The Real America in Romance, Volume 6; A Century Too Soon (A Story
John R. Musick
Part 1 out of 6
THE REAL AMERICA IN ROMANCE, VOLUME VI, A CENTURY TOO SOON
The Age of Tyranny
JOHN R. MUSICK
FREELAND A. CARTER
WHO SHARES MY JOYS AND SORROWS, TOILS AND CARES,
IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED
Historians have bestowed little attention to that important period in
our great commonwealth, just after the restoration in England. Though
one hundred years before liberty was actually obtained, the sleeping
goddess seemed to have opened her eyes on that occasion and yawned,
though she closed them the next moment for a sleep of a century longer.
Events produce such strange and lasting impressions on individuals as
well as on nations, that the historian may not be much out of the way,
who fancies that he sees in the reign of Cromwell the outgrowth of
republicanism, which culminated in the establishment of a free and
independent English-speaking people on the American continent. The two
principal classes of English colonists were the cavaliers and the
Puritans, though there were also Quakers, Catholics, and settlers of
other creeds. Generally the cavaliers were the "king's men," or
royalists, and the Puritans republicans. The different characteristics
of these two sects were quite marked. The Puritans were sober and
industrious, quiet, fanatically religious and strict, while the
cavaliers were polite, gallant, brave, good livers and quite fond of
display. They were nearly all of the Church of England, with rather
loose morals, fond of fox-hunting and gay society. During the time of
the Commonwealth of England, the Puritans were in power, and the king's
people, cavaliers, or royalists were reinstated on the restoration of
monarchy in 1660.
Sir William Berkeley, a bigoted churchman, a lover of royalty, and one
who despised, republicanism and personal liberty so heartily that he
could "thank God that there were neither printing-presses nor public
schools in Virginia," was appointed by Charles II. governor of Virginia.
Berkeley, whose early career was bright with promise, seems in his old
age to have become filled with hatred and avarice. He was too stubborn
to listen to the counsel even of friends. Being engaged in a profitable
traffic with the Indians, he preferred to let them slaughter the people
on the frontier, rather than to allow his business to be interfered
with. Berkeley's tyranny was carried to such an extreme, that rebellion
was the natural consequence. Rebellion always follows some injury or
misplaced confidence in the powers of the government. This rebellion
came a "century too soon," being just one hundred years before the great
revolution, which set at liberty all the colonies of North America.
In this story we take up John Stevens and his son Robert, the son and
grandson of Philip Stevens, whose story was told in "Pocahontas." The
object has been to give a complete history of the period and to depict
home life, manners and customs of the time in the form of a pleasing
story. It remains for the reader to say if the effort has been
JOHN R. MUSICK.
KIRKSVILLE, MO., August 1st, 1892.
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
CHAPTER I. THE DUCKING STOOL
CHAPTER II. SEEKING BETTER FORTUNE
CHAPTER III. THE COLONIES OF THE NEW WORLD
CHAPTER IV. THE STORM AND SHIPWRECK
CHAPTER V. JOHN STEVENS' CHARGE
CHAPTER VI. THE ISLAND OF DESOLATION
CHAPTER VII. IN WIDOW'S WEEDS
CHAPTER VIII. THE STEPFATHER
CHAPTER IX. THE MOVING WORLD
CHAPTER X. THE FUGITIVE AND HIS CHILD
CHAPTER XI. TYRANNY AND FLIGHT
CHAPTER XII. THE DAUGHTER OF A REGICIDE
CHAPTER XIII. LEFT ALONE
CHAPTER XIV. THE TREASURE SHIP
CHAPTER XV. THE ANGEL OF DELIVERANCE
CHAPTER XVI. KING PHILIP'S WAR
CHAPTER XVII. NEARING THE VERGE
CHAPTER XVIII. THE SWORD OF DEFENCE
CHAPTER XIX. THE MYSTERIOUS STRANGER
CHAPTER XX. BACON A REBEL
CHAPTER XXI. BURNING OF JAMESTOWN
CHAPTER XXII. VENGEANCE WITH A VENGEANCE
CHAPTER XXIII. CONCLUSION
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS:
His tired child was at his side uncomplainingly
"I'll scratch your eyes out!"
Once more he bent over the sleeping children
Kieft from the ramparts watched the burning wigwams
The squaw, with a yell of fear, wheeled to fly for her life
Blanche could not utter a word of consolation
"Peter the Headstrong," unable to control his passion, tore the letter
Tomb of Stuyvesant
The door was thrown open, and the boy Robert entered to take a part in
His temper flamed out in word
"Are you ready?"
Sir Henry Vane
"Our journey is not one half over!"
"You are not lost, if you follow me!"
He fell upon his face in the mud and water with his gun under him
He flung him down the front steps where he lay in a heap on the ground
"Here! Shoot me! 'Fore God, a fair mark!"
Ruins of Jamestown
The ball struck four or five feet to Robert's left, and in front of him,
splashing up a jet of water
Map of the period
A CENTURY TOO SOON.
Blow, wind, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanes, spout
Till you have drenched our steeples, drowned the cocks!
You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,
Vaunt couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
Strike flat the thick rotundity o' the world.
[Illustration: ducking stool]
A crowd of bearded men, some in the sad-colored clothes and
steeple-crowned hats of Puritans, others in loose top-boots, scarlet
coats, lace and periwigs of the cavaliers of the Cromwellian period,
intermixed with women, some wearing hoods and others bareheaded, was
assembled on the banks of a deep pond within sight of Jamestown, Va. A
curious machine, one which at the present day would puzzle the beholder
to guess its use, had been constructed near the edge of the water. It
was a simple contrivance and rude in structure; but the freshly hewn
timbers were proof of its virgin newness. This machine was a long pole
fastened upon an upright post, almost at the water's edge, so that it
could revolve or dip at the will of the manipulators. On the heavy end
of the pole was a seat or chair fastened, with a rest for the feet, and
straps and buckles so arranged that when one was buckled down escape was
impossible. On the opposite end of the pole a rope was tied, the end
hanging down to the ground. This contrivance, to-day unknown, was once
quite familiar to English civilization, and was called the
"ducking-stool." The founders of the American, colonies, whatever may
have been their original designs for the promotion of universal
happiness, found it necessary very soon to allot a portion of the virgin
soil to the humiliation, punishment and degradation of their fellow
Thus we find, in addition to the prison, the whipping-post and the
pillory, the ducking-stool. From the vast throng assembled about the
pond on that mild June day in 1653, one might suppose that the entire
colony had turned out to witness some great event. Nearly four years
before the opening of our story, Cromwell had established the
"Commonwealth" in England; but it was not until 1653 that the
Parliament party, or "Roundheads," as they were contemptuously termed,
conquered the colony of Virginia. Many of the royalists were still
elected to the House of Burgesses, and the cavaliers in boots and lace,
with riding-whips in hand, predominated in the throng we have just
described. The continual neighing of horses in the woods told of the
arrival of fresh troops of planters and fox-hunting cavaliers.
The merry cavalier was easily distinguished from the sedate Puritan. The
latter gazed solemnly on the instrument of torture as a thing essential
to the performance of a duty, while the cavaliers seemed to have come
more for the enjoyment of some rare sport, than to witness an execution
of the law. Occasionally a snake-eyed aborigine mingled with the throng,
gazing in wonder on the scene, or a negro, granted a half-holiday, stood
grinning with barbarous delight on what was more sport than punishment
in his eyes.
There is something hideous about the ducking-stool in the present age of
reason and enlightenment, more especially as it was designed to punish
the weaker sex and usually those advanced in years. Before the ugly
machine and between it and the road which ran past the pond to the
village was a grass-plot, much overgrown with burdock, pigweed,
plantain and such unsightly vegetation, which seemed to find something
congenial in the soil that bore an instrument for the torture of the
gentler sex; but on one side of the post and leaning against it was a
wild rosebush covered with fragrant flowers.
It was still an early hour, for the morning dew sparkled in the deeper
recesses of the grand old forest, and the moisture of dawn yet lingered
on the air. Strange as it may seem, that instrument was regarded with
careless indifference, even by the gentler sex of this period.
Meagre and cold was the sympathy which a transgressor might expect from
the assembly at the pond. The women mingled freely with the crowd and
appeared to take a peculiar interest in the punishment about to be
inflicted. The age had not so much refinement, that any sense of
impropriety kept the wearers of petticoats and farthingales from
elbowing their way through the densest throngs to witness the
executions. Those wives and maidens of English birth and breeding were
morally and materially of coarser fibre than their fair descendants, who
would swoon at the thought of torture and punishment. They were not all
hard-featured amazons in that throng, for, mingled with the stout,
broad-shouldered dames, were maids naturally shy, timid and beautiful.
The ruddy cheeks and ruby lips indicated health, and the brawny arms of
many women bore evidence of physical toil.
The cavaliers were jesting and laughing, while the Puritans were silent,
or conversing in low, measured tones on the purpose of the assembly.
There was enough of gloom and solemnity in the one party to prove that
the execution was not to be a farce, and enough merriment in the other
to convince a beholder that the punishment was not capital. A young
cavalier, all silk and lace, with heavy riding-boots, galloped up to the
scene and, dismounting, handed the rein to a negro slave, who had run
himself out of breath to keep up with his master, and hastened down to
"Good morrow, Roger!" said the new-comer to a young man of about
twenty-five years of age, like himself a gentleman of ease.
"Good morrow, Hugh," Roger answered.
"What gala scene have they prepared for our amusement?" asked Hugh, his
dark gray eyes twinkling with merriment. "I trow it is one that you and
I need never fear."
"The magistrates have adjudged Ann Linkon to be ducked."
"Marry! what hath she done?"
"Divers offences, all petty, but aggravating in themselves. She is not
only a common scold, but a babbling woman, who often hath slandered and
scandalized her neighbors, for which her poor husband is often brought
into chargeable and vexatious suits and cast in great damages."
Hugh gave utterance to a genuine cavalier-like laugh, and, striking his
boot-top with his riding-whip, returned:
"Marry! but she will make a merry sight soaring through the air like a
fisher-bird to be plunged beneath the water."
"It will be a goodly sight, Hugh, and one I knew you would wish to see;
therefore I sent for you."
"You have my thanks; but where is the culprit?"
"They have not arrived with her yet. Did you come from Greenspring Manor
"How is Sir William Berkeley?"
"He is well, and still lives in the hope of seeing the king restored to
"Hath he invited our wandering prince to Virginia?"
"Sh--! speak not so loud," said Hugh in an undertone. "There are some of
those Puritans, the cursed Roundheads, near, and it would mean death to
Sir William if it were known that he but breathed such thoughts."
The two young men walked a little apart from the others and sat down
upon the green, mossy banks, where they might converse uninterrupted and
still be near enough to witness the ducking when the officers arrived
with the victim.
"Keep a still tongue in your head, Roger," said Hugh when they were
seated. "Greenspring Manor is beset with spies, and the Roundheads long
for some pretext to hang Sir William for his devotion to our king; but
Sir William says that the commonwealth will end with Cromwell and the
son of our murdered king will be restored."
"The rule of the Roundheads is mild."
"Mild, bah!" interrupted Hugh, in contempt. "They are men without force,
groundlings, the common trash from the earth with whom the best do
"But they permit the people to send royalists to the House of
"That they do; yet there they must mingle with leet-men and indented
slaves whose terms have expired," and Hugh heaved a sigh and dug his
boot heel into the ground, adding, "It was not a merry day for old
England when they struck off the king's head."
While the young royalists were discussing politics and awaiting the
arrival of the guard with Ann Linkon, the women were not all silent.
"Good wives," said a hard-featured dame of fifty, "I will tell you a
piece of my mind. It would be greatly for the public behoof, if we women
being of mature age and church members in good repute like Ann Linkon
might speak our minds of such baggage as Dorothe Stevens without being
adjudged and sent to the ducking-stool as she is to be done. Wherefore
is Dorothe Stevens so great that one must not say ill of her that they
be plunged in the pond? Did she but have her deserts, would she be at
home and Ann Linkon on the stool? Marry! I trow not!"
"Prythee, good dame Woodley, be more chary of your tongue, lest you be
brought to judgment," interposed a more cautious sister.
Dame Woodley scowled and ground her teeth in silence for a short
interval, and then resumed:
"I speak only to you five who know the wife of John Stevens truly.
Despite all her airs and efforts to assume to herself a superiority, we
know full well she hath her faults."
"Verily, she hath," interposed a female who had her hood drawn low over
her face to protect it from the morning sun.
"And I have heard that she does lead poor John Stevens a miserable life.
What with her extravagance, her temper, and the way she does hate his
old mother whom he loves, his life must be a burden?" continued
"Little the pity for him, though," interposed the woman whose weak eyes
were half-hidden by her hood.
"Why say ye so, Sarah Drummond?"
"The more fool he to maintain such a creature."
"Marry! think you, Sarah, that a wife is like a shoe to be cast off at
will? John Stevens hath two children, whom he loves as ardently as ever
"I have known Dorothe Stevens to be kind and gentle," interposed a woman
who had not spoken before.
"Yet she is haughty, and she would have all the world believe her of
superior flesh and blood to ourselves. Doth not the Scriptures say that
'Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall'?
Yea, verily, I wish she would break her neck when she doth fall."
At this moment, one of the petty officers came to the group of gossipers
"Go to! hold your peace, you prating dames! The prisoner comes."
A confused murmur swelled to a general hubbub as two men appeared over
the hill leading between them a woman about fifty-five years of age. She
was a strong, thin-visaged woman, whose cheek had been bronzed by sun
and weather. She was bareheaded, and her hair was gathered in a knot at
the back. Her gown, of a thick woollen stuff, fit closely to her
person, as if it had been made on purpose for the punishment she had
been adjudged to receive. She was talking in a loud voice and
gesticulating angrily with her head, for her arms were confined.
"I will give ye a piece of my mind," she declared to her guards.
"Hold your peace, Ann!" cried the eldest of the guards.
"Hold my peace! Verily, I will, not hold my peace about such a hussy as
Dorothe Stevens. That I, a Christian and Puritan, should be ducked for
slandering one so foul as she! I choke at the thought."
"Marry! I wish you were silent."
"Silent, Joshua Chard, silent, indeed! Think ye that the fear of all the
water in James River will awe me to silence?"
"No, by the mass, it will not," answered his companion.
"Lawrence Evans, unholy papist, do not touch me!"
"I am not a papist."
"Come, Ann Linkon, let us have this execution done with," put in Joshua,
dragging the woman along.
The scene was now ridiculous enough to excite the laughter of even the
gravest Puritans. The pond and ducking-stool were in sight, and Ann
Linkon, with a persistence and strength that was marvellous, began to
pull back, and when she had set her heels firmly in the ground it
required the united strength of both guards to move her.
"I won't go! I won't be ducked! I won't! I won't!" she screamed at the
top of her voice.
"Nay, Ann, bright flower of loveliness, you shall have a soft seat."
"Shame on you, Joshua, to drag an old woman like me by the arm."
"Marry! I am not dragging you, dame Linkon. Your heels do stick like a
ploughshare in the ground."
The woman continued in her sharp, shrill voice to upbraid him:
"Ungrateful wretch, is it thus you serve one who fed you in your
infancy, when your mother had deserted you? Unhand me, indented slave,
and go back to your master, wretch--wretch--wretch!" she hissed, as she
went sliding on her heels, her toes horizontal and her knees rigid. Her
feet ploughed up the earth and stones, and the crowd hooted and jeered.
"Come on, Dame Linkon, and take your bath," cried some idle urchins,
waiting at the water in anticipation of rare sport.
The victim continued to scream in her shrill voice:
"It's for that hussy! She bore false witness against me at the court and
had me condemned. I will be avenged for this!"
"Marry! we will be more damp than you," said Joshua, wiping the
perspiration from his forehead with the cuff of his coat.
"Joshua, is this payment for what I have done for you? When you were
sick with fever I sat by your bedside and cared for you; when no one
else would cook your food, it was I who did it, and is it thus you
"Peace, good dame, I have my duty to perform."
"Duty; but such a duty!"
She still braced her heels against the ground, and it required all the
strength of her guards to push and pull her along.
"Verily, I say such a duty," answered Joshua, on whose grave features
there came a smile. "Dame Linkon, if you would limber your joints we
could make more speed."
"I am in no hurry," she answered.
"I believe you; yet if you had not detained us, this affair would have
The urchins and older persons began to cry:
"Hold back, Dame Linkon; make them earn their fees."
"I will scratch your eyes out!" she hissed, as she was forced down to
the bank and made to sit in the chair. Joshua wound a strap about her
waist and stooped to buckle it, when, with her freed hand, she seized
his hair, causing him to yell with pain.
"Prythee, hold her hands, lest she make good her threat!" he cried to
The appearance of the victim and her guards brought everybody to
their--feet, and a silence fell over the group. The matrons ceased to
gossip; the royalists left off talking politics, and all gathered about
to witness the scene. Joshua's companion held the woman's arms, and he
stooped to bind her feet to the chair, when one flew out like a bolt
from a catapult, planting the toe in the pit of poor Joshua's stomach,
causing him to roll over on the ground and howl with pain. The sheriff
by this time came on the scene and summoned sufficient help to bind her
to the chair.
"See to it that every strap and cord is secure, for if she should fall
she would drown," said the sheriff, and the men drew the leather straps
tight, while Ann Linkon continued to rail and abuse all about her.
"'Tis for the hussy that I am to suffer this," she cried. "Dorothe
Stevens bore me false witness. I never slandered her. There--there is
Hugh Price. Verily I spoke truly, as he knows."
Hugh Price, the young royalist, who had been talking politics with his
friend Roger, blushed.
At this moment, there appeared on the scene a young man twenty-eight
years of age, whose light blue eyes and frank, open face spoke honesty
and humanity. His knit brows and distressed features showed that he was
not in accord with the proceedings. He led the sheriff aside and spoke
hurriedly with him in an undertone, which no one could hear. It was
quite evident that he was making some request which the sheriff would
not grant, for he shook his head in a very emphatic manner, and those
nearest heard the official answer:
"No, no, the judgment of the court, the judgment of the court."
Dame Woodley, turning to a matron near, whispered: "Sarah Drummond,
there is John Stevens, the husband of the woman who had Ann Linkon
adjudged. How dare he come here?"
"For shame!" whispered Sarah Drummond.
"I wonder he could witness the wrong she hath done."
At this a young wife with a babe in her arms interposed:
"They do say that John Stevens had naught to do with the matter and did
protest against having one so old as Ann Linkon ducked."
"John Stevens is a godly man," remarked still another. "He would not
wrong any one."
"If he were my dearest foe," whispered goodwife Woodley, "he would have
my sympathy for living with Dorothe Stevens."
"Whist, Dame Woodley; speak not your mind so freely," whispered Sarah
Drummond, "for there be those in hearing on whose ears your words had
best not fall."
All the while, Ann Linkon had been struggling with her executioners; but
now, helpless and exhausted, she was bound in the chair. The sheriff,
who was a humane man as well as a stern official, remonstrated with her.
"Ann Linkon, do not so exert and heat yourself, or else when you be
plunged into the water you will take your death."
"Death! Take my death! That is what you want, wretch!" she screamed in
her shrill voice.
"Peace, dame; be still!"
"I will not be silent. She is a hussy. John Stevens, I defy your wife,"
she added as her eyes lighted on Stevens who was near. "I told no
falsehood on her. Go to your friend Hugh Price, and if he will speak the
truth, he will say I spoke no falsehood."
Again Stevens was seen talking with the sheriff; but he shook his head
with the inexorable:
"The judgment of the court--the judgment of the court."
Stevens turned away with a look of disappointment on his face. The sight
of him seemed to increase the anger of Ann Linkon, and she railed and
struggled until, exhausted, she panted for breath. The sheriff fanned
her with his hat until she had partially cooled; but as soon as she
regained her breath, she began again:
"It's a merry sight to you all to watch an old woman. Verily, I wish
Satan would rend you limb from limb, all of ye."
"Go to! hold your peace, Ann!" said the sheriff.
"I will not," she screamed, the froth appearing upon her lips.
"Then you shall be plunged hot."
"I care not."
"It may be your death."
"That's what ye want."
"Ye lie, ye wretch!"
"Ann, I will duck you the full sentence if you don't hold your peace."
"You are a wretch!" she screamed.
The sheriff at this moment motioned the crowd to stand back and gave the
signal to his two assistants, who went to the other end of the pole and
seized the rope dangling there.
"You are a white-livered wretch!" the scold again yelled. At this
moment she went soaring off into the air. A piercing shriek came from
her lips as she found herself swinging out over the pond. "I'll scratch
your eyes out!"
"Let her down," commanded the sheriff, and the men holding the rope
allowed it to slip through their hands, and the woman in the chair
darted down toward the water.
"I said it, as I say it yet; she's a hussy! she's a hussy!" shrieked the
woman, whose vocabulary was insufficient for her rage. The chair rapidly
descended until it struck the water with a splash, pushing the waves on
either side and letting the scold down, down into the cold liquid. She
gave utterance to a yell when she found the water coming up over her
breast, almost taking her breath.
She was drawn all dripping from the pond and elevated high in the air so
everybody could see her. A wild yell went up from the crowd, and an
impudent urchin cried:
"Ann Linkon, how like you your bath?"
"I'll scratch your eyes out!" she shrieked, then again began to denounce
her prosecutor as she once more descended, repeating, "She's a hussy!"
Down, down she went into the water, until it came to her chin, causing
her to utter another shriek. Again she was lifted high in the air. The
sheriff, who was superintending the enforcement of the sentence, turned
to his assistants and said:
"You do not dip her under; let the stool go lower."
As Ann Linkon descended for the last time, she seemed to gather up all
her energies and, in a voice overflowing with hate, shrieked:
"It's true! She is a hussy!"
Plunging down, down, down, until ducking-stool and occupant were
completely buried beneath the water, sank the victim, and on the air
came a gurgling sound: "She's a hussy!" The sheriff's assistants gave
the rope a sudden pull, and in an instant the choking, strangling
creature soared up in the air, gasping for breath with the water running
in streams from her garments. She made several efforts to speak, but in
vain. Her mouth, nostrils, eyes and ears were full of water, and she
could only gasp. Poor Ann Linkon was humiliated and crushed. A ducking
was a light punishment, yet the disgrace which attached to it was
sufficient to break the spirit of one possessing any pride. The sheriff
turned to his assistants and said:
"Put her on shore."
The people gave way, and the stool swung round on the pivot and was
lowered to the sands. The sport was over, and the cavaliers began to
jest and laugh over the scene, which, to them, had been one of
amusement. Hugh and Roger once more retired to talk of politics, and the
Dame Woodley, turning to Sarah Drummond, asked if she thought public
morals had been improved by such a disgraceful scene. But few
expressions of sympathy were offered to the coughing, shivering,
dripping woman, who sat silently in the chair upon the sands. She was
meek enough now when the guards came to unbuckle the straps and free
her. Even after she was released, she sat in the chair, strangling,
coughing and shivering.
John Stevens made his way through the crowd and, going up to the woman,
who seemed almost lifeless, began:
"Dame Linkon, I am most truly sorry that this has been done--"
At sound of his voice, the half-inanimate form seemed suddenly inspired
with life and vigor, and, bounding to her feet with a shriek of rage,
she dealt him a blow with her open hand on the side of his head, which
made him see more stars than can usually be discerned on the clearest
night. He staggered and, but for the sheriff, would have fallen.
SEEKING BETTER FORTUNE.
On peace and rest my mind was bent,
And fool I was I married;
But never honest man's intent
As cursedly miscarried.
In Virginia's colonial days, no man was better known than John Smith
Stevens. His father was one of the original founders of Jamestown and,
it was said, had felled the first tree to build the city. John Smith was
his first born, and was named in honor of Captain John Smith, a
John Smith Stevens was born about the year 1625, the same year that
Governor Wyat defeated the Indians. He was four years of age when John
Harvey became colonial governor in 1629, and a year later, 1630, Sir
George Calvert came to Jamestown on his way to colonize Maryland under
the charter of Lord Baltimore. He was old enough to remember the stormy
days in the assembly, when, on the "28th of April, 1635, Sir John Harvey
thrust out of his government, and Captain John West acts as Governer
till the king's pleasure is known." He never knew exactly why Sir John
Harvey was thrust out; but he heard some one say he was interfering with
the liberties of the people.
He knew that the king replaced him, however. Then the people said that
all Virginia was divided into eight _Shires_: James City, Henrico,
Charles City, Elizabeth City, Warwick River, Warrosquoyake, Charles
River, and Accawmacke, and that a lieutenant was appointed over each to
protect them against the Indians. John Stevens remembered when William
Claybourne, the famous rebel of colonial Virginia, tried to urge the
people, against the will of the king, to drive the colonists out of
Maryland, which they claimed as a part of their domain.
Claybourne established a colony at Kent Island, from whence a burgess
was sent. Leonard Calvert was governor of Maryland, and a
misunderstanding arose between him and Claybourne on Kent Island.
Claybourne must go, for the island was part of Maryland, although the
right of his lordship's patent was yet undetermined in England.
Claybourne resisted. He declared that he was on Virginia territory by
the king's patent, and was the owner of Kent Island, and that he meant
to stay there. He would also sail to and fro in his trading ship, the
_Longtail_, to traffic with the Indians. If he were attacked he would
defend himself. He soon had an opportunity to make good his boasts.
Leonard Calvert seized the _Longtail_, and Claybourne sent a swift
pinnace with fourteen fighting men to recapture her. This was in the
year 1634, when John Stevens was nine years of age; but the affair was
the talk of the time, and consequently was indelibly stamped on his
young mind. Two Maryland pinnaces went to meet Claybourne, and a
desperate fight occurred on the Potomac River. A volley of musket-balls
was poured into Claybourne's pinnace, and three of his men fell dead.
Calvert captured the pinnace; but Claybourne escaped. He was driven from
Kent Island and escaped to Virginia; but Sir John Harvey refused to
surrender him, and John Stevens saw the rebel when he embarked for
England, where he made a strong fight before the throne for Kent Island.
Although he seemed for a while about to triumph, the lords commissioners
of plantations finally decided against his claims, thus dispelling the
rosy dreams of Claybourne.
In 1642, there came to Virginia as governor of the colony Sir William
Berkeley, then almost forty years of age, when John Stevens was only
seventeen. Berkeley was a man of charming manners, proverbially polite,
and he delighted the Virginians, who had a weakness for courtliness. He
belonged to an ancient English family, and believed in monarchy as a
devotee believes in his saint, "and he brought to the little capital at
Jamestown all the graces, amenities, and well-bred ways which at that
time were characteristic of the cavaliers. He was a cavalier of the
cavaliers, taking the word to signify an adherent of monarchy and the
established church," and thoroughly hated anything resembling
republicanism. For his king and church, this smiling gentleman, with his
easy and friendly air, was going to fight like a tiger or a ruffian.
Under his glove of velvet was a hand of iron, which would fall
inexorably alike on the New England Puritans and the followers of Bacon.
With the courage of his convictions, he was ready to deal out banishment
for the dissenters; shot and the halter for rebels. He lived on his
estate of about a thousand acres at Greenspring, not far from Jamestown.
"Here he had plate, servants, carriages, seventy horses, fifteen hundred
apple trees, besides apricots, peaches, pears, quinces and mellicottons.
When, in the stormy times, the poor cavaliers flocked to Virginia to
find a place of refuge, he entertained them after a royal fashion in
this Greenspring Manor house. As to the Virginians, they were always
welcome, so that they did not belong to the independents, haters of the
church and king."
From the very first, John Stevens did not like Governor Berkeley and in
a short time learned that he was a tyrant. Berkeley issued his
proclamation against the Puritan pastors, prohibiting their teaching or
preaching publicly or privately.
John Smith Stevens participated in the Indian war in 1644, and saw
Opechancanough, at this time almost a hundred years of age, captured and
brought to Jamestown, where he requested his captors to hold open his
eyes, that he might see and upbraid Sir William Berkeley for making a
public exhibition of him. A short hour afterward the aged chieftain was
treacherously wounded by his guard.
In the year 1648, John Stevens married Dorothe Collier, the daughter of
a clergyman of the church of England. This naturally united him to the
cavalier or church party, while his mother, brother and sister were
Puritans. Sometimes John thought he had the best wife living, at others
he was almost persuaded that she was intolerable. She was a beautiful
brunette, with great dark eyes which smiled when the sky was fair, but
in which appeared the lustre of a tigress when enraged. Love in its full
strength and beauty seldom dwells in the heart of both husband and wife
through all the vicissitudes of life. It was so in John's case. When the
honeymoon waned and practical existence began, the wife became
ambitious for a more showy manner of life and more pleasures than the
husband could afford. He was prosperous; but his wife's extravagance, in
which he indulged her at first, kept him poor. Poverty became a burden
and marriage a mockery. He who had been insanely in love, and who was
unable to live out of her presence, proved an indifferent husband before
the honeymoon was over. Why? John had thought his wife an angel, and
marriage had shattered his idol. His ideal woman had fallen so far below
his expectations that disappointment drove him to indifference. His wife
thought herself his superior, and John, to her, was more a convenience
than a husband.
Gradually Dorothe grew indifferent toward her husband's mother and young
sister, who idolized him, and though they bore her no thought of ill,
she came to despise them. John's mother saw that her son's wife was
ruining him by her extravagance, yet she dared not interpose as it would
make the rupture complete. Dorothe was a haughty cavalier and despised
all Puritans and, most of all, her husband's mother; but the cavaliers
were in trouble. King Charles was tried, condemned and beheaded in 1649,
and a protectorate (Oliver Cromwell) ruled over England a few months
after the execution of the king. John Stevens' wife gave birth to a son
who was named Robert for his wife's father.
Though England was a commonwealth, Virginia remained loyal to the
wandering prince, who slept in oaks and had more adventures than any
other man of his day. Berkeley, it is said, even invited him to come and
rule over Virginia, assuring him of his support; but Parliament took
notice of the saucy colony and, in 1650, ordered a fleet to conquer it.
The fleet did not reach Jamestown until 1652, when, after a little
fluster, Sir William Berkeley retired to Greenspring, and the government
was turned over to the roundheads, who chose Richard Bennet, Esquire, to
be governor of the colony for one year. On the day of Bennet's
inauguration, John Steven's second child, a daughter, whom he named
Rebecca, was born. These two links of love made his wife more dear to
him. At times she was pleasant; but usually she studied to thwart his
will. She was humbled with the cavaliers and hated the Puritans. Ann
Linkon, an old woman given to gossiping, incurred the displeasure of
Dorothe Stevens, because she gossiped about her extravagance. She had
her arrested, condemned and ducked as we have seen. There was no open
rupture between Dorothe and her husband's relatives. She still greeted
them with half-smiles; but those half-smiles were cold and uncongenial,
and there seemed to be a settled purpose on her part as well as theirs
to dislike each other. To no one did Dorothe express this dislike save
to her husband, and to him she never lost an opportunity for doing so.
In 1654, Claybourne, who was in possession of Kent Island, was
threatened by the Catholics from Maryland, and John Stevens, with his
friend Hugh Price and half a dozen more, went to aid in the defence of
the island. They camped at the mouth of the Severn, in the vicinity of
the present city of Annapolis, where they were joined by Claybourne and
a body of three hundred men.
On the 25th of March, 1654, Stone sailed with a force down the river,
landed and attacked Claybourne. At early dawn the sleeping Puritans were
awakened by the boom of cannon and volleys of muskets. They arose,
formed their lines of battle and poured a tremendous fire upon the
enemy. The Marylanders landed and tried to storm their fort; but after
an hour retreated, leaving twenty killed and twice as many wounded on
the field. Claybourne had conquered and, for a brief space of time, was
to hold sway over the Severn and Kent Island.
John Stevens returned to his home to find that his wife's extravagance
had impoverished his estates and almost brought him to beggary. He had
remonstrated with her without avail. She wrecked her husband's fortune
for a few weeks of vain show.
"Were you more prudent, Dorothe," said John, "we could soon live at
ease. I have fine estates and earn money sufficient to make us
comfortable for life and leave a competency for our children."
"Peace, man! Do you disdain to labor for your wife and children? Do not
other men support their families, and why not you, pray?"
"But other men have helpmates in their wives."
This was the spark which ignited the hidden fires. Her black eyes
blazed, and her breast heaved. She upbraided him until he withdrew and,
mounting his horse, rode away. At night he returned to find his wife
silent and morose, and for nine days they scarcely spoke. This life was
trying to John.
After a few days she grew more amiable and expressed sympathy with her
husband in his financial straits.
"I am going to economize," she declared. "I will take no heed what I
shall eat, nor what I shall drink, nor wherewithal I shall be clothed."
Again for the thousandth time he took heart. After all, Dorothe might
become a helpmate. She was so beautiful and so cheerful in her
pleasanter moods that he thought her a treasure. When he took his baby
on his knee and felt her soft, warm cheek against his own, he realized
that life might be endurable even in adversity.
One evening, as they talked over his financial troubles, he said:
"Our family has a fortune in Florida."
At the name of fortune, Mrs. Stevens' head became erect, and she was all
attention like a war-horse at the blast of a trumpet.
"If you have a fortune there, why don't you go and get it?" she asked.
"We would, I trow, did we know we could have it for the going," he made
"And wherefore can you not?"
"St. Augustine is under the Spanish rule, and we know not that they will
permit an Englishman even to inherit property there. My grandfather was
a Spaniard and died possessed of valuable property."
"Can you not get it? Can you not get it?" she asked.
"I do not know."
"We have thought to try it."
His brother was sent to Florida, but failed, though assured by the
lawyers that they might in time recover it.
There is no business so unprofitable as waiting for dead men's money.
Fortune flies at pursuit and smiles on the indifferent.
The prospects of John Stevens were certainly at a low ebb, and he found
his affairs daily growing worse. Large consignments of tobacco sent to
England remained unpaid for, and he stood in danger of losing all. He
thought of making a voyage to London for the purpose of looking after
his accounts. John Stevens had never been away from his family, save in
the short campaign on the Severn, and he dreaded to leave home. He loved
his children and, despite her faults, he loved his wife. As he held his
baby in his arms and listened to her gentle crowing and heard the merry
prattle of his boy at play, he asked himself if he should ever see those
children again, were he to go away.
John had three friends in whom he reposed great confidence. They were
Drummond, Lawerence, and Cheeseman. One evening he met them at the home
of Drummond and, relating his condition, asked:
"Knowing all as you do, what do you advise?"
"By all means, go to London," answered Drummond.
"Ought I to leave my wife and children?"
"If I perish on the voyage, they will be wholly unprovided for."
"Your father was a sailor."
"But his son is not."
"Yet methinks the son should inherit some of the father's courage."
John Stevens' cheek reddened at the delicate insinuation against his
courage, and he responded:
"Have I not, on more than one hard-fought field, established my claim to
"True, yet why shrink from this voyage?"
"A soothsayer once predicted that dire calamities would overcome me,
were I ever to venture upon the sea."
At this Cheeseman and Drummond laughed and even the thoughtful Mr.
Lawerence smiled. Though soothsayers in those days were not generally
gainsaid, those four men at Drummond's house lived in advance of
"Go on your voyage and save the sum in jeopardy," was Drummond's advice.
"If your going will make sure the sum, hesitate not a single moment,"
"How much is involved?" asked the thoughtful Mr. Lawrerence.
"Eight hundred pounds."
"Quite a sum."
"Verily, it is. The amount would at this day relieve all my
embarrassments; yet, if I go, I leave nothing behind, for my property is
gone, and my family is unprovided for."
"Secure the eight hundred pounds and provide for them."
With this advices in mind, he went home, and that same evening Hugh
Price, the young royalist, who lived with Sir William Berkeley at
Greenspring, called to see him, and once more the voyage to London was
"By all means, go," Hugh advised. "It is your duty to go."
Mrs. Stevens was consulted and thought she should go also; she saw no
reason in his taking a pleasure voyage and leaving his wife at home; but
this was out of the question, for the baby was too young to endure the
voyage; besides, the cost of taking her would more than double the
expense. Then Mrs. Stevens, who thought only of a pleasant time, wanted
to know why she could not be sent in his stead. He explained that it was
a matter of business which a woman could not perform; but Mrs. Stevens
became unreasonable, declaring:
"You wish to go to London and pass your time in gay society."
"I do not," he answered.
"Verily, you do. You tire already of your wife; you would seek another."
"Dorothe, I would wed no other woman living," answered John, with a
"They all say that; yet no sooner is the wife laid in the grave than
they are anxious to find one younger and more fair."
"Women do the same," John ventured to urge in defence of his sex.
"Not so often as the men."
Then Mrs. Stevens began a harangue on the evils of second marriages and
wound up by declaring they were compacts of the devil. John Stevens
returned to the original question of his going to London.
"My friends all declare that it is my duty to go," he said.
"Your friends! who are your friends?"
"An ignorant Scotchman."
Drummond was far from being ignorant, yet he stood not in favor with
"Mr. Lawerence advises it."
"He is a canting hypocrite."
"Mr. Edward Cheeseman also thinks it advisable."
"Verily, he is a scheming man, who will swindle you out of the eight
hundred pounds when you have secured it."
"Hugh Price agrees with them."
"Does he?" asked Mrs. Stevens.
"I don't believe it."
Hugh Price was, in her estimation, the perfection of manhood. He was of
the same church, a thorough royalist and a close friend of Sir William
Berkeley the deposed governor.
"Dorothe, I said he recommended it. Pray do not doubt it."
The matter was settled next day when Hugh Price himself said to Mrs.
Stevens that it was best for her husband to go. She secretly resolved
that during her husband's absence she would enjoy herself.
"John," she said, "if you are going away to London to enjoy yourself,
you must leave with me two or three hundred pounds."
John Stevens interrupted her with a sarcastic laugh.
"Dorothe, had I two or three hundred pounds, I would not go."
"Verily, how do you expect me to pass the dreary interval of your
absence, if I have no luxuries."
"Luxuries in our poor country are uncommon, and what few we have are
expensive. Think not of luxuries, but rather of necessities. Husband the
little money I shall be able to leave you and be prepared against
adversity. I may never return."
"Wherefore not?" cried Mrs. Stevens. "Do you contemplate an elopement?
You were seen holding converse with Susan Colgate."
Mrs. Stevens had, among other weaknesses, enough of the "green-eyed
monster" to make herself miserable. Susan Colgate was a pretty maiden at
Jamestown, whose charms John Stevens had praised in his wife's presence.
He smiled at her interruption and, after assuring her that he had no
intention of eloping, said:
"The ship may sink; then you and these two little children will be
unprovided for. I beseech you, husband the little I leave."
"Have no fears, I shall care for them in some way; but I am not going to
forego anything in anticipation of disaster. Surely you will come back.
My great grief at the absence of my husband will rend my heart so sorely
that I must needs have some pleasure to drive away the sorrow and
perpetuate the bloom on these cheeks and the brightness in these
eyes for you."
Silly John Stevens yielded to his wife and consented to set apart for
luxuries some of the small amount he was to leave. Mrs. Stevens was born
to squander. Ann Linkon had said of her:
"She could cast from the window more than the good husband could throw
in at the door." But Ann was adjudged of slander, and ducked for
John paid his mother a visit before departing. That sweet, gentle mother
greeted her unhappy son with, tears. It was seldom Dorothe permitted him
to visit her. His mother knew it and always assumed a cheerfulness she
was far from feeling. Ofttimes poor John had a hard struggle between
duty to his mother and fidelity to wife. It was a struggle in which no
earthly friend could aid him.
The day to sail came. At an early hour the vessel was to weigh anchor,
and just as the approaching day began to paint the eastern horizon an
orange hue, John rose and prepared to depart. All the town was quiet.
His children were sleeping, and he bent over them and pressed a kiss
upon the cheek of each, murmuring a faint:
"God bless you!"
"Shall I awake them?" his wife asked.
"No, no; the parting will be much easier if they sleep.
"Dear, I do so regret your going!" sobbed Mrs. Stevens, genuine tears
gathering in her eyes.
"Heaven grant, Dorothe, it may not be for long."
"I will go with you to the boat," she said, hurriedly dressing herself.
John's small effects had been carried aboard the evening before, so he
had only to go on board himself. As Mrs. Stevens buckled her shoes,
"I do so regret your going. I shall be so anxious about you and so
[Illustration: Once more he bent over the sleeping children.]
John heard her, but made no answer. He was standing with folded arms
gazing on his sleeping children. Moisture gathered in his eyes, and he
murmured a silent but fervent prayer to God to bless and spare them.
There came a knock at the door. It was a sailor come to tell him the
boat was waiting to carry him on board the ship, that the tide and wind
were fair and they only awaited his arrival to sail.
Once more he tenderly bent over the sleeping children and pressed a kiss
on the face of each. A tear fell on the chubby cheek of little Rebecca,
causing her to smile.
"Farewell, little darling!" and the father quitted his home and,
accompanied by his wife, hurried to the beach. Here was a short pause, a
last embrace, a fond adieu, and the husband left the weeping wife on the
strand, while he was rowed to the great ship which had already begun to
THE COLONIES OF THE NEW WORLD.
The king who loves the law, respects his bounds,
And reigns content within them; him we serve
Freely and with delight, who leaves us free:
But recollecting still that he is a man,
We trust him not too far.
The Dutch, who still held possession of Manhattan Island and the
territory now known as New York, were not enjoying the peace and
tranquillity promised the just. Because some swine had been stolen from
the plantation of De Vries on Staten Island, the Dutch governor sent an
armed force to chastise the innocent Raritans in New Jersey, believing
that a show of power would disarm the vengeance of the savages. The
event was so grossly unjust that it not only aroused the Raritans, but
all neighboring tribes, and they prepared for war. The hitherto peaceful
Raritans killed the whites whenever they found them alone in the forest.
Fifteen years before some of Minuet's men murdered an Indian belonging
to a tribe seated beyond the Harlem River. His nephew, then a boy, who
saw the outrage and made a vow of vengeance, had now grown to be a lusty
man. He executed his vow by murdering a wheelwright while he was
examining his tool-chest for a tool, cleaving his skull with an axe.
Governor Kieft demanded the murderer; but his chief would not give him
up, saying he had sought vengeance according to the customs of his race.
The governor, who cared little for the "customs of the race," determined
to chastise that tribe as he had the Raritans, and called upon the
people to shoulder their muskets for the fray; but they, seeing the
danger to which the rashness of the governor was leading them, refused.
They had been witnesses of his rapacity and greed, and they now charged
him with seeking war that he might "make a wrong reckoning with the
colony," and reproached him with selfish cowardice.
"It is all well for you," they said, "who have not slept out of a fort a
single night since you came, to endanger our lives and homes in
The autocrat was transformed by the bold attitude of the people. Reason
dawned upon his dull brain, and he invited all the heads of families in
New Amsterdam to meet him in convention to consult upon public affairs.
The result of this invitation was the selection of twelve men to act as
representatives for the people, which formed the first popular assembly
and first representative congress for political purposes in the New
Netherlands. Thus were planted the seeds of a representative democracy,
in the year 1641, almost on the very spot where, a century and a half
later, our great republic, founded upon similar principles, was
inaugurated, when Washington took the oath of office as the first
president of the United States.
These twelve representatives of the people chose De Vries as president
of their number. To that body the governor submitted the question
whether the murderer of the wheelwright ought to be demanded of his
chief, and whether, in case of the chief's refusal, the Dutch ought to
make war upon his tribe and burn the village wherein he dwelt. The
twelve counselled peace and proceeded to consider the propriety of
establishing a government similar to that of the fatherland. To this the
governor cunningly agreed to make popular concessions if the twelve
would authorize him to make war on the offending tribe at the proper
time, to which they foolishly assented. Then the surly governor
dissolved them, saying he had no further use for them, and forbade any
popular assemblage thereafter.
Next spring (1642) Kieft sent an expedition against the offending
tribe, but a treaty disappointed his thirst for military glory. The
river Indians were tributary to the Mohawks, and in midwinter, 1643, a
large party of the Iroquois came down to collect by force of arms
tribute which had not been paid. The natives along the lower Hudson, to
the number of about five hundred, fled before the invaders, taking
refuge with the Hackensacks at Hoboken and craving the protection of the
Dutch. At the same time many of the offending Westchester tribe, and
others fled to Manhattan and took refuge with the Hollanders. De Vries
thought this a good opportunity to establish a permanent peace with the
savages; but Kieft, who still seemed to thirst for blood, made it an
occasion for treachery and death.
One dark, cold night, late in February, 1643, when the snow fell fast,
and the wind blew loud and shrill, and there was not a star to be seen
in the sky, eighty men were sent by Kieft to attack the fugitives at
Hoboken and those at "Colaer's Hook," who were slumbering in fancied
security. Forty of those at the Hook were massacred, while the
Hollanders, who had stealthily crossed the river through floating ice,
were making the snows at Hoboken crimson with blood of confiding Indians
and lighting up the heavens with the blaze of their wigwams. They
spared neither age nor sex. "Warrior and squaw, sachem and child, mother
and babe," says Brodhead, "were alike massacred. Daybreak scarcely ended
the furious slaughter. Mangled victims, seeking safety in the thickets,
were driven into the river, and parents, rushing to save their
children, whom the soldiery had thrown into the stream, were driven into
the waters and drowned before the eyes of their unrelenting murderers."
[Illustration: KIEFT, FROM THE RAMPARTS, WATCHED THE BURNING WIGWAMS.]
It has been estimated that fully one hundred perished in this ruthless
butchery. Historians state that Kieft, from the ramparts at Fort
Amsterdam, watched the burning wigwams. This treachery and wholesale
murder roused the fiery hatred of the savages and kindled a war so
fierce that Kieft was frightened by the fury of the tempest which his
wickedness and folly had raised, and he humbly asked the people to
choose a few men again to act as his counsellors. The colonists, who had
lost all confidence in the governor, chose eight citizens to relieve
them from the fearful net of difficulties in which they were involved.
Almost the first these eight advisers did was to ask the states-general
at home to recall Governor Kieft, which was promptly done, and while on
his way to Europe with his ill-gotten gains, his vessel went down, and
the governor perished.
Peter Stuyvesant, the brave soldier who had lost a leg in the West
Indies, was sent as governor to New Amsterdam, and he arrived in May,
1647. The stern, stubborn old soldier was received with great
demonstrations of joy by the Hollanders. Despite all his stubbornness,
Stuyvesant was a man of keen sagacity. He was despotic, yet honest and
wise. He set about some much needed reforms, refusing to sell liquors
and arms to the Indians. He soon taught the Indians to respect and fear
him; but at the same time they learned to admire his honesty
By prudent and adroit management, Stuyvesant swept away many annoyances
in the shape of territorial claims. When the Plymouth Company assigned
their American domain to twelve persons, they conveyed to Lord Stirling,
the proprietor of Nova Scotia, a part of New England and an island
adjacent to Long Island. Stirling tried to take possession of Long
Island, but failed. At his death, in 1647, his widow sent a Scotchman to
assert the claim and act as governor. He proclaimed himself as such, but
was promptly arrested by Stuyvesant and put on board a ship bound for
Holland. The vessel touched at an English port, where the "governor"
escaped, and no further trouble with the family of Lord Stirling ensued.
Stuyvesant went to Hartford and settled by treaty all disputes with the
New Englanders which had annoyed his predecessors. Then he turned his
attention to the suppression of the expanding power and influence of the
Swedes on the Delaware. The accession of a new queen to the throne of
Sweden made it necessary to make a satisfactory adjustment of the
long-pending dispute about the territory. Stuyvesant was instructed to
act firmly but discreetly. Accompanied by his suite of officers, he went
to Fort Nassau on the New Jersey side of the Delaware, whence he sent
Printz, the governor of New Sweden, an abstract of the title of the
Dutch to the domain and called a council of the Indian chiefs in the
neighborhood. These chiefs declared the Swedes to be usurpers and by
solemn treaty gave all the land to the Dutch. Then Stuyvesant crossed
over and, near the site of New Castle in Delaware, built a fort, which
he called Fort Cassimer. Governor Printz protested in vain. The two
magistrates held friendly personal intercourse, and they mutually
promised to "keep neighborly friendship and correspondence together."
This strange friendly conquest was in the year 1651. The following year
an important concession was made to the inhabitants of New Amsterdam. A
constant war was waged between Stuyvesant and the representatives of the
people called the "Nine." The governor tried to repress the spirit of
popular freedom; the Nine fostered it. They wanted a municipal
government for their growing capital and, fearing the governor, made a
direct application to the states-general for the privilege. It was
granted, and the people of New Amsterdam were allowed a government like
the free cities of Holland, the officers to be appointed by the
governor. Under this arrangement, New Amsterdam (afterward New York)
was, early in 1653, organized as a city. Stuyvesant was very much
annoyed by this "imprudent entrusting of power with the people."
Stuyvesant was a royalist, and for years he struggled with the
increasing spirit of republicanism, which was constantly growing among
his people; but he was not troubled by his domestic affairs alone; his
foreign relations were once more disturbed. Governor Printz returned to
Sweden, and in his place the warlike magistrate John Risingh came to the
Delaware with some soldiers under the bold Swen Schute, and appeared
before Fort Cassimer demanding its surrender.
The Dutch residents fled to the fort demanding protection; but Bikker
the commander said:
"I have no powder. What can I do?"
After an hour's parley, Bikker went out, leaving the gate of the fort
wide open, and shook hands with Schute and his men, welcoming them as
friends. The Swedes fired two shots over the fort in token of its
capture and then, blotting out the Dutch garrison, named it Fort
Trinity, as the surrender was on Trinity Sunday, 1654.
Stuyvesant was enraged and perplexed by this surrender. At that time he
was expecting an attack from the English, and the doughty governor
prepared to wipe out the stain on Belgic prowess caused "by that
infamous surrender." On the first Sunday in September, 1655, with seven
vessels carrying more than six hundred soldiers, he sailed from New
Amsterdam for the Delaware. He landed his force on the beach between
Fort Cassimer and Fort Christina near Wilmington, and an ensign with a
drum was sent to the fort to demand the surrender. The warlike Schute
complied next day, and in the presence of Stuyvesant and his suite he
drank the health of the governor in a glass of Rhenish wine. So ended
the bloodless conquest.
On his return to Manhattan, Stuyvesant found the wildest confusion
reigning because of a sudden uprising of the Indians. A former civil
officer named Van Dyck had a very fine peach orchard which caused him no
little annoyance on account of the constant pilfering of the Indians.
Van Dyck, had grown exasperated and had vowed to kill the next Indian
whom he should discover stealing his fruit. One day while the stout
Dutchman was at his midday meal, his son ran in to tell him that he had
seen an Indian squaw enter the orchard. Van Dyck sprang from the table
vowing vengeance, and from the rack made of deer's horns he took down
his fusee and rushed into the orchard, taking care to conceal himself
until he was within easy range. The squaw saw him and, with a yell of
fear, wheeled to fly for her life; but Van Dyck was a true shot and,
bringing his gun to his shoulder, killed her as she ran.
[Illustration: THE SQUAW, WITH A YELL OF FEAR, WHEELED TO FLY FOR HER
The fury of the tribe was kindled, and the long peace of ten years was
suddenly broken. One morning before daybreak almost two thousand river
Indians in sixty large war-canoes landed, distributed themselves through
the town and, under pretence of looking for northern Indians, broke into
several dwellings in search of Van Dyck. A council of the inhabitants
was immediately held at the fort, and the sachems of the invaders were
summoned before them. The Indian leaders agreed to leave the city and
pass over to Nutten (now Governor's Island), before sunset; but they
broke their promise. That afternoon Van Dyck was discovered, and they
opened fire on him. He fled down the street, but was finally shot and
killed, and the lives of others were threatened. The people flew to arms
and drove the savages to their canoes. The Indians crossed the Hudson
and ravaged New Jersey and Staten Island. Within three days a hundred
inhabitants were killed, one hundred and fifty made captives, and the
estates of three hundred utterly desolated by the dusky foe. In the
height of the excitement, Stuyvesant returned and soon brought order out
of chaos, yet distant settlements were still broken up, the inhabitants
in fear flying to Manhattan for safety. To prevent a like calamity in
the future, the governor issued a proclamation ordering all who lived in
secluded places in the country to gather themselves into villages "after
the fashion of our New Engand neighbors." After some desultory fighting
on the frontier, Dutch and Indian hostilities in a great measure ceased,
and for about ten years, beyond the threatenings of the English on the
one hand and the Indians on the other, New Netherland enjoyed a season
of peace and prosperity.
The New England colonies, with the exception of Rhode Island and a part
of the Mason and Gorges claim, had, in 1644, formed a confederacy. The
New England Confederacy--the harbinger of the United States of
America--was simply a league of independent provinces, as were the
thirteen states under the "Articles of Confederation," each jealously
guarding its own privileges and rights against any encroachments of the
general government. That central body was in reality no government at
all. It was composed of a board of commissioners consisting of two
church members from each colony, who were to meet annually, or oftener
if required. Their duty was to consider circumstances and recommend
measures for the general good. They had no executive or independent
legislative powers, their recommendations becoming laws only after they
had been acted upon and approved by the colonies. The doctrine of state
supremacy was controlling. Though it was not a government, or at least
only a government in embryo, yet the student can see from these
separate colonies, jealous of their rights, the outcoming of the
Of that famous league, Massachusetts assumed control because of her
greater population and her superiority as a "perfect republic." It
remained in force more than forty years, during which period the
government of England was changed three times. When trouble arose
between King Charles I. and Parliament, the New Englanders, being
Puritans, were in sympathy with the roundheads. In 1649 King Charles
lost his throne and life, and England for a brief time became a
commonwealth. Unlike the Virginians, the New Englanders sympathized with
the English republicans, and found in Oliver Cromwell, the ruler of
England next to the beheaded Charles I., a sincere friend and protector.
The growth of the colony of Massachusetts was particularly healthy. A
profitable commerce between the colony and the West Indies, now that the
obnoxious navigation laws were a dead letter, was created. That trade
brought bullion, or uncoined gold and silver, into the colony, which
led, in 1652, to the exercise of an act of sovereignty on the part of
the authorities of Massachusetts by the establishment of a mint. It was
authorized by the general assembly, in 1651, and the following year
"silver coins of the denomination of threepence, sixpence and
twelvepence, or shilling, were struck. This was the first coinage
within the territory of the United States."
There lived in Boston at this time a family named Stevens. The head of
the family was a white-haired old man named Mathew, whose dark eyes and
complexion indicated southern blood. He was a foster-son of the Pilgrim
Father, Mr. Robinson, and had come to New England in the _Mayflower_
when she made her first memorable voyage to Plymouth, thirty-two
Mathew Stevens had removed with his family from New Plymouth to Boston
the year before the king of England lost his head. This man was a
brother to the father of John Stevens of Virginia, and though he had
Spanish blood in his veins, he was a Puritan. The Puritan of
Massachusetts was, at this time, the straitest of his sect, an
unflinching egotist, who regarded himself as eminently his "brother's
keeper," whose constant business it was to save his fellow-men from sin
and error, sitting in judgment upon their belief and actions with the
authority of a divinely appointed high priest. His laws, found on the
statute books of the colony, or divulged in the records of court
proceedings, exhibit the salient points in his stern and inflexible
character, as a self-constituted censor and a conservator of the moral
and spiritual destiny of his fellow-mortals. A fine was imposed on
every woman wearing her hair cut short like a man's; all gaming for
amusement or gain was forbidden, and cards and dice were not permitted
in the colony. A father was fined if his daughter did not spin as much
flax or wool as the selectmen required of her. No Jesuit or Roman
Catholic priest was permitted to make his residence within the colony.
All persons were forbidden to run or even walk, "except to and from
church" on Sunday, and a burglar, because he committed his crime on that
sacred day, was to have one of his ears cut off. John Wedgewood was
placed in the stocks for being in the company of drunkards. Thomas
Petit, for "suspicion of slander, idleness and stubbornness," was
severely whipped. Captain Lowell, a dashing ladies' man, more of a
cavalier and modern society fop than a sober Puritan, was admonished to
"take heed of his light carriage." The records show that Josias
Plaistowe, for stealing four baskets of corn from the Indians, was
ordered to return to them eight baskets, to be fined five pounds, and
thereafter to "be called by the name of Josias, and not Mr. Plaistowe,
as formerly." The grand jurors were directed to admonish those who wore
apparel too costly for their income, and, if they did not heed the
warning, to fine them, and in the year 1646 there was enacted a law in
Massachusetts which imposed a penalty of flogging for kissing a woman
on the street, even in the way of honest salute. This law remained in
force for a hundred years, though it was practically ignored.
In this school of rigid Puritanism lived the northern family of Stevens,
of the same Spanish branch as the Virginia family. The head of the
family, having been trained by such devout men as John Robinson and
William Brewster, of course grew up in the law and customs of the
Puritans. Puritanism to-day has a semblance of fanaticism; but in the
age of pioneers, when civilization was in its infancy, the frontierman
naturally went to some extreme. Extreme Puritanism is better than the
reign of lawlessness which characterized many frontier settlements in
later years. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between fanaticism
and the keenest sagacity, and the folly of one age may become the wisdom
of a succeeding century. Fanatic as the Puritan may be called, he was
the sage of New England and gave to that land an impetus in the arts,
literature, and science, which has enabled that country to eclipse any
other part of the New World.
While New England was steadily progressing, despite changes in the home
government, Maryland was without any historical event worth mentioning,
save the trouble with Claybourne.
That portion of the United States known as New Jersey and Delaware
consisted at this time of only a few trading settlements hardly worthy
of being called colonies. Except for the Swedish and Dutch troubles and
the Indian wars mentioned, these countries were in the last decade
wholly without historical interest. After all, territory is but the body
of a nation. The people who inhabit its hills and valleys are its soul,
its spirit and its life.
All south of Virginia was a wilderness occupied by tribes of Indians
until the Spanish settlements were reached. That portion now known as
Carolinia and Georgia was claimed by Spain. In 1630, a patent for all
this territory was issued to Sir Robert Heath, and there is room to
believe that, in 1639, permanent plantations were planned and
contemplated by his assign William Howley, who appeared in Virginia as
"Governor of Carolinia." The Virginia legislature granted that it might
be colonized by one hundred persons from Virginia, "freemen, being
single and disengaged of debt." The attempts were unsuccessful, for the
patent was declared void, because the purpose for which it was granted
had never been fulfilled. Besides, more stubborn rivals were found to
have already planted themselves on the Cape Fear River. Hardly had New
England received within her bosom a few scanty colonies, before her
citizens began roaming the continent and traversing the seas in quest of
untried fortune. A little bark, navigated by New England men, had
hovered off the coast of Carolinia. They had carefully watched the
dangers of its navigation, had found their way into the Cape Fear River,
had purchased of the Indian chiefs a title to the soil, and had boldly
planted a little colony of herdsmen far to the south of any English
settlement on the continent. Already they had partners in London, and
hardly was the grant of Carolinia made known before their agents pleaded
their discovery, occupancy and purchase, as affording a valid title to
the soil, while they claimed the privilege of self-government as a
natural right. A compromise was offered, and the proprietaries, in their
"proposal to all that would plant in Carolinia," promised emigrants from
New England a governor and council to be elected from among a number
whom the emigrants themselves should nominate; a representative
assembly, independent legislation, subject only to the negative of the
proprietaries, land at a rent of half a penny per acre and such freedom
from customs as the charter would warrant.
Notwithstanding all these offers, but few availed themselves of them,
and the lands were for most part abandoned to wild beasts and natives.
From Nansemond, Virginia, a party of explorers was formed to traverse
the forests and rivers that flow into the Albemarle Sound. The company
which started in July, 1653, was led by Roger Green, whose services
were rewarded by a grant of a thousand acres, while ten thousand acres
were offered to any colony of one hundred persons who would plant on the
banks of the Roanoke, or the south side of the Chowan and its tributary
streams. These conditional grants seem not to have taken effect, yet the
enterprise of Virginia did not flag, and Thomas Dew, once the speaker of
the assembly, formed a plan for exploring the navigable rivers still
further to the south, between Cape Hatteras and Cape Fear. How far this
spirit of discovery led to immediate emigration, it is not possible to
determine. The country of Nansemond had long abounded in nonconformists,
and the settlements on Albemarle Sound were the result of spontaneous
overflowings from Virginia. A few vagrant families were planted within
the limits of Carolinia; but it is quite certain that no colony existed
until after the restoration.
THE STORM AND SHIPWRECK.
Increased at night, until it blew a gale;
And though 'twas not much to naval mind,
Some landsmen would have looked a little pale,
For sailors are, in fact, a different kind:
At sunset they began to take in sail.
Nearly two centuries and a half have made wonderful changes in ocean
travel. The floating palaces of to-day which plough the deep on schedule
time, regardless of storms, contrary winds and adverse tides, were
unknown when John Stevens embarked for England in 1654.
The vessel in which he sailed was one of the best of the time. It was
large, well manned and officered, and few had any fears of risking a
voyage in the stanch craft _Silverwing_; but John Stevens could no more
allay his fears than control the storm.
His wife, who stood weeping on the strand, became a speck in the
distance and then disappeared from his view. The heart of the husband
overflowed with bitterness, and he turned from the taffrail where he had
been standing and walked forward to conceal his emotion.
All about him were gay groups of people, laughing and jesting. They were
mostly men and women who had come from England and were happy now that
they were going home. John's wife seemed to have lost her many faults,
and the image that faded from his gaze was a creature of perfection.
Only the beautiful face, the great dark eyes and the sunny smiles were
John went to his stateroom and, falling into his berth, wept. He may be
called weak, but he was not. John had braved too many dangers and
undergone too many hardships to be termed weak. His mind was filled with
his wife and children. The face of his sleeping baby, whose warm, tender
arms had been so often entwined about his neck, lingered in his mind.
When the dinner hour came he was not hungry, so he remained in
The vessel had gained the open sea by nightfall and was bowling along at
a three-knot rate under full spread of canvas and fair wind. He went to
supper, though little inclined to eat, and during the night was awakened
with a load heavier than grindstones on his stomach.
"Surely I will die," he groaned, as each heaving billow seemed to
torture his poor stomach. He rose at dawn and found himself unable to
stand. The sea was rough, and the ship was tossing and reeling like a
drunken man. John found himself unable to lie down or sit up. He spent
the day in rolling alternately in his berth or on the floor, groaning,
"Surely I will die."
The purser came and laughed at his distress, assuring him that he would
survive. Next day he felt better and crawled out upon the deck. The sea
still ran high, though the sky was clear, and the sun shone on the
wildly agitated sea.
He saw a wretch as miserable as himself crouching under a hencoop and
holding both hands upon his tortured stomach. John Stevens paused for a
moment at the rail, gasping with seasickness.
"Say, neighbor, are you having a hard time?" asked the seasick but
cheerful individual under the hencoop.
"My head hurts," John gasped.
"Verily, I ache all over," returned the new acquaintance under the
At this moment the cabin door was thrown suddenly and unceremoniously
open, and a man past middle age darted forward as if he had been shot
out of a cannon and went sprawling upon the deck, howling as he did so:
"Good morrow, stranger!"
John was not astonished at the sudden appearance of the man, but was
rather alarmed at the violence of his fall. He ran to him and assisted
him to rise.
"Are you injured?" he asked.
"Nay, nay; the fall was not violent."
The man under the hencoop, who had been a disinterested spectator, took
occasion to remark:
"Marry! my friend, I wish it were I who had taken such a tumble; surely
it would have crushed the stones in my stomach."
"I am not sick," the new-comer answered, rising to his feet. "I was
thrown by the sudden lurch of the ship; but it will soon be over."
"I trust so," groaned the seasick man by the hencoop.
"But the sea runs high," the old man said, "let us go in."
John Stevens, who had partially recovered from his seasickness, went
into the cabin with the stranger. He had formed no acquaintances since
coming on board the vessel and was strangely impressed with this old
gentleman. Men cannot always brood on the past and retain their senses.
John Stevens was not a coward, yet the helpless condition of his wife
and children made him dread danger. When they were seated he said:
"You do not belong at Jamestown."
"No. I am from London and know no one at Jamestown."
"You came in the last ship?"
"You did not come alone?"
"No; my daughter Blanche came with me. She is all the child I have."
John Stevens remembered to have seen a very pretty girl on the streets
of Jamestown, and for having praised her beauty, his wife had grown
insanely jealous and given way to one of her outbursts of anger. The
gentleman from London was Mr. Samuel Holmes, who had been a too warm
friend of Charles I. to suit the Protectorate, and after Cromwellism had
become a certainty, he considered it better to fly the country. As
Virginia had been friendly to cavaliers, he had brought his daughter to
Jamestown and spent six months there; but, being assured by friends that
he could return with safety, he had decided to go home.
From that time John Stevens and Mr. Holmes became friends. In a day or
two more the passengers had nearly all recovered from their
seasickness, and the voyage promised to be a favorable one. John
Stevens met Blanche Holmes, a pretty blue-eyed English girl, with light
brown hair and ruddy cheeks. She was not over eighteen years of age, and
was one of those trusting, confiding creatures, who win friends at
first sight. By the strange, fortuitous circumstances which fate seems
to indiscriminately weave about people, the maid and John Stevens were
thrown much into each other's society.
She had many questions to ask about the New World. He, having passed all
his life there and having explored the coast to Massachusetts and fought
many battles with the Indians, was able to entertain her, and she never
seemed to tire of listening to his adventures. It never occurred to John
that there could be any impropriety in talking to this child, nor was
there any, though modern society might condemn him. He never mentioned
his family to either Blanche or her father.
That wife and children left at Jamestown were subjects too sacred for
general conversation. When alone in his stateroom he knelt and breathed
a prayer for them, and often in his dreams he heard his laughing boy at
play, or felt the warm, soft hand of his baby on his cheek, or heard her
sweet voice calling him. Often he awoke and sobbed like a child on
discovering that the ship was hourly bearing him further and further
Mr. Holmes was a cheerful companion at first, but gradually he grew
melancholy, and at times inapproachable. One day John met him at the
gangway, and he took the young man's arm and, leading him aft, said:
"I want to talk with you."
They sat upon some coils of rope, and Mr. Holmes resumed: "We are going
to have bad weather. I am something of a sailor, and, in addition to my
own experience, the captain says we will have a storm ere many hours."
There was something in the voice and manner of the man which chilled
Stevens; but he retained his self-possession and answered:
"Of course you feel no serious apprehension? The ship is strong and able
to weather any storm."
"I believe it is; yet in a storm at sea we have no assurance of safety.
Our captain is incompetent and the vessel has, through a miscalculation,
gone a long distance out of her true course. Now what I wish to say is
this: should anything happen to me on this voyage, I want you to care
for my daughter. You have seen and talked with her every day since first
we met, and you know how good she is. I am her only relative on earth,
and Cromwell has set a price on my head. Should I perish, she will be
without a protector."
John Stevens was astonished at the strange request, but consented to
accept the charge, provided he should be spared and Mr. Holmes
Mr. Holmes was not mistaken in his surmises about the weather. The day
of this interview was the nineteenth of September, and before night the
sky was obscured by great fleecy clouds, and in the evening the rain
fell in torrents. The firmament darkened apace; sudden night came on,
and the horrors of extreme darkness were rendered still more horrible by
the peals of thunder which made the sphere tremble, and the frequent
flashes of lightning, which served only to show the horror of the
situation, and then leave them in darkness still more intense. The wind
grew more violent, and a heavy sea, raised by its force, united to add
to the dangers of the situation.
"It is coming," Mr. Holmes whispered to John, whom he met in the
"We are going to have a terrible storm," John answered.
"Yes; remember your promise."
"I will not forget it, Mr. Holmes; but why do you refer to it? Surely
you are as likely as I to outlive the tempest."
"No, no," Mr. Holmes answered, shaking his white head despairingly, "I
have an impression that my time has surely come."
John Stevens was startled by the remark, for he too was living in the
shadow of some expected calamity. He next met the passenger whom he had
seen under the lee of the hencoop, and his despair and grimaces were
enough to make even the discouraged John smile.
"Oh, I shall be drowned. I shall be drowned!" the poor fellow was
groaning. "Pray for me, some of you who can. I cannot, for it would do
no good; but some of you can surely pray. By the mass! I see the very
whale that swallowed Jonah ready to gulp me down."
He was clinging to some ropes as if he expected momentarily to be swept
John Stevens went to bed, which was the most sensible thing he could do.
By daylight on the morning of the twentieth, the gale had increased to a
furious tempest, and the sea, keeping pace with it, ran mountains high.
All that day the passengers were kept close below hatches, for the sea
beat over the ship.
About seven o'clock on the morning of the twenty-first, John Stevens was
alarmed by an unusual noise upon deck, and running up, perceived that
every sail in the vessel, except the foresail, had been totally carried
away. The sight was horrible, and the whole vessel presented a spectacle
of despair, which the stoutest heart could not withstand. Fear had
produced not only all the helplessness of despondency, but all the
mischievous freaks of insanity. In one place stood the captain, raving,
stamping and tearing his hair in handfuls from his head. Here some of
the crew were upon their knees, clasping their hands and praying, with
all the extravagance of horror depicted in their faces. Others were
flogging their images with might and main, calling upon them to allay
the storm. One of the passengers from England had got hold of a bottle
of rum and, with an air of distraction and deep despair imprinted on his
face, was stalking about in his shirt, crying:
"Come, drink to oblivion, death we must meet; let us make the
dissolution easy." Perceiving that it was his intent to serve it out to
the few undismayed members of the ship's crew, John rushed on him,
seized the liquor and hurled it over into the raging sea.
Having accomplished this, Stevens next applied himself to the captain,
endeavoring to bring him back to his senses, and a realization of the
duty which he owed as commander to the passengers and crew. He appealed
to his dignity as a man, exhorted him to encourage the sailors by his
example, and strove to raise his spirits by saying that the storm did
not appear so terrible as some he had before experienced. While he was
thus employed, they shipped a sea on the starboard side, which all
thought would send them to the bottom. For a moment the vessel seemed to
sink beneath its weight, shivered and remained motionless. It was a
moment of critical suspense, and, fancying that they were gradually
descending into the great bosom of the ocean, John Stevens gave himself
up for lost and summoned all his fortitude to bear the approaching death
as became a brave man.
At this crisis, the water, which rushed with incredible force through
all parts of the vessel, floated out. Mr. Holmes was almost drowned,
and, had not John seized one arm which he swung wildly above his head,
he probably would have been washed overboard. The vessel did not go down
immediately as they thought it would, and Mr. Holmes, partially
recovered, joined Stevens.
"The storm is terrible," said the old man. "The ship is going down, and
I will go with it."
"Nay, nay; keep up a stout heart," urged John.
"Verily, how can I, when danger overwhelms even the captain?"
"If we must die, let us die like men, struggling for our lives," said
"Remember your pledge to me. Care for her, for I will go. The ship may
be saved, but my end I feel is near."
John promised to obey his request, and then, being one whom hope never
entirely deserted, he turned upon the captain of the ship and once more
urged him to make some manly exertion to save himself and the crew.
"Throw the guns overboard as well as much of the weighty cargo," he
cried, "and set the pumps a-going."
Mr. Holmes, having sufficiently recovered to realize the wisdom of the
course pursued by Stevens, joined him in his entreaties, and they got
the captain and some of his crew to make one more effort. The water,
however, gained on the pumps, and it seemed as if they would not long be
able to keep the vessel afloat.
At ten o'clock, the wind had increased to a hurricane; the sky was so
entirely obscured with black clouds, and the rain poured in such
torrents, that objects could not be discerned from the wheel to the
ship's head. Soon the pumps were choked and could be no longer worked.
Then dismay seized on all, and nothing but unutterable despair, anguish
and horror, wrought up to frenzy, were to be seen. Not a single person
was capable of an effort to be useful; all seemed more desirous to
terminate their calamities in an embrace of death, than willing, by a
painful exertion, to avoid it.
John Stevens, though despairing, yet determined to make a manly struggle
for life, and he was staggering through the main cabin, when some one
clutched his arm. He turned about and through the gloom saw Blanche's
"Are we going down?" she asked.
"God grant that it be not so!" he answered.
"But such fearful noises, such hideous sights."
"Be brave, young maid," he urged. "Where is your father?"
"His shoulder is injured, and his left arm is almost useless."
At this moment Mr. Holmes came along, holding his injured arm with his
"Aye, my friend, the worst is coming," he said, fixing his despairing
eyes on the white face of his daughter. "I am pleased to find you
together, for now I can say what I would to both of you. Blanche, he
hath promised to care for you; he is a man of honor, rely on him."
A sudden lurch of the vessel sent all three in a heap at one side of the
cabin, and, as soon as John could regain his feet and ascertain that the
old gentleman and his daughter had sustained no injury, he went on deck.
At about eleven o'clock, they could plainly distinguish a dreadful
roaring noise resembling that of waves rolling against the rocks; but
the darkness of the day and the accompanying rain made it impossible to
see for any distance, and John realized that, if they were near rocks,
they might be dashed to pieces on them before they were perceived. At
twelve o'clock, however, the weather cleared a little, when they
discovered breakers and reefs outside, so that it was evident they had
passed in quite close to them, and were now fairly hemmed in between the
rocks and the land.
At this very critical moment, the captain adopted the dangerous
expedient of dropping anchor, to bring the ship up with her head to the
sea. Any seaman of common sense and not frightened out of his wits must
have known that no ship could ride at anchor in that storm. John
Stevens, though no sailor, saw the folly of such a course and
expostulated with the captain, but to no purpose. Scarcely had the
anchor taken firm hold when an enormous sea, rolling over the ship,
overwhelmed her and filled her with water, and every one on board
concluded that she was sinking. On the instant a sailor, with presence
of mind worthy of an English mariner, took an axe, ran forward and cut
The freed vessel again floated and made an effort to right herself, but
she was almost completely waterlogged and heeled to larboard so much
that the gunwale lay under water. They then endeavored to steer as fast
as they could for land, which they knew could not be at any great
distance, though through the hazy weather they were unable to see it.
The foresail was loosened, and, by great efforts in bailing, she righted
a little, her gunwale was raised above water, and they scudded as well
as they could before the wind, which blew hard on shore, and at about
two o'clock one of the sailors said he espied land ahead.
"We will never reach it," said Mr. Holmes, who was at the side of John
"Do not despair," said John.
"But we can't reach the shore, look at those waves."
A tremendous sea rolling after them broke over the stern of the ship,
tore everything before it, stove in the steerage, carried away the
rudder, shivered the wheel to pieces and tore up the very ringbolts of
the deck, carrying the men who stood on the deck forward and sweeping
them overboard. Among them was the unfortunate captain of the
_Silverwing_. John was standing at the time near the wheel, and
fortunately had hold of the taffrail, which enabled him to resist in
part the weight of the wave. He was, however, swept off his feet, and
dashed against the main-mast. So violent was the jerk from the taffrail,
that it seemed as if it would have dislocated his arms. However, it
broke the force of the stroke, and, in all probability, saved him from
being dashed to death against the mast.
John floundered about in the water at the foot of the mast, until at
length he got upon his feet and seized a rope, which he held while
considering what he should do to extricate himself. At this instant he
perceived Mr. Holmes and his daughter on the capstan. How they had got
there was a marvel to him which he had no time to investigate. Mr.
Holmes beckoned with his lame hand to John, while he clung to his
daughter with his right. A vivid flash of lightning lighted up the
scene, and John saw that Blanche was very pale, but calm. Never had he
seen a more beautiful picture than this pretty maiden with her face
turned in resignation to the storm. He forgot his own danger, forgot
wife and children at home in his unselfish eagerness to snatch the
unfortunate girl from the impending danger.
It was no easy matter for John Stevens to break away from his hold on
the main-mast and make his way to the capstan. At every roll of the ship
and every surge of the waves, unfortunate passengers or sailors were
washed overboard and plunged into the boiling, seething waves which
thundered about them. Stevens made a bold push, however, and reached the
capstan. Here he could survey the wreck, and he saw that the water was
nearly breast-high on the quarter-deck of the vessel.
"It will soon be over," said Mr. Holmes in a voice so despairing that it
rang in the ears of John Stevens to his dying day. "Crew and passengers
are nearly all gone, and my turn will come soon."
Even as he spoke, the purser, two men and four women were washed
overboard, their drowning screams mingling with the hollow roars of
"Take her! take her!" cried Mr. Holmes frantically. "I resign her to
you. I am going; I can hold out no longer."
A wave more terrible than any that had preceded it at this moment seemed
to bury the ship, which was driving straight toward the unknown shore.
Instinctively John wound one arm about the girl and held to the capstan
with the other. It seemed an age, and he was almost on the point of
relaxing his hold on the capstan, when they once more rose above the
water, and he got a breath of air. He still clung to Blanche in despair,
though she lay so limp in his arms that he thought her dead.
It was now dark, for night had fallen upon the awful scene. A flash of
lightning illuminated the wreck, Mr. Holmes was gone, and Stevens could
not see another soul on the vessel. The wild roar of surf fell on his
ears, and a moment later he felt the bottom of the ship grating on the
sands. It seemed to glide further and further on the beach, as if the
ship were being lifted and driven inland. The tide was at the full, and
the wind was blowing a hurricane on shore, so that the wreck was driven
far up on the beach, and at low tide it was high and dry.
John Stevens remained by the capstan, as it was highest point, holding
Blanche in his arms long after the ship had settled in the sands. The
waves leaped and raved angrily below; but not a human voice was heard.
He asked himself if Blanche were dead or living. At last he felt her
move and, placing his hand on her heart, was rejoiced to know that it
"Father--father!" she faintly murmured.
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