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 4 of 30)
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" Yes," said Mrs. Longwood.

"The gardens of the sea are all abloom

This chill December day :
The wild clematis hangs her clusters out
On tumbling waves that break in watery rout

O'er all the tossing bay.

The wild winds tear the petals from the flowers :

They fall like drops of rain ;
Their faint salt breath on every landward breeze
Comes up from off the ever-heaving seas,

The breath of sea-flowers slain.


These are no blossoms born of April showers

And the warm sun of May :
The hoarse winds raving o'er the watery waste
Call the chill sea-flowers forth in eager haste

To bloom and fade away."

Away down the beach, on a little bluff, they could see a small
house. Drawn up on the sands before it was a boat, and they
could make out two or three figures moving about.

"Let's take a run over there, fellows, to warm us up!" called
out Tom. "The tide has washed the snow off the beach, and
we can race."

The boys all jumped out at this, and made off, followed by
the two dogs. Mr. Longwood called after them not to be gone
long ; but they were shouting so, that I doubt whether any of
them heard what he said.

Garm was the first to reach the goal ; but the boys were close
upon his heels. They found a man at work at the boat, stopping
up the seams where they had warped ; while two boys looked on.
Our party watched him for a time with great interest.

" The boat seems pretty old," said Will at last.

" Yes," said the man: "she hasn't been used for several years,
not since the inlet was closed. But, now that it has been opened,
there is a chance for fishing again : so I have hauled her up here
for repairs."

" How do you mean about an inlet being opened ? " asked

"You see," said the man, "that there used to be an inlet
from the ocean to the bay. Then the blue-fish could run into the




bay, which made prime fishing. Or we could sail out into the
ocean, and fish there. But the storms closed it up, and kept it so
for several years. That has stopped most of the fishing; for the
surf is so heavy on the ocean, that it is no light task to launch a
boat. This winter the inlet has opened again, and all the fisher
men feel happy."

" What do you fish
for ? " asked Charlie Mor

" Mossbunkers, a
good deal of the time,"
said the man. " We go
out with a boat like
my ' Phillis ' here, and
a couple of row-boats.
Pretty soon we see a
school of mossbunkers,
menhaden some call
them. They run so thick,
that you can see them a
long way off by the dark
color of the water. Then
we get out the seine and


the small boats, drag the

seine around the fish, bring them up to ' The Phillis's ' side, and dump

them in. Sometimes we get six or eight cartloads at a time."

" Are they good to eat ? " asked Will.

"Not very," said the man. "They have too many bones for



my taste. We sell them to the farmers to put on the land to

make the crops grow."

"And couldn't you fish at all when the inlet was closed?"
"Well," said the man, "we don't let a school of blue-fish go

by, if we know it. And there are a good many mossbunkers

caught by dragging the seine up on to the beach. When the

blue-fish begin to run, the fish
ing companies keep a man on
the lookout most of the time.
As soon as a school is sighted,
he runs up a signal to the top
of a pole, a bush or an old
shirt, or some such thing ; and
the rest of the company hurry
down, launch their boat through
the surf, and make for the fish.

Sometimes they make great
hauls. I've seen as many as
five hundred blue-fish brought
in at one time. That was a
good day for the fishermen."

"Did you ever go to sea?"
asked Jack.

" Yes," said the man : "I followed the sea more than twenty

" Did you ever go to far-off countries, such as India and
China ? "

" Only once," said the man : " most of my trips were to the




Arctic Ocean a-whaling. Many and many is the day I have been
at the mast-head keeping a sharp lookout. The cry of ' There
she blows ! ' would wake a ship's crew up pretty quick, I can tell

" Did you ever have any adventures ? " asked Jack.

" Well," said the man, " I was wrecked twice."

" Oh ! do tell us about it," said the boys.

"The first time," said the man, "our ship was nipped in the
ice. It was just at dusk,
and we "

Just at that moment
there came a faint halloo
from the distance.

"Oh, dear!" said Jack.
" It's Mr. Longwood calling,
and we must go."

" I suppose he is afraid
that we shall not get home
for dinner," said Tom.

" You had better go, then," said the man. " Dinners spoil in
keeping ; stories don't."

So the boys started back, and they were all soon hurrying

In the afternoon they went skating on the lake; but nothing
worth ^chronicling happened. Evening found them all seated
about the fire, waiting for Charlie Morgan and Lou Grant to
entertain them.



" WE are going to take a
skip of about a hundred and
fifty years," said Ned Grant,
" into the time just before the
Revolution ; and I am going
to tell you how a whole nation
gave up drinking tea, and took
to wearing homespun.

" You must know, that,
when the colonies first began
to settle in the New World,
each had a charter from the English king, in which they were prom
ised absolutely and forever the power to make their own laws,
to assess their own taxes, and other such rights as these. But
after they grew, and the whole country began to be settled, the
English Government thought that it would be a fine thing if
America could pay a part of the expenses of the mother-country :
so they passed a law called the Stamp Act. By this, all business
was to be done on stamped paper, every sheet of which paid a
small tax. Unless this paper was used, any marriage was null ;
notes of hand were worthless. If a ship's papers were not on it^



she might be seized at sea, as a prize, by any one. These were
some of the penalties for not using it. Hardly a man in England
imagined that the colonists would dare to resist.

"But they did. 'What business has the King of England to
tax us without our consent ? ' they cried. ' The next thing will
be, that he will claim our lands, and all that we have. We are
freemen, and not slaves ; and we will not submit ! ' Crowds gath
ered in the streets. The men who had been appointed in every
part of the country to sell the paper were waited upon : if they
refused to resign their office, they were mobbed. The ministers
preached on the subject, rousing the people with their stirring
words. One chose as his text, ' I would they were even cut off
which trouble you ; for, brethren, ye have been called unto lib
erty.' The country was in revolt.

"All eyes were turned to New York; for there were British
troops and British men-of-war. How would they face the crisis?
The officers were confident that the New-Yorkers would never
dare to disobey the law. ' If they refuse,' said one braggart, ' I
will cram the stamps down the throats of the people with the
point of my sword.' But he did not know the people that he
was talking about.

" Soon the vessels with the stamped paper began to arrive
in the different ports. The shipping in the harbors welcomed
them by putting their flags at half-mast. What was to be done
with the paper? There was not a person in the whole land to
distribute it ; for not a stamp-collector but had been made by the
people's rage to resign his office. The governors of the Colonies
took possession of it in the absence of the proper persons.


"The morning of the ist of November, 1765, the day on
which the law was to go in force, was ushered in over the whole
country by the tolling of church-bells and the booming of min
ute-guns. Flags were everywhere at half-mast. And no one
bought any of the hated stamps. The newspapers, boldly defying
the law, came out on the same paper as before.

"In New York, where the royal officers were so certain of
success, the whole city rose in wrath. Placards were posted at
the street-corners, threatening any one who should buy the stamps.
At night there was a great uproar. A vast body of men with
torches, bearing with them a scaffold and two images, paraded the
city. They broke into the governor's coach-house, for he was
no friend to the people, and took the state carriage. In it they
placed the two images : one was of himself ; the other, opposite,
was that of the Devil. They drew the coach thus occupied
through the streets of the town, and returned later in the night
to Bowling Green, where they burned him in effigy before his very
eyes. Another party sacked the house of the major who had
talked about cramming the paper down their throats with his

" Hurrah for New York ! " cried Jack Hastings.

" ' We are not safe while the paper is in your possession,' said
the people to the governor. ' We demand that it be given into
our hands.'

"The governor hesitated: the people insisted. They were
determined, and he dared not refuse. It was taken from the ships,
and delivered to the Common Council in the City Hall. And
that was the way the New-Yorkers submitted to the Stamp Act.


" As it was in New York, so it was elsewhere. No stamped
paper was sold.

" When the news of all these outbreaks came to England, the
act was repealed ; but the government would not give up the
right it claimed to tax the Colonies. It now said, ' If the people
don't want to pay taxes in the way we proposed, we must try
another.' So a duty was put on nearly every thing that was
imported from England.

" But it was not the paying taxes that had made the out
break ; for the people had always paid those imposed by their
own legislatures. It was the claim of the English Government
that they had the right to tax without the consent of the colo
nists, and without their having a voice in the matter.

" The merchants of New York met together, and proposed a
union of all the people of the country. ' Until the duties are
repealed,' they said, ' let us not buy an article from England.
Let us weave and wear homespun, give up drinking tea, and do
without luxuries.' The whole land took up the plan with wild
enthusiasm. British imports fell the first year from twelve
millions to eight millions of dollars. There was the greatest
excitement everywhere. The newspapers were full of exhortations
to the people to stand by their rights, many of them couched in
what was supposed to be poetry. Here is one from ' The Boston
News -Letter : '


Young ladies in town, and those that live round,

Let a friend at this season advise you :
Sine** money's so scarce, and times growing worse,

Strange things may soon hap and surprise you.


First, then, throw aside your top-knots of pride ;

Wear none but your own country linen :
Of economy boast ; let your pride be the most

To show clothes of your own make and spinning.

What if homespun, they say, is not quite so gay

As brocades? yet be not in a passion;
For, when once it is known this is much worn in town,

One and all will cry out, " Tis the fashion ! "

And, as one, all agree that you'll not married be

To such as will wear London factory;
But at first sight refuse ; tell 'em such you will choose

As encourage our own manufactory.

No more ribbons wear, nor in rich silks appear;

Love your country much better than fine things;
Begin without passion ; 'twill soon be the fashion

To grace your smooth locks with a twine string.

Throw aside your Bohea, and your Green Hyson tea,

And all things with a new-fashion duty :
Procure a good store of the choice Labrador;

For there'll soon be enough here to suit you.

These do without fear, and to all you'll appear

Fair, charming, true, lovely, and clever :
Though the times remain darkish, young men may be sparkish,

And love you much stronger than ever.'

" Presently the London merchants began to cry out. They
were being ruined. Business with "he Colonies was at a stand
still. Neither was any revenue coming in. The clamor grew so


loud, that the duties had to be taken off. But the Government
would not give up entirely. They exempted every thing but
tea. At the same time, they put the duty on tea in American
ports much lower than it was in English. But a principle was
involved. ' We will never touch it,' said the patriots. Here is
one of the rhymes with which they encouraged one another. It
was set to a sacred air, and sung far and wide :

' Rouse every generous, thoughtful mind ;

The rising danger flee :
If you would lasting freedom find,
Now, then, abandon tea.

Scorn to be bound with golden chains,

Though they allure the sight :
. Bid them defiance, if they claim
Our freedom and birthright.

Shall we our freedom give away,

And all our comfort place
In drinking of outlandish tea,

Only to please our taste?

Forbid, it, Heaven ! let us be wise,

And seek our country's good ;
Nor ever let a thought arise

That tea should be our food.

Since we so great a plenty have

Of all that's for our health,
Shall we that blasted herb receive,

Impoverishing our wealth?


Adieu, away, O Tea ! begone !

Salute our taste no more ;
Though thou art coveted by some

Who 're destined to be poor.'

' The patriots resolved not only that they would buy no tea,
out that none should be landed. The ships that came to New
York and Boston were ordered to return at once to England.
When the royal authorities refused to let them go, and insisted
that the tea must be landed, the people boarded the ships, and
threw it overboard. This old song from ' The Pennsylvania Packet '
will tell you how it happened in Boston :

' As near beauteous Boston lying

On the gently swelling flood,

Without jack or pendant flying,

Three ill-fated tea-ships rode,

Just as glorious Sol was setting,

On the wharf, a numerous crew,
Sons of Freedom, fear forgetting,

Suddenly appeared in view.

Armed with hammers, axe, and chisels,

Weapons new for warlike deed,
Towards the herbage-freighted vessels

They approached with dreadful speed.

Quick as thought the ships were boarded,

Hatches burst, and chests displayed :
Axes, hammers, help afforded ;

What a glorious crash they made !


Squash into the deep descended

Cursed weed of China's coast :
Thus at once our fears are ended;

British rights shall ne'er be lost.

Captains ! once more hoist your streamers,

Spread your sails, and plough the wave :
Tell your masters they were dreamers

When they thought to cheat the brave ! '

" The party who destroyed the cargoes of the Boston ships
were disguised as Indians. They were very careful that none of
it should be stolen. One man, who slyly slipped some into his
coat-tail pocket, found, when he reached home, that his coat had
no tails. A neighbor had seen him, and had cut them off.

" There are some very amusing stories of this tea business.
Many an old lady found it very hard to give up her cherished
beverage, and took it on the sly. On one occasion an old
gentleman fancied that his wife had invited some cronies to have
an unsuspected cup with her. He stole up stairs to the room
where the forbidden feast was to be held. Sure enough, there
was the teapot before the fire. He lifted the lid quietly, and
dropped in a great piece of tobacco. Then he went down stairs,
chuckling, to wait the breaking-up of the party, which came very

" But, in spite of such cases, the feeling was so strong, that
no merchant dared sell it, and no revenue ever went to England
from tea."

" And how did all this end ? " asked Tom.


" It ended, before many years were passed, in the War of
Independence," said Charlie.

" I don't think they lost much by not having tea, anyway,"
said Jack. " It is pretty thin stuff, I think."

" Well, Kate," said Mr. Longwood after Charlie's story had
been talked over, " what have you to tell ? "

" During the time that Charlie has been describing," said
Kate, " when such heavy duties were laid on imports, a small
schooner was sent to Rhode Island by the admiral of the English
fleet at Boston to prevent smuggling on that coast. The com
mander, Lieut. Duddington, would not show the State officers
any legal warrant for his actions ; and, as he was known to be
no customs-officer himself, they were very indignant, as may be
imagined. They made a protest to the admiral ; but all his
answer was, that, if one of them dared touch his lieutenant, he
would have him hanged in Boston for a pirate. Duddington made
himself as obnoxious as he could, stopping and examining
coasters that he must have known were not smugglers, and being
generally as overbearing as could well be. What follows is told
in this ballad :


Seventeen hundred and seventy-two,
Summer was smiling the whole land through ;
New-mown meadows scented the air :
But the hearts of men were full of care.
Trouble was rife ; for a tyrant's hand
Heavily lay on our own fair land.


Up and down the Rhode-Island shore
Sailed the " Gaspe," schooner of war.
Might makes right when foes are few :
Braggart was captain, and braggarts the crew.
Colonists had no laws that they,
Officers of the king, should obey.

Sailing now here, and sailing there,

Carrying trouble everywhere ;

At length, one day, in a hurried chase,

After a schooner flying apace,

Fast on the bar the " Gaspe " lay,

Fast, till the tide should come^up the bay.

Midnight darkness had settled down :

Out from the wharves of the silent town

Boats moved swiftly with muffled oar;

Quickly behind them sunk the shore,

Till by the " Gaspe's " sullen side

They float on the waves of the coming tide.

Up on the deck with a sudden leap,
Seeming like foemen sprung from the deep !
The ship is theirs ere the crew half know,
Tumbling on deck from their hammocks below.
Lower your boats, and make away :
Never again shall you sail our bay.

As they pulled homeward, a lurid flame
Lights them back o'er the way they came.
Up the tall masts the fire runs free,
Turning to blood the unquiet sea;
Till, with a crash like a thunder-tone,
Night falls again, and the " Gaspe"'s " gone.' "

9 8


" Your ballad is very well, as far as it goes," said Mr. Long-
wood ; " but it does not tell what follows. The English Govern
ment offered five thousand dollars to any person who would give

information as to who was the leader of this expedition, and two
thousand five hundred each for the names of any in the party.
But not a man did they find ; for, though hundreds knew who
were the offenders, no one was base enough to betray them.


Duddington was wounded in the affair. An old doggerel thus
speaks of these rewards :

' Now, for to find these people out,
King George has offered, very stout,
One thousand pounds, to find out one
That wounded William Duddington ;
One thousand more, he says, he'll spare
For those who say the sheriffs were ;
One thousand more there doth remain
For to find out the leader's name ;
Likewise five hundred pounds per man
For any one of all the clan.
But, let him try his utmost skill,
I'm apt to think he never will
Find any of those hearts of gold,
Though he should offer fifty-fold.' "


" I SAY," called out Tom, who had been
standing for some time at the window, " you
have no idea what a magnificent night it is.
It is as light as day. The moon must be full,
or nearly so ; and the snow fairly sparkles.
Hillo ! " he went on, " here comes a man.
I wonder what he is after. Oh ! I know :
it is one of the crew from the life-saving sta
tion. I am going to speak to him." And he
ran out, followed by the other boys.

" I suppose," said Tom after the man had
stopped, and they had chatted for a moment
or two, " that your crew will have an easy
time to-night. No ship could very well go ashore in such a quiet
sea as there is now, and in such a clear light."

" Ay," said the man ; " but it is not going to last. We
expect a storm before morning. The barometer is falling fast,
and the wind is shifting. We shall have snow before many
hours, or I am mistaken."

" Then good-by to skating," said Ned Grant.

Mr. Longwood had by this time come out on the piazza, and


had heard the news. " If the skating is to be spoiled," he said,
" we had better make the most of it at once. Boys, get ready
yourselves, and tell the girls ; and we will have an hour or so
of it before it goes."

With a wild whoop and halloo the boys carried the tidings
into the parlor, and soon they were all on the ice. The fire
was kindled where it had been a few days before, and they
dashed up and down and about it in great glee.

At eleven o'clock, when they went back to the house, they
saw that the man's prediction of a storm was coming true. The
wind had grown damp and chilly ; and a thin mist was gathering
over the sky, through which the moon shone with a sickly light.

" It's fortunate that we learned of the storm in time," said
Tom ; " but I am pretty tired, for one."

" So am I," said Gertrude. " I don't believe even an Indian
could wake me to-night."

" I think we shall be pretty safe in telling Mary Ann not to
put on breakfast till nine o'clock," said .Mr. Longwood. "Then
we shall have time to get thoroughly rested."

At half-past eight the next morning, when Master Jack
awoke, and raised himself on his elbow to look out of the win
dow, he found that the snow had indeed come. The air was full
of it. No one of the other boys had as yet waked up. Ned
Grant in one bed, and Will Morgan in the other, were sleeping
as quietly as if it were midnight. The door into the room
where Tom and Charlie slept was closed ; but there was not a
sound to be heard. Jack stealthily raised himself to his feet,
and, taking a firm hold of his pillows, hurled them at the sleep-


ing figures. Each went straight to the mark, and the two boys
were brought up standing. Holding up his finger to caution
them to silence, Jack seized the small toilet-pitcher, and, softly
opening the door, stole into the next room. The others fol
lowed to see the fun. Advancing to Tom's bedside, Jack raised
the pitcher, and a gentle stream of cold water was on its way
from it to Tom's face, when, all of a sudden, a pillow came fly
ing from the bed in which Charlie Morgan was supposed to be
fast asleep. It missed Jack's head, at which it was directed, but
hit his extended elbow with such dire effect, that the entire con
tents of the pitcher were emptied on him, soaking him from head
to foot. Finding the laugh thus turned on himself, that young
man retired with haste to dry and dress himself.

" I do believe," said Carrie as they were about to sit down
to breakfast, " that the storm is over. See ! it has stopped

They all crowded to the window to look out. What a
change a few hours had made ! The lake had disappeared, and
to all appearance they were in the midst of snow-covered fields.
Some distance .away they could see two men and a dog making
their way toward the village. But, even as they stood by the
window, the flakes began to fall again, and soon came down
faster than ever, shutting out the whole landscape.

" Suppose," said Jack, " that it keeps on snowing till the
house is nearly buried. Then we couldn't get out and go to
New York. What larks that would be ! "

" No storms have ever come severe enough to bury a house,
have there, Mr. Longwood ? " asked Gertrude.



" Not in this part of the country. But the New-England
storms are pretty severe at times. I remember reading an
account of one that came many years ago. Perhaps I can find


the book. Yes, here it is," he said, coming back a moment
later from the library. "It is a letter from a clergyman in Bos
ton to a friend in England. I will read part of it."

BOSTON, loth Dec. 1717.

SR., Tho ws are gott so far onward as the beginning of another Winter, yett
we have not forgott ye last, which at the latter end whereof we were entertained
& overwhelmed wilh a Snow, which was attended with some Things, which were

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 4 of 30)