening to some wonderful story that Daniels was telling
them ; and Mr. .Longwood had taken a book out on the sunny
porch. The book was a little dull, the sun was warm, and he
was tired. Presently he began to nod ; then he stretched him
self at full-length, and, with his hands under his head, dropped
off asleep. He was roused presently by some one kicking him.
He looked up drowsily. It was the grandmother. Her old eyes
.iad probably mistaken him for her grandson. She pushed him
vigorously with her foot.

" Git up ! " she cried, " you dirty child, a-lyin' there, and silin'
of your clothes. Git up, or I'll tell your mammy, and she'll give
you a whippin'. Git up, I say ! "

Thus adjured, Mr. Longwood slowly rose. He was a tall
man ; and, as he came to an upright position, she gazed at him
at first with blank astonishment, and then with alarm.

" Land o' Goshen ! " she exclaimed, " a tramp ! Where's the
dog ? " and she toddled off the porch, and hurried around the

Mr. Longwood looked after her for fully a minute with an
amused smile ; then suddenly the meaning of her words flashed
upon him. She had gone to let that savage brute loose.

He had no time to lose. He heard the chain clank. The
door was on the other side of the house from the porch. The
windows were all shut. He dropped his book, and ran with all


his might. When he was about ten feet from safety, he looked
over his shoulder. The dog was after him, about forty feet
away, and the dog had four legs to his two. Never before did
Mr. Longwood move so actively ; and it was well he did, for
hardly had he clapped to the door behind him, when the brute
dashed against it with a savage snarl, and then began scratching
at it, and barking furiously.

Daniels in the barn heard him ; and, breaking off in the most
thrilling part of the story he was telling the boys, seized a stick,
and set out on a run for the house.

" It was not my first experience with a bull-dog," said Mr.
Longwood, as they sat at dinner, and he gave them a descrip
tion of his late adventure. " When I was in college, I and one
of my friends took a long walk one Saturday afternoon in spring.
We made quite a circuit in the country lanes, and came back to
town by another road, on which was a toll-bridge. It was not
until we put foot on this bridge that we remembered that
neither of us had a penny in our pockets. However, college-
boys do not stop at trifles,' and we made our way on. The
toll-house was on the farther side of the bridge ; and when we
had crossed, and had come to it, out came the keeper. ' A cent
apiece,' he said. We told him politely that we could not mus
ter two cents between us.

" ' Then you had better go back,' he said.

" My companion explained to him that it was three miles
around by the other bridge. ' Besides,' said he, ' we have now
crossed the bridge, and owe you two cents ; if we go back, we
shall have to recross it, that will make four cents : you will
therefore lose twice as much as if you let us go on.'


" The old man became very angry at this. He evidently
thought that we had money, but were trying to chaff him. He
whistled, and out of his house came a most villanous bull-dog.
I think it must have been the father of the one Daniels has.
' Watch 'em,' said the old man to the dog ; and into his house
he went."

" What did you do ? " asked the girls.

" We felt somewhat foolish, I must confess," said Mr. Long-
wood. " But there was nothing to do. We sat upon the rail
of the bridge, and looked at the view. It was very fine. Every
time we moved, the dog would show his teeth, and growl. Now
and then the old man would come out, and say,

" ' Got them two cents ? '

" And, when we answered that we had not two cents, he
would swear very badly, and go back into the house again. At
last he seemed to believe our story, and said, ' Do you really
mean that you haven't two cents ? ' We told him that we had
already said so a dozen times. Then ' go along,' said he. He
called his dog off, and we went along.

" The next day we walked down, and each presented him
with a cent. Instead of pleasing him, it made him more angry
even than he was the day before."

" He must have been a very bad man," said Carrie indignantly.

The drive of the morning had given them all good appetites,
and their dinner tasted uncommonly good. At last, however, it
was over, darkness had fallen again, and, when they drew around
the fire, they settled themselves comfortably to hear another of
Mr. Longwood's stories.


" THE Spanish, as of course you know," he began, " had
gained enormous wealth in the West Indies. Their cities there

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 25 of 30)