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Title: Stories of American Life and Adventure
Author: Edward Eggleston
Release Date: April 9, 2005 [eBook #15597]
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK STORIES OF AMERICAN LIFE AND ADVENTURE***
"Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans,"
"A First Book in American History," and
"A History of the United States and its People for the Use of Schools"
This book is intended to serve three main purposes.
One of these is to make school reading pleasant by supplying matter simple and direct in style, and sufficiently interesting and exciting to hold the reader's attention in a state of constant wakefulness; that is, to keep the mind in the condition in which instruction can be received with the greatest advantage.
A second object is to cultivate an interest in narratives of fact by selecting chiefly incidents full of action, such as are attractive to the minds of boys and girls whose pulses are yet quick with youthful life. The early establishment of a preference for stories of this sort is the most effective antidote to the prevalent vice of reading inferior fiction for mere stimulation.
But the principal aim of this book is to make the reader acquainted with American life and manners in other times. The history of life has come to be esteemed of capital importance, but it finds, as yet, small place in school instruction. The stories and sketches in this book relate mainly to earlier times and to conditions very different from those of our own day. They will help the pupil to apprehend the life and spirit of our forefathers. Many of them are such as make him acquainted with that adventurous pioneer life, which thus far has been the largest element in our social history, and which has given to the national character the traits of quick-wittedness, humor, self-reliance, love of liberty, and democratic feeling. These traits in combination distinguish us from other peoples.
Stories such as these here told of Indian life, of frontier peril and escape, of adventures with the pirates and kidnappers of colonial times, of daring Revolutionary feats, of dangerous whaling voyages, of scientific exploration, and of personal encounters with savages and wild beasts, have become the characteristic folklore of America. Books of history rarely know them, but they are history of the highest kind,—the quintessence of an age that has passed, or that is swiftly passing away, forever. With them are here intermingled sketches of the homes, the food and drink, the dress and manners, the schools and children's plays, of other times. The text-book of history is chiefly busy with the great events and the great personages of history: this book seeks to make the young American acquainted with the daily life and character of his forefathers. In connection with the author's "Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans," it is intended to form an introduction to the study of our national history.
It has been thought desirable to make the readings in this book cover in a general way the whole of our vast country. The North and the South, the Atlantic seaboard, the Pacific slope, and the great interior basin of the continent, are alike represented in these pages.
STORIES OF AMERICAN LIFE AND ADVENTURE.
A WHITE BOY AMONG THE INDIANS.
Among the people that came to Virginia in 1609, two years after the colony was planted, was a boy named Henry Spelman. He was the son of a well-known man. He had been a bad and troublesome boy in England, and his family sent him to Virginia, thinking that he might be better in the new country. At least his friends thought he would not trouble them so much when he was so far away.
Many hundreds of people came at the same time that Henry Spelman did. Captain John Smith was then governor of the little colony. He was puzzled to know how to feed all these people. As many of them were troublesome, he was still more puzzled to know how to govern them.
In order not to have so many to feed, he sent some of them to live among the Indians here and there. A chief called Little Powhatan asked Smith to send some of his men to live with him. The Indians wanted to get the white men to live among them, so as to learn to make the things that the white men had. Captain Smith agreed to give the boy Henry Spelman to Little Powhatan, if the chief would give him a place to plant a new settlement.
Spelman staid awhile with the chief, and then he went back to the English at Jamestown.
But when he came to Jamestown he was sorry that he had not staid among the Indians. Captain John Smith had gone home to England. George Percy was now governor of the English. They had very little food to eat, and Spelman began to be afraid that he might starve to death with the rest of them. Powhatan—not Little Powhatan, but the great Powhatan, who was chief over all the other chiefs in the neighborhood—sent a white man who was living with him to carry some deer meat to Jamestown. When it came time for this white man to go back, he asked that some of his countrymen might go to the Indian country with him. The governor sent Spelman, who was glad enough to go to the Indians again, because they had plenty of food to eat.
Three weeks after this, Powhatan sent Henry Spelman back to Jamestown to say to the English, that if they would come to his country, and bring him some copper, he would give them some corn for it. The Indians at this time had no iron, and what little copper they had they bought from other Indians, who probably got it from the copper mines far away on Lake Superior.
The English greatly needed corn, so they took a boat and went up to the Indian country with copper, in order to buy corn. They quarreled with the Indians about the measurement of the corn. The Indians hid themselves near the water, and, while the white men were carrying the corn on their vessel, the Indians killed some of them. About this time, seeing that the white men were so hungry, the Indians began to hope that they would be able to drive them all out of the country.
Powhatan saved Spelman from being killed by the Indians; but, now that the Indians were at war with the white men, who were shut up in Jamestown without food, they wished to kill all the white people in the country.
Spelman and a Dutchman, who also lived with Powhatan, began to be afraid that he would not protect them any longer. So, when a chief of the Potomac Indians visited Powhatan, and asked the Dutchman and the boy to go to his country, they left Powhatan and went back with them. Powhatan sent messengers after them, who killed the Dutchman. Henry Spelman ran away into the woods. Powhatan's men followed him, but the Potomacs got hold of Powhatan's men, and held them back until Spelman could get away. The boy managed at last to get to the country of the Potomac Indians.
It was very lucky for Spelman that he was among the Indians at this time. Nearly all the white people in Jamestown were killed, or died of hunger. Spelman lived among the Indians for years. During this time more people came from England, and settled at Jamestown. A ship from Jamestown came up into the Potomac River to trade. The captain of the ship bought Spelman from the Indians. He was now a young man, and, as he could speak both the Indian language and the English, he was very useful in carrying on trade between the white men and the Indians.
At the time that Henry Spelman first went among the Indians, they had no iron tools except a very few that they had bought of the white people. They had no guns, nor knives, nor hatchets. They had no hoes nor axes. They made their tools out of hard wood, shells, stones, deer horns, and other such things. They had not yet bought blankets from the white men, but made their clothes mostly out of the skins of animals.
The Indians could not learn much about the white man's arts from Spelman, because he did not know much. Besides, he had no iron of which to make tools. He learned to make arrows of cane such as we use for fishing rods. He also learned to point his arrows with the spur of a wild turkey, or a piece of stone. These arrow points he stuck into the arrow with a kind of glue. But he first had to learn how to make his glue out of deers' horns. Before he could make any of the tools, he had to make himself a knife, as the Indians did. Having no iron, the blade of his knife was made out of a beaver's tooth, which is very sharp, and will cut wood. He set this tooth in the end of a stick. You see how hard it was for an Indian to get tools. He had to learn to make one tool in order to use that in making another tool.
One of the principal things that an Indian had to do was to make a canoe; for, as the Indians had no horses, they could travel only by water, unless they went afoot. Canoes were the only boats they had. They had to make canoes without any of the tools that white men use. Let us explain this by a story about Henry and an Indian boy. The things in the story may not have happened just as they are told, but the account of how things are made by the Indians is all true.
THE MAKING OF A CANOE.
Henry had a young Indian friend whose name was Keketaw. One day Keketaw said to him, "Let us go into the woods and make a canoe."
"If we had an ax to cut down the trees," said the white boy, "or an adz, such as they have at Jamestown, or if we could get a hatchet, we might make a canoe; but we have not even a little knife."
"We will make a canoe in the Indian way," said Keketaw. "I will show you how. Let us get ready."
"What shall we do to get ready?" asked Henry.
"We must take our bows, and we must make many arrows, so as to get something to eat, and we must have fishing lines," said Keketaw, "or we shall not be able to live in the woods."
For some days the two boys were getting ready. It took them a long time to scrape a piece of bone into a fishhook by means of a beaver's tooth set in a stick, but they made three of these hooks. They made some more hooks not so good as these by tying a splinter of bone to a little stick. Keketaw's mother made fishing lines for them. She took the long leaves of the plant which we call Spanish bayonet, and separated these threads into a hard cord, rubbing them between her hand and her knee.
"We must have swords," said Keketaw.
"We can cut our meat with this," said Henry, pointing to a knife made of cane, such as the Indians called a pamesack.
"But the Monacans may come," said Keketaw. "If we should see one sticking up his head, I should want a sword to fight him with; and if we should kill him, we could cut off his scalp with it;" and Keketaw's eyes glistened a little at the thought of fetching home a Monacan's scalp.
The Monacans were fierce Indians of a tribe living in the country west of the Powhatan Indians. They were deadly enemies of Keketaw's tribe.
The two boys, by much slow work with stones and shells and beaver-tooth chisels, managed to scrape a wooden sword into shape. This, Henry was to wear at his back. Keketaw, for his part, found a piece of deer's horn. He stuck it into a stick so that it made something like a small pickax. With this he said he could quickly break the head of a Monacan. It would also serve as a sort of hatchet.
The land round the village in which Keketaw lived had been cleared of trees. This had been done by burning the trees in order to make room for fields. In these fields the Indians planted corn, beans, pumpkins, and tobacco, and a plant something like a sunflower, which is called an artichoke. Of the root of this artichoke they made a kind of bread.
For many miles there were no good canoe trees near the water. They had all been picked out and used. Henry and Keketaw traveled twenty miles into a deep woods, and chose a tree that would make a good canoe, and that stood near a stream which ran into the James River.
The first thing they did was to break down young trees and boughs, and build themselves a brush tent. They made a bed out of dry leaves. The first night they had nothing to eat, for they had no time to shoot any game. The next morning they were too hungry to sleep late, and they knew that squirrels are early risers. Soon after daylight the Indian boy killed a squirrel with an arrow. Having no fire, they ate it without cooking; for, when one is a savage, one must not be too nice.
How should they get a fire? They first took a piece of dry wood, which they scraped flat with stones. Then, with a blow of his tomahawk of deer's horn, Keketaw made a round hole in the wood. One end of a dry stick was placed in this hole. The other end was supported in the hollow of a shell which Keketaw held in his hand.
The string to Henry's bow was made of one of the cords or sinews of a deer's leg. He wound this once round the stick. With his left hand, Keketaw then put some dry moss about the stick where it entered the hole in the dry wood.
When all was ready, Henry drew his bow to and fro like a saw. Keketaw pressed the shell down on the upper part of the stick. The bow-string holding the stick made it whirl in the hole beneath. At first this seemed to produce no effect. After a while the rapid rubbing of the piece of wood in the hole made heat. Presently a very thin thread of smoke began to come up through the little heap of moss about the stick. Henry was now pretty well out of breath, but he sawed the bow faster than ever. At last the moss began to smolder and to show fire.
Keketaw then withdrew the smoking stick, and gathered the moss together. Lying down by it, and putting his arm about it, the Indian lad began to blow it gently. The smoldering fire increased until a little blue flame, which he could barely see, appeared. Keketaw now added some very thin paper-like bits of dry bark and some small twigs to the pile of smoking moss. These caught fire, and sent up a straw-colored flame. Henry put on larger twigs until there was at last a crackling blaze.
Taking lighted sticks from this fire, the boys made a fire all round the base of a large tree from which they meant to get the canoe. This fire they kept going constantly for two days. They even got up at night to put dead boughs on, it.
Burning down a Tree.
On the third night of their stay in camp, they didn't lie down at the usual time, for the tree was burned nearly through. About two o'clock in the morning a little breeze rustled in the leaves of the great tree. Slowly at first, then more and more rapidly, the tree fell with a tremendous crashing sound, until with a final thundering roar it lay flat upon the ground.
Sleepy as the boys were, they did not lie down for the night until they had built a new fire near the trunk of the tree. Having no ax to chop with, they had to burn the log in two. They put the fire at a place that would cut off enough of the tree trunk to make a canoe.
The next day they built up this new fire, and then went fishing in the neighboring stream with their bone fishhooks, and lines made of the Spanish bayonet leaf. In two days after the fall of the tree they had burned off the log that was to make their canoe, and had scraped off all the bark with shells.
They then lighted little fires on top of the log, and, when these had charred the wood for an inch or more in depth in any place, they removed the fire and scraped away the charcoal. Then they built another little fire in the same place. These little fires were made with gum taken from the pine trees.
By burning and scraping they gradually dug out the inside of their boat, scraping out one end of it while they were burning out the other, and working at it day after day.
The only tools they had for scraping were shells from the river, and sharp stones. Keketaw sometimes used his deer-horn tomahawk for the same purpose. It was fourteen days from the time they first lighted the fire at the foot of the tree until their canoe was finished. Two more days were spent in making paddles. This work was also done by burning and scraping.
When all was done, the canoe was slid down the soft bank into the water. It floated right side up to the delight of its makers. The boys now thought it would be a fine stroke to take a deer home with them. So they pulled one end of their canoe up on the shore, and started out to look for one.
But the first tracks they found were not deer tracks. They were the footprints of men. Keketaw made a sign to Henry by turning the palm of his hand toward the earth, and then moving the hand downward. This meant to keep low, and make no noise. Then Keketaw climbed a high pine tree. From the top of the tree he could see a number of Indians at a spring of water.
The boy slid down the tree in haste. "Monacans on the war path!" he whispered as he reached the ground.
Swiftly and silently the two boys hurried back to their canoe. They wasted no time in admiring it. They gathered their weapons and fishing lines, and got aboard. It was not a question of killing Monacans now, but of saving themselves and their friends. They rowed with all their might from the start.
For hours they kept their new paddles busy. They reached the village after dark, and when they uttered the dreadful word "Monacans," it ran from one wigwam to another. The women and children shuddered with fear. The warriors smeared their faces with paint, to make themselves uglier than ever, and departed. Soon after the boys had started home, the Monacans had found their camp fire still burning. Thinking they had been discovered, and knowing that a strong party of the Powhatan Indians might come after them, the Monacans had hurried back to their own home more swiftly than they had come.
SOME THINGS ABOUT INDIAN CORN.
When the white people first came to America, they had never seen Indian corn, which did not grow in Europe. The Indians raised it in little patches about their villages. Before planting their corn, they had to clear away the trees that covered the whole country. Their axes were made of stone, and were not sharp enough to cut down a tree. The larger trees they cut down by burning them off at the bottom. They killed the smaller trees by building little fires about them. When the bark all round a tree was burned, the tree died. As dead trees bear no leaves, the sun could shine through their branches on the ground where corn was to be planted.
Having no iron, they had to make their tools as they could. In some places they made a hoe by tying the shoulder blade of a deer to a stick. In other places they used half of the shell of a turtle for a hoe or spade to dig up the ground. This could be done where the ground was soft. In North Carolina the Indians had a little thing like a pickax which was made out of a deer's horn tied to a stick. An Indian woman would sit down on the ground with one of these little pickaxes in her hand. She would dig up the earth for a little space until it was loose. Then she would make a little hole in the soft earth. In this she would plant four or five grains of corn, putting them about an inch apart. Then she covered these grains with soft earth. In Virginia, where the ground was soft and sandy, the Indians made a kind of spade out of wood.
Sometimes they planted a patch a long way off from their bark house, so that they would not be tempted to eat it while it was green. The Indians were very fond of green corn. They roasted the ears in the ashes. Some of the tribes held a great feast when the first green corn was fit to eat, and some of them worshiped a spirit that they called the "Spirit of the Corn."
When the corn was dry, the Indians pounded it in order to make meal or hominy of it. Sometimes they parched the corn, and then pounded it into meal. They carried this parched meal with them when they went hunting and when they went to war. They could eat it with a little water, without stopping to cook it. They called it Nokick, but the white people called it No-cake.
When the Pilgrims came to Cape Cod, they sent out Miles Standish and some other men to look through the country and find a good place for them to settle. Standish tried to find some of the Indians in order to make friends with them, but the Indians ran away whenever they saw him coming. One day he found a heap of sand. He knew it had been lately piled up, because he could see the marks of hands on the sand where the Indians had patted it down. Standish and his men dug up this heap. They soon came to a little old basket full of Indian corn. When they had dug further, they found a very large new basket full of fine corn which had been lately gathered.
The white men, who had never seen it before, thought Indian corn very beautiful. Some of the ears were yellow, some were red. On other ears blue and yellow grains were mixed. Standish and his men said it was a "very goodly sight." The Indian basket was round and narrow at the top. It held three or four bushels of corn, and it was as much as two men could do to lift it from the ground. The white men wondered to see how handsomely it was woven.
Standish and his Men find Corn.
Near the pile of corn they found an old kettle which the Indians had probably bought from some ship. They filled this kettle with corn, They also filled their baskets with it. They wanted the corn for seed. They made up their mind to pay the Indians whenever they could find them. The next summer they found out who were the owners of this buried corn, and paid them for all the corn they had taken. If they had not found this corn, they would not have had any to plant the next spring, and so they would have starved to death.
The people that were with Miles Standish settled at Plymouth. They were the first that came to live in New England. An Indian named Squanto came to live with the white people at Plymouth. Squanto was born at this very place. He had been carried away to England by a sea captain. Then he had been brought back by another captain to his own country. When he got back to Plymouth, he found that all the people of his village had died from a great sickness. He went to live with another tribe near by. When the white people came to Plymouth, they settled on the ground where Squanto's people had lived. As he could speak some English, and as all his own tribe were dead, he now came to live with the white people.
The people at Plymouth did not know how to plant the corn they had found, but Squanto taught them. By watching the trees, the Indians knew when to put their corn into the ground. When the young leaf of the white oak tree was as large as a squirrel's ear, they knew that it was time to put their corn into the ground. Squanto taught the white people how to catch a kind of fish which were used to make their corn grow. They put one or two fishes into each hill of corn, but they were obliged to watch the cornfield day and night for two weeks after planting. If they had not watched it, the wolves would have dug up the fishes, and the corn with them.
The white people learned also to cook their corn as the Indians did. They learned to eat hominy and samp, and these we still call by their Indian names. "Succotash" is another Indian word. The white people learned from the Indians to use the husks of Indian corn to make things. The Indians made ropes of corn husks, and in some places they made shoes of plaited husks. The white people in early times made their door mats and horse collars and beds of corn husks. They also twisted and wove husks to make seats for their chairs.
Of all the plants that grew in America, Indian corn was the most important to the Indians. It was also of the most value to the first white people who came to this country.
SOME WOMEN IN THE INDIAN WARS.
When white people first came to this country, they had much trouble with the Indians. After a while, when they had learned to defend themselves and got used to danger, they did not mind it much. Even the women became as brave as soldiers.
In very early times there were some families of people from Sweden living not far from where Philadelphia now stands. One day the women were all together boiling soap. It was the custom then to make soap at home. Water was first poured through ashes to make lye. People put this lye into a large kettle, and then threw into it waste pieces of meat and bits of fat of all kinds. After boiling a long time, this mixture made a kind of soft soap, which was the only soap the early settlers had. The large kettle in which the soap was boiled was hung on a pole. This pole was held up by two forked sticks driven into the ground. A fire was kept burning under the kettle. Of course, this soap boiling took place out of doors.
Some Indians, creeping through the woods, saw the women together without any men. They thought it a good chance to kill them or make them prisoners; but the women caught sight of the Indians, and ran away to their little church. The churches in that day were often built so they could be used for forts. The church to which these women ran was one of this kind. But the women had no guns with them. They knew that when they got into the church they would have nothing to fight with. So two of them took hold of the ends of the pole on which the kettle of boiling soap was hanging, and carried the kettle into the little church with them.
The Indians tried to get into the church, but every time an Indian climbed up to get in, a woman would just dip up a ladleful of boiling soap, and dash it on him. This was a kind of fighting the Indians did not like. They were not used to soap in any form. So, when an Indian was scalded by the soap, he would run away in great pain, and not try it again. The next Indian that came got some of the same hot medicine. He also would have to go away to cool off, if he could.
Blowing a Conch Shell.
While some of the women were watching the Indians, and fighting them with hot soap, one of them took up a dinner horn and blew it. This dinner horn was made of a great shell called a conch shell. The tip of a conch shell was sawed off so as to make a hole in it. By blowing into this hole, a very loud noise could be made. Such horns were used in that day to call people to dinner, and to call the neighbors when there was any danger. The woman blew the conch-shell horn, and kept on blowing.
The men who were away in the woods heard the sound of the horn. They knew that something was wrong, because the horn was blowing when it was not dinner time. Either a house was on fire or the Indians had come. The men took up their guns and hurried toward the little church. When the Indians saw the men coming, they ran away.
There was a woman in Massachusetts named Bradley. She had once been a prisoner among the Indians. She lived in a blockhouse which had a high fence of posts set up close together all round it to keep the Indians out. Such a fence was called a stockade. One day Mrs. Bradley was boiling soap. The gate of the stockade had been left open a little way. Suddenly she saw an Indian, with war paint on his face and his tomahawk in his hand, rushing in at the gate. The Indian thought it would be an easy thing to kill Mrs. Bradley. But the woman was too quick for him. She dashed a ladle of boiling soap upon him before he could run away. The soap was so hot that the Indian was killed by it.
The Indians came once more to take Mrs. Bradley. This time, not having any soap, she got a gun and shot the foremost one dead. The rest ran away.
In King Philip's War the Indians tried to take the town of Hadley. The men of the town fought hard, but the Indians were getting the best of the battle. A little cannon had been sent from Boston. It reached Hadley while the battle was going on. As all the men were busy fighting, the women loaded the cannon themselves. First they put in powder, and then small shot and nails. When the cannon was loaded, the women took it to the men, who pointed it into the thickest of the crowd of Indians, and fired it. A hail-storm of nails was a new thing to the Indians. Those who were not killed ran away very much frightened.
There was a young girl in Maine who was in a house when the Indians attacked it. She held the door shut until thirteen women and children could get out of the house by the back door, and pass into a blockhouse, which is a kind of fort. The Indians beat down the door at last, and then knocked down the brave girl behind it, but they did not kill her.
Sometimes the Indians attacked a blockhouse when there were none but women in it. In such cases the women would put on hats, and fix their hair so as to look like men. Then they would use their guns well. The savages, thinking there were men in the place, would go away.
There was one girl who was a captive among the Indians for three weeks. One day she saw a horse running loose in the woods. She stripped some tough bark from a tree, and made a bridle of it. Then she caught the horse, and put her bark bridle on him. It was just growing dark when she climbed on his bare back, for she had no saddle. She turned the horse's head toward the settlements, and rode hard all night. The next morning she was safe among her friends.
THE COMING OF TEA AND COFFEE.
When the first settlers came to this country, tea and coffee were unknown to them. The favorite drink of that time was a kind of weak beer, which was usually made at home. The first settlers in America could not buy drinks such as they had had in England, and in a new country they often could not make them. So they found out ways of making other drinks in place of them. What we call root beer and birch beer, and a drink flavored with the chips of the hickory tree, were made in New England. Farther south the people made a kind of drink by mixing water and molasses together, and putting in Indian corn.
Such drinks were taken at meals as we take tea and coffee. People also drank a great deal of cider. As the cows hardly ever gave any milk in winter, children were given cider and water to drink. But about fifty years after the time that the first settlers came to this country, people in England began to get tea and coffee. Tea and coffee were soon after brought into this country. At first they were thought to be medicines good for many diseases. Little books were written to tell how many diseases these new drinks would cure. Root beer and birch beer, and tea and coffee, were good things in one way. After they came into use, people did not care so much for stronger drinks.
When tea first came, it was very fashionable. It was called the new China drink. Along with the tea, people brought from China little teacups to drink it from. Most of the cups before this time had been made of pewter. The new cups and saucers were called chinaware. They also brought from China pretty little tables on which they set the teacups when they drank the tea.
When people first got tea in country places, they did not know how to use it. There was a minister in Connecticut who bought two pounds of tea in New York. He took it home with him, and put it away to use when anybody in his house should be ill. He wanted the tea for medicine. His daughters had heard about the fine ladies in town who took tea. They were curious to taste it, and were not willing to wait until they should be ill. So one afternoon, without letting their father know it, they asked two young men who were friends of theirs to the house. Then they got out the package of tea, intending to treat themselves and the young men to a new pleasure. They knew nothing about making tea. When they had boiled it a long time, they poured off the tea and threw it away. They put the tea leaves on a dish, and tried to eat them as one would eat spinach. This is the way they punished themselves for disobeying their father.
Before the Revolution, when gentlemen called at fine houses in the afternoon, the ladies always gave them tea to drink. As soon as a gentleman's little cup was empty, one of the ladies would fill it up again, and it was not polite to refuse to drink all the tea that was offered. A French prince who was in Philadelphia during the Revolution drank twelve little cups of tea one afternoon. The ladies kept giving him more, and the poor prince did not know how to stop them until another French gentleman told him privately that if he would lay his teaspoon across the top of the cup no more tea would be poured in. He put the teaspoon across the teacup as a sign that he did not wish to drink any more.
A Colonial Tea Party.
Long after tea and coffee were in use in this country they were not known in the backwoods. The people on the frontier drank tea made from the root of the sassafras tree or from the leaves of some wild vines. The whole work of preparing food was done at home. When they wanted to grind meal, they did it by pounding corn in a hole cut in the stump of a tree. They used a large stone pounder which was tied by a rope to a limb of a tree above. After each blow the limb would spring back and raise the pounder. Their corn meal was sifted through a sieve made of deerskin with little holes punched through it. They had to make their shoes and hats and caps themselves, and to weave their cloth at home.
A boy who lived on the west side of the Alleghany Mountains in those days afterward wrote a book telling all about this rough life. His name was Joseph Doddridge. He spent his boyhood in a log cabin, in constant danger from Indians. The settlers had built a fort in the middle of the settlement. Sometimes in the night Joseph would hear a man tapping gently on the back window of his father's cabin. As soon as anybody waked up, the man would whisper, "Indians!" Joseph's father would then take down his gun. The children would be dressed in the dark as quickly as possible. Such things as would be needed in the fort were then picked up. Not a word was spoken, nor was any candle lighted. Even the little children learned to be perfectly silent, and the dogs were taught not to bark. When all was ready, the family would hurry away along the foot path to the fort. All the other families in the settlement would be called in the same way.
Every fall these settlers sent pack horses over the mountains. The horses were loaded with the skins of animals. When they came back, they carried salt, which was the one thing that could not be made in the settlement. But the men never thought it worth while to bring home with them tea and coffee or other unnecessary things.
When Joseph was about seven years of age, he was sent over the mountains to school. The little boy was very much puzzled when he first saw a house that was plastered inside. He had never in his life seen anything but a cabin built of logs. He could not understand how a plastered house was built. It seemed to him like something that had grown that way.
When supper time came in this plastered house, he saw a teacup and saucer for the first time in his life. The people in his neighborhood used wooden bowls to drink out of. But here he saw what seemed to him to be a little cup standing in a bigger one. He had never heard of coffee. He only knew that the brownish-looking stuff in his cup was not milk, or hominy, or soup. What to do with the little cups, or how to make use of the spoon that was in them, he could not tell, so he watched the big folks handle their cups and spoons. He drank the coffee just as they did, but he disliked it very much. It made the tears come into his eyes to drink it. When he got his cup nearly empty, it was filled again. He did not dare to say that he had had enough, and he did not know what to do. At last he saw one man turn his empty cup bottom upward in the saucer, and lay his little spoon across the bottom of the cup. That was the custom in those days. He saw that this man's cup was not filled any more. So Joseph drank his coffee as quickly as possible, turned his cup over in the saucer, and laid the spoon across the bottom. He was delighted that he did not have to drink any more coffee.
In the days when our country belonged to England, white people were brought here to be sold. Some of these were poor people who could not get a good living in England. They came over to this country without any money. The captain of the ship in which they came sold them in this country to pay their passage.
Men and women who were sold had to serve four years; and boys and girls, a longer time. The person sold was just like a slave until his time was out. The man who had bought him might beat him, or sell him to another master. Many of these white slaves did not get enough to eat.
Here are some stories of boys who were brought to this country and sold before the Revolution. They are all true stories.
THE STORY OF PETER WILLIAMSON.—TWICE A SLAVE.
One day a boy named Peter Williamson was walking along the streets of Aberdeen in Scotland. The little fellow was eight years old. Two men met him, and asked him to go on board a ship with them. When he got on board, he was put down in the lower part of the ship with other boys. The ship sailed to America with twenty boys. Like Peter, the other lads had been stolen from their parents. They were taken to Philadelphia and sold, to work for seven years.
Little Peter was lucky enough to fall into the hands of a kind master. Among those who came to buy boys off this ship was a man who had himself been stolen from Scotland when he was young. He felt sorry for little Peter when he saw him put up for sale. The price the cruel captain asked for him was about fifty dollars. The Scotchman paid this money, and took Peter for his boy. He sent him to school in the winter, and treated him kindly. Peter, for his part, was a good boy, and did his work faithfully. He staid with his master after his time was out.
When Peter was about seventeen years old, this good master died. He left to Peter about six hundred dollars in money for being a good boy. He also gave him his best horse and saddle and all his own clothes. Some years after this, Peter married, and went to live in the northern part of Pennsylvania. He was by this time a man of property.
One night, when his wife was away from home, the Indians came about his house. He got a gun and ran upstairs. He pointed the gun at the Indians, but they told him that if he would not shoot they would not kill him. So he came down, and gave himself up as a prisoner.
The Indians treated him very cruelly. He was with them more than a year. His sufferings were so great that he wished sometimes that he was dead. He knew that if he ran away the Indians would probably catch him, and kill him in some cruel way. But one night, when the Indians were all asleep, he resolved to take the risk. You may believe that when he had started he ran with all his might.
When daylight came, he hid himself in a hollow tree. After a while he heard the Indians running all about the tree. He could hear them tell one another how they would kill him when they found him. But they did not think to look into the tree.
The next night he ran on again. He came very near running into a camp of Indians. But at last he came in sight of the house of a friend. He was tired out, and starving. He had hardly any clothes left on him. He knocked at the door. The woman who saw him thought that he was an Indian. She screamed, and the man of the house got his gun to kill him. But he quickly told his friend that he was no Indian, but Peter Williamson. Everybody had given him up for dead. But now all his friends were happy to see him alive once more. He had twice been carried into slavery,—once by cruel white men, and once by yet more cruel red men.
SOLD LIKE JOSEPH.—STORIES OF TWO KIDNAPPED BOYS.
You have heard the beautiful story of Joseph in the Bible. You remember that he was sold by his brothers. Then he was carried into Egypt, where he became a great man.
In 1730 there was a little English lad at sea with his uncle, who was the captain of a ship. Whether the boy's father and mother were dead or not, history does not tell. But the boy was sailing on his uncle's ship, as though he were the captain's son.
One day the captain was taken ill at sea. After a while he died. The mate and the sailors thought that they would like to steal the ship and all the captain's property. But it now all belonged to the little boy. Like Joseph's brothers, the sailors laid a plan to get the boy out of the way. You remember that Joseph's brothers saw some slave traders going by. These traders were Arabs, like the Arabs that carry off slaves to-day. Joseph's brothers stopped the Arabs, and sold little Joseph to them. The Arabs took Joseph to Egypt and sold him.
Just so the mate and his men saw a ship coming toward them. This ship had a great many people on board. They were Irish people, who were being taken to America to be sold as servants.
The mate hailed the ship, and made a bargain with the captain and the mate. He sold the poor little boy, who had no friends, to this captain.
Then the mate and his men sailed away. What became of them we do not know; but the ship, loaded with white servants, sailed to Boston. It landed at the Long Wharf, a pier running far out into the water. The servants were obliged to run up and down this wharf. The people who came to buy watched them to see how strong they might be.
The little boy sold by the mate was there. He ran up and down with the others, to show how nimble his legs were. He was bought by a Mr. Willard.
Selling the Captain's Nephew.
The boy served out his time, and became free. He became a well-known officer in the Indian wars. His name was Johnson. He did not become so great as Joseph in Egypt, but, like Joseph, he gained honor in the country into which he had been sold as a slave.
Here is another story of the same kind. A little boy six years old got lost in London. After he had wandered about a good while, a ship captain met him, and told him that he would take him to his father. The captain took him into a boat, put him on board his ship, carried him to Maryland, and sold him. After the boy had served out his time and grown to be a man, he became a rich farmer.
The wicked ship captain who carried off the boy was caught stealing many years afterward. In that day, thieves were often sold into America for seven years, as a punishment. This captain who had sold others was now put on a ship and sent to be sold in Maryland. The man who bought him was the very person whom he had carried off when he was a boy.
You remember how much Joseph's brothers were afraid of him when they found themselves in his power. This wicked old sea captain was frightened when he saw that he was now a slave to the boy he had stolen. He was so much alarmed that he killed himself.
LITTLE LORD SOLD INTO BONDAGE.
There lived in Ireland a long time ago a certain Lord Altham. The time was about sixty years before our American Revolution. This Lord Altham was a weak and foolish man. He quarreled with his wife, and sent her away. He wasted his money in wicked living, and got into debt. He had a little son named James Annesley. "Jemmy," as he was called, was sent to a boarding school; but the father grew more wicked, and more careless of his son. He sent the boy away, and pretended that he was dead. He did this because he wanted to sell some property that he could not sell if Jemmy were alive.
Jemmy found himself badly treated where he lived. When he complained, he was told that his father did not pay his board: so he ran away. He lived in the streets with rough boys. He ran on errands for pay, like the other little street boys. But still the boys knew that Jemmy was the son of a lord. Strangers were surprised to hear a little ragged boy called "my lord" by his playmates.
When he was about thirteen years old, his father died. Then Jemmy Annesley became Lord Altham in place of his father; but his uncle Richard, who was a cruel man, took Jemmy's property, and called himself Lord Altham.
The wicked uncle was afraid that people would find out that Jemmy was alive, and he sent a man to see where the boy was. When the boy was found, his uncle accused him of stealing a silver spoon. He hired three policemen to arrest the boy and put him on a ship. Poor Jemmy wept bitterly. He told the people he was afraid his uncle would kill him. The ship took him to Philadelphia, where he was sold to a farmer to serve until he should be of age.
Kidnapping a Lord.
One day, when he was about seventeen years old, he came into his master's house with a gun in one hand and a squirrel in the other. There were two strangers sitting by the fire. They had found the door open, and had walked in.
One of the men said, "Are you a servant in this house?"
"I am," said James.
"What country did you come from?"
"We are from Ireland ourselves," said one of the strange men. "What part of Ireland are you from?"
"From the county of Wexford."
"We are from that county. What is your name?"
"I never heard that name there," said the traveler.
"Did you know Lord Altham?" asked the boy.
"Well, I am his son."
"What!" cried the stranger, "you the son of Lord Altham! Impossible!"
But the young man insisted that he was Lord Altham's son.
"Tell me how Lord Altham's house stands," said the stranger.
The young man told him enough to show that he knew all about the place. Then the stranger said, that, if James ever came to Ireland to claim his estate, he would do what he could to help him.
James Annesley was badly treated by his master. At length he ran away, but he was retaken, and put into a jail in Lancaster. He was kept in prison a good while. He had a fine voice, and he amused himself by singing. The people used to stand outside of the jail to hear him sing.
For running away he was obliged to serve a still longer time. He spent thirteen years in slavery.
When he got free at last, he told Mr. Ellis of Philadelphia about his case. This kind-hearted man gave him a passage on a ship going to the West Indies. An English fleet was then in the West Indies. It was commanded by the famous Admiral Vernon. When the brave admiral heard James Annesley's story, he took him to England. In England James found friends ready to help him.
There was a long lawsuit, but James's old friends and schoolmates came to court as witnesses for him. One of the men who had talked with him while he was a servant in Pennsylvania told the Court about it. Two of the policemen that had helped to put little Jemmy on shipboard confessed the dreadful act they had done.
Then the jury gave a verdict that James Annesley was the true Lord Altham. There was great joy among the people, and everybody detested the cruel uncle. The people made songs about him, and sang them under his windows. James Annesley was now called Lord Altham. But before the young lord came into possession of his title and his property, he was taken ill and died.
I am glad that we live in better times. Children are not kidnapped and sold now.
THE LAST BATTLE OF BLACKBEARD.
Our country now reaches from one ocean to the other. But in the days before the Revolution there were only English colonies stretching up and down the Atlantic coast. Merchandise was carried from one colony to another, and from one country to another, in slow-going sailing vessels, for there were neither railroads nor steamships.
In those old times there were robbers on the sea. We call sea robbers pirates. These men carried cannon on their ships, and they robbed any vessels not stronger than they were. In our days of large steamships a pirate would not stand any chance of getting away. He would soon be caught. Some of the pirates of old times sailed up and down the American coast. They captured ships sailing from America to Europe and from Europe to America. The worst of all these pirates was Blackbeard.
His real name was Thatch. He was called Blackbeard because he wore a long black beard that covered his face. This made him look frightful in that day, when other men shaved their faces smooth. He divided his beard into locks, and twisted each lock, tying it at the end with ribbons. To make himself look still worse, he fastened some of these twists over his ears.
When he was fighting against another ship, he wore a strap over his shoulders to which were fastened large pistols. In those days, cannon were touched off by means of a slow match, a kind of cord that burns slowly like punk. When Blackbeard went into battle, he twisted some of these slow matches or cords round his head, and stuck some of them under his hat. The ends of these matches were burning, and they looked like fiery, hissing snakes. With his beard turned back over his ears, and fire all about his head, he seemed to be a tall fiend.
Blackbeard was more like a fiend than a man. He was cruel and wicked in every way. Some bad men are sometimes kind-hearted, but Blackbeard was always cruel. He would shoot even his own men in order to make his crew afraid of him.
He did much of his bad work on the coast of North Carolina. Here he found bays and sounds where the water was shallow. Large ships could not easily follow him into these places. The Governor of North Carolina was a bad man. He took part of Blackbeard's plunder, and let Blackbeard go safely about the country. The people were afraid of the pirate. They sent to the Governor of Virginia, and asked him to fit out a ship to capture Blackbeard.
Two sloops that could sail in shallow water were sent. Lieutenant Maynard was the commander. The ships left Virginia secretly. No one knew where they were going.
When Maynard came in sight of Blackbeard's sloop, he hung out his flag. Blackbeard took a glass of rum and drank it, calling to Maynard, "I'll give you no quarter, nor take any."
Maynard replied, "I do not expect any quarter from you, nor will I give any."
This meant that neither of them would take any prisoners, but that every man must fight for his life.
Maynard tried to run alongside Blackbeard's ship. He wanted to take his men on board the pirate ship, and fight it out on her deck. But Blackbeard had put a large negro near to the gunpowder on his ship. He said to the negro, "If the men from the other ship get on board of ours, you must set fire to the gunpowder, and blow us all up."
Maynard was running toward the pirate ship to get on board; but Blackbeard fired all the cannon on that side of his ship, and killed some of Maynard's men. This was really lucky for Maynard; for, if he had got on board, the negro would have set fire to the gunpowder, and the pirates and Maynard's men would all have been blown to pieces at once.
Maynard now sent his men down into the hold of the ship. They were out of sight of the pirates, but they had their pistols and swords ready. The sloops were soon close together, and Blackbeard's men threw boxes full of powder and shot, and pieces of lead and iron, on the deck of Maynard's sloop. These were so fixed as to go off like bombshells. But, as nearly all of Maynard's men were down below the deck, these boxes did little harm.
Blackbeard, thinking that most of Maynard's men had been killed, jumped on board the sloop with fourteen men. Maynard now called his men from below, and there was a desperate fight. Blackbeard was shot five times, and was wounded with swords; but the old monster fought until he fell down dead while cocking his pistol. The rest of the pirates on the deck of Maynard's ship were taken prisoners.
Maynard's other sloop was fighting with the men left on board Blackbeard's vessels. These surrendered, but they had trouble to keep the big negro from setting fire to the gunpowder and blowing them all up.
Maynard took away from the Governor of North Carolina many hogsheads of sugar that Blackbeard had stolen. Then he hung the great ugly head of the pirate at the bow of his ship, and sailed back to Virginia in triumph.
AN OLD PHILADELPHIA SCHOOL.
There was a schoolmaster in Philadelphia before the Revolution who did not like to beat his pupils as other masters of that time did. When a boy behaved badly, he would take his switch and stick it into the back of the boy's coat collar so that the switch should rise above his head in the air. He would then stand the boy up on a bench in sight of the school, in order to punish him by making him ashamed.
This schoolmaster's name was Dove. If any boy was not at school in time, the master would send a committee of five or six of the scholars to fetch him. One of this committee carried a lighted lantern, while another had a bell in his hand. The tardy scholar had to march down the street in broad daylight with a lantern to show him the way, and a boy ringing the school bell to let him know that it was time for him to be there.
The Tardy Schoolmaster.
One morning Mr. Dove slept too late, or forgot himself. The boys made up a committee to bring the teacher to school. They took the lantern and the bell with them. Mr. Dove said they were quite right. He took his place in the procession, and the people saw Schoolmaster Dove taken to school late with a lantern and a bell.
The larger schoolboys of that time were very fond of foot races. They would take off their coats and tie handkerchiefs about their heads before starting. The short breeches they wore were fastened at the knee by bands. When they were going to run a race, they would loosen these bands, and pull off their shoes and stockings. Some of the boys ran barefoot in this way, but others wore Indian moccasins. The race course was round a block; that is, about three quarters of a mile. Crowds would gather to see the boys run, and the people rushed from one side of the block to the other to see which was leading in the race.
A DUTCH FAMILY IN THE REVOLUTION.
What is now the State of New York was first settled by people from Holland who spoke the Dutch language. New York afterward became an English colony, but the Dutch settlers and their descendants still spoke the language of Holland, at the time of the American Revolution.
In Flatbush, which is now a part of Brooklyn, was a family that spoke the Dutch language, while they were true Americans in feeling. When the British landed on Long Island, they got ready to leave the town. The horses were hitched to the wagon, and such things as were thought most valuable were put in. The first thing they put into the wagon was the great Dutch Bible with heavy brass clasps. A tall clock was also carefully lifted into the wagon. Then clothing and other things followed.
The father of the family told the two faithful negro men, Cæsar and his son Mink, how to take care of things. Femmetia, the most active of the daughters, had the whip in her hand, and, as the sound of firing was coming nearer and nearer, she tapped the horses on their ears, and the family dashed away to the house of a cousin who lived beyond the region where the fight was to be.
That evening Femmetia helped her father, who was an invalid, to climb to the top of a little hill from which they could see a fire raging in the village of Flatbush. The direction of the fire showed the father and daughter that it was their own house which was burning.
When the fight was over, General Washington's troops had been driven from Long Island. The good Dutch family went back and found their house burned. They moved into another house, whose owner was still away, and then began to build a new house. The mother bought some boards with what money she had saved, but she could not get any nails. In that day nails were not made by machinery, as they are now. Each nail had to be hammered out separately by a blacksmith. Nails made in this way cost a great deal of money.
There was but one way to do. Femmetia and her sister had to find nails by raking over the ashes of the old house. Some of these nails were crooked, and they had to be hammered to make them straight enough to use.
Some American officers had been made prisoners at the battle of Long Island. They were allowed to go about the village after having given their word not to go farther. They liked to help the girls find nails in the ashes, and hammer them straight on the stones. Other young girls came to help them, so that there was a party of young people talking, joking, laughing, and digging in the ashes, every day. It was fun for all of them. There were not boards enough to finish the house. The room in which the two sisters slept was upstairs. It had but half a floor. Where the rest of the floor should have been were only bare beams.
A Nail Party.
One night the negro woman, whose name was Dian, came into the room below, and called Femmetia. She told her that the British soldiers had come into the barn, and that they would soon take away what were left of the chickens.
"You jes' come down." said Dian to Femmetia. So the old slave and the young girl went out together. They carried a gun and a broomstick. The moon was shining. They took great pains not to let the soldiers see them. First they dodged behind a great walnut tree. Then, when they were sure the soldiers did not see them, they ran behind the corncrib. Their next march brought them behind the wagon house, and then they slipped into the dark shadow of the barn.
Dian thrust the rifle through a hole in the side door of the barn. At the same moment the bold Femmetia threw a stone which made the soldiers look round. There was moonlight enough for them to see the muzzle of the gun coming through the door as though it were ready to fire at them. They ran away in great haste, and left the chickens behind.
The silver plate and other valuable things were buried under the hearth in the house. A lady in a neighboring house hid her gold coins in the middle of a great round ball of a pincushion. Such ball pincushions were worn by some of the Dutch women at that time. They hung them at their sides, tied by a bit of ribbon. A party of English soldiers came into this lady's house. They were much amused to see this ball at the lady's side. One of them rudely cut the ribbon with his sword, and then the soldiers played ball with the cushion. It was sent here and there about the room. Twice it fell into the ashes.
The woman who owned it expected that it would be torn, and all her gold would spill out, but she went on with her work. If she had shown any anxiety about the ball, the soldiers might have thought to look for her money in the cushion. At last they gave it back to her, much-soiled, but holding its treasures safe.
A SCHOOL OF LONG AGO.
A hundred and fifty years ago there was a famous teacher among the German settlers in Pennsylvania who was known as "The Good Schoolmaster." His name was Christopher Dock. He had two little country schools. For three days he would teach at a little place called Skippack, and then for the next three days he would teach at Salford.
People said that the good schoolmaster never lost his temper. There was a man who thought he would try to make him angry. He said many harsh and abusive words to the teacher, and even cursed him. But the only reply the teacher made was, "Friend, may the Lord have mercy on you."
Other schoolmasters used to beat their scholars severely with whips and long switches. But Schoolmaster Dock had found out a better way.
When a child came to school for the first time, the other scholars were made to give the new scholar a welcome by shaking hands with him, one after another. Then the new boy or girl was told that this was not a harsh school, but a place for those who would behave. And if a scholar were lazy, disobedient, or stubborn, the master would in the presence of the whole school pronounce him not fit for this school, but only for a school where children were flogged. The new scholar was asked to promise to obey and to be diligent. When he had made this promise, he was shown to a seat.
"Now," the good master would say, when this was done, "who will take this new scholar and help him to learn?"
When the new boy or girl was clean and bright looking, many would be willing to take charge of him or her. But there were few ready to teach a dirty, ragged little child. Sometimes no one would wish to do it. In such a case the master would offer to the one who would take such a child a reward of one of the beautiful texts of scripture which the schoolmasters of that time used to write and decorate for the children. Or he would give him one of the pictures of birds which he was accustomed to paint with his own hands.
The old Pennsylvania teachers were fond of making these tickets with pictures and writing on them. The pictures which we have here will show you what they looked like. The writing is in German, as you will see.
Whenever one of the younger scholars succeeded in learning his A, B, C, Christopher Dock would send word to the father of the child to give him a penny, and he would ask his mother to cook two eggs for him as a treat. These were fine rewards for poor children in a new country.
At certain stages in his studies, the industrious child in one of Dock's schools would receive a penny from his father, and eat two eggs cooked by his mother. But all this time he was not counted a member of the school. He was only on trial. The day on which a boy or girl began to read was a great day. If the pupil had been diligent in spelling, the morning after the first reading day, the master would give him a ticket carefully written with his own hand. This ticket read "Industrious—One Penny." This showed that the scholar was now really received into the school. But if he afterward became idle or disobedient, Schoolmaster Dock would take away his token.
There were no clocks or watches in the country. The children came to school, one after another taking their places near the master, who sat writing. They spent their time reading until all were there. But every one who succeeded in reading his passage without mistake stopped reading, and came and sat at the writing table to write. The poor fellow who remained last on the bench was called the Lazy Scholar.
Every Lazy Scholar had his name written on the blackboard. If a child at any time failed to read correctly, he was sent back to study his passage, and called again after a while. If he failed a second or a third time, all the scholars cried out, "Lazy!" Then his name was written on the blackboard. Then all the poor Lazy Scholar's friends went to work to teach him to read his lesson correctly. And if his name should not be rubbed off the board before school was dismissed, all the scholars might write it down, and take it home with them. But if he could read well before school was out, the scholars, at the bidding of the master, called out, "Industrious!" and then his name was rubbed off the board.
The funniest of Dock's rewards was that which he gave to those who made no mistake in their lessons. He marked a large O with chalk on the hand of the perfect scholar. Fancy what a time the boys and girls must have had, trying to go home without rubbing out this O.
If you had gone into this school some day, you might have seen a boy sitting on a punishment bench all alone. This was a fellow who had told a lie or used bad language. He was put there as not fit to sit near anybody else. If he committed the offense often, a yoke would be put round his neck, as if he were a brute. Sometimes, however, the teacher would give the scholars their choice of a blow on the hand or a seat on the punishment bench. They usually preferred the blow.
At certain times the scholars were permitted to study aloud, but at other times they were obliged to keep still. And a boy or girl was put as a watcher, to set down the names of those who talked in this time of quiet.
The old schoolmaster in Skippack wrote one hundred rules of good behavior for his scholars. This is perhaps the first book on good manners written in America. But rules of behavior for people living in houses of one or two rooms, as they did in that day, were very different from those needed in our time. Here are some of the rules:
"When you comb your hair, do not go out in the middle of the room," says the schoolmaster. This was because families were accustomed to eat and sleep in the same room.
"Do not eat your morning bread on the road or in school," he tells them, "but ask your parents to give it to you at home." From this we see that the common breakfast was bread alone, and that the children often ate it as they walked to school.
The table manners of that day were very good for the time, but they seem very curious to us. He says, "Do not wabble with your stool," because rough home-made stools were the common chairs then, and the floors, made of boards that were split and not sawed, were so uneven that a noisy child could easily rock his stool to and fro.
"Put your knife upon the right and your bread on the left side," he says. Forks were little used in those days, and the people in the country did not have any. He also tells them not to throw bones under the table. It was a common practice among some people of that time to throw bones and scraps under the table, where the dogs ate them.
The child is not told to wait for others when he has finished eating, or to ask to be excused. "Get up quietly," says the schoolmaster, "and take your stool with you. Wish a pleasant mealtime, and go to one side." The child is told not to put the remaining bread into his pocket.
As time passed on, Christopher Dock had many friends, for all his scholars of former years loved him greatly. He lived to be very old, and taught his schools to the last. One evening he did not come home, and the people went to look for the beloved old man. They found their dear old master on his knees in the schoolhouse. He had died while praying alone.
STORIES OF WHALING.
In the old days, before petroleum or kerosene had been found in this country, people had many ways of lighting their houses. A cheap light was made by putting a little grease or oil in a saucer in which was a little wick or rag lying over the edge of the saucer or drawn up through a cork that floated on the grease. When this wick was burning, it gave hardly as much light as a candle. This is one of the oldest ways of making light. It was used thousands of years ago. Many people now living remember little lamps made in this way.
Poor people often made light by burning pine knots, or bits of pitch pine chopped out of old stumps. These gave a bright light for a time. Pitch pine in New England was called candle wood; in the South it was called light wood.
The commonest light in old times was the tallow candle. This was sometimes made by dipping a candle wick into melted tallow. Then, when the tallow had cooled, the candle was dipped again and again. A little tallow remained on it each time, and at last it was thick enough to burn. Candles made in this way were called "dips." Better candles were made by running melted tallow into molds.
Before the Revolution a favorite candle for burning at fine houses was made of the wax-myrtle berry. This berry is full of a kind of green wax which came out when it was boiled. When this wax rose to the top of the pot, it was skimmed off and used for making wax candles. These candles had a pretty green color, and gave out a delicate perfume when they were burning. More expensive candles were made of beeswax.
For hundreds of years whale oil was burned in large lamps, and thousands of whales were killed in order to get the oil. Candles were also made from spermaceti, which is a substance taken from the head of the sperm whale.
When the people first settled on Long Island, there were a great many whales in the sea. Sometimes these whales would run into bays and other shallow places. When the tide went out, the whale would be left without water enough to swim in. Sometimes he found himself lying on the dry ground. Before the white people came, the Long Island Indians used to kill whales stranded in this way, with spears. The Indians used the fat of the whale for food. The white people killed them, and got the oil out of the fat by boiling. This oil they sold for lamp oil.
Finding that much money could be made by selling whale oil, the people on Long Island fitted up boats, which they kept always ready along the seashore. Whenever anybody saw a whale, the boatmen ran to their boats, and rowed out to kill it. They did not yet know how to go out to sea in whaling ships as some people in Europe did. After a while the Long Island people learned to take their small boats out to sea for miles to look for whales. This way of killing the whales spread from Long Island to Connecticut, and from there to Cape Cod.
The people on the island of Nantucket had also learned to kill the whales that came into shallow water. They got a man to come out from Cape Cod to show them how to go out in boats and kill whales along the coast. After a while they built small ships in which they went to sea to seek for whales, but they brought the fat on shore in order to get the oil out of it.
In 1718 the people on this island began to build ships with great kettles in them for rendering the oil on board the ships. The brave Nantucket men, and the men on the coast near by, soon began to send their ships into very distant seas. Some of them sailed among the icebergs in the Arctic regions; others went to the Southern Ocean; and some of the Nantucket and Cape Cod ships went round Cape Horn into the Pacific Ocean. The hardy whalemen ran great risks during their long voyages, but, if they were fortunate in killing whales, they made a good deal of money.
There are still whaling vessels in our times, but not so many as there used to be. We do not need whale oil so much, because we have kerosene, gaslights, and electric lights. There are not so many whales to be found as there used to be.
When the men on a whale ship in the old times discovered a whale, they fitted out their boats and rowed toward it. The whale would go down out of sight. Each officer would place his boat where he thought the whale would come up. When the whale came up to get breath, the men in the nearest boat would row toward it. The officer who stood in the bow of the boat would then throw a harpoon, which would stick fast in the whale. As soon as the whale was struck with the harpoon, he would go down into the water. There was a line fast to the harpoon, which was coiled in a tub standing in the whaleboat. Sometimes the whale would run down so far, that it would take more line than the boat carried, to keep hold of him. When this was likely to happen, another whaling boat would come alongside, and tie its line to the line of the harpoon that was fast to the whale. In some cases nearly five thousand feet of line were drawn out of the boats before the whale came to the top again. Whales breathe air as we do, so the whale that had been harpooned would have to come up again. Then the whaling boat would run close to him, and the officer would try to kill him with a sharp lance. When a whale was killed, the men drew him alongside the ship.
A whale's body is covered with a great mass of fat called blubber. When the dead whale was lying alongside the ship, the whalemen would fasten a hook in the blubber. They then cut the blubber into a long strip running round the whale. As they pulled on the hook with ropes, the strip of blubber came off the whale, the whale rolling over and over. The men unwound the blubber from his body in this way, pulling it up on board the ship, and cutting it into pieces.
If it was a sperm whale, they would cut a hole in his head, to reach a place where there was a great quantity of oil. This oil they dipped out. Sometimes forty barrels of oil were dipped out of the head of a whale. From the fat of some very large whales more than two hundred barrels of oil could be secured.
The men on the whaling ships were gone from home for years at a time. When there were no whales in sight, they had to find ways of amusing themselves. Many of them carried sharp pocket knives, and passed their time in whittling. By long practice they became very skillful with their knives. Some of them carved pretty figures in wood, and made pieces of furniture. Others carved shells into beautiful shapes. After years at sea, they would bring these things home with them, to give to their wives or sweethearts. Such work done on shipboard is called scrimshaw work.
Some of the whaleships met with very curious accidents. In 1807 a ship named "The Union" was sailing along very quietly. All at once she struck something which jarred her from end to end. It was found that she had run right on a whale. Casks of water were thrown out of the ship to make her lighter, but the bottom of the ship was badly injured. The men on board had to get out the boats at once. They took food and water with them, and compasses to sail by. Soon after the boats got clear of the ship she filled with water, and upset.
The men now found themselves in open boats in the ocean. The land nearest to them was Newfoundland, but, as the wind was blowing straight from that land at that season of the year, they knew that they could not reach it. So they set out in the direction toward which the wind blew, sailing for the islands called the Azores. These were hundreds of miles away. They made a sail for each boat.
One day they saw a schooner, but they could not make the schooner see them. The next day they had fine sailing, but at night a fearful wind arose. There were violent squalls and bursts of thunder. The boats were obliged to lie still with their bows to the wind. At last the waves broke into the captain's boat, and it was all they could do to get the water out again.
They now had to throw overboard most of their fresh water, so that they suffered much with thirst from this time on. They had only three quarts of water a day to be divided among sixteen men. That is about a small teacupful apiece. After sailing eight days, they came in sight of the beautiful islands of the Azores. Here they found a ship to bring them back to their own country again.
A still stranger accident happened to the ship "Essex" in 1820. She was far away in the Pacific Ocean. Three of the boats of the ship went out after a whale. The mate's boat, having been injured, went back to the ship. As the mate stood on the ship, he saw a large sperm whale rush directly at the vessel. The whale seemed to think the ship some great animal, and that it would be fine fun to have a fight with it. He struck the ship with his great square head. The crash was fearful. For a moment or two the crew were so astonished that they could do nothing. Then they found the ship sinking. They put up signals for the other boats to come back.
Attacked by a Whale.
But the whale was not satisfied. He wanted to fight it out with the ship. He was soon seen coming toward the vessel again. He came on so fast that the water foamed round him. He struck the ship a second blow, which almost crushed it. The mate now quickly put what provisions he could into a boat, and got ready to leave the ship.
The other boats returned. The men were so horrified that for some time they could not speak to one another. The ship fell over on her side. The men cut away her masts. Then they cut holes into the ship's side, and got out what bread and water they could carry. They were a thousand miles from land, in the direction that the winds blew.
After twenty-eight days of sailing in these open boats, the men got to Ducie's Island. Here they could not find food enough for so large a party, so the boats put off to sea again. Three men remained behind on the island. These were afterward found by a passing ship, which took them home. Some of the men in the boats perished, but the rest of them were picked up by a ship and taken home.
A WHALING SONG.
PART OF A FAVORITE SONG SUNG BY WHALEMEN IN OLD TIMES.
When spring returns with western gales,
And gentle breezes sweep
The ruffling seas, we spread our sails
To plow the watery deep.
Cape Cod, our dearest native land,
We leave astern, and lose
Its sinking cliffs and less'ning sands,
While Zephyr gently blows.
Now toward the early dawning east
We speed our course away,
With eager minds and joyful hearts,
To meet the rising day.
Then, as we turn our wondering eyes,
We view one constant show,—
Above, around, the circling skies,
The rolling seas below.
When eastward, clear of Newfoundland,
We stem the frozen pole,
We see the icy islands stand,
The northern billows roll.
Now see the northern regions where
Eternal winter reigns;
One day and night fills up the year,
And endless cold maintains.
We view the monsters of the deep,
Great whales in numerous swarms,
And creatures there, that play and leap,
Of strange, unusual forms.
When in our station we are placed,
And whales around us play,
We launch our boats into the main,
And swiftly chase our prey.
A STRANGE ESCAPE.
In 1658 there was a little French colony at Onondaga in New York. Some of the men in this colony were traders, and some were missionaries. They were living among the Onondaga Indians.
A French Missionary.
The Indians had been very friendly, but the French found out that a plot had been formed to put them all to death. Stakes had even been set up in order to burn some of them alive. There seemed no hope for the Frenchmen to escape. They knew, that, if they tried to get away by land, they should all be killed. If they shut themselves up in their fort, the Indians would besiege them, and they would starve to death. They had no boats by which to get away by sailing through the lakes and down the St. Lawrence River.
The Frenchmen went to work and built boats secretly in the attic of their fort or trading house. They built them strong enough to bear the floating ice. They had also some light canoes made of bark, which they hid in the upper part of their house. The question now was how to get away without the Indians finding it out and pursuing them.
One of the young Frenchmen had been adopted into the tribe of these Indians. He invited the Indians to a feast. It was a feast, of a kind the Indians give, in which every guest is obliged to eat everything that is set before him, leaving nothing. The Indians kept on eating, while the French amused them with dancing and games. The young Frenchman played on his guitar, while the guests ate. The Indians having eaten too much, at length began to fall asleep one by one. The feast was not over until late at night, nor until every Indian had eaten till he begged not to be given any more. Some of the Indians fell asleep while they were eating. The rest of them were soon sleeping soundly in their wigwams.
The Frenchmen now quickly brought their boats down stairs and put them into the water. They loaded them with food and other things needed for their journey. Then they pushed off without making any noise or speaking above a whisper. The water froze about their boats as they rowed, and every moment they feared an attack from the Indians. They rowed all night long, and then they rowed and paddled all the next day without taking any rest. It was not until the evening of the second day that they felt they had passed out of the greatest danger.
The Indians slept late the morning after the feast. When they waked at last, they came out of their huts one by one, and went toward the French house. They were surprised to see it shut up, and everything silent about it. They supposed that the French were at prayer, so they waited quietly outside. They could hear the fowls crowing in the yard, and when they knocked at the door of the house, the dog barked. Noon came, and yet no Frenchmen appeared.
Late in the afternoon the Indians climbed up the side of the house and got in by a window. They could hear no sound but their own steps. They were much frightened as they stole through the house and opened the main door. They searched the building from top to bottom, but not a Frenchman was to be found.
As they were sure that the French had no boats, they were struck with fear. They gazed a moment at each other in silence. Then they fled from the house. They believed that the Frenchmen had, by some magic, made themselves invisible; that is, so that they could not be seen. They believed that the French had flown away through the air, or walked off on the water.
Meanwhile the French passed down Lake Ontario through many dangers. They went down the River St. Lawrence, working their way over rapids and waterfalls. At last they reached Montreal, where the people looked on them as men that had come up from the grave.
Mr. Alexander Henry was made prisoner by the Indians on Lake Superior when Fort Mackinaw was taken by Indians. This was in the time of the Indian war which is called Pontiac's War, because the great chief Pontiac started it.
Nearly all the white men in Fort Mackinaw were killed, but Mr. Henry was saved. He had an Indian friend named Wawatam, who paid for his life. He went to live with Wawatam. He had his head shaved, and put on the dress of an Indian. He lived and hunted as the Indians did.
One day Mr. Henry saw a very large pine tree. Its trunk was six feet in diameter. The bark had been scratched by a bear's claws. Far up on the tree there was a large hole. All about this hole the small branches were broken.
Mr. Henry looked at the snow. There were no bear tracks in it. So he thought that an old bear had climbed up into the tree before the snow fell. Bears sleep nearly all winter. They do not even come out to get anything to eat.
Mr. Henry told the Indians about the tree. There was no way of getting up to the bear's hole. They could not get the bear out except by cutting down the tree. But the Indian women did not believe that the Indians could do it. Their axes were too small to chop down so big a tree.
However, the Indians wanted the bear's oil, which is of great use to them. It serves them for lard, and butter, and many other things. So at the tree they went with their little axes. As many as could stand about the tree worked at a time, and when one rested, another chopper took his place. They all worked, men and women, and they chopped all day. When the sun went down, they had chopped about halfway through the tree.
The next morning they began again. They chopped away until about two o'clock. Then the top of the great pine tree began to tremble. Slowly it leaned a little. Then the tree began to fall. Everybody got far out of the way. It fell down among the other trees with a crash that made the woods roar, and lay at last upon the ground.
But no bear came out of the big tree. Mr. Henry began to be afraid that there was no bear there. He thought such a crash was enough to wake up the sleepiest bear in the world. At last the nose of a bear was poked out of the hole. Then came the head. Then came out the great brown body of one of the largest bears in the woods. Mr. Henry shot the bear dead.
Though the Indians kill and eat bears, they are very much afraid of the ghosts of the bears after they are dead. They are more afraid of a bear after it is dead than when it is alive. So, whenever an Indian has killed a bear, he always begs the dead bear's pardon. Each of these Indians now politely begged pardon of the bear. The old woman who had adopted Mr. Henry for her son took the bear's head in her hands and kissed it. She called it her grandmother, and asked it not to do them any harm. The Indians told the dead bear that a white man had killed it. Of course, the dead bear did not say anything.
Though they called the bear their grandmother, they made haste to take off its skin. They were glad to find that Grandma Bear was very fat. It took two persons to carry home the fat. Four more were loaded with the meat of this nice old relative of theirs.
But still wishing to fool the bear's ghost, they carried the head also to their tent. They put all kinds of silver trinkets on the head, and many belts of wampum or shell beads on it. In order to please the ghost of Grandmother Bear still more, they laid the head on a kind of table that they made for it, and placed a large quantity of tobacco near its nose.
The next morning a feast was made to please the bear's ghost. The head of the bear was lifted, and a new blanket was spread under it. All the Indians lighted their pipes, and blew tobacco smoke into the bear's nose. Wawatam made a speech to the bear's spirit. He told it they were very sorry to have to kill their friends. But he said it could not be helped, for, if they did not do this, they should starve to death.
The speech being over, the whole party ate heartily of the bear's flesh. After three days they even took down the head itself, and put it into the kettle. Thus they ate their grandmother up, but they did it very politely.
THE GREAT TURTLE.
Among the Indians there are priests or medicine men who pretend to cure diseases. They also pretend to talk to their gods and other spirits. They have many ways of deceiving the Indians.
Mr. Alexander Henry, while a prisoner among the Indians, was present when the tribe he was with asked advice of the Great Turtle, which is one of the gods they believe in.
The Indians had heard that there was an English army coming against them. They were very much afraid, because they had killed or taken prisoner all the English in Fort Mackinaw. They wished to send messengers to make peace with the white men, but they were afraid the white men would kill their messengers. In this state of mind, they asked the Great Turtle what they would better do.
They first built a large house or wigwam. In the middle of this they set up five posts, and covered these posts with moose skins. This made a little tent in the middle of the large wigwam.
When night came on, they built fires in the wigwam outside of the little tent. This lighted up the house where the Indians were seated. Soon the priest came in. Some of the Indians lifted the moose skins on one side of their little tent. The priest crept in on his hands and knees. The little tent began to shake, and from the inside there came sounds like the barking of dogs and the howling of wolves, with screams and sobs, and cries of pain and sorrow. Words were spoken in strange voices, and in a language which nobody could understand. These voices the Indians had heard before, and they thought that they belonged to evil spirits who would tell them lies. When they heard these voices, the Indians hissed. They did not want to hear any spirit but that of the Great Turtle. After a while these frightful noises ceased. There was silence for a time. Then the Indians heard a new voice. It was low and feeble, like the cry of a very young puppy. All the Indians now clapped their hands for joy. They cried out that this was the voice of the Great Turtle, the spirit that never lied.
But now new voices came from the tent. For half an hour there were sounds in many different voices, but none of them were like the priest's own voice. When these sounds were no longer heard, the medicine man spoke in his own voice, and declared that the Great Turtle was present, and would answer any question that might be asked.
The chief of the village now put a large quantity of tobacco into the little tent. This was a sacrifice to the Great Turtle. Then he told the priest to ask the Great Turtle whether the white men were coming to make war on them, and whether there were many soldiers at Fort Niagara.
The medicine man put this question to the Great Turtle. The tent began to shake so violently that it seemed about to fall over. Then a loud cry came from the tent. This was to show that the Great Turtle was leaving.
For a quarter of an hour no sound was heard. Then the Great Turtle returned. He now made a long speech to the priest in his little squeaky, puppy voice, but it was spoken in a language which nobody could understand. After the spirit's speech was finished, the medicine man spoke in his own voice, and explained to the people that in the last fifteen minutes the Great Turtle had crossed Lake Huron, and gone to Fort Niagara, hundreds of miles away. Then he had gone on down to Montreal. He said there were not many soldiers at Fort Niagara, but at Montreal the river was covered with boats filled with soldiers. He said the soldiers coming to make war on the Indians were as many as the leaves on the trees. He told the Indians, that, if they would send men to the general of this army, he would make peace with them, and fill their canoes with presents of blankets, kettles, guns, powder, and shot. And he said, what pleased them still more, that the general would give them great barrels of rum.
The Indians were so much delighted with this message, that many of them set out, soon after, to go in boats to make peace with the white men. No doubt this humbug of the medicine man was a plan to persuade them to go. Mr. Henry was taken along to act as their friend.
THE RATTLESNAKE GOD.
Mr. Henry had traveled several days with the Indians going to Fort Niagara to make peace. One day the wind was blowing so hard that they could not go on. So they camped on a point in Lake Huron.
While the Indians were building a hut, Mr. Henry was lighting a fire. He went off a little way to get dry wood, and while he was picking up sticks he heard a strange sound. It lasted only a little while; but, when Mr. Henry went a little farther, it began again. He looked up into the air to see where it came from. Then he looked down on the ground, and saw a large rattlesnake coiled close to his naked leg. If he had taken one step more, he would have stepped on it, and it would have bitten him.
He now ran back to the canoe to get his gun to kill the snake.
"What are you doing?" asked the Indians.
"I am going to kill a rattlesnake," he said.
"Oh, no! don't do that," they said.
The Indians all got their tobacco bags and pipes, and went to the place where the snake had been seen. It was still lying in a coil.
The Indians now stood round the snake, and one after another spoke to it. They called it their grandfather. But they took care not to go too close to their grandfather. They stood oft and filled their pipes with tobacco. Each one in turn blew tobacco smoke at the snake. The snake seemed to like it. For half an hour it lay there in a coil, and breathed the smoke. Then it slowly stretched itself out at full length, and seemed in a very good humor. It was more than four feet long.
After having more smoke blown at it, it slowly crept away. The Indians followed, begging their grandfather, as they called it, to take care of their families while they were gone. They also asked that the snake would open the heart of the English general so that he would give them a great deal of rum. One of the chiefs begged the snake to take no notice of the insult offered to him by the white man, who would have killed it if the Indians had not stopped him. They also begged that it would remain and live in their country.
The Indians thought that the snake was a spirit or god in this form. They thought that it had been sent to stop them on their way. They were almost ready to turn back, but Mr. Henry persuaded them to go on.
The next morning was calm. The Indians took a short course by sailing straight to an island out in the lake. But after they had got far out, the wind began to blow very hard. They expected every moment that their canoe would be swallowed up by the waves. They began to pray to the rattlesnake to help them. One of the chiefs resolved to make a sacrifice to the snake. He took a dog, and tied its legs together, and threw it into the water. He asked the snake spirit to be satisfied with this. But the wind continued to grow higher, and so another dog was thrown into the water, and some tobacco was thrown with it. The chief told Grandfather Snake that the man who wanted to kill him was really a white man, and no kin to the snake or to the Indians.
Some of the Indians began to think of throwing Mr. Henry in after the dog and the tobacco to satisfy the snake spirit; but the wind went down, and they soon got to the island. Some days afterward the party came to the fort. The English general was very glad to see Mr. Henry, and his long captivity was over, in spite of the anger of the rattlesnake god of the Indians.
WITCHCRAFT IN LOUISIANA.
The Indian medicine men or priests have many ways of deceiving their people. A French officer found that the people of a certain tribe believed very much in an idol which a medicine man had set up. This idol was called by a long name, Vistee-poolee-keek-apook. The Indians, when they stood near, would sometimes hear it speak, and this seemed to them a very wonderful thing.
A French officer named Bossu tried to find out what made the idol talk. He found a long reed, such as we call a cane pole, running from the back of the idol's head to a cave or hollow in the rocks behind the idol. This reed had been made into a hollow tube. In the cave there was a medicine man who talked into the tube. The words coming out of the other end in the idol's head were heard from the mouth of the idol, as if the idol were speaking. Bossu showed the Indians the trick, and then got one of his soldiers to destroy the idol.
The soldier that destroyed the idol was so brave, that the Frenchmen had given him a nickname which means "fearless." The medicine man declared that some dreadful thing would fall on Fearless because he had destroyed the idol. In order to make his people believe in the power of this god that had been thrown down, he told them that there was a witch or evil spirit which came to the village in the shape of a little black panther. He said, that, whenever he pronounced the name of his god, this little black panther would instantly disappear.
You see, the cunning old medicine man had somehow got hold of a large black cat with yellow eyes. Cats were not common among the Indians, these animals having been brought by the white people. Such a cat as this, the Indians had never seen. The medicine man kept the cat in his cabin, and trained it. He would strike it with a whip, crying out every time he struck it, "Vistee-poolee-keek-apook!"
The poor cat became afraid of the long ugly name of the Indian god, because the whip and the name always came together. One day the black cat crept into the cabin of an Indian woman to get something to eat. The medicine man who was near by saw it. He said the name of his god in his common voice. The cat, which the Indians believed to be a witch, jumped like lightning through the hole in the cabin that was used for a window. The Indians really believed that they had seen an evil spirit in the shape of a little black panther, and that it disappeared when the medicine man spoke the name of his god.
After that, every time an Indian saw this black cat, or little black panther, as it was called, he spoke the name of this terrible god. Of course, the black cat with yellow eyes ran away. Tired out at last with being driven off in this fashion, the cat disappeared entirely, and took up its home with the wild animals in the woods, where it could not hear the terrible name of the idol any more.
Bossu afterward made use of the Indians' belief in spirits for his own purpose. One of his soldiers had been killed by one of the Indians. Bossu could not find out who killed the soldier, or even to what tribe the Indian that killed him belonged. He wanted to punish or frighten the murderer in order to save the lives of the rest of the French soldiers.
He called the chief of the Indians, and told him that one of his men was missing. He said he was sure the man had not run away. He therefore asked that the Indians should find the man, and said, that, if he were not found, he should have to think that some of the Indians had killed him.
The chief answered that the white soldier had probably gone hunting in the woods, and killed himself accidentally with his gun, or else he had been killed by a panther. To this Bossu replied that the animal would not have eaten the gun or the clothes of the soldier. He said that if the Indians would find the Frenchman's gun, or bits of his clothes, they could easily show that he had been killed by a wild animal.
Bossu had a friend among the Indians who was very much attached to him. He persuaded this young Indian to tell him to what tribe the murderer of the Frenchman belonged, but he solemnly promised that the other Indians should never know who had told him. He paid the young Indian for telling him.
The Frenchman who was called Fearless now undertook to have the man who had killed the other soldier punished, for the dead soldier had been his friend. But it was necessary that he should not let the Indians know who had told about it. Fearless stripped off a great quantity of bark of the pawpaw tree. He thought he would play a trick like that of the medicine man, and make the Indians believe that a spirit was talking to them. He did everything very secretly. By fastening pieces of the pawpaw bark together with pitch, he managed to make a very large speaking trumpet, which would carry the voice a long distance.
When he had finished this trumpet, he left the camp one very dark night. He carried with him his gun, some food, and a gourd full of water. He had also a bearskin of which to make a bed, and a buffalo robe to cover himself with. With these things he hid himself on a hill. This hill was near the Indian camp. From the top of it Fearless could make his voice heard for three miles round by the aid of his great pawpaw trumpet.
He shouted through this great bark trumpet what seemed to be words in an unknown language, such as the Indian medicine man used. The frightful noise sounded through the woods. It did not seem to come from anywhere. The Indians thought that these cries came down from the sky. The Indian women were thrown into a great fright, and even the warriors and chiefs were alarmed. They said that the Master of Life was angry with their tribe, and that this horrible voice showed that something bad was going to happen to them.
The day after the voice was heard, the old men of the tribe came to consult Bossu about this strange noise. Bossu told them that the white soldier who had been killed could not rest. He said that every night his voice was heard, though nothing could be seen. He said that the voice cried out in a melancholy tone, "I am the white soldier that went with the French captain. I was killed by a man of the tribe of the Kanoatinos. Frenchmen, revenge my death."
The Indians now saw that it was of no use for them to tell any more lies about the death of the white man. They believed that the soldier's ghost had told the Frenchmen all about it. They confessed the murder, but they explained that the white soldier had provoked it when he was drunk, by bad treatment of the Indian who killed him.
Captain Bossu was not willing to take their excuses. He told them, that, if the soldier had done wrong, he ought to have been brought to his own captain to be punished. He said, "If one of my soldiers should kill one of your Indians, I would put him to death. You must do the same with the Indian who killed my soldier."
The oldest of the chiefs now commanded one of his men to go and seize the guilty man, bind him, and bring him in to be put to death, in order that the ghost of the French soldier might no longer trouble them.
Captain Bossu did not wish to put the Indian to death. He knew that the French soldier had very greatly wronged and provoked the Indian. He got his young Indian friend to go to the wife of the chief of the Kanoatinos, and say to her that she might beg the life of the guilty man. The young Indian told the chief's wife that Captain Bossu would not refuse her anything. The woman went, and begged that the Indian might be spared. Bossu consented that the Indian should live, but said that he did it as a favor to the chief's wife.
The chief then turned to the condemned Indian, and said to him, "You were dead, but the captain of the white warriors has brought you to life at the request of the chief's wife." The white people and Indians then smoked the pipe of peace together.
A STORY OF NIAGARA.
Many years ago, the falls of Niagara, then in the midst of a great wilderness, and a long way from the homes of the white people, seemed even more wonderful than they do now. In those days, travelers from other countries made long journeys through the woods to see this wonderful waterfall. Indians lived about it, and there was a fort near by, belonging to the French.
Wild swans, geese, and ducks used to swim in the Niagara River. Sometimes great flocks of them lost their lives by going over the falls. Water fowl are fond of floating on smooth, moving water. The wild geese and ducks would take great delight in finding themselves shooting down toward the falls. Sometimes they would try to rise and fly when it was too late.
In the autumn the soldiers of the fort used to get their meat by taking from the water below the falls the ducks and geese that had been killed in this way. Sometimes they would find a deer or a bear that had been carried over in trying to swim across the river above the falls.
In the midst of the falls is an island. Many years ago two Indians were hunting far above the falls. They had with them a little brandy, which they drank. This made them sleepy, and they lay down and went to sleep in their canoe, which was tied to the shore. The canoe got loose from the shore, and floated down the stream farther and farther, until it came near to the island which is in the falls.
The roar of the falls awakened one of them. He cried out to the other, "We are lost!" But by hard work they succeeded in landing the canoe at the island.
At first they were very glad, but after a while they thought it might have been better if they had gone over the falls. They had now no choice but to die of hunger on the island, or to throw themselves into the water.
At the lower end of the island there is no water running over the falls. The Indians stripped the bark from a linden or basswood tree. This bark is very tough and strong. They made a kind of rope ladder of it. They made it so long that it reached to the water below the falls. The upper end of this bark ladder they tied fast to a great tree that grew on the island. The other end they let down to the water below the falls.
Then they went down this ladder until they came to the bottom. The water was roaring on both sides of them, but they had a place to stand. Here they rested a little while. The water in front of them was not rapid. They jumped into it, intending to swim ashore. But the water that pours in from the falls on each side, runs back against the rocks in this place. Every time the Indians tried to swim, they were thrown back against the rocks from which they started. At last they were so much bruised and scratched, they were obliged to give up this plan. So they climbed back up their bark stairs to the island, not knowing what to do.
After a while they saw other Indians on the shore. They cried out to these to come and help them. The other Indians did not know what to do. They had no way of getting to the island. If they had tried to get there in a canoe, they would have been carried over the falls themselves. They went to the fort, and told the commander about it. He had poles made, and pointed with iron. He persuaded two Indians to take these poles, and walk with them to the island.
These two Indians took leave of all their friends as if they were going to die. Each of them took two poles in his hands. They set these poles against the bottom of the river to keep themselves steady, while they waded through the water. It was a very dangerous thing to do, but at last they got to the island. Then they gave a pole to each of the two Indians, and all four of them started back again. By the help of the poles they managed to get to the shore in safety.
AMONG THE ALLIGATORS.
Before the Revolution there lived in Pennsylvania a man named William Bartram. He was a botanist; that is to say, a man who knew a great deal about different kinds of plants. Wishing to see the plants and animals of the South, he traveled through South Carolina and Georgia, and so on into Florida.
In a little canoe, Bartram set out to go up the St. Johns River. He took an Indian along for a guide, but the Indian got tired of the trip, and left him. Bartram kept on up the river alone. The country was wild, and the river was filled with great alligators.
Bartram saw two large alligators fighting. They ran at each other from opposite sides of the river. They lashed the water with their tails. They met in the middle of the river, and fought with great fury, making the water boil all round them. They twisted themselves one round the other, and sank to the bottom fighting. Their struggles at the bottom brought up a great deal of mud.
Soon they came to the top once more, clapping their great jaws together, and roaring. They fell on each other again, and sank to the bottom. But one of them was by this time beaten. He swam away into the reeds on the bank. The other rose to the top of the water, and celebrated his victory by a loud roaring sound. All the alligators along the shore joined in the horrible roaring at the same time.
The alligators had gathered in great crowds at certain places to catch the fish that were coming up from the sea. Bartram wanted some fish for his supper. He took a stick to beat off the alligators, and got into his canoe. But the farther he paddled from the shore, the more the alligators crowded round him. Several of them tried to overturn his canoe. Two large ones attacked him at the same time, with their heads above the water, and their mouths spouting water all over the botanist. They struck their jaws together so close to his ears that the sound almost stunned him.
Bartram beat them off with his club, and paddled for the shore. When he got near the shore, the alligators left him. He went a little farther up the river, and got some fish. When he came back, he kept close to the shore. One alligator twelve feet long followed him. When Bartram went ashore near his camp, the creature crept close to his feet, and lay there looking at him for some time.
Bartram ran to his camp to get his gun. When he came back, the alligator was climbing into his boat to get the fish he had caught. He fired his gun, and killed the great beast. But while he was cleaning his fish, another one crept up to him, and would have dragged him into the water if Bartram had not looked up just in time to get out of his way. The next day he was pursued by more alligators; but he beat them off with his club, and got away.
"Marion'S Men" were famous in the Revolution for their bold adventures. The best known of all these bold men was Sergeant Jasper. At the battle of Fort Moultrie, when the flag of the fort was shot away, Jasper jumped down outside of the works, and picked it up. The balls were raining round him all the time he was outside, but he coolly fastened the flag to a rod which was used to wipe out the cannon, and then stuck it up in the sand of the breastworks.
When General Moultrie saw what he had done, he took off his own sword and gave it to Sergeant Jasper.
When Moultrie and his men were hiding in the swamps of South Carolina, Moultrie would send Jasper to find out what the British were doing. Jasper could change his looks so that nobody would know him. He often went into the British camp, pretending to be on that side.
Once he took a friend with him, and paid a visit to the British soldiers. While he was there, a small party of American prisoners were brought in. The wife of one of the prisoners had come with her husband, carrying her child. As these men had once fought on the English side, they were all likely to be put to death. Jasper felt sorry for them, and resolved to deliver them if he could.
The prisoners were sent to Savannah for trial. Jasper and his friend left the British camp soon afterward, but they went in the opposite direction. When they got far enough away, they turned about and followed the party with the prisoners. But what could they do for these poor fellows? There were ten men with muskets to guard the prisoners. Neither Jasper nor his friend had a gun.
But they knew that near Savannah there was a famous spring of water. They thought the party would stop there to eat and drink. So Jasper and his friend went on swiftly, by a path little known. When they came near the spring, they hid in the bushes.
When the soldiers with their prisoners came to the spring, they halted. The prisoners sat down on the ground. The woman sat down near her husband. Her baby fell asleep in her lap. Six of the soldiers laid down their arms, and four stood guard.
Two of these went to the spring to get water, and, in doing this, they were obliged to put down their guns. In an instant Jasper and his friend leaped out of the bushes and seized the two guns. They killed the two guards who had guns, before the latter could shoot them. Then they knocked down every man who resisted them, and got possession of all the rest of the guns of the British. With these they took the eight soldiers prisoners. They now gave guns to the American prisoners, and marched away with the eight British soldiers in captivity.
Jasper was one of the boldest of men. He did many brave things, but at last he lost his life in saving the flag of his company in battle.
SONG OF MARION'S MEN.
Our band is few, but tried and true,
Our leader frank and bold:
The British soldier trembles
When Marion's name is told.
We have no fort but dark green woods,
Our tent's a shady tree:
We know the forest round us
As sailors know the sea.
With merry songs we mock the wind
That in the tree top grieves,
And slumber long and sweetly
On beds of rustling leaves.
Well knows the fair and friendly moon
The band that Marion leads,—
The glitter of their rifles,
The scampering of their steeds.
'Tis life to ride the fiery horse
Across the moonlight plain;
'Tis life to feel the night wind
That lifts his tossing mane.
A moment in the British camp—
A moment—and away
Back to the pathless forest,
Before the peep of day.
ADAPTED FROM BRYANT.
A BRAVE GIRL.
In the time of the Revolution, a regiment of Hessian soldiers hired to fight on the British side were camped in South Carolina. They took possession of the lower part of the house of a farmer named Gibbes. The family were forced to retire to the upper story.
Two American boats came up the Stono River, and attacked these Hessians. Cannon balls were soon falling all about the house. Mr. Gibbes, who was so ill that he could hardly walk, got leave to move his family to another place. To do this, the whole family had to cross a field where the cannon balls were flying thick. At last they got out of reach of the cannons. Then they remembered that a little baby had been left behind. Neither Mr. Gibbes nor his wife was able to travel back to the house again. The negroes were too much frightened to go. All the rest were children.
Little Mary Anne Gibbes was only thirteen years old. The baby that had been left was her cousin.
"I will go and get him," she said.
It was a dark and stormy night. She went back into the heat of the battle. When she reached the house, the soldier who stood at the door would not let her go in. But, with tears in her eyes, she begged so hard that he let her pass. In the third story of the house she found the baby.
Then downstairs, and out into the darkness and the crash of battle, she went. The cannon balls scattered dust over her and the baby when they struck near her, but she got back to her family at last, carrying the baby safe in her arms.
A PRISONER AMONG THE INDIANS.
James Smith lived in Pennsylvania. He was taken prisoner by the Indians just before the famous defeat of General Braddock. He was then about eighteen years old. The Indians took him to the French fort where Pittsburg now is. They made him run the gauntlet; that is, they made him run between two lines of Indians, who were beating him all the way. He was so badly beaten that he became unconscious, and was ill for a good while after. But at length he got well, and the Indians took him to their own country in what is now the State of Ohio.
When they arrived at their own town, they did not kill him, as he thought they would; but an Indian pulled the hair out of his head with his fingers, leaving only the hair that grew on a spot about the crown. Part of this he cut off short. The rest was twisted up in Indian fashion, so as to make him look like a savage. They pierced his ears, and put earrings in them. Then they pierced his nose, and put in a nose ring. They stripped off his clothing, and put on the light clothing that an Indian wears about the middle of his body. They painted his head where the hair had been plucked out, and painted his face and body, in several colors. They put some beads about his neck, and silver bands upon his arms.
All this time James thought they were dressing him up to kill him. But, when they had decked him in this way, an old chief led him out into the village street. Holding the young man by the hand, he cried out,—
"Koowigh, Koowigh, Koowigh!"
All the Indians came running out of their houses when they heard this. The old chief made them a long speech in a loud voice. James could not understand what this speech was about. When it was ended, the chief handed James over to three young Indian women.
James thought the young squaws were going to put him to death. They led him down the bank into the river. The squaws made signs for him to plunge himself into the water; but, as he thought they wished to drown him, he refused. He was not going to drown himself to please them. The young women then seized him, and tried to put him under water. But he would not be put down All this time the Indians on the bank were laughing heartily.
Then one of the young squaws, who could speak a little English, said, "No hurt you." Smith now gave up to them, and they scrubbed him well, dipping his head under water.
When he came out of the water, he was dressed up in a lot of Indian finery. The Indians put feathers in his hair, and made him sit down on a bearskin. They gave him a pipe, and a tomahawk, and a bag of tobacco and dried sumach leaves to smoke. Then they made a speech to him, which an Indian who could speak English explained to him.
James Smith sitting on a Bearskin.
They said that he had been made a member of an Indian family in place of a great man who had been killed. And then they gave him a wooden bowl and a spoon, and took him to a feast, where Indian politeness required that he should eat all the food given to him.
After James Smith was adopted by the Indians, he learned to live in their way. He learned how to make little bowls out of elm bark to catch maple-sugar sap, and how to make great casks out of the bark to hold the sap till it could be boiled. He learned how to make a bearskin into a pouch to hold bear's oil, of which the Indians were very fond. They mixed their hominy with bear's oil and maple sugar, and they cooked their venison in oil and sugar also.
The Indians gave James an Indian name. They called him Scouwa. The Indians gave him a gun. Once when they trusted him to go into the woods alone, he got lost, and staid out all night. Then they took away his gun, and gave him a bow and arrow, such as boys carried. For nearly two years he had to carry a bow and arrows like a boy.
He was once left behind when there was a great snowstorm. He could not find the footsteps of the others, on account of the driving snow. But after a while he found a hollow tree. There was a little room three feet wide in the inside of the tree. He chopped a great many sticks with his tomahawk to close up the opening in the side of the tree. He left only a hole big enough for him to crawl in through. He fixed a block for a kind of door, so as to close this hole by drawing the door shut when he was inside. When the hole was shut, it was dark in the tree.
But James, or Scouwa as he was called, could stand up in the tree. He broke up rotten wood to make a bed like a large goose nest. He danced up and down on his bed till he was warm. Then he wrapped his blanket about him and lay down to sleep, first putting his damp moccasins under his head to keep them from freezing. When he awoke, it was dark. The hole in the tree was so well closed that he could not tell whether it was daylight or not, but he waited a long time to be sure that day had come.
Then he felt for the opening. At last he found it. He pushed on the block that he had used for a door, but three feet of snow had fallen during the night. All his strength would not move the block. He was a prisoner under the snow. Not one ray of light could get into this dark hole.
Scouwa was now frightened. Not knowing what to do, he lay down again and wrapped his blanket round him, and tried to think of a way to get out. He said a little prayer to God. Then he felt for the block again. This time he pushed and pushed with all his might. The block moved a few inches, and snow came tumbling through the hole. This let a little daylight in, and Scouwa was happy.
After a while he pulled his blanket tight about him, stuck his tomahawk in his belt, and took his bow in hand. Then he dug his way out through the snow into the daylight.
All the paths were buried under the deep snow. The young man had no compass. The sun was not shining. How could he tell one direction from another, or find his way to the Indian camp? The tall, straight trees, especially those that stand alone, have moss on the north or northwest side. By looking closely at these trees, he found out which way to go. It was about noon when he got to the camp. The Indians had made themselves snowshoes to go in search of him.
They all gathered about him, glad to see him. But Indians do not ask questions at such a time. They led the young man to a tent. There they gave him plenty of fat beaver meat to eat. Then they asked him to smoke. While he was resting here, they were building up a large fire in the open air. Scouwa's Indian brother asked him to come out to the fire. Then all the Indians young and old, gathered about him.
His Indian brother now asked him to tell what had happened to him. Scouwa began at the beginning, and told all that had occurred. The Indians listened with much eagerness.
Then the Indian brother made him a speech. He told the young man that they were glad to see him alive. He told him he had behaved like a man. He said, "You will one day be a great man, and do some great things."
Soon after this, the Indians bought him a gun, paying for it with skins, and he became a hunter.
HUNGRY TIMES IN THE WOODS.
When James Smith, or Scouwa, had been some years among the Indians, he was in a winter camp with two of his adopted brothers. The younger of these, with his family, went away to another place. Scouwa was left with the older brother and his little son.
The older brother was a very wise Indian. He had thought much about many things. He talked to his young white brother on many subjects, and James always remembered him as a great man.
The wise Indian was now suffering from rheumatism. He could hardly move out of his winter hut at all. But he bore it all with gentle patience. Scouwa had to do all the hunting for himself, the old man, and the boy.
Almost the only food to be had was deer meat. From time to time Scouwa succeeded in killing a deer. But at last there came a crust of snow. Whenever the hunter tried to creep up to a deer, the crust would break under his feet with a little crash, and the noise would frighten the deer away. After a while there was no food in the cabin.
Once Scouwa hunted two days without coming back to the cabin, and with nothing to eat. He came back at last empty-handed.
The wise Indian asked him, "What luck did you have, brother?"
"None at all," said Scouwa.
"Are you not very hungry?" asked the Indian.
"I do not feel so hungry now as I did," said the young man, "but I am very faint and weary."
Then the lame Indian told the little boy to bring something to eat. The boy had made a broth out of the dry old bones of foxes and wild-cats that lay about the camp. Scouwa ate this broth eagerly, and liked it.
Then the old chief talked to Scouwa. He told him that the Great Spirit would provide food for them. He talked in this way for some time.
At last he said, "Brother, go to sleep, and rise early in the morning and go hunting. Be strong, and act like a man. The Great Spirit will direct your way."
In the morning James set out early, but the deer heard his feet breaking through the snow crust. Whenever he caught sight of them, they were already running away. The young man now grew very hungry. He made up his mind to escape from the Indians, and to try to reach his home in Pennsylvania. He knew that Indian hunters would probably see him and kill him, but he was so nearly starved that he did not care for his life.
He walked very fast, traveling toward the east. All at once he saw fresh buffalo tracks. He followed these till he came in sight of the buffaloes; then, faint as he was, he ran on ahead of the animals, and hid himself.
Scouwa shoots a Buffalo.
When the buffaloes came near, he fired his gun, and killed a large buffalo cow. He quickly kindled a fire, and cut off a piece of the meat, which he put to roast by the fire. But he was too hungry to wait. He took his meat away from the fire, and ate it before it was cooked.
When his hunger was satisfied, he began to think about the wise Indian and his little boy. He could not bear to leave them to starve, so he gave up his plan of escaping.
He hung the meat of the buffalo where the wolves could not get at it. Then he took what he could carry, and traveled back thirteen tedious miles through the snow.
It was moonlight when he got to the hut. The wise Indian was as good-natured as ever. He did not let hunger make him cross. He asked Scouwa if he were not tired. He told the little boy to make haste and cook some meat.
"I will cook for you," said Scouwa. "Let the boy roast some meat for himself."
The boy threw some meat on the coals, but he was so hungry that he ate it before it was cooked. Scouwa cut some buffalo meat into thin slices, and put the slices into a kettle to stew for the starving man. When these had boiled awhile, he was going to take them off, but the Indian said,
"No, let it cook enough."
And so, hungry as he was, the wise Indian waited till the meat was well cooked, and then ate without haste, and talked about being thankful to the Great Spirit.
The next day Scouwa started back for another load of buffalo meat. When he had gone five miles, he saw a tree which a bear had taken for its winter home. The hole in the tree was far from the ground. Scouwa made some bundles of dry, half-rotten wood. These he put on his back, and then climbed a small tree that stood close to the one with a hole in it. The rotten wood he touched to a burning stick from a fire he had kindled. Then he dropped the smoking bundles of rotten wood one after another down into the bear's den, and quickly slid to the ground again.
The bear did not like smoke. After a while he crawled out of the hole to get breath. Scouwa shot him.
He hung the bear meat out of the reach of wolves, and carried back to the hut all that he could take at one time. The old man and the boy were greatly pleased when they heard that there was bear meat as well as buffalo meat in plenty. After this they had food enough.
SCOUWA BECOMES A WHITE MAN AGAIN.
The next year after this hard winter in the woods, the Indians that Scouwa lived with went down the River St. Lawrence to Canada. At this time Canada belonged to the French. The French were at war with the English, to whom Pennsylvania belonged. The Indians were on the side of the French.
Scouwa heard that there were prisoners from his country who were to be sent back in exchange for French prisoners. He slipped away from the Indians, and went to Montreal. Here he put himself among the other prisoners.
After a while the prisoners were sent back to their own country. Scouwa came to his own family again. They did not know that he was alive. He put on white man's clothes. He let his hair grow like a white man's. He spoke English once more. He was no longer called Scouwa, but James Smith. But still he walked like an Indian. All his movements were those of an Indian. He had lived nearly six years among the savages.
He afterward became a colonel among the white men. He moved to Kentucky, and fought against the Indians. But he made his men dress and fight as the red men did. He thought it was the best way of fighting in the woods.
A BABY LOST IN THE WOODS.
When people first began to move across the Alleghany Mountains, there were no roads for wagons; but there were narrow paths called trails. Families traveled to the west, carrying their goods on horseback along these trails. Here is a story that will show you how they traveled.
Among those who went from Virginia to Kentucky, in 1781, was a man named Benjamin Craig, who took his whole family with him. Mr. Craig wore a hunting shirt and leggings of buckskin and a fur cap. Like all men in the backwoods, he carried a hatchet and a knife stuck in his belt, and he almost always had his old-fashioned flintlock rifle on his right shoulder. A horn to hold powder was worn under his left arm, and supported by a string over his right shoulder. He had a little buckskin bag of bullets fastened to his belt. At the head of the party, he traveled over the mountains on foot, walking before his horses.
The horses came one after another. On the first horse rode Mrs. Craig. She carried her baby in her arms. Tied on the back of the horse were a pot and a skillet for frying. In a bag on the same horse were some pewter plates and cups, and a few knives and forks.
The horse on which Mrs. Craig rode was followed by a pack horse; that is, a horse carrying things fastened on his back. This horse was led by means of a rope halter, the end of which was tied to the saddle of the horse in front. The pack on his back contained some meal and some salt. This was all the food the family carried for the long journey over the mountains. Mr. Craig expected to get meat by shooting deer or wild turkeys in the woods.
The same pack horse carried a flat piece of iron to make a plow, and some hoes and axes. The hoes and axes were without handles, except one ax, which was used to cut firewood during the journey. Handles could be made for the tools after the family got to Kentucky.
Behind this horse another one was tied. He carried two great basket-like things hanging on each side of him. These baskets or crates were made of hickory boughs. All the clothing and bedding that people could take on such long and rough journeys was stored in these crates.
In the middle of each crate a hole was left. In one of these holes rode little Master George, a boy of six. In the other was stowed Betsey, a girl of four. One fine day during the journey, the baby was put into the basket by the side of Betsey, and then the two older children amused themselves by pointing out to the baby the things they saw by the wayside.
At length the narrow trail or path passed along the edge of a dangerous cliff. George and Betsey shut their eyes, so as not to see how steep the place was. They were afraid the horse might fall off, and they be dashed to pieces. But baby Ben only laughed and crowed, for what did a little fellow like him know about danger. A hired man walked behind the last horse to see that nothing was lost.
When night came, the horses were unloaded and turned loose. The little bells tied round their necks had been stuffed with grass during the day to keep them from jingling. This grass was removed, and the bells set a-tinkling, so that the horses could be found in the morning. The tired pack horses began at once to eat the long grass, now and then nibbling the boughs of young trees.
A fire was built by a stream, and supper was cooked. If it had been raining, the men would have built a little tent of boughs or bark for the family, but, as the weather was clear, beds were made of grass and dry leaves in the open air. The whole family slept under blue woolen coverlets, with only the starry sky for shelter. The fire was kept up for fear of wolves.
In the morning the children played about while the mother got breakfast. When the meal was over, Mr. Craig and the hired man went to look for one of the horses that had strayed away. Baby Ben climbed into his mother's lap, as she sat upon the log, and fell asleep. In order to have things all packed by the time the men returned, the mother laid the little fellow on some long dry grass that grew among the boughs of a fallen tree. When the father returned, it was nine o'clock. He hurried the mother upon her horse among the pots and pans, saying that he wished to overtake a company of travelers that was ahead of him, so as to travel more safely.
"Now fetch me the baby," said Mrs. Craig.
"No, mother, please let the baby ride with me again," said little Betsey, just come back from washing her face in the creek.
"All right," said Mrs. Craig. "Put the baby on with the children. This horse is slow, and I will ride on. You can bring the other horses, and catch up with me soon."
By the time the second horse was loaded, and George and Betsey were stowed away in their baskets, both the father and Betsey had forgotten about the baby. The mother had got so far ahead that it took the other horses nearly an hour to overtake her's.
"Where is the baby?" cried the mother when she looked back and saw but two children on the horse behind.
Sure enough, where was the baby? Lying under a tree top in the lonesome woods, where there might be fierce wolves, great panthers, or hungry wildcats.
Mr. Craig was almost frantic when he thought of the baby's danger. He stripped the things from the middle horse, and sprang on his back, gun in hand. He laid whip to the horse, and was soon galloping back over the rough path. For more than an hour the mother and children waited with the hired man, to learn whether the baby had been killed by some wild animal or not.
At last the sound of Mr. Craig's horse coming back was heard, and all held their breath. As the father came in sight in a full gallop, he shouted, "Here he is, safe and sound! The little rascal hadn't waked up."
Mrs. Craig and Betsey shed tears of joy. George turned his face away, and wiped his eyes with his coat sleeve. He wasn't going to cry: he was a boy.
On the banks of the Ohio River, near the place where the city of Wheeling now stands, there was once a fort called Fort Henry. This fort was of the kind called a blockhouse, which is a house built of logs made to fit close together. The upper part of the house jutted out beyond the lower, in order that the men in the blockhouse might shoot downwards at the Indians if they should come near the house to set it on fire. Fort Henry was surrounded with a stockade; that is, a fence made by setting posts in the ground close together.
During the Revolutionary War the Indians in the neighborhood of this fort were fighting on the side of the English. A large number of them came to Fort Henry, and tried to take it. All the men that were sent outside of the fort to fight the Indians were either killed, or kept from going back. The women and the children of the village which stood near had all gone into the fort for safety.
When at last the fiercest attack of the Indians was made, there were only twelve men and boys left inside of the fort. These men and boys had made up their minds to do their best to save the lives of the women and children who were with them. Every man and every boy in the fort knew how to shoot a rifle. They had guns enough, but they had very little powder. So they fired only when they were sure of hitting one of the enemy.
The Indians kept shooting all the time. Some of them crept near to the blockhouse, and tried to shoot through the cracks, but the bullets of the men inside brought down these brave warriors.
After many hours of fighting, the Indians went off a little way to rest. The white men had now used nearly all their gunpowder. They began to wish for a keg of powder that had been left in one of the houses outside. They knew that whoever should go for this would be seen and fired at by the Indians. He would have to run to the house and back again. The colonel called his men together, and told them he did not wish to order any man to do so dangerous a thing as to get the powder, but he said he should like to have some one offer to go for it.
Three or four young men offered to go. The colonel told them he could not spare more than one of them. They must settle among themselves which one should go. But each one of the brave fellows wanted to go, and none of them was willing to give up to another. Then there stepped forward a young woman named Elizabeth Zane.
"Let me go for the powder," she said.
The brave men were surprised. It would be a desperate thing for a man to go. Nobody had dreamed that a woman would venture to do such a thing, nor would any of them agree to let a young woman go into danger.
The colonel said, "No," her friends begged her not to run the risk. They told her, besides, that any one of the young men could run faster than she could.
But Elizabeth said, "You cannot spare a single man. There are not enough men in the fort now. If I am killed, you will be as strong to fight as before. Let the young men stay where they are needed, and let me go for the powder."
She had made up her mind, and nobody could persuade her not to go. So the gate of the fort was opened just wide enough for her to get out. Her friends gave her up to die.
Some of the Indians saw the gate open, and saw the young woman running to the house, but they did not shoot at her. They probably thought that they would not waste a bullet on a woman. They could make her a prisoner at any time.
She did not try to carry the powder keg, but she took the powder in a girl's way. She filled her apron with it. When she came out of the house with her apron full of powder, and started to run back to the fort, the Indians fired at her. It happened that all of their bullets missed her. The gate was opened again, and she got safely into the fort. The men were glad that they had powder enough, and they all felt braver than ever, after they had seen what a girl could do.
Elizabeth Zane's Return.
The Indians had seen the gate opened to let her out and to let her in again. They thought they could force the gate open; but they could not go and push against it, because the men in the blockhouse would shoot them if they did. So they made a wooden cannon. They got a hollow log and stopped up one end of it. Then they went to the blacksmith's shop in the little village and got some chains. They tied these chains round the log to hold it together. They had no cannon balls, so, after putting gunpowder into the log, they put in stones and bits of iron. After dark that evening they dragged this wooden cannon up near to the gate. When all was ready, they touched off their cannon. The log cannon burst into pieces, and killed some of the Indians, but did not hurt the fort.
The next day white men came from other places to help the men in the fort. They got into the fort, and after a few more attacks the Indians gave up the battle and went away.
Whenever the story of the brave fight at Fort Henry is told, people do not forget that the bravest one in it was the girl that brought her apron full of gunpowder to the men in the fort.
THE RIVER PIRATES.
A hundred years ago the country near the great rivers in the interior of the United States was a wilderness. It contained only a few people, and these lived in settlements which were widely separated from one another. Hardly any of the great trees had been cut down.
There were no roads, except Indian trails through the woods. Nearly all travelers had to follow the rivers. Steamboats had not yet been invented. Travelers made journeys on flatboats, keel boats, and barges. It was easy enough to go down the Ohio and the Mississippi in this way, but it was hard to come up again. It took about fifty men to work a boat against the stream, and many months were spent in going up the river.
Boats were pushed up the river by means of poles. The boatmen pushed these against the bottom of the river. When the water was deep or the current very swift, a rope was taken out ahead of the boat, and tied to a tree on the bank. The line was then slowly drawn in by means of a capstan, and this drew the boat forward.
Sometimes the boat was "cordelled," or towed by the men walking on the shore and drawing the barge by a rope held on their shoulders. But when there chanced to be a strong wind blowing upstream, the boatmen would hoist sail, and joyfully make headway against the current without so much toil.
These slow-going boats were in danger from Indians. They were in even greater danger from robbers, who hid themselves along the shore. Some of these robbers lived in caves. Some kept boats hidden in the mouths of streams that flowed into the large rivers.
In 1787 all the country west of the Mississippi still belonged to France. The French territory stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to what is now Minnesota. It was all called Louisiana. New Orleans and St. Louis were then French towns, and the travel between them was carried on by means of boats, which floated down the stream, and were then brought back by poles, ropes, and sails.
The trip was as long as a voyage to China is nowadays. The boats or barges set out from St. Louis in the spring, carrying furs. They got back again in the fall with goods purchased in New Orleans.
In this year, 1787, a barge belonging to a Mr. Beausoleil (bo-so-lay) started from New Orleans to make the voyage to St. Louis. The goods with which it was loaded were very valuable. Slowly the men toiled up against the stream day after day. At length the little vessel came near to the mouth of Cottonwood Creek. A well-known robber band lurked at this place. With joy the boatmen saw a favorable wind spring up. They spread their sails, and the driving gale carried the barge in safety past the mouth of the creek.
But the pirates of Cottonwood Creek were unwilling to lose so rich a treasure. They sent a company of men by a short cut overland to head off the barge at a place farther up the river. Two days after passing Cottonwood Creek the bargemen brought the boat to land. They felt themselves beyond danger. But the robbers came suddenly out of the woods, took possession of the boat, and ordered the crew to return down the river to Cottonwood Creek.
When they turned back toward the robbers' den, Beausoleil was in despair. His whole fortune was on the barge. He did not know whether the robbers would kill him and his men, or not. The only man of the crew who showed no regret was the cook. This cook was a fine-looking and very intelligent mulatto slave named Cacasotte. Instead of repining, he fell to dancing and laughing.
"I am glad the boat was taken," he cried. "I have been beaten and abused long enough. Now I am freed from a hard master."
Cacasotte devoted himself to his new masters, the robbers. In a little while he had won their confidence. He was permitted to go wherever he pleased, without any watch upon his movements.
He found a chance to talk with Beausoleil, and to lay before him a plan for retaking the boat from the villains. Beausoleil thought the undertaking too dangerous, but at length he gave his consent. Cacasotte then whispered his plan to two others of the crew.
Dinner was served to the pirates on deck. Cacasotte took his place by the bow of the boat, so as to be near the most dangerous of the robbers. This robber was a powerful man, well armed. When Cacasotte saw that the others had taken their places as he had directed, he gave the signal, and then pushed the huge robber at his side into the water. In three minutes the powerful Cacasotte had thrown fourteen of the robbers into the waves. The other men had also done their best. The deck was cleared of the pirates, who had to swim for their lives. The robbers who remained in the boat were too few to resist. Beausoleil found himself again master of his barge, thanks to the coolness and courage of Cacasotte.
But the bargemen dared not go on up the river. Against the stream they would have to go slowly, and there would be danger from the robbers remaining at Cottonwood Creek: so they kept on down the river to New Orleans.
The next year ten boats left New Orleans in company. These barges carried small cannons, and their crew were all armed. When they reached Cottonwood Creek, men were seen on shore; but when an armed force was landed, the robbers had fled. The long, low hut which had been their dwelling remained. There were also several flatboats loaded with valuable goods taken from captured barges. This plunder was carried to St. Louis, and restored to the rightful owners. For fifty years afterwards this was known as "The Year of the Ten Boats." Cacasotte's brave victory was not soon forgotten.
THE MUSKET TELEGRAPH.
There are many people living who can remember when there were no telegraphs such as we have now. The telephone is still younger. Railroads are not much older than telegraphs. Horses and stagecoaches were slow. How did people send messages quickly when there were no telegraph wires?
When colonies in America were first settled by white people, there were wars with the Indians. The Indians would creep into a neighborhood and kill all the people they could, and then they would get away before the soldiers could overtake them. But the white people made a plan to catch them.
Whenever the Indians attacked a settlement, the settler who saw them first took his gun and fired it three times. Bang, bang, bang! went the gun. The settlers who lived near the man who fired the gun heard the sound. They knew that three shots following one another quickly, meant that the Indians had come.
Every settler who heard the three shots took his gun and fired three times. It was bang, bang, bang! again. Then, as soon as he had fired, he went in the direction of the first shots. Every man who had heard three shots, fired three more, and went toward the shots he had heard. Farther and farther away the settlers heard the news, and sent it along by firing so that others might hear. Soon little companies of men were coming swiftly in every direction. The Indians were sure to be beaten off or killed.
This was a kind of telegraph. But there were no wires; there was no electricity; only one flint-lock musket waking up another flintlock musket, till a hundred guns had been fired, and a hundred men were marching to the battle.
TELEGRAPHING BY FIRE.
The firing of signal guns was telegraphing by sound. It used only the hearing. But there were other ways of telegraphing that used the sight. These have been known for thousands of years. They were known even to savage people.
The Indians on the plains use fires to telegraph to one another. Sometimes they build one fire, sometimes they build many. When a war party, coming back from battle, builds five fires on a hill, the Indians who see it know that the party has killed five enemies.
But the Indians have also what are known as smoke signals. An Indian who wishes to send a message to a party of his friends a long way off, builds a fire. When it blazes, he throws an armful of green grass on it. This causes the fire to send up a stream of white smoke hundreds of feet high, which can be seen fifty miles away in clear weather. Among the Apaches, one column of smoke is to call attention; two columns say, "All is well, and we are going to remain in this camp;" three columns or more are a sign of danger, and ask for help.
A Smoke Signal.
Sometimes longer messages are sent. After building a fire and putting green grass upon it, the Indian spread his blanket over it. He holds down the edges, to shut the smoke in. After a few moments he takes his blanket off; and when he does this, a great puff of smoke, like a balloon, shoots up into the air. This the Indian does over and over. One puff of smoke chases another upward. By the number of these puffs, and the length of the spaces between them, he makes his meaning understood by his friends many miles away.
At night the Indians smear their arrows with something that will burn easily. One of them draws his bow. Just as he is about to let his arrow fly, another one touches it with fire. The arrow blazes as it shoots through the air, like a fiery dragon fly. One burning arrow follows another; and those who see them read these telegraph signals, and know what is meant.
TELEGRAPHS IN THE REVOLUTION.
Our forefathers sometimes used fire to telegraph with in the Revolution. Whenever the British troops started on a raid into New Jersey, the watchmen on the hilltops lighted great beacon fires. Those who saw the fires lighted other fires farther away. These fires let the people know that the enemy was coming, for light can travel much faster than men on horseback.
Have you heard the story of Paul Revere? When the British were about to send troops from Boston to Lexington, Revere and his friends had an understanding with the people in Charlestown. Revere was to let them know when the troops should march. They were to watch a certain church steeple. If one lantern were hung in the steeple, it would mean that the British were marching by land. If two lanterns were seen, the Charlestown people would know that the troops were leaving Boston by water. Revere was sent as a messenger to Lexington. He sent a friend of his to hang up the lanterns in the church steeple.
"Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the somber rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,—
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town,
And the moonlight flowing over all."
Old North Church Steeple.
Long before Paul Revere got across the water in his little boat, the people on the other side had seen the lanterns in the tower. They knew the British were coming, and were all astir when Paul Revere got over. Revere rode on to Lexington and beyond, to alarm the people.
The lines above are from a poem of Longfellow's about this ride. The poem is very interesting, but it does not tell the story quite correctly.
Paul Revere's lanterns were used at the beginning of the Revolutionary War. There is a story of a different sort of telegraph used when the war was near its end. It is told by a British officer who had not the best means of knowing whether it was true or not. But it shows what kind of telegraphs were used in that day. This is the story:—
A British army held New York. Another British army under Cornwallis was at Yorktown in Virginia. General Washington had marched to Yorktown. He was trying to capture the army of General Cornwallis. He was afraid that ships and soldiers would be sent from New York to help Cornwallis. But there were men in New York who were secretly on Washington's side. One of these was to let him know when ships should sail to help Cornwallis.
But Washington was six hundred miles away from New York. How could he get the news before the English ships should get there? There were no telegraphs. The fastest horses ridden one after another could hardly have carried news to him in less than two weeks. But Washington had a plan. One of the men who sent news to Washington was living in New York. When the ships set sail, he went up on the top of his house and hoisted a white flag, or something that looked like a white flag.
On the other side of the Hudson River in a little village a man was watching this very house. As soon as he saw the white flag flapping, he took up his gun and fired it. Farther off there was a man waiting to hear this gun. When he heard it, he fired another gun. Farther on there was the crack of another, and then another gun. By the firing of one gun after another the news went southward. Bang, bang! went gun after gun across the whole State of New Jersey. Then guns in Pennsylvania took it up and sent the news onward. Then on across the State of Maryland the news went from one gun to another, till it reached Virginia, where it passed on from gun to gun till it got to Yorktown. In less than two days Washington knew that ships were coming.
When Washington knew that British ships were coming, he pushed the fighting at Yorktown with all his might. When the English ships got to Chesapeake Bay at last, Cornwallis had already surrendered. The United States was free. The ships had come too late.
A BOY'S TELEGRAPH.
The best telegraph known before the use of electricity, was invented by two schoolboys in France. They were brothers named Chappé (shap-pay). They were in different boarding schools some miles apart, and the rules of their schools did not allow them to write letters to each other. But the two schools were in sight of each other. The brothers invented a telegraph. They put up poles with bars of wood on them. These bars would turn on pegs or pins. The bars were turned up or down, or one up and another down, or two down and one up, and so on. Every movement of the bars meant a letter. In this way the two brothers talked to each other, though they were miles apart. When the boys became men, they sold their plan to the French Government. The money they got made their fortune.
About the time they were selling this plan to the French Government, a boy named Samuel Morse was born in this country. Fifty years later this Samuel Morse set up the first Morse electric telegraph, which is the one we now use.
In the old days before telegraph wires were strung all over the country, it took weeks to carry news to places far away. There were no railroads, and the mails had to travel slowly. A boy on a horse trotted along the road to carry the mail bags to country places. From one large city to another, the mails were carried by stagecoaches.
A Mail Carrier.
When the people had voted for President, it was weeks before the news of the election could be gathered in. Then it took other weeks to let the people in distant villages know the name of the new President. Nowadays a great event is known in almost every part of the country on the very day it happens.
A BOY'S FOOLISH ADVENTURE.
The Natural Bridge has long been thought one of the great curiosities of our country. It is in Virginia, and the county in which it is situated is called Rockbridge County.
The traveler is riding in a stage on a wild road in the mountains. The road grows narrow. Soon it is a mere lane, with high board fences and small trees on each side. But the traveler sees nothing to show him that he is on the wonderful Natural Bridge.
The Natural Bridge.
The bridge that he is driving over is about forty feet thick, and of solid rock. If he should go to the other side of the board fence, he could look down into a ravine more than two hundred feet deep.
When the traveler goes down into the ravine, he looks up at the beautiful curve of this great bridge of rock. The bridge is nearly one hundred and seventy-five feet above his head.
Many years ago, when the writer of this book was a boy, he stood in the dark chasm underneath this bridge and looked up at the great bridge of rock above. He took a stone, as all other visitors do, and tried to throw it so as to hit the arch of the bridge above. But the stone stopped before it got halfway up, and fell back, resounding on the rocks below. Then he was told the old story, that nobody had ever thrown to the arch except George Washington, who had thrown a silver dollar clear to the center of the bridge.
There were names scribbled all over the rocks. People are always trying to write their own names in such strange places as this. Above all the other names were two rows of mere scratches. If they had ever been names, they were too much dimmed to be read by a person standing on the rocks below. The lower of these two high names, the people said, was the name of Washington. It was said that when he was a young man, he climbed higher than any one else to scratch his name on the rock. And the name above his, they said, was the name of a young man who had had a strange adventure in trying to write his name above that of the father of his country.
The story of this young man's climbing up the rocks used to appear in the old schoolbooks. It was told with so many romantic additions, that it was hard to believe.
The writer afterwards learned that the main fact of the story was true, and, that the hero of the story was still living in Virginia.
This foolhardy boy, whose name was Pepper, climbed up the rock to write his name above the rest. Pepper climbed up by holding to little broken places in the rocks till he had got above the names of all the other climbers. He ventured to climb till he had passed the marks which people say are part of Washington's name. Here Pepper held fast with one hand, while he scratched his name in the rock.
His companions were far below him. He could not get down again. The rock face was too smooth. He could not stoop to put his hands down into the cracks where his feet were. If he had tried to, he would have lost his hold, and been dashed to pieces on the rocks below.
There was nothing to do now but to climb out from under the bridge, and so up the face of the rock to the top of the gorge. He must do this or die.
Painfully clinging to the rock with his toes and his fingers, he worked his way up. Sometimes a crevice in the rock helped him. Sometimes he had to dig a place with his knife in order to get a hold. It seemed that each step would be his last.
The few people living in the neighborhood heard of his situation, and gathered below and above to look at him. They watched him with breathless anxiety. His friends expected to see him dashed to pieces at any moment.
As the time wore on, he worked his way up. He also got farther out from under the bridge. He held on like a cat. He hooked his fingers into every crack he could find. He dug holes with his dull knife. When he could find a little bush in the rocks, he thought himself lucky.
Men let down ropes to him, but the ropes did not reach him. They tied one rope to another so as to reach farther down, but he was too far under the bridge. The people hardly dared to speak or to breathe.
At last he began to get out at the side of the bridge where he could be seen from above. His strength was almost gone. His knife was too much worn to be of any use. He could not cling to the rock much longer.
A rope with a noose in it was swung close to him. He let go his grip on the rock, and threw his arms and body into the noose. In a moment he swung clear of the rock, and dangled in the air. The rope drew tight about his body and held him. Young Pepper knew no more. He was drawn up over the rocks to the summit quite unconscious.
Years afterward he became a man of distinction in his State. But when any of his friends asked Colonel Pepper about his climbing out from under the Natural Bridge, he would say, "Yes; I did that when I was a foolish boy, but I don't like to think about it."
A FOOT RACE FOR LIFE.
In 1803 that part of our country which lies west of the Mississippi was almost unknown to the white men. In that year the President sent Captain Lewis and Captain Clark to see what the country was like. They went up the Missouri River and across the Rocky Mountains. Then they went down the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean. It took them more than two years to make the trip there and back.
Lewis and Clark had about forty-five men with them. One of these men was named Colter. In the very heart of the wild country he left the party, and set up as a trapper. A trapper is a man who catches animals in traps in order to get their skins to sell. The Blackfoot Indians made Colter a prisoner. Colter knew a little of their language. He heard them talking of how they should kill their prisoner. They thought it would be fun to set him up and shoot at him with their arrows until he was dead. At this time the Indians on the western plains had no guns. But the Indian chief thought he knew a better way. He laid hold of Colter's shoulder, and said,—
"Can you run fast?"
Colter could run very swiftly, but he pretended to the chief that he was a bad runner. So they took him out on the prairie about four hundred yards away from the Indians. There he was turned loose, and told to run.
The whole band of Indians ran after him, yelling like wild beasts. Colter did not look back. He had to run through thorns that hurt his bare feet. But he was running for his life. Six miles away there was a river. If he could get to that, he might escape.
He almost flew over the ground. At first he did not turn his head round. When he had run about three miles, he glanced back. Most of the Indians had lost ground. The best runners were ahead of the others. One Indian, swifter than all the rest, was only about a hundred yards behind him. This man had a spear in his hand to kill Colter as soon as he should be near enough.
Poor Colter now ran harder than ever to get away from this Indian. At last he was only about a mile from the river. He looked back, and saw the swift Indian only twenty yards away, with his spear ready to throw.
It was of no use for Colter to keep on running. He turned round and faced the swift runner, who was about to throw his spear. Colter spread his arms wide, and stood still.
The Indian was surprised at this. He tried to stop running, so as to kill the white man with his spear. But he had already run himself nearly to death, and, when he tried to stop quickly, he lost his balance, and fell forward to the ground. His lance stuck in the earth, and broke in two.
Colter quickly pulled the pointed end of the spear out of the ground and killed the fallen Indian. Then he turned and ran on toward the river.
The other Indians were coming swiftly behind; but, as they passed the place where the first one lay dead, each of them stopped a moment to howl over him, after their custom. This gave Colter a little more time. He reached a patch of woods near the river. He ran through this to the river, and jumped in He swam toward a little island.
Logs and brush had floated down the river, and lodged across the island. This driftwood had formed a great raft. Colter dived under this raft. He swam to a place where he could push his head up to get air, and still be hidden by the brush.
The Indians were already yelling on the bank of the river. A moment later they were swimming toward the island. When they reached the drift pile, they ran this way and that. They looked into all the cracks and tried to find the white man. They ran right over his hiding place. Colter thought they would surely find him.
But after a long time they went away. Colter thought they would set fire to the raft of driftwood, but they did not think of that. Perhaps they thought that Colter had been drowned.
He lay still under the raft till night came. Then he swam down the stream a long distance, left the stream, and went far out on the prairie. Here he felt himself safe from his enemies.
But he had no clothes and no food. He had no gun to shoot animals with. It was several days' journey to the nearest place where there were white men, at a trading house.
Colter had nothing to eat but roots. The sun burned his skin in the daytime. He shivered without a covering at night. The thorns hurt his feet when he walked, but he found his way to the trading house at last.
He used to tell of wonderful things that he saw while traveling to the trading house after he got away from the Indians. He saw springs that were boiling hot and steaming. He saw fountains that would sometimes spout hot water into the air for hundreds of feet.
These and many other wonderful things that he saw at this time he used to tell about. But nobody believed his stories. Nobody had ever seen anything of the kind in this country. When Colter would tell of these things, those who heard him thought that he was making up stories, or that he had been out of his head while traveling and had thought he saw such wonders.
But after many long years the wonderful place which we call Yellowstone Park was found, and in it were boiling and spouting springs. People knew then that Colter had been telling the truth, and that he had traveled through the Yellowstone country.
LORETTO AND HIS WIFE.
In old times white men had not made settlements in the country near the Rocky Mountains. Tribes of Indians fought one another over that whole region. A few bold white men, fond of wild life, lived there, in order to hunt and trap the animals that bear furs. But they themselves were always in danger of being hunted by the Indians.
The Indians called Blackfeet and those called Crows were at war; They stole each other's horses at every chance, and the Indians of each tribe were always seeking to kill those of the other.
In one of their attacks on the Blackfeet, the Crows carried off an Indian girl. One of the bold trappers of the Rocky Mountains was a Mexican. His name was Loretto. He visited a Crow village once, and saw this girl. He fell in love with the captive, and bought her from the Crows. Whether he paid for her in horses or in beaver skins, I do not know. But from a slave of the enemies of her tribe she was changed to the wife of a white man who loved her.
Loretto was hired to trap for the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. This company bought furs from the Indians of the Far West. They sent large parties to the mountains every year with guns, knives, hatchets, blankets, and other things, which they traded to the Indians for skins.
Loretto was marching over the plains with a party of trappers belonging to this company. He had his young Blackfoot wife and his baby with him. The white men were much afraid of the Blackfoot Indians. The company that Loretto was with examined every ravine that they passed, for fear that the Indians would surprise them.
One day a band of the Blackfoot tribe appeared on the prairie, but they kept near some rocks to which they could easily retire. They made signs of friendship. The trappers also made friendly signs. Then the Blackfeet sent out a party with a pipe of peace. The white men sent out a party to meet them. They smoked the pipe in the open ground between the two companies. This is the Indian way of making peace.
Of course, Loretto's wife was much interested in the Blackfeet. They were her own people. It had been a long time since she had seen one of them. She looked closely at the company smoking together, and saw that one of them was her brother. She handed the child to Loretto. Then she rushed out to the place where the treaty was going on, and her brother threw his arms about her with the greatest affection.
But just at that moment, Bridger, the captain of the white men, rode out where the pipe was being smoked. He had his rifle across the pommel of his saddle. The chief of the Blackfeet came up to shake hands with him. Bridger was afraid the chief meant to hurt him, so he slyly cocked his rifle. The chief heard the click, and seized the gun. He bent it downwards, and the gun went off, shooting a bullet into the ground. The chief took the gun and knocked Bridger off his horse with it. Then he mounted Bridger's horse and galloped back to his Indians. Indians and white men now got behind the rocks and trees which were not far away, and began to shoot at each other.
Loretto's wife was carried away by her tribe. In vain she struggled to get free, and begged to be allowed to go back to her husband and child. The Indians would not let her go.
Loretto saw her struggles, and heard her cries. He took his child, and ran to the Indians with it. He handed the child to its mother. The Indian bullets and arrows were flying all about him.
The chief saw him carry the child across the open ground, and his heart was touched. It was a noble action.
He said to Loretto, "You are crazy to go into such danger, but go back in peace; you shall not be hurt."
Loretto begged to be allowed to take his wife with him, but her brother would not let her go, and the chief now began to look angry.
"The girl belongs to her tribe," he said. "She shall not go back."
Loretto wanted to stay with his wife, but she begged him to go back, lest he should be killed on the spot. At last he left her, and went back to the white men.
Night came on, and the Indians drew off. Not much harm had been done to anybody.
Loretto could not be happy without his wife. A few months later, he settled his accounts with the Fur Company and went away. He went boldly into one of the villages of the savage Blackfeet. Here he found his wife, and staid with her.
When the white men made peace with the Blackfeet, they set up a trading house among them. Loretto joined the traders. They were glad to have him, because he could speak the language of the tribe.
A BLACKFOOT STORY.
Here is a story the Indians tell. It is one of the tales with which they amuse themselves in long evenings. It may be true. At least, the Indians tell it for true.
An Indian chief of the tribe called Blackfoot, or Blackfeet, went over the Rocky Mountains with a war party. He killed some of the enemies of his tribe, and then started back. For fear their enemies would follow their tracks, the party did not take the usual path. They went up over the wildest part of the mountain. But when it came to going down on the other side, the Indians had a hard time.
They had to clamber over great rocks and down the sides of cliffs. Drifts of snow blocked their way in places. At last they had to stop. They stood on the edge of a cliff. Below this cliff was a ridge or shelf of rock. By tying themselves together, and so helping one another down, they got to this shelf. Below this they found still another cliff. It was harder to get down to this.
But when they had got down as far as this ledge, they were in a worse plight than ever. They stood on the brink of a great cliff. The rocks were too steep for them to get down. It was hundreds of feet to the bottom.
They tried to get back up the mountain, but that they could not do. Then they sat down and looked over the brink of the cliff. There was no chance for them to get down alive. They must stay there and starve.
The Indians filled their pipes with kinnikinnick, or willow bark, and smoked. Then they knocked the ashes out of their pipes, and lay down to sleep.
But the chief did not sleep. He could not think of any way of getting out of the trouble. When morning came, they all went and looked over the cliff once more. Then they smoked again. After sitting silent for some time, the chief laid down his pipe quietly, got to his feet, and went to painting his face as if he were getting ready for a feast. He arranged his dress with the greatest care. Then he made a little speech.
"It is of no use to stay here and die," he said. "The Great Spirit is not willing that we should get away. Let us die bravely."
He added other remarks of the same kind. Then he sang his death song. When this was finished, he gave a shout, and leaped over the cliff.
When the chief had gone, the others sat down and smoked again in silence. After a long time, a weather-beaten old Indian got up and walked to the edge of the cliff.
"See," he said, "there is the soul of our chief, waiting for us to go with him to the land of spirits."
The others looked over, and saw the form of a man far below, waving the bough of a tree.
The old warrior now threw off his blanket and sang his death song. Then he leaped off. The others again looked over, and this time they saw two forms beckoning to them from below.
One after another the Indians jumped, until there were left but two young men who were little more than boys. These two boys were nephews of the chief. They had never been in a war party.
The elder of the two showed his young brother the ghosts of the whole party standing below. He told his brother he must jump off, but the frightened boy begged to be allowed to stay and die on the bare rock.
The elder seized him, and, after a struggle, pushed him over. Then he quietly gathered up all the blankets and guns, and threw them off. He thought the souls of his friends would need these things in their journey to the land of spirits.
When this was done, the young man sang his own death song and jumped off. Falling swiftly as an arrow, feet downward, he struck a great snow drift at the bottom. It received him like an immense feather bed. He sank in so far that he had hard work to get out. When he had succeeded, he found all of his party, not spirits, as he had expected, but living men, safe and sound. The snow had saved them from injury.
HOW FREMONT CROSSED THE MOUNTAINS.
It is many years now since Captain Fremont made his great journey over plains and mountains to California. At that time California belonged to Mexico. The wild country east of it belonged to the United States. There were hardly any roads and no railroads in the country west of the Missouri River. Fremont was sent out to explore that country; that is, he was sent to find out what kind of a country it was. The white people knew very little about it.
Fremont had a large party of men with many horses. After months of travel he found himself near the great Californian mountains. These mountains are called the Sierra Nevada, or "Snowy Range."
Here some Indians came to see him. He had a talk with them by signs, for he could not speak their language. They told him he could cross the mountains in summer. They said it was "six sleeps" to the place where the white men lived over the mountains. They meant that a man would have to pass six nights on the road in going there. But it was now winter, and they told him that no man could cross in the winter. They held their hands above their heads to show him that the snow was deeper than a man is tall.
But Fremont told the Indians that the horses of the white men were strong, and that he would go over the mountains. He showed them some bright-colored cloths, which he said he would give to any Indian who would go along as a guide. The Indians called in a young man who said he had been over the mountains and had seen the white people on the other side. He agreed to go with Fremont. Fremont now talked to his men, and told them there was a beautiful valley on the other side of the mountains,—the valley of the Sacramento. He told them that Captain Sutter had moved to this valley from Missouri, and had become a rich man. It was but seventy miles to Sutter's Fort. The men agreed to try to cross the mountains.
They had but little left to eat. They killed a dog and ate it that very evening. They would not have much chance to get food in crossing the mountains, but they started in bravely the next morning. They did not talk much. They knew that it was very dangerous to cross the mountains in February.
For days and days they fought their way through the snow, which got deeper and deeper as they went higher up into the mountains. Traveling grew harder and harder. The horses had nothing to eat but what could be found in little patches of grass where the wind had blown the snow off the ground. Whenever a horse or mule grew too weak to travel, the men killed it and ate it.
One day an old Indian came to see them. He told them they must not go on. He said, "Rock upon rock, rock upon rock, snow upon snow, snow upon snow, and even if you get over the snow, you will not be able to get down the mountain on the other side."
He made signs to show them that the walls of rock were straight up and down, and that the horses would slip oft. This frightened the Indians in Fremont's company, and one Indian covered up his head and moaned while the old man was talking.
The young Indian guide was afraid to go on. He ran away the next day, taking all the pretty things that Fremont had given him, and a blanket that Fremont had lent him to keep warm.
The men now made snowshoes, so that they could walk over the snow without sinking in. Sleds were made to draw the baggage on, for the horses were getting too weak to carry anything. They found the snow twenty feet deep in some places. The men had to make great mauls or pounders to beat down the snow, to make a hard road on which the animals could travel. Fremont's men now grew very hungry, for they had little to eat except when they killed a starving mule or a dog.
At last the whole party reached the top of the mountains at a place where they were nine thousand feet high. They had been three weeks in getting to the top. They had yet the hard task of getting down on the other side. But they could see the beautiful country of California below them. They began to work their way down over the snow and rocks.
After some days Fremont took a party of eight men, and went on to get provisions for the rest. But for a long distance he found no grass, and his animals began to give out. One of his men grew so hungry and tired that he became insane for a while. Another got lost from the party, and found them only after several days. He told the rest that he had suffered so much from hunger that he ate small toads, and even let the large ants creep upon his hands so that he could eat them.
One day Fremont saw some Indian huts. The Indians ran away when they saw the white men coming. Fremont found near these huts some great baskets as big as hogsheads filled with acorns. Inside the huts he found smaller baskets with roasted acorns in them. The men took about half a bushel of these roasted acorns, and left a shirt, some handkerchiefs, and some trinkets, to pay for them.
At last they came to a place where there were paths, and tracks of cattle. The horses, having found grass to eat, grew strong enough for the men to ride them. One day Fremont found some Indians, one of whom could speak Spanish.
The Indian said, "I am a herdsman, and work for Captain Sutter."
"Where does he live?"
"Just over the hill. I will show you."
In a short time Fremont and his white men were at the house of Sutter. But Captain Fremont rested only one night. The next morning he started back with food for his starving men, who were coming on behind. The second day after he left Sutter's he met his men.
They were a sad sight. They were all on foot. Each man was leading a horse as weak and lean as he was himself. Many of the horses had fallen off the rocks, and had been killed. Only half of the mules and horses that had started over the mountains had lived to get across. As soon as Fremont met his men, he told them to camp. He fed the poor starving fellows beef and bread and fresh salmon. The next day they all reached the beautiful Sacramento River, where the city of Sacramento now stands.
FINDING GOLD IN CALIFORNIA.
California once belonged to Mexico. Then there was a war between this country and Mexico. This is what we call the Mexican War. During that war the United States took California away from Mexico. It is now one of the richest and most beautiful States in the Union. In the old days, when California belonged to Mexico, it was a quiet country. Nearly all the white people spoke Spanish, which is the language of Mexico. They lived mostly by raising cattle. In those days people did not know that there was gold in California. A little gold had been found in the southern part of the State, but nobody expected to find valuable gold mines. A few people from the United States had settled in the country. They also raised cattle.
Some time after the United States had taken California, peace was made with Mexico. California then became a part of our country. About the time that this peace was made, something happened which made a great excitement all over the country. It changed the history of our country, and changed the business of the whole world. Here is the story of it:—
A man named Sutter had moved from Missouri to California. He built a house which was called Sutter's Fort. It was where the city of Sacramento now stands. Sutter had many horses and oxen, and he owned thousands of acres of land. He traded with the Indians, and carried on other kinds of business.
But everything was done in the slow Mexican way. When he wanted boards, he sent men to saw them out by hand. It took two men a whole day to saw up a log so as to make a dozen boards. There was no sawmill in all California.
When Sutter wanted to grind flour or meal, this also was done in the Mexican way. A large stone roller was run over a flat stone. But at last Sutter thought he would have a grinding mill of the American sort. To build this, he needed boards. He thought he would first build a sawmill. Then he could get boards quickly for his grinding mill, and have lumber to use for other things.
Sutter sent a man named Marshall to build his sawmill. It was to be built forty miles away from Sutter's Fort. The mill had to be where there were trees to saw.
Marshall was a very good carpenter, who could build almost anything. He had some men working with him. After some months they got the mill done. This mill was built to run by water.
But when he started it, the mill did not run well. Marshall saw that he must dig a ditch below the great water wheel, to carry off the water. He hired wild Indians to dig the ditch.
When the Indians had partly dug this ditch, Marshall went out one January morning to look at it. The clear water was running through the ditch. It had washed away the sand, leaving the pebbles bare. At the bottom of the water Marshall saw something yellow. It looked like brass. He put his hand down into the water and took up this bright, yellow thing. It was about the size and shape of a small pea. Then he looked, and found another pretty little yellow bead at the bottom of the ditch.
Marshall trembled all over. It might be gold. But he remembered that there is another yellow substance that looks like gold. It is called "fool's gold." He was afraid he had only found fool's gold.
Marshall knew that if it was gold it would not break easily. He laid one of the pieces on a stone; then he took another stone and hammered it. It was soft, and did not break. If it had broken to pieces, Marshall would have known that it was not gold.
In a few days the men had dug up about three ounces of the yellow stuff. They had no means of making sure it was gold.
Then Marshall got on a horse and set out for Sutter's Fort, carrying the yellow metal with him. He traveled as fast as the rough road would let him. He rode up to Sutler's in the evening, all spattered with mud.
He told Captain Sutter that he wished to see him alone. Marshall's eyes looked wild, and Sutter was afraid that he was crazy. But he went to a room with him. Then Marshall wanted the door locked. Sutter could not think what was the matter with the man.
Weighing the First Gold.
When he was sure that nobody else would come in, Marshall poured out in a heap on the table the little yellow beads that he had brought.
Sutter thought it was gold, but the men did not know how to tell whether it was pure or not. At last they hunted up a book that told how heavy gold is. Then they got a pair of scales and weighed the gold, putting silver dollars in the other end of the scales for weights. Then they held one end of the scales under water and weighed the gold. By finding how much lighter it was in the water than out of the water, they found that it was pure gold.
All the men at the mill promised to keep the secret. They were all digging up gold when not working in the mill. As soon as the mill should be done, they were going to wash gold.
But the secret could not be kept. A teamster who came to the mill was told about it. He got a few grains of the precious gold.
When the teamster got back to Sutter's Fort, he went to a store to buy a bottle of whisky, but he had no money. The storekeeper would not sell to him without money. The teamster then took out some grains of gold. The storekeeper was surprised. He let the man have what he wanted. The teamster would not tell where he got the gold. But after he had taken two or three drinks of the whisky, he was not able to keep his secret. He soon told all he knew about the finding of gold at Sutter's Mill.
The news spread like fire in dry grass. Men rushed to the mill in the mountains to find gold. Gold was also found at other places. Merchants in the towns of California left their stores. Mechanics laid down their tools, and farmers left their fields, to dig gold. Some got rich in a few weeks. Others were not so lucky.
Soon the news went across the continent. It traveled also to other countries. More than one hundred thousand men went to California the first year after gold was found, and still more poured in the next year. Thousands of men went through the Indian country with wagons. Of course, there were no railroads to the west in that day.
Millions and millions of dollars' worth of gold was dug. In a short time California became a rich State. Railroads were built across the country. Ships sailed on the Pacific Ocean to carry on the trade of this great State. Every nation of the earth had gold from California.
And it all started from one little, round, yellow bead of gold, that happened to lie shining at the bottom of a ditch, on a cold morning not so very long ago.
DESCENDING THE GRAND CANYON.
The Colorado River is the strangest river in the United States. For hundreds of miles it runs through channels in solid rocks. These channels are often thousands of feet deep. In some places the rocks rise straight up like walls. These walls are quite bare. There are no trees and no grass on them. There is not even any moss to be seen. The bare rocks are of many colors. When the sunlight strikes upon them, they are as beautiful as flowers and as gorgeous as the clouds, we are told.
These deep cuts, through which the river runs, are called canyons. The longest of them is called the Grand Canyon (see frontispiece). It is about two hundred miles long. In some places it is more than a mile and a quarter deep. The river runs at the bottom of this deep ravine. It rushes over rapids, and plunges over falls. Sometimes there is a little strip of rock like a shelf at the edge of the river. In many places the walls of rock rise straight from the water, and there is no place where a man can put his feet.
Major Powell resolved to go through this canyon in boats. No boat had ever gone down this deep, dark channel. Two men, running away from Indians, had once gone into it on a raft. The raft was dashed over rapids and waterfalls. The provisions of the men were washed overboard. One of the men was drowned, and the other at last floated out at the lower end of the canyon more dead than alive.
Being a man of science, Major Powell wanted to find out about the Grand Canyon. He knew that it would be a fearful journey. He and his men might all be lost, but they made up their minds to try to go through.
They did not know how long the canyon was. They had already passed through the other canyons above, and had suffered many hardships. They knew how wild and dangerous such places are, but whether they could ever get through this great and awful gorge they did not know. But they got into their boats, and started down the long passage. The sun shines down into this narrow gorge only for a short time each day. Most of the way the walls are too steep to climb.
The boats shot swiftly down the river. Sometimes they ran over wild rapids. The men had many narrow escapes. The boats bumped against the rocks, and some of the oars were broken. New oars had to be made, and, to do this, the men had to find logs that had drifted down the river. Sometimes Major Powell and his men had to have pitch to stop the leaks in their boats. To get this, they had to climb up thousands of feet of rock to where some little pine trees grew.
They could not see far ahead, because the river was not straight, and the side walls of the narrow gorge shut out the view. Sometimes they would hear a loud roaring of water ahead. Then they knew they were coming to a waterfall. If there was any room to walk, they would carry and drag their boat round the falls. If there was no shelf or shore on which to carry the boats, they had to let them float down over the falls, the men on the rocks above holding ropes tied to the boats. Sometimes they could not even do this. Then they had to get into the boats and plunge over the falls among the rocks. They had hard work to keep off the rocks.
More than once a boat got full of water. The men had to let the boat run till they got to a wider place, where they could get the water out.
Their flour was spoiled by getting wet. Their bacon became bad. Much of their food was lost overboard. They usually slept out on the rocks by the side of the river. Sometimes they slept in caves. Once they sat up all night on a shelf of rock in a pouring rain.
All day they had to work, to save their lives. At night they had to sleep on cold rocks without blankets enough to keep them warm. The great rock walls on either side of them made an awful prison. They could not tell how far they had gone, nor did they know just how far they had to go.
At last the food ran short. The men were tired of musty flour. They had lost their baking powder, and they had to make heavy bread. They thought that even this bad food would give out before they could reach the end of the canyon.
But one day they came to a little patch of earth by the side of the river. On this some corn was growing. The Indians living on the bare rocks above had come down by some steep path to plant this little cornfield. The corn was not yet large enough to eat. But among the corn grew some green squashes.
Major Powell's men were too near starving not to take anything they could find to eat. They took some of the green squashes and put them into their boats. Then they ran on down the canyon, out of the reach of any Indians. Here they stewed some of the squashes, and ate them.
When they had been fifteen days in this great canyon, they had but a little flour and some dried apples left. They had now come to a place where one could climb up out of the gorge. But they did not know how far they were from the end. Three of the men here resolved to leave the party. They did not believe that there was any hope of running out of the canyon in the boats alive. They took their share of the food and some guns, and bade the others good-by. They climbed up out of the canyon, and were soon after killed by Indians.
One of the boats was by this time nearly worn out by the rocks. As there were not enough men left to manage three boats, this one was left behind. Major Powell, with those of his men who were still with him, went on down the awful river. The very next day they ran suddenly out into an open space. They had at last got out of the Grand Canyon, which had held them prisoners for sixteen days.
They went on down the river, and the next day after this they found some settlers drawing a seine or net to catch fish in the river. These settlers had heard that Major Powell and his men were lost, and they were keeping a lookout for any pieces of his boats that might float down from above. Food of many kinds was sent from the nearest settlement to feast the hungry men who had so bravely struggled through the Grand Canyon.
George Northrup was but a boy of fifteen when his father died. Having nothing to keep him at home, he went to the Indian country, which at that time was in Minnesota. He had a boyish notion that he could go through to the Pacific Ocean by making his way from one tribe to another. When he was eighteen years old, a few years before the Civil War, he tried to make this journey. He loaded his provisions into a handcart, and took a big dog along for company. For thirty-six days he did not see anybody, or hear any voice but his own. Then he found paths made by Indian war parties. He knew, that, if one of these parties should find him, he would be killed.
One morning he found all his food stolen from his handcart. Either Indians or wolves had taken it. He now saw how foolish his boyish plan had been. He turned back, and at last reached a trading post, almost starved to death. For days he had had little to eat except such frogs as he could catch.
After this the Indians always called him "The-man-that-draws-the-handcart."
As he grew older, he became a famous trapper and guide. He knew all about the habits of animals. He could shoot with a better aim than any Indian or any other white man on the frontier. He often walked eighty miles in a day across the prairie. He could manage the Indians as no other man could.
This strange young man lived among rough and wicked men. But he never drank or swore, or did anything that anybody could have thought wrong. He never even smoked, as other men about him did, but he lived his own life in his own way. Everybody loved him for his gentleness. Everybody admired him for his courage and manliness. All the spare money he got he spent for good books.
When winter time came, he would sometimes hire other trappers, who did not know the country so well as he did, to work for him. He would go away beyond the settlements and set up a camp. He would teach the other men how to trap. When spring came, he would bring many furs into the settlement. One winter he camped in the country of the Yankton Indians. He had six men with him. The Yanktons were wild Indians, and Northrup was in some danger. But he had a friend among the Indians, a chief called by a good long name, Taw-ton-wash-tah.
But all the Yanktons were not friendly to the white men. There was one chief whose name was Old-man. He got together a party to go and rob Northrup and drive him away. Taw-ton-wash-tah tried to keep these Indians from going, but he could not do it.
Northrup did not know that a party had been sent out against him. His men went on with their trapping, while George went hunting to get food for them. They had only a small bag of flour, and this they did not eat. They kept the flour for a time that might come in which they could not find any animals to kill for meat.
One day George followed the tracks of an elk. He overtook it six miles from his camp. He crept up to it and shot it. Then he loaded his gun, so as to be ready for anything that might happen. While he was skinning the elk, he looked up and saw the heads of Indians coming up over a little hill. He quickly jumped into the bushes. He saw that there were thirteen Indians in the party. He put his hand on his bullet pouch, and knew by the feeling of it that there were fifteen bullets in the bag. "Every bullet must bring down an Indian," he said to himself.
One of the Indians called out in his own language, "Is The-man-that-draws-the-handcart here?"
George quickly replied in their language, "Stop! If any man comes one step nearer, I will kill him. Tell me whether this is a war party or a hunting party."
One of the Indians stepped out in front and fired off both barrels of his gun. This was a sign of friendship.
Northrup did not think this offer of peace worth much; but, if he refused it, he would have to fight against thirteen Indians. He could only accept it by firing off both barrels of his gun. This would leave him with his gun unloaded.
But he slipped the cap off one barrel of his gun. Then he fired the other barrel, and brought down the hammer of the one from which he had taken the cap, so as to make it seem that that barrel of his gun was empty. Then he slyly slipped the cap back on his gun, so as to have one barrel ready for use.
He went with the Indians to their camp, where he was a kind of prisoner, but he managed to load the empty barrel of his gun by going behind a tree where the Indians could not see him.
He knew that the Indians would try to get to his camp before he did. As his men did not know how to manage Indians, the Indians could steal everything in the camp. If they should take his provisions, George and his men might starve on the prairies, which were covered with snow.
So George made up his mind that he must get to his camp before the Indians, or lose his life in trying.
He said to the chief, "Old-man, I am going home."
He did not wait for an answer, but started along the trail leading to his camp. He expected the Indians to shoot him, but they only fell into line and marched behind him.
George knew that if the Indians got into the camp with him, they would find everything scattered about. Before he could get things together, they would steal most of them. So he tried once more what he could do by boldness. He turned and said to the chief, "My men are new men. They do not know Indians. If you should go in with me, they might shoot. It is better that I should go in first, and tell them that you come as friends."
Old-man said "Ho," which is the way that a Yankton has of saying "All right."
Northrup went into the camp, and gathered everything together in one place, and told his men to keep watch over the things. The Indians staid about the camp two days, trying to get a chance to rob the white men, but Northrup kept his eye on them. Once he found one of his men without a gun.
"Where is your gun?" he said.
"The Indians are sitting on it," said the man. "They will not give it up."
George found several Indians sitting on the gun. He took hold of the gun and looked at the Indians. They all got up. It seemed that they could not help doing what he wanted them to do. Northrup gave the gun back to its owner, and told him not to let it go out of his hands again.
George had a fine double-barreled rifle. An English gentleman whose guide he had been had sent him this gun from London. When he was in his tent one day, he heard the Indians on the outside of it disputing who should have his gun. He knew by this that they meant to kill him.
George patted his rifle as though it had been an old friend, and said, "Well, old gun, whoever gets you will have to be quick." After that his hand was always on his gun, and his eye was always on the Indians.
He asked his men where the sack of flour was.
"Old-man has it," said one of his men.
To let the chief keep the flour was to run the risk of starving, but Northrup knew that if he took it away there might be a battle. He stepped up to the chief and took the bag of flour from his side and started away without saying a word.
"Man-that-draws-the-handcart," said the chief angrily, "bring back my flour."
George stopped, and opened his coat. He pointed toward his heart and said,—
"Old-man, if you want to kill me, shoot me, but you shall not take away my flour and leave me to starve."
"Very well," said the chief sternly, "then, Man-that-draws-the-handcart, you shall go south."
In the language of these Indians, to go south means to die. They think the soul journeys to the southward after death. Old-man meant to say that Northrup should die.
"You shall go South!"
"Very well," said George, looking the Indian in the eye, "I will go south, then; but if I go south, you shall go with me, and just as many more as I can take. Remember, Old-man, you must go south if I do."
Old-man knew Northrup very well. He knew that if anybody tried to kill him, George's sure aim would be taken at Old-man first of all. George had also told all of his men to shoot the chief if there should be any trouble.
After lingering for two days, the Indians stole a bag of chopped buffalo meat, or pemmican, and an old gun. With these they went off, and George hurried away to a better camping place, where they could not find him again.
THE LAZY, LUCKY INDIAN.
Out in the country we now call North Dakota there once lived an Indian known as "Lazy-man." When he was young, he had been lazy about hunting. When the other Indians had skins to sell, the lazy Indian had nothing. He grew poor. His blanket was ragged. His leggings were worn out. His wigwam was so wretched that all the tribe laughed at its tumble-down look.
Every winter the tribe went off to the great plains to hunt buffalo. They took their little ponies along, to carry home what they got. They brought back the skins of the buffaloes and buffalo meat dried over a fire. They also brought back pemmican, which is made by chopping buffalo meat very fine, and mixing it with the tallow from the animal. Lazy-man was ashamed to go on the hunt. He had no ponies to carry the meat and the skins he might get.
One winter, when the tribe went off on its regular hunt, Lazy-man and his wife staid behind as usual. They sat lonesome in their teepee, as a wigwam is called in their language. The weather grew colder. It was hard to find anything to eat. The lake near them was frozen, so that they could not fish. There were not many animals living in the country about. The lazy Indian and his wife were nearly starved.
The buffaloes had never come down to this lake shore. But one day the lazy Indian looked out and saw a herd of them coming. They were running out on the point of land where his teepee stood. He knew that when they got to the ice on the lake they would turn back.
"Quick, quick!" he called to his wife. The two ran right into the midst of the herd. It was a dangerous thing to do, but they were so hungry and miserable that they did not mind the danger. By running into the herd they separated the buffaloes out on the point from the rest.
When the buffaloes on the point came to the ice, they paused and turned back. They were soon running in the other direction, but the lazy Indian and his wife faced the animals as they came. They waved their ragged blankets at the buffaloes. They shouted in Indian fashion, "Yow-wow, yow-wow, yow-wow!" They ran to and fro, waving and shouting.
Once more the buffaloes stopped and looked. Lazy-man and his wife now ran at them, throwing their blankets in the air, and yelling more wildly than ever. The scared buffaloes turned about again. They were so badly frightened this time that they ran out on the ice on the lake.
The ice was as smooth as glass. The buffaloes could not stand up on it. One after another they slipped and fell. The lazy Indian was not lazy that day. He saw a chance to get out of his poverty. He ran about on the ice, killing the buffaloes.
For many days he and his squaw worked. They skinned the buffaloes, and dried the skins. They prepared the stomachs of the buffaloes, and stuffed them with the chopped meat, making it look like great sausages as big as pillows. They put a few cranberries in with the meat to give the pemmican a good taste. Then they poured the smoking fat of the buffalo into this great sausage. The fat filled up the small spaces. When it got cold, the pemmican sack was almost as hard as a stone. It could be cut only by chopping it with a tomahawk.
At last spring came, and the tribe came home from the hunt. You may suppose that Lazy-man was proud that day. Instead of being the poor beggar whom everybody laughed at, he was now one of the rich men in the tribe. He had more buffalo robes and more pemmican than any other man in the village. He exchanged his buffalo robes for ponies. After that he always went on the hunt, and lived like the other Indians. He did not wish to sink into laziness and poverty again.
A STORY OF THE MINNESOTA INDIAN WAR.
Peter Petersen was a very little boy living in Minnesota. He lived on the very edge of the Indian country when the Indian War of 1862 broke out.
Settlers were killed in their cabins before they knew that a war had begun. As the news spread, the people left their houses, and hurried into the large towns. Some of them saw their houses burning before they got out of sight. The roads were crowded with ox wagons full of women and children.
Peter Petersen's father was a Norwegian settler. When the news of the Indian attack came, Peter's father hitched up his oxen, and put his wife and daughters and little Peter into the wagon. They drove the oxen hard, and got to Mankato in safety.
The town was crowded with frightened people. Many were living in woodsheds and barns. In their hurry, these country people had not brought food enough with them. Before long they began to suffer hunger.
Peter Petersen's father thought of the potato field he had at home. If he could only go back to his house long enough to dig his potatoes, his family would have enough to eat.
When he made up his mind to go, Peter wanted to go along with him. As there were now soldiers within a mile of his farm, Peter's father thought the Indians would not be so bold as to come there. So he and Peter went back to the little house.
The next morning Peter's father went out to dig potatoes. Peter, who was but five years old, was asleep in his bed. He was awakened by the yells of Indians. He ran to the door just in time to see his father shot with an arrow.
Little Peter ran like a frightened rabbit to the nearest bushes. The Indians chased him and caught him. They were amused to see him run, and they thought he would be a funny little plaything to have. So they just set him up on the back of a cow, and drove the cow ahead of them. They laughed to see Peter trying to keep his seat on the cow's back.
The little boy lived among the Indians for weeks. They did not give him anything to eat. When he came into their tents to get food, they would knock him down. But he would pick up something to eat at last, and then run away. When he could not get any food, he would go out among the cows the Indians had taken from the white people. Little as he was, he would manage to milk one of the cows. He had no other cup to catch the milk in but his mouth. Whenever any of the Indians threatened to kill him, he would run away and dodge about between the legs of the cows or among the horses, so as to get out of their way. Sometimes he was so much afraid that he slept out in the grass, in the dew or rain.
After some weeks, Peter and the other captives were retaken by the white soldiers sent to fight the Indians. But the poor little boy could speak no language but Norwegian. He could not tell whose child he was, nor where he came from. His mother and sisters had left the dangerous country near the Indians. They had gone to Winona, a hundred and fifty miles away. One of his sisters heard somebody read in the paper that such a little boy had been taken from the Indians. The kind-hearted doctor in whose house she lived tried to find the boy, but nobody could tell what had become of little Peter. His family at last gave up all hope of seeing him again.
When Peter was taken by the soldiers, he had worn out all his clothes in traveling through the prairie grass. He had nothing on him but part of a shirt. The soldiers took an old suit of uniform and made him some clothes. He was soon dressed from top to toe in army blue.
He was as much of a plaything for the soldiers as he had been for the Indians. They laughed at his pranks, as they might have done if he had been a monkey. He passed from one squad of soldiers to another. They fed him on hard-tack, and shared their blankets with him. He was the pet and plaything of them all. But after a while the Indians were driven away from the settlements, and the soldiers were ordered to the South, for it was in the time of the Civil War.
The regiment that Peter happened to be with got on a steamboat, and Peter went aboard with them. The soldiers knew that if Peter should be taken to the South, he would be farther than ever away from his friends. So the soldiers made up their minds to put him ashore at Winona. It was the last place at which he would find Norwegian people. To put such a little fellow ashore in a large and busy place like this was a hard thing to do. Peter was hardly more than a baby, and he could not speak English. He stood about as much chance of starving to death here as he had in the Indian camp.
When the boat landed at Winona, the soldiers gave some money to one of the hotel porters, and told him to give the child something to eat, and send him out into the country where there were Norwegian people. But as soon as Peter had eaten the dinner they gave him at the hotel, he slipped away, and went back to the river. He expected to find his friends, the soldiers, waiting for him; but the boat had gone. Peter was now in a strange city, without friends. Not without friends, either, for his sisters were in this same city. But he did not think any more of getting to his mother or his sisters. He was only thinking of the soldiers who had been so kind to him.
When the next boat came down the river, Peter Petersen, in his little blue uniform, marched aboard. He thought he might overtake the soldiers, but the boatmen put him ashore again. He stood gazing after the boat, not knowing what to do or where to go.
There stood on the bank that day a Norwegian. He was a guest at the Norwegian hotel in the town. He heard Peter say something in his own language, and he thought the boy must be a son of the man who kept the hotel. So he said to him in Norwegian, "Let's go home."
It had been a long time since Peter had heard his own language spoken. Nobody had said anything to him about home since he was taken away from his father's cabin by the Indians. The words sounded sweet to him. He followed the strange man. He did not know where he was going, except that it was to some place called home. When he got to the hotel, he went in and sat down. He did not know what else to do.
Presently the landlady came in. Seeing a strange little boy in army blue, she said, "Whose child are you?"
Peter did not know whose child he was. Since the soldiers left him, he didn't seem to be anybody's child. As he did not answer, the landlady spoke to him rather sharply.
"What do you want here, little boy?" she said.
"A drink of water," said Peter.
A little boy nearly always wants a drink of water.
"Go through into the kitchen there, and get a drink," said the landlady.
Peter opened the door into the kitchen, and went through. In a moment two arms were about him. Peter knew what home meant then. His sister, Matilda, had recognized her lost brother Peter in the little soldier boy. The next day he was put into a wagon and sent out to Rushford, where his mother was living. The wanderings of the little captive were over.
THE GREATEST OF TELESCOPE MAKERS.
Three great inventors in this country were portrait painters. Fulton, the builder of steamboats, was one of them; Morse, who planned our first electric telegraph, was another; and Alvan Clark, who found out a way of making the largest and finest telescopes in the world, was another.
Alvan Clark was the son of a farmer. When he was eighteen years old, he set to work to learn engraving and drawing. He had no teacher. After a while he began to draw portraits. Once he sent to Boston to get some brushes to paint with. When the brushes came, there was a piece of newspaper wrapped round them. In this bit of newspaper was an advertisement that engravers were wanted. He went to Boston, and found regular work as an engraver.
When he was not busy engraving, he was studying painting. After some years he became a painter of portraits and miniatures. He lived at Cambridgeport, near Boston.
While Mr. Clark was living at Cambridgeport, his son was at a boarding school. The young boy had become interested in telescopes. He learned that there were two kinds of these instruments. One brought the stars near by showing them in a curved mirror. The other magnified by means of glasses that the light shone through. He had read that it was very hard to grind these glasses or lenses, as they are called, so that they would be correct. The telescope that used the mirror was not so good, but it was easier to make. So George Clark made up his mind that he would make a reflecting telescope; that is, one with a mirror in it.
The mirror in such a telescope is made of polished metal. One day somebody broke the dinner bell at the boarding school. George dark picked up the pieces of brass and took them home.
These pieces of brass he put into a retort. A retort is a vessel that will bear great heat, and that is used for melting metals and other substances. Young Clark put some tin into the retort with the brass. When the two metals were melted together, he poured the liquid into a mold. When it became cold, it was a round flat piece. Such a piece is called a disc.
Alvan Clark, the father, was a very ingenious man. He was a fine marksman. One reason that he could shoot so well was that his eye was so true. Another was that he made his own rifles, and made them better than others.
When Mr. Clark found his son trying to make a telescope out of the pieces of a bell, he became interested in telescopes. He studied all about them in order to help the boy with his work. He helped his son grind the metal disc into a concave mirror; that is, a mirror that is a little dish-shaped. With this they made a telescope with which they could see the rings of Saturn, and the little moons that revolve round Jupiter.
After Mr. Clark had made this little telescope, he made larger reflecting telescopes that were very powerful. But he found that no telescope with a mirror in it could be very good.
He now said to his son that they would make a refracting telescope; that is, one in which no mirror is used, but which brings the distant stars to the sight by the light shining through lenses. Lenses are large glasses that are regularly thicker in one part than in another. The glasses you see in spectacles are small lenses.
George Clark, the son, told his father that the books said that the grinding of such glasses was very difficult. Mr. Clark would not give it up because it was hard. He liked to do hard things. He had already spent a great part of his money trying to make good reflecting telescopes; but he made up his mind to give them up, and try to make a better kind. He first looked through the great telescope just put up for Harvard College. The large lens in this telescope was not perfect, and Mr. Clark's eye was so good that he could see what the small fault was. When he heard that twelve thousand dollars had been paid for this glass, he was encouraged to try to make such lenses. But there was nobody in this country who could show him how to do it.
He first got some poor lenses out of old telescopes. These he worked over, and made them better. By this means he learned how to do it. Then he got some discs of glass and made some new lenses. These were the best ever made in this country. But he was not satisfied. He kept on making better and larger lenses. With one of these he discovered two double stars, as they are called. These had never been seen to be double before.
But nobody in America would believe that some of the best telescopes in the world were made in this country, for even the English astronomers had to get their telescopes in Germany.
With one of his telescopes, larger than any he had made before, Mr. Clark now made a new discovery. He wrote about this to an English astronomer named Dawes. Mr. Dawes thought that a telescope that could make such a discovery would be worth having, so he bought the large lens out of this new telescope. Then he bought other glasses from Mr. Clark, and sold them again to other astronomers. In this way Mr. Clark became famous in England.
Telescopic View of the Moon.
Mr. Clark had given up painting. He put his whole heart into making the best telescopes in the world. He went to England and saw the great astronomers, and looked through their telescopes.
They were glad to see the man who made the best lenses in the world. His telescopes had helped them to find out many new things never seen before. By this time Mr. Clark was coming to be known in his own country. He got an order to make the largest glass ever made for a telescope in the whole world. This was to be put up in America. Nobody had ever dreamed of making so large and powerful a telescope.
After a long time the great glass for this telescope was ground. Mr. Clark set it up to try it. His younger son, Alvan, who was helping him, turned the telescope so as to look at the bright star Sirius. As soon as he had looked, he cried out in surprise, "Why, father, the star has a companion!" Sirius is a sun. It has a satellite, a dark star like our world revolving round it. Nobody had ever been able to see this dark star before. But this telescope was stronger than any that had ever been pointed at the sky.
Mr. Clark now looked through the tube himself. Sure enough, there was the companion of Sirius, never seen before by anybody on the earth. The large glass which had been a year in making had won its first victory. But Mr. Clark made much larger glasses even than that one. He had nobody to show him how. But by patient thought and hard work he had made the greatest telescopes in the world. Medals and other honors were sent to him from many countries.
ADVENTURES IN ALASKA.
Scene in Alaska.
The Copper River of Alaska flows from north to south into the ocean. The Yukon River, which is farther north, runs from the east toward the west. It was known that the waters of these two rivers must be near together at the place from which they started in the mountains, but it was not known whether anybody could pass from the valley of the Copper River over the mountains into the valley of the Yukon. A scouting party was sent to find out whether the crossing from one river to the other could be made. This party returned, saying that it was impossible to pass from the Copper River to the Yukon, because the mountains were too high and steep.
In 1885 General Miles sent Lieutenant Allen to try to find a pass from the valley of the Copper River to that of the Yukon. Lieutenant Allen was a very determined man. He set out with the resolution to find some way of crossing the mountains, however much labor and suffering it might cost. He took two soldiers, and had two other white men with him, and he got Indians to go with him from place to place as he could. The party started up the Copper River in March. From the first their sufferings were very great. They had to travel day after day, and sleep night after night, with their clothes wet to the skin. They soon found that they could not take their canoe, on account of the ice. They had to leave most of their provisions, because they could not carry them. Some nights they sat up all night in the rain.
But when they got to a country where it was not raining all the time, they had a way of keeping dry at night. They had brought along sleeping bags. These were made of waterproof linen. Each bag was a little longer than a man. It had draw strings at the top. They put a folded blanket inside, and then pushed the blanket down with their feet so that it would wrap about them and keep them warm. Then they drew the strings about the top. This kept the body dry.
They suffered a great deal from hunger. There were very few animals in the country where they were, and most of the Indians they found had but little to eat. Lieutenant Allen's party were sometimes glad to pick up scraps of decayed meat or broken bones about an Indian camp to make a meal on. Much of the meat and fish they had to eat was badly spoiled. They grew so weak that it was hard for them to climb up a hill, carrying their guns and their food. They sometimes reeled like drunken men when they walked.
They would have perished from hunger if they had not had a man with them who knew how to stop the rabbits when they were running. This man could make a little cry just like a rabbit's cry. Whenever a rabbit heard this sound, he would stop and look round for a moment. Then the hunter would have a chance to shoot him.
But these rabbits were so small and so lean that it took four or five of them to make a meal for a man. At one place the party were so hungry that an Indian who was with them fainted away. When they reached a house soon after, where there lived a chief named Nicolai, they found a five-gallon kettle full of meat boiling on the fire. They drank large quantities of the broth, and ate about five pounds of meat apiece. Much of this meat was pure tallow from the moose. They all fell asleep immediately after eating. When they awaked, they were almost as hungry as before.
At last they reached the head waters of the Copper River. Here they found the hungry Indians waiting for the salmon to come up from the sea, as they do every year. As long as the salmon are in the river, the Indians have plenty to eat. So they kept dipping their net, hoping to catch some salmon. At last one little salmon was caught. It was a thin, white-looking little fish. The Indians now knew that in two or three days they would have plenty. They hung their little fish on a spruce bough, and they kept visiting it, singing to it with delight. The white men did not wait for the salmon to arrive.
From this place they left the Copper River, and started to cross the mountains. This was the pass through which it was said that nobody could go. Lieutenant Allen and his men were obliged to carry provisions with them. Part of the provisions they carried themselves: the rest they packed on dogs. This is a way of carrying things used only in Alaska. A pack is strapped on a dog's back just as though he were a mule, and with this the little dog goes on a long journey through the mountains.
A Dog Pack Train.
The party started over the mountains in June. At this season of the year in that country the sun shines almost all night, and it is never dark. Lieutenant Allen's party traveled either by day or by night, as they pleased, as there was always light enough.
When they got to the foot of the last mountains they had to climb, they found a little lake. Here they got some fish to eat, but the salmon had not come yet. They hired some Indians to go with them, and divided the weight of everything into packs. Every man carried a pack, and every dog carried as much as he could bear. As they climbed the mountains, they could look back over the beautiful valley of the Copper River. Still hungry and nearly tired out, they pushed on until they camped by a brook in the mountains.
Here they found that the salmon had come up the Copper River from the sea, and had run up this brook and overtaken them. The fish were crowding up the brook to get to a little lake at the head of it, where they would lay their eggs. In some places there was so little water in the stream that the fish had to get over the shallow places by lying on their sides. In doing this, some of them threw themselves out of the water on the land. The hungry men could catch them easily, and they now had all they wanted to eat. One of the party ate three large salmon, heads and all, for his supper. As the sun shines almost all the time in the Arctic regions, in the summer, the days become very hot. On the last day of Lieutenant Allen's journey up the mountains the heat was so great that the party did not start until five o'clock in the afternoon. They reached the top of the mountains that divided the two rivers at half-past one o'clock that night. Though it was what we should call the middle of the night, it was not dark.
The party were now nearly five thousand feet higher than the sea. At half-past one in the morning the sun was just rising. It rose almost in the north. Behind them the men could still see the valley of the Copper River. Before them lay the valley of one of the branches of the Yukon, with twenty beautiful lakes and a range of mountains in sight. White and yellow buttercups were blooming about them, though the snow was within a few feet. No white man had ever looked on this grand scene before. The men forgot their hunger and their weariness. They had done what hardly anybody thought could be done.
A mile further on they stopped to build a fire, and here they cooked the last bit of extract of beef that they had with them. It was the end of all the provisions they had carried. Having gone to bed at two or three o'clock in the morning, they did not start again until two in the afternoon; for day and night were all one to them, except that the light nights were cooler and pleasanter to travel in than the days.
They were told by the Indians that by marching all that night they could reach an Indian settlement, and, as they had no food, they determined to do this. In this whole day's march they killed but one little rabbit, which was all they had for nine starving men to eat. But at three o'clock in the morning of the next day the tired and hungry men dragged themselves into the little Indian village. Guns were fired to welcome them.
The fish were coming up the river. A kind of platform had been built over the water. On this platform the Indians stood one at a time, and dipped a net into the water for fish. All day and all night somebody was dipping the net.
The Indians had never seen a white man before. They were very much amused to see white faces, and one of the white men who had red hair was a wonder to them.
Allen and his men got food here. Then they built a skin canoe, and started down the river. After many more hardships and dangers, they reached the ocean, and then took ship for California.
***END OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK STORIES OF AMERICAN LIFE AND ADVENTURE***
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