The Junior Classics
Part 6 out of 8
They rubbed their eyes, and searched again. But this one had disappeared
as mysteriously as his fellows. Again there was no single trace.
But it was all the more necessary that the post should not remain
unguarded. They were forced to leave a third man and return, promising
him that the colonel should be told of his danger as soon as they
It was panic indeed that filled the regiment when they returned
to the guard-house and told the news. The colonel was informed
at once. He promised to go in person to the spot when the man was
relieved, and search the woods round about. This gave them some
confidence, but they went nevertheless with the gloomiest forebodings
as to their comrade's fate. As they drew near the spot they advanced
at a run. Their fears were justified. The post was vacant--the
man gone without a sound.
In the blank astonishment that followed, the colonel hesitated.
Should he station a whole company at the post? This would doubtless
prevent further loss; but then it was little likely to explain the
mystery; for the hands that had carried off three sentinels, would,
it was reasonable to believe, make no attempt to spirit away a
whole company of men. And for future action as well as to put an
end to the superstitious terror of the soldiery, the vital necessity
was to clear up the mystery. He had no belief in the theory that these
men deserted. He knew them too well. He prided himself mat he was
thoroughly acquainted with his own regiment, and had well-grounded
reasons for pride in his men. For this reason he was the more chary
of exposing a fourth brave man where three had already been lost.
However, it had to be done. The poor fellow whose turn it was to take
the post, though a soldier of proved courage and even recklessness
in action, positively shook from head to foot.
"I must do my duty," he said to the colonel. "I know that well
enough; but for all that I should like to lose my life with a bit
There was no higher bravery than facing an indefinite terror such
as this, as the colonel was at pains to point out, but he added--
"I will leave no man here against his will."
Immediately a soldier stepped out of the ranks.
"Give me the post," he said quietly.
The colonel looked at the volunteer admiringly, and spoke some
words in praise of his courage.
"No," said the man; "I have an idea, that is all. What I promise
you is that I will not be taken alive. I shall give you a deal of
trouble; because you will hear of me on the least alarm. If I am
given this post, I propose to fire my piece if I hear the slightest
noise. If a bird chatters or a leaf falls, my musket shall go off.
Of course you may be alarmed when nothing is the matter; but that's
my condition, and you must take the chance."
"Take the chance!" said the colonel. "It's the very wisest thing
you can do, You're a fellow of courage, and what's more, you're a
fellow with a head."
He shook hands with him, as did the rest of the soldiers, with
faces full of foreboding. "Come," said the man, "don't look so
glum; cheer up, and I shall have a story to tell you when we meet
They left him and went back to the guard-room again. An hour passed
away in suspense. It seemed as though every ear in the regiment
were on the rack for the discharge of that musket. Hardly a man
spoke, but as the minutes dragged along the conviction gained ground
that already the brave man had followed the fate of the other three.
The colonel paced up and down in the guard-room, as anxious as any
of the men. He looked at his watch for the twentieth time. An hour
and twenty minutes had gone.
Suddenly, down in the woods, the report of a musket rang out.
Colonel, officers, and men poured out of the guard-room, almost
without a word, and advanced at a double through the woods. The
mystery was going to be solved at last. Until quite close to the
spot, they were forced, by the thickness of the forest, to remain
in ignorance of what had happened, and whether their comrade was
dead or alive. But they shouted, and an answering "Halloa!" at
last came back. As they turned into the glade where the sentinel
had been posted, they beheld him advancing towards them and dragging
another man along the ground by the hair of the head.
He flung the body down. It was an Indian, stone-dead, with a
musket-wound in his side.
"How did it happen?" panted the colonel, beside himself with joy.
"Well," said the soldier, saluting, "I gave your honor notice that
I should fire if I heard the least noise. That's what I did, and
it saved my life; and it just happened in this way.
"I hadn't been long standing here, peering round till my eyes ached,
when I heard a rustling about fifty yards away. I looked and saw an
American hog, of the sort that are common enough in these parts,
coming down the glade opposite, crawling along the ground and
sniffing to right and left--just as if he'd no business in life
but to sniff about for nuts under the fallen leaves and all about
the roots of the trees. Boars are common enough, so I gave him a
glance and didn't take much notice for some minutes.
"But after a while, thinks I to myself--'No doubt the others
kept their eyes about them sharp enough, and was only took in by
neglecting something that seemed of no account;' so being on the
alarm and having no idea what was to be feared and what was not,
I woke up after some minutes and determined to keep my eyes on it
and watch how it passed in and out among the trees. For I thought,
if it comes on an Indian skulking about yonder, I may be able to
learn something from its movements. Indians are thick enough here
and to spare: but they're not so thick as nuts, for all that.
"So I kept glancing at the hog, and then looking round and glancing
again. Not another creature was in sight; not a leaf rustling. And
then, all of a sudden--I can't tell why--it struck me as queer that
the animal was snuffling around among the trees and making off to
the right, seemingly for the thick coppice just behind my post. I
didn't want anything behind me, you may be sure, not even a hog,
and as it was now only a few yards from my coppice I kept my eye
more constantly on it, and cast up in my mind whether I should fire
"It seemed foolish enough to rouse you all up by shooting a pig!
I fingered my trigger, and couldn't for the life of me make up my
mind what to do. I looked and looked, and the more I looked the
bigger fool I thought myself for being alarmed at it. It would be
a rare jest against me that I mistook a pig for an Indian; and this
was a hog sure enough. You've all seen scores of them, and know
how they move. Well, this one was for all the world like any other,
and I was almost saying to myself that'twas more like the average
hog than any hog I'd ever seen, when just as it got close to the
thicket I fancied it gave an unusual spring.
"At any rate, fancy or no, I didn't hesitate. I took cool aim, and
directly I did so, felt sure I was right. The beast stopped in a
hesitating sort of way, and by that I knew it saw what I was about,
though up to the moment it had never seemed to be noticing me. 'An
Indian's trick, for a sovereign,' thought I, and pulled the trigger.
"It dropped over like a stone; and then, as I stood there, still
doubting if it were a trap that I should fall into by running to
look, I heard a groan--and the groan of a man, too. I loaded my
musket and ran up to it. I had shot an Indian, sure enough, and
that groan was his last.
"He had wrapped himself in the hog's skin so completely, and his
hands and feet were so neatly hid, and he imitated the animal's walk
and noise so cleverly, that I swear, if you saw the trick played
again, here before you, your honor would doubt your honor's eyes.
And seeing him at a distance, in the shadow of the trees, no man
who had not lost three comrades before him, as I had, would ever
have guessed. Here's the knife and tomahawk the villain had about
him. You see, once in the coppice he had only to watch his moment
for throwing off the skin and jumping on me from behind; a dig
in the back before a man had time to fire his piece was easy work
enough. After that it's easier still to drag the body off and hide
it under a heap of leaves. The rebels pay these devils by the scalp,
and no doubt if your honor looks about, you'll find the collection
our friend here has already made to-day."
THE MAN IN THE "AUGER HOLE."
By Frank R. Stockton
When we consider the American Revolution, we are apt to think of
it as a great war which all the inhabitants of the Colonies rose
up against Great Britain, determined, no matter what might be the
hardships and privations, no matter what the cost in blood and money,
to achieve their independence and the right to govern themselves.
But this was not the case. A great majority of the people of the
Colonies were ardently in favor of independence; but there were
also a great many people, and we have no right to say that some
of them were not very good people, who were as well satisfied that
their country should be a colony of Great Britain as the Canadians
are now satisfied with that state of things, and who were earnestly
and honestly opposed to any separation from the mother country.
This difference of opinion was the cause of great trouble and
bloodshed among the colonists themselves, and the contests between
the Tories and the Whigs were nowhere more bitter than in New
Jersey. In some parts of the Colony, families were divided against
themselves; and not only did this result in quarrels and separations,
but fathers and sons, and brothers and brothers, fought against
each other. At one time the Tories, or, as they came to be called,
"refugees," were in such numbers that they took possession of the
town of Freehold, and held it for more than a week; and when at
last the town was retaken by the patriotic forces, most of them
being neighbors and friends of the refugees, several prominent
Tories were hanged, and many others sent to prison.
The feeling between the Americans of the two different parties was
more violent than that between the patriots and the British troops,
and before long it became entirely unsafe for any Tory to remain
in his own home in New Jersey. Many of them went to New York, where
the patriotic feeling was not so strong at that time, and there
they formed themselves into a regular military company called the
"Associated Loyalists"; and this company was commanded by William
Temple Franklin, son of the great Benjamin Franklin, who had been
appointed Governor of New Jersey by the British Crown. He was now
regarded with great hatred by the patriots of New Jersey, because
he was a strong Tory. This difference of opinion between William
Franklin and his father was the most noted instance of this state
of feeling which occurred in those days.
It will be interesting to look upon this great contest from a
different point of view than that from which we are accustomed to
regard it; and some extracts from the journal of a New Jersey lady
who was a decided Tory, will give us an idea of the feeling and
condition of the people who were opposed to the Revolution.
This lady was Mrs. Margaret Hill Morris, who lived in Burlington.
She was a Quaker lady, and must have been a person of considerable
wealth; for she had purchased the house on Green Bank, one of the
prettiest parts of Burlington, overlooking the river, in which
Governor Franklin had formerly resided. This was a fine house and
contained the room which afterwards became celebrated under the
name of the "Auger Hole." This had been built, for what reason is
not known, as a place of concealment. It was a small room, entirely
dark, but said to be otherwise quite comfortable, which could be
approached only through a linen closet. In order to get at it,
the linen had to be taken from the shelves, the shelves drawn out,
and a small door opened at the back of the closet, quite low down,
so that the dark room could only be entered by stooping.
In this "Auger Hole," Mrs. Morris, who was a strong Tory, but a
very good woman, had concealed a refugee who at the time was sought
for by the adherents of the patriotic side, and who probably would
have had a hard time of it if he had been caught, for he was a
person of considerable importance.
The name of the refugee was Jonathan Odell, and he was rector of
St. Mary's Church in Burlington. He was a learned man, being a
doctor as well as a clergyman, and a very strong Tory. He had been
of much service to the people of Burlington; for when the Hessians
had attacked the town, he had come forward and interceded with
their commander, and had done his work so well that the soldiers
were forbidden to pillage the town. But when the Hessians left,
the American authorities began a vigorous search for Tories; and
Parson Odell was obliged to conceal himself in good Mrs. Morris's
Mrs. Morris was apparently a widow who lived alone with her two
boys, and, having this refugee in her house, she was naturally very
nervous about the movements of the American troops and the actions
of her neighbors of the opposite party.
She kept a journal of the things that happened^ about her in those
eventful days, and from this we will give some extracts. It must
be understood that in writing her journal, the people designated as
the "enemy" were the soldiers under Washington, and that "gondolas"
were American gunboats.
"From the 13th to the 16th we had various reports of the advancing
and retiring of the enemy; parties of armed men rudely entered the
town and diligent search was made for tories. Some of the gondola
gentry broke into and pillaged Red Smith's house on the bank. About
noon this day (16th) a very terrible account of thousands coming
into the town, and now actually to be seen on Gallows Hill: my
incautious son caught up the spyglass, and was running towards the
hill to look at them. I told him it would be liable to misconstruction."
The journal states that the boy went out with the spyglass, but
could get no good place from which he could see Gallows Hill, or
any troops upon it, and so went down to the river, and thought he
would take a view of the boats in which were the American troops.
He rested his spyglass on the low limb of a tree, and with a boyish
curiosity inspected the various boats of the little fleet, not
suspecting that any one would object to such a harmless proceeding.
But the people on the boats saw him, and did object very much; and
the consequence was, that, not long after he reached his mother's
house, a small boat from one of the vessels came to shore. A party
of men went to the front door of the house in which they had seen
the boy enter, and began loudly to knock upon it. Poor Mrs. Morris
was half frightened to death, and she made as much delay as possible
in order to compose her features and act as if she had never heard
of a refugee who wished to hide himself from his pursuers. In the
mild manner in which Quaker women are always supposed to speak,
she asked them what they wanted. They quickly told her that they
had heard that there was a refugee, to whom they applied some very
strong language, who was hiding somewhere about here, and that
they had seen him spying at them with a glass from behind a tree,
and afterwards watched him as he entered this house.
Mrs. Morris declared that they were entirely mistaken; that the
person they had seen was no one but her son, who had gone out to
look at them as any boy might do, and who was perfectly innocent
of any designs against them. The men may have been satisfied with
this explanation with regard to her son; but they asserted that
they knew that there was a refugee concealed somewhere in that
neighborhood, and they believed that he was in an empty house near
by, of which they were told she had the key. Mrs. Morris, who had
given a signal, previously agreed upon, to the man in the "Auger
Hole," to keep very quiet, wished to gain as much time as possible,
"Bless me! I hope you are not Hessians."
"Do we look like Hessians?" asked one of them rudely.
"Indeed, I don't know."
"Did you ever see a Hessian?"
"No, never in my life; but they are men, and you are men, and
may be Hessians, for anything I know. But I will go with you into
Colonel Cox's house, though indeed it was my son at the mill; he
is but a boy, and meant no harm; he wanted to see the troops."
So she took the key of the empty house referred to, and went in
ahead of the men, who searched the place thoroughly, and, after
finding no place where anybody could be, they searched one or two
of the houses adjoining; but for some reason they did not think it
worth while to go through Mrs. Morris's own house. Had they done
so, it, is not probable that the good lady could have retained her
composure, especially if they had entered the room in which was
the linen closet; for, even had they been completely deceived by
the piles of sheets and pillowcases, there is no knowing but that
the unfortunate man in the "Auger Hole" might have been inclined
But although she was a brave woman and very humanely inclined, Mrs.
Morris felt she could not any longer take the risk of a refugee
in her house. And so that night, after dark, she went up to the
parson in the "Auger Hole," and made him come out; and she took him
into the town, where he was concealed by some of the Tory citizens,
who were better adapted to take care of the refugee than this lone
Quaker woman with her two inquisitive boys. It is believed that
soon after this he took refuge in New York, which was then in the
hands of the British.
Further on in the journal Mrs. Morris indulges in some moral reflections
in regard to the war in which her countrymen were engaged, and no
one of right feeling will object to her sentiments.
"Jan. 14. I hear Gen. Howe sent a request to Washington desiring
three days' cessation of arms to take care of the wounded and bury
the dead, which was refused; what a woeful tendency war has to
harden the human heart against the tender feelings of humanity. Well
may it be called a horrid art thus to change the nature of man. I
thought that even barbarous nations had a sort of religious regard
for their dead."
After this the journal contains many references to warlike scenes
on the river and warlike sounds from the country around. Numbers
of gondolas filled with soldiers went up and down the river, at
times cannon from distant points firing alarums. At other times
the roaring of great guns from a distance, showing that a battle was
going on, kept the people of Burlington in a continual excitement;
and Mrs. Morris, who was entirely cut off from her relatives and
friends, several of whom were living in Philadelphia, was naturally
very anxious and disturbed in regard to events, of which she heard
but little, and perhaps understood less.
One day she saw a number of gunboats, with flags flying and drums
beating, that were going, she was told, to attend a court-martial
at which a number of refugees, men of her party, were to be tried
by General Putnam; and it was believed that if they were found
guilty they would be executed.
After a time, Mrs. Morris found an opportunity of showing, that,
although in principle she might be a Tory, she was at heart a good,
kind Quaker lady ready to give help to suffering people, no matter
whether they belonged to the side she favored or to that which she
Some of the people who came up the river in the gunboats--and in
many cases the soldiers brought their wives with them, probably
as cooks--were taken sick during that summer; and some of these
invalids stopped at Burlington, being unable to proceed farther.
Here, to their surprise, they found no doctors; for all the patriots
of that profession had gone to the army, and the Tory physician had
departed to the British lines. But, as is well known, the women in
the early days of New Jersey were often obliged to be physicians;
and among the good housewives of Burlington, who knew all about
herb teas, homemade plasters, and potions, Mrs. Morris held a high
position. The sick Continentals were told that she was just as good
as a doctor, and, besides, was a very kind woman, always ready to
help the sick and suffering.
So some of the sick soldiers came to her; and from what Mrs.
Morris wrote, one or two of them must have been the same men who
had previously come to her house and threatened the life of her
boy, who had been looking at them with a spyglass. But now they very
meekly and humbly asked her to come and attend their poor comrades
who were unable to move. At first Mrs. Morris thought this was
some sort of a trick, and that they wanted to get her on board of
one of the gunboats, and carry her away. But when she found that
the sick people were in a house in the town, she consented to go
and do what she could. So she took her bottles with her, and her
boxes and her herbs, and visited the sick people, several of whom
she found were women.
They were all afflicted with some sort of a fever, probably of
a malarial kind, contracted from living day and night on board of
boats without proper protection; and, knowing just what to do with
such cases, she, to use her own expression, "treated them according
to art," and it was not long before they all recovered.
What happened in consequence of this hospital work for those whom
she considered her enemies, is thus related by Mrs. Morris:
"I thought I had received all my pay when they thankfully acknowledged
all my kindness, but lo! in a short time afterwards, a very rough,
ill-looking man came to the door and asked for me. When I went
to him, he drew me aside and asked me if I had any friends in
Philadelphia. The question alarmed me, supposing that there was
some mischief meditated against that poor city; however, I calmly
said, 'I have an ancient father-in-law, some sisters, and other
near friends there.' 'Well,' said the man, 'do you wish to hear
from them, or send anything by way of refreshment to them? If you
do, I will take charge of it and bring you back anything you may
send for.' I was very much surprised, to be sure, and thought he
only wanted to get provisions to take to the gondolas, when he told
me his wife was one I had given medicine to, and this was the only
thing he could do to pay me for my kindness. My heart leaped for
joy, and I set about preparing something for my dear absent friends.
A quarter of beef, some veal, fowls, and flour, were soon put up,
and about midnight the man came and took them away in his boat."
Mrs. Morris was not mistaken in trusting to the good intentions
of this grateful Continental soldier, for, as she says, two nights
later there came a loud knocking at the door:
"Opening the chamber window, we heard a man's voice saying, 'Come
down softly and open the door, but bring no light.' There was
something mysterious in such a call, and we concluded to go down
and set the candle in the kitchen. When we got to the front door
we asked, 'Who are you?' The man replied, 'A friend; open quickly':
so the door was opened, and who should it be but our honest gondola
man with a letter, a bushel of salt, a jug of molasses, a bag of
rice, some tea, coffee, and sugar, and some cloth for a coat for
my poor boys--all sent by my kind sisters. How did our hearts and
eyes overflow with love to them and thanks to our Heavenly Father
for such seasonable supplies. May we never forget it. Being now
so rich, we thought it our duty to hand out a little to the poor
around us, who were mourning for want of salt, so we divided the
bushel and gave a pint to every poor person who came for it, and
had a great plenty for our own use."
As the war drew to its close and it became plain to every one that
the cause of the patriots must triumph, the feeling between the two
parties of Americans became less bitter; and the Tories, in many
cases, saw that it would be wise for them to accept the situation,
and become loyal citizens of the United States of America, as before
they had been loyal subjects of Great Britain.
When peace was at last proclaimed, those Tories who were prisoners
were released, and almost all of them who had owned farms or estates
had them returned to them, and Mrs. Morris could visit her "ancient
father-in-law" and her sisters in Philadelphia, or they could come
up the river and visit her in her house on the beautiful Green Bank
at Burlington, without fear or thought of those fellow-countrymen
who had been their bitter enemies.
THE REMARKABLE VOYAGE OF THE BOUNTY
This is a story of a man who, when in command of his ships and
when everything went prosperously with him, was so overbearing and
cruel that some of his men, in desperation at the treatment they
received, mutinied against him. But the story shows another side
of his character in adversity, which it is impossible not to admire.
In 1787, Captain Bligh was sent from England to Otaheite in charge
of the _Bounty_, a ship which had been especially fitted out to
carry young plants of the breadfruit tree for transplantation in
the West Indies.
"The breadfruit grows on a spreading tree about the size of a
large apple tree; the fruit is round, and has a thick, tough rind.
It is gathered when it is full-grown, and while it is still green
and hard; it is then baked in an oven until the rind is black and
scorched. This is scraped off, and the inside is soft and white,
like the crumb of a penny loaf."
The Otaheitans use no other bread but the fruit kind. It is, therefore,
little wonder that the West Indian planters were anxious to grow
this valuable fruit in their own islands, as, if it flourished there,
food would be provided with little trouble for their servants and
In the passage to Otaheite, Captain Bligh had several disturbances
with his men. He had an extremely irritable temper, and would often
fly into a passion and make most terrible accusations, and use most
terrible language to his officers and sailors.
On one occasion he ordered the crew to eat some decayed pumpkins,
instead of their allowance of cheese, which he said they had stolen
from the ship's stores.
The pumpkin was to be given to the men at the rate of one pound of
pumpkin to two pounds of biscuits.
The men did not like accepting the substitute on these terms. When
the captain heard this, he was infuriated, and ordered the first
man of each mess to be called by name, at the same time saying
to them, "I'll see who will dare refuse the pumpkin or anything
else I may order to be served out." Then, after swearing at them
in a shocking way, he ended by saying, "I'll make you eat grass,
or anything else you can catch, before I have done with you," and
threatened to flog the first man who dared to complain again.
While they were at Otaheite, several of the sailors were flogged
for small offences, or without reason, and on the other hand, during
the seven months they stayed at the island, both officers and men
were allowed to spend a great deal of time on shore, and were given
the greatest possible liberty.
Therefore, when the breadfruit plants were collected, and they
weighed anchor on April 4, in 1787, it is not unlikely they were
loath to return to the strict discipline of the ship, and to leave
an island so lovely, and where it was possible to live in the
greatest luxury without any kind of labor.
From the time they sailed until April 27, Christian, the third
officer, had been in constant hot water with Captain Bligh. On the
afternoon of that day, when the captain came on deck, he missed
some cocoanuts that had been heaped up between the guns. He said at
once that they had been stolen, and that it could not have happened
without the officers knowing of it. When they told him they had
not seen any of the crew touch them, he cried, "Then you must have
taken them yourselves!" After this he questioned them separately;
when he came to Christian, the latter answered, "I do not know, sir,
but I hope you do not think me so mean as to be guilty of stealing
The captain swore terribly, and said, "You must have stolen them
from me, or you would be able to give a better account of them!" He
turned to the others with much more abuse, saying, "You scoundrels,
you are all thieves alike, and combine with the men to rob me!
I suppose you'll steal my yams next, but I'll sweat you for it,
you rascals! I'll make half of you jump overboard before you get
through Endeavor Straits!"
Then he turned to the clerk, giving the order to "give them but
half a pound of yams to-morrow: if they steal _them_, I'll reduce
them to a quarter."
That night, Christian, who was hardly less passionate and resentful
than the captain, told two of the midshipmen, Stewart and Hayward,
that he intended to leave the ship on a raft, as he could no longer
endure the captain's suspicion and insults. He was very angry
and excited, and made some preparations for carrying out his plan,
though these had to be done with the greatest secrecy and care.
It was his duty to take the morning watch, which is from four to
eight o'clock, and this time he thought would be a good opportunity
to make his escape. He had only just fallen into a restless slumber
when he was called to take his turn.
He got up with his brain still alert with the sense of injury and
wrong, and most curiously alive to seize any opportunity which
might lead to an escape from so galling a service.
On reaching the deck, he found the mate of the watch had fallen
asleep, and that the other midshipman was not to be seen.
Then he made a sudden determination to seize the ship, and rushing
down the gangway ladder, whispered his intention to Matthew Quintal
and Isaac Martin, seamen, both of whom had been flogged. They readily
agreed to join him, and several others of the watch were found to
be quite as willing.
Some one went to the armorer for the keys of the arm chest, telling
him they wanted to fire at a shark alongside.
Christian then armed those men whom he thought he could trust, and
putting a guard at the officers' cabins, went himself with three
other men to the captain's cabin.
It was just before sunrise when they dragged him from his bed, and
tying his hands behind his back, threatened him with instant death
if he should call for help or offer any kind of resistance. He
was taken up to the quarter-deck in his nightclothes, and made to
stand against the mizzen-mast with four men to guard him.
Christian then gave orders to lower the boat in which he intended
to cast them adrift, and one by one the men were allowed to come
up the hatchways, and made to go over the side of the ship into it.
Meanwhile, no heed was given to the remonstrances, reasoning, and
prayers of the captain, saving threats of death unless he was quiet.
Some twine, canvas, sails, a small cask of water, and a quadrant
and compass were put into the boat, also some bread and a small
quantity of rum and wines. When this was done the officers were
brought up one by one and forced over the side. There was a great
deal of rough joking at the captain's expense, who was still made
to stand by the mizzen-mast, and much bad language was used by
When all the officers were out of the ship, Christian said, "Come,
Captain Bligh, your officers and men are now in the boat, and you
must go with them; if you make the least resistance you will be
instantly put to death."
He was lowered over the side with his hands still fastened behind
his back, and directly after the boat was veered astern with a
Some one with a little pity for them threw in some pieces of pork
and some clothes, as well as two or three cutlasses; these were
the only arms given.
There were altogether nineteen men in this pitiful strait. Although
much of the conduct of the mutineers is easily understood with regard
to the captain, the wholesale crime of thrusting so many innocent
persons out to the mercy of the winds and waves, or to the death
from hunger and thirst which they must have believed would inevitably
overtake them, is incomprehensible.
As the _Bounty_ sailed away, leaving them to their fate, those in
the boat cast anxious looks to the captain, wondering what should
be done. At a time when his mind must have been full of the injury
he had received, and the loss of his ship at a moment when his
plans were so flourishing and he had every reason to congratulate
himself as to the ultimate success of the undertaking, it is much
in his favor that he seems to have realized their unfortunate
position and to have been determined to make the best of it.
His first care was to see how much food they had. On examining
it, they found there was a hundred and fifty pounds of bread,
thirty-two pounds of pork, six quarts of rum, six bottles of wine,
and twenty-eight gallons of water.
As they were so near Tofoa they determined to put in there for a
supply of breadfruit and water, so that they might keep their other
provisions. But after rowing along the coast for some time, they
only discovered some cocoanut trees on the top of a stony cliff,
against which the sea beat furiously. After several attempts they
succeeded in getting about twenty nuts. The second day they failed
to get anything at all.
However, some natives came down to the boat and made inquiries
about the ship; but the captain unfortunately told the men to say
she had been lost, and that only they were saved.
This proved most disastrous; for the treacherous natives, finding
they were defenceless, at first brought them presents of breadfruit,
plantains and cocoanuts, rendering them all more hopeful and cheerful
by their kindness. But toward night their numbers increased in a
most alarming manner, and soon the whole beach was lined with them.
Presently they began knocking stones together, by which the men knew
they intended to make an attack upon them. They made haste to get
all the things into the boat, and all but one, named John Norton,
succeeded in reaching it. The natives rushed upon this poor man
and stoned him to death.
Those in the boat put to sea with all haste, but were again terribly
alarmed to find themselves followed by natives in canoes from which
they renewed the attack.
Many of the sailors were a good deal hurt by stones, and they had
no means at all with which to protect themselves. At last they
threw some clothes overboard; these tempted the enemy to stop to
pick them up, and as soon as night came on they gave up the chase
and returned to the shore.
All the men now begged Captain Bligh to take them toward England;
but he told them there could be no hope of relief until they reached
Timor, a distance of full twelve hundred leagues; and that, if they
wished to reach it, they would have to content themselves with one
ounce of bread and a quarter of a pint of water a day. They all
readily agreed to this allowance of food, and made a most solemn
oath not to depart from their promise to be satisfied with the
small quantity. This was about May 2.
After the compact was made, the boat was put in order, the men
divided into watches, and they bore away under a reefed lug-foresail.
A fiery sun rose on the 3d, which is commonly a sign of rough
weather, and filled the almost hopeless derelicts with a new terror.
In an hour or two it blew very hard, and the sea ran so high that
their sail was becalmed between the waves; they did not dare to
set it when on the top of the sea, for the water rushed in over
the stern of the boat, and they were obliged to bale with all their
The bread was in bags, and in the greatest danger of being spoiled
by the wet. They were obliged to throw some rope and the spare
sails overboard, as well as all the clothes but what they wore, to
lighten the boat; then the carpenter's tool-chest was cleared and
the bread put into it.
They were all very wet and cold, and a teaspoonful of rum was served
to each man, with a quarter of a breadfruit which was so bad that
it could hardly be eaten; but the captain was determined at all
risks to keep to the compact they had entered into, and to make
their provisions last eight weeks.
In the afternoon the sea ran even higher, and at night it became
very cold; but still they did not dare to leave off baling for an
instant, though their legs and arms were numb with fatigue and wet.
In the morning a teaspoonful of rum was served to all, and five
small cocoanuts divided for their dinner, and every one was satisfied.
When the gale had subsided they examined the bread, and found a
great deal of it had become mouldy and rotten; but even this was
carefully kept and used. The boat was now near some islands, but
they were afraid to go on shore, as the natives might attack them;
while being in sight of land, where they might replenish their poor
stock of provisions and rest themselves, added to their misery.
One morning they hooked a fish, and were overjoyed at their good
fortune; but in trying to get it into the boat it was lost, and
again they had to content themselves with the damaged bread and
small allowance of water for their supper.
They were dreadfully cramped for room, and were obliged to manage
so that half their number should lie down in the bottom of the
boat or upon a chest, while the others sat up and kept watch; their
limbs became so stiff from being constantly wet, and from want of
space to stretch them in, that after a few hours' sleep they were
hardly able to move.
About May 7, they passed what the captain supposed must be the Fiji
Islands, and two large canoes put off and followed them for some
time, but in the afternoon they gave up the chase. It rained heavily
that day, and every one in the boat did his best to catch some
water, and they succeeded in increasing their stock to thirty-four
gallons, besides having had enough to drink for the first time
since they had been cast adrift; but the rain made them very cold
and miserable, as they had no dry clothes.
The next morning they had an ounce and a half of pork, a teaspoonful
of rum, half a pint of cocoanut milk and an ounce of bread for
breakfast, which was quite a large meal for them.
Through fifteen weary days and nights of ceaseless rain they
toiled, sometimes through fierce storms of thunder and lightning,
and before terrific seas lashed into foam and fury by swift and
sudden squalls, with only their miserable pittance of bread and
water to keep body and soul together.
In this rain and storm the little sleep they got only added to their
discomfort, save for the brief forgetfulness it brought; for they
had to lie down in water in the bottom of the boat, and with no
covering but the streaming clouds above them.
The captain then advised them to wring their clothes through
sea-water, which they found made them feel much warmer for a time.
On May 17 every one was ill and complaining of great pain, and
begging for more food; but the captain refused to increase their
allowance, though he gave them all a small quantity of rum.
Until the 24th they flew before the wild seas that swept over stem
and stern of their boat and kept them constantly baling.
Some of them now looked more than half dead from starvation, but
no one suffered from thirst, as they had absorbed so much water
through the skin.
A fine morning dawned on the 25th, when they saw the sun for the
first time for fifteen days, and were able to eat their scanty
allowance in more comfort and warmth. In the afternoon there were
numbers of birds called boobies and noddies near, which are never
seen far from land.
The captain took this opportunity to look at the state of their
bread, and found if they did not exceed their allowance there was
enough to last for twenty-nine days, when they hoped to reach Timor.
That afternoon some noddies came so near the boat that one was
caught. These birds are about the size of a small pigeon; it was
divided into eighteen parts and given by lot. The men were much
amused when they saw the beak and claws fall to the lot of the
captain. The bird was eaten, bones and all, with bread and water,
Now they were in calmer seas, they were overtaken by a new trouble.
The heat of the sun became so great that many of them were overcome
by faintness, and lay in the bottom of the boat in an apathetic
state all day, only rousing themselves toward evening, when the
catching of birds was attempted.
On the morning of the 28th the sound of breakers could be heard
plainly; they had reached the Great Barrier Reef, which runs up
much of the east coast of Australia.
After some little time a passage nearly a quartar of a mile in
width was discovered through the reef, and they were carried by a
strong current into the peaceful waters which lie within the Barrier.
For a little time they were so overjoyed that their past troubles
were forgotten. The dull blue-gray lines of the mainland, with its
white patches of glaring sandhills, could be seen in the distance,
and that afternoon they landed on an island.
They found the rocks around it were covered with oysters and huge
clams, which could easily be got at low tide. Some of their party
sent out to reconnoitre returned greatly pleased at having found
plenty of fresh water.
A fire was made by help of a small magnifying-glass. Among the
things thrown into the boat from the ship was a small copper pot;
and thus with a mixture of oysters, bread, and pork a stew was
made, and every one had plenty to eat.
The day after they landed was the 29th of May, the anniversary
of the restoration of King Charles II, and as the captain thought
it applied to their own renewed health and strength, he named it
After a few days' rest, which did much to revive the men, and when
they had filled all their vessels with water and had gathered a
large supply of oysters, they were ready to go on again.
As they were about to start, everybody was ordered to attend prayers,
and as they were embarking about twenty naked savages came running
and shouting toward them, each carrying a long barbed spear, but
the English made all haste to put to sea.
For several days they sailed over the lakelike stillness of the
Barrier reef-bound waters, and past the bold desolations of the
Queensland coast, every headland and bay there bearing the names
Cook gave them only a few years before, and which still tell us by
that nomenclature each its own story of disappointment and hope.
Still making way to the north, they passed many more islands and
keys, the onward passage growing hot and hotter, until on June 3,
when they doubled Cape York, the peninsula which is all but unique
in its northward bend, they were again in the open sea.
By this time many of them were ill with malaria; then for the first
time some of the wine which they had with them was used.
But the little boat still bravely made its way with its crew, whose
faces were so hollow and ghastly that they looked like a crew of
spectres, sailing beneath the scorching sun that beat down from
the pale blue of the cloudless sky upon a sea hardly less blue in
its greater depths. Only the hope that they would soon reach Timor
seemed to rouse them from a state of babbling delirium or fitful
On the 11th the captain told them they had passed the meridian of
the east of Timor; and at three o'clock on the next morning they
sighted the land.
It was on Sunday, June 14, when they arrived at Company Bay, and
were received with every kindness by the people.
Thus ended one of the most remarkable voyages that have ever been
made. They had been sent out with provisions only sufficient for
their number for _five_ days, and Captain Bligh had, by his careful
calculation and determination to give each man only that equal
portion they had agreed to accept, made it last for _fifty_ days,
during which time they had come three thousand six hundred and
eighteen nautical miles.
There had been days when the men were so hunger-driven that they
had besought him with pitiful prayers for more to eat, and when it
was his painful duty to refuse it; and times, as they passed those
islands where plentiful food could be got, when he had to turn a
deaf ear to their longings to land. He had to endure the need of
food, the cramped position, the uneasy slumber, as did his men;
as well as the more perfect knowledge of their dangers. There had
been days and nights while he worked out their bearings when he
had to be propped up as he took the stars or sun.
It was, therefore, Captain Bligh's good seamanship, his strict
discipline and fairness in the method of giving food and wine to
those who were sick, that enabled them to land at Timor with the
whole of their number alive, with the exception of the one man who
was stoned to death by the savages at Tofoa.
THE TWO BOY HOSTAGES AT THE SIEGE OF SERINGAPATAM
In the year 1791, Lord Cornwallis, then Governor-General of India,
made preparations for a final and decisive campaign against Tippoo.
He had not proved himself a successful commander in America, where
he was compelled to surrender himself and army to Washington; but
this time fortune was to follow his arms. His great object was to
capture the principal stronghold of the tyrant, Seringapatam; with
this in view he proceeded to reduce all the intermediate fortresses,
and in February, 1792, appeared in sight of the famous city, in
the dungeons of which many a British soldier had suffered both a
weary imprisonment and a cruel death.
The army gazed with admiration and wonder on this magnificent
Oriental city, its vast extent of embattled walls bristling with
cannon, on the domes of its mosques which rose above them, on the
cupolas of its splendid palaces and the lofty facades of the great
square pagodas. It was garrisoned by no less than 45,000 men,
while beneath its walls were encamped the troops of the sultan. To
attempt the capture of so strong a place seemed an impossibility.
Great indeed would be the issue of the contest between the two hostile
armies. Should the British and their allies be defeated there was
nothing before them but a disastrous retreat over hundreds of miles
of country already laid waste by sword and fire; while if Tippoo
suffered a reverse nothing remained for him but a humiliating
surrender. The ardour of Cornwallis's troops had been kindled by
the stories of the frightful tortures which the despot had practiced
upon his helpless prisoners, and they were passionately desirous
of avenging them.
Although his forces were far inferior in number, Lord Cornwallis
decided upon an immediate attack on the enemy's camp in three
divisions. The evening was calm and beautiful, the moon just rising
to shed her silvery light over the scene, as the troops moved on
in silence, but with hearts beating high with courage and hopes of
Lord Cornwallis himself led the centre division, sword in hand, and
headed several bayonet charges, during which he received a wound
in the hand. The attack took Tippoo by complete surprise. On the
first alarm he rushed from his gorgeous tent and sprang on to his
horse, and as he did so a mass of fugitives thronged past him,
conveying the intelligence that his centre had been penetrated, and
a column was marching to cut off his retreat from the great ford
leading across the river Cauvery to Seringapatam. He had only just
time to make good his escape.
All night the fighting raged, and by morning Tippoo reckoned he
had lost, in killed, wounded, and missing, no less than 23,000 men.
Being unable to recapture his largest--the sultan's--redoubt, he
abandoned all the others, and, in a fit of despair, withdrew his
forces to the island and fortress of Seringapatam, there to make
a last stand.
The besiegers pressed forward with vigour, and on its two
principal sides the city was completely invested. The pioneers and
working-parties were actively at work, and soon turned Tippoo's
wonderful garden into a scene of desolation. The sultan saw that his
situation was becoming desperate, and made an attempt to negotiate,
but at the same time thought to paralyse the efforts of the English
and end the war, by procuring the assassination of their chief. A
number of horsemen, drugged and maddened by _bhang_, vowed to bring
to the sultan the head of his foe, and lay it at his feet as an
offering. They made a dash into the British camp, but before they
could secure their trophy were routed, and most of them slain.
It is impossible to enumerate all the deeds of heroism performed
during the battle and the progress of the siege--the bravery of
Captain Hugh Sibbald, who, with a hundred Highlanders, captured
and defended the sultan's redoubt against innumerable odds; of
the courage of Major Dalrymple, with his Highlanders and Bengal
infantry, who, to draw attention from the working-parties, crossed
the Cauvery, and fell furiously upon Tippoo's cavalry camp. Every
British soldier seemed animated with a dauntless courage. Meantime
a trench had been opened within 800 yards of the walls, and the
advances carried on with spirit and energy. The anger of the Oriental
despot manifested itself by a continual discharge of cannon.
Eighteen days after the battle everything was ready for a grand
attack upon the citadel of Seringapatam. The British soldiers,
flushed with success, and burning to avenge the cruel sufferings and
murders of their countrymen, were eager to commence the assault.
The besieged, crushed, despairing, expected every minute to hear the
roar of the breaching batteries, and to see their stately mosques
in flames. At this moment, so full of anticipation, orders were
issued to cease all acts of hostility. Tippoo had sued for peace;
but at the very instant the order for cessation of firing was
issued, every gun that could be brought to bear upon the trenches,
and the musketry from all available points, were ordered by the
sultan to be fired.
In the treaty which was now drawn up Tippoo not only agreed to
release all his prisoners, but to pay the equivalent of $16,500,000,
yield up half his possessions, and to place in the hands of the
British his two eldest sons, to be retained as hostages till the
due performance of his pledges.
Never before had Indian history presented so touching a spectacle
as that seen on the day when the young princes were delivered into
the hands of their father's conquerors. On the morning of the 26th
of February, twenty days only after the appearance of the British
before the walls, the two youthful hostages, each mounted on a
richly-caparisoned elephant, left the fort. Soldiers and citizens,
stirred by deep sympathy, thronged the ramparts to take one last
look at the two boys. Even the stern and cruel Tippoo himself was
moved, and found it difficult to repress his emotion as, standing
on the bastion above the great entrance, he watched the procession.
When the youthful hostages issued from the fortress the guns of
Seringapatam thundered forth a salute; and as they approached the
British lines they were received with similar honors. Accompanied
by the English negotiator of the terms of peace and a guard of
honour, they were met at the outposts and conveyed to the camp.
"Each was seated in a howdah of chased silver. They were arrayed
in robes of white, with red turbans in which a spray of pearls was
fastened, while jewels and diamonds of great value were around and
suspended from their necks. _Harcarrahs_, or Brahmin messengers
of trust, headed the procession, and seven standard-bearers, each
carrying a small green banner displayed on a rocket-pole. After
these marched 100 pikemen, whose weapons were inlaid with silver.
Their escort was a squadron of cavalry, with 200 sepoy soldiers.
They were received by the troops in line, with presented arms,
drums beating, and officers in front saluting."
Being conducted to the tent of Lord Cornwallis, who stood at the
entrance surrounded by his staff and the various colonels of the
regiments, they descended from their howdahs and approached him.
Embracing them both, he took them by the hand and led them inside.
Although of the respective ages of ten and twelve years, the children
appeared to possess all the politeness and reserve of manhood. The
principal officer of Tippoo, after having formally surrendered them
to the general, said--
"These children were this morning the sons of my master, the sultan.
Their situation is now changed; they must look up to your lordship
as their father."
Early in the year 1794, Tippoo having fulfilled all the terms of
the treaty, the two youthful hostages were restored to their father.
They were conducted by an officer to Deonhully, on a plain near
which the sultan had pitched his tent. The two boys knelt to their
father, placing their heads at his feet. He received them apparently
unmoved, touched their necks, and when they arose pointed to their
seats; and this was all the welcome they publicly received.
THE MAN WHO SPOILED NAPOLEON'S "DESTINY"
By Rev. W. H. Fitchett, LL.D.
From March 18 to May 20, 1799--for more than sixty days and nights,
that is--a little, half-forgotten, and more than half-ruined Syrian
town was the scene of one of the fiercest and most dramatic sieges
recorded in military history. And rarely has there been a struggle
so apparently one-sided.
A handful of British sailors and Turkish irregulars were holding
Acre, a town without regular defences, against Napoleon, the most
brilliant military genius of his generation, with an army of 10,000
war-hardened veterans, the "Army of Italy"--soldiers who had dared
the snows of the Alps and conquered Italy, and to whom victory was
a familiar experience. In their ranks military daring had reached,
perhaps, its very highest point. And yet the sailors inside that
ring of crumbling wall won! At Acre Napoleon experienced his first
defeat; and, years after, at St. Helena, he said of Sir Sidney
Smith, the gallant sailor who baffled him, "That man made me miss
my destiny." It is a curious fact that one Englishman thwarted
Napoleon's career in the East, and another ended his career in
the West, and it may be doubted which of the two Napoleon hated
most--Wellington, who finally overthrew him at Waterloo, or Sidney
Smith, who, to use Napoleon's own words, made him "miss his destiny,"
and exchange the empire of the East for a lonely pinnacle of rock
in the Atlantic.
Sidney Smith was a sailor of the school of Nelson and of Dundonald--a
man, that is, with a spark of that warlike genius which begins where
mechanical rules end. He was a man of singular physical beauty,
with a certain magnetism and fire about him which made men willing
to die for him. He became a middy at the tender age of eleven
years; went through fierce sea-fights, and was actually mate of the
watch when fourteen years old. He was a fellow-middy with William
IV in the fight off Cape St. Vincent, became commander when he was
eighteen years of age, and captain before he was quite nineteen.
But the British marine, even in those tumultuous days, scarcely
yielded enough of the rapture of fighting to this post-captain in his
teens. He took service under the Swedish flag, saw hard fighting
against the Russians, became the close personal friend of the
king, and was knighted by him. One of the feats at this period of
his life with which tradition, with more or less of plausibility,
credits Sidney Smith, is that of swimming by night through the
Russian fleet, a distance of two miles, carrying a letter enclosed
in a bladder to the Swedish admiral.
Sidney Smith afterwards entered the Turkish service. When war broke
out betwixt France and England in 1790, he purchased a tiny craft
at Smyrna, picked up in that port a mixed crew, and hurried to join
Lord Hood, who was then holding Toulon. When the British abandoned
the port--and it is curious to recollect that the duel between
Sidney Smith and Napoleon, which reached its climax at Acre, began
here--Sidney Smith volunteered to burn the French fleet, a task
which he performed with an audacity and skill worthy of Nelson,
and for which the French never forgave him.
Sidney Smith was given the command of an English frigate, and fought
a dozen brilliant fights in the Channel. He carried with his boats
a famous French privateer off Havre de Grace; but during the fight
on the deck of the captured ship it drifted into the mouth of the
Seine above the forts. The wind dropped, the tide was too strong
to be stemmed, and Sidney Smith himself was captured. He had so
harried the French coast that the French refused to treat him as
an ordinary prisoner of war, and threw him Into that forbidding
prison, the Temple, from whose iron-barred windows the unfortunate
sailor watched for two years the horrors of the Reign of Terror
in its last stages, the tossing crowds, the tumbrils rolling past,
crowded with victims for the guillotine. Sidney Smith escaped at
last by a singularly audacious trick. Two confederates, dressed
in dashing uniform, one wearing the dress of an adjutant, and the
other that of an officer of still higher rank, presented themselves
at the Temple with forged orders for the transfer of Sidney Smith.
The governor surrendered his prisoner, but insisted on sending a
guard of six men with him. The sham adjutant cheerfully acquiesced,
but, after a moment's pause, turned to Sidney Smith and said, if he
would give his parole as an officer not to attempt to escape, they
would dispense with the escort. Sidney Smith, with due gravity,
replied to his confederate. "Sir, I swear on the faith of an officer
to accompany you wherever you choose to conduct me." The governor
was satisfied, and the two sham officers proceeded to "conduct"
their friend with the utmost possible despatch to the French coast.
Another English officer who had escaped--Captain Wright--joined
Sidney Smith outside Rouen, and the problem was how to get through
the barriers without a passport. Smith sent Wright on first, and
he was duly challenged for his passport by the sentinel; whereupon
Sidney Smith, with a majestic air of official authority, marched up
and said in faultless Parisian French, "I answer for this citizen,
I know him"; whereupon the deluded sentinel saluted and allowed
them both to pass!
Sidney Smith's escape from the Temple made him a popular hero
in England. He was known to have great influence with the Turkish
authorities, and he was sent to the East in the double office of
envoy-extraordinary to the Porte, and commander of the squadron at
Alexandria. By one of the curious coincidences which marked Sidney
Smith's career, he became acquainted while in the Temple with a
French Royalist officer named Philippeaux, an engineer of signal
ability, and who had been a schoolfellow and a close chum of Napoleon
himself at Brienne. Smith took his French friend with him to the
East, and he played a great part in the defence of Acre. Napoleon
had swept north through the desert to Syria, had captured Gaza and
Jaffa, and was about to attack Acre, which lay between him and his
ultimate goal, Constantinople. Here Sidney Smith resolved to bar
his way, and in his flagship the _Tigre_, with the _Theseus_, under
Captain Miller, and two gunboats, he sailed to Acre to assist in
its defence. Philippeaux took charge of the fortifications, and
thus, in the breaches of a remote Syrian town, the former prisoner
of the Temple and the ancient school friend of Napoleon joined hands
to wreck that dream of a great Eastern empire which lurked in the
cells of Napoleon's masterful intellect.
Acre looks like a blunted arrow-head jutting out from a point in the
Syrian coast. Napoleon could only attack, so to speak, the _neck_
of the arrow, which was protected by a ditch and a weak wall, and
flanked by towers; but Sidney Smith, having command of the sea,
could sweep the four faces of the town with the fire of his guns,
as well as command all the sea-roads in its vicinity. He guessed,
from the delay of the French in opening fire, that they were waiting
for their siege-train to arrive by sea. He kept vigilant watch,
pounced on the French flotilla as it rounded the promontory of Mount
Carmel, captured nine of the vessels, carried them with their guns
and warlike material to Acre, and mounted his thirty-four captured
pieces on the batteries of the town. Thus the disgusted French saw
the very guns which were intended to batter down the defences of
Acre--and which were glorious with the memories of a dozen victories
in Italy--frowning at them, loaded with English powder and shot,
and manned by English sailors.
It is needless to say that a siege directed by Napoleon--the siege
of what he looked upon as a contemptible and almost defenceless
town, the single barrier betwixt his ambition and its goal--was
urged with amazing fire and vehemence. The wall was battered day
and night, a breach fifty feet wide made, and more than twelve
assaults delivered, with all the fire and daring of which French
soldiers, gallantly led, are capable. So sustained was the fighting,
that on one occasion the combat raged in the ditch and on the breach
for _twenty-five_ successive hours. So close and fierce was it that
one half-ruined tower was held by _both_ besiegers and besieged
for twelve hours in succession, and neither would yield. At the
breach, again, the two lines of desperately fighting men on repeated
occasions clashed bayonets together, and wrestled and stabbed and
died, till the survivors were parted by the barrier of the dead
which grew beneath their feet.
Sidney Smith, however, fought like a sailor, and with all the cool
ingenuity and resourcefulness of a sailor. His ships, drawn up on
two faces of the town, smote the French stormers on either flank
till they learned to build up a dreadful screen, made up partly of
stones plucked from the breach, and partly of the dead bodies of
their comrades. Smith, too, perched guns in all sorts of unexpected
positions--a 24-pounder in the lighthouse, under the command of
an exultant middy; two 68-pounders under the charge of "old Bray,"
the carpenter of the _Tigre_, and, as Sidney Smith himself reports,
"one of the bravest and most intelligent men I ever served with";
and yet a third gun, a French brass l8-pounder, in one of the
ravelins, under a master's mate. Bray dropped his shells with the
nicest accuracy in the centre of the French columns as they swept
up the breach, and the middy perched aloft, and the master's mate
from the ravelin, smote them on either flank with case-shot, while
the _Theseus_ and the _Tigre_ added to the tumult the thunder of
their broadsides, and the captured French gunboats contributed the
yelp of their lighter pieces.
The great feature of the siege, however, was the fierceness and
the number of the sorties. Sidney Smith's sorties actually exceeded
in number and vehemence Napoleon's assaults. He broke the strength
of Napoleon's attacks, that is, by anticipating them. A crowd of
Turkish irregulars, with a few naval officers leading them, and a
solid mass of Jack-tars in the centre, would break from a sally-port,
or rush vehemently down through the gap in the wall, and scour the
French trenches, overturn the gabions, spike the guns, and slay the
guards. The French reserves hurried fiercely up, always scourged,
however, by the flank fire of the ships, and drove back the
sortie. But the process was renewed the same night or the next day
with unlessened fire and daring. The French engineers, despairing
of success on the surface, betook themselves to mining; whereupon
the besieged made a desperate sortie and reached the mouth of the
mine. Lieutenant Wright, who led them, and who had already received
two shots in his sword-arm, leaped down the mine followed by his
sailors, slew the miners, destroyed their work, and safely regained
The British sustained one startling disaster. Captain Miller of
the _Theseus_, whose ammunition ran short, carefully collected such
French shells as fell into the town without exploding, and duly
returned them, alight, and supplied with better fuses, to their
original senders. He had collected some seventy shells on the
_Theseus_, and was preparing them for use against the French. The
carpenter of the ship was endeavouring to get the fuses out of the
loaded shells with an auger, and a middy undertook to assist him,
in characteristic middy fashion, with a mallet and a spike-nail. A
huge shell under his treatment suddenly exploded on the quarter-deck
of the _Theseus_, and the other sixty-nine shells followed suit.
The too ingenious middy disappeared into space; forty seamen, with
Captain Miller himself, were killed; and forty-seven, including the
two lieutenants of the ship, the chaplain, and the surgeon, were
seriously wounded. The whole of the poop was blown to pieces, and
the ship was left a wreck with fire breaking out at half-a-dozen
points. The fire was subdued, and the _Theseus_ survived in a
half-gutted condition, but the disaster was a severe blow to Sir
As evening fell on May 7, the white sails of a fleet became visible,
and all firing ceased while besiegers and besieged watched the
approaching ships. Was it a French fleet or a Turkish? Did it
bring succour to the besieged or a triumph to the besiegers? The
approaching ships flew the crescent. It was the Turkish fleet
from Rhodes bringing reinforcements. But the wind was sinking, and
Napoleon, who had watched the approach of the hostile ships with
feelings which may be guessed, calculated that there remained six
hours before they could cast anchor in the bay. Eleven assaults
had been already made, in which eight French generals and the best
officers in every branch of the service had perished. There remained
time for a twelfth assault. He might yet pluck victory from the
very edge of defeat. At ten o'clock that night the French artillery
was brought up close to the counterscarp to batter down the curtain,
and a new breach was made. Lannes led his division against the
shot-wrecked tower, and General Rimbaud took his grenadiers with a
resistless rush through the new breach. All night the combat raged,
the men fighting desperately hand to hand. When the rays of the
level morning sun broke through the pall of smoke which hung sullenly
over the combatants, the tricolour flew on the outer angle of the
tower, and still the ships bringing reinforcements had not reached
the harbour! Sidney Smith, at this crisis, landed every man from
the English ships, and led them, pike in hand, to the breach, and
the shouting and madness of the conflict awoke once more. To use
Sidney Smith's own words, "the muzzles of the muskets touched each
other--the spear-heads were locked together." But Sidney Smith's
sailors, with the brave Turks who rallied to their help, were not
to be denied.
Lannes's grenadiers were tumbled headlong from the tower, Lannes
himself being wounded, while Rimbaud's brave men, who were actually
past the breach, were swept into ruin, their general killed, and
the French soldiers within the breach all captured or slain.
One of the dramatic incidents of the siege was the assault made
by Kleber's troops. They had not taken part in the siege hitherto,
but had won a brilliant victory over the Arabs at Mount Tabor. On
reaching the camp, flushed with their triumph, and seeing how slight
were the apparent defences of the town, they demanded clamorously
to be led to the assault. Napoleon consented. Kleber, who was of
gigantic stature, with a head of hair worthy of a German music-master
or of a Soudan dervish, led his grenadiers to the edge of the breach
and stood there, while with gesture and voice--a voice audible
even above the fierce and sustained crackle of the musketry--he
urged his men on. Napoleon, standing on a gun in the nearest French
battery, watched the sight with eager eyes--the French grenadiers
running furiously up the breach, the grim line of levelled muskets
that barred it, the sudden roar of the English guns as from every
side they smote the staggering French column. Vainly single officers
struggled out of the torn mass, ran gesticulating up the breach,
and died at the muzzles of the British muskets. The men could not
follow, or only died as they leaped forward. The French grenadiers,
still fighting, swearing, and screaming, were swept back past the
point where Kleber stood, hoarse with shouting, black with gunpowder,
furious with rage. The last assault on Acre had failed. The French
sick, field artillery, and baggage silently defiled that night to
the rear. The heavy guns were buried in the sand, and after sixty
days of open trenches Napoleon, for the first time in his life,
though not for the last, ordered a retreat.
Napoleon buried in the breaches of Acre not merely 3,000 of his
bravest troops, but the golden dream of his life. "In that miserable
fort," as he said, "lay the fate of the East." Napoleon expected
to find in it the pasha's treasures, and arms for 300,000 men.
"When I have captured it," he said to Bourrienne, "I shall march
upon Damascus and Aleppo. I shall arm the tribes; I shall reach
Constantinople; I shall overturn the Turkish Empire; I shall found
in the East a new and grand empire. Perhaps I shall return to Paris
by Adrianople and Vienna!" Napoleon was cheerfully willing to pay
the price of what religion he had to accomplish this dream. He was
willing, that is, to turn Turk. "Had I but captured Acre," Napoleon
added, "I would have reached Constantinople and the Indies; I would
have changed the face of the world. But that man made me miss my
A FIRE-FIGHTER'S RESCUE FROM THE FLAMES
By Arthur Quiller-Couch
About a hundred years ago, long before James Braidwood had arisen
to organise the fire-brigades of Edinburgh and London and set the
example which has since been followed by every town in the civilised
world, late on a dark afternoon a young stableman, John Elliot by
name, was sauntering carelessly homewards down Piccadilly, London,
when a glare in the sky, the confused murmurs of a large crowd,
and the hurrying footsteps of pedestrians who passed him, told of
a not distant fire.
Following the footsteps of the passers-by, he found himself in one
of the side streets leading off Piccadilly, and there at the end
of the street, a large house was blazing furiously. He worked his
way vigorously through the spectators, now so densely gathered as
to form a living wedge in the narrow street and block it against all
traffic, and at length found himself in a position to see clearly
the ruin that had already been wrought on the burning pile.
As a matter of fact, all was pretty well over with the house. How
far the upper storeys were intact he had little means of judging;
but he saw that the ceilings of the first and second floors had
given way, and also that the fire was running along the rafters of
the floor above. Flames were pouring from half a dozen windows. He
turned to a man who stood next him in the concourse.
"The house is nearly done for," he remarked.
"Quite," replied the man. "You see it is burned through, and it
is only a question of minutes before the roof must tumble in. The
firemen do not dare to make any further attempt. It is a dreadful
"Why, don't you know? This is Lady Dover's house--poor old soul!
and she is still there, in the top room. No one can save her now,
but it is a hideous death all the same."
Elliot looked about him and now understood the pallor on the upturned
faces of the crowd. He looked at the house again. The whole street
was wrapped in a crimson mist; the falling streams of water which
the firemen still continued to direct on the blaze were hissing
impotently, and seemed only to feed the fire. In the crowd that
watched there was hardly a sound; one could almost hear men's hearts
beating as they waited for the conclusion of the tragedy which
they knew to be inevitable. But further down the street, where it
was not understood that human life was at stake in the midst of
this spectacle, rose the sounds of girls laughing, men quarrelling
and fighting, whistling, oaths, and merriment. Caps were flying
about, and the mass was jostling and swaying to and fro, as before
Newgate on a Monday morning.
"Do you mean to say," asked Elliot, after a moment, "that the poor
old lady is up there and nobody is going to save her?"
"What's the use?" answered the man. "If you think it possible,
better try for yourself." But this reply was not heard, for the
young stableman had already begun to push his way forward to the
group of firemen that stood watching the conflagration in despair.
He was a man of extraordinary strength, and now with a set purpose
to inspire him still further, he scattered the crowd to right and
left, elbowing, pushing, and thrusting, until he stood before the
firemen and repeated his question.
He met with the same answer. "It was impossible," they said.
Everything had been done that could be, and now there was nothing
but to wait for the end.
"But it is a question of human life," he objected.
In reply they merely pointed to the flame-points now running along
every yard of woodwork still left in the building.
Elliot caught a ladder from their hands and, running forward with
it, planted it firmly against the house. He had to choose his place
carefully, as almost every one of the windows above was belching
out an angry blaze.
"Which is the window where they were last seen?" he asked.
The firemen pointed. The crowd at length finding that a brave man
was going to risk his life, raised a cheer as they caught sight of
him, and standing on tiptoe, peered over each other's shoulders to
get a better view of the work that was forward.
"Now then," said Elliot, "don't try to stop the flames, for that
is useless, but keep the water playing on the ladder all the time."
He slipped off his shoes, and amid another cheer from the crowd,
dashed up it as quick as thought. The window to which the fireman
had pointed was clear of flames. On gaining it, Elliot sprang on
to the sill and jumped down into the room.
It was lighted brilliantly enough by the glow from the street, and
through the dense smoke that was already beginning to fill it he
saw two figures.
Both were women, and for a moment the gallant man doubted that he
had come in time; for so still and motionless were they that it
seemed as if the smoke must have already stifled them, and left them
in these startling attitudes. One--a very old lady--was kneeling
by the bedside, her head bent forward in despair, her hands flung
out over the counterpane. The other--a tall, heavy-looking woman--was
standing bolt upright by the window. Neither spoke nor stirred,
and the kneeling woman did not even raise her head at the noise
of his entrance; the other, with eyes utterly expressionless and
awful, supported herself with one hand against the wall, and gazed
at him speechlessly. Awestruck by this sight, Elliot had to pause
a moment before he found his speech.
"Which is Lady Dover?" he cried at last.
The kneeling woman lifted her head, saw him, and with a cry, or
rather a smothered exclamation of hope, got upon her feet and ran
forward to him. He hurried her to the window. She obeyed him in
silence, for it was clear that terror had robbed her tongue of all
articulate speech. He clambered out, turned on the topmost rung,
and flinging an arm round her waist, was lifting her out, when the
other figure stepped forward and set a hand on his shoulder. The
look on this woman's face was now terrible. Something seemed working
in her throat and the muscles of her face: it was her despair
struggling with her paralysed senses for speech.
"Me too," she at length managed to mutter hoarsely; but the sound
when it came was, as Elliot afterwards declared, like nothing in
heaven or earth.
"If life is left in me, I will come back for you," he cried.
But his heart failed him when he saw the distance he should have
to go, and still more when he noted her size. For the ladder was
slippery from the water which the firemen kept throwing upon it, and
which alone saved it from catching on fire. Moreover, the clouds
of smoke in the room had thickened considerably since his entrance,
and it could not be many minutes now before the floor gave way, or
the roof crashed in, or both. He had felt his feet scorched through
his stockings, when he set foot on the boards.
Down in the street the crowd had increased enormously; gentlemen from
the clubs, waiters and loungers from a distance had all gathered
to look. As Elliot descended the ladder with his burden a frantic
storm of cheering broke forth--for every soul present understood
the splendid action that had just been performed; and the crush
around the foot of the ladder of those who pressed forward to
express their admiration was terrific.
But they knew, of course, nothing of the stout lady still left in
the bedroom; and when Elliot, heedless of the cheers and hand-shakes that
met him, flung Lady Dover into the arms of the nearest bystander,
and turned again towards the ladder, they were utterly at a loss
to understand what he could be about.
But he kept his word, A dead hush fell again upon the spectators,
as once more the brave man dashed up the ladder, upon which the
firemen had ceased now to play. Half-way up he turned.
"Keep on at the pumps!" he called; and then again was up to
the window and looked in. The lady had still preserved her former
attitude, though leaning now further back against the wall and
panting for breath in the stifling smoke. He put his hand out to
"Catch hold of my neck and hold tightly round it," he said.
But again she was speechless and helpless. Her eyes lit up as she
saw him, but beyond this she hardly seemed to understand his words.
Elliot groaned, and finding, after another trial, that she did not
comprehend, boldly reached in and grasped her round the waist.
She was heavier even than he had imagined, and for one fearful
moment, as he stood poised on the topmost rung, he thought that
all was over. It seemed impossible that they should ever reach the
ground except by tumbling off the ladder. By a superhuman effort,
however, he managed to drag her out, and then clasping her waist
with one arm, whilst with the other he held on like grim death, he
hung breathless for a moment, and then began slowly to descend.
Up to this point there had been no sound in the street below. But
now, as the watchers saw his feet moving down the ladder, their
enthusiasm broke out in one deep sigh, followed by yells and shouts
of admiration. As the young stableman slowly descended, and finally,
by God's mercy, reached the ground with his burden, these feelings
broke all bounds. Men rushed round him; guineas were poured by the
handful into his pockets; and when these and his hands were full,
the gold was even stuffed into his mouth.
But, in the midst of this excitement, a sudden crash caused the
spectators to look upwards again. It was the roof of the house
that had fallen in, only a minute after Elliot had set his foot
upon the ground.
The lady whom he had saved by this second brave ascent was a relative
of Lady Dover, by name Mile, von Hompesch. It is pleasant to hear
that her preserver was rewarded by the family of Lady Dover, who
bestowed a pension upon him. At a later period he was in the service
of the first Lord Braybrooke, and this narrative was preserved by
a member of the family who had often heard Elliot relate it. Like
all brave men, he never spoke vaingloriously of his exploit; but
always professed great gratitude for his reward, which seemed to
him considerably higher than his deserts.
HOW NAPOLEON REWARDED HIS MEN
By Lieutenant-General Baron de Marbot
After crossing the Traun, burning the bridge at Mauthhausen, and
passing the Enns, Napoleon's army advanced to Mölk, without knowing
what had become of General Hiller. Some spies assured us that the
archduke had crossed the Danube and joined him, and that we should
on the morrow meet the whole Austrian army, strongly posted in
front of Saint-Pölten. In that case, we must make ready to fight
a great battle; but if it were otherwise, we had to march quickly
on Vienna in order to get there before the enemy could reach it by
the other bank. For want of positive information the emperor was
very undecided. The question to be solved was, Had General Hiller
crossed the Danube, or was he still in front of us, masked by a
swarm of light cavalry, which, always flying, never let us get near
enough to take a prisoner from whom one might get some enlightenment?
Still knowing nothing for certain, we reached, on May 7, the pretty
little town of Mölk, standing on the bank of the Danube, and overhung
by an immense rock, on the summit of which rises a Benedictine
convent, said to be the finest and richest in Christendom. From the
rooms of the monastery a wide view is obtained over both banks of
the Danube. There the emperor and many marshals, including Lannes,
took up their quarters, while our staff lodged with the parish
priest. Much rain had fallen during the week, and it had not ceased
for twenty-four hours and still was falling, so that the Danube and
its tributaries were over their banks. That night, as my comrades
and I, delighted at being sheltered from the bad weather, were
having a merry supper with the parson, a jolly fellow, who gave us
an excellent meal, the aide-de-camp on duty with the marshal came
to tell me that I was wanted, and must go up to the convent that
moment. I was so comfortable where I was that I found it annoying
to have to leave a good supper and good quarters to go and get wet
again, but I had to obey.
All the passages and lower rooms of the monastery were full of
soldiers. On reaching the dwelling-rooms, I saw that I had been
sent for about some serious matter, for generals, chamberlains,
orderly officers, said to me repeatedly, "The emperor has sent for
you." Some added, "It is probably to give you your commission as
major." This I did not believe, for I did not think I was yet of
sufficient importance to the sovereign for him to send for me at
such an hour to give me my commission with his own hands. I was shown
into a vast and handsome gallery, with a balcony looking over the
Danube; there I found the emperor at dinner with several marshals
and the abbot of the convent, who has the title of bishop. On
seeing me, the emperor left the table, and went toward the balcony,
followed by Lannes. I heard him say in a low tone, "The execution
of this plan is almost impossible; it would be sending a brave
officer for no purpose to almost certain death." "He will go, sir,"
replied the marshal; "I am certain he will go: at any rate we can
but propose it to him."
Then, taking me by the hand, the marshal opened the window of the
balcony over the Danube. The river at this moment, trebled in volume
by the strong flood, was nearly a league wide; it was lashed by a
fierce wind, and we could hear the waves roaring. It was pitch-dark,
and the rain fell in torrents, but we could see on the other side
a long line of bivouac fires. Napoleon, Marshal Lannes, and I being
alone on the balcony, the marshal said, "On the other side of the
river you see an Austrian camp. Now, the emperor is keenly desirous
to know whether General Hiller's corps is there, or still on this
bank. In order to make sure he wants a stout-hearted man, bold enough
to cross the Danube, and bring away some soldier of the enemy's,
and I have assured him that you will go." Then Napoleon said to me,
"Take notice that I am not giving you an order; I am only expressing
a wish. I am aware that the enterprise is as dangerous as it can
be, and you can decline it without any fear of displeasing me. Go,
and think it over for a few moments in the next room; come back
and tell us frankly your decision."
I admit that when I heard Marshal Lannes's proposal I had broken
out all over in a cold sweat; but at the same moment, a feeling
which I cannot define, but in which a love of glory and of my
country was mingled, perhaps, with a noble pride, raised my ardor
to the highest point, and I said to myself, "The emperor has here
an army of 150,000 devoted warriors, besides 25,000 men of his guard,
all selected from the bravest. He is surrounded with aides-de-camp
and orderly officers, and yet when an expedition is on foot, requiring
intelligence no less than boldness, it is I whom the emperor and
Marshal Lannes choose." "I will go, sir," I cried, without hesitation.
"I will go; and if I perish, I leave my mother to your Majesty's
care." The emperor pulled my ear to mark his satisfaction; the
marshal shook my hand--"I was quite right to tell your Majesty that
he would go. There's what you may call a brave soldier."
My expedition being thus decided on, I had to think about the
means of executing it. The emperor called General Bertrand, his
aide-de-camp, General Dorsenne, of the guard, and the commandant of
the imperial headquarters, and ordered them to put at my disposal
whatever I might require. At my request an infantry picket went
into the town to find the burgomaster, the leader of the boatmen,
and five of his best hands. A corporal and five grenadiers of the
old guard who could all speak German, and had still to earn their
decoration, were also summoned, and voluntarily agreed to go with
me. The emperor had them brought in first, and promised that on
their return they should receive the Cross at once. The brave men
replied by a "Vive l'Empereur!" and went to get ready. As for the
five boatmen, on its being explained to them through the interpreter
that they had to take a boat across the Danube, they fell on their
knees and began to weep. The leader declared that they might just
as well be shot at once as sent to certain death. The expedition was
absolutely impossible, not only from the strength of the current,
but because the tributaries had brought into the Danube a great
quantity of fir trees recently cut down in the mountains, which
could not be avoided in the dark, and would certainly come against
the boat and sink it. Besides, how could one land on the opposite
bank among willows which would scuttle the boat, and with a flood
of unknown extent? The leader concluded, then, that the operation
was physically impossible. In vain did the emperor tempt them
with an offer of 6,000 francs per man; even this could not persuade
them, though, as they said, they were poor boatmen with families,
and this sum would be a fortune to them. But, as I have already
said, some lives must be sacrificed to save those of the greater
number, and the knowledge of this makes commanders sometimes
pitiless. The emperor was inflexible, and the grenadiers received
orders to take the poor men, whether they would or not, and we went
down to the town.
The corporal who had been assigned to me was an intelligent man.
Taking him for my interpreter, I charged him as we went along to
tell the leader of the boatmen that as he had to come along with
us, he had better in his own interest show us his best boat, and
point out everything that we should require for her fitting. The
poor man obeyed; so we got an excellent vessel, and we took all
that we wanted from the others. We had two anchors, but as I did
not think we should be able to make use of them, I had sewn to the
end of each cable a piece of canvas with a large stone wrapped in
it. I had seen in the south of France the fishermen use an apparatus of
this kind to hold their boats by throwing the cord over the willows
at the water's edge. I put on a cap, the grenadiers took their forage
caps, we had provisions, ropes, axes, saws, a ladder--everything,
in short, which I could think of to take.
Our preparations ended, I was going to give the signal to start,
when the five boatmen implored me with tears to let the soldiers
escort them to their houses, to take perhaps the last farewell of
their wives and children; but, fearing that a tender scene of this
kind would further reduce their small stock of courage, I refused.
Then the leader said, "Well, as we have only a short time to live,
allow us five minutes to commend our souls to God, and do you do
the same, for you also are going to your death." They all fell on
their knees, the grenadiers and I following their example, which
seemed to please the worthy people much. When their prayer was
over, I gave each man a glass of wine, and we pushed out into the
I had bidden the grenadiers follow in silence all the orders of
the syndic, or leader, who was steering; the current was too strong
for us to cross over straight from Mölk: we went up, therefore,
along the bank under sail for more than a league, and although the
wind and the waves made the boat jump, this part was accomplished
without accident. But when the time came to take to our oars and
row out from the land, the mast, on being lowered, fell over to
one side, and the sail, dragging in the water, offered a strong
resistance to the current and nearly capsized us. The master ordered
the ropes to be cut and the masts to be sent overboard: but the
boatmen, losing their heads, began to pray without stirring. Then
the corporal, drawing his sword, said, "You can pray and work too;
obey at once, or I will kill you." Compelled to choose between
possible and certain death, the poor fellows took up their hatchets,
and with the help of the grenadiers, the mast was promptly cut away
and sent floating. It was high time, for hardly were we free from
this dangerous burden when we felt a fearful shock. A pine-stem
borne down by the stream had struck the boat. We all shuddered, but
luckily the planks were not driven in this time. Would the boat,
however, resist more shocks of this kind? We could not see the
stems, and only knew that they were near by the heavier tumble of
the waves. Several touched us, but no serious accident resulted.
Meantime the current bore us along, and as our oars could make very
little way against it to give us the necessary slant, I feared for
a moment that it would sweep us below the enemy's camp, and that
my expedition would fail. By dint of hard rowing, however, we had
got three-quarters of the way over, when I saw an immense black
mass looming over the water. Then a sharp scratching was heard,
branches caught us in the face, and the boat stopped. To our questions
the owner replied that we were on an island covered with willows
and had succeeded in passing the obstacle, we found the stream much
less furious than in the middle of the river, and finally reached
the left bank in front of the Austrian camp. This shore was bordered
with very thick trees, which, overhanging the bank like a dome, made
the approach difficult, no doubt, but at the same time concealed our
boat from the camp. The whole shore was lighted up by the bivouac
fires, while we remained in the shadow thrown by the branches of
the willows. I let the boat float downward, looking for a suitable
landing-place. Presently I perceived that a sloping path had been
made down the bank by the enemy to allow the men and horses to get
to the water. The corporal adroitly threw into the willows one of
the stones that I had made ready, the cord caught in a tree, and
the boat brought up against the land a foot or two from the slope.
It must have been just about midnight. The Austrians, having the
swollen Danube between them and the French, felt themselves so
secure that, except the sentry, the whole camp was asleep.
It is usual in war for the guns and the sentinels always to face
toward the enemy, however far off he may be. A battery placed
in advance of the camp was therefore turned toward the river, and
sentries were walking on the top of the bank. The trees prevented
them from seeing the extreme edge, while from the boat I could see
through the branches a great part of the bivouac. So far my mission
had been more successful than I had ventured to hope, but in order
to make the success complete I had to bring away a prisoner, and
to execute such an operation fifty paces away from several thousand
enemies, whom a single cry would rouse, seemed very difficult.
Still, I had to do something. I made the five sailors lie down
at the bottom of the boat under guard of two grenadiers, another
grenadier I posted at the bow of the boat, which was close to the
bank, and myself disembarked, sword in hand, followed by the corporal
and two grenadiers. The boat was a few feet from dry land; we had
to walk in the water, but at last we were on the slope. We went up,
and I was making ready to rush on the nearest sentry, disarm him,
gag him, and drag him off to the boat, when the ring of metal and
the sound of singing in a low voice fell on my ears. A man, carrying
a great tin pail, was coming to draw water, humming a song as he
went; we quickly went down again to the river to hide under the
branches, and as the Austrian stooped to fill his pail, my grenadiers
seized him by the throat, put a handkerchief full of wet sand
over his mouth, and placing their sword-points against his body,
threatened him with death if he resisted or uttered a sound.
Utterly bewildered, the man obeyed, and let us take him to the boat;
we hoisted him into the hands of the grenadiers posted there, who
made him lie down beside the sailors. While this Austrian was lying
captured, I saw by his clothes that he was not, strictly speaking,
a soldier, but an officer's servant. I should have preferred to
catch a combatant who could have given me more precise information;
but I was going to content myself with this capture for want of a
better, when I saw, at the top of the slope, two soldiers carrying a
caldron between them on a pole. They were only a few paces off. It
was impossible for us to re-embark without being seen. I therefore
signed to my grenadiers to hide themselves again, and as soon as
the two Austrians stooped to fill their vessel, powerful arms seized
them from behind and plunged their heads under water. We had to
stupefy them a little, since they had their swords, and I feared
that they might resist. Then they were picked up in turn, their
mouths covered with a handkerchief full of sand, and sword-points
against their breasts constrained them to follow us. They were shipped
as the servant had been, and my men and I got on board again.
So far, all had gone well. I made the sailors get up and take their
oars, and ordered the corporal to cast loose the rope which held
us to the bank. It was, however, so wet, and the knot had been
drawn so tight by the force of the stream, that it was impossible
to unfasten. We had to saw the rope, which took us some minutes.
Meanwhile, the rope, shaking with our efforts, imparted its movement
to the branches of the willow round which it was wrapped, and the
rustling became loud enough to attract the notice of the sentry. He
drew near, unable to see the boat, but perceiving that the agitation
of the branches increased, he called out, "Who goes there?" No
answer. Further challenge from the sentry. We held our tongues and
worked away. I was in deadly fear; after facing so many dangers,
it would have been too cruel if we were wrecked in sight of port.
At last the rope was cut, and the boat pushed off. But hardly was
it clear of the overhanging willows than the light of the bivouac
fires made it visible to the sentry, who, shouting "To arms!" fired
at us. No one was hit; but at the sound the whole camp was astir
in a moment, and the gunners, whose pieces were ready loaded and
trained on the river, honored my boat with some cannon-shots. At
the report my heart leaped for joy, for I knew that the emperor and
marshal would hear it. I turned my eyes toward the convent, with
its lighted windows, of which I had, in spite of the distance,
never lost sight. Probably all were open at this moment, but in
one only could I perceive any increase of brilliancy; it was the
great balcony window, which was as large as the doorway of a church,
and sent from afar a flood of light over the stream. Evidently, it
had just been opened at the thunder of the cannon, and I said to
myself, "The emperor and the marshals are doubtless on the balcony;
they know that I have reached the enemy's camp, and are making vows
for my safe return." This thought raised my courage, and I heeded
the cannon-balls not a bit. Indeed, they were not very dangerous,
for the stream swept us along at such a pace that the gunners could
not aim with any accuracy, and we must have been very unlucky to
get hit. One shot would have done for us, but all fell harmless into
the Danube. Soon I was out of range, and could reckon a successful
issue to my enterprise. Still, all danger was not yet at an end.
We had still to cross among the floating pine-stems, and more
than once we struck on submerged islands, and were delayed by the
branches of the poplars. At last we reached the right bank, more than
two leagues below Mölk, and a new terror assailed me. I could see
bivouac fires, and had no means of learning whether they belonged
to a French regiment. The enemy had troops on both banks, and I
knew that on the right bank Marshal Lannes's outposts were not far
from Mölk, facing an Austrian corps, posted at Saint-Pölten.
Our army would doubtless go forward at daybreak, but was it already
occupying this place? And were the fires that I saw those of friends
or enemies? I was afraid that the current had taken me too far
down, but the problem was solved by French cavalry trumpets sounding
the reveillé. Our uncertainty being at an end, we rowed with all
our strength to the shore, where in the dawning light we could
see a village. As we drew near, the report of a carbine was heard,
and a bullet whistled by our ears. It was evident that the French
sentries took us for a hostile crew. I had not foreseen this
possibility, and hardly knew how we were to succeed in getting
recognized, till the happy thought struck me of making my six
grenadiers shout "Vive l'Empereur Napoléon!" This was, of course,
no certain evidence that we were French, but it would attract the
attention of the officers, who would have no fear of our small
numbers, and would no doubt prevent the men from firing on us before
they knew whether we were French or Austrians. A few moments later
I came ashore, and I was received by Colonel Gautrin and the 9th
Hussars, forming part of Lannes's division. If we had landed half
a league lower down we should have tumbled into the enemy's pickets.
The colonel lent me a horse, and gave me several wagons, in which
I placed the grenadiers, the boatmen, and the prisoners, and the
little cavalcade went off toward Molk. As we went along, the corporal,
at my orders, questioned the three Austrians, and I learned with
satisfaction that the camp whence I had brought them away belonged
to the very division, General Hiller's, the position of which the
emperor was so anxious to learn. There was, therefore, no further
doubt that that general had joined the archduke on the other side
of the Danube. There was no longer any question of a battle on the
road which we held, and Napoleon, having only the enemy's cavalry
in front of him, could in perfect safety push his troops forward
toward Vienna, from which we were but three easy marches distant.
With this information I galloped, forward, in order to bring it to
the emperor with the least possible delay.
When I reached the gate of the monastery, it was broad day. I found
the approach blocked by the whole population of the little town of
Molk, and heard among the crowd the cries of the wives, children,
and friends of the sailors whom I had carried off. In a moment I was
surrounded by them, and was able to calm their anxiety by saying,
in very bad German, "Your friends are alive, and you will see
them in a few moments." A great cry of joy went up from the crowd,
bringing out the officer in command of the guard at the gate. On
seeing me he ran off in pursuance of orders to warn the aides-de-camp
to let the emperor know of my return. In an instant the whole palace
was up. The good Marshal Lannes came to me, embraced me cordially,
and carried me straight off to the emperor, crying out, "Here he
is, sir; I knew he would come back. He has brought three prisoners
from General Hiller's division." Napoleon received me warmly, and
though I was wet and muddy all over, he laid his hand on my shoulder,
and did not forget to give his greatest sign of satisfaction by
pinching my ear. I leave you to imagine how I was questioned! The
emperor wanted to know every incident of the adventure in detail,
and when I had finished my story said, "I am very well pleased with
you, 'Major' Marbot." These words were equivalent to a commission,
and my joy was full. At that moment, a chamberlain announced that
breakfast was served, and as I was calculating on having to wait
in the gallery until the emperor had finished, he pointed with his
finger toward the dining-room, and said, "You will breakfast with
me." As this honor had never been paid to any officer of my rank,
I was the more flattered. During breakfast I learned that the emperor
and the marshal had not been to bed all night, and that when they
heard the cannon on the opposite bank they had all rushed onto
the balcony. The emperor made me tell again the way in which I had
surprised the three prisoners, and laughed much at the fright and
surprise which they must have felt.
At last, the arrival of the wagons was announced, but they had much
difficulty in making their way through the crowd, so eager were the
people to see the boatmen. Napoleon, thinking this very natural,
gave orders to open the gates, and let everybody come into the
court. Soon after, the grenadiers, the boatmen, and the prisoners
were led into the gallery. The emperor, through his interpreter,
first questioned the three Austrian soldiers, and learning with
satisfaction that not only General Hiller's corps, but the whole
of the archduke's army, were on the other bank, he told Berthier
to give the order for the troops to march at once on Saint-Polten.
Then, calling up the corporal and the five soldiers, he fastened
the Cross on their breast, appointed them knights of the empire,
and gave them an annuity of 1,200 francs apiece. All the veterans
wept for joy. Next came the boatmen's turn. The emperor told them
that, as the danger they had run was a good deal more than he had
expected, it was only fair that he should increase their reward;
so instead of the 6,000 francs promised, 12,000 in gold were given
to them on the spot. Nothing could express their delight; they
kissed the hands of the emperor and all present, crying, "Now we
are rich!" Napoleon laughingly asked the leader if he would go the
same journey for the same price the next night. But the man answered
that, having escaped by miracle what seemed certain death, he would
not undertake such a journey again even if his lordship, the abbot
of Molk, would give him the monastery and all its possessions. The
boatmen withdrew, blessing the generosity of the French emperor,
and the grenadiers, eager to show off their decoration before their
comrades, were about to go off with their three prisoners, when
Napoleon perceived that the Austrian servant was weeping bitterly.
He reassured him as to his safety, but the poor lad replied, sobbing,
that he knew the French treated their prisoners well, but that, as
he had on him a belt containing nearly all his captain's money, he
was afraid that the officer would accuse him of deserting in order
to rob him, and he was heart-broken at the thought. Touched by the
worthy fellow's distress, the emperor told him that he was free,
and as soon as we were before Vienna he would be passed through
the outposts, and be able to return to his master. Then, taking a
rouleau of 1,000 francs, he put it in the man's hand, saying, "One
must honor goodness wherever it is shown." Lastly, the emperor
gave some pieces of gold to each of the other two prisoners, and
ordered that they too should be sent back to the Austrian outposts,
so that they might forget the fright which we had caused them.
A RESCUE FROM SHIPWRECK
By Arthur Quiller-Couch
On the 13th of October, 1811, we were cruising in the _Endymion_,
off the north of Ireland, in a fine clear day succeeding one in
which it had almost blown a hurricane. The master had just taken
his meridian observation, the officer of the watch had reported
the latitude, the captain had ordered it to be made twelve o'clock,
and the boatswain, catching a word from the lieutenant, was in the
full swing of his "Pipe to dinner!" when the captain called out--
"Stop! stop! I meant to go about first."
"Pipe belay! Mr. King," smartly ejaculated the officer of the watch,
addressing the boatswain; which words, being heard over the decks,
caused a sudden cessation of the sounds peculiar to that hungry
season. The cook stood with a huge six-pound piece of pork uplifted
on his tormentors, his mate ceased to bale out the pea-soup, and
the whole ship seemed paralysed. The boatswain, having checked
himself in the middle of his long-winded dinner-tune, drew a fresh
inspiration, and dashed off into the opposite sharp, abrupt, cutting
sound of the "Pipe belay!" the essence of which peculiar note is
that its sounds should be understood and acted on with the utmost
degree of promptitude.
There was now a dead pause of perfect silence all over the ship,
in expectation of what was to come next. All eyes were turned to
"No; never mind; we'll wait," cried the good-natured captain,
unwilling to interfere with the comforts of the men; "let them go
to dinner; we shall tack at one o'clock, it will do just as well."
The boatswain, at a nod from the lieutenant of the watch, at once
recommenced his merry "Pipe to dinner" notes; upon which a loud,
joyous laugh rang from one end of the ship to the other. This
hearty burst was not in the slightest degree disrespectful; on
the contrary, it sounded like a grateful expression of glee at the
prospect of the approaching good things which, by this time, were
finding their speedy course down the hatchways.
Nothing was now heard but the cheerful chuckle of a well-fed company,
the clatter of plates and knives, and the chit-chat of light hearts
under the influence of temperate excitement.
When one o'clock came, the hands were called "About ship!" But as
the helm was in the very act of going down, the look-out-man at
the fore-topmast head called out--
"I see something a little on the lee-bow, sir!"
"Something! What do you mean by 'something'?" cried the first
lieutenant, making a motion to the quarter-master at the con to
right the helm again.
"I don't know what it is, sir," cried the man; "it is black,
"Black! Is it like a whale?" asked the officer, playing a little
with his duty.
"Yes, sir," cried the look-out-man, unconscious that Shakespeare
had been before him, "very like a whale!"
The captain and the officer exchanged glances at the poor fellow
aloft having fallen into the trap laid for him, and the temptation
must have been great to have inquired whether it were not "like a
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