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 6 of 30)
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" But her commands were totally disregarded. Within an hour
after his arrival, Smith was stripped naked ; his head and beard
were shaved ; about his neck was riveted a great iron ring ; a
rough coat of hair was thrown on him, only held together by a
piece of undressed hide ; and in this wretched condition he was
made to perform all the menial offices for a hundred other

" After a time, he was set to threshing. At work one day in
a lonely field, he was visited by his master, who, in anger, began
to beat him : whereupon, forgetting that he was hundreds of
miles from any Christian land, and that his chances of escape
were almost hopeless, Smith turned upon the wretch, and beat
out his brains with his flail. Then, putting on the dead man's
clothes, he hid the body under some straw, and, mounting his
horse, fled at the top of his speed. Sixteen days he kept on,
nearly dying with hunger and fatigue, but mercifully avoiding
notice, which was the cause of his escape ; for he would at once


have been known by his collar to be a slave. On the seven
teenth day he reached a Christian garrison on the Don, where
he was among friends, and safe at last.

" Our captain now thought that he would return to ' his own
sweet countrie : ' but on his way thither, being in Spain, and
hearing of the wars in Africa, he must needs pass over at once
into Morocco ; whence, after more fighting, he sailed, and again
set foot on English soil.

" The time of his arrival was especially fortunate. To a man
of his wild spirit, and contempt for danger, a chance for fresh
adventure offered in the planting a colony in Virginia, in the New
World. He entered warmly into the project, and on the iQth of
December, 1606, with a hundred others, set sail.

" The three ships carried no such company as that which
fourteen years later settled New England. Instead of hard-work
ing, God-fearing men, these were a band of reckless adventurers,
lured by the stories of the golden prizes which the Spaniards
had found in the South Seas, and hoping each to so enrich him
self with spoils, that, after a few months, he need nevermore do
any work. Of the one hundred, forty-six were gentlemen ; twelve
were their servants. Not a single woman was of the company.
To build a city in a new world, they took with them but four
carpenters, one mason, one bricklayer, one blacksmith. Never
was a party so ill assorted.

" They were fairly prosperous on their voyage, which they
made by way of the West Indies ; though at the last they fell in
with a gale that so discouraged some, that they were for turning
back to England. But, when the storm had somewhat abated,


the glad cry of ' Land, ho ! ' was heard from the lookout ; and
they found themselves at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. Wearied
with the long confinement of shipboard, some thirty made haste
to recreate themselves on shore ; but they were attacked by the
savages, and two were badly hurt ; whereon the rest with all
speed got back to their ships.

" Some little time was spent in selecting a site whereon to
build; but on the i3th of May a spot was chosen. Capt. Smith
was sent off on a voyage of discovery with a small boat's crew,
and the rest set to work. While they were building in careless
security, their arms not even within reach, the Indians fell upon
them. One was killed outright, and seventeen wounded ; and
they would have been cut off to a man, had not a chain-shot
from one of the ships, tearing through the tree-tops, put their
foes to flight.

" Hardly had the ships' sails disappeared down the horizon,
on their return to England in June, before sickness came ; and,
in a fortnight, hardly ten men were on their feet. Night and
day they had stood on their guard against the Indians ; working
with desperate energy, in the mean time, to finish their half-built
fort and houses. Their provisions, too, had given out. It was
now the time for planting, and months must elapse before they
could reap. For a while they lived on sturgeon ; but those were
soon gone, and starvation stared them in the face. ' At this
crisis,' says the old chronicler, ' God, the patron of all good
endeavours, so changed the heart of the Salvages that they brought
such plenty of their fruits and provisions as no man wanted.'

" Capt. Smith had proved himself the ruling spirit in the midst


of all these troubles. He now set out in the pinnace with a
crew of seven to trade with the savages ; for their provisions
would soon again fail. Not one of his men, with a single excep
tion, had ever sailed a boat. They knew not even how to raise
a sail. But their hearts were staunch ; and so, in an open craft,
the eight set out to face whole tribes of enemies.

" At their first landing the Indians treated them with scorn,
as famished men. They offered them a handful of corn for a
gun, and another handful for their clothes. Whereupon, seeing
that nothing was to be gained from such men as these by gentle
ness, the captain ordered his men to discharge their pieces;
* whereat the Indians all fled into the woods. So, marching to
wards their houses, they might see great heapes of corn, much
a doe he had to restraine his hungry souldiers from present tak
ing of it, expecting, as it hapned, that the Salvages would assault
them, as, not long after, they did, with a most hydeous noyse.
Sixtie or seaventie of them, some blacke, some red, some white,
some party-coloured, came in a square order, singing and dancing,
out of the woods, with their Okee (which was an Idoll made of
skinnes stuffed with moss) borne before them : and in this man
ner, being well armed with Clubs, Targets, Bowes and Arrowes,
they charged the English, that so kindly received them with their
muskets loaden with Pistoll shot, that downe fell their God, and
divers lay sprauling on the ground : the rest fled again to the
woods.' After this, they were glad enough to treat for peace ;
and in a short time, for a few pieces of copper, Smith had
bought a boat's . load of corn, and was on his way back to the



" His next voyage of any importance ended disastrously for
himself; for he was taken prisoner. With a small crew, as before,
he had set out to discover the sources of one of the rivers that
emptied into the bay. They ascended the stream so far, that their
barge could go no farther. Whereupon it was anchored in mid-
channel, out of the reach of any stray arrows ; and, bidding his
men on no account venture ashore until his return, the captain
made his way, in a canoe with two whites and two Indians, some
twenty miles farther, to the head of the stream.

fightethtvith ikeJQna ^Pamawricee a
all hit company, aridjliw 3 of them.

" The men remained in the barge, as ordered, for a time ;.
but they were not accustomed to obeying, and they soon grew
restless, and hauled the boat to the river's bank to disembark.
The savages fell upon them, and it was only by the most vigorous
efforts that they reached a place of safety. As it was, one was
taken and tortured. Before his death, his captors found out from
him the direction in which Smith had gone, and set out to take
him also. The two Englishmen, his companions, they came upon



as they were sitting by a camp-fire ; and a flight of arrows soon
left them lifeless. Smith himself was hunting for their supper
with one of the Indian guides. Finding that he was surrounded
by two hundred of the foe, he quickly with his garters bound
the guide to his arm as a shield ; and, plying his musket vigorously,
he slew three of the enemy, and so frightened the rest that they
dared not come within gunshot.

" Seeing this, he began a retreat to his canoe, still with his
Indian shield before him ; and he would no doubt have reached
* had he not slipped, and fallen into a pool of mud, where he
sank up to his waist, unable to move. Even when in this plight
his foes did not dare to approach, till, half perished with cold,
he threw away his piece. Then they dragged him out, and,
dancing about him with fierce glee, brought him to their king.

" Opechankanough was this worthy's name. Capt. Smith pre
sented him with a compass. The motion of the needle, and the
glass cover, excited the greatest interest in the royal mind ; and
when his men, a little later, bound their captive to a tree, and
took their stand to shoot at him, he raised his hand, and com
manded his release. Manifestly a man who knew so much as
this one was not to be killed off like a common prisoner of war.

" Smith was now for weeks in the hands of the Indians.
They carried him about from tribe to tribe as a great show. At
one time he narrowly escaped death at the hands of a warrior,
indignant that he did not cure his son, to whom the captain was
taken just as the breath was leaving the lad's body.

" At one time ' they entertained him with most strange and
fearful conjurations.' In a long house he was put alone. A fire



was made in the centre of the floor, and on each side of it a
mat was stretched. On one of these our hero took his seat.
Presently in came a great fellow, painted black with coal and

Si'ia Po'vvKatan carnanjf C.'S'nrith, to

Fokahc-ntas begyrhis life his
\ibtecJfd. 3g of the ir

oil, and adorned with all manner of hideous devices. In his hand
he bore a rattle, and in a frightful voice began an invocation to
his god, dancing wildly. A moment later, in came three others
similarly gotten up. These four kept up their frightful singing,



howling, and dancing, the livelong day ; while their poor victim
looked on, fasting. The intention of all this, they told him, was
to find out whether he meant them well or ill. It took them three
days to do this to their satisfaction, which must have been far
from pleasant to poor Smith.

" At last, in the course of their wanderings, they brought him
to Powhatan, the chief of all the tribes. Here he was received
in great state. A queen brought him water to wash his hands,
and feathers on which to dry them, while two hundred grim
courtiers looked on. Then he was feasted : but the feast had a
most unpleasant ending for the captain ; for two great stones were
brought in, and he was seized, and laid prostrate on one, while
his swarthy captors stood ready to dash out his brains with their
clubs. At this moment, when he had given up all hope of life,
Pocahontas, the young daughter of the king, rushed forward, and,
throwing herself beside him, shielded him with her own body.
Upon which Powhatan relented, and Smith's life was spared ;
and, a short time after, he got safely back to Jamestown."

" Is that the end ? " asked Carrie as Charlie stopped. " You
haven't told us all, I am sure. Did Capt. Smith have no more
adventures ? "

" Oh, yes ! " said Charlie : " there was no end of them. He
went off for several years on expeditions among the Indians,
who were nearly always more or less hostile. He had a hand-
to-hand fight with the King of Paspahegh, who, being a huge
man, dragged him into the river, and tried to drown him, but
failed, and was himself taken. He seized the King of Paumaunkee
by his scalp-lock in the face of seven hundred of his armed



warriors. They had planned to take Smith, but found themselves
outwitted, and the king at the mercy of his pistol if they dared
to move a hand.

" Nor were the Indians the only people that engaged his
attention ; for, nearly every time that he came back to Jamestown,
6e had to crush a rebellion among the settlers, who were a sad

" At last a great accident befell our captain. ' Sleeping in
his Boate, accidentallie one fired his powder-bag, which tore the
flesh from his body and thighes, nine or ten inches square, in a
most pittiful manner; but to quench the tormenting fire, frying
him in his cloaths, he leaped over-boord into the deepe river,

C.Smitfi toKethtfit J&np of famavnl^ee jvifongr -



where, ere they could recover him, hee was neare drowned.' There
was no physician in the country skilful enough to cure a wound
so severe as he had received ; and, a ship being about to return
to England the next day, he hastily had another person appointed
governor in his stead, and bade farewell to the colony forever.

" Did his wound heal ? " asked Kate.

"Yes," said Charlie: "he made many other voyages to Amer
ica, but they were to New England."

" That part about Pocahontas," said Jack Hastings medita
tively, " reminds me of my great-grandmother."

"What became of Pocahontas?" asked Rose.

" She was always a staunch friend of Capt. Smith's," said
Charlie. " Several times she came in the night to warn him of
treachery on the part of the Indians. After the captain had gone
back to England, her father became very restless; and the settlers
by a stratagem seized her, and kept her as a hostage for his
good conduct. While she was thus held, 'Master John Rolfe, an
honest gentleman and of good behaviour,' became very anxious
about her soul, and determined to convert her. His efforts were
successful, and she was baptized. They fell in love with one
another, and were married. It was a very happy union ; for she
was very quiet and gentle in her nature.

" Rolfe took her to England, where she was presented at court,
and attracted great attention. They were just about to take ship
back to America, when she suddenly died. There are many
families in Virginia now which are very proud to trace back their
descent to this Indian princess."

" Hark ! " said Mrs. Longwood, holding up her hand. " Can
that be rain?"


They all stopped to listen ; but the fire made such a crack
ling, that no one could hear distinctly.

" Never mind," said Mr. Longwood : "let us go on with our
stories. What have you for us, Lou ? "

"In the early years of the Revolution," said Lou, "there was
stationed at Newport a detachment of the British army. In those
old days the harbor of Newport was white with the sails of mer
chantmen ; but the war soon put a stop to all peaceful sailing of
the seas, and these vessels, one after the other, fell into the
enemy's hands. The English men-of-war lay in the harbor, and
the English soldiers were billeted on the town. In command of
the land forces was Gen. Prescott. There was no man whom the
Americans more hated and despised; for he was the soul of mean
ness. The people were, of course, at his mercy; and this petty
tyrant took every advantage of his position. When he walked in
the streets, if he saw two or three talking together he would
shake his cane at them, and call out, 'Disperse, ye rebels!' He
made it a rule that every one should take off his hat on pass
ing him. One day he met a Quaker named Elisha Anthony.
This man kept his hat on, as is the custom with Quakers, because,
as he himself said, he did not think it right to show those
signs of respect to man. Prescott ordered his servant to knock
it off his head.

" Anthony had a pair of horses that he had grown very fond
of. They knew him, and were warm friends ; for he was never
tired of petting them. The day after his affair with the British
general, that officer sent for these horses, saying that he wished
them in the king's service to carry an express to Boston. Resist-


ance was useless. What became of one is not known ; but that
afternoon Anthony found the other by the roadside, prostrate.
He had been ridden furiously, and was dying. The old man
hurried to him, and, kneeling down, took his head into his lap.
The poor beast gave one look of pain and misery in his master's
face, and died.

" When Prescott took up his quarters in Newport, he wished
a sidewalk in front of his house. There were no stones conven
ient: so his men quietly took the door-steps of the houses near,
and built one with them.

" He arrested the townspeople on the slightest provocation,
and kept them in jail to show his power. One citizen named
Tripp was thus treated. He was not allowed to write, or hear
from his family ; though his quick-witted wife managed to write
him a letter, which she baked in a loaf of bread, and sent him.
When she went to petition Prescott for her husband's relief, she
was met by his aide, who slammed the door in her face, having
first told her that he expected that her husband would be hung
as a rebel in less than a week."

"What old brutes he and his master must have been!" said

" Well," went on Lou, " you may imagine that Prescott was
pretty thoroughly hated. At last, in the summer of 1777, he had
his quarters at a farmhouse belonging to a Quaker. The house
was about five miles from Newport, and was close to the shore.
In front of it were anchored three frigates, each with their guard-
boats out ; and close at hand was an encampment of light-horse
and a guard-house. Col. Barton of the patriot army conceived a

148 "ALL'S WELL!"

plan to surprise Prescott by night, and carry him off. It was a
scheme full of danger, but one which, if successful, would bring
great glory to all concerned. He chose forty men, on every one
of whom he knew he could depend in -emergency. Each man,
too, knew how to handle an oar ; for it might well be that
they would need to show a clean pair of heels, should the men-
of-war espy them. In several boats, with muffled oars, the party
set out from the mainland. It was about nine o'clock on the
night of the loth of July. They passed silently across the bay,
so close to the frigate's guard-boats that they plainly heard the
sentinel's cry of ' All's well ! ' and landed in a cove near the

" Here the party divided. One section took a roundabout
path, and came up to the rear of the house, cutting off all
escape in that direction. The other marched stealthily forward,
led by a negro, Jack Sisson, who had been Prescott's servant.

"They passed between the guard -house and the cavalry-
encampment, and came directly up to the front - door. The
sentinel on duty called out, ' Who's there ? ' but they paid no
attention, and marched steadily on. ' Who's there ? ' called out
the man again. ' Give the countersign.'

" ' We have no countersign,' said Barton. ' Have you seen
any deserters here to-night ? '

" Deceived by this question, the guard let them approach
nearer, and in a moment more was seized, and threatened with
instant death if he made a sound.

" Barton, with some of his men, at once entered the house.
The Quaker was sitting reading : all the others of the family


had gone to bed. In response to their demand, ' Where is
Prescott's room ? ' he pointed to the one directly overhead. We
can imagine the joy with which he heard them dash up stairs,
Jack the negro leading the way. The door was locked. No
time was to be lost. Jack backed the width of the hall, and,
rushing forward with head down, burst it open at the first blow.

" Prescott sprang up in bed as they entered ; but there was
no chance for escape. His aide in another room, hearing the
noise, jumped out of the window to give the alarm, but was
instantly captured by the men below. Barton ordered the gen
eral to rise, and go with them. He begged for time to dress.
But delay was dangerous. Throwing a cloak about him, they
took him in his shirt, telling him that on the other side of the
bay he would have time to dress at his leisure. The rest of
the party, who had remained on guard outside, formed around the
prisoners ; and as stealthily as they came they made their way
back to the boats. Once again with muffled oars they passed
by the frigates, the men chuckling to themselves as they heard
the sentry's cry of ' All's well ! ' and thinking of the chagrin that
would befall them, when, a little later, they learned that all was

" A carriage was waiting on the main - land. As they were
about to enter it, Prescott broke the silence that he had held
since his capture. ' Sir,' he said, turning to Barton, ' you have
made a bold push to-night. ' ' We have been fortunate,' said
that hero."

" Wasn't it just splendid ! " said the boys.

" This daring deed was instantly known far and wide. Con-


gress presented the gallant colonel a sword, and a grant of land
in Vermont. This land, though, brought him great trouble in
the end. In managing it, his affairs became involved, and he
was arrested. It was in the days when people were imprisoned
for debt ; and for fourteen years the hero lay in jail. At the
end of that time La Fayette revisited America. Asking for his
old friend, he heard with grief and indignation of his hard fate,
and at once paid his debts, and set him free."

" And what became of old Prescott ? " asked Charlie.

" He was sent to Washington's headquarters in New Jersey.
His late ignoble capture did not seem to have improved his
manners. On his way thither he stopped to dine at a tavern
kept by one Capt. Alden, in Lebanon, Conn. Mrs. Alden
brought him his dinner. Among the dishes was one of succo
tash. Prescott took up the dish, and threw it on the floor,
exclaiming, ' What ! do you treat me with the food of hogs ? '

" Upon this Mrs. Alden left the room. The British officer
was somewhat dismayed, a little later, to see her stalwart hus
band enter with a horsewhip in his hand. It was too late then
to regret his rudeness. He was seized, and had a good

"Oh, cricky ! " said Jack ecstatically. " What fun ! "

" He was exchanged after some months, and went back to
Newport to his old command. But the horsewhipping seems to
have rankled. He was visited by a committee of citizens on
some business, on one occasion after his return. To one of
them he was so rude and violent, that the gentleman left the
room. On his friends asking of him the reason, Prescott said


that he looked so much like a Connecticut man who had horse
whipped him, that he could not abide his presence."

" That's a tiptop story," said Jack with enthusiasm ; " but
just wait till you hear about my great-grandmother ! "


THERE was no doubt at
all, when the children trooped
off to bed that night, as to
whether it was raining or not.
The clatter on the roof above
and about them was so loud,
that they could hardly hear
one another speak. It was
like the trampling of many
feet. Ned went to the window, and flattened his nose against
the pane in a vain attempt to see something in the darkness
outside ; but what little he did see was so depressing, that he
made haste to take off his clothes, and get into bed. Will
Morgan had not come up, having stayed behind to do a little
writing. The other boys, sitting in bed, with their hands clasped
about their knees, waited for him, listening to the wind which
was coming in blasts that made the house shake, and that dashed
the rain against the pane as if it would break the glass.

" What a wild night it is at sea ! " said Charlie. " The men
at the life-saving station must have a fearful time patrolling the


beach in such a storm. I shouldn't wonder if there were wrecks
on the coast before morning."

" Yes," said Ned sleepily ; " but, if the rain keeps on long
enough to take off the snow, there will be good skating again
when it clears. I wonder what Will can be writing, to keep him
so long. I'm going to sleep, anyway ; " and, stretching himself
down in the bed, he pulled up the clothes, and was off in no-
time. The other boys followed his example with such speed,
that, when Will did come, he found no one awake to greet him.

" Whew ! " whistled Tom, sitting up in bed for a moment at
half-past seven the next morning. " Isn't it a stinger ? It has
cleared off cold with a vengeance. I have been dreaming, for
ever so long, that I was a snow man ; and my nose is just like
a lump of ice. I'll wager that the water is frozen stiff in the
pitchers ; " and a little cloud of frozen vapor rose from his mouth
as he spoke.

" I say," he went on, " who's going to make the fire ? There
are kindlings and the oak logs all ready. If any of you fellows
want to do it, don't hesitate on my account."

At this there was a sudden stillness, all the boys pretending
to be fast asleep.

"Well, I can't be much colder than I am now," said he; "so

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 6 of 30)