The Junior Classics
Part 4 out of 8
whenever he had the fortune to approach a conventicle (church meeting)
he would retire, if he saw a white flag elevated in a particular
manner upon a flagstaff. This seemed but a little condition to
weigh against a man's life, and Dalyell agreed.
Now, the cavalier was an exceedingly honorable man and valued his
spoken word. So on the occasion of a great conventicle at Mitchelslacks,
in the parish of Closeburn, he permitted a great field meeting to
disperse, drawing off his party in another direction, because the
signal streaming from a staff told him the man who had spared his
life was among the company of worshippers.
After this, the white signal was frequently used in the neighborhood
over which Dalyell's jurisdiction extended, and to the great credit
of the cavalier it is recorded that on no single occasion did
he violate his plighted word, though he is said to have remarked
bitterly that the Whig with whom he fought must have been the
devil, "forever going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and
down in it."
But Alexander Gordon was too great a man in the affairs of the
Praying Societies to escape altogether. He continually went and
came from Holland, and some of the letters that he wrote from that
country are still in existence. At last, in 1683, having received
many letters and valuable papers for delivery to people in refuge
in Holland, he went secretly to Newcastle, and agreed with the
master of a ship for his voyage to the Low Countries. But just
as the vessel was setting out from the mouth of the Tyne, it was
accidentally stopped. Some watchers for fugitives came on board,
and Earlstoun and his companion were challenged. Earlstoun,
fearing the taking of his papers, threw the box that contained them
overboard; but it floated, and was taken along with himself.
Then began a long series of misfortunes for Alexander Gordon. He was
five times tried, twice threatened with torture--which he escaped,
in the judgment hall itself, by such an exhibition of his great
strength as terrified his judges. He simulated madness, foamed
at the mouth, and finally tore up the benches in order to attack
the judges with the fragments. He was sent first to the castle of
Edinburgh and afterward to the Bass (an island), "for a change of
air," as the record quaintly says. Finally, he was despatched to
Blackness Castle, where he remained close in hold till the revolution.
Not till June 5, 1689, were his prison doors thrown open, but even
then Alexander Gordon would not go till he had obtained signed
documents from the governor and officials of his prison to the
effect that he had never altered any of his opinions in order to
gain privilege or release.
Alexander Gordon returned to Earlstoun, and lived there quietly
far into the next century, taking his share in local and county
business with Grierson of Lag and others who had hunted him
for years-which is a strange thing to think on, but one also very
characteristic of those times.
On account of his great strength and the power of his voice, he
was called "the Bull of Earlstoun," and it is said that when he
was rebuking his servants the bellowing of the Bull could plainly
be heard in Dalry, which is two miles away across hill and stream.
THE ADVENTURE OF GRIZEL COCHRANE
By Arthur Quiller-Couch
At Edinburgh, almost under the shadow of the spire of St. Giles's,
in the pavement between that old cathedral church and the County
Hall, the passer-by will mark the figure of a heart let into the
causeway, and know that he is standing on the "Heart of Midlothian,"
[Footnote: The title of one of Sir Walter Scott's romances.] the
site of the old Tolbooth. That gloomy pile vanished in the autumn
of 1817; as Mr. Stevenson says, "the walls are now down in the
dust; there is no more _squalor carceris_ for merry debtors, no
more cage for the old acknowledged prison-breaker; but the sun and
the wind play freely over the foundations of the gaol;" this place,
"old in story and name-father to a noble book." The author of that
same "noble book" possessed himself of some memorials of the keep
he had rendered so famous, securing the stones of the gateway, and
the door with its ponderous fastenings to decorate the entrance of
his kitchen-court at Abbotsford. And this is all that is left.
But in the summer and autumn of 1685 the Tolbooth held prisoners
enough, notwithstanding the many gloomy processions that were from
time to time walking to the axe and halter in the Grassmarket; and
in a narrow cell, late one August evening, two persons were sitting
of whom this story shall treat. These two were Sir John Cochrane,
of Ochiltree, and his daughter Grizel--here on the saddest of
errands, to visit her father in prison and help in his preparations
For Sir John, a stout Whig, had been one of the leaders of Argyle's
insurrection; had been beaten with his troops by Lord Ross at
Muirdykes; had disbanded his handful of men, and fled for hiding to
the house of his uncle, Mr. Gavin Cochrane, of Craigmuir; had been
informed against by his uncle's wife, seized, taken to Edinburgh;
had been paraded, bound and bareheaded, through the streets by
the common executioner; and then on the 3d of July flung into the
Tolbooth to await his trial for high treason. And now the trial,
too, was over, and Sir John was condemned to die.
As he now sat, with bowed head, on the bench of his cell, it was not
the stroke of death that terrified him--for Sir John was a brave
man--but the parting with his children, who would through his
rashness be left both orphaned and penniless (for the crown would
seize his goods), and chiefly the parting with his daughter, who
had been his one comfort in the dark days of waiting for the king's
warrant of execution to arrive.
Between his apprehension and his trial no friend or kinsman had been
allowed to visit him; but now that his death was assured, greater
license had been granted. But, anxious to deprive his enemies of a
chance to accuse his sons, he had sent them his earnest entreaties
and commands that they should abstain from using this permission
until the night before his execution. They had obeyed; but obedience
of this sort did not satisfy the conscience of his daughter Grizel.
On the very night of his condemnation he heard the key turn in his
door; thinking it could only be the gaoler, he scarcely lifted his
eyes. But the next moment a pair of soft arms were flung round his
neck, and his daughter was weeping on his breast. From that day she
had continued to visit him; and now as she sat beside him, staring
at the light already fading in the narrow pane, both father and
daughter knew that it was almost the last time.
Presently she spoke--
"And this message--tell me truly, have you any hope from it?"
It was an appeal made by Sir John's father, the Earl of Dundonald,
to Father Peters, the king's confessor, who often dictated to him,
as was well known, on matters of state. But in the short time left,
would there be time to press this appeal, and exert that influence
in London which alone could stay the death-warrant?
"There is no hope in that quarter," said Sir John.
Grizel knew that he spoke only what was her own conviction, and
"Argyle is dead these three days," pursued her father, "and with
him men of less consequence than I. Are they likely to spare me--a
head of the rising? Would they spare any man now, in the heat of
"Father," said Grizel suddenly, "could you spare me from your side
for a few days?"
Sir John looked up. He knew by her manner that she had formed some
plan in her mind; he knew, too, from her heart, that nothing but
chance of winning his safety could take her from him now, of all
"My child," he said, "you are going to attempt something."
She nodded, with a brighter face than she had worn for many days.
"And what you would attempt," he went on, "is an impossibility."
"Nothing is impossible to a true heart," she said.
"And who will help you?"
"No one." She was standing before him now, and in the twilight he
could see her eyes lit up with hope, her figure upright, and as if
full of a man's strength.
"My girl, you will run into danger--into blame. They will not
spare you, and--do you know the characters of those men whom you
would have to sue?"
She bent and kissed him.
"I am a Cochrane, my father."
Early next morning, before the world was up, Grizel Cochrane was
mounted on horseback and riding towards the border. She had dressed
herself--this girl of eighteen--as a young serving-woman, and when
she drew rein at a wayside cottage for food and drink, professed
herself journeying on a borrowed horse to visit her mother's house
across the Tweed.
By noon Edinburgh was some leagues behind, but she pressed on
through that day and most of the following night.
On the second day after leaving Edinburgh she crossed the Tweed,
and came in safety to the home of an old nurse, on the English
side, four miles beyond the town of Berwick.
"Gude sakes!" cried the old woman, who was standing at her cottage
door and was rather astonished to find the horsewoman draw rein,
leap to the ground, and plant a kiss on either cheek--"Gude sakes!
if it isna Miss Grizel!"
"Quickly, into the house!" commanded her young mistress; "I have
somewhat to tell that will not wait an hour."
She knew the old nurse was to be trusted, and therefore told her
story and her secret. "Even now," she said at the end of her story,
"the postman is riding from London with the warrant in his bag. I
must stop him and make him give it up to me, or my father's head
is the penalty.
"But what use to talk o' this, when the postman is a stout rider,
and armed to boot? How is a mere girl, saving your presence, to do
this at all?"
Grizel unrolled a bundle which she had brought on her saddle-crutch
from Edinburgh; it held a horseman's cloak and a brace of pistols.
"Now," said she, "where are the clothes of Donald, my foster-brother?
He was a slight lad in times syne, and little doubt they'll fit
For this was indeed the brave girl's plan:--In those times
the mail from London took eight days on its journey to Edinburgh;
by possessing herself of the warrant for her father's death and
detaining it, she could count on the delay of sixteen or seventeen
days at least before application could be made for a second, and
that signed and sent to the Scotch capital. By this delay, time
enough would be won for her friends in London to use all their
influence to quash the sentence.
It was a mad scheme; but, as she had said, nothing is impossible
to a true heart. She had possessed herself, too, of the minutest
information with regard to the places where the postmen rested on
their journey. One of these places, she knew, was a small inn kept
by a widow on the outskirts of the little town of Belford. There
the man who received the bag at Durham was accustomed to arrive at
about six in the morning, and take a few hours' sleep before going
on with his journey. And at Belford, Grizel Cochrane had determined
to meet him.
Taking leave of her faithful nurse, she rode southwards again, and,
timing her pace, drew up before the inn at Belford just an hour
after the postman had come in from the south and disposed himself
The mistress of the inn had no ostler, so Grizel stabled her horse
with her own hands, and striding into the inn-parlor, demanded food
"Sit ye down, then," answered the old woman, "at the end of yon table,
for the best I have to give you is there already. And be pleased,
my bonny man, to make as little noise as may be; for there's one
asleep in that bed that I like ill to disturb."
She pointed to the victuals on the board, which were indeed the
remains of the sleeping man's meal. Grizel sat down before them,
considered to herself while she played with a mouthful or two, and
"Can I have a drink of water?"
"'Deed," answered the hostess, "and are ye a water-drinker? 'Tis
but an ill-custom for a change-house."
"Why, that I know; and so, when I put up at an inn, 'tis my custom
always to pay for it the price of stronger drink, which I cannot
"Indeed--well, that's fairly spoken; and, come to think of it,
'tis but just." The landlady brought a jug of water and set it on
"Is the well where you got this water near at hand?" said Grizel,
pouring out a glass and sipping at it; "for if 'tis no trouble to
fetch some fresh for me, I will tell you this is rather over-warm
and flat. Your trouble shall be considered in the dawing," added
"'Tis a good step off," answered the dame; "but I cannot refuse to
fetch for so civil, discreet a lad--and a well-favored one, besides.
So bide ye here, and I'll be as quick as I maun. But for any sake
take care and don't meddle with the man's pistols there, for they
are loaded, the both; and every time I set eyes on them they scare
me out of my senses, almost."
She took up a pitcher and went out to draw the water. No sooner
was Grizel left alone than, starting up, she waited for a moment,
listening to the footsteps as they died away in the distance, and
then crept swiftly across the floor to the place where the postman
lay asleep. He lay in one of those close wooden bedsteads, like
cupboards, which were then common in the houses of the poor, and
to this day may be seen in many a house in Brittany. The door of it
was left half-open to give the sleeper air, and from this aperture
the noise of his snoring issued in a way that shook the house.
Nevertheless, it seemed to the girl that he must be awakened by
the creaking of the floor under her light footfall. With heart in
mouth she stole up to the bedstead, and gently pulling the door
still wider ajar, peeped in, in the hope of seeing the mail-bag
and being able to pounce upon it.
She saw it, indeed; but to her dismay, it lay beneath the shaggy
head of its guardian--a giant in size. The postman used his charge
as a pillow, and had flung himself so heavily across it as to
give not the faintest hope that any one could pull it away without
disturbing its keeper from his nap. Nothing could be done now. In
those few bitter moments, during which she stood helplessly looking
from the bag which contained the fatal warrant to the unconscious
face of the man before her, Grizel made up her mind to another
She turned to the table, caught up the postman's holsters, and
pulled out the pistols of which the old woman had professed herself
in such terror. Quickly drawing and secreting the charges, she
returned them to their cases, with many an anxious look over her
shoulder towards the bedstead, and took her seat again at the foot
of the table.
Hardly had she done so when she heard the old woman returning
with the pitcher. Grizel took a draught, for her throat felt like
a lime-kiln, and having settled her bill, much to the landlady's
satisfaction, by paying for the water the price of a pot of beer,
prepared to set off. She carelessly asked and ascertained how much
longer the other guest was likely to sleep.
"By the noise he makes he intends sleeping till Doomsday," she
"Ay, poor man! his is a hard life," said the hostess; "and little
more than half an hour more before he must be on the highway again."
Grizel laughed once more, and, mounting her horse, set off at a
trot along the road southward, as if continuing her journey in that
Hardly had she got beyond the town, however, when turning the
horse's head she galloped back, making a circuit around Belford and
striking into the high road again between that place and Berwick.
Having gained it, she walked the horse gently on, awaiting the
coming up of the postman.
Though all her mind was now set on the enterprise before her, she
could not help a shiver of terror as she thought on the chance of
her tampering with the pistols being discovered, and their loading
replaced. But she had chosen her course, and now she must go through
with it. She was a woman, after all; and it cannot be wondered
that her heart began to beat quickly as her ear caught the sound
of hoofs on the road behind her, and, turning, she saw the man on
whose face she had been gazing not an hour before, trotting briskly
towards her--the mail-bags (there were two--one containing the
letters direct from London, the other those taken up at the different
post-offices on the road) strapped one on each side of his saddle
in front, close to the holsters.
At the last moment her nerve came back, and as he drew near she
saluted him civilly and with perfect calmness, put her horse into
the same pace with his, and rode on for some way in his company.
The postman was a burly, thick-set man, with a good-humored face.
You may be sure that Miss Cochrane inspected it anxiously enough,
and was relieved to find that it did not contain any vast amount
of hardy courage.
The man was well enough inclined for conversation, too, and as
they rode had a heap of chat, which it seemed a pity to interrupt.
At length, however, when they were about half-way between Belford
and Berwick, Grizel judged now or never was the time. Pulling her
horse's rein gently so as to bring her close to her company, she
said in a low but perfectly determined voice--
"Friend, I have taken a fancy for those mail-bags of yours, and I
must have them: therefore take my advice, and deliver them up quietly,
for I am provided for all hazards. I am mounted, as you see, on
a fleet horse; I carry fire-arms; and, moreover, I am allied with
those who are stronger, though not bolder, than I. You see that
wood, yonder?" she continued, pointing to one about a mile off,
with an accent and air meant to corroborate her bold words. "Then
take my advice: give me up your bags, and speed back the road you
came for the present, nor dare to approach that wood for at least
two or three hours to come."
The postman, whose eyes had been growing rounder and rounder during
this speech from the stripling beside him, pulled up and looked at
her in dumb amazement for some moments.
"If," said he, as soon as he found his tongue, "you mean, young
master, to make yourself merry at my expense, you are heartily
welcome. I can see a joke, I trust, as well as another man; so
have your laugh out, and don't think I'm one to take offence at
the words of a foolish boy. But if," and here he whipped a pistol
from his holster and turned the muzzle on her face--"if y'are mad
enough to think seriously of such a business, then I am ready for
They had come to a stand now, in the middle of the road; and Grizel
felt an ugly sinking at the heart as she looked at the mouth of the
pistol, now not a yard from her cheek. Nevertheless she answered,
very quietly and cooly--
"If you have a doubt, dismiss it; I am quite in earnest."
The postman, with his hand on the trigger, hesitated.
"Methinks my lad, you seem of an age when robbing a garden or an
old woman's fruit-stall would befit you better, if so be you must
turn thief, than taking his Majesty's mails upon his highway from
a stout and grown man. So be thankful, then, you have met with one
who will not shed blood if he can help it, and go your way before
I am provoked to fire."
"Sir," said Grizel, "you are a worthy man; nor am I fonder of
bloodshed than you; but if you will not be persuaded, what shall
I do? For I have said--and it is truth--that mail I must and will
have. Choose, then;" and with this she pulled out a pistol from
under her cloak, and, cocking it, presented it in his face.
"Nay, then, your blood be on your own head," cried the postman,
and raising his pistol again he pulled the trigger; it flashed in
the pan. Dashing the weapon to the ground, he pulled out the other
in a moment, and aiming it in Grizel's face, fired--with the same
result. In a furious passion he flung down this pistol, too, sprang
from his horse, and dashed forward to seize her. She dug her spurs
into her horse's flank and just eluded his grasp. Meanwhile the
postman's horse, frightened at the noise and the struggle, had moved
forward a pace or two. The girl saw her opportunity, and seized it
in the same instant. Another dig with the spurs, and her own horse
was level with the other; leaning forward she caught at the bridle,
and calling to the pair, in an instant was galloping off along the
highway, leaving the postman helplessly staring.
She had gone about a hundred yards with her prize, when she pulled
up to look back. Her discomfited antagonist was still standing
in the middle of the road, apparently stupefied with amazement at
the unlooked-for turn which affairs had taken. Shouting to him
to remember her advice about the wood, she put both the horses to
their speed, and on looking back once more was gratified to find
that the postman, impressed with the truth of her mysterious threat,
had turned and was making the best of his way back to Belford.
On gaining the wood to which she had pointed, Grizel tied the
postman's horse to a tree, at a safe distance from the road, and
set about unfastening the straps of the mail-bags. With a sharp
penknife she ripped them open, and searched for the government
despatches among their contents. To find these was not difficult, owing
to their address to the council in Edinburgh, and of the imposing
weight of their seals. Here she discovered, not only the warrant
for her father's death, but also many other sentences inflicting
punishment in varying degrees on the unhappy men who had been
taken in the late rising. Time was pressing; she could not stop to
examine the warrants, but, quickly tearing them in small pieces,
placed them carefully in her bosom.
This done, and having arranged all the private papers as far
as possible as she had found them, Grizel mounted her horse again
and rode off. The postman's horse and the mail-bags, she imagined,
would soon be found, from the hints which she had given to the man
about the wood--and this afterwards proved to be the case. She now
set her horse at a gallop again, and did not spare whip or spur
until she reached the cottage of her nurse, where her first care
was to burn, not only the warrant for her father's death, but the
remainder of the sentences on his fellow-prisoners. Having satisfied
herself that all trace of the obnoxious papers was now consumed,
she put on again her female garments, and was once more the gentle
and unassuming Miss Grizel Cochrane.
It was high time, however, to be making her way northwards again;
accordingly she left her pistols and cloak to be concealed by
the nurse, and again set forward on her journey. By avoiding the
highroad, resting only at the most sequestered cottages--and then
but for an hour or so--and riding all the while as hard as she
might, she reached Edinburgh in safety early next morning.
It remains only to say that the time thus won by this devoted girl
was enough to gain the end for which she strove; and Father Peters
plied the ear of King James so importunately that at length the
order was signed for Sir John Cochrane's pardon.
The state of public affairs rendered it prudent for many years that
this action of Grizel Cochrane's should be kept secret; but after
the Revolution, when men could speak more freely, her heroism was
known and applauded. She lived to marry Mr. Ker, of Morriston, in
Berwickshire, and doubtless was as good a wife as she had proved
herself a daughter.
THE SUNKEN TREASURE
By Nathaniel Hawthorne
Picture to yourselves a handsome, old-fashioned room, with a large,
open cupboard at one end, in which is displayed a magnificent gold
cup, with some other splendid articles of gold and silver plate. In
another part of the room, opposite to a tall looking-glass, stands
our beloved chair, newly polished, and adorned with a gorgeous
cushion of crimson velvet, tufted with gold.
In the chair sits a man of strong and sturdy frame, whose face has
been roughened by northern tempests and blackened by the burning
sun of the West Indies. He wears an immense periwig, flowing down
over his shoulders. His coat has a wide embroidery of golden foliage;
and his waistcoat, likewise, is all flowered over and bedizened
with gold. His red, rough hands, which have done many a good day's
work with the hammer and adze, are half covered by the delicate lace
ruffles at his wrists. On a table lies his silver-hilted sword;
and in the corner of the room stands his gold-headed cane, made of
a beautifully polished West India wood Somewhat such an aspect as
this did Phips present when he sat in Grandfather's chair after
the king had appointed him Governor of Massachusetts.
But Sir William Phips had not always worn a gold-embroidered coat,
nor always sat so much at his ease as he did in Grandfather's chair.
He was a poor man's son, and was born in the province of Maine,
where in his boyhood he used to tend sheep upon the hills. Until he
had grown to be a man, he did not even know how to read and write.
Tired of tending sheep, he apprenticed himself to a ship-carpenter,
and spent about four years in hewing the crooked limbs of oak trees
into knees for vessels.
In 1673, when he was twenty-two years old, he came to Boston, and
soon afterwards was married to a widow lady, who had property enough
to set him up in business. It was not long before he lost all the
money that he had acquired by his marriage, and became a poor man
again. Still, he was not discouraged. He often told his wife that
he should be very rich, and would build a "fair brick house" in
the Green Lane of Boston.
Several years passed away; and Phips had not yet gained the riches
which he promised to himself. During this time he had begun to
follow the sea for a living. In the year 1684 he happened to hear
of a Spanish ship which had been cast away near Porto de la Plata.
She had now lain for fifty years beneath the waves. This old ship
had been laden with immense wealth; and nobody had thought of the
possibility of recovering any part of it from the deep sea which
was rolling and tossing it about. But though it was now an old
story, Phips resolved that the sunken treasure should again be
brought to light.
He went to London and obtained admittance to King James. He told
the king of the vast wealth that was lying at the bottom of the
sea. King James listened with attention, and thought this a fine
opportunity to fill his treasury with Spanish gold. He appointed
William Phips to be captain of a vessel, called the _Rose Algier_,
carrying eighteen guns and ninety-five men. So now he was Captain
Phips of the English navy.
The captain sailed from England and cruised for two years in the
West Indies, trying to find the wrecked Spanish ship. But the sea
is so wide and deep that it is no easy matter to discover the exact
spot where a sunken vessel lies. The prospect of success seemed very
small, and most people thought that Phips was as far from having
money enough to build a "fair brick house" as he was while he tended
The seamen became discouraged, and gave up all hope of making their
fortunes by discovering the Spanish wreck. They wanted Phips to
turn pirate. There was a much better prospect of growing rich by
plundering vessels which still sailed in the sea than by seeking
for a ship that had lain beneath the waves full half a century.
They broke out in open mutiny, but were finally mastered by Phips,
and compelled to obey his orders. It would have been dangerous to
continue much longer at sea with such a crew of mutinous sailors;
and the ship was unseaworthy. So Phips judged it best to return to
Before leaving the West Indies, he met with an old Spaniard who
remembered the wreck of the Spanish ship, and gave him directions
how to find the very spot. It was on a reef of rocks, a few leagues
from Porto de la Plata.
On his arrival in England Phips solicited the king to let him have
another vessel and send him back again to the West Indies. But King
James refused to have anything more to do with the affair. Phips
might never have been able to renew the search if the Duke of
Albemarle and some other noblemen had not lent their assistance.
They fitted out a ship, and he sailed from England, and arrived
safely at La Plata, where he took an adze and assisted his men to
build a large boat.
The boat was intended for going closer to the rocks than a large
vessel could safely venture. When it was finished, the captain
sent several men in it to examine the spot where the Spanish ship
was said to have been wrecked. They were accompanied by some Indians,
who were skilful divers, and could go down a great way into the
depths of the sea.
The boat's crew proceeded to the reef of rocks, and gazed down into
the transparent water. Nothing could they see more valuable than a
curious sea shrub growing beneath the water, in a crevice of the.
reef of rocks. It flaunted to and fro with the swell and reflux
of the waves, and looked as bright and beautiful as if its leaves
"We won't go back empty-handed," cried an English sailor; and then
he spoke to one of the, Indian divers. "Dive down and bring me that
pretty sea shrub there. That's the only treasure we shall find!"
Down plunged the diver, and soon rose dripping from the water,
holding the sea shrub in his hand. But he had learned some news
at the bottom of the sea. "There are some ship's guns," said he,
the moment he had drawn breath, "some great cannon, among the rocks,
near where the shrub was growing."
No sooner had he spoken than the English sailors knew that they
had found the spot where the Spanish galleon had been wrecked, so
many years before. The other Indian divers plunged over the boat's
side and swam headlong down, groping among the rocks and sunken
cannon. In a few moments one of them rose above the water with a
heavy lump of silver in his arms. That single lump was worth more
than a thousand dollars. The sailors took it into the boat, and
then rowed back is speedily as they could, being in haste to inform
Captain Phips of their good luck.
But, confidently as the captain had hoped to find the Spanish wreck,
yet, now that it was really found, the news seemed too good to be
true. He could not believe it till the sailors showed him the lump
of silver. "Thanks be to God!" then cries Phips. "We shall every
man of us make our fortunes!"
Hereupon the captain and all the crew set to work, with iron rakes
and great hooks and lines, fishing for gold and silver at the bottom
of the sea. Up came the treasures in abundance. Now they beheld a
table of solid silver, once the property of an old Spanish grandee.
Now they found an altar vessel, which had been destined as a gift
to some Catholic church. Now they drew up a golden cup, fit for
the King of Spain to drink his wine out of. Now their rakes were
loaded with masses of silver bullion. There were also precious
stones among the treasure, glittering and sparkling, so that it is
a wonder how their radiance could have been concealed.
After a day or two they discovered another part of the wreck where
they found a great many bags of silver dollars. But nobody could
have guessed that these were money-bags. By remaining so long in
the salt-water they had become covered over with a crust which had
the appearance of stone, so that it was necessary to break them
in pieces with hammers and axes. When this was done, a stream of
silver dollars gushed out upon the deck of the vessel.
The whole value of the recovered treasure, plate, bullion, precious
stones, and all, was estimated at more than two millions of dollars.
It was dangerous even to look at such a vast amount of wealth. A
captain, who had assisted Phips in the enterprise, lost his reason
at the sight of it. He died two years afterward, still raving about
the treasures that lie at the bottom of the sea.
Phips and his men continued to fish up plate, bullion, and dollars,
as plentifully as ever, till their provisions grew short. Then,
as they could not feed upon gold and silver any more than old King
Midas could, they found it necessary to go in search of food. Phips
returned to England, arriving there in 1687, and was received with
great joy by the Albemarles and other English lords who had fitted
out the vessel. Well they might rejoice; for they took the greater
part of the treasures to themselves.
The captain's share, however, was enough to make him comfortable
for the rest of his days. It also enabled him to fulfil his promise
to his wife, by building a "fair brick house" in the Green Lane of
Boston. The Duke of Albemarle sent Mrs. Phips a magnificent gold
cup, worth at least five thousand dollars. Before Captain Phips
left London, King James made him a knight; so that, instead of
the obscure ship-carpenter who had formerly dwelt among them, the
inhabitants of Boston welcomed him on his return as the rich and
famous Sir William Phips.
THE LOST EXILES OF TEXAS
By Arthur Gilman
If we could have stood upon the shores of Matagorda Bay with the
Indians on a certain day over two hundred years ago we might have
been witness to a strange sight. Before us would have been spread
out the waters of a broad and sheltered harbor opening towards the
sea through a narrow passage which was obstructed by sandbars and
an island. One's eyes could not reach to the end of the bay, which
is fifty miles long; nor could they see land beyond the sea-passage,
for that opens into the broad Gulf of Mexico. Let us take our stand
on the shore and see what we can see.
There appear to us, as if by magic, the forms of two French gentlemen
accompanied by a small party of soldiers, who come from the mouth
of the bay, and carefully thread their way along the shore. It is
a strange company of men. The leader is a native of Rouen, and he
says that few of his companions are fit for anything but eating.
He thought that his band comprised creatures of all sorts, like
Noah's ark, but unlike the collection of the great patriarch, they
seemed to be few of them worth saving.
As we look, the men begin to gather together the pieces of
drift-wood that the peaceful waves throw up on to the shore. They
are evidently planning to make a raft; but as one of them casts his
lazy eyes in the direction in which ours were at first thrown, he
exclaims with evident joy, in his native French _"Voila les vaisseaux!"_
or words to that effect, for he has descried two ships entering
the bay from the Gulf. The ships slowly keep their way towards
the inland coast, and from one of them there lands a man evidently
higher in authority than any we have seen. His air is calm,
dignified, forceful, persistent. He announces to those about him
that they are at one of the mouths of the great Mississippi, or,
as he well calls it _"La riviére fu-neste,"_ the fatal river. "Here
shall we land all our men," he adds, "and here shall our vessels
be placed in safe harbor."
In vain does the commander of one of the little ships protest that
the water of the bay is too shallow and that the currents are too
powerful; the strong man has given his order, and it must be obeyed.
The channel was duly marked out, and on the twentieth of February,
one of the ships, the _Aimable,_ weighed anchor and began to enter
the bay. The commander was on the shore, anxiously watching to see
the result, when, suddenly, some of his men who had been cutting
down a tree to make a canoe, rushed up and exclaimed, with terror
in their faces, "The Indians have attacked us and one of our number
is even now a captive in their hands." There was nothing to be done
but go in pursuit of the savages.
It did not take long to arm a few men, and off they started with
their leader in the direction that the Indians had taken. The
savages were overtaken and a parley ensued. The leader's thoughts
were now in two places at once, and he was not far enough from the
shore not to be able to cast a glance towards the _Aimable_, and
to say to his lieutenants, as he saw the vessel drifting near shoal
water, "If she keeps on in that course, she will soon be aground."
Still, no time was to be lost. The parley with the Indians did
not hinder them long, and soon they were on the way towards the
village whither the captive had been taken. Just as they entered
its precincts and looked upon its inhabitants, clustered in groups
among the dome-shaped huts, the loud boom of a cannon burst upon
their ears. The savages were smitten with terror, and the commander
felt his heart beat quickly as he looked again towards the water
and saw the _Aimable_ furling its sails, a sure token to him that
she had indeed struck the rock and would be lost, with all the
stores intended for use when her passengers should be landed.
Undaunted by the prospect, or even by the dark picture that his
imagination conjured up, he pressed onward among the miserable
savages, until his man had been recovered. Then he returned, and
found his vessel on her side, a forlorn spectacle. Now the wind
rose, and the sea beat upon the helpless hulk. It rocked backwards
and forwards on its uneasy bed; its treasures of boxes and bales
and casks were strewn over the waters; the greedy Indians made haste
to seize what they could; and as night approached the hurriedly
organized patrol of soldiers had all that they could do to face
the deepening storm and protect their goods from the treacherous
natives, as the less treacherous waves cast them upon the sands of
Who were these men, thus unceremoniously thrust upon the shores of
the New World? How did it happen that they were found at a point
that no European had before seen? Perhaps it is not necessary to
ask how they happened to mistake the entrance to Matagorda Bay for
one of the broad mouths of the Mississippi. They were Frenchmen.
So much their speech has told us. The leader was Robert Cavelier,
Sieur de La Salle, a man whom the historian Bancroft says that he
had no superior among his countrymen for force of will and vast
conceptions; for various knowledge, and quick adaptation of his
genius to untried circumstances; for sublime magnanimity that resigned
itself to the will of Heaven and yet triumphed over affliction by
energy of purpose and unfaltering hope.
In early life he had renounced his inheritance and devoted himself
to the service of the Church, but he soon left the order of Jesuits
which he had entered, because, as Mr. Parkman surmises, he did not
relish being all his life the moved and not the mover; because he
could not give up his individuality and remain one of the great
body, all of whom were compelled to march in a track pointed out to
them by a superior. It is pleasant to know that he left the order
with good feelings on both sides.
In 1667, we find the young man already entered upon the career of
adventure in which the rest of his life was to be spent. He had
sailed to Canada, the place of attraction for ambitious French
youth, and there he remained several years, making the familiar
acquaintance of the Indians and learning their language, while he
was dreaming, like many others, of the passage to China through
the rivers that came down from the westward. He had looked, too,
in his vivid imagination over the vast plains of the great West,
and had become filled with brilliant visions of an empire that he
hoped some day to see established there for France. We have already
learned how France took possession of the region, at this very
In such state of mind, La Salle sailed back to France in the
autumn of 1674. He was well received and the next year returned,
ennobled, and more than ever determined to push his grand scheme
for the acquisition of the great West. His was no plan to indulge
in theatrical spectacles, but to take actual possession. Year
after year we see him steadily pursuing his single plan. He thinks
nothing of crossing the Atlantic, of pushing his course through
the trackless woods, or of paddling his frail canoe over the wild
waters of the broad lakes. Indians did not daunt him by their
cruelty, nor wild beasts affright him by their numbers and ferocity.
Onward, ever onward, He pressed.
In the year 1680, we find him taking possession by actual occupation,
of the region now comprising the State of Illinois. It was the
first time that civilization had asserted itself there. La Salle
built a fort, and, in memory of the trials of the way, called it
_Crevecoeur_, which signified Broken-heart; but it did not testify
to any broken courage on his part;--rather it was a monument to
the obstacles that his persistence had surmounted.
Two years later, we find his canoe, which seems to our eyes now the
emblem of an aggressive civilization, flitting along the Illinois
River, entering the muddy Mississippi, and floating down its thousand
miles to the Gulf. This is not the whole picture, however. We see
the party start from the Chicago River, in the cold weather of
December. The rivers are frozen. Canoes must be dragged over their
snowy and icy surfaces, and baggage can be transported in no way
but upon rough sledges. Can you not see the slow procession of
fifty persons dragging themselves along day after day through the
region inhabited but by savages and wild beasts, suffering from cold
and hunger, and all held to their duty by the persevering leader
who had brought them there?
There are twenty-three Frenchmen, eighteen Indian braves, belonging
to those terrible Abenakis and Mohegans whose "midnight yells had,"
as Mr. Parkman says, "startled the border hamlets of New England;
who had danced around Puritan scalps, and whom Puritan imaginations
painted as incarnate fiends." There were besides, ten squaws
and three children. A motley collection and one not calculated to
inspire confidence nor hope for the success of any undertaking. It
was not until they had passed the point where the river broadens
into Lake Peoria that they found water in which they could float
their canoes. Then they continued on, until early in February they
found themselves on the banks of the Mississippi. It was filled
with ice, and no canoe could navigate it.
After a delay of a few days, they found the river free, and again
took up their course southwards. A day more brought them to the
confluence of the muddy Missouri, which some of my readers have
probably seen, where a mighty stream coming down from distant
mountains, enters another not so mighty as itself, and plowing
its way across its current, burrows under the soil on the opposite
shore. This did not detain the voyagers, though they encamped there
over night, and then pursued their course towards the unknown. A
few days showed them the mouth of the Ohio, but still they pressed
onward. It was near the end of February, the temperature was growing
perceptibly warmer as they approached the South.
At a certain point they encamped and sent out their hunters for
game. One did not return at night, and a horror seized the others,
as they thought that he had been overtaken and killed by hostile
Indians. Day after day the woods were scoured in the hope of finding
the missing companion, but it seemed vain. A fort was erected for
the protection of the party on a high bluff, and named for the
lost hunter, Prudhomme. At last they met some Chickasaw Indians,
and messages of amity were exchanged through them with the people
of their village, not far distant. Soon afterwards Prudhomme was
discovered, half-dead from exposure, for he had lost his way while
Thus the expedition progressed for many days, until at last the little
canoes found themselves thrust out through the turbid channels of
the delta, into the clear salt waters of the Gulf of Mexico. They
had stopped on the way after leaving Fort Prudhomme, at several
Indian towns, had been well treated by the natives, and they had
seen the mouths of the Arkansas and the Red rivers.
The whole valley of the Fatal River had been laid bare to them, and
now La Salle thought the time had come to take formal possession
for his sovereign.
Near the mouth of the river, the party came together on the ninth
of April, 1682, and a ceremony took place that was very similar to
the one at the Sault Ste. Marie, a few days less than eleven years
before, by which France had taken possession of the Northwest. It
did not rival that in the magnificence with which it was conducted,
though the ceremonial was, perhaps, a little more elaborated, but
it seemed to have a better basis of fact, for La Salle had actually
passed through the heart of the region which he now claimed. A
column was erected, of course, and a tablet of lead was buried near
it, such as those that had been placed in the ground at various
other places by Frenchmen, bearing testimony to the fact that Louis
the Great claimed to rule the land.
It was nearly the end of November of the following year, when La
Salle reached Quebec, after having retraced his route by long and
tedious stages up the rivers that he had followed down to the Gulf.
Then he returned to France to tell the story of his travels, and
began to use his influence to induce the government to send out
an expedition to take controlling possession of the Mississippi
region. He argued with all his powers, saying that by fortifying
the river, the French might control the continent. It was really
a grand and brilliant proposition, and the king and his minister
gave more than was demanded. Four vessels were prepared, instead
of the two that La Salle asked for. The expedition comprised a
hundred soldiers, thirty volunteers, many mechanics and laborers,
several families and a few girls, who looked forward to certain
marriage in the new land.
On the twenty-fourth of July, La Salle set sail from Roehelle,
with four hundred men in his four vessels, leaving an affectionate
and comforting letter as his last farewell to his mother at Rouen.
We have already seen how he was thrown upon the shores of the
New World. There, on the sands of Matagorda Bay, with nothing to
eat but oysters and a sort of porridge made of the flour that had
been saved, the homesick party of downcast men and sorrowing women
encamped until their leader could tell them what to do. They did
not even know where they were. They were intending to conquer the
Spaniards, but they knew nothing of their whereabouts. They were
attacked by Indians, and finally, some three weeks after the wreck,
the commander of the ships sailed away for France leaving La Salle
and his forlorn company behind!
A site was soon chosen on the river now called Lavaca (a corruption
of _La Vache_, the cow, a name given it because buffaloes had been
seen there), and a fort was built called St. Louis. La Salle had
scarcely finished this establishment, when he determined to search
for the Mississippi River, for he had by that time concluded from
explorations that he had not found it. On the last day of October,
he started, and towards the end of March, the party returned, tattered
and worn, almost ready to die; but though the strong body of the
leader had given away, his stronger spirit was still unbroken, and
he soon determined to set out to find the Illinois region where
he left a colony formerly, and where he felt sure he could obtain
relief. There was no chance for them to return directly to France
since their vessels were all gone, and this seemed their only hope.
A party of twenty was formed to undertake the perilous enterprise,
and on the twenty-second of April, 1686, they took their way from
the fort, bearing on their persons the contributions that their
fellows who were to remain had been able to bring together for
The party experienced a variety of hardships, quarrelled among
themselves, and finally, on the morning of the eighteenth of March,
1687, one of them shot and killed the brave leader. The remainder
kept on, finally reached Canada and were taken to their native
land. To the colonists at Fort St. Louis, no ground of hope ever
appeared, though they felt that the people of France must have an
interest in them, and so they kept a look-out over the water for a
ship coming to their relief. It never came, alas, and no one knows
to this day what became of the Lost Exiles of Texas!
THE BOY CONQUEROR--CHARLES XII OF SWEDEN
By E. S. Brooks
In an old, old palace on the rocky height of the _Slottsbacke_,
or Palace Hill, in the northern quarter of the beautiful city of
Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, there lived, just two hundred
years ago, a bright young prince. His father was a stern and daring
warrior-king--a man who had been a fighter from his earliest boyhood;
who at fourteen had been present in four pitched battles with the
Danes, and who, while yet scarce twelve years old, had charged
the Danish line at the head of his guards and shot down the stout
Danish colonel, who could not resist the spry young warrior. His
mother was a sweet-faced Danish princess, a loving and gentle lady,
who scarce ever heard a kind word from her stern-faced husband,
and whose whole life was bound up in her precious little prince.
And this little Carolus, Karl, or Charles, dearly loved his tender
mother. From her he learned lessons of truth and nobleness that
even through all his stormy and wandering life never forsook him.
Often while he had swung gently to and fro in his quaint, carved,
and uncomfortable-looking cradle, had she crooned above him the
old saga-songs that told of valor and dauntless courage and all the
stern virtues that made up the heroes of those same old saga-songs.
Many a time she had trotted the little fellow on her knee to the
music of the ancient nursery rhyme that has a place in all lands
and languages, from the steppes of Siberia to the homes of New York
and San Francisco:
"Ride along, ride a cock-horse,
His mane is dapple-gray;
Ride along, ride a cock-horse,
Little boy, ride away.
Where shall the little boy ride to?
To the king's court to woo"--
and so forth, and so forth, and so forth--in different phrases but
with the same idea, as many and many a girl and boy can remember.
And she had told him over and over again the saga-stories and fairy
tales that every Scandinavian boy and girl, from prince to peasant,
knows so well--of Frithiof and Ingeborg, and the good King Rene;
and about the Stone Giant and his wife Guru; and about the dwarfs,
and trolls, and nixies, and beautiful mermaids and stromkarls. And
she told him also many a story of brave and daring deeds, of noble
and knightly lives, and how his ancestors, from the great Gustavus,
and, before, from the still greater Gustavus Vasa, had been kings
of Sweden, and had made the name of that Northern land a power in
all the courts of Europe.
Little Prince Charles was as brave as he was gentle and jolly, and
as hardy as he was brave. At five years old he killed his first
fox; at seven he could manage his horse like a young centaur; and
at twelve he had his first successful bear hunt. He was as obstinate
as he was hardy; he steadily refused to learn Latin or French--the
languages of the court--until he heard that the kings of Denmark
and Poland understood them, and then he speedily mastered them.
His lady-mother's death, when he was scarce twelve years old, was
a great sadness, and nearly caused his own death, but, recovering
his health, he accompanied his father on hunting parties and military
expeditions, and daily grew stronger and hardier than ever.
In April, 1697, when the prince was not yet fifteen, King Charles
XI, his stern-faced father, suddenly died, and the boy king succeeded
to the throne as absolute lord of "Sweden and Finland, of Livonia,
Carelia, Ingria, Wismar, Wibourg, the islands of Rugen and Oesel,
of Pomerania, and the duchies of Bremen and Verdun"--one of the finest
possessions to which a young king ever succeeded, and representing
what is now Sweden, Western Russia, and a large part of Northern
A certain amount of restraint is best for us all. As the just
restraints of the law are best for men and women, so the proper
restraints of home are best for boys and girls. A lad from whom
all restraining influences are suddenly withdrawn--who can have
his own way unmolested--stands in the greatest danger of wrecking
his life. The temptations of power have been the cause of very
much of the world's sadness and misery. And this temptation came
to this boy King of Sweden called in his fifteenth year to supreme
sway over a large realm of loyal subjects. Freed from the severity
of his stern father's discipline, he found himself responsible to
no one--absolutely his own master. And he did what too many of
us, I fear, would have done in his position--he determined to have
a jolly good time, come what might; and he had it--in his way.
He and his brother-in-law, the wild young Duke of Holstein, turned
the town upside down. They snapped cherry-pits at the king's
gray-bearded councillors, and smashed in the windows of the staid
and scandalized burghers of Stockholm. They played ball with the
table dishes, and broke all the benches in the palace chapel. They
coursed hares through the council-chambers of the Parliament House,
and ran furious races until they had ruined several fine horses.
They beheaded sheep in the palace till the floors ran with blood,
and then pelted the passers-by with sheep's heads. They spent the
money in the royal treasury like water, and played so many heedless
and ruthless boy-tricks that the period of these months of folly was
known, long after, as the "Gottorp Fury," because the harum-scarum
young brother-in-law, who was the ringleader in all these scrapes,
was Duke of Holstein-Gottorp.
But at last, even the people--serfs of this boy autocrat though they
were--began to murmur, and when one Sunday morning three clergymen
preached from the text "Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is
a child," the young sovereign remembered the counsels of his good
mother and recalled the glories of his ancestors, saw how foolish
and dangerous was all this reckless sport, turned over a new leaf,
became thoughtful and care-taking, and began his career of conquest
with the best victory of all--the conquest of himself!
But though he curbed his tendency to profitless and hurtful
"skylarking," he had far too much of the Berserker blood of his
ancestors--those rough old vikings who "despised mail and helmet
and went into battle unharnessed"--to become altogether gentle in
manners or occupation. He hated his fair skin, and sought in every
way to tan and roughen it, and to harden himself by exposure and
neglect of personal comfort. Many a night was passed by the boy on
the bare floor, and for three nights in the cold Swedish December
he slept in the hay-loft of the palace stables, without undressing
and with but scanty covering.
So he grew to be a lad of seventeen, sturdy, strong, and hardy, and
at the date of our story, in the year of 1699, the greater part of
his time was given up to military exercises and field sports, with
but little attention to debates in council or to the cares of state.
Among his chief enjoyments were the sham fights on land and water.
Many a hard-fought battle was waged between the boys and young men
who made up his guards and crews, and who would be divided into
two or more opposing parties, as the plan of battle required. This
was rough and dangerous sport, and was attended often with really
serious results. But the participants were stout and sturdy Northern
lads, used to hardships and trained to physical endurance. They
thought no more of these encounters than do the boys of to-day of
the crush of football and the hard hitting of the baseball field,
and blows were given and taken with equal good nature and unconcern.
One raw day in the early fall of 1699, sturdy young Arvid Horn,
a stout, blue-eyed Stockholm boy, stripped to the waist, and with
a gleam of fun in his eyes, stood upright in his little boat as
it bobbed on the crest of the choppy Maelar waves. He hailed the
"Holo; in the boat there! Stand for your lives!" he shouted, and
levelled his long squirt-gun full at the helmsman.
Swish! came the well-directed stream of water plump against the
helmsman's face. Again and again it flew, until dripping and sore
he dropped the tiller and dashed down the companion-way calling
loudly for help.
Help came speedily, and as the crew of the king's yacht manned the
rail and levelled at their single assailant the squirt-guns, which
were the principal weapons of warfare used in these "make-believe"
naval engagements, the fun grew fast and furious; but none had so
sure an aim or so strong an arm to send an unerring and staggering
stream as young Arvid Horn. One by one he drove them back while
as his boat drifted still nearer the yacht he made ready to spring
to the force-chains and board his prize. But even before he could
steady himself for the jump, another tall and fair-haired Stockholm
lad, darting out from the high cabin, rallied the defeated crew
and bade them man the pumps at once.
A clumsy-looking fire-engine stood amidship, and the crew leaped
to its pumps as directed, while the newcomer, catching up a line
of hose, sprang to the rail and sent a powerful stream of water
straight against the solitary rover.
"Repel boarders!" he cried, laughingly, and the sudden stream from
the fire-engine's nozzle sent young Arvid Horn staggering back into
But he rallied quickly, and with well-charged squirt-gun attacked
the new defender of the yacht. The big nozzle, however, was more
than a match for the lesser squirt-gun, and the small boat speedily
began to fill under the constant deluge of water from the engine.
"Yield thee, yield thee, Arvid Horn; yield thee to our unconquerable
nozzle," came the summons from the yacht; "yield thee, or I will
drown you out like a rat in a cheese-press!"
"Arvid Horn yields to no one," the plucky boy in the boat made answer,
and with a parting shot and a laughing "_Farväl!_" he leaped from
the sinking boat into the dancing Maelar water. Striking boldly out,
he swam twice round the boat in sheer bravado, defying the enemy;
now ducking to escape the pursuing stream, or now, while floating
on his back, sending a return shot with telling force against the
men at the pump--for he still clung to his trusty squirt-gun.
The fair-faced lad in the yacht looked at the swimmer in evident
"Is it, then, hard to swim, Arvid Horn?" he inquired.
"Not if one is fearless," called back the floating boy.
"How; fearless?" exclaimed the lad on the yacht, hastily. "Do you
perhaps think that I am afraid?"
"I said not so," replied young Arvid, coolly sending a full charge
from his squirt-gun straight up in the air.
"No; but you mean it--good faith, you mean it, then," said the lad,
and flinging off wig, cocked hat, and long coat only, without an
instant's hesitation he, too, leaped into the Maelar Lake.
There is nothing so cooling to courage or reckless enthusiasm as
cold water-if one cannot swim. The boy plunged and floundered,
and weighty with his boots and his clothing, soon sank from sight.
As he came spluttering to the surface again, "Help, help, Arvid,"
he called despairingly; "I am drowning!"
Arvid, who had swum away from his friend, thinking that he would
follow after, heard the cry and caught a still louder one from the
yacht: "The king, the king is sinking!"
A few strokes brought him near to the over-confident diver, and
clutching him by his shirt-collar, he kept the lad's head above
water until, after a long and laborious swim, he brought his kingly
burden safe to land--for the fair-haired and reckless young knight
of the nozzle was none other than his gracious majesty, Charles
the Twelfth of Sweden.
"Truly it is one thing to be brave and another to be skilful,"
said the king, as he stood soaked and dripping on the shore. "But
for you, friend Arvid, I had almost gone."
"You are very wet, sire, and may take cold," said Arvid; "let us
hasten at once to yonder house for warmth and dry clothes."
"Not so, Arvid; I do not fear the water--on land," said the king.
"I am no such milksop as to need to dry off before a kitchen fire.
See, this is the better way"; and catching up a stout hazel-stick,
he bade Arvid stand on his guard. Nothing loath, Arvid Horn accepted
the kingly challenge, and picking up a similar hazel-stick, he
rapped King Charles' weapon smartly, and the two boys went at each
other "hammer and tongs" in a lively bout at "single-stick."
They were soon thoroughly warmed up by this vigorous exercise,
and forgot their recent bath and the king's danger. It was a drawn
battle, however, and, as they paused for breath, King Charles said:
"Trust that to drive away cold and ague, Arvid. Faith,'tis a rare
"Could it be done on horseback, think you?" queried Arvid, always
on the lookout for sensation.
"And why not? 'Tis well thought," said the king. "Let us straight
to the palace yard and try it for ourselves."
But ere they reached the palace the idea had developed into still
The king's guards were summoned, and divided into two parties.
Their horses were unsaddled, and, riding "bareback" and armed with
nothing but hazel-sticks, the two forces were pitted against each
other in a great cavalry duel of "single-stick."
King Charles commanded one side, and young Arvid Horn the other. At
it they went, now one side and now the other having the advantage,
the two leaders fighting with especial vigor.
Arvid pressed the king closely, and both lads were full of the
excitement of the fray when Charles, careless of his aim and with
his customary recklessness, brought his hazel-stick with a terrible
thwack upon poor Arvid's face. Now Arvid Horn had a boil on his
cheek, and if any of my boy readers know what a tender piece of
property a boil is, they will know that King Charles's hazel-stick
was not a welcome poultice.
With a cry of pain Arvid fell fainting from his horse, and the
cavalry battle at "single-stick" came to a sudden stop. But the
heat and the pain brought on so fierce a fever that the lad was
soon as near to death's door as his friend King Charles had been
in the sea fight of the squirt-guns.
The king was deeply concerned during young Arvid's illness, and
when the lad at last recovered he made him a present of two thousand
thalers, laughingly promising to repeat the prescription whenever
Arvid was again wounded at "single-stick." He was greatly pleased
to have his friend with him once more, and, when Arvid was strong
enough to join in his vigorous sports again, one of the first
things he proposed was a great bear-hunt up among the snow-filled
forests that skirted the Maelar Lake.
A day's ride from Stockholm, the hunting-lodge of the kings of
Sweden lay upon the heavily drifted hill-slopes just beyond the
lake shore, and through the forests and marshes two hundred years
ago the big brown bear of Northern Europe, the noble elk, the now
almost extinct auroch, or bison, and the great gray wolf roamed in
fierce and savage strength, affording exciting and dangerous sport
for daring hunters.
And among these hunters none excelled young Charles of Sweden.
Reckless in the face of danger, and brave as he was reckless, he
was ever on the alert for any novelty in the manner of hunting that
should make the sport even more dangerous and exciting. So young
Arvid Horn was not surprised when the king said to him:
"I have a new way for hunting the bear, Arvid, and a rarely good
"Of that I'll be bound, sire," young Arvid responded; "but-how may
"You shall know anon," King Charles replied; "but this much will I
say: I do hold it but a coward's part to fight the poor brute with
firearms. Give the fellow a chance for his life, say I, and a fair
fight in open field--and then let the best man win."
Here was a new idea. Not hunt the bear with musket, carbine, or
wheel-lock? What then--did King Charles reckon to have a wrestling
bout or a turn at "single-stick" with the _Jarl_ Bruin? So wondered
Arvid Horn, but he said nothing, waiting the king's own pleasure,
as became a shrewd young courtier.
And soon enough he learned the boy-hunter's new manner of bear-hunting,
when, on the very day of their arrival at the Maelar lodge, they
tracked a big brown bear beneath the great pines and spruces of the
almost boundless forest, armed only with strong wooden pitchforks.
Arvid was not at all anxious for this fighting at close quarters,
but when he saw King Charles boldly advance upon the growling bear,
when he saw the great brute rise on his hind legs and threaten to
hug Sweden's monarch to death, he would have sprung forward to aid
his king. But a huntsman near at hand held him back.
"Wait," said the man; "let the 'little father' play his part."
And even as he spoke Arvid saw the king walk deliberately up to the
towering bear, and, with a quick thrust of his long-handled fork,
catch the brute's neck between the pointed wooden prongs, and with
a mighty shove force the bear backward in the snow.
Then, answering his cry of "Holo, all!" the huntsmen sprang to
his side, flung a stout net over the struggling bear, and held it
thus, a floundering prisoner, while the intrepid king coolly cut
its throat with his sharp hunting-knife.
Arvid learned to do this, too, in time, but it required some extra
courage even for his steady young head and hand.
One day, when each of the lads had thus transfixed and killed his
bear, and as, in high spirits, they were returning to the hunting-lodge,
a courserman dashed hurriedly across their path, recognized the
king, and reining in his horse, dismounted hastily, saluted, and
handed the king a packet.
"From the council, sire," he said.
Up to this day the young king had taken but little interest in the
affairs of state, save as he directed the review or drill, leaving
the matters of treaty and of state policy to his trusted councillors.
He received the courserman's despatch with evident unconcern, and
read it carelessly. But his face changed as he read it a second
time; first clouding darkly, and then lighting up with the gleam
of a new determination and purpose.
"What says Count Piper?" he exclaimed half aloud; "Holstein laid
waste by Denmark, Gottorp Castle taken, and the duke a fugitive?
And my council dares to temper and negotiate? _Ack; so!_ Arvid
Horn, we must be in Stockholm ere night-fall."
"But, sire, how can you?" exclaimed Arvid. "The roads are heavy
with snow, and no horse could stand the strain or hope to make the
city ere morning."
"No horse!" cried King Charles; "then three shall do it. Hasten; bid
Hord the equerry harness the triple team to the strongest sledge,
and be you ready to ride with me in a half hour's time. For we
shall be in Stockholm by nightfall."
And ere the half hour was up they were off. Careless of roadway,
straight for Stockholm they headed, the triple team of plunging
Ukraine horses, driven abreast by the old equerry Hord, dashing down
the slopes and across the Maelar ice, narrowly escaping collision,
overturn, and death. With many a plunge and many a ducking, straight
on they rode, and ere the Stockholm clocks had struck the hour of
six the city gates were passed, and the spent and foaming steeds
dashed panting into the great yard of the Parliament House.
The council was still in session, and the grave old councillors
started to their feet in amazement at this sudden apparition of
the boy king, soiled and bespattered from head to foot, standing
there in their midst.
"Gentlemen," he said, with earnestness and determination in his
voice, "your despatch tells me of unfriendly acts on the part of the
King of Denmark against our brother and ally of Holstein-Gottorp.
I am resolved never to begin an unjust war, but never to finish an
unjust one save with the destruction of mine enemies. My resolution
is fixed. I will march and attack the first one who shall declare
war; and when I shall have conquered him, I hope to strike terror
into the rest."
These were ringing and, seemingly, reckless words for a boy of
seventeen, and we do not wonder that, as the record states, "the
old councillors, astonished at this declaration, looked at one
another without daring to answer." The speech seemed all the more
reckless when they considered, as we may here, the coalition against
which the boy king spoke so confidently.
At that time--in the year 1699--the three neighbors of this young
Swedish monarch were three kings of powerful northern nations--Frederick
the Fourth, King of Denmark; Augustus, called the Strong, King of
Poland and Elector of Saxony, and Peter, afterward known as the
Great, Czar of Russia. Tempted by the large possessions of young
King Charles, and thinking to take advantage of his youth, his
inexperience, and his presumed indifference, these three monarchs
concocted a fine scheme by which Sweden was to be overrun, conquered,
and divided among the three members of this new copartnership
of kings--from each of whom, or from their predecessors, this boy
king's ancestors had wrested many a fair domain and wealthy city.
But these three kings--as has many and many another plotter in
history before and since--reckoned without their host. They did not
know the mettle that was in this grandnephew of the great Gustavus.
Once aroused to action, he was ready to move before even his would-be
conquerors, in those slow-going days, imagined he had thought of
resistance. Money and men were raised, the alliance of England and
Holland was secretly obtained, a council of defence was appointed
to govern Sweden during the absence of the king, and on April 23,
1700, two months before his eighteenth birthday, King Charles bade
his grandmother and his sisters good-by and left Stockholm forever.
Even as he left, the news came that another member in this firm of
hostile kings, Augustus of Saxony and Poland, had invaded Sweden's
tributary province of Livonia on the Gulf of Finland. Not to be
drawn aside from his first object--the punishment of Denmark--Charles
simply said, "We will make King Augustus go back the way he came,"
and hurried on to join his army in southern Sweden.
By August 3, 1700, King Charles had grown tired of waiting for his
reserves and new recruits, and so, with scarce six thousand men,
he sailed away from Malmo--clear down at the most southerly point
of Sweden--across the Sound, and steered for the Danish coast not
twenty-five miles away.
Young Arvid Horn, still the king's fast friend, and now one of
his aids, following his leader, leaped into the first of the small
barges or row-boats that were to take the troops from the frigates
to the Danish shore. His young general and king, impatient at the
slowness of the clumsy barges, while yet three hundred yards from
shore, stood upright in the stern, drew his sword, and exclaimed:
"I am wearied with this pace. All you who are for Denmark follow
me!" And then, sword in hand, he sprang over into the sea.
Arvid Horn quickly followed his royal friend. The next moment
generals and ministers, ambassadors and belaced officials, with
the troops that filled the boats, were wading waist-deep through
the shallow water of the Sound, struggling toward the Danish shore,
and fully as enthusiastic as their hasty young leader and king.
The Danish musket-balls fell thick around them as the Danish troops
sought from their trenches to repel the invaders.
"What strange whizzing noise is this in the air?" asked the young
king, now for the first time in action.
"'Tis the noise of the musket-balls they fire upon you," was the
"_Ack_, say you so," said Charles: "good, good; from this time
forward that shall he my music."
In the face of this "music" the shore was gained, the trenches were
carried by fierce assault and King Charles's first battle was won.
Two days later, Copenhagen submitted to its young conqueror, and
King Frederick of Denmark hastened to the defence of his capital,
only to find it in the possession of the enemy, and to sign a
humiliating treaty of peace.
The boy conqueror's first campaign was over, and, as his biographer
says, he had "at the age of eighteen begun and finished a war
in less than six weeks." Accepting nothing for himself from this
conquest, he spared the land from which his dearly remembered mother
had come from the horrors of war and pillage which in those days
were not only allowable but expected.
King Augustus of Poland, seeing the short work made of his ally
the King of Denmark, by this boy king, whom they had all regarded
with so much contempt, deemed discretion to be the better part of
valor and, as the lad had prophesied, withdrew from Livonia, "going
back by the way he came." Then the young conqueror, flushed with his
successes, turned his army against his third and greatest enemy,
Czar Peter, of Russia, who, with over eighty thousand men, was
besieging the Swedish town of Narva.
A quaint old German-looking town, situated a few miles from the
shores of the Gulf of Finland, in what is now the Baltic provinces
of Russia, and near to the site of the czar's later capital of St.
Petersburg, the stout-walled town of Narva was the chief defence of
Sweden on its eastern borders, and a stronghold which the Russian
monarch especially coveted for his own. Young Arvid Horn's uncle,
the Count Horn, was in command of the Swedish forces in the town,
which, with a thousand men, he held for the young king, his master,
against all the host of the Czar Peter.
The boy who had conquered Denmark in less than six weeks, and forced
a humiliating peace from Poland, was not the lad to consider for
a moment the question of risk or of outnumbering forces. In the
middle of November, when all that cold Northern land is locked in
ice and snow, he flung out the eagle-flag of Sweden to the Baltic
blasts, and crossed to the instant relief of Narva, with an army of
barely twenty thousand men. Landing at Pernau with but a portion
of his troops, he pushed straight on, and with scarce eight thousand
men hurried forward to meet the enemy. With a courage as daring
as his valor was headlong, he surprised and routed first one and
then another advance detachment of the Russian force, and soon
twenty-five thousand demoralized and defeated men were retreating
before him into the Russian camp. In less than two days all the
Russian outposts were carried, and on the noon of the thirtieth of
November, 1700, the boy from Sweden appeared with his eight thousand
victory-flushed though wearied troops before the fortified camp
of his enemy, and, without a moment's hesitation, ordered instant
"Sire," said one of his chief officers, the General Stenbock, "do
you comprehend the greatness of our danger? The Muscovites outnumber
us ten to one."
"What, then!" said the intrepid young king, "do you imagine that
with my eight thousand brave Swedes I shall not be able to march
over the bodies of eighty thousand Muscovites?" And then at the
signal of two fusees and the watchword, "With the help of God," he
ordered his cannon to open on the Russian trenches, and through a
furious snow-storm charged straight upon the enemy.
Again valor and enthusiasm triumphed. The Russian line broke before
the impetuosity of the Swedes, and, as one chronicler says, "ran
about like a herd of cattle"; the bridge across the river broke under
the weight of fugitives, panic followed, and when night fell, the
great Russian army of eighty thousand men surrendered as prisoners
of war to a boy of eighteen with but eight thousand tired soldiers
at his back.
So the boy conqueror entered upon his career of victory. Space does
not permit to detail his battles and his conquests. How he placed
a new king on the throne of Poland, kept Denmark in submission,
held the hosts of Russia at bay, humbled Austria, and made his
name, ere yet he was twenty, at once a wonder and a terror in all
the courts of Europe. How, at last, his ambition getting the better
of his discretion, he thought to be a modern Alexander, to make
Europe Protestant, subdue Rome, and carry his conquering eagles into
Egypt and Turkey and Persia. How, by unwise measures and foolhardy
endeavors, he lost all the fruits of his hundred victories and
his nine years of conquest in the terrible defeat by the Russians
at Pultowa, which sent him an exile into Turkey, kept him there a
prisoner of state for over five years; and how, finally, when once
again at the head of Swedish troops, instead of defending his own
home-land of Sweden, he invaded Norway in the depth of winter, and
was killed, when but thirty-six, by a cannon-shot from the enemy's
batteries at Frederickshall on December 11, 1718.
Charles the Twelfth of Sweden was one of the most remarkable of the
world's historic boys. Elevated to a throne founded on despotic
power and victorious memories, at an age when most lads regard
themselves as the especial salt of the earth, he found himself launched
at once into a war with three powerful nations, only to become in
turn the conqueror of each. A singularly good boy, so far as the
customary temptations of power and high station are concerned--temperate,
simple, and virtuous in tastes, dress, and habits--he was, as one
of his biographers has remarked, "the only one among kings who had
lived without a single frailty."
But this valorous boy, who had first bridled his own spirit, and
then conquered the Northern world, "reared," as has been said,
"under a father cold and stern, defectively educated, taught from
childhood to value nothing but military glory," could not withstand
the temptation of success. An ambition to be somebody and to do
something is always a laudable one in boy or girl, until it supplants
and overgrows the sweet, true, and manly boy and girl nature, and
makes us regardless of the comfort or the welfare of others. A
desire to excel the great conquerors of old, joined to an obstinacy
as strong as his courage, caused young Charles of Sweden to miss
the golden opportunity, and instead of seeking to rule his own
country wisely, sent him abroad a homeless wanderer on a career of
conquest, as romantic as it was, first, glorious, and at the last
In the northern quarter of the beautiful city of Stockholm, surrounded
by palaces and gardens, theatres, statues, and fountains, stands
Molin's striking statue of the boy conqueror, Charles the Twelfth
of Sweden. Guarded at the base by captured mortars, the outstretched
hand and unsheathed sword seem to tell of conquests to be won and
victories to be achieved. But to the boy and girl of this age of
peace and good-fellowship, when wars are averted rather than sought,
and wise statesmanship looks rather to the healing than to the
opening of the world's wounds, one cannot but feel how much grander,
nobler, and more helpful would have been the life of this young
"Lion of the North," as his Turkish captors called him, had it been
devoted to deeds of gentleness and charity rather than of blood
and sorrow, and how much more enduring might have been his fame and
his memory if he had been the lover and helper of his uncultivated
and civilization-needing people, rather than the valorous, ambitious,
headstrong, and obstinate boy conqueror of two centuries ago.
THE TRUE STORY OF A KIDNAPPED BOY AS TOLD BY HIMSELF
By Peter Williamson
I was born in Hirulay, in the county of Aberdeen, Scotland.
My parents, though not rich, were respectable, and so long as I
was under their care all went well with me. Unhappily, I was sent
to stay with an aunt at Aberdeen, where, at eight years old, when
playing on the quay, I was noticed as a strong, active little fellow
by two men belonging to a vessel in the harbor. Now, this vessel
was in the employ of certain merchants of Aberdeen, who used her
for the villanous purpose of kidnapping--that is, stealing young
children from their parents and selling them as slaves in the
These impious monsters, marking me out for their prey, tempted me
on board the ship, which I had no sooner entered than they led me
between the decks to some other boys whom they had kidnapped in
like manner. Not understanding what a fate was in store for me, I
passed the time in childish amusement with the other lads in the
steerage, for we were never allowed to go on deck while the vessel
stayed in the harbor, which it did till they had imprisoned as many
luckless boys as they needed.
Then the ship set sail for America. I cannot remember much of the
voyage, being a mere child at the time, but I shall never forget
what happened when it was nearly ended. We had reached the American
coast, when a hard gale of wind sprang up from the southeast, and
about midnight the ship struck on a sandbank off Cape May, near
Delaware. To the terror of all on board, it was soon almost full
of water. The boat was then hoisted out, and the captain and his
fellow-villains, the crew, got into it, leaving me and my deluded
companions, as they supposed, to perish. The cries, shrieks, and
tears of a throng of children had no effect on these merciless
But happily for us the wind abated, and the ship being on a sandbank,
which did not give way to let her deeper, we lay here till morning,
when the captain, unwilling to lose all his cargo, sent some of
the crew in a boat to the ship's side to bring us ashore. A sort
of camp was made, and here we stayed till we were taken in by a
vessel bound to Philadelphia.
At Philadelphia, people soon came to buy us. We were sold for £16
apiece. I never knew what became of my unhappy companions, but I
was sold for seven years to one of my countrymen, Hugh Wilson, who
in his youth had suffered the same fate as myself in being kidnapped
from his home.
Happy was my lot in falling into his power, for he was a humane,
worthy man. Having no children of his own, and pitying my sad
condition, he took great care of me till I was fit for business,
and at twelve years old set me about little things till I could
manage harder work. Meanwhile, seeing my fellow-servants often
reading and writing, I felt a strong desire to learn, and told my
master that I should be glad to serve a year longer than the bond
obliged me if he would let me go to school. To this he readily
agreed, and I went every winter for five years, also learning as
much as I could from my fellow-servants.
With this good master I stayed till I was seventeen years old, when
he died, leaving me a sum of money, about £120 sterling, his best
horse, and all his wearing apparel.
I now maintained myself by working about the country, for any one
who would employ me, for nearly seven years, when I determined to
settle down. I applied to the daughter of a prosperous planter,
and found my suit was acceptable both to her and her father, so
we married. My father-in-law, wishing to establish us comfortably,
gave me a tract of land which lay, unhappily for me, as it has since
proved, on the frontiers of Pennsylvania. It contained about two
hundred acres, with a good house and barn.
I was now happy in my home, with a good wife; but my peace did not
last long, for about 1754 the Indians in the French interest, who
had formerly been very troublesome in our province, began to renew
their old practices. Even many of the Indians whom we supposed to
be in the English interest joined the plundering bands; it was no
wonder, for the French did their utmost to win them over, promising
to pay £15 for every scalp of an Englishman!
Hardly a day passed but some unhappy family fell a victim to French
bribery and savage cruelty. As for me, though now in comfortable
circumstances, with an affectionate and amiable wife, it was not
long before I suddenly became the most pitiable of mankind. I can
never bear to think of the last time I saw my dear wife, on the
fatal 2d of October, 1754. That day she had left home to visit
some of her relations, and, no one being in the house but myself,
I stayed up later than usual, expecting her return. How great was
my terror when, at eleven o'clock at night, I heard the dismal
warwhoop of the savages, and, flying to the window, saw a band of
them outside, about twelve in number.
They made several attempts to get in, and I asked them what they
wanted. They paid no attention, but went on beating at the door,
trying to get it open. Then, having my gun loaded in my hand, I
threatened them with death if they would not go away. But one of
them, who could speak a little English, called out in return that
if I did not come out they would burn me alive in the house. They
told me further--what I had already found out--that they were no
friends to the English, but that if I would surrender myself prisoner
they would not kill me.
My horror was beyond all words. I could not depend on the promises of
such creatures, but I must either accept their offer or be burned
alive. Accordingly, I went out of my house with my gun in my hand,
not knowing what I did or that I still held it. Immediately, like
so many tigers, they rushed on me and disarmed me. Having me now
completely in their power, the merciless villains bound me to a
tree near the door, and then went into the house and plundered what
they could. Numbers of things which they were unable to carry away
were set fire to with the house and consumed before my eyes. Then
they set fire to my barn, stable, and outhouses, where I had about
two hundred bushels of wheat, and cows, sheep, and horses. My
agony as I watched all this havoc it is impossible to describe.
When the terrible business was over, one of the monsters came to
me, a tomahawk in his hand, threatening me with a cruel death if I
would not consent to go with them. I was forced to agree, promising
to do all that was in my power for them, and trusting to Providence
to deliver me out of their hands. On this they untied me, and gave
me a great load to carry on my back, under which I travelled all
that night with them, full of the most terrible fear lest my unhappy
wife should likewise have fallen into their clutches. At daybreak
my master ordered me to lay down my load, tying my hands round a
tree with a small cord. They then kindled a fire near the tree to
which I was bound, which redoubled my agony, for I thought they
were going to sacrifice me there.
When the fire was made, they danced round me after their manner, with
all kinds of antics, whooping and crying out in the most horrible
fashion. Then they took the burning coals and sticks, flaming
with fire at the ends, and held them near my face, head, hands and
feet, with fiendish delight, at the same time threatening to burn
me entirely if I called out or made the least noise. So, tortured
as I was, I could make no sign of distress but shedding silent
tears, which, when they saw, they took fresh coals, and held them
near my eyes, telling me my face was wet, and they would dry it
for me. I have often wondered how I endured these tortures; but at
last they were satisfied, and sat down round the fire and roasted
the meat which they had brought from my dwelling!
When they had prepared it, they offered some to me, and though
it may be imagined that I had not much heart to eat, I was forced
to seem pleased, lest if I refused it they should again begin to
torture me. What I could not eat I contrived to get between the bark
and the tree--my foes having unbound my hands till they supposed I
had eaten all they gave me. But then they bound me as before, and
so I continued all day.
When the sun was set they put out the fire, and covered the ashes
with leaves, as is their custom, that the white people may find no
signs of their having been there.
Travelling thence, by the river, for about six miles, I being loaded
heavily, we reached a spot near the Blue Hills, where the savages
hid their plunder under logs of wood. Thence, shocking to relate,
they went to a neighboring house, that of Jacob Snider, his wife,
five children, and a young man, a servant. They soon forced their
way into the unhappy man's dwelling, slew the whole family, and
set fire to the house.
The servant's life was spared for a time, since they thought he
might be of use to them, and forthwith loaded him with plunder. But
he could not bear the cruel treatment that we suffered; and though
I tried to console him with a hope of deliverance, he continued to
sob and moan. One of the savages, seeing this, instantly came up,
struck him to the ground, and slew him.
The family of John Adams next suffered. All were here put to death
except Adams himself, a good old man, whom they loaded with plunder,
and day after day continued to treat with the most shocking cruelty,
painting him all over with various colors, plucking the white hairs
from his beard, and telling him he was a fool for living so long,
and many other tortures which he bore with wonderful composure,
praying to God.
One night after he had been tortured, when he and I were sitting
together, pitying each other's misfortunes, another party of Indians
arrived, bringing twenty scalps and three prisoners, who gave us
terrible accounts of what tragedies had passed in their parts, on
which I cannot bear to dwell.
These three prisoners contrived to escape, but unhappily, not
knowing the country, they were recaptured and brought back. They
were then all put to death, with terrible tortures.
A great snow now falling, the savages began to be afraid that the
white people would follow their tracks upon it and find out their
skulking retreats, and this caused them to make their way to their
winter quarters, about two hundred miles further from any plantations
or English inhabitants. There, after a long and tedious journey,
in which I was almost starved, I arrived with this villainous
crew. The place where we had to stay, in their tongue, was called
Alamingo, and there I found a number of wigwams full of Indian women
and children. Dancing, singing, and shooting were their general
amusements, and they told what successes they had had in their
expeditions, in which I found myself part of their theme. The
severity of the cold increasing, they stripped me of my own clothes
and gave me what they usually wear themselves--a blanket, a piece
of coarse cloth, and a pair of shoes made of deerskin.
The better sort of Indians have shirts of the finest linen they can
get, and with these some wear ruffles, but they never put them on
till they have painted them different colors, and do not take them
off to wash, but wear them till they fall into pieces. They are
very proud, and delight in trinkets, such as silver plates round
their wrists and necks, with several strings of _wampum_, which is
made of cotton, interwoven with pebbles, cockle-shells, etc. From
their ears and noses they have rings and beads, which hang dangling
an inch or two.
The hair of their heads is managed in different ways: some pluck
out and destroy all except a lock hanging from the crown of the
head, which they interweave with wampum and feathers. But the women
wear it very long, twisted down their backs, with beads, feathers,
and wampum, and on their heads they carry little coronets of brass
No people have a greater love of liberty or affection for their
relations, yet they are the most revengeful race on earth, and
inhumanly cruel. They generally avoid open fighting in war, yet
they are brave when taken, enduring death or torture with wonderful
courage. Nor would they at any time commit such outrages as they
do if they were not tempted by drink and money by those who call
At Alamingo I was kept nearly two months, till the snow was off
the ground--a long time to be among such creatures! I was too far
from any plantations or white people to try to escape; besides,
the bitter cold made my limbs quite benumbed. But I contrived to
defend myself more or less against the weather by building a little
wigwam with the bark of the trees, covering it with earth, which
made it resemble a cave, and keeping a good fire always near the
Seeing me outwardly submissive, the savages sometimes gave me a
little meat, but my chief food was Indian corn.
Having liberty to go about was, indeed, more than I expected; but
they knew well it was impossible for me to escape.
At length they prepared for another expedition against the planters
and white people, but before they set out they were joined by many
other Indians from Fort Duquesne, well stored with powder and ball
that they had received from the French.
As soon as the snow was quite gone, so that no trace of their
footsteps could be found, they set out on their journey toward
Pennsylvania, to the number of nearly a hundred and fifty. Their
wives and children were left behind in the wigwams. My duty was
to carry whatever they intrusted to me; but they never gave me a
gun. For several days we were almost famished for want of proper
provisions: I had nothing but a few stalks of Indian corn, which I
was glad to eat dry, and the Indians themselves did not fare much
When we again reached the Blue Hills, a council of war was held,
and we agreed to divide into companies of about twenty men each,
after which every captain marched with his party where he thought
proper. I still belonged to my old masters, but was left behind on
the mountains with ten Indians, to stay till the rest returned, as
they did not think it safe to carry me nearer to the plantations.
Here being left, I began to meditate on my escape, for I knew the
country round very well, having often hunted there. The third day
after the great body of the Indians quitted us, my keepers visited
the mountains in search of game, leaving me bound in such a way
that I could not get free.
When they returned at night they unbound me, and we all sat down
to supper together, feasting on two polecats which they had killed.
Then, being greatly tired with their day's excursion, they lay down
to rest as usual.
Seeing them apparently fast asleep, I tried different ways of
finding out whether it was a pretence to see what I should do. But
after making a noise and walking about, sometimes touching them
with my feet, I found that they really slept. My heart exulted at
the hope of freedom, but it sank again when I thought how easily I
might be recaptured. I resolved, if possible, to get one of their
guns, and if discovered to die in self-defence rather than be
taken; and I tried several times to take one from under their heads,
where they always secure them. But in vain; I could not have done
so without rousing them.
So, trusting myself to the Divine protection, I set out defenceless.
Such was my terror, however, that at first I halted every four or
five yards, looking fearfully toward the spot where I had left the
Indians, lest they should wake and miss me. But when I was about
two hundred yards off I mended my pace and made all the haste I
could to the foot of the mountains.
Suddenly I was struck with the greatest terror and dismay, hearing
behind me the fearful cries and bowlings of the savages, far worse
than the roaring of lions or the shrieking of hyenas; and I knew
that they had missed me. The more my dread increased, the faster I
hurried, scarce knowing where I trod, sometimes falling and bruising
myself, cutting my feet against the stones, yet, faint and maimed
as I was, rushing on through the woods. I fled till daybreak, then
crept into a hollow tree, where I lay concealed, thanking God for
so far having favored my escape. I had nothing to eat but a little
But my repose did not last long, for in a few hours I heard the
voices of the savages near the tree in which I was hid threatening
me with what they would do if they caught me, which I already guessed
too well. However, at last they left the spot where I heard them,
and I stayed in my shelter the rest of that day without any fresh
At night I ventured out again, trembling at every bush I passed, and
thinking each twig that touched me a savage. The next day I concealed
myself in the same manner, and at night travelled forward, keeping
off the main road, used by the Indians, as much as possible, which
made my journey far longer, and more painful than I can express.
But how shall I describe my terror when, on the fourth night,
a party of Indians lying round a small fire which I had not seen,
hearing the rustling I made among the leaves, started from the
ground, seizing their arms, and ran out into the wood? I did not
know, in my agony of fear, whether to stand still or rush on. I
expected nothing but a terrible death; but at that very moment a
troop of swine made toward the place where the savages were. They,
seeing the hogs, guessed that their alarm had been caused by them,
and returned merrily to their fire and lay down to sleep again.
As soon as this happened, I pursued my way more cautiously and
silently, but in a cold perspiration of terror at the peril I had
just escaped. Bruised, cut, and shaken, I still held on my path
till break of day, when I lay down under a huge log, and slept
undisturbed till noon. Then, getting up, I climbed a great hill,
and, scanning the country round, I saw, to my unspeakable joy, some
habitations of white people, about ten miles distant.
My pleasure was somewhat damped by not being able to get among
them that night. But they were too far off; therefore, when evening
fell, I again commended myself to Heaven, and lay down, utterly
exhausted. In the morning, as soon as I woke, I made toward the
nearest of the cleared lands which I had seen the day before; and
that afternoon I reached the house of John Bull, an old acquaintance.
I knocked at the door, and his wife, who opened it, seeing me in
such a frightful condition, flew from me like lightning, screaming,
into the house.
This alarmed the whole family, who immediately seized their arms,
and I was soon greeted by the master with his gun in his hand. But
when I made myself known--for at first he took me for an Indian--he
and all his family welcomed me with great joy at finding me alive;
since they had been told I was murdered by the savages some months
No longer able to bear up, I fainted and fell to the ground. When
they had recovered me, seeing my weak and famished state, they gave
me some food, but let me at first partake of it very sparingly.
Then for two days and nights they made me welcome, and did their
utmost to bring back my strength, with the kindest hospitality.
Finding myself once more able to ride, I borrowed a horse and some
clothes of these good people, and set out for my father-in-law's
house in Chester County, about a hundred and forty miles away. I
reached it on January 4,1755; but none of the family could believe
their eyes when they saw me, having lost all hope on hearing that
I had fallen a prey to the Indians.
They received me with great joy; but when I asked for my dear wife,
I found she had been dead two months, and this fatal news greatly
lessened the delight I felt at my deliverance.
THE PRISONER WHO WOULD NOT STAY IN PRISON
Few people out of his own country would have heard of Baron Trenck
had it not been for the wonderful skill and cunning with which he
managed to cut through the stone walls and iron bars of all his many
cages. He was born at Königsberg in Prussia in 1726, and entered
the body-guard of Frederic II in 1742, when he was about sixteen.
Trenck was a young man of good family, rich, well educated,
and, according to his own account, fond of amusement. He confesses
to having shirked his duties more than once for the sake of
some pleasure, even after the War of the Austrian Succession had
broken out (September, 1744), and Frederic, strict though he was,
had forgiven him. It is plain from this that the king must have
considered that Trenck had been guilty of some deadly treachery
toward him when in after years he declined to pardon him for crimes
which after all the young man had never committed.
Trenck's first confinement was in 1746, when he was thrown into
the Castle of Glatz, on a charge of corresponding with his cousin
and namesake, who was in the service of the Empress Maria Theresa,
and of being an Austrian spy. At first he was kindly treated
and allowed to walk freely about the fortifications, and he took
advantage of the liberty given him to arrange a plan of escape
with one of his fellow-prisoners. The plot was, however, betrayed
by the other man, and a heavy punishment fell on Trenck. By the
king's orders, he was promptly deprived of all his privileges and
placed in a cell in one of the towers, which overlooked the ramparts
lying ninety feet below, on the side nearest the town. This added
a fresh difficulty to his chances of escape, as, in passing from
the castle to the town, he was certain to be seen by many people.
But no obstacles mattered to Trenck. He had money, and money could
do a great deal. So he began by bribing one of the officials about
the prison, and the official in his turn bribed a soapboiler, who
lived not far from the castle gates, and promised to conceal Trenck
somewhere in his house. Still, liberty must have seemed a long way
off, for Trenck had only one little knife with which to cut through
anything. By dint of incessant and hard work, he managed to saw
through three thick steel bars, but even so, there were eight others
left to do. His friend the official then procured him a file, but
he was obliged to use it with great care, lest the scraping sound
should be heard by his guards. Perhaps they wilfully closed their
ears, for many of them were sorry for Trenck; but, at all events,
the eleven bars were at last sawn through, and all that remained
was to make a rope ladder. This he did by tearing his leather
portmanteau into strips and plaiting them into a rope, and as this
was not long enough, he added his sheets. The night was dark and
rainy, which favored him, and he reached the bottom of the rampart
in safety. Unluckily, he met here with an obstacle on which he had
never counted. There was a large drain, opening into one of the
trenches, which Trenck had neither seen nor heard of, and into
this he fell. In spite of his struggles, he was held fast, and
his strength being at last exhausted, he was forced to call the
sentinel, and at midday, having been left in the drain for hours
to make sport for the town, he was carried back to his cell.
Henceforth he was still more strictly watched than before, though,
curiously enough, his money never seems to have been taken from
him, and at this time he had about eighty louis left, which he
always kept hidden. Eight days after his last attempt, Fouquet,
the commandant of Glatz, who hated Trenck and all his family, sent
a deputation consisting of the adjutant, an officer, and a certain
Major Doo to speak to the unfortunate man and exhort him to patience
and submission. Trenck entered into conversation with them for the
purpose of throwing them off their guard, when suddenly he snatched
away Doo's sword, rushed from his cell, knocked down the sentinel
and lieutenant who were standing outside, and striking right and
left at the soldiers who came flying to bar his progress, he dashed
down the stairs and leaped from the ramparts. Though the height
was great he fell into the fosse without injury, still grasping
his sword. He scrambled quickly to his feet and jumped easily over
the second rampart, which was much lower than the first, and then
began to breathe freely, as he thought he was safe from being
overtaken by the soldiers, who would have to come a long way round.
At this moment, however, he saw a sentinel making for him, a short
distance off, and he rushed for the palisades which divided the
fortifications from the open country, from which the mountains and
Bohemia were easily reached. In the act of scaling them, his foot
was caught tight between the bars, and he was trapped till the
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