Part 7 out of 8
weasel"; but this might have been stretching the jest too far; so
the lieutenant merely called to the signal midshipman, and desired
him to skull up to the mast-head with his glass, to see what he
made of the look-out-man's whale.
"It looks like a small rock," cried young "Skylark" as soon as
he reached the top-gallant-yard and had taken the glass from his
shoulders, across which he had slung it with a three-yarn fox.
"Stuff and nonsense!" replied the officers, "there are no rocks
hereabouts; we can but just see the top of Muckish, behind Tory
Island. Take another spy at your object, youngster; the mast-head-man
and you will make it out to be something by-and-by, between you,
I dare say."
"It's a boat, sir!" roared out the boy. "It's a boat adrift, two
or three points on the lee-bow."
"Oh-ho!" said the officer, "that may be, sir," turning with
an interrogative air to the captain, who gave orders to keep the
frigate away a little that this strange-looking affair might be
investigated. Meanwhile, as the ship was not to be tacked, the watch
was called, and one half only of the people remained on deck. The
rest strolled, sleepy, below; or disposed themselves in the sun on
the lee gangway, mending their clothes, or telling long yarns.
A couple of fathoms of the fore and main sheets, and a slight touch
of the weather topsail and top-gallant braces, with a check on the
bow-lines, made the swift-footed _Endymion_ spring forward, like a
greyhound slipped from the leash. In a short time we made out that
the object we were in chase of was, in fact, a boat. On approaching
a little nearer, some heads of people became visible, and then several
figures stood up, waving their hats to us. We brought to, just to
windward of them, and sent a boat to see what was the matter.
It turned out as we supposed; they had belonged to a ship which
had foundered in the recent gale. Although their vessel had become
water-logged, they had contrived to hoist their long-boat out, and
to stow in her twenty-one persons, some of them seamen and some
passengers; of these, two were women, and three children. Their
vessel, it appeared, had sprung a leak in middle of the gale, and,
in spite of all their pumping, the water gained so fast upon them
that they took to baling as a more effectual method. After a time,
when this resource failed, the men, totally worn out and quite
dispirited, gave it up as a bad job, abandoned their pumps, and
actually lay down to sleep. In the morning the gale broke; but
the ship had filled in the meantime, and was falling fast over her
broadside. With some difficulty they disentangled the long-boat
from the wreck, and thought themselves fortunate in being able to
catch hold of a couple of small oars, with a studding-sail-boom
for a mast, on which they hoisted a fragment of their main-hatchway
tarpaulin for a sail. One ham and three gallons of water were all
the provisions they were able to secure; and in this fashion they
were set adrift on the wide sea. The master of the ship, with two
gentlemen who were passengers, preferred to stick by the vessel
while there was any part of her above water.
This, at least, was the story told us by the people we picked up.
The wind had been fair for the shore when the long-boat left the
wreck, and though their ragged sail scarcely drove them along,
their oars were only just sufficient to keep the boat's head the
right way. Of course they made but slow progress; so that when they
rose on the top of a swell, which was still very long and high in
consequence of the gale, they could only just discover the distant
land, Muckish, a remarkable flat-topped mountain on the northwest
coast of Ireland, not very far from the promontory called the Bloody
There appeared to have been little discipline among this forlorn
crew, even when the breeze was in their favour; but when the wind
chopped round, and blew off shore, they gave themselves up to
despair, laid in their oars, let the sail flap to pieces, gobbled
up all their provisions, and drank out their whole stock of water.
Meanwhile the boat, which had been partially stove, in the confusion
of clearing the ship, began to fill with water; and, as they all
admitted afterwards, if it had not been for the courage and patience
of the women under this sharp trial, they must have gone to the
As it was both cold and rainy, the poor children, who were too young
to understand the nature of their situation, or the inutility of
complaining, incessantly cried out for water, and begged that more
clothes might be wrapped round them. Even after they came to us the
little things were still crying, "Oh! do give us some water"--words
which long sounded in our ears. None of these women were by any means
strong--on the contrary, one of them seemed to be very delicate;
yet they managed to rouse the men to a sense of their duty by
a mixture of reproaches and entreaties, combined with the example
of that singular fortitude which often gives more than masculine
vigour to female minds in seasons of danger. How long this might
have lasted I cannot say; but probably the strength of the men,
however stimulated, must have given way before night, especially
as the wind freshened, and the boat was driving further to sea. Had
it not been for the accident of the officer of the forenoon watch
on board the _Endymion_ being unaware of the captain's intention
to tack before dinner, these poor people, most probably, would all
The women, dripping wet, and scarcely capable of moving hand or
foot, were lifted up the side, in a state almost of stupor; for
they were confused by the hurry of the scene, and their fortitude
had given way the moment all high motive to exertion was over. One
of them, on reaching the quarterdeck, slipped through our hands,
and falling on her knees, wept violently as she returned thanks
for such a wonderful deliverance; but her thoughts were bewildered,
and, fancying that her child was lost, she struck her hands
together, and leaping again on her feet, screamed out, "Oh! where's
my bairn--my wee bairn?"
At this instant a huge quarter-master, whose real name or nickname
(I forget which) was Billy Magnus, appeared over the gangway
hammocks, holding the missing urchin in his immense paw, where it
squealed and twisted itself about, like Gulliver between the finger
and thumb of the Brobdingnag farmer. The mother had just strength
enough left to snatch her offspring from Billy, when she sank down
flat on the deck, completely exhausted.
By means of a fine blazing fire, and plenty of hot tea, toast,
and eggs, it was easy to remedy one class of these poor people's
wants; but how to rig them out in dry clothes was a puzzle, till
the captain bethought him of a resource which answered very well.
He sent to several of the officers for their dressing-gowns; and
these, together with supplies from his own wardrobe, made capital
gowns and petticoats--at least, till the more fitting drapery of
the ladies was dried. The children were tumbled into bed in the
same compartment, close to the fire; and it would have done any
one's heart good to have witnessed the style in which the provisions
vanished from the board, while the women wept, prayed, and laughed,
The rugged seamen, when taken out of the boat, showed none of these
symptoms of emotion, but running instinctively to the scuttle-butt,
asked eagerly for a drop of water. As the most expeditious method
of feeding and dressing them, they were distributed among the
different messes, one to each, as far as they went. Thus they were
all soon provided with dry clothing, and with as much to eat as
they could stow away; for the doctor, when consulted, said they
had not fasted so long as to make it dangerous to give them as much
food as they were disposed to swallow. With the exception of the
ham devoured in the boat, and which, after all, was but a mouthful
apiece, they had tasted nothing for more than thirty hours; so
that, I suppose, better justice was never done to his Majesty's
beef, pork, bread, and other good things, with which our fellows
insisted on stuffing the newcomers, till they fairly cried out for
mercy and begged to be allowed a little sleep.
Possibly some of us were more disposed to sympathise with the
distress of these people when adrift in their open boat on the wide
sea, from having ourselves, about a month before, been pretty much
in the same predicament. It always adds, as any one knows, greatly
to our consideration for the difficulties and dangers of others,
to have recently felt some touch of similar distress in our own
persons. This maxim, though it is familiar enough, makes so little
impression on our ordinary thoughts, that when circumstances occur
to fix our attention closely upon it we are apt to arrive as suddenly
at the perception of its truth as if it were a new discovery.
REBECCA THE DRUMMER
By Charles Barnard
It was about nine o'clock in the morning when the ship first appeared.
At once there was the greatest excitement in the village. It was
a British warship. What would she do? Would she tack about in the
bay to pick up stray coasters as prizes, or would she land soldiers
to burn the town? In either case there would be trouble enough.
Those were sad days, those old war-times in 1812. The sight of a
British warship in Boston Bay was not pleasant. We were poor then,
and had no monitors to go out and sink the enemy or drive him off.
Our navy was small, and, though we afterwards had the victory and
sent the troublesome ships away, never to return, at that time they
often came near enough, and the good people in the little village
of Scituate Harbor were in great distress over the strange ship
that had appeared at the mouth of the harbor.
It was a fishing-place in those days, and the harbor was full
of smacks and boats of all kinds. The soldiers could easily enter
the harbor and burn up, everything, and no one could prevent them.
There were men enough to make a good fight, but they were poorly
armed, and had nothing but fowling-pieces and shotguns, while the
soldiers had muskets and cannon.
The tide was down during the morning, so that there was no danger
for a few hours; and all the people went out on the cliffs and
beaches to watch the ship and to see what would happen next.
On the end of the low, sandy spit that makes one side of the harbor,
stood the little white tower known as Scituate Light. In the house
behind the light lived the keeper's family, consisting of himself,
wife, and several boys and girls. At the time the ship appeared,
the keeper was away, and there was no one at home save Mrs. Bates,
the eldest daughter, Rebecca, about fourteen years old, two of the
little boys, and a young girl named Sarah Winsor, who was visiting
Rebecca had been the first to discover the ship, while she was
up in the light-house tower polishing the reflector. She at once
descended the steep stairs and sent off the boys to the village to
give the alarm.
For an hour or two, the ship tacked and stood off to sea, then
tacked again, and made for the shore. Men, women and children
watched her with anxious interest. Then the tide turned and began
to flow into the harbor. The boats aground on the flats floated,
and those in deep water swung round at their moorings. Now the
soldiers would probably land. If the people meant to save anything
it was time to be stirring. Boats were hastily put out from the
wharf, and such clothing, nets and other valuables as could be
handled were brought ashore, loaded into hay carts, and carried
It was of no use to resist. The soldiers, of course, were well
armed, and if the people made a stand among the houses, that would
not prevent the enemy from destroying the shipping.
As the tide spread out over the sandy flats it filled the harbor
so that, instead of a small channel, it became a wide and beautiful
bay. The day was fine, and there was a gentle breeze rippling the
water and making it sparkle in the sun. What a splendid day for
fishing or sailing! Not much use to think of either while that
warship crossed and recrossed before the harbor mouth.
About two o'clock the tide reached high water mark, and, to the
dismay of the people, the ship let go her anchor, swung her yards
round, and lay quiet about half-a-mile from the first cliff. They
were going to land to burn the town. With their spy-glass the people
could see the boats lowered to take the soldiers ashore.
Ah! then there was confusion and uproar. Every horse in the village
was put into some kind of team, and the women and children were
hurried off to the woods behind the town. The men would stay and
offer as brave a resistance as possible. Their guns were light and
poor, but they could use the old fish-houses as a fort, and perhaps
make a brave fight of it.
If worse came to worse, they could at least retreat and take to
the shelter of the woods.
It was a splendid sight. Five large boats, manned by sailors, and
filled with soldiers in gay red coats. How their guns glittered
in the sun! The oars all moved together in regular order, and the
officers in their fine uniforms stood up to direct the expedition.
It was a courageous company come with a warship and cannon to fight
So Rebecca Bates and Sarah Winsor thought, as they sat up in the
light-house tower looking down on the procession of boats as it
went past the point and entered the harbor.
"Oh! If I only were a man!" cried Rebecca.
"What could you do? See what a lot of them; and look at their guns!"
"I don't care. I'd fight. I'd use father's old shotgun--anything.
Think of uncle's new boat and the sloop!"
"Yes; and all the boats."
"It's too bad; isn't it?"
"Yes; and to think we must sit here and see it all and not lift a
finger to help."
"Do you think there will be a fight?"
"I don't know. Uncle and father are in the village, and they will
do all they can."
"See how still it is in town. There's not a man to be seen."
"Oh, they are hiding till the soldiers get nearer. Then we'll hear
the shots and the drum."
"The drum! How can they? It's here. Father brought it home to mend
it last night."
"Did he? Oh! then let's--"
"See, the first boat has reached the sloop. Oh! oh! They are going
to burn her."
"Isn't it mean?"
"It's too bad!--too--"
"Where is that drum?"
"It's in the kitchen."
"I've got a great mind to go down and beat it."
"What good would that do?"
"They'd see it was only two girls, and they would laugh and go on
burning just the same."
"No. We could hide behind the sand hills and the bushes. Come,
"Oh, look! look! The sloop's afire!"
"Come, I can't stay and see it any more. The cowardly Britishers to
burn the boats! Why don't they go up to the town and fight like--"
"Come, let's get the drum. It'll do no harm; and perhaps--"
"Well, let's. There's the fife, too; we might take that with us."
"Yes; and we'll--"
No time for further talk. Down the steep stairs of the tower rushed
these two young patriots, bent on doing what they could for their
country. They burst into the kitchen like a whirlwind, with rosy
cheeks and flying hair. Mrs. Bates sat sorrowfully gazing out of
the window at the scene of destruction going on in the harbor, and
praying for her country and that the dreadful war might soon he
over. She could not help. Son and husband were shouldering their
poor old guns in the town, and there was nothing to do but to watch
and wait and pray.
Not so the two girls. They meant to do something, and, in a fever
of excitement, they got the drum and took the cracked fife from
the bureau drawer. Mrs. Bates, intent on the scene outside, did
not heed them, and they slipped out by the back door, unnoticed.
They must be careful, or the soldiers would see them. They went
round back of the house to the north and towards the outside beach,
and then turned and plowed through the deep sand just above high
water mark. They must keep out of sight of the boats, and of the
ship, also. Luckily, she was anchored to the south of the light; and
as the beach curved to the west, they soon left her out of sight.
Then they took to the water side, and, with the drum between them,
ran as fast as they could towards the mainland. Presently they
reached the low heaps of sand that showed where the spit joined
the fields and woods.
Panting and excited, they tightened up the drum and tried the fife
"You take the fife, Sarah, and I'll drum."
"All right; but we mustn't stand still. We must march along the
shore towards the light."
"Won't they see us?"
"No; we'll walk next the water on the outside beach."
"Oh, yes; and they'll think it's soldiers going down to the Point
to head 'em off."
"Just so. Come, begin! One, two,--one, two!"
Drum! drum!! drum!!!
Squeak! squeak!! squeak!!!
The fife stopped.
"Don't laugh. You'll spoil everything, and I can't pucker my lips."
Drum! drum!! drum!!!
Squeak! squeak!! squeak!!!
The men in the town heard it and were amazed beyond measure. Had
the soldiers arrived from Boston? What did it mean? Who were coming?
Louder and louder on the breeze came the roll of a sturdy drum
and the sound of a brave fife. The soldiers in the boats heard the
noise and paused in their work of destruction. The officers ordered
everybody into the boats in the greatest haste. The people were
rising! They were coming down the Point with cannons, to head them
off! They would all be captured, and perhaps hung by the dreadful
How the drum rolled! The fife changed its tune. It played "Yankee
Doodle,"--that horrid tune! Hark! The men were cheering in the
town! there were thousands of them in the woods along the shore!
In grim silence marched the two girls,--plodding over the sharp
stones, splashing through the puddles,--Rebecca beating the old drum
with might and main; Sarah blowing the fife with shrill determination.
How the Britishers scrambled into their boats! One of the brave
officers was nearly left behind on the burning sloop. Another fell
overboard and wet his good clothes, in his haste to escape from
the American army marching down the beach--a thousand strong! How
the sailors pulled! No fancy rowing now, but desperate haste to
get out of the place and escape to the ship.
How the people yelled and cheered on the shore! Fifty men or more
jumped into the boats to prepare for the chase. Ringing shots began
to crack over the water.
Louder and louder rolled the terrible drum. Sharp and clear rang
out the cruel fife.
Nearly exhausted, half dead with fatigue, the girls toiled
on,--tearful, laughing, ready to drop on the wet sand, and still
beating and blowing with fiery courage.
The boats swept swiftly out of the harbor on the outgoing tide.
The fishermen came up with the burning boats. Part stopped to put
out the fires, and the rest pursued the flying enemy with such
shots as they could get at them. In the midst of it all, the sun
The red-coats did not return a shot. They expected every minute
to see a thousand men open on them at short range from the beach,
and they reserved their powder.
Out of the harbor they went in confusion and dismay. The ship
weighed anchor and ran out her big guns, but did not fire a shot.
Darkness fell down on the scene as the boats reached the ship. Then
she sent a round shot towards the light. It fell short and threw
a great fountain of white water into the air.
The girls saw it, and dropping their drum and fife, sat down on
the beach and laughed till they cried.
That night the ship sailed away. The great American army of two
had arrived, and she thought it wise to retreat in time!
Rebecca lived until old and feeble in body, but ever brave in
spirit and strong in patriotism, she told this story herself to
the writer, and it is true.
By M. E. M. Davis
"Those reptiles of Americans, I say to you, Marcel,--mark my
words!--that they have it in their heads to betray Louisiana to
the Spaniard. They are tr-r-raitors!" Old Galmiche rolled the word
viciously on his French tongue.
"Yes," assented his young companion, absently. He quite agreed with
Galmiche--the Americans were traitors, oh, of the blackest black!
But the sky overhead was so blue, the wind blowing in from the Gulf
and lifting the dark curls on his bared forehead was so moist and
sweet, the scene under his eyes, although familiar, was so enchanting!
He rose, the better to see it all once again.
Grand Terre, the low-lying strip of an island upon which he stood,
was at that time--September, 1814--the stronghold of Jean Lafitte,
the famous freebooter, or, as he chose rather to call himself,
privateer, and his band of smugglers and buccaneers.
The island, which lies across the mouth of Barataria Bay, with a
narrow pass at each end opening, into the Gulf of Mexico, had been
well fortified. Lafitte's own bungalow-like house was protected
on the Gulf side by an enclosing wall surmounted by small cannon.
The rich furniture within the house--the pictures, books, Oriental
draperies, silver and gold plate and rare crystal--attested
equally--so declared his enemies--to the fastidious taste of the
Lord of Barataria and to his lawlessness.
The landlocked bay holds in its arms many small islands.
These served Lafitte as places of deposit for smuggled or pirated
goods. Water-craft of every description--more than one sloop or
lugger decorated with gay lengths of silk or woolen cloth--rode at
ease in the secure harbor. In a curve of the mainland a camp had
been established for the negroes imported in defiance of United
States law, from Africa, to be sold in Louisiana and elsewhere.
The buccaneers themselves were quartered on the main island.
Marcel Lefort, the slender, dark-eyed Creole _voyageur_, drew a deep
sigh of delight as he resumed his seat on the grassy sward beside
Galmiche. But he sprang again to his feet, for the tranquil morning
air was suddenly disturbed by the reverberating boom of a cannon!
Island, bay and mainland were instantly in commotion. Lafitte himself
appeared on the east end, of his veranda, spy-glass in hand.
The noted outlaw was a tall, sinewy, graceful man, then a little
past thirty, singularly handsome, with clear-cut features, dark
hair and fierce gray eyes which could, upon occasion, soften to
tenderness. The hands which lifted the spy-glass were white and
He lowered the glass.
"A British sloop of war in the offing," he remarked to his
lieutenant, Dominique You, standing beside him. "She has sent off
a pinnace with a flag of truce. I go to meet it. Order an answering
A moment later he had stepped into his four-oared barge and was
skimming lightly down the Great Pass toward the Gulf.
When he returned, two officers in the British uniform were seated
in the barge with him. The freebooters, a formidable array of
French, Italians, Portuguese and West Indians, with here and there
a sunburned American, stared with bold and threatening eyes at
the intruders as they passed through the whispering _ch�nai�_ (oak
grove) to the house, to unfold their mission to the "Great Chief,"
and to share his princely hospitality.
Shortly after nightfall of the same day, on one of the little inner
islands, Marcel Lefort stood leaning upon his long boat paddle,
awaiting orders; his pirogue was drawn up among the reeds hard by.
He lifted his head, but hardly had his keen eye caught the shadowy
outlines of a boat on the bay before its occupants had landed.
"The lad is too young," objected Dominique You, as the two men drew
"His father was a gunner in Kelerec's army at sixteen," returned
Lafitte. "You are sure of the route, Marcel?" he continued, touching
the _voyageur_ on the shoulder.
"Yes, my captain. As the bird is of his flight through the air.
This is not the first time," he added proudly, "that I have brought
secret despatches from New Orleans to Barataria."
"True. Now listen. You will set out at once with this." He handed
the lad a small packet wrapped in oil silk, which Marcel thrust
into his bosom. "You will make all speed to the city," he continued.
"There you will find Monsieur Pierre Lafitte, my brother--whether
he be in prison, at the smithy, or at the Cafe Turpin--"
"Yes, my captain."
"And give the packet into his own hand--"
"Yes, my captain."
"None but his, you understand. In case the packet should be lost or
stolen by the way, you will all the same seek monsieur, my brother,
and say to him that the British have this day offered to me, Jean
Lafitte, Lord of Barataria, the sum of thirty thousand dollars,
the rank of captain in the British navy, and a free pardon for my
men, if I will assist them in their invasion of Louisiana. I am
sure that monsieur, my brother, will not need to be told that Jean
Lafitte spurns this insulting proposition. But you will say to
him that the governor must be warned at once. The British officers
will be--detained--here until you are well on your way."
"Yes, my captain."
"You quite understand, Marcel? And you quite understand also that
if you risk your life, it is for Louisiana?"
"For Louisiana!" echoed Marcel, solemnly. He touched his cap in the
darkness, stepped warily into the pirogue, pushed off, and dropped
his paddle into the water.
The needle-like boat threaded its way in and out among the islands,
and leaped into the mouth of a sluggish gulfward-stealing bayou.
Here a few strokes of the paddle swept pirogue and paddler into
a strange and lonely world. The tall cypress-trees on each bank,
draped with funeral moss, cast impenetrable shadows on the water;
the deathlike silence was broken only by the occasional ominous
hoot of an owl or the wheezy snort of an alligator; the clammy air
breathed poison. But the stars overhead were bright, and Marcel's
heart throbbed exultant.
"For Louisiana!" he murmured. "He might have chosen Galmiche,
or Jose, or Nez Coupe; but it is I, Marcel Lefort, whom the Great
Chief has sent with the warning. For Louisiana! For Louisiana!" His
muscular arms thrilled to the finger-tips with the rhythmic sweep
of his paddle to the words.
Turn after turn of the sinuous, ever-narrowing bayou slipped behind
him as the night advanced. He kept a wary eye upon the black
masses of foliage to right and left, knowing that a runaway negro,
a mutineer from Barataria, or a murderous Choctaw might lurk there
in wait for the passing boatman; or an American spy,--he quickened
his strokes at the thought!--to wrest from him the precious despatch.
"Those vipers of Americans!" he breathed. "The Governor Claiborne,
since the Great Chief trusts him, must have become a Creole at
his heart. But the rest have the heart of a cockatrice. And these
British, as Galmiche says, are surely Americans in disguise."
The young Creole's ideas were not strange, his upbringing considered.
He had stood in 1803, a boy of eight, beside his father on the Place
d'Armes of New Orleans and watched the French flag descend slowly
from the tall staff, and the Stars and Stripes ascend proudly in
its place. He had seen the impotent tears and heard the impotent
groans of the French Creoles when the new American governor,
standing on the balcony of the _cabildo_, took possession, in the
name of the United States, of the French province of Louisiana.
Daily since then, almost hourly, he had heard his father and his
father's friends denounce the Americans as double-dyed traitors,
who had bought Louisiana from France that they might hand it over
to the still more detested Spaniards.
"Vipers of Americans!" he repeated, humming under his breath a
refrain much in vogue:
'Bille en nanquin,
Voleur du pain."
("American rogue, dressed in nankeen, bread-stealer.")
"It will soon be morning." He glanced up at the open sky, for
he was breasting the surface of a small lake. "Good!" The pirogue
slipped into another bayou at the upper end of the lagoon. The
shadows here seemed thicker than ever after the starlit lake.
"Ugh!" ejaculated Marcel. An unseen log had lurched against the
pirogue, upsetting it and throwing its occupant into the water. He
sank, but rose in a flash and reached out, swimming, after pirogue
But the log lurched forward again, snapping viciously, and before
he could draw back, a huge alligator had seized his left forearm
between his great jaws. The conical teeth sank deep in the flesh.
Marcel tugged under water at the knife in his belt. It seemed
an eternity before he could draw it. A swift vision of the Great
Chief's brooding eyes darted through his brain.
"For Louisiana!" The words burst involuntarily from his lips as
the keen blade buried itself under the knotty scales deep in the
monster's throat. The mighty jaws relaxed and dropped the limp
and bloody arm.
Half an hour later the messenger stepped again into his recovered
boat. A groan forced its way between his clenched teeth as he set
his paddle to the dark waters of the bayou, but its rhythmic sweep
did not slacken.
In the gray dawnlight of the second morning Lafitte's messenger came
up from the Mississippi River at New Orleans, and walked swiftly
across the Place d'Armes into Conde Street.
The nineteen-year-old lad looked twice his age; his lips were
parched, his eyes were bloodshot, a red spot glowed in each livid
cheek. One arm, wrapped in a bloody sleeve of his hunting-shirt,
hung limply at his side. He paid no heed to the wondering questions
of the few people he met, but sped like one in a dream to his goal.
In the great smithy of the Lafitte brothers, which served as a blind
for their smuggling operations, the forges were already aglow, the
army of black slaves at work, and Pierre Lafitte, who, although
outlawed like his brother, knew himself secure in this citadel, was
giving orders. At sight of Marcel he leaped forward. "Why, Marcel!"
he cried. "Why, my poor lad, what--"
But Marcel had thrust the packet into his hand, and dropped as one
dead at his feet.
"Those Americans, they are traitors, oh, of the blackest black!"
The familiar phrase in his father's well-known voice fell upon
Marcel's returning consciousness. He listened with closed eyes.
"And that General An-drrew Jack-_son_, look you, Coulon, he has
the liver of a Spaniard. He will betray Louisiana. That sees itself!"
"That sees itself," echoed old Coulon.
Marcel opened his eyes. "Who is General Andrew Jackson?" he
demanded, surprised at the stiffness of his own tongue. And those
hands, pale and inert, lying on the coverlet before him, could
they be his own? And why should he, Marcel, be in his bed in broad
daylight? Suddenly he remembered that yesterday he had fetched a
despatch to Monsieur Pierre from the Great Chief--
"Did M'sieu' Pierre--" he began, eagerly, trying to rise on his
"Thank God!" ejaculated old Lefort, commonly called "Piff-Paff,"
springing to the bedside. "The boy is himself once more. But not
so fast, my little Marcel, not so fast!"
Many weeks, it appeared, had passed since Marcel had been borne
in the strong arms of Pierre Lafitte to Lefort's cottage near the
smithy. Fever and delirium had set in before the worn figure was
laid on the couch.
"But now," tears were streaming down the weather-beaten face of
the old gunner, "now, by God's help, we shall get on our feet!"
"But _who_ is General Andrew Jackson?" persisted Marcel, querulously.
"General An-drrew Jack-_son_," replied Coulon, seeing that the
father's throat was choked with sobs, "General An-drrew Jack-_son_
is an American. He arrives from day to day at New Orleans. He
is in league with those British who are Americans in disguise. He
comes to betray Louisiana to the Spaniard."
"The monster!" said Marcel, drowsily.
His recovery thenceforth was rapid. Old Lefort's private forge was
in his own court-yard. Here, among the rustling bananas and the
flowering pomegranates, where he had played, a motherless infant,
the slim, emaciated lad sat or walked about in the November sunshine.
And while Marcel hung about, the smith, hammering out the delicate
Lefort wrought-iron work so prized in New Orleans to-day, anathematized
indiscriminately General Jackson, the Spaniards, the British and
Meanwhile strange sounds filtered into the courtyard from without--the
beat of drums, the shrill concord of fifes, the measured tread of
Marcel heard and wondered. He was not permitted to walk abroad,
but what he saw from his window under the roof quickened his blood.
"Is it that Governor Claiborne has heeded the Great Chief's warning?"
he asked of his father.
"The governor is an American," said Piff-Paff. "All Americans
are perfidious. But the traitor of traitors is General An-drrew
Jack-_son_. Be quiet, my son. Do you wish to die of fever?"
"When I do get out," Marcel was saying to himself one sunny day
early in December, "I will slay the traitor with my own hand."
A steady tread came echoing down the corridor, and the Great Chief
stepped into the court-yard.
"M'sieu' Jean!" cried Piff-Paff, running to meet him.
Lafitte pressed the old man's hands in his, and turned to Marcel.
"Aha, my little game-cock, there you are!" he said, catching the
boy in his arms. "My faith, but you paddled well for Louisiana that
time we know of! And the arm? Is it all there?" A winning tenderness
softened the fierce eyes. "But I am pressed for time, my friends,"
he continued, stepping back.
As he spoke he unbuckled his belt, to which hung a short sword with
jeweled cross-hilt. "Keep this lad, in memory of Lafitte--and the
alligator," he laughed, handing sword and belt to Marcel, who stood
open-mouthed, unable for sheer ecstasy to utter a word.
"And look you, Marcel," his tones became grave, "I charge you
henceforth to forget the road to Barataria. It leads to riches,
yes, but it is a crooked and dishonest road. I would I had never
myself set foot in such ways!" He paused a moment, his eyes bent
on the ground." Learn your father's honest trade. Live by it, an
honest man and a good citizen."
"Yes, my captain," stammered Marcel.
"Swear!" said Lafitte, imperiously.
"I swear!" breathed Marcel, his hand on the cross-hilt of the sword.
"By God's help!"
"Amen!" said Lafitte, reverently. He turned away.
"But where are you going, M'sieu' Jean?" cried Piff-Paff. "Do you
not know that a reward of five hundred dollars is offered for your
"I know." Lafitte shrugged his shoulders disdainfully. "I go to
offer my services to General Jackson."
_"Gen-e-ral Jackson!_" echoed Piff-Paff. His jaws dropped. He stood
like one suddenly turned to stone while the chief's retreating
footsteps rang down the alleyway. "General Jack-_son!_" he repeated,
mechanically. "But he shall not!"
With a roar of rage he leaped for the saber--his old saber which
hung by the forge. "Myself, I will slay the traitor Jack-_son_
before M'sieu' Jean dishonors himself! I, Blaise Lefort, will save
He dashed out. Marcel followed, buckling on his cross-hilted sword
as he ran.
"Nevertheless it is I who will destroy the traitor!" he muttered.
"I have already said it."
The narrow streets of the old town presented a unique spectacle.
The tall dormer-window houses with their latticed balconies looked
down upon hurrying crowds almost as motley as those of the carnival.
But the faces of these men and women were earnest, grimly determined.
And soldiers, soldiers everywhere! United States soldiers in trim
uniforms; Coffee's Tennesseeans in brown shirts and slouched hats;
Planche's gaily clad Creole infantry; D'Aquin's freemen of color;
Indians in blankets and leggings--all carrying guns, all stepping
briskly to drumbeat and fife-call.
Pennons, guidons and banners tossed about in the orderly confusion;
American and French flags waved together from balconies and windows.
"But, look!" exclaimed Marcel in pained astonishment, "our Creoles
are drilling with the Americans!"
"They are mad!" growled Piff-Paff. "This General Jack-_son_ has
poisoned their hearts."
In truth, the threatened attack on New Orleans by the British
had united Creoles and Americans. A few only of the former held
aloof--like old Lefort himself; these, honest in their convictions,
Marcel set his teeth, gripping his sword. At the entrance to General
Jackson's headquarters in Royal Street they were questioned by a
sentry, who looked from the swarthy old man to the pale lad, and
let them pass.
They hurried down the long, dim corridor, which opened upon a sunny
courtyard hung with blossoming rose vines. Huge water-jars were
ranged against the wall. A fountain played in the center, and
round the pool beneath, some soldiers in uniform were lounging and
gossiping. Marcel glanced curiously at these as he followed his
father up the winding stair. The arched hall above, with its Spanish
windows, opened into an anteroom.
Father and son paused instinctively here among the shadows. The
large room beyond the folding doors, which were thrown open, was
filled with the afternoon sunshine; a table strewn with maps and
papers was placed near one of the long windows. Beyond it, in
an armchair, was seated a man in an attitude of rigid attention.
Several staff-officers were gathered about him.
The Great Chief stood directly in front of the seated figure. He
had doubtless been speaking for some minutes. Now, holding out his
sword, he concluded:
"And I offer my services and those of my Baratarians in this hour
of my country's peril to General Jackson."
He spoke in English. Marcel, who was acquainted with the forbidden
tongue, glanced sidewise at his father. He saw that the old man
had also understood. Both father arid son, as if moved by the same
spring, made a step forward.
But both paused. General Jackson had risen from his seat. The
light fell full upon his face as he reached out without a word and
grasped Lafitte's hand.
At sight of the tall, martial figure, erect and commanding in the
simple uniform of the United States army, the compelling face,
with its crown of bristling silvered hair, the eyes that shone with
a curious, soft fire, the firm mouth and masterful chin, Marcel
Lefort's soul seemed drawn from his bosom as by an invisible hand.
A mist gathered before his eyes, his throat clicked, a mysterious
longing suddenly swept over him from head to foot.
Before he knew what he was about he had traversed the antechamber
and entered the larger room, his footfalls on the bare polished
floor disturbing the dramatic silence.
"My captain!" he cried, stopping short and lifting his eager, boyish
face to the Great Chief. "My general!" He turned with outstretched
sword to the greater chief beyond. He wished to say more, but the
throbbing of his heart was too loud in his ears.
Suddenly Marcel heard a footstep sound behind him. His father! He
had quite forgotten his father.
"He will slay me where I stand!" he groaned inwardly.
A hand whose touch thrilled him was slipped under his arm. He felt
himself drawn to his father's side.
"General An-drrew Jack-_son_,"--the old gunner jpoke with great
dignity and feeling although his English was queer,--"we haf come,
my son an' me, to hoffer ou' swo'de to dose United State'. Yes, my
general. If dose United State' will make us the honah to haccep'."
"By the Eternal," cried General Jackson, surprised into his favorite
oath, "with such a spirit in the air, I would storm all the powers
of the world!"
In less than a month the memorable Battle of New Orleans was
fought--January 8, 1815. The Baratarians, under command of Jean
Lafitte, rendered distinguished service in the short but bloody
and decisive engagement. The two batteries directed by Beluche and
Dominique You were especially commended in the general's official
reports. Piff-Paff and his son served side by side in Dominique
When the battle was over, Marcel stood with his fellow gunners
on the parapet of Rodriguez Canal and looked out across the
field--smoke-hung under the cloudless morning sky. The British
dead, in their scarlet uniforms, were lying row on row, one behind
the other, like grain cut down by the mower's scythe. The boy's
heart sickened. But a prolonged cheer came ringing along the parapet.
General Jackson was walking slowly down the line, stopping in front
of each command to salute the men and to praise their coolness and
courage. As he came up, the Baratarians broke into wild shouts.
The great commander shook hands with Lafitte and his brother, who
stood a little apart.
"Well done, Baratarians!" he said, stepping into the midst of the
powder-grimed crew. His swift glance fell upon a lad whose luminous
eyes were fixed upon him.
"Well done, my little creole!" he added, a rare smile flashing
across his worn face.
"My general," said Marcel, saluting proudly, "me, I am an American!"
HUMPHRY DAVY AND THE SAFETY-LAMP
By George C. Towle
Few boys have ever led a happier, busier, or more varied existence
than did Humphry Davy. He was the son of a poor wood-carver, who
lived in the pretty seaside town of Penzance, in England, where
Humphry was born in 1778. Lowly, however, as was his birth, in
his earliest years Humphry gave many proofs that nature had endowed
him with rare talents.
Some of the stories told of his childish brightness are hard to
believe. They relate, for instance, that before he was two years
old he could talk almost as plainly and clearly as a grown person;
that he could repeat many passages of "Pilgrim's Progress," from
having heard them, before he could read; and that at five years
old he could read very rapidly, and remembered almost everything
His father, the wood-carver, had died while Humphry was still very
young, and had left his family poor. But by good-fortune a kind
neighbor and friend, a Mr. Tonkine, took care of the widow and her
children, and obtained a place for Humphry as an apprentice with an
apothecary of the town. Humphry proved, indeed, a rather troublesome
inmate of the apothecary's house. He set up a chemical laboratory
in his little room upstairs, and there devoted himself to all sorts
of experiments. Every now and then an explosion would be heard,
which made the members of the apothecary's household quake with
Humphry began to dream ambitious dreams. Not for him, he thought,
was the drudgery of an apothecary store. He felt that he had in
himself the making of a famous man, and he resolved that he would
leave no science unexplored. He set to work with a will. His quick
mind soon grasped the sciences not only of mathematics and chemistry,
but of botany, anatomy, geology, and metaphysics. His means for
the experiments he desired to make were very limited, but he did
not allow any obstacle to prevent him from pursuing them.
He was especially fond of wandering along the seashore, and observing
and examining the many curious and mysterious objects which he found
on the crags and in the sand. One day his eye was struck with the
bladders of seaweed, which he found full of air. The question was,
how did the air get into them? This puzzled him, and he could find
no answer to it, because he had no instruments to experiment with.
But on another day, soon after, as he strolled on the beach, what
was his surprise and delight to find a case of surgical instruments,
which had been flung up from some wreck on the coast! Armed with this,
he hastened home, and managed to turn each one of the instruments
to some useful account. He constructed an air-pump out of a
surgeon's syringe, and made a great many experiments with it.
Fortunately for Humphry, he formed a friendship with a youth who
could not only sympathize with him, but was of a great deal of use
to him. This was Gregory Watt, a son of the great James Watt, the
inventor of the steam-engine. Gregory Watt had gone to Penzance
for his health, and had there fallen in with the ambitious son of
the wood-carver. This new friend was able to give Humphry many new
and valuable hints and encouraged him with hopeful words to go on
with his studies and experiments.
Already Humphry was getting to be known as a scientific genius
beyond the quiet neighborhood of Penzance. He had proposed a theory
on heat and light which had attracted the attention of learned
men; and at twenty-one he had discovered the peculiar properties
of nitrous oxide--what we now call "laughing-gas"--though he nearly
killed himself by inhaling too much of it. He had also made many
experiments in galvanism, and had found silicious earth in the skin
of reeds and grass.
So famous indeed had he already become, that at the age of
twenty-two--when most young men are only just leaving college--he
was chosen lecturer on science at the great Royal Institution in
London. There he amazed men by the eloquence and clearness with
which he revealed the mysteries of science. He was so bright and
attractive a young man, moreover, that the best London society
gladly welcomed him to its drawing-rooms, and praises of him were
in every mouth. His lecture-room was crowded whenever he spoke.
But he was not a bit spoiled by all this flattery and homage. He
worked all the harder; resolved to achieve yet greater triumphs
in science than he had yet done. An opportunity soon arose to turn
his knowledge and inventive powers to account in a very important
way. For a long time the English public had every now and then been
horrified by the terrible explosions which took place in the coal
mines. These explosions resulted often in an appalling loss of
human life. Their cause was the filling of the mine by a deadly
gas, called "fire-damp," which, when ignited by a lighted candle
or lamp, exploded with fearful violence. One day an explosion
of fire-damp occurred which killed over one hundred miners on the
This event called universal attention to the subject, and Humphry
Davy was besought to try and find some means of preventing, or
at least lessening, similar calamities. He promptly undertook the
task, and set about it with all his wonted energy. The problem
before him was how to provide light in the mines in such a way that
the miners might see to work by it, and at the same time be safe
from the danger of fire-damp explosion. Many attempts had been made
to achieve this, but they had all failed,
Davy began his experiments. He soon made several valuable discoveries.
One was that explosions of inflammable gases could not pass through
long narrow metallic tubes. Another was that when he held a piece
of wire gauze over a lighted candle, the flame would not pass through
it. As a result of his long and patient toil Davy was able at last
to construct his now famous _Safety-Lamp_, which has undoubtedly
saved the lives of thousands during the period which has elapsed
since it was invented. He presented a model of his new lamp to the
Royal Society, in whose rooms in London it is to be seen to this
It is a simple affair, being merely a lamp screwed on to a wire
gauze cylinder, and fitted to it by a tight ring. His idea was to
admit the fire-damp into the lamp gradually by narrow tubes, so
that it would be consumed by combustion. The Safety-Lamp was in
truth the greatest triumph of Humphry Davy's useful life.
"I value it," he said, "more than anything I ever did."
Honors of all kinds were showered upon him. Many medals were awarded
to him, and the grateful miners subscribed from their scant wages
enough to present him with a magnificent service of silver worth
$12,000. His discovery was hailed from every part of Europe. The
Czar Alexander of Russia sent him a beautiful vase, and he was
chosen a member of the historic Institute of France; while his own
government conferred upon him the coveted title of baronet.
Sir Humphry Davy, as he was now called, died in the prime of life
and in the fulness of honor and fame. Fond of travel, and continuing
to the last his scientific studies, he went to the continent, and
took up his abode at Geneva, on the borders of one of the loveliest
of Swiss lakes. There he had a laboratory, where he could work at
will, and could also indulge his passion for fishing and hunting.
But he was worn out before his time. He was attacked by palsy, and
passed away at Geneva in 1829, in the fifty-first year of his age.
There he was buried. A simple monument reveals where he lies in
the foreign churchyard; while a tablet in Westminster Abbey keeps
alive his memory in the hearts of his countrymen.
KIT CARSON'S DUEL
By Emerson Hough
"How much farther, Fran�ois?" asked the leader of a little mountain
cavalcade which wound its way down a broad river valley in the heart
of the Rocky Mountains. "See, it is now noon, and the encampment
is not yet in sight. Shall we not stop and rest?"
The speaker was a tall, thin man, whose face, browned by the sun
of the plains and mountains, none the less bore a refinement almost
approaching austerity. The man accosted was leaner and browner than
himself, and wore the full costume of the Western _engage_ of the
"M'sieu' Parker," he replied, "halways you hask how far to ze
hencampment. I do not know. In the mountain we do no hask how far.
We push on ze horse. Thass all."
"But the rendezvous--are you sure it is in this valley of the
"It is establish for ze month of August in ze valley of ze Green.
Those man of the mountain, he do not disappoint. This rendezvous
of ze year 1835, it may be ze last one for ze trappaire. But me,
Fran�ois Verrier, say to you that you shall see ze rendezvous,
also ze trappaire, and ze trader, and ze Injin--hundreds of heem.
My faith! Zay shall see for ze first time ze missionaire to ze
Injin! M'sieu' Parker, you are not ze good father? _Eh bien_, you
shall make some little _priere_ for those _sauvages_."
The thin face of Samuel Parker brightened. This land before his
view, majestic, beautiful, was as fabled and unknown as the continent
of lost Atlantis. It was a wild world, a new one. He, first to
answer that strange appeal from the wild Northwest,--that appeal
carried by the four Nez Perces Indians, who travelled in ignorance
and hope across half a continent to ask that the Book might be sent
out to them by the white man,--felt now exaltation swell within
What a meeting must be this, which he had pushed forward so eagerly
to discover! It was a gathering, as he had been well advised, not
in the name of religion or of politics, of art or science--hardly
even in the cause of commerce, although here the wild trappers and
hunters, absent from one year's end to the other in the mountains,
annually met, at some appointed spot in the Rockies, those bold
merchants who brought out to them stores of goods to trade for
furs. The trappers' rendezvous! He had heard of it a thousand tales
distorted and unreal. Truly there was work ahead. He caught up
the reins upon his horse's neck, forgot his weariness, and resumed
His followers, a score or more of horsemen and pack-train drivers,
among whom rode a short sturdy young man, the future martyr-missionary,
Marcus Whitman, moved on, browned, gaunt, dust-begrimed, yet
They had travelled for perhaps a mile or so down the valley when
the guide, riding abreast of his employer, suddenly pulled up his
horse and signed for his companion to pause.
"M'sieu'," said he, "you think I know little of zis land. Behol'!
We are harrive' zis hour."
He pointed. There, against the sky-line, on a projecting range of
the mountainside which sloped down to the edge of the valley, was
the figure of a mountain man, motionless, and evidently on guard.
"_En avant!_" cried Fran�ois, setting heels to his horse. "_V'la!_
It is ze guard of ze encampment. Ride quick, _mes camarades!_"
The train, packhorses and all, pushed forward at a gallop, which
soon broke into a wild run--the proper gait in trapper custom for
all who arrived at the mountain rendezvous.
As they rounded the spur of rocks which had made the watch-tower
of the sentinel, the full scene burst upon their eyes. There was
a wide, sweet space in the valley, made as if for the very purpose
of the great rendezvous. A flat of green cottonwoods adjoined the
river-bank. "Benches," or natural terraces, of sweet grass rose
along the hillside a half-mile away. Hundreds of horses, picketed
or hobbled, grazed here and there. Others, favorite steeds of their
masters, stood tied at the doors of lodges, in front of which rose
long, tufted spears, in the heraldry of that land insignia of their
owner's rank. Teepees, a hundred and twoscore, skin tents of the
savage tribes and homes also of the whites, were grouped irregularly
over a space of more than half a mile. At the doors of many of
these, silent Indians sat and smoked. In the wide interspaces of
the village were many men, some of them dressed in brown buckskins,
others clad more gaudily. These passed to and fro, some on foot,
others riding furiously. Animation was in all the air.
Shouts, cries, a tumult formed of many factors filled the air.
Babel of speech rose from Frenchmen, Spaniards, Canadians, English,
Scotch, Irish, and American backwoodsmen, and Indians of half a
dozen tribes. Horses, dogs, black-haired and blanketed women, and
children of divers colors moved about continually. The gathering
was heterogeneous, conglomerate, picturesque, savage.
Samuel Parker, missionary to the Oregon tribes, and now come hither
to the mountain market of 1835 as knight-errant of the Gospel,
pulled up his horse at the edge of the encampment and gazed in
sheer amazement. His party--except Whitman, who reined in his horse
at his friend's side--passed on and joined the shouting throng.
Apparently they conveyed certain news as they rode; for now out of
the circling ranks of wild horsemen there swept toward the strangers
a group of yelling riders.
Long ribbons and waving eagle feathers streamed from the manes and
tails of their ponies. Some riders, even of the white men, wore
the great war-bonnets of the northern tribes, the long crests of
feathers sweeping back upon the croups of the rough-coated steeds
they rode. Weapons were in the hands of all. Loud speech and many
oaths were on their lips. They might well have disturbed bolder
hearts than that of a peaceful missionary.
The leader of the approaching band was a man of gigantic stature,
more than six inches above the six-feet mark. He was dark of hair
and eye; a wide mustache swept back across his face, and his heavy,
untrimmed beard, matted and sunburned at the edges, gave him an
expression savage and forbidding.
Clad in the buckskin of a mountain trapper, none the less this
personage affected a certain finery. A brilliant sash encircled
his waist, his hat bore a wide plume. At his belt hung pistols,
and in his hand was a long rifle. He pulled up his horse squatting,
its nose high in air.
"How, friend!" he cried. "Or _be_ you friend, who come thus without
word to Bill Shunan's camp?"
"Sir," replied the missionary, "my name is Parker--Samuel Parker.
I am from far New England, and am bound upon my way to Oregon.
I have come aside from the Sublette Cutoff trail to be present at
this rendezvous. Yourself I do not know."
"What! Not know Bill Shunan, the bully of the Rockies, and the
owner of this camp? Hark ye, stranger, ye're treading on dangerous
ground. I've whipped half a dozen men to-day, and driven every
fighter of the rendezvous back into his lodge. _They_ know Bill
Shunan, and they show him respect, as you shall yourself."
Samuel Parker made no reply, and found no way to move forward,
even had he been sure that friends awaited him in the village. The
giant went on:
"Now, what's your business, man? Ye look like no trapper nor good
mountain man. As for more Yankee traders, we've enough of them now,
and more than enough. Look ye at their packs, laid out there, half
of them not opened! The traders are robbing us mountain men at
this market. Two skins they ask for a pint of sugar, if one would
please his squaw. As much goes for a knife; and three skins for
coffee as much as you could put in a pint cup. Powder they hold as
high as gold-dust, and a blanket is worth a pair of horses. It's
robbery, and I'll have no more of it. If Jim Bridger and Bill
Williams, and their half-black Beckwourth, and Gervais, and Fraeb,
and their other offscourings of old Ashley, will not rebel against
such doings, then, for one, Bill Shunan is not afraid. My people
were French back in old Canada. It is the French who found the
Rockies, and who ought to own them! These Americans--I whip them
with switches! And so I'll whip you if ye come here as a trader
and give us no better measure than these others! Now, I say, who
The dark eye of the missionary lighted again with its hidden fire.
"I am a missionary," said he, "a man of the church, a minister
of the Gospel, as I would have said to you. I have come to this
encampment to hold divine services among you. Red men or white, we
are brethren, and we are sinners in common." The close-shut mouth,
the dull flush visible beneath the tan, the flash of the eye, all
bespoke him a man not devoid of courage. Yet his speech brought
only rage to the other.
"Minister!" he cried. "By all the saints, no unfrocked priest
shall speak words in this camp of mine! Not even a good father of
the French has been present at a rendezvous of the bully boys of
the mountains; and who are you, to come intruding at the frolic
of the trappers? I'll have no sniveling Protestant here. So get ye
gone at once!"
"Sir," said the minister, "I have ridden far, and I am not of a
mind to go back." He crowded his horse forward, the more so as he
saw approaching another band of men from the encampment. He could
only hope that they might be of a class not quite the same as this
desperado. A moment later these riders joined the group of parleyers.
"How now, what is this?" cried out the tall man who led these
newcomers. "Who's the stranger? Does he carry news from the States?"
"Back with ye, Bill Williams!" cried Shunan. "'Tis but a sniveling
preacher from the East, and I have told him he shall bring no psalms
The freshly arrived horsemen made small reply to Shunan's speech,
but bent a curious gaze upon the stranger. The latter saw at a
glance that these were no allies of the bully. Therefore he glanced
toward them as if in appeal.
Without a word a half-score of them urged their horses round him,
and separated him from Shunan's party.
"What!" cried Shunan. "You dispute me? I tell ye he will never
see the sun again if he pushes himself into this camp. What do ye
mean, you puny Yankees? Do ye want me to put ye on your death-beds,
as I have a couple of ye before to-day? Back with ye! For I say
this man shall not come into camp!"
"Shunan," broke in a quiet voice, "who gives you right to issue
The speaker was a young man, still in his twenties; and so far from
equaling in stature the giant whom he addressed, he was slight and
small, not over five feet six inches in height, although of good
shoulders and great depth of chest.
He sat a dark-brown horse, fully caparisoned in the Spanish fashion.
His garb was of buckskin, but plain and devoid of ornamentation.
A wide hat swept over his well-tanned face, and from beneath its
brim there shone the steely glance of gray-blue eyes.
Shunan, dumfounded, whirled his horse toward the speaker.
"Shunan," repeated this man, in turn urging his own horse forward,
"you've made trouble enough in the encampment. You shall no longer
act the bully here. The stranger comes in peace, and he shall be
heard here if he likes. What!" and the blue eyes flashed. "Would
you issue orders at a meeting of the free men of the mountains--the
very place in all the world where every man who comes in friendship
is made welcome? This is our country. This is our encampment. The
law of what is right shall govern here; and I take it upon myself
to say this to you!"
Silence fell upon all who heard these words. The last speaker
raised his hand as Parker would have spoken. The friends of the
young man now pressed closer about him. He did not give back, but
urged his mount still forward, until it breasted the cream-colored
horse which Shunan rode. The bully, half-sobered from his potations
by this stern situation, did not himself give back.
"Who are you?" he cried. "By what right do ye question Bill Shunan?
Would ye be the next to be whipped with switches? There is but one
end to this, boy! Are ye ready for it?"
"Have I ever been found unready?" asked the young man, quietly.
"I say again, this land is free. The stranger shall have meat and
robes at my lodge, and if he will speak, he shall have his say."
In a rage Shunan spurred forward, his hand uplifted; yet the brown
horse and its rider receded not an inch. The issue was joined.
There must now be combat!
"Not here!" cried old Bill Williams, suddenly. "Wait! Back to the
camp with ye all, and there let it be decided proper!"
This speech met with sudden approval upon both sides. An instant
later the missionary's horse was swept forward in a rush which
carried both parties, intermingled, deep into the center of the
Well toward the middle of the encampment there was a large and
irregular space left unoccupied, a sort of plaza, devoted to common
use, and employed as meeting-ground in the trading operations of
the market, or the jollifications, which occupied far more of the
time. As the riders came into this open space Shunan and his party
drew off to the right. His antagonist sought out his lodge upon
the opposite side. He was followed here by several of his warmer
friends, Williams, Bridger, Fraeb, other men of the mountains at
one time known throughout the length and breadth of the West.
"Sir," said the young man, turning toward Samuel Parker, "get you
down, and come within my house. Perhaps by this time you are used
to such. We bid you welcome. I shall return to you soon, after I
have settled this matter which has come up between me and yonder
"I beseech you!" cried the missionary, reaching out an imploring
hand. "What is it you would do? Surely you do not mean--you would
not engage in combat with this man--you do not mean bloodshed?
This--on my account--no, no! Let me go."
The quiet man whom he thus accosted made no answer at first, but
pushed back the hat from his brow and gazed upon the newcomer with
a kindly eye.
"There is but one way," said he. "Bill, see to it that our friend
has good treatment here." The man addressed took Parker by the arm
and thrust him gently within the lodge.
The young man now summoned another friend. "Gervais," he said, "go
to yonder bully, and say to him that unless his threats and boasts
cease, I shall be forced to kill him. Our bullets should be for
our enemies, but Shunan has made trouble enough; and he must go to
his lodge or meet me, man to man."
"Are ye ready for him, boy?" asked Gervais. "How is the shoulder
where you caught the Blackfoot bullet last fall? Can you handle
"I'll not trust the shoulder," was the reply, "and will not risk
the rifle." He drew a pistol from his belt and looked at the priming
of the pan. "One shot," said he; "and it must do."
"But he'll use his rifle."
"Very well. Go to him and say that I shall come mounted, like
himself, and he may be armed as he likes. No man is my superior
on horse or with any weapon. Moreover, you shall see that I do not
seek so much to kill him as to end his boasting, and to restore
the law in this camp."
Gervais sprang upon his horse and was off, calling out to others,
who drew near, the instructions which he had received. He approached
Shunan, who was now urging his horse round and round the open space
of the village, shouting defiance and uttering foul reproaches for
his antagonist, whom he announced himself eager to meet. Gervais
delivered his message.
The bully continued to crowd his horse back and forth, pulling it
up so sharply that it was thrown upon its haunches now and again
in mid-career. He waved his long rifle over his head, and issued
a general challenge to all within reach of his voice.
At this moment there rode out from the farther side of the circle
the champion of law and order. The horse which he bestrode came on
strongly and lightly, its head up. The rider had stripped off all
his accouterments, and rode a buckskin pad-saddle, Indian fashion.
About his waist was a belt, which bore no weapons. His long rifle,
at which weapon he had no master, did not rest upon the saddle
front. His hat was gone, and a handkerchief bound back his long
light hair. He rode forward lightly, easily, in confidence.
Shunan, yelling, wildly, charged at once upon him.
The young man sat erect; but when Shunan was still a score of yards
away, the brown horse leaped aside, its rider lying along its neck
as an Indian might have done, and swept round and to the rear of
The bully, fumbling with his piece, endeavored to follow. Then he
saw the pistol barrel pointing under the neck of the brown horse,
and cold terror smote his soul.
The two swept past again at full gallop, Shunan still not quite master
of his horse and weapon at the same time, for the long-barreled,
muzzle-loading rifle was difficult to manage from the back of a
plunging horse. They wheeled and passed yet again; but this time,
as they turned, they headed directly toward each other at a steady
The spectators knew that in an instant the issue would be decided.
Shunan jerked up his horse and threw his rifle sharply to his
face. His antagonist made no attempt to swerve, but instead spurred
forward sharply. The brown horse sprang breast to breast with the
cream-colored mustang. The two men were within arm's length. At
this minute there rang out two reports, almost at the same instant.
The horses sprang apart.
The slighter man was still sitting erect. He swept his hand hastily
across his temple, where he felt a stinging burn. Shunan, dazed,
sat his horse for an instant, but his rifle dropped to the ground;
and as his horse sprang forward, he himself fell, and so lay, one
arm hanging limp and the other raised in the sign of surrender.
The duel was over. The late friends of Shunan joined the riders
who now crowded into the open space from the opposite sides of the
"Did he touch ye, boy?" cried old Bill Williams.
"No, though he meant it well enough. See, there's a twist of hair
gone from the side of my head."
"He got your bullet through the hand and wrist," said Williams, as
they turned away. "His right arm's done for, for a while. You were
a bit the first with your fire, my son,"
"I know it, and I knew I had need to be. I fired at his hand, and
knew I must be a shade the first. I knew if I held true, his aim
would be thrown out."
As he spoke, he dismounted at the door of his own lodge. There
Samuel Parker met him, and cried, "Is it over? Is any one hurt?
Has there been murder done?"
"There, there, friend," said old Bill Williams, gently, "you bring
here still your Yankee way of speech. Besides, 'tis no murder unless
some one is killed, and yonder bully Shunan will only have a sore
hand for a month or so. 'Twas a lesson that was well needed for
him. See now, the camp is quiet already. Men and women may venture
out-of-doors in peace and comfort. 'Tis but the law of the mountains
you have seen, man."
"And as for the law of the Gospel," interrupted Gervais, "they
shall have that this night round the fire, if you wish to speak."
The minister gazed from one to the other with emotions new to him.
"And you, sir," he said, extending his hand to the young man who
had thus stoutly championed him, "who are you? Whom shall I thank
for this strange act--for this strange justice of the mountains,
as you call it?"
The bronzed men who stood or sat their horses near at hand gazed
from one to another, smiling, At last old Bill Williams broke out
into a laugh.
"Man," cried he, "'tis easily seen you're fresh from the States!
What, not know the best man in all the Rockies? There is but one
could have done this deed so well. We have few courts here, but
whenever we've needed a sheriff of our own we've had one, and here
he is. So you did not know Kit Carson!"
THE STORY OF GRACE DARLING
On the evening of Wednesday, September 5, the steamship Forfarshire
left Hull for Dundee, carrying a cargo of iron, and having some
forty passengers on board. The ship was only eight years old;
the master, John Humble, was an experienced seaman; and the crew,
including firemen and engineers, was complete. But even before the
vessel left the dock one passenger at least had felt uneasily that
something was wrong--that there was an unusual commotion among
officials and sailors. Still, no alarm was given, and at dusk the
vessel steamed prosperously down the Humber River.
The next day (Thursday, the 6th) the weather changed, the wind
blowing N.N.W., and increasing toward midnight to a perfect gale.
On the morning of Friday, the 7th, a sloop from Montrose, making
for South Shields, saw a small boat labouring hard in the trough
of the sea. The Montrose vessel bore down on it, and in spite of
the state of the weather managed to get the boat's crew on board.
They were nine men in all, the sole survivors, as they believed
themselves to be, of the crew and passengers of the _Forfarshire,_
which was then lying a total wreck on Longstone, one of the outermost
of the Farne Islands.
It was a wretched story they had to tell of lives thrown away
through carelessness and negligence, unredeemed, as far as their
story went, by any heroism or unselfish courage.
While still in the Humber, and not twenty miles from Hull, it was
found that one of the boilers leaked, but the captain refused to
put about. The pumps were set to work to fill the boiler, and the
vessel kept on her way, though slowly, not passing between the
Farne Islands and the mainland till Thursday evening. It was eight
o'clock when they entered Berwick Bay; the wind freshened and was
soon blowing hard from N.N.W. The motion of the vessel increased
the leakage, and it was now found that there were holes in all the
three boilers. Two men were set to work the pumps, one or two of
the passengers also assisting, but as fast as the water was pumped
into the boilers it poured out again. The bilge was so full of
steam and boiling water that the firemen could not get to the fires.
Still the steamer struggled on, laboring heavily, for the sea was
running very high. At midnight they were off St. Abbs Head, when
the engineers reported that the case was hopeless; the engines had
entirely ceased to work. The ship rolled helplessly in the waves,
and the rocky coast was at no great distance. They ran up the sails
fore and aft to try and keep her off the rocks, and put her round
so that she might run before the wind, and as the tide was setting
southward she drifted fast with wind and tide. Torrents of rain
were falling, and in spite of the wind there was a thick fog. Some
of the passengers were below, others were on deck with crew and
captain, knowing well their danger.
About three the noise of breakers was distinctly heard a little
way ahead, and at the same time a light was seen away to the left,
glimmering faintly through the darkness. It came home to the anxious
crew with sickening certainty that they were being driven on the
Farne Islands. These islands form a group of desolate rocks lying
off the Northumbrian coast. They are twenty in number, some only
uncovered at low tide, and all offering a rugged iron wall to any
ill-fated boat that may be driven upon them.
Even in calm weather and by daylight seamen are glad to give them
a wide berth.
The master of the _Forfarshire_ in this desperate strait attempted
to make for the channel which runs between the Islands and the
mainland. It was at best a forlorn chance; it was hopeless here;
the vessel refused to answer her helm! On she drove in the darkness,
nearer and nearer came the sound of the breakers; the passengers and
crew on board the boat became frantic. Women wailed and shrieked;
the captain's wife clung to him, weeping; the crew lost all instinct
of discipline, and thought of nothing but saving their skins.
Between three and four the shock came--a hideous grinding noise,
a strain and shiver of the whole ship, and she struck violently
against a great rock. In the awful moment which followed, five of
the crew succeeded in lowering the larboard quarter-boat and pushed
off in her. The mate swung himself over the side, and also reached
her; and a passenger rushing at this moment up from the cabin and
seeing the boat already three yards from the ship, cleared the
space with a bound and landed safely in her, though nearly upsetting
her by his weight. She righted, and the crew pulled off with the
desperate energy of men rowing for their lives. The sight of agonized
faces, the shrieks of the drowning, were lost in the darkness and
in the howling winds, and the boat with the seven men on board was
swept along by the rapidly-flowing tide.
Such was the story the exhausted boat's crew told next morning to
their rescuers on board the Montrose sloop. And the rest of the
ship's company--what of them? Had they all gone down by the island
crag with never a hand stretched out to help them?
Hardly had the boat escaped from the stranded vessel when a great
wave struck her on the quarter, lifted her up bodily, and dashed
her back on the rock. She struck midships on the sharp edge and
broke at once into two pieces. The after part was washed clean
away with about twenty passengers clinging to it, the captain and
his wife being among them. A group of people, about nine in number,
were huddled together near the bow; they, with the whole forepart
of the ship, were lifted right on to the rock. In the fore cabin
was a poor woman, Mrs. Dawson, with a child on each arm. When the
vessel was stranded on the rock the waves rushed into the exposed
cabin, but she managed to keep her position, cowering in a corner.
First one and then the other child died from cold and exhaustion,
and falling from the fainting mother were swept from her sight by
the waves, but the poor soul herself survived all the horrors of
It was now four o'clock; the storm was raging with unabated violence,
and it was still two hours to daybreak. About a mile from Longstone,
the island on which the vessel struck, lies Brownsman, the outermost
of the Farne Islands, on which stands the lighthouse. At this
time the keeper of the lighthouse was a man of the name of William
Darling. He was an elderly, almost an old man, and the only other
inmates of the lighthouse were his wife and daughter Grace, a girl
of twenty-two. On this Friday night she was awake, and through the
raging of the storm heard shrieks more persistent and despairing
than those of the wildest sea-birds. In great trouble she rose
and awakened her father. The cries continued, but in the darkness
they could do nothing. Even after day broke it was difficult to
make out distant objects, for a mist was still hanging over the sea.
At length, with a glass they could discern the wreck on Longstone,
and figures moving about on it. Between the two islands lay a mile
of yeasty sea, and the tide was running hard between them. The
only boat on the lighthouse was a clumsily built jolly-boat, heavy
enough to tax the strength of two strong men in ordinary weather,
and here there was but an old man and a young girl to face a
raging sea and a tide running dead against them. Darling hesitated
to undertake anything so dangerous, but his daughter would hear
of no delay. On the other side of that rough mile of sea men were
perishing, and she could not stay where she was and see them die.
So off they set in the heavy coble, the old man with one oar,
the girl with the other, rowing with straining breath and beating
hearts. Any moment they might be whelmed in the sea or dashed against
the rocks. Even if they got the crew off, it would be doubtful if
they could row them to the lighthouse; the tide was about to turn,
and would be against them on their homeward journey; death seemed
to face them on every side.
When close to the rock there was imminent danger of their being
dashed to pieces against it. Steadying the boat an instant,
Darling managed to jump on to the rock, while Grace rapidly rowed
out a little and kept the boat from going on the rocks by rowing
continually. It is difficult to imagine how the nine shipwrecked
people, exhausted and wearied as they were, were got into the boat
in such a sea, especially as the poor woman, Mrs. Dawson, was in
an almost fainting condition; but finally they were all gotten on
board. Fortunately, one or two of the rescued crew were able to
assist in the heavy task of rowing the boat back to Brownsman.
The storm continued to rage for several days after, and the whole
party had to remain in the lighthouse. Moreover, a boatload which
had come to their rescue from North Shields was also storm-stayed.
It is told of this admirable girl that she was the tenderest and
gentlest of nurses and hostesses, as she was certainly one of the
most singularly courageous of women.
She could never be brought to look upon her exploit as in any way
remarkable, and when by-and-by honors and distinctions were showered
upon her, and people came from long distances to see her, she kept
through it all the dignity of perfect simplicity and modesty.
Close to Bamborough, on a windy hill, lie a little gray church and
a quiet churchyard. At all seasons high winds from the North Sea
blow over the graves and fret and eat away the soft gray sandstone
of which the plain headstones are made. So great is the wear and
tear of these winds that comparatively recent monuments look like
those which have stood for centuries. On one of these stones lies
a recumbent figure, with what looks not unlike a lance clasped in
the hand and laid across the breast. Involuntarily one thinks of the
stone crusaders, who lie in their armor, clasping their half-drawn
swords, awaiting the Resurrection morning. It is the monument of
Grace Darling, who here lies at rest with her oar still clasped in
her strong right hand.
THE STRUGGLES OF CHARLES GOODYEAR
By George C. Towle
Never did any man work harder, suffer more keenly, or remain more
steadfast to one great purpose of life, than did Charles Goodyear.
The story of his life--for the most part mournful--teems with
touching interest. No inventor ever struggled against greater or
more often returning obstacles, or against repeated failures more
overwhelming. Goodyear is often compared, as a martyr and hero of
invention, to Bernard Palissy the potter. He is sometimes called
"the Palissy of the nineteenth century." But his sufferings were
more various, more bitter, and more long enduring than ever were
even those of Palissy; while the result of his long, unceasing
labors was infinitely more precious to the world. For if Palissy
restored the art of enamelling so as to produce beautiful works of
art, Goodyear perfected a substance which gives comfort and secures
health to millions of human beings.
Charles Goodyear was born at New Haven, Connecticut, in 1801. He
was the eldest of the six children of a leading hardware merchant
of that place, a man both of piety and of inventive talent. When
Charles was a boy, his father began the manufacture of hardware
articles, and at the same time carried on a farm. He often required
his son's assistance, so that Charles's schooling was limited. He
was very fond of books, however, from an early age, and instead of
playing with his mates, devoted most of his leisure time to reading.
It was even while he was a schoolboy that his attention was first
turned to the material, the improvement of which for common uses
became afterwards his life-work. "He happened to take up a thin
scale of India-rubber," says his biographer, "peeled from a bottle,
and it was suggested to his mind that it would be a very useful
fabric if it could be made uniformly so thin, and could be so prepared
as to prevent its melting and sticking together in a solid mass."
Often afterward he had a vivid presentiment that he was destined
by Providence to achieve these results.
The years of his youth and early manhood were spent in the hardware
trade in Philadelphia and then in Connecticut; and at twenty-four
he was married to a heroic young wife, who shared his trials, and
was ever to him a comforting and encouraging spirit. From boyhood
he was always devout and pure in habits. On one occasion, soon after
his marriage, he wrote to his wife while absent from her: "I have
quit smoking, chewing, and drinking all in one day. You cannot form
an idea of the extent of this last evil in this city [New York]
among the young men."
Charles Goodyear's misfortunes began early in his career. He failed
in business, his health broke down, and through life thereafter
he suffered from almost continual attacks of dyspepsia. He was,
moreover, a small, frail man, with a weak constitution. He was
imprisoned for debt after his failure; nor was this the only time
that he found himself within the walls of a jail. That was almost
a frequent experience with him in after life.
It was under discouragements like these that Goodyear began his
long series of experiments in India-rubber. Already this peculiar
substance--a gum that exudes from a certain kind of very tall tree,
which is chiefly found in South America--had been manufactured into
various articles, but it had not been made enduring, and the uses
to which it could be put were very limited.
There is no space here to follow Goodyear's experiments in detail.
He entered upon them with the ardor of a fanatic and the faith of
a devotee. But he very soon found that the difficulties in his way
were great and many. He was bankrupt, in bad health, with a growing
family dependent on him, and no means of support. Yet he persevered,
through years of wretchedness, to the very end. It is a striking
fact that his very first experiment was made in a prison cell.
During the long period occupied by his repeated trials of invention he
passed through almost every calamity to which human flesh is heir.
Again and again he was thrown into prison. Repeatedly he saw
starvation staring him and his gentle wife and his poor little
children in the face. He was reduced many times to the very last
extreme of penury. His friends sneered at him, deserted him, called
him mad. He was forced many times to beg the loan of a few dollars,
with no prospect of repayment. One of his children died in the
dead of winter, when there was no fuel in the cheerless house. A
gentleman was once asked what sort of a looking man Goodyear was.
"If you meet a man," was the reply, "who wears an India-rubber
coat, cap, stock, vest, and shoes, with an India-rubber money purse
without a cent in it, that is Charles Goodyear."
Once, while in the extremity of want, when he was living at Greenwich,
near New York, he met his brother-in-law, and said, "Give me ten
dollars, brother; I have pawned my last silver spoon to pay my fare
to the city."
"You must not go on so; you cannot live in this way," said the
"I am going to do better," replied Goodyear cheerily.
It was by accident at last that he hit upon the secret of how to make
India-rubber durable. He was talking one day to several visitors,
and in his ardor making rapid gestures, when a piece of rubber which
he was holding in his hand accidentally hit against a hot stove.
To his amazement, instead of melting, the gum remained stiff
and charred, like leather. He again applied great heat to a piece
of rubber, and then nailed it outside the door, where it was very
cold. The next morning he found that it was perfectly flexible;
and this was the discovery which led to that successful invention
which he had struggled through so many years to perfect. The
main value of the discovery lay in this, that while the gum would
dissolve in a moderate heat, it both remained hard and continued
to be flexible when submitted to an extreme heat. This came to be
known as the "vulcanization" of India-rubber.
Two years were still to elapse, however, before Goodyear could
make practical use of his great discovery. He had tired everybody
out by his previous frequent assertions that his invention had been
perfected, when it had until now always proved a failure. Many a
time he had gone to his friends, declaring that he had succeeded,
so that when he really had made the discovery nobody believed in
He was still desperately poor and in wretched health. Yet he moved
to Woburn, in Massachusetts, resolutely continuing his experiments
there. He had no money, and so baked his India-rubber in his wife's
oven and saucepans, or hung it before the nose of her tea-kettle.
Sometimes he begged the use of the factory ovens in the neighborhood
after the day's work was over, and sold his children's very
school-books in order to supply himself with the necessary gum. At
this time he lived almost exclusively on money gifts from pitying
friends, who shook their heads in their doubts of his sanity. Often
his house had neither food nor fuel in it; his family were forced
to go out into the woods to get wood to burn. "They dug their potatoes
before they were half-grown, for the sake of having something to
Goodyear was terribly afraid that he should die before he could make
the world perceive the great uses to which his discovery might be
applied. What he was toiling for was neither fame nor fortune, but
only to confer a vast benefit on his fellow-men.
At last, after infinite struggles, the absorbing purpose of his
life was attained. India-rubber was introduced under his patents,
and soon proved to have all the value he had, in his wildest moments,
claimed for it. Success thus crowned his noble efforts, which had
continued unceasingly through ten years of self-imposed privation.
India-rubber was now seen to be capable of being adapted to at least
five hundred uses. It could be made "as pliable as kid, tougher
than ox-hide, as elastic as whalebone, or as rigid as flint." But,
as too often happens, his great discovery enriched neither Goodyear
nor his family. It soon gave employment to sixty thousand artisans,
and annually produced articles in this country alone worth eight
millions of dollars.
Happily the later years of the noble, self-denying inventor were
spent at least free from the grinding penury and privations of his
years of uncertainty and toil. He died in his sixtieth year (1860),
happy in the thought of the magnificent boon he had given to mankind.
OLD JOHNNY APPLESEED
By Elizabeth Harrison
Many years ago on the sparsely settled prairies of America
there lived an old man who was known by the queer name of "Johnny
Appleseed" His wife had died long ago and his children had grown
up and scattered to the corners of the earth. He had not even a
home that he could call his own, but wandered about from place to
place, with only a few friends and little or no money. His face was
wrinkled, his hair was thin and grey, and his shoulders stooped.
His clothes were old and ragged and his hat was old and shabby.
Yet inside of him was a heart that was brave and true, and he felt
that even he, old and poor as he was, could be of use in the world,
because he loved his fellow-men, and love always finds something
As he trudged along the lonely road from town to town, or made for
himself a path through the unbroken forest, he often thought of
the good God, and of how all men were children of the One Father.
Sometimes he would burst out singing the words of a song which he
had learned when he was a young man.
"Millions loving, I embrace you,
All the world this kiss I send!
Brothers, o'er yon starry tent
Dwells a God whose love is true!"
These words, by the way, are a part of a great poem you may some
day read. And they once so stirred the heart of a great musician
that he set them to the finest music the world has ever heard.
And now the great thought of a loving God and the great music of
a loving man comforted the lonely traveller.
The old man wandered about from village to village, which in those
days were scattered far apart, with miles and miles of prairie land
stretching between them, and sometimes woodland and rivers, too,
separated one village from the next. At night he usually earned his
crust of bread and lodgings by mending the teakettle or wash-boiler
of some farmer's wife, or by soldering on the handle of her tin
cup or the knob to her tea-pot, as he always carried in one of his
coat pockets a small charcoal stove and a bit of solder. He always
carried under his arm or over his shoulder a green baize bag, and
when the mending was done he would oftentimes draw out of this
green bag an old violin and begin to play, and the farmer, as well
as his wife and the children, would gather around him and listen
to his strange music.
Sometimes it was gay and sometimes it was sad, but always sweet.
Sometimes he sang words that he himself had written, and sometimes
the songs which had been written by the great masters. But mending
broken tinware and playing an old violin were not the only things
he did to help the world along. As he wandered from place to place
he often noticed how rich the soil was, and he would say to himself,
"Some day this will be a great country with thousands of people
living on this land, and though I shall never see them, they may
never read my verses or hear my name, still I can help them, and
add some things to their lives."
So whenever a farmer's wife gave him an apple to eat he carefully
saved every seed that lay hidden in the heart of the apple, and
next day as he trudged along he would stoop down every now and then
and plant a few of the seeds and then carefully cover them with the
rich black soil of the prairie. Then he would look up reverently
to the sky and say, "I can but plant the seed, dear Lord, and Thy
clouds may water them, but Thou alone can give the increase. Thou
only can cause this tiny seed to grow into a tree whose fruit
shall feed my fellow-men." Then the God-like love that would fill
his heart at such a thought would cause his face to look young
again, and his eyes to shine as an angel's eyes must shine, and
oftentimes he would sing in clear rich tones--
"Millions loving, I embrace you,
All the world this kiss I send!
Brothers, o'er yon starry tent
Dwells a God whose love is true!"
And he knew that God dwelt in his heart as well as in the blue sky
When the cold winters came and the ground was frozen too hard for
him to plant his apple seeds, he still saved them, and would often
have a small bag full of them by the time that spring returned
again. And this is how he came to be called "Old Johnny Appleseed."
Though nobody took very much notice of what he was doing, he still
continued each day to plant apple seeds and each evening to play
on his violin.
By-and-by his step grew slower and his shoulders drooped lower
until at last his soul, which had always been strong and beautiful,
passed out of his worn old body into the life beyond, and the
cast-off body was buried by some villagers who felt kindly towards
the old man, but who never dreamed that he had ever done any real
service for them or their children. And soon his very name was
forgotten. But the tiny apple seeds took root and began to grow,
and each summer the young saplings grew taller and each winter they
grew stronger, until at last they were young trees, and then they
were old enough to bear apples. As people moved from the east out
to the wild western prairies they naturally enough selected sites
for building their homes near the fruitful apple trees, and in
the springtime the young men gathered the blossoms for the young
maidens to wear in their hair, and in the autumn the fathers gathered
the ripe red and yellow apples to store away in their cellars for
winter use, and the mothers made apple sauce and apple pies and
apple dumplings of them, and all the year round the little children
played under the shade of the apple trees, but none of them ever
once thought of the old man who had planted for people he did not
know, and who could never even thank him for his loving services.
Each apple that ripened bore in its heart a number of new seeds,
some of which were planted and grew into fine orchards from which
were gathered many barrels of apples. These were shipped farther
west, until the Rocky Mountains were reached. In the centre of each
apple shipped were more seeds, from which grew more apple trees,
which bore the same kind of apples that the wrinkled old man in
the shabby old clothes had planted long years before. So that many
thousands of people have already been benefited by what the poor
old man in the shabby old coat did, and thousands yet to come will
enjoy the fruits of his labor.
It is true he never wore the armour of a great knight and never held
the title of a great general. He never discovered a new world,
nor helped his favorite to sit on the throne of a king. But perhaps
after all, though ragged and poor, he was a hero, because in his
heart he really and truly sang, as well as with his lips:
"Millions loving, I embrace you,
All the world this kiss I send!
Brothers, o'er yon starry tent
Dwells a God whose love is true!"
For the greatest of all victories is to learn to love others even
when they do not know it. This is to be God-like, and to be God-like
is to be the greatest of heroes.
THE LITTLE POST-BOY
By Bayard Taylor
Very few foreigners travel in Sweden in the winter, on account of
the intense cold. As you go northward from Stockholm, the capital,
the country becomes ruder and wilder, and the climate more severe.
In the sheltered valleys along the Gulf of Bothnia and the rivers
which empty into it, there are farms and villages for a distance
of seven or eight hundred miles, after which fruit-trees disappear,
and nothing will grow in the short, cold summers except potatoes
and a little barley. Farther inland, there are great forests
and lakes, and ranges of mountains where bears, wolves, and herds
of wild reindeer make their home. No people could live in such a
country unless they were very industrious and thrifty.