Part 5 out of 6
destroy the town and all their fleet. This story was perhaps started by
some idlers, who sought to go aboard when the vessel first arrived, but
were refused admittance to her deck.
Though not permitted to go aboard, those loafers had seen enough to
start the report that the vessel was a gilded palace, ornamented with
gold. Two days had elapsed, and no one had come ashore, nor had any
visitor been admitted to the ship, and the governor, growing uneasy
about the strange craft, resolved to know something of it, so he sent
the sheriff to ascertain her mission.
The captain of the ship, who gave his name as George Small, answered:
"This vessel is the property of Sir Albert St. Croix, a wealthy merchant
from the East Indies, who will this day visit the governor and make
known the object of his visit to Jamestown."
That day, a boat fit for a king was lowered, and eight or ten sailors,
richly dressed, took their places at the oars. A man, whose long white
hair hung about his shoulders in snowy profusion, and whose beard, white
as the swan's down, came to his breast, descended to the boat and was
When he was landed, the sailors returned with the boat to the ship,
leaving him on the beach. The old man was richly dressed. He blazed with
jewels such as a king might envy, and the hilt of his sword was of pure
gold. He wore a brace of slender pistols, whose silver-mounted butts
protruded from his belt.
The dark cloak about his shoulders was Puritanic; but the elegance of
his attire and the profusion of jewelry which he wore proved that he was
not of that order. His low-crowned hat was three-cornered, trimmed with
lace and the brim held in place by three blazing diamonds. It was
something like the cocked hat, which, half a century later, was worn by
most of the gentry.
After watching the boat until it returned to the vessel, the old man
went toward the statehouse. He spoke to no one on the way, though he
paused under a large oak about half way between the statehouse and the
beach, and gazed long on the town and surrounding country.
The tree beneath which he paused was the same under whose wide spreading
branches Captain John Smith had halted to take a last farewell look of
Virginia, before embarking for England. The spot had already
The people were gathered in groups on the streets gazing at the
stranger, and various were the comments about him. He noticed the
excitement his advent had created, and walked quickly up the street to
the statehouse. Though his hair and beard were white as snow, his frame
was vigorous and strong, and his step had about it the elasticity of
youth. His brow was furrowed with care rather than time, and his eye
seemed still to flash with the fires of young manhood. Nevertheless he
was an old man. Every one who saw him on that memorable morning
pronounced him a prodigy.
Arriving at the statehouse, he asked for the governor, and was at once
shown to Sir William, who, gazing at him in wonder, asked:
"Whence came you, stranger?"
"Who are you?"
"I am Sir Albert St. Croix, the owner of the good ship _Despair_, which
lies at anchor in your bay."
"But surely you are not of England?"
"I am an Englishman; but I have spent most of my life abroad, and for
many years have been in the East Indies. I amassed a fortune in diamonds
and jewels and, being in the decline of life, decided to travel over the
world. For that purpose, I builded me a ship to suit and engaged a crew
faithful even unto death."
The governor's countenance brightened, and he answered:
"Sir Albert, I am pleased to have you in Jamestown. Your arrival is
quite opportune, for I am most grievously annoyed with a threatened
Sir Albert fixed his great blue eyes on the governor and answered:
"Sir William Berkeley, it is not my purpose to interfere with any
political convulsions. I am simply a transient visitor. My home is
"But your ship is an English craft, and your crew are Englishmen?"
"That is true."
"And as governor of the province, I will command them should their
services be needed."
There was a smile on the sad face of Sir Albert, as he answered:
"It would not avail you, governor, for my captain and crew know no other
master save myself, no will save mine."
"But the king?"
"They serve me, and I serve the king. I helped Charles II. out of a
financial strait, and, for that, an order from our dread sovereign and
lord has been issued, exempting my crew, myself and my vessel from any
kind of military duty for the term of fifty years."
The old man drew from his coat pocket a legal document proving his
"Have you ever been in Virginia before?" the governor asked.
"Yes, many years ago. All things have changed since then."
"How long will you stay?"
"I know not. At any moment I may decide to leave, and should I do so, I
will sail at once. I linger no longer at any one place than my fancy
"What is your wish, Sir Albert?"
"I only ask the privilege of going whithersoever I please in your
domain, without let or hindrance," and he produced an order from King
Charles II., which commanded Governor Berkeley to grant him such
"This is strange," said the governor. "An armament such as yours might
overthrow the colony at this unsettled time."
"I shall take no part in the disturbance, unless it affects me
personally." The governor issued a passport for Sir Albert St. Croix,
vessel and crew, and the stranger left the statehouse. He walked up the
hill, passing the jail, and gazing about on the houses, as if he wished
to make himself acquainted with the town. No end of comment was excited
by his appearance, and a thousand conjectures were afloat as to the
object of his visit.
For a moment, the white-haired stranger paused before the public house
in which Bacon was at that moment reposing. Some thought he was going
in; but he passed on and addressed no one, until he came to Robert
Stevens, who stood at the side of a well, under a wide spreading
"Will you draw me some water? for I am athirst," said the stranger.
Robert did so, and handed the stranger a drink from an earthen mug,
which was kept by the town pump for the accommodation of the public.
After drinking, the old man returned the mug and, fixing his eyes on the
young man, asked:
"Have you lived long in Virginia?"
"I was born here, good sir."
"Then you must know all of Jamestown?"
"Not so much, good sir, as I might, if I had not passed a few years in
"Your home is still here?"
With a sigh, Robert answered:
"It is, though I do not live in it now."
Robert evidently was alluding to some domestic difficulties, and the
stranger very considerately avoided asking him any further questions
about himself. He asked about the proprietors of several houses and
gained something of the history of the town and people.
All expected that Sir Albert would return to his vessel; but he did not.
Instead, he wandered over the hill into the wood and sat down upon a
log. Robert saw him sitting there, with his white head bowed between his
hands, looking so sad and broken-hearted, despite all his wealth, that
his heart went out to him. He was for hours thus communing with nature,
then came back to the town and went on board the _Despair_.
After that, he frequently came ashore and strolled about the town,
seldom speaking, even when addressed. But for the letters from the
governor and the king, he might have been arrested on suspicion. He came
and went at will, occasionally pausing to ask a question which was so
guarded, that no one could suspect that he was interested in any
particular subject. One day, as he was passing the statehouse, Giles
Peram, who, with the powdered wig, lace, and ruffles of a cavalier, was
strutting before some of the court officials, turning his eyes with an
ill-bred stare on the stranger as he passed, remarked:
"Oh, how extraordinary!"
Sir Albert paused and, fixing his great blue eyes on the diminutive
"Marry! the time of king's fools hath past; yet the king of fools still
Giles Peram felt the retort most keenly, and, as usual, raged and fumed
and swore vengeance after the stranger was out of sight and hearing. Sir
Albert strolled down to a pond or lake that was near to the town, on the
banks of which was an ancient ducking-stool. Three or four idlers were
sitting on the bank, and of one of them he asked:
"For what is that ugly machine used?"
"It is a ducking-stool for scolds," was the answer. The fellow, feeling
complimented at being addressed by the celebrated stranger, went on,
"Well do I remember, good sir, when and for whom the stool was
"For whom was it built?" asked Sir Albert.
"It was made for Ann Linkon, who had slandered goodwife Stevens as was,
but who has, since her husband was drowned at sea, married Hugh Price,
the royalist and friend of the governor. Oh, how Ann did scold and rave,
and it was a merry sight to see her plunged beneath the water."
The stranger asked some questions about Ann Linkon and was informed that
she had died several years before. "But to the last," the narrator
resumed, "she hated Dorothe Stevens. She rejoiced when poverty assailed
her, brought on by her own extravagance, after her husband had gone
away. Then when goodwife Stevens received the fortune from the
grandfather of her dead husband, the old Spaniard at St. Augustine, she
again went among the cavaliers and was enabled to marry Hugh Price. It
is not a happy life she leads now, though, for there is continual
trouble between the husband and the children, so she is grievously
harassed in mind continually."
Sir Albert listened as an uninterested person might, then asked some
questions about Hugh Price and his good wife Dorothe, and the refractory
children, who were causing so much trouble. He found the Virginian
voluble and willing to impart all the information he had; but he grew
heartily tired of the loafer and at last left him.
No one was more interested in the stranger from across the sea than
Rebecca Stevens. She had not seen him; but she had heard so much of him
from her brother and others, that her girlish curiosity was aroused. One
evening, as she was taking her favorite walk about the village, having
wandered farther than she intended, she found herself in the wood above
the town, near the old building, which Captain John Smith had called the
glass-house. She turned and began at once retracing her steps, for
already the sun had set, and the shades of night were gathering over the
landscape. She was in sight of the church, when a short, fat little man
suddenly met her. He was out of breath, as if he had been running. In
the gathering twilight she recognized him as her persecutor.
"Ah! Miss Stevens, this is truly extraordinary. Believe me, this meeting
is quite providential, for it enables me to pour into your ear my
tale of love."
"Mr. Peram, begone, leave me!"
"Oh, no, my dear, I will never let you go until you have consented to
take my name."
In his zeal, the ungentlemanly wooer seized her hand, and his vicious
little eyes glared at her with such ferocity, that she gave utterance to
a shriek of fear. The tread of hurried feet fell on her ears, and
through the deepening shades of twilight, she caught a glimpse of a
scarlet coat, long white hair and beard and flashing jewels. Hands of
iron seized Giles Peram. He was lifted into the air as if he had been an
infant, and flung head first into a cluster of white thorn, where he lay
for a few moments, confused and bleeding. Then Sir Albert St. Croix
raised the half-fainting Rebecca from the ground and said:
"Come, my child, be not affrighted; he will not harm you."
She gazed up at the kind face and asked:
"Are you the owner of the ship _Despair_?"
"Thank you, Sir Albert," she began; but he quickly interrupted her with:
"Thank not me, sweet child; but come, tell me what hath gone amiss, and
have no fear, for I am powerful enough to save you from any harm."
While the villanous little coward Giles Peram crawled from the hedge and
hurried back to town, the old man led the victim of his insults to the
church, where they sat upon the step at the front of the vestibule. She
had no fear of this good old man, whom she instinctively loved, and who
seemed to wield over her a strange and mysterious influence. He asked
her all about her tormentor, and she confided everything to him. She
told him of the loss of her father at sea, and how they had lived
through adversity until better days dawned, then of her mother's second
marriage, and the trouble between her brother and Hugh Price. She did
not even omit the recent uprising in which her brother had joined Bacon
and the rebels in a mad blow for freedom.
"The worst has not yet come, I greatly fear," sighed the little maid.
"The rebellion is not over, and my brother will yet, I fear, be hung by
the governor, for Mr. Price, his bitter enemy, is a firm friend of the
"He shall not be harmed, sweet maid. I have a great ship, with larger
and more destructive guns than were ever in Virginia. I have a crew
loyal even unto death, and I could bombard and destroy their town, ere
they harm either your brother, yourself or your mother."
He looked so earnest, so like a good angel of deliverance, that the
impulsive Rebecca threw her arms about his neck, and he, pressing a kiss
upon her fair young cheek, exclaimed:
"God bless you! There, I must go."
He conducted her home, went aboard his ship, and next morning the
mysterious craft had disappeared from the harbor.
There were too many exciting incidents transpiring at Jamestown for the
public to dwell long on the stranger. The same day on which the ship
disappeared, the rumor ran about town:
"Bacon has fled! Bacon has fled!"
The rumor was a truth. Robert Stevens had gone with him, and although
Mr. Lawrence explained that Bacon's wife was ill, and he had gone to
visit her, yet Berkeley, ever suspicious, construed his sudden breaking
of his parole into open hostility, and prepared to treat it accordingly.
BACON A REBEL.
"Hark! 'tis the sound that charms
The war-steed's wakening ears.
Oh! many a mother folds her arms
Round her boy-soldier, when that call she hears,
And though her fond heart sink with fears,
Is proud to feel his young pulse bound
With valor's fervor at the sound."
The day after the mysterious disappearance of the ship _Despair_ and the
flight of Bacon, a ship from New England arrived in port. Bacon's flight
and the disappearance of Sir Albert and his vessel were so nearly at the
same time, that a rumor went around the town that the former had escaped
in the vessel of the latter. This rumor however was soon dispelled on
learning that Bacon was at Curles rallying the planters about him.
The vessel which had just come into port aroused new speculations, until
it was learned that it was only a trading ship from Boston doing a
little business in defiance of the navigation laws. The vessel brought
only one passenger. That passenger was a beautiful young maid.
She was landed soon after the vessel cast anchor, and her first inquiry
was for Rebecca Stevens:
"Is she a relative of yours, young maid?" asked the man of whom she
"No; I know of her, and would see her."
"Do you see the large brick house upon the hill--not the one on the left
of the church, but to the right with the broad piazza and wires
"I see it."
"She lives there. It is the home of Hugh Price, who married her mother."
The sailors brought some baggage ashore which was carried to a warehouse
to remain until the fair traveller should send for it, and pay the costs
"Do you travel alone, young maid?" asked the man whom she had addressed.
"Where is your mother?"
"Dead," she answered sadly,
"Then you are an orphan?"
"I am. War is raging with the Indians in New England, and I was not safe
there, so I came to Virginia."
She thanked the man who had so kindly directed her, and went to the
house of Hugh Price. This house, next to the home of Governor Berkeley,
was the most elegant mansion in Virginia. On the front door was a large
brass knocker, common at the time, and, seizing it, the young girl
struck the door. It was opened by a negro woman whose red turban and
rich dress indicated that she was the household servant of an
aristocratic family. The stranger asked for Rebecca Stevens, and was
shown to her room. Rebecca was astonished to see the pretty stranger;
but before she could ask who she was, the maid said:
"I am Ester Goffe from Massachusetts. The war with the Indians rages
sorely in that land, and my friends and relatives sent me here."
"Ester--Ester Goffe," stammered Rebecca. "Then you are my brother's
In a moment the girls were clasped in each other's arms, mingling their
tears of joy and grief. Then Rebecca held her at arm's length and,
gazing on the beautiful face and soft brown eyes, said:
"I don't blame Robert. How could he help loving you?" and once more she
clasped her in her arms.
"Where is he--where is Robert?"
Rebecca started at the question, and an expression of pain swept over
her face, which alarmed Ester.
"Alas, he is gone. He hath fled with Bacon, and I fear that you have
escaped from one calamity only to fall into another." Then she explained
the distracted condition of the country, concluding with:
"You must not be known here as Ester Goffe. Were it known by Sir William
Berkeley, or even my mother's husband, that the child of a regicide was
here, I know not what the result would be; but, alas, I fear it would be
"But can I see him?" asked Ester.
"Who, Sir William Berkeley or Mr. Hugh Price?"
A pallor overspread the sister's face at this request, and she answered
that she knew not how they could communicate with him.
"Have you no faithful servant?"
There was old black Sam who had always been faithful. Usually the
negroes were cunning as well as treacherous, for, having been but
recently brought from Africa, they had much of the heathen still in
their natures; but old black Sam had been faithful to the brother
through all trying scenes and adversities, and, though he dared not
"cross Master Price," he secretly aided Rebecca in many small schemes
objectionable to the stepfather. Sam was summoned, and Rebecca asked:
"Sam, could you find my brother?"
"I doan know, misse; but I believe old black Sam could."
"Would you take a small bit of writing to him?"
"If misse want um to go, ole black Sam, him try. De bay boss, him go
fast, an' black Sam, him go on um back."
Rebecca hastily wrote on a slip of paper:
Ester is at our house and would like to see you. Do not come unless you
can do so safely, for Sir William Berkeley is furious.
Meanwhile, the fiery General Bacon was not at Curles nursing his sick
wife, as was reported (and who was not sick at all); but he, in company
with Robert Stevens, was riding to and fro, at the heads of the rivers,
sounding the slogan. At the word from Bacon, his friends rose in arms,
and among them were a part of the eight thousand horse which Berkeley
had reported in the colony. The people had borne enough of Berkeley's
tyranny, and the masses sided with Bacon. Even those who did not take up
arms in his defence were friendly to his interests. The clans were
gathering. They hastened from plantation and hundred, from lowland
manor-house and log cabin in the woods of the upland, well-armed
housekeepers, booted and spurred, armed with good broadswords and fusils
for the wars that were plainly coming. Bacon in a little while had
collected a force of nearly six hundred men. In fact, it was not more
than three or four days after his escape, before, at the head of this
force, he was marching on Jamestown.
Berkeley was alarmed and dispatched messengers to York and Gloucester
for the train-bands; but only about one hundred soldiers could be
mustered, and before these could reach Jamestown, Bacon entered it at
the head of his army, and about two o'clock in the afternoon drew up his
troops, horse and foot, upon the green, not an arrow's flight from the
end of the statehouse. All the streets and roads leading into the town
were guarded, the inhabitants disarmed and the boats in the
Jamestown was thrown into confusion. Sir William Berkeley and his
council were holding a council of war, when the roll of drums and blast
of trumpets announced that Bacon was in possession of the city.
The house of burgesses was called to order, though little order was
preserved on that day, when a collision between law and rebellion seemed
inevitable. Between two files of infantry Bacon advanced to the corner
of the statehouse, and the governor came out. Bacon, who had perfect
control over himself, advanced toward him. Berkeley was in a rage.
Walking straight toward Bacon, he tore open the lace at his bosom
"Here! Shoot me! 'Fore God, a fair mark!"
Bacon curbed his rising anger and replied:
"No, may it please your honor, we will not hurt a hair of your head, nor
of any other man's. We are come for a commission to save our lives from
the Indians, which you have so often promised, and now we will have it
before we go."
Without a word in response, the governor and council wheeled about and
returned to their chamber, and Bacon followed them, his left arm akimbo,
his hand resting on the hilt of his sword. As they made him no answer,
Bacon became furious and tossed his arms about excitedly, while the
fusileers covered the window of the assembly chamber with their guns,
and continually yelled:
"We will have it! We will have it!" (Meaning the commission.)
One of Bacon's friends among the burgesses shook his handkerchief from
the window and answered:
"You shall have it! You shall have it!"
The soldiers at this uncocked their guns and waited further orders from
Bacon. Their leader had dashed into the council chamber swearing:
"D--n my blood! I'll kill governor, council, assembly and all, and then
I'll sheathe my sword in my own heart's blood!"
The wildest excitement prevailed in the town. Everybody was on the
street, and the massacre of the governor and his council was momentarily
expected. Two young girls ran toward an officer in the army of the
rebel. One of Bacon's young captains met them and clasped an arm about
each. It was Ester and Rebecca meeting the brother and lover. The
excitement was too great for many to bestow more than a passing glance
on the trio. There was a murmured prayer by all three, and they
A scene so ridiculous as to excite the laughter of many followed the
assault on the statehouse. A sleek, plump little fellow, frightened out
of his wits, was seen trying to climb out of a window on the opposite
side from which danger was threatened. He got out and clung to the
window with his hands, his short, fat legs dangling in the air and
kicking against the wall.
"Marry! help me! Mother of God, I will be killed if I fall, and shot if
It was Giles Peram, whose legs were six feet from the ground. He howled
and yelled; but all were too busy to pay any attention to him, and at
last his strength gave out, and he fell with a stunning thud upon the
ground, where he lay gasping for breath, partially unconscious, but with
no bones broken.
After half an hour's interview, Bacon returned. The burgesses hesitated;
but the governor held out some promises for next day. Giles Peram,
having regained his strength and breath, sprang to his feet and ran as
fast as his short legs could carry him to the far end of the street to
escape from the town; but half a dozen mounted Virginians with
broadswords blocked up his passage. He next ran to the left and was met
by men with pikes, one of whom prodded him so that he yelled and ran
under some ornamental shrubs, beneath which a pair of frightened dogs
had taken shelter. A fight for possession followed, and for a while it
was doubtful; but Giles, inspired by fear, fought with the desperation
of a madman and drove the dogs forth. With his scarlet coat and his silk
stockings soiled, his wig lost and lace and ruffles all torn and ruined,
he crouched under the shrubs, groaning:
"Oh, Lordy, Lordy! I will be killed! I know I will be killed!" The
governor's valiant secretary presented a deplorable sight, indeed.
Next day Bacon was commissioned by the governor as general and
commander-in-chief of the forces against the Indians. It was a great
triumph for the young republican. Berkeley even wrote a letter to the
king applauding what Bacon had done on the frontier.
Robert Stevens paid his mother, sister and sweetheart a visit. Not
having received Rebecca's letter, he was ignorant of Ester's presence in
Virginia, until he discovered her, as they were drawn up for battle.
Many hoped that trouble was over; but Robert said:
"It is not. I know Berkeley too well. He is a cunning old knave, and as
soon as he has recovered from the fright into which the appearance of an
armed force precipitated him, he will relent and do something terrible."
"Brother, do not place yourself in his power," said his sister.
"Fear not, sweet sister, I shall have a care for myself. Where is Mr.
"At the governor's."
"Does he know that Ester is General Goffe's daughter?"
"He must not. He would report it to the governor, who, in his idiotic
love for monarchy, would adjudge her responsible for a deed committed
before she was born."
"We will keep the secret, brother."
"When do you go?" asked Ester.
"The army marches against the Indians on the morrow." He was about to
say something more, when they espied Mr. Giles Peram coming toward them.
His face was smiling, though there were a few scratches upon it.
"Marry! friend Robert, good morrow! Did you learn of my great speech in
the house of burgesses yesterday, when they were about to refuse your
general his commission?"
"I knew not that you were a member of the house."
Peram, blushing, answered:
"Nor am I; but I forced myself, at the peril of my life, into their
presence, and I swore--yes, God forgive me, but I swore if they did not
give the commission, I would annihilate them, and, by the mass, they
were afraid of me, and they granted it." With this the diminutive
egotist strutted proudly before his auditors.
Black Sam, who had overheard his remark, with his native impetuosity put
"'Fore God, massa, what a lie! Why, he war all de time under de thorn
bushes fighten wid de dogs fur a hiden-place."
Giles gave utterance to an exclamation of rage and flew at the negro
with upraised cane; but black Sam evaded his blow and, with a laugh, ran
into the kitchen, yelling back: "It am so. Jist see dem scratches on
Quite crestfallen, Mr. Peram retired, and for several days did not
annoy Rebecca with his presence.
Next morning Bacon started on his campaign against the Indians. The
burgesses were then dissolved and went back to their homes. The fact
that that body sat in June, 1676, and in the same month instructed the
Virginia delegates to propose independence of England, has been a theme
of much discussion among historians.
Bacon, at the head of his army, duly commissioned, was marching against
the Indians. All things in Virginia were virtually under his control as
commander of the military. Mr. Lawrence and Mr. Drummond, ex-governor of
Carolinia, though they were his friends, remained in Jamestown to look
after his interests there. Drummond declared he was "in over-shoes, and
he would be over-boots." Had Bacon been uninterrupted, there can be no
doubt that his power on the Indians would have been felt; but Berkeley
began to relent that he had ever commissioned him, and issued a
proclamation declaring him a rebel and revoking his commission. The news
was brought to Bacon while on the upper waters, by Lawrence and
Drummond. When he heard it, the general declared:
"It vexes my heart for to think that while I am hunting wolves, tigers
and foxes, which daily destroy our harmless sheep and lambs, I and those
with me should be pursued with a full cry, as a more savage or no less
Bacon began his march back to the lower waters. On the way, they
captured a spy sent by Berkeley to their camp and hung him. Bacon went
to the Middle Plantation, afterward Williamsburg, and camped.
Berkeley, hearing of the return of Bacon's army, which was not
disbanded, hastened to Accomac for recruits, and Drummond urged Bacon to
depose Berkeley, and appoint Sir Henry Chicheley in his place. When the
leader of the rebellion murmured against this, the Scotchman answered:
"Do not make so strange of it, for I can show you ancient records that
such things have been done in Virginia."
This, however, was carrying matters too far, even for Bacon. He
remembered that Governor Harvey, who had been deposed in a similar
manner, was reinstated by the king. He issued a remonstrance against
Berkeley's proclamation denouncing him as a rebel, declaring that he and
his followers were good and loyal subjects of the king of England, who
were only in arms against the savages. Then followed a list of public
grievances. He declared that some in authority had come to the country
poor, and were now rolling in wealth, likening them to sponges, that
have sucked up and devoured the common treasury. He asked, "What arts,
sciences, schools of learning, or manufactures have been promoted by any
now in authority?"
The governor's beaver trade with Indians, in which he thought more of
his profits than the lives of his subjects on the frontier, was not
Bacon was declared a rebel, his life was forfeited to Berkeley if
captured, and while at the Middle Plantation, he required an oath of his
followers to even resist the king's troops if they should come to
Virginia. The people of Virginia had not yet learned the true principles
of liberty. They still supposed that liberty could be gained while they
retained their allegiance to the king of England. It required a hundred
years more to convince them that freedom was incompatible with royalty.
The paper signed at Middle Plantation on this third day of August, 1676,
was a notable document. It began by stating that certain persons had
raised forces against General Bacon, which had brought on civil war, and
if forces came from England they would oppose them.
The next step of the rebels was to organize a government. Bacon issued
writs for the representatives of the people to assemble early in
September. The writs were in the king's name, and were signed by four
of the council.
This done, Bacon set off on his Indian campaign, leaving behind him a
mighty tumult. The new world had defied the old. At midnight by
torchlight, the grim-faced pioneers of Virginia had sworn to be free.
Everywhere men and women hailed the oath with enthusiasm.
"Now we can build ships and, like New England, trade with any other part
of the world," they declared. Sarah Drummond, the wife of the Scottish
"The child that is unborn shall have cause to rejoice for the good that
will come by the rising of the country." And when a person by her side
said, "We must expect a greater power from England, that will certainly
be our ruin," Drummond's wife took up a stick, broke it in two and cried
"I fear the power of England no more than a broken straw! We will do
The women took great interest in public affairs at this time. The wife
of Cheeseman urged him to join Bacon and fight for their liberties,
which he did, as she afterward declared, at her own request. The whole
country was with Bacon, and, after instructing them to resist any force
that might come from England, he crossed James River at Curles with a
force of three hundred men, and fell upon the Appomattox Indians at what
is now Petersburg, with such fury that he killed or routed the entire
tribe. Bacon fought so viciously, that his name was a dread to the
savages fifty years after his death. For one without training, he
displayed wonderful military ability. Having completely routed all the
Indians, early in September Bacon with his army returned to the
settlements, and had reached West Point when he received news that Sir
William Berkeley, with a thousand men and seventeen ships, was in
possession of Jamestown.
Berkeley had not all gloom and disaster on his side. Captain Bland, who
had been sent by Bacon with a considerable force to capture Berkeley,
was led into a trap and captured by Captain Larramore. Shortly after,
the governor returned to Jamestown with a large number of longshoremen
and loafers, great enough in quantity, but inferior as soldiers
While Jamestown was deserted by both belligerent parties, and its
frightened inhabitants were waiting in feverish anxiety the next event
in the great drama, there suddenly appeared in the harbor the wonderful
vessel _Despair_. The ship entered in the night as mysteriously as it
had disappeared, and again the white-haired Sir Albert was seen on the
streets of Jamestown. He met Rebecca the day of his arrival, and
"I feared you had gone, never to come back."
"Did you want to see me again, child?" he asked, in such a fatherly
voice, that she could scarce resist the impulse to embrace him.
"I did, Sir Albert, for I remembered your promise, and I depend on you."
"The war rages again?"
"It does, and I fear for my brother. Sir William is coming with a
"If the worst comes, sweet maid, I will take you aboard my ship."
"But my brother--oh, my brother!"
"He, also, will be safe."
"Would you take us all, and Ester, too?"
"Who is Ester?"
She told him all, for she felt that in this mysterious man she had a
friend on whom she could rely. When she had finished, Sir Albert shook
his snowy locks and remarked:
"You would do well to keep this from the ears of Sir William, sweet
Then he went away into the forest. That evening, as he sat at the
roadside, not far from Jamestown, the wife of Hugh Price, who had been
to Greenspring, was returning home on her favorite saddle-horse. The
animal became frightened at some object by the roadside, and leaped
madly forward. The saddle turned and the woman would have fallen had not
Sir Albert rushed to her rescue.
He lifted her from the saddle, and, while the horse dashed madly away,
seated the rider safely at the roadside.
"Are you injured?" he asked the half-fainting woman.
"You are fortunate to escape so narrowly, madam. Do you live at
"I do, sir. You are Sir Albert of the _Despair_, are you not?" asked
"I have often heard of you. I thank you for your kind service, sir."
"Shall I see you home?"
"If not too much trouble."
As they walked along the road, he asked:
"Are you Mrs. Price?"
"Mr. Hugh Price is your second husband?"
"When did your first husband die?"
"Many years ago. He was lost at sea."
"Did he leave two children?"
"Yes, sir, two," she sighed, and the white-haired stranger; glancing at
her face, asked:
"Was he a good man?"
"Good man! Oh, sir, he was an angel of goodness; but, alas, I never
appreciated him, until he was gone. I oft recall that fatal morning when
he bade me farewell, when he kissed the baby and left a tear on her
cheek. I was happy then!" Tears were now trickling down her cheeks.
"Are you happy now?"
"Alas, no. I am miserable."
"My husband is an enemy to my son. Price is a royalist while Robert is a
Puritan and a republican."
"Is your son with Bacon?"
"He is, and Sir William would hang Robert if he could."
"He shall not hang him."
"If he captures him, who will prevent it?"
"I will." They parted at the door, and as the old man went down to his
boat, she gazed after him, murmuring:
"Heaven surely hath sent us a protector at last."
BURNING OF JAMESTOWN.
"At every turn, Morena's dusky height
Sustains aloft the battery's iron load,
And, far as mortal eye can compass sight,
The mountain-howitzer, the broken road,
The bristling palisade, the foss o'erflowed,
The stationed band, the never-vacant watch,
The magazine in rocky durance stand,
The holster'd steed beneath the shed of thatch,
The ball-piled pyramid, the ever-blazing match."
Sir William Berkeley, with the motley crowd of sailors, longshoremen,
freed slaves, and such as he could collect, sailed for Jamestown and
reached it safely September 7th, 1676. The news of his approach reached
Jamestown long before he did, and Colonel Hansford, one of Bacon's
youngest and bravest officers, with eight hundred men prepared to
resist. A terrible conflict was anticipated, and Sir Albert, on the
morning of the expected fight, landed and took Mrs. Price, her daughter
and Ester Goffe on board his ship, and dropped down the river a mile or
two, to be out of harm's way. These were the first people who had been
aboard the wonderful ship _Despair_.
Rebecca was charmed and entranced at the display of wealth and splendor
on board the vessel. The elegance was marvellous.
"You must be very rich," she said to Sir Albert.
"This represents but a small part of my possessions."
"I would I were your heiress."
"You may be, sweet maid. I have no nearer relative to inherit the
millions which are burdensome to me."
"Have you no wife--no children?"
He shook his head, looked so sad, and turned away with such a deep drawn
sigh, that she could not bear to ask him more.
Berkeley appeared that evening before Jamestown and summoned the rebels
to surrender, promising amnesty to all but Lawrence and Drummond, who
were then in the town. Hansford refused; but, on the advice of his
friends, they all left the town that night. At noon next day Berkeley
landed on the island and, kneeling, thanked God for his safe arrival.
Only a very few people were found in the town, and Lawrence and Drummond
were gone. Mr. Lawrence fled so precipitately that he left his house
with all its effects to fall into the hands of the enemy.
Drummond and the thoughtful Mr. Lawrence hastened to find Bacon, who
was at West Point at the head of the York River.
Bacon acted with an energy and rapidity that would have done Napoleon or
Cromwell credit. With his faithful body guard, among whom were Robert
Stevens, Drummond, Cheeseman and Lawrence, he set out for Jamestown.
Carriers, sent in every direction, summoned the Baconites to join him,
so that his small band increased so rapidly, that when he reached
Jamestown he had a force of several hundred.
The governor prepared to receive the rebels. He threw up a strong
earth-work, and a palisade had been erected across the neck of the
island. Bacon, on reaching Jamestown, rode forward to reconnoitre it. He
then ordered his trumpeters to sound the battle cry, and a volley was
fired into the town; but no response came back.
Bacon made his headquarters at Greenspring, in Governor Berkeley's own
house, and while Sir William dined at the board of the thoughtful Mr.
Lawrence, the rebel fed at the table of the governor. Resolving on a
siege, Bacon threw up earth-works about the town in front of the
palisades. Berkeley's riflemen so annoyed the men at work, that Bacon
had recourse to a strange device to protect them. He sent a detachment
of horse into the surrounding country, captured and brought to camp the
wives of all the prominent gentlemen who fought with Berkeley. Perhaps
Mrs. Price only escaped by being on board the ship _Despair_. Madame
Bray, Madame Page, Madame Ballard and Madame Bacon, the wife of Bacon's
cousin, were among the number. These women were placed before the
workmen in the trenches to protect them from the bullets of Berkeley.
"Have no apprehensions from us, good-wives," said Bacon. "We shall not
harm a hair of your head. If your husbands shoot you we are not
Bacon has been censured for this ungallant strategy; but it worked well
and saved his workmen from further annoyance. He sent one of the
good-wives into the town under a flag of truce to inform her own and the
others' husbands, that he meant to place them "in the forefront of his
workmen," during the construction of the earth-works, and if they fired
on them, the good-wives would suffer.
No attack was made on Bacon until the earth-works were completed, and
then the women were sent to their homes during the night. Next morning
at early dawn, Berkeley sounded his battle-cry, and his men mustered at
the roll of the drum. Bacon was on the alert. His eagle eye glanced
along his earth-works and the gallant men enrolled under him.
"They are coming! They are coming with their whole force!" he shouted,
as he stood on the ramparts, his sword in his hand and his eye flashing
with the glorious light of battle. Matches were burning, the cocks of
the fusees raised, and the Virginians stood cool and undaunted.
There came a puff of smoke from the palisades at Jamestown, a heavy
report of a cannon, and an iron ball struck the earth-work.
"Come down, general!" cried the thoughtful Mr. Lawrence. "You endanger
your life up there."
Bacon paid no heed to the warning. He was watching the manoeuvres of the
enemy, about eight hundred strong, who were about to assault him. Robert
Stevens sprang to his side, and both smiled at the lack of courage and
discipline which Berkeley's longshoremen displayed. Giles Peram, at the
head of the company, marched forth. He wore a tall hat with a feather in
it, and strutted about, until his eye caught sight of the enemy, when he
wheeled about as quickly as if he were on springs and bounded away
toward Jamestown, yelling loud enough to be heard in Bacon's camp:
"Oh, I will be killed! I will be killed!"
A shot was fired from Jamestown, and Giles, believing himself struck,
fell on the ground and rolled over and kicked, producing such a
ridiculous scene, that Robert and Bacon laughed outright. Berkeley,
himself, headed the army, with which he intended to storm the
earth-works, and, after some little difficulty, he got his forces
formed, and the advance began.
"Don't fire, until I give you the command," said Bacon, coolly. "We will
soon disperse this motley crowd, have no fear."
He and Robert were prevailed upon to descend from the ramparts, and all
awaited the arrival of the enemy. They came slowly, doing plenty of
yelling, and firing their fusees at random. The bullets either buried
themselves in the earth-works, or whistled harmlessly through the air.
Not one of Bacon's men was touched.
Nearer and nearer they came, until within easy pistol range, when Bacon
Pistol, musket and cannon belched forth fire and death, while a cloud of
smoke rolled up above the fort. One volley had done the work. Alas! the
motley crowd from Accomac were no fit adversaries for those stern
backwoodsmen. Berkeley's recruits had come over to plunder, and, finding
lead and bullets instead of gold and treasure, they fled with light
heels to Jamestown, leaving a dozen of their number stretched on the
ground as the only proof that they had fought at all.
Bacon now opened a cannonade in earnest on the town. The first ball that
came screaming over the town to crash into the house which was the
governor's headquarters was answered by a wild yell of fear, and the
boastful Mr. Peram might have been seen flying as fast as his short legs
would carry him to another part of the fortification. Another boom, and
a shot struck the ground ten paces from him, and he wheeled about and
ran, until a third shot struck a house before him. Then he ran to the
church and crawled under it, where he lay until night.
Berkeley realized that he was in no condition to resist Bacon with such
a set of knaves as he had for soldiers.
"We cannot long hold out, Mr. Price," he said as the sun was setting.
"No, Sir William, we must evacuate the city this very night."
"I believe it. Where is that coward Giles Peram?"
"He hath taken refuge under the church."
"Drag him hence. Robert Stevens is among the rebels, and the fool will
fare hard if he falls into his hands."
A few moments later the wretched, trembling Giles was brought before
the governor. His scarlet coat, lace and ruffles were torn and
disordered. He was reprimanded for his cowardice, and the army at once
began to evacuate. When day dawned Berkeley was gone and Bacon entered
the town. Mr. Drummond, Mr. Lawrence and Mr. Cheeseman went to
The ship _Despair_, which had been near enough to witness the scene, now
bore down nearer to the town. Boats were lowered and the three women set
on shore. Robert greeted his mother, his affianced and his sister with
the most ardent affection. He had suffered much uneasiness about them,
not knowing where they were, and he was overjoyed to see them.
That evening, while Mr. Lawrence, Mr. Drummond and Mr. Cheeseman were
holding a council at the house of the former, the door suddenly opened
and a tall white-haired stranger entered. Each started to his feet at
the appearance of this apparition and seized pistols and swords.
"Never fear, friends; I came not to harm you," said Sir Albert, in his
mild, gentle, but stern voice.
"You intrude--you disturb us!" cried Cheeseman. "We want no spy on our
"Verily, my good man, you speak truly. These are deliberations at which
there must be no spy. Let no whispering tongue breathe aught of
His words were so strange, that they stood amazed, gazing at him in
wonder. Drummond at last gasped:
"'Fore God, who are you?"
"A man like you," was the answer; "a man no older, yet whom sorrow hath
crushed and bowed with premature age; a man with a heart to feel and a
brain to think; a man who would willingly exchange places with you,
though you stand within the shadow of a scaffold; a man, whose heart--O
God!--must speak, or it will break; a friend who loves you, who never
wronged any one, but has been made the puppet of outrageous fortune; a
man who has more wealth than all Virginia, and yet is poorer than the
lowest beggar; a man born to misfortune; a child of sorrow and of tears;
one who never loved, but to see the object of his affections blighted or
stolen; a man to whom dungeons, chains, slavery, death, hell itself
would be heaven compared to what he hath endured; such a poor wretch, my
friends, is now before you."
He could say no more, but, sinking upon a chair, buried his face in his
hands and burst into tears. The three friends gazed at him for several
seconds in astonishment; then they looked at each other for some
solution to this mystery.
"What meaneth this?" Drummond asked when he regained his voice. "Surely
I have heard that voice before. It takes me back, back into the past,
many years ago, when we were all young."
Before any one could say a word, Sir Albert started up, laid aside his
cocked hat and, brushing back his long snow-white hair from his massive
"Drummond, Lawrence, Cheeseman, friends of my youth, look on this face
and, in God's name, tell me you recognize one familiar feature left by
the hand of misfortune."
The three looked,--started to their feet, and Drummond cried:
"God in heaven! hath the sea given up its dead? _It is John Stevens_!"
"It is John Stevens, alive and in the flesh," he quickly answered. At
first they could hardly believe him, until he briefly told them the
story of his shipwreck and wonderful adventures on the island, of the
treasures untold thrown into his hands, and finally of a ship, in search
of water, putting into his poor harbor. After no little trouble he got
his treasure aboard this vessel without the crew suspecting what it was
and sailed to Europe. His vast wealth had procured all else--ship,
faithful men, the king's favor and all needful to his plans.
"Then I sailed for Virginia to meet sorrow, good friends, and live a
living death," he concluded.
"Did you know of her marriage before your arrival?"
"Yes, I was told in London by a Virginian of whom I made some inquiry. I
could not believe it at first, for Dorothe always condemned second
marriages, and oft, when ailing, predicted that I would wed when she
died, and bring a second mother over her children."
Drummond struck his fist upon the table vehemently, answering:
"'Fore God, it is always thus with the howling wenches! That which they
most disclaim will they do. She hath not waited until her husband was
dead, but hath married--"
"Drummond, hold your peace; she is the mother of my children and was
true to me while my wife. Unless you would lose my friendship, speak not
against the woman whom I still love," and John Stevens buried his white
head in his hands and trembled as if in an ague fit.
"Forgive me, my friend; forgive me; I was hasty," said Drummond. "I have
naught to say against the woman who was and still is your wife. Verily,
she hath had her punishment,--and the poor children, how they have
"I know all," John sobbed.
"What will you do?"
"Alas, I know not."
"Why not declare yourself to the world and claim your wife?"
"What! Illegalize the marriage and make an adulteress of my wife? No,
never! I pray you, my friends, pledge me on your oaths as gentlemen
never to reveal my identity, while she or I shall live."
Drummond, who was impetuous and hated Hugh Price, cried:
"And will you leave her to him?"
"Yes," was the low, meek answer.
"Will you not seek revenge?"
"'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.'"
Drummond was choking with fury and amazement. After a moment he regained
control over himself, and gasped:
"Heavens! can God permit such injustice? And you will surrender her to
"They believe themselves lawfully married. She hath committed no crime
in the sight of heaven."
"But wherefore not tear her from his arms and fly to some foreign land?"
"Nay, my friend, we have two children, a son and daughter, for whose
peace we must have a care. Dare I for their sakes declare who I am?"
Drummond was eager to put a bullet into the brain of Price; but John
Stevens was a man of peace and not of blood. His days were few on earth;
his race was almost run, and the prime and vigor of his manhood had been
wasted on a desert island. His only desire was to hover unknown about
those he loved, that they might not want or suffer while he lived, and
he had already arranged his fortune so it would descend to Robert and
Rebecca when he died.
"Yet I must live unknown, my friends. Swear to keep my secret."
They swore on their honor, and the miserable old man, whose fine apparel
was only a disguise, rose and left them. The three friends were sitting
looking at each other in speechless amazement, when the door again burst
open, and the impetuous Bacon, accompanied by Robert Stevens, entered.
"Why sit you here?" cried the general. "Have you not heard the news?"
"No; what is it?"
"Berkeley hath been reinforced, they say, by troops from England, and is
coming upon the town."
Drummond, Cheeseman and Lawrence were on their feet in a moment, their
faces evincing alarm. No one doubted the truth of the story, and they
began to hurriedly discuss the situation.
"Are we able to defend Jamestown against them?" asked the thoughtful Mr.
"No," answered Bacon.
"Then we must abandon it."
[Illustration: RUINS OF JAMESTOWN]
"They shall not find the town when they come," cried Bacon. "D--n my
blood! I will burn Jamestown, and not a stone shall be left standing
upon another. Burn it, yes burn it, so that three centuries hence naught
but its ashes and ruins will mark where it stands to-day!"
What Bacon ordered in the heat of passion was indorsed by sober reason,
and it was resolved to burn the town.
"But your own house, Mr. Drummond, will have to be burned," cried
"I will fire it with my own hand. It will be the first that burns,"
answered Drummond. Immediately the news spread that the town had been
doomed. The troops were assembled in the streets, and the people
summoned to vacate their houses. There were wailings and shrieks that
night. Robert ran to his home and told his mother, what was to be done.
She came weeping into the street and asked:
"What will become of us, my son? Whither shall we fly? We are three
helpless women without a roof to protect us."
"Until this storm hath blown away, let my ship be your home," said a
deep, sad voice at her side, and, turning about, she beheld Sir Albert
St. Croix, the man who had so strangely impressed her.
"Mother, go, take Ester and sister and go aboard the _Despair_," cried
Robert. Then, turning to the strange old man, he seized his hand and
continued, "Kind sir, you look the soul of honor. Will you care for them
until this hour has passed?"
Sir Albert's breast heaved a moment like the tumultuous storm; then he
"I will, I swear by the God we all worship!"
Robert hastily gathered up some personal effects and precious family
relics, and carried them aboard the ship with his mother, Ester and
Rebecca. On his return, he saw a bright flame dart up from the corner of
Drummond's house and heard that gentleman say:
"Farewell, dear home! Better perish thus than be a harbor for tyrants."
Drummond had fired his own house. Mr. Lawrence did the same. The street
was now filled with weeping and shrieking women and children and piles
of household goods. A moment later, and Robert saw the burning flames
leaping up about the home of his childhood--the house his father had
erected. They leaped and crackled angrily and licked the roof with their
hot, thirsty tongues, and he turned away his head. An hour later
Jamestown was no more. It has never been rebuilt, and only the ruins of
the old church mark the spot where once it stood.
Bacon and his army retreated up the country.
VENGEANCE WITH A VENGEANCE.
The longer life, the more offence;
The more offence, the greater pain;
The greater pain, the less defence;
The less defence, the greater gain:
The loss of gain long ill doth try,
Wherefore, come death and let me die.
Bacon still tarried at the Greenspring manor-house after the destruction
of Jamestown, till a messenger came with the alarming intelligence that
a strong force of royalists was advancing from the Potomac.
With his little army of dauntless patriots, he marched to face this new
danger, for there was little more to fear from Sir William Berkeley, who
remained at the kingdom of Accomac, and who would only find smoking
ruins at Jamestown.
"You do not look well," said Robert to the patriot at whose side he
rode. "Your cheek is flushed, and I believe you have a fever."
Bacon, who had contracted a disease in the trenches about Jamestown,
was very irritable. His excitable nature took fire at the slightest
provocation; but with Robert he was ever reasonable.
"I shall be better soon," he answered. "When once we have met these
devils and had this fight over with, I will be well; but I shall free
Virginia, or die in the effort."
"Have a care for your health."
"I shall live to see the tyrant more humbled than when he fled
Bacon was angry and more eager to fight as his illness increased than
when well. They crossed the lower York in boats at Ferry Point and
marched into Gloucester, where he made his headquarters at Colonel
Warner's and issued his "Mandates" to the Gloucester men to meet him at
the court house and subscribe to the Middle Plantation oath. They
hesitated; but as Colonel Brent was reported to be advancing at the head
of a thousand men, Bacon ordered the drums beat, mustered his men, and
they set out toward the Rappahanock in high spirits.
On that afternoon Bacon was occasionally irritable; at other times he
became hilarious, and at others stupid. Robert, who rode at his side,
saw that he was burning with fever, and he was glad that night when
"Spread a tent for the general, for he is sick," said Robert. The men
could not realize how sick he was. Camp fires blazed. Brent was but a
few miles away, and his forces were deserting him by scores and coming
over to Bacon, who was not thought to be dangerously ill. When Robert
entered his tent at ten that night, he found him sitting up giving some
directions for the quartering of new troops.
"Are you better, general?" he asked.
"I am very tired. I shall lie down and sleep. I will be over this in the
As long as Robert lived, he remembered those words. He knew the general
was in a raging fever, yet he little thought it would prove fatal. He
went to his own quarters on that October night and sought repose. It was
an hour before daylight, when Mr. Drummond and Mr. Lawrence awoke him.
"General Bacon is dead," they said.
"What! dead?" cried Robert.
"Yes, dead and buried. We thought it best to bury him in the forest
where his enemies could not find him. Brent is crushed; his men have
deserted him, and all are with us. The general died very suddenly in the
arms of Major Pate."
It was the purpose of the friends of liberty to keep the death of Bacon
a secret, and there is some dispute in history as to where and when he
died. News of this character cannot be suppressed. It came out, and the
republicans of Virginia began to lose heart from that hour, while the
royalists' hopes increased.
Another general was elected to fill the place made vacant by Bacon.
Drummond, Stevens, Cheeseman, or Lawrence might have organized the army
and led them to victory; but the foolish frontiersmen chose, instead of
either of these wise men, a grotesque personage named Ingram, who had
been a rope dancer, and had no more qualifications for so important a
position than an organ grinder, as the result soon proved. He was unable
to hold them together. Colonel Hansford, the most daring young officer
in Bacon's whole army, was captured at the home of his sweetheart, and
Berkeley, to whom he was taken, decreed that he should be hung.
"Thomas Hansford," cried Berkeley, "I will quickly repay you for your
part in this rebellion!"
Colonel Hansford answered, "I ask no favor but that I may be shot like a
soldier and not hanged like a dog."
The governor replied, "You are to die, not as a soldier, but as a
Hansford was a native American and the first white native (say some
historians) that perished on the gibbet. On coming to the gallows
"Take notice, I die a loyal subject and a lover of my country."
Terror-stricken, the followers of Bacon began to desert the new general.
In a few skirmishes that followed, they were worsted and broke up into
Hugh Price was foremost among the royalists searching for the rebels. He
hoped to find his wife's son and bring him to the gibbet, for Price
hated Robert with a hatred that was demoniacal. Giles Peram took
courage, and mounting a horse, joined the troopers in galloping about
the country and capturing or shooting the rebels, who, now that their
spirits were broken, seldom made any resistance.
One day at sunset Hugh Price and Giles Peram suddenly came upon a
wild-eyed, haggard young man, mounted upon a jaded steed. He had slept
on the ground, for his uncombed hair had leaves still sticking to it,
and his clothes were faded, soiled and torn. The evenings were cold, it
being late in October, and the fugitive was looking about for a place to
sleep. At a glance, both recognized him as Robert Stevens. They were
armed with loaded pistols, while Robert, though he had weapons in his
holsters, was out of powder.
"There he is, Giles; now slay him!" cried the stepfather.
Robert realized his danger, and, with his whip, lashed his horse to a
run. There came the report of a pistol from behind and a bullet whistled
above his head.
"Come on, Giles; he is unarmed," cried Mr. Price.
"Oh, are you quite sure?" cried Giles.
"I am sure. He is out of ammunition."
"That is extraordinary, very extraordinary." Mr. Peram, who had been
lingering behind, with this assurance urged his horse alongside the
"He is heading for the river!" cried Price.
"Can he cross?"
"No; his horse could scarcely swim it. Try a shot at him."
Giles Peram, who was as cruel as he was cowardly, drew one of his
pistols, as he galloped along over the grassy plain, and cocked it.
It is no easy matter even for an experienced marksman to hit a running
object from the back of a flying horse. Giles, after leaning first to
one side, then to the other, and squinting along the barrel of his
pistol, shut both eyes and pulled the trigger. When the smoke cleared
away Robert was seen sitting bolt upright in his saddle.
"He heads for the river. By the mass, I believe he is going to plunge
into it!" cried Price.
The river was in view, and the young fugitive was riding toward it at
full speed. His pursuers pressed their tired steeds in his rear, and
Robert knew his only chance for life was to swim the stream. He uttered
an encouraging shout to his horse as that noble animal sprang far out
into the water. Robert's hat fell off and floated near the shore; but
his horse swam straight across. Hugh Price, with an oath, drew his
remaining pistol, galloped to the water's edge and fired. The ball
struck four or five feet to Robert's left and in front of him, splashing
up a jet of water where it plunged in. At the instant Hugh fired, Giles
Peram's horse, unable to check his speed, would have rushed into the
river, had not Price seized the bit and stopped him. Giles, unprepared
for so sudden a halt, went over his horse, head first into the water.
Being a poor swimmer and greatly frightened, he would no doubt have
drowned, had not Hugh Price gone to his rescue and pulled him out. By
the time Giles Peram was rescued and placed safely on shore, Robert
Stevens had crossed the river and was ascending the bank.
It was so dark that they could just see the outline of the fugitive,
before he disappeared into the wood. Giles Peram was shivering from his
sudden plunge and begged to go to camp, so Hugh Price, sympathizing with
him, gave up the man hunt, and returned to the nearest camp of
royalists. "We will have him yet. He shall hang!" said Mr. Price, by way
of consoling his friend for his ducking.
They went to York, where Berkeley had established himself, and the
latter commenced a reign of terror and vengeance, which has made him
infamous in history as the most bloodthirsty tyrant of America. Major
Cheeseman was captured with Captains Wilford and Farlow. The two
captains were hung without trial, and Cheeseman was thrown into prison.
When Edmund Cheeseman was arraigned before the governor and was asked
why he engaged in Bacon's wicked scheme, before he could answer, his
young wife stepped forward and said:
"My provocation made my husband join in the cause for which Bacon
contended. But for me, he had never done what he has done. Since what is
done," she sobbed, falling on her knees in an attitude of supplication,
with her head bowed and face covered with her hands, "was done by my
means, I am most guilty; let me bear the punishment, let me be hanged,
but let my husband be pardoned."
The angry governor gazed on her for a moment with eyes which danced in
fury; then he cried:
"Away with you!" adding a brutal remark at which manhood might well
blush. Mrs. Cheeseman fainted, and her husband was carried away to the
gallows. [Footnote: Authorities differ as to the death of Cheeseman.
Some say he was hanged, others that he died in prison.]
So fearful, at first, was the cruel old baron that some of his intended
victims might escape through a verdict of acquittal by a jury, that men
were taken from the tribunal of a court-martial directly to the gallows,
without the forms of civil law.
For a time after Berkeley was established at York, Ingram still made a
show of resistance, but accepted the first terms offered and
surrendered. Only two prominent leaders remained uncaptured. These were
Lawrence and Drummond. Berkeley swore he could not sleep well until they
were hanged. The surrender of Ingram destroyed even the faintest hope of
reorganizing the patriot army, and Mr. Drummond, deserted by his
followers, was captured in the Chickahominy swamp and hurried to York to
the governor, who greeted him with bitter irony.
"Mr. Drummond," he said, "you are very welcome! I am more glad to see
you than any man in Virginia. Mr. Drummond, you shall be hanged in
half an hour."
"What your honor pleases," Mr. Drummond boldly answered. "I expect no
mercy from you. I have followed the lead of my conscience and did what
I might to free my countrymen from oppression."
He was condemned at one o'clock and hanged at four. By a cruel decree of
the governor, his brave wife Sarah was denounced as a traitress and
banished with her children to the wilderness, where, for a while, they
were forced to subsist on the charity of friends almost as poor as they.
Berkeley's rage was not yet fully satisfied. The thoughtful Mr. Lawrence
had taken care of himself, for he knew but too well what to expect,
should he be captured. Weeks passed and winter was advanced before
Berkeley heard of him. Then from one of the upper plantations came the
report that he and four other desperadoes with horses and pistols had
marched away in snow ankle-deep. Some hoped they had perished in trying
to swim the head-waters of some of the rivers; but they really traveled
southward into North Carolinia, where they were safely concealed in the
Berkeley proved himself a tiger, as he had proved himself a ruffian in
insulting Mrs. Cheeseman. The taste of blood maddened him. He tried and
executed nearly every one on whom he could lay his hands. Virginia
became a vast jail or Tyburn Hill. Four men were hung on the York,
several executed on the other side of the James River, and one was
hanged in chains at West Point. In February, 1677, a fleet with a
regiment of English troops arrived, and a formal commission to try
rebels was organized, of which Berkeley was a member. This commission
determined to kill Bland, who had been captured in Accomac. The friends
of the prisoner in England had procured and sent over his pardon; but
the commissioners were privately informed that the Duke of York
(afterward James II.) had sworn that "Bacon and Bland must die," and
with this intimation of what would be agreeable to his royal highness,
Bland was hung. It was a revel of blood. In almost every county, gibbets
rose and made the wayfarer shudder and turn away at sight of their
ghastly burdens. In all, twenty-three persons were executed, and Charles
II., disgusted with the tyranny of Berkeley, declared:
"That old fool has hanged more men in that naked country than I have
done for the murder of my father."
Shortly after the execution of Mr. Edmund Cheeseman, and before the
arrival of the English regiment, the first British troops ever brought
to Virginia, Mr. Hugh Price, who was very active in capturing rebels,
one evening brought in a miserable, half-starved, half-frozen young man,
whom he had found lying in the snow, too feeble to fly or resist. Mr.
Price was especially delighted with the capture, as the captive was
Old black Sam recognized the prisoner, and when he had been thrust in
jail to await his trial, the old negro mounted a swift horse and rode
all night across the country to the James River. Then, stealing a boat
at one of the plantations, he rowed down the stream until he came to the
_Despair_, on board of which was Mrs. Price, her daughter and Ester.
Sam's story caused instantaneous action, and next morning at daylight
Governor Berkeley was amazed to see the strange ship anchored before his
quarters, as near to shore as she could be brought. There was something
particularly menacing in the vessel, with her double rows of guns
pointed at the shore and the marines all on deck under arms. Berkeley
was alarmed. A boat was lowered, and Sir Albert St. Croix came ashore.
He hurried at once into the governor's presence.
"Sir Albert, I am pleased to see you; yet I do not understand that
demonstration," said the governor, who, like all tyrants, was a coward.
"Surely, you do not mean any hostilities toward me."
"That depends on circumstances. Have you a young man named Stevens
"Has he been tried?"
"He has and has been condemned."
"Has the sentence been executed?" asked Sir Albert, trembling with
"Then your life is saved."
"But he will be hanged at ten o'clock."
"He shall not!"
"Why, who are you, that dare defy me?"
"Governor Berkeley," said Sir Albert, in a voice trembling with
earnestness, as he led him to the window. "Look you on yon ship and see
the guns pointed at your town. But harm a hair of Robert Stevens' head,
and, by the God we both worship, I will blow you into eternity!"
Governor Berkeley sank in his seat, trembling with rage and fear. Must
he let one go, and above all Robert Stevens, whom he hated? The old man
"You have already hanged my friends Drummond and Cheeseman, and were I a
man who sought revenge, I would destroy you, as I have it in my power
At this moment the door opened, and Hugh Price, accompanied by Giles
"The scaffold is all ready to hang Robert Stevens," said Mr. Price.
"Ah! marry, it is, governor, and I trow he will make a merry sight
dangling from it," put in Giles, a smile on his face.
Sir William Berkeley's face was deathly white; but he made no response.
Mr. Price, who feared his wife's son might yet escape, urged:
"Governor, the scaffold is ready. Come, give the order for the
Sir Albert coolly drew from his coat pocket a legal looking document
and, laying it before the governor, said in a commanding tone:
"What is it?"
"A pardon for Robert Stevens."
"No, no, no!" cried Hugh Price, rushing forward to interfere.
"Back, devil, lest I forget humanity!" cried Sir Albert, and, seizing
Hugh Price by the throat, he hurled him against the wall. For a moment,
the cavalier was stunned, then, rising, he snatched his sword from
Sir Albert was not one whit behind in drawing his own blade, and, as
steel clashed against steel, Giles Peram shouted:
"Oh, Lordy! I will be killed!" and ran from the room. There was but one
clash of swords, then Price's weapon flew from his hand, and he expected
to be run through; but Sir Albert coolly said:
"Begone, Hugh Price! Your life is in my hands; but I do not want it.
You are not prepared to die. Get thee hence, lest I forget myself."
Price left the room, and Sir Albert, turning to Berkeley, asked:
"Have you signed the pardon, governor?"
"Here it is."
"Now order his release."
Half an hour later, Robert, who expected to suffer death on the
scaffold, was liberated.
"I owe this to you, kind sir," he cried, seizing Sir Albert's hand.
"I promised to save you, and I always keep my promise."
"Do you know aught of my mother, sister, and Ester?"
"All are safe aboard my vessel."
"Why do you take such interest in us, Sir Albert? You are like a father
"Do you remember your father?"
"I can just remember him. He was a noble man with a kind heart. Did you
"Yes; he was my friend. I knew him well."
"Would to heaven he had remained; our misery would not have been so
"We are all in the hands of inexorable fate; but let us talk no more.
You will have a full pardon from Charles II. soon, and then that old
fool will not dare to harm you. Not only will you be pardoned but Ester
Goffe as well."
"How know you this?" asked Robert.
"I have sent to the king for the pardons, and he will deny me nothing."
"Then I shall wed Ester and return to my father's plantation to pass my
days in peace."
"Do so, Robert, and ever remember that whatever you have, you owe it to
your unfortunate father. God grant that your life may be less stormy
When they went on board the _Despair_, there was a general rejoicing.
"Heaven bless you, our deliverer!" cried Rebecca, placing her arms about
the neck of Sir Albert and kissing him again and again.
Years seemed to have rolled away, and once more the father felt the
soft, warm arms of his baby about his neck. The ancient eyes grew dim,
and tears, welling up, overflowed and trickled down the furrowed cheeks.
So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan, that moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon; but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.
That strange ship _Despair_ still lingered before the headquarters of
the governor, much to his annoyance. In February, 1677, when the ships
and soldiers came from England, they brought a full and free pardon for
Robert Stevens and Ester Goffe.
"What power hath that strange old wizard that he leads kings as it were
by the nose?" asked the governor.
"'Fore God, I know not, governor," put in Hugh Price. "I would rather
all the rebels in Bacon's army should have escaped than this one."
As Robert was about to depart from the vessel to repair his father's
estates, near Jamestown, Sir Albert took him aside and said:
"Money you will find in abundance for your estate. Henceforth, take no
part in the quarrels of your country. Hot-blooded politicians bring on
these quarrels, and they leave the common people to fight their battles.
The care of your sister, she who is to be your wife, and your
unfortunate mother will engage all your time."
"But Mr. Price, what shall I do with him?"
"Harm him not."
"He will harm me, I trow."
"No, not with the king's favor on you; he dare not."
Robert promised to heed all the excellent advice of Sir Albert, and he
set forth with his slaves and a full purse to repair the ruined estates
on the James River. He met many old friends to whom he was kind. They
asked him many questions regarding his mysterious benefactor; but Robert
assured them that he was as much a mystery to him as to them.
Hugh Price and his associate, Giles Peram, were nonplussed, puzzled and
intimidated by the strong, vigorous, and at the same time mysterious arm
which had suddenly been raised to protect him whom they hated.
"It is extraordinary! It is very extraordinary!" declared Peram,
clearing his throat and strutting over the floor.
"Where is your wife?"
"On board the ship _Despair_."
"Bring her home. Why do you not send and bring her home? The trouble is
over, and we have put down the rebellion."
After the arrival of the commission and soldiers from England, the
hanging went on at a brisk pace, and Mrs. Price had lived like one
stupefied on board the _Despair_, not daring to go ashore. She seldom
spoke, and never save when addressed. She acted so strangely, that her
daughter feared she was losing her mind. All day long she would sit with
her sad eyes on the floor, and she had not smiled since she came aboard.
When the messenger came from the shore, with the command from Hugh Price
for her to come to the home he had provided, she started like a guilty
person detected in crime. Turning her great, sad eyes on the man who had
been their protector in their hour of peril, she asked:
"Shall I go?"
"The place of a good wife is with her husband," he answered.
Then Rebecca, appealing to him, asked:
"Must I obey Hugh Price?"
"Is he your father?"
"You are of age?"
"Then choose with whom you will live, Hugh Price, or with your brother
on the James River."
"I will live with my brother."
Mrs. Price cast her eyes on the river filled with floating ice and,
"The water is so dark and cold, and the boat is so frail."
"Shall I take you in mine?" asked Sir Albert.
"If you desire it."
The boat was lowered, and Mrs. Price was tenderly assisted into it. Then
he climbed down into the stern, seized the rudder, and gave the command
to his four sturdy oarsmen:
It was a bleak, cold, wintry day. The wind swept down the ice-filled
river. From the deck, closely muffled in wraps and robes, Rebecca saw
her mother and Sir Albert depart for the snow-clad shore. Her eyes were
blinded with tears, for she knew how unhappy her mother was. As she
watched the boat gliding forward amid the floating blocks of ice, she
was occasionally alarmed at the Deeming narrow escapes it made.
The current was very swift, for the tide was running out, and tons of
ice were all about the boat; but a skilful hand was at the helm, and the
little boat darted hither and thither, from point to point, safely
through the waters. Once she was quite sure it would be crushed between
two small icebergs; but it glided swiftly out of danger.
The nearer they approached the shore, the denser became the ice pack,
and the danger accordingly increased. At almost every moment, Rebecca
uttered an exclamation of fear lest the boat should be crushed.
Just as she thought all danger was over, and when they were within a
short distance of shore, a heavy cake of ice, which had been sucked
under by the current, suddenly burst upward with such fury as to crush
the boat. The shrieks of the unfortunate occupants filled the air for a
single second, then all sank below the cold waves.
Two heads rose to the surface a second later, and those on the ship as
well as those on shore recognized them as Sir Albert St. Croix and Mrs.
Price. Holding the screaming woman in one arm, Sir Albert nobly struck
out for shore, and no doubt would have reached it, for he was a bold
swimmer, had not a large cake of ice borne them down to a watery grave.
When they were found, three days later, they were closely locked in
each other's arms. Robert Stevens came from Jamestown, and he and his
sister had the body of their mother buried at the old churchyard in the
ruins of Jamestown. Sir Albert was also, by order of his captain, buried
at the same place.
All winter long, Captain Small of the _Despair_ remained in the York
River; but at early spring he came to the James River and, summoning
both Robert and Rebecca aboard his vessel, informed them that his dead
master had, by a will, left them a vast fortune in money, jewels and
lands, in both America and England.
"He also gave you the ship _Despair_," concluded the captain.
"This is very strange." said Robert. "I can scarcely believe it."
Captain Small, however, had the will to prove it.
"Now what will you do with the ship?" the captain asked.
"What do you advise? We know nothing of such matters."
"She would make an excellent merchantman, and I would be willing to rent
her of you and give you one half the profits."
"No, no, captain; take her, and give us one fourth."
Captain Small was delighted with his new employer's liberality, and the
name _Despair_ was changed to _Hope_. The vessel soon became famous as a
merchantman all over the world. Her honest master, Captain Small, became
wealthy, at the same time increasing the wealth of the owners.
Robert and Ester Goffe were married one year after the death of Mrs.
Price. Hugh Price never molested Robert, but gave himself up to
dissipation and was killed in a drunken brawl two years after his wife's
death. Giles Peram continued to make himself a nuisance about the home
of Robert Stevens and to annoy his sister, until the indignant brother
horsewhipped him and drove him from the premises. Shortly after Giles
was seized with fever of which he died.
Rebecca went with her brother and his wife to Massachusetts on a visit
and, while there, met a young Englishman of good family, whom she
married within a year and took up her abode in New England, while Robert
returned to Virginia to pass his days in the land of his nativity, the
wealthiest and one of the most respected in the colony.
One evening, five years after the removal of Berkeley, a stranger rode
to Robert's plantation. His face was bronzed and his frame hardened by
exposure and hardships; but his eye had the flash of an eagle's. It was
dusk when he reached Robert's plantation, and he took the planter aside
"Do you not know me?"
"Lawrence," the stranger whispered.
"What! Mr. Lawrence?"
"Whist! do not breathe it too loud. I am proscribed, and though Berkeley
is gone, Culpepper, his successor, is no friend of mine. All believe me
dead, so I am to the world; but I have something to tell you of yourself
and your parents that will interest you."
Then Mr. Lawrence told Robert a sad story which brought tears to his
eyes before it was finished.
"I have come at the risk of my life from Carolinia to tell you this, my
friend. I promised never to reveal it while he lived; but, now that both
are gone, it were best that you know."
Robert tried to prevail on him to remain; but he would not, and,
mounting his horse, he galloped away into the darkness. Stevens never
saw or heard of the "thoughtful Mr. Lawrence" again.
A few days later a man, passing the old graveyard at Jamestown, observed
that the body of Sir Albert St. Croix had been removed and placed by the
side of the woman whom he died to save. A month later, on a head-stone,
appeared the following strange inscription:
"_Father and mother sleep here_."
Before closing this volume, it will be necessary to revert once more to
the tyrant whose misrule of Virginia had brought about Bacon's
Rebellion. At last, the assembly had to beg Berkeley to desist, which he
did with reluctance. A writer of the period said, "I believe the
governor would have hanged half the country if they had let him alone."
He was finally induced to consent that all the rebels should be pardoned
except about fifty leaders--Bacon at the head of them; but these chief
leaders were attainted of treason, and their estates were confiscated.
First to suffer was the small property of the unfortunate Drummond; but
here Berkeley found the hidden rock on which his bark wrecked, for this
roused the voice of the banished Sarah Drummond, and her cry from the
wilderness of Virginia went across the broad Atlantic and reached the
throne of England. She had friends in high places in the Old World, and
she was restored, and Berkeley was censured for what he had done.
All laws made by Bacon were repealed by proclamation, and the royalists
triumphed; but Governor Berkeley was ill at ease. The Virginians hated
him for his merciless vengeance on their people, and a rumor reached his
ears that he was no better liked in England. The very king whom he had
served turned against him, and, worn down by sickness and a troubled
spirit, he sailed for England. All Virginia rejoiced at his departure,
and salutes were fired and bonfires blazed, and all nature seemed to
rejoice in the blessed hope that the reign of tyranny was ended forever.
* * * * *
Address of the Massachusetts Legislature to King
Albemarle has Stevens appointed governor
Alderman, slayer of King Philip
Andros, Major Edward, commissioned to receive the
surrender of New York
Andros and Captain Ball at Saybrook
Angel of deliverance
Arlington and Culpepper grants denounced by Bacon
Arrival of the first English troops in Virginia
Assembly begs Berkeley to desist in hanging rebels
Attack on the swamp fort
Austin, Anna, the fanatical Quaker
Bacon's "Quarter Branch"
Bacon sends a messenger to Jamestown for his commission
Bacon defeats the Indians
Bacon rousing his friends
Bacon marching on Jamestown
Bacon captures Jamestown
Bacon and Berkeley meet
Bacon commissioned by Berkeley
Bacon hangs Berkeley's spy
Bacon urged to depose Berkeley
Bacon's Indian campaign
Bacon again rallying his hosts
Bacon uses the wives of royalists as shields
Bacon repulses the attack of Berkeley's longshoremen
Bacon besieges Jamestown
Bacon enters Jamestown
Bacon burns Jamestown
Bacon marches to meet the foe on the Potomac
Bacon's death a mystery
Bacon rebels attainted of treason
Bacon's laws repealed
Baconites deserting Ingram
Battle between Claybourne and Calvert on the Potomac
Battle of the Severn, March 25, 1654
Battle of Brookfield
Battle of Bloody Run
Bennett, Richard, succeeds Berkeley
Berkeley, Sir William, Governor of Virginia
Berkeley, Sir William, character of