Richard Markham.

Colonial Days : being stories and ballads for young patriots ; as recounted by five boys and five girls ; in Around the yule log, Aboard the Mavis, On the edge of winter online

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Online LibraryRichard MarkhamColonial Days : being stories and ballads for young patriots ; as recounted by five boys and five girls ; in Around the yule log, Aboard the Mavis, On the edge of winter → online text (page 3 of 30)
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" Blaze away ! " said Tom.

" Well," said Carrie, "the Pilgrims, you know, fled from Eng
land, where they were persecuted because of their religious be
lief, and went to Holland, and formed a settlement there. But,
after a time, they became dissatisfied. They did not want their
children to grow up Dutchmen ; and, as they had heard a great
deal about the New World, they decided that they would go to
America, and form a new colony. The land on the Hudson
River was known to be excellent, and they intended to settle



"As all could not leave at once, they selected out of their
number some to go before. All flocked to Delft Haven, where
their vessel lay ; and, amid the tears and prayers of those left be
hind, the sails were hoisted, and the good ship soon left Holland


on the lee. Another vessel had been hired, which joined them
at Southampton ; and together, their prows headed westward, they
set out for the New World.

" But storms soon came, and it was found that ' The Speed-



well ' was unseaworthy. There was no help but to put back to
port. Part of their number had to be left behind. The rest,
crowded together in close quarters in ' The Mayflower,' once more
set sail, on the 6th of September, and, after fifty-five days of
weary tossing and violent storms, saw land before them. They
hailed it with joy, though it was but the barren sands of Cape


Cod, and many miles north of the Hudson River, for which they
had set out."

" How many were there ? " asked Tom.

" One hundred and two," said Carrie. " One baby was born
on the way, and he was named Oceanus. There were a good
many children, and they had such odd names ! There were


Humility Cooper, and Desire Minter, Remember Allerton, Love
Brewster, and Wrastle Brewster. These last were brother and
sister ; and their other two sisters, Fear and Patience, came over
later. If the children were as sober as their names, what sol
emn little groups must have played together on ' The Mayflower's '
deck !

" Well, when they found that they were so far north of where
they intended to be, they were, as I said, very much disap
pointed. But they decided that it was so late in the season,
that it would not do to go farther, but that they must get ashore,
and build them houses before the winter was upon them. It
was very well that they did not go to the Hudson River ; for the
fiercest Indians in the whole country were there, and they would,
no doubt, have been cut off speedily ; while the whole coast here
about had been visited only three years before by a great pesti
lence, that had carried off nearly all the natives, leaving the
country almost uninhabited.

" Scouting -parties were sent out every few days to find a
good place to begin the town. The first of these, consisting of
sixteen men, under the lead of their captain, Miles Standish,
marched afoot, each man armed with musket, sword, and corselet.
They had not gone far before they saw five or six Indians ; but
these had no sooner seen them, than they fled into the woods at
the top of their speed. The scouting-party followed their tracks
some ten miles ; but the Indians were too fleet to be overtaken.
Night came on ; and, stationing three sentinels, they built a fire,
and lay about it till morning.

" As soon as daylight appeared they followed the tracks once



more, hoping to fall in with some of the natives, or at least to
find their houses. But though they went on through bush and
brake, so wild that their very armor was torn, they could find
neither. They were nearly famished with thirst too ; for they had
brought neither water nor beer with them, and theirs had been a
long and weary tramp. But at ten they came upon a deep valley
with a spring, ' of which,' says one, ' we were heartily glad, and
sat us down, and drunk our first New-England water with as
much delight as ever we drunk drink in all our lives.'

" Then their march was taken up again. After a time they
discovered patches of cleared ground, where Indian -corn had
evidently been planted. A little farther on there were a few
boards where a wigwam had been, and a heap of fresh sand
smoothly piled up.

" This they digged into, and found within it a basket of Indian-
corn. It was a great blessing to them ; for in this way they got
seed for their next year's crop. Indian-corn was not known in
Europe ; and the grain that they brought with them did so poorly,
that they soon came to depend entirely upon it. Taking what
they could carry, they set out once more. Again night came,
and again they camped out by a fire, three sentinels keeping
watch as before. They were now not far from the ship, and, in
the morning, made their way back to her.

" One of the party fell into a deer- trap, and was caught by a
noose around his leg. It was well for him that his friends were
with him, or he might have dangled head downward in the air,
as the trap was made by bending down a strong sapling, which,
being suddenly set free, snapped back, dragging any poor animal 1
whom it had caught into the air.


" After the victim had been set free, they soon reached the
ship, weary enough.

" Another party set out a few days later in the shallop. They
camped the first night in a favorable spot on the beach ; but the
next morning, when they were about to set sail again, there came
an Indian war-whoop and a flight of arrows. They sprang to
their arms, and there was a sharp fight for a few moments ; but
the white men's weapons soon put the savages to flight, and the
party resumed their journey.

" The day was wild and stormy. The spray dashed over them,
freezing as it fell, until they were coated with ice. Snow and
rain came to add to their misery. Just at dark the gale increased.
At a critical moment their mast broke into three pieces, and in
an instant more they would have been in the breakers. But the
sailor who was steering called to them, if they were men, to put
the boat about, and pull with the oars for their lives. They
needed no spur, but tugged with might and main, and so at last
got into smooth water under the lee of an island. They were
afraid to go ashore, for fear of Indians ; and yet staying out in a
December rain, wet to the skin, in an open boat, was worse. So
they ventured to land, and built them a fire, and fortunately were
not disturbed by the Indians at all. We may be very certain
that this party were very glad to get back to their ship.

" At last, after exploring still farther, they decided on settling
at Plymouth ; and on Christmas Day all the men were at work on
land, building their houses."

"And did they all live on the ship from the Qth of Novem
ber until Christmas?" asked Tom.


" Yes," said Carrie ; " except that the women went on shore
at times under guard to wash."

"Whew!" whistled Tom. " I am glad I wasn't there. Just
think of being close to shore for more than six weeks, and not
being able to land ! I should have been wild."

"There was a boy just like you, Tom. His name was Bil-
lington. He must have felt wild too. When his father was
away on an expedition he got some gunpowder and made squibs,
which he let off on deck. Then he went into his father's cabin
and took his fowling-piece, and fired it off. It was a wonder he
did no damage; for not only was the piece loaded, but there was
half a keg of gunpowder open in the room.

" They were all happy enough to get on shore ; but on the
scouting-expeditions many had been wet through, and then ex
posed to icy cold ; and they had often had to wade ashore from
their boats through the surf; and a great illness came on, so that,
before the end of March, there were only fifty left alive.

" But before this their town of log-houses had been built. It
had one broad street running up a hillside. At the top of the
hill, said a visitor who was there soon after it was finished, ' they
have a large square house with a flat roof, made of thick-sawn
planks, stayed with oak beams, upon the top of which they have six
cannon, which shoot iron balls of four or five pounds weight, and
command the surrounding country. The lower part they use for
their church, where they preach on Sundays and the usual holidays.
They assemble by beat of drum, each with his musket or firelock,
in front of the captain's door. They have their cloaks on, and place
themselves in order three abreast, and are led by a sergeant without
beat of drum.


" ' Behind comes the governor in a long robe ; beside him, on
the right hand, comes the preacher, with his cloak on ; and on the
left hand the captain, with his side-arm and cloak on, and with a
small cane in his hand : and so they march in good order, and
each sets his arms down near him.' "

" What larks ! " said Tom.


" Not so much as it may seem," said Carrie. " These were
very solemn people. Why, a young woman, a servant, was threat
ened with being sent out of the country as a common vagabond,
only because she smiled in church. And they did not think that
any one should spend any thought on their clothes. In Holland



some of them raised a great complaint because one of the minis
ters' wives wore whalebones in her bodice and sleeves, and corked
shoes ; and one old woman who had entertained a clergyman,
when he was about to depart came up to him, and felt of his
band, for her eyes were dim with age, and, finding that it had been
stiffened with starch, was much incensed, and reproved him sharply,
fearing God would not prosper his journey.

" If you had lived in those days, Master Tom, I don't believe
you would have read your Sunday-school book during the sermon,
as I saw you doing last Sunday."

" I don't believe I should have had any to read," said Tom,

" The laws that they made were very strict. Here are one or
two of them :

" A stubborn and rebellious son, and any one who cursed his
parents, was to be put to death.

" Profane cursing and swearing was fined ten shillings; and, if
there were more than one oath at a time, twenty shillings.

" Idle people and tobacco- takers were to be at once taken
before a magistrate for punishment.

" Any person who walked in the streets or fields on the sab
bath was fined ten shillings.

" One of the most common of their punishments was the pil
lory. On a raised platform, in the sight of all the people, in
some public place, the convicted person was made to stand. Some
times his head and feet were put into the stocks in addition.

" ' Edward Palmer, for his extortion in taking two pounds thir
teen shillings and fourpence for the woodwork of Boston stocks,


is fined five pounds, and ordered to be set one hour in the

"The pillory continued many years in New England, long
after the log-huts had given place to well-built houses. The
Pilgrims were sorely troubled with later emigrants who differed
somewhat from them in religious matters ; and many was the per
son condemned as a scoffer, whom they made to stand on it.

" Their encounter with the Indians made them keep a sharp
lookout all the time that they worked in building ; but though
they saw the smoke of their fires in the woods about them, yet
none of the natives themselves were to be seen. But one day,
right down the village street, came an Indian. He walked boldly
into their midst ; and they were astonished to hear him say, ' Wel
come, Englishmen ! ' He had picked up a little English from the
crews of some ships that had been on the coast fishing ; and this
now stood them in good stead, for he became their interpreter to
the other Indians. He was most friendly, and, in spite of their
hints to the contrary, stayed all night. In the morning they sent
him away loaded with presents, and bade him take friendly mes
sages to the other Indians, and tell them to bring beaver skins to

" He did his errand faithfully ; and on the next Sunday he
re-appeared, followed by several stalwart fellows bearing the skins.
But it was Sunday, and the Pilgrims would do no business on
that day. They gave them presents, and bade them come again.
In a few days, Massasoit, the sachem of the tribe that lived about
them, paid them a visit with some sixty warriors, all with their best
paint on. The faces of some were red, and of some black, and



they were all stalwart fellows ; so that our friends only received the
chief and some few of his principal men into the town, while the
rest waited outside. They feasted them, and gave them strong
water to drink. It made Massasoit's eyes fairly start out of his
head at first, and then it threw him into a great heat ; but his
reception pleased him very much, and he made a treaty with them,
and kept it so faithfully, that they could wander alone anywhere
about in the forests in perfect safety. The Indians were only too
glad to trade beaver-skins ; and the women fancied the things they
had to offer so much, that they sold their dresses of beaver off
their backs.

" That dreadful Billington boy now made as great an excite
ment as he did when he nearly blew up ' The Mayflower.' He
got lost in the woods. They had about given up hope of finding
him, when they learned that he had been discovered by a tribe
of Indians that lived some distance away. So Capt. Standish
had to take a boat's crew, and go after him. It took four or five

" Boys," said Carrie, looking about her in a very superior way,
" are a great deal of trouble."

Ned Grant opened his mouth to defend the poor boys, at
tacked in this sudden and unexpected manner ; but Carrie made
haste to go on before he could begin :

" They kept on very friendly terms with Massasoit, and he
was always their firm ally. Through him they learned of a plan
of some of the other tribes to cut them off to a man. Pecksuot
and Wituwamet were the two men at the head of the conspiracy.
The governor of the colony called a meeting. It was necessary


to act instantly, or it might be too late. They called upon Capt.
Standish, who was always ready. Selecting eight men, he set
out at once for the enemy's country. As soon as they reached
it an Indian came, pretending that he wanted to trade, but in
reality as a spy. Standish received him pleasantly, as he did not
want his plans suspected ; but the man went back to his fellows,
and reported that he saw by the captain's eyes that he was

" Wituwamet and Pecksuot were very bold and confident.
They had their followers in strong force with them, and whetted
and sharpened their knife-points before his face, and used many
impudent gestures. Wituwamet bragged of his knife, which had
a woman's face on the handle : ' but,' he said, ' I have another at
home, wherewith I have killed both French and English, and that
hath a man's face on it; and by and by these two must marry.'
Pecksuot, being a large man, laughed at Capt. Standish because
he was small; but the captain said nothing, biding his time.

"The next day they were in a room together, the two con
spirators and another Indian, and the captain and two of his
men. The time had come. Calling to his men outside to make
fast the door, he rushed upon Pecksuot, and, tearing his knife
from his neck, after a fearful struggle killed him. The other two
men killed Wituwamet, and bound the other. The uprising of
the Indians was at an end ; and the little army of nine marched
back to their town, to be received in triumph.

" And I had just read as far as that," said Carrie, " when the
tea-bell rang ; and so that is all I have to tell."

" Capt. Standish must have been a brave man," said Charlie


Morgan, "to have attacked Pecksuot hand to hand; for he could
easily have killed him with his musket without risk to himself."

" He was a man of small stature," said Mr. Longwood, " but
of great personal courage. He had a very quick temper; but it
always seemed to blaze out at exactly the right moment for the


good of the colonists, as in this case, where the sudden slaughter
of a few Indians, no doubt, saved them all from destruction. He
was one of the chief men of New England during his whole life
The house that he built and lived in is still standing."


" WHAT are we to do
to-day ? " asked Tom the
next morning as they sat
at the breakfast - table.
The boys had not got
up so early as on the
day before : indeed, truth
compels me to say that
Tom and Will did not put
in an appearance until
after all the rest were
seated. Jack Hastings was the first to show himself, and he had
been stumping up and down stairs to hurry up the others ever
since. He had made one trip to the kitchen ; but Mary Ann,
who had taken a great fancy to him, tried to kiss him, and he
had beaten a hasty retreat to the parlor in great dudgeon. His
cold was all gone, and he felt, as he himself expressed it, as
jolly as a sand-boy.

" I ordered the big sleigh to be here at half-past nine," said
Mr. Longwood in answer to Tom's question. " So, if you all
like, we will drive over to Shinnecock Bay. If it were summer


we could take a boat, and sail across to the light-house ; but now
the bay must be full of ice, so that sailing is no easy matter.
We can see the Shinnecock Indians : and I told the stable-man
to put in four horses that could travel at a good rate of speed;
so that, if we do nothing more, we shall, I hope, have a pleasant

" It will be very interesting to see the Indians and their vil
lage," said Lou. " I have never seen any real Indians."

" You must not be frightened," said Ned, " if they seem a
little wild. I read in a government agent's report a while ago
that all attempts to civilize the Indians had failed, and that they
could not be persuaded to leave off their paint and barbarous
ways. But there are too many in our party for them to dare
attack us. So if you see one push aside the skins that make
the door of his wigwam, and come striding toward us, the feath
ers in his crest quivering with his excitement, while, he carries
a murderous knife in his belt, you must not be frightened. Just
keep your eyes fixed on him, and don't show fear in your face,
and you are all right."

" I don't think I want to go," said Gertrude Hastings. " It
sounds pretty dreadful."

" Pshaw ! " said Jack. " Don't be a coward. Remember what
stuff your great-grandmother was made of. Mr. Longwood is
sure to be known, and they won't dare to touch us."

" Soon the jingle of bells was heard, and the sleigh came up
to the door. All hurried to put on their wraps, and were in a
short time on the piazza ready to start. But they found the
sleigh already occupied. Thistle had full possession of the high


seat beside the driver ; and Garm had climbed on behind, and
was stretched at full length upon the straw at the bottom, where
he lay eying the party, and lazily beating his tail upon the floor,
but making no move to come out.

"Get down, sir!" called Mr. Longwood.

" Oh, let us take them with us ! " cried two or three of the
girls. " There will be plenty of room ; and, if Garm lies the way
he now is, he will be as good as a foot-stove."

So they all made haste to clamber in. Garm seemed to en
joy it hugely. His tail beat the floor harder than ever, but he
made no attempt to move; and when they were all seated, and
the robes pulled up over their laps, no one would have had an
idea that a dog was anywhere about.

" How is he to breathe ? " asked Rose. " He will certainly
suffocate where he is."

" Never fear," said Tom : " he will let us know when he wants
to change his position."

Jack had clambered up to the high seat, and Thistle was in
his lap; and the sleigh was soon off. Master Jack lost no time
in opening a conversation with the driver, and they were soon
on the best of terms.

" There," said the man, pointing ahead with his whip after
they had been riding about half an hour, " that fence there
marks the boundary of the Reservation. We go through that
gate yonder."

" I'll jump down and open it," said Jack.

" No, you needn't," said the driver : " that Injun walking ahead
of us will get there just as we do."


" Is that an Injun ? " asked Jack.

" Oh, yes!" was the reply.

Jack stared very hard at him as they came closer ; and when
the man pulled open the gate, and held it for them to pass
through, he turned around, and called out,

"Gertrude, Gertrude, here is a warrior! Don't be afraid!"

" Where ? where ? " asked Gertrude.

" Why, holding open the gate ! Don't you see him ? " said

''That isn't an Indian," said Gertrude: "that's a negro. Is it
an Indian, Mr. Longwood ? "

The man was very old, and bent nearly double. His head
was covered with wool, and his features were coarse like a
negro's. He carried a basket on one arm, and a long staff in
his hand, and made his way on very slowly and painfully.

" I am afraid," said Mr. Longwood, " that, if you believed all
that Ned told you this morning, you will be somewhat disap
pointed. The Shinnecocks intermarried with negroes to such an
extent, that the present generation are virtually negroes. Instead
of going on the war-path like their ancestors, they fish, and pick
huckleberries to sell at the boarding-houses."

They were now fairly in the Reservation, and the children
looked about them with much interest. They were on a great
open moor, with not a tree or fence to break the view. On all
sides the land lay as if it had once been a sea of rolling waves
suddenly changed to earth ; while over all was the pure white
snow, dazzlingly bright in the sunlight.

" In the summer," said Mr. Longwood, " all this land is the
feeding-ground of great herds of cattle."


Just at this moment they passed a small Indian boy. He, too,
looked like a negro.

" Have a ride ? " called Tom, who was at the end of the

" Thankee," said the boy, and ran and jumped on the step.

Now, whether it was the boy's voice, or whether it was that
he had been asleep, and dreamed that the company were in great
danger, from which only prompt action on his part could save
them, I do not know ; but it is certain that Garm chose that
moment to spring up. He dashed on to his feet, sending the
robes right and left, and, stretching himself to his full height,
opened his mouth, and gave a deep bay.

" Lord a massy ! " said the little Indian boy ; and he jumped
off, and took to his heels across the fields at the top of his

Garm made no attempt to follow him ; but the sight was too
much for Thistle. He wiggled out of Jack's arms ; took a flying
leap, landing on Carrie's head; and then rushed across their laps
to get out behind. In another moment he would have been
after the boy ; but Tom caught him as he was just jumping, and,
despite all his struggles, held him fast.

" Stop ! stop ! " said Mr. Longwood to the driver. " Call to
the boy, Tom, to come back."

Tom shouted, and the boy turned around. He stood still
eying them for a long time, but was very slow in his progress
back, until he understood that Tom had a ten-cent piece for him,
when he mastered his fears, and came and climbed up where he
was before, only saying,


" Sakes ! I thought I was going to be eaten up."

Gertrude soon found that Ned's pictures of Indian life were
not, as Mr. Longwood had hinted, very true as far as the Shinne-
cocks were concerned. There were no wigwams built of skins,,
but, instead, neat little frame-houses, at whose doors and windows
they saw negro men and women standing; though here and there
the long straight black hair and aquiline features of one showed
that the blood of his Indian ancestors had not all gone. The
children were much more interested when after a time the
village was left far behind, and a sudden turn in the road
brought them right upon the bay.

It was a sight to be remembered. The water was everywhere
covered with white-capped waves, while away out on a narrow
spit of land that run far into the bay, the tall white tower of
the light-house reared itself against the sky.

" Isn't it beautiful ? " said Carrie.

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 3 of 30)