Harper's Round Table, December 22, 1896 by Various
[Illustration: HARPER'S ROUND TABLE]
Copyright, 1896, by HARPER & BROTHERS. All Rights Reserved.
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PUBLISHED WEEKLY. NEW YORK, TUESDAY, DECEMBER 22, 1896. FIVE CENTS A COPY.
VOL. XVIII.--NO. 895. TWO DOLLARS A YEAR.
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BY MARY E. WILKINS.
Two days before Christmas John Henry sat on the top rail of the fence which separated the seven-acre lot from the oat-field. There were five rails in the fence, on account of two cows addicted to jumping being kept in the seven-acre lot, and consequently John Henry was perched at quite a dizzy height from the ground. His mother would have been exceedingly nervous had she seen him there. He was her only child; his two older brothers had died in infancy; he had himself been very delicate, and it had been hard work to rear him. The neighbors said that Martha Anne Lewis had brought up John Henry wrapped in cotton-wool under a glass shade, and that she believed him to be both sugar and salt as far as sun and rain were concerned. "Never lets him go out in the hot sun without an umbrella," said they, "and never lets him out at all on a rainy day--always keeps him at home, flattening his nose against the window-pane."
Poor John Henry's mother was afraid to have him climb trees or coast down hill, and he might never have enjoyed these boyish sports had it not been for his father. When he was quite small, his father took him out in the pine woods and taught him how to climb a tall tree.
"Don't you be afraid, sonny. A boy can't live in this world and not be picked on unless he can climb."
John Henry went to the top of the tree in triumph, and when his mother turned pale at the recital, his father only laughed.
"I'd have caught him if he'd fallen, Martha Anne," he said; "and John Henry has got to climb a tree, unless you want to set him up for a girl and done with it."
However, Mrs. Lewis stipulated that John Henry should not climb unless his father was with him, and also that he should not go coasting without him. The result was that until John Henry was twelve he had had very few boy-mates. He went to the district school, but that was only a quarter of a mile from his home, and he did not have to carry his dinner, and he always came straight home, because his mother was so anxious if he was late.
"Better humor your mother, sonny, and not stay to play with the boys, she gets so worried," his father told him.
So John Henry always trudged faithfully home, in spite of cajoling shouts, and sometimes taunts about being tied to mother's apron-strings. However, the taunts were rather cautiously given; John Henry, mother's boy though he was, had still a pretty spirit of his own, and his small fists were harder than they looked. Once or twice there had been a scuffle, in which he had not been worsted. His mother had chided and wept over him on his return, and held anxious consultations with the teachers and the other boys' mothers, but John Henry had gained his firm footing in school, in spite of his pink face, his smooth hair, his little ruffled shirts, and the cake and sugared doughnuts which he brought to eat at recess. None of the other boys brought such luncheons; indeed, the most of them were dependent upon spruce gum and the cores of their friends' apples, and none of them wore such fine clothes.
It was quite a grief to Mrs. Lewis that she could not exercise as much taste upon a son's personal adornment as she could have done upon a daughter's, but she did all she was able. John Henry wore ruffled shirts, and carried hem-stitched pocket-handkerchiefs, his mittens were knitted in fancy stitches, and he had little slippers with roses embroidered on the toes to wear in the house. She also feather-stitched his blue-jean overalls.
John Henry's father, who was a farmer, insisted that his son should learn to work on the farm, and his mother, though she would have preferred to have had him in the house with her making quilts and pin-cushions, had to consent. Every day John Henry was arrayed in overalls, and did his task in field and garden; but his mother feather-stitched the overalls with white linen thread, though all the neighbors laughed, and John Henry was privately ashamed of them. However, his father bade him humor poor mother, and he never objected to the decoration. John Henry wore the overalls now, for he had been working with his father all the morning. There was no school all the next week, on account of Christmas holidays. It was only a half-hour before noon--John Henry's father had sent him home, lest his mother should think he was working too long, and the boy had sat down on the fence to take an observation on the way. John Henry was rather given to pauses for reflection and observation upon his little way of life.
Although it was late in December, the day was quite mild; there was a warm haze in the horizon distances, and the wind blew in soft puffs from the south. John Henry had taken his jacket off--it lay on the ground beside the fence. He shrugged his blue-jean knees up to his chin, clasped his hands around them, and stared ahead with blue reflective eyes. He did not see a boy coming across the field; he did not even hear him whistle, though it was a loud pipe of "Marching through Georgia." He did not notice him until he had reached the fence and hailed with a gruff "Hullo!" Then he looked down and saw Jim Mills.
"Hullo!" responded John Henry.
Jim Mills was carrying a sack of potatoes; he let it slip to the ground, and leaned against the fence with a sigh.
"Heavy?" inquired John Henry.
"Try it an' see."
"Where did you bring it from?"
"Thatcher's. Thought I'd come across lots, 'cause it was shorter. Where you been?"
"Been workin' in the wood-lot."
Jim Mills looked mournfully at the potato-sack. "I've got to be goin'," said he. "Mother wants these for dinner."
John Henry jumped down from the fence and gave the sack a manful tug from the ground. "I'll carry it as far as my house," said he.
The two boys moved on across the old plough ridges of the field, John Henry a little in the rear, swung sideways by the potato-bag like a ship by its anchor.
"Going to the tree Tuesday night?" he panted, presently.
"Ketch me!" responded Jim Mills, surlily.
"Why ain't you going?"
"What would I be going for, I'd like to know?"
"There's going to be a Christmas tree, an' you'll have something."
"What'll I have?" demanded Jim Mills, fiercely.
He turned around in the cart path and faced John Henry. He was a thin boy, very small for his age, with a fringe of pale hair blowing under his old cap, over big gray eyes sunken in pathetic hollows. Many people thought that Jim Mills looked as if he did not have enough to eat.
"What d'yer s'pose I had last year?" asked he.
John Henry shook his head.
"Well, I'll tell you. I had a candy-bag and an orange and a girl's book from the teacher. She said she was sorry there wasn't enough boys' books to go round. When I got home I gave the candy-bag to the baby, and the orange to little Hattie and 'Melia, and 'Liza Ann she had the book. I ain't going to any more Christmas trees."
"Maybe you'll get something more this year," ventured John Henry, feebly.
"Where'll I get it? Tell me that, will you? Father an' mother can't give me anything. There's nobody but the teacher. Reckon I'll get another girl's book from her, an' then I'll have the candy-bag an' the orange, same as all the others, out of the school money. What would you think, John Henry Lewis, if that was all you was goin' to have?"
John Henry shook his head vaguely.
"Guess you wouldn't go to the Christmas tree any more than some other folks," said Jim Mills. "There you've got your father and your mother, and your uncle Joe and your aunt Jane, and your aunt Louisa and your grandfather and grandmother Lewis and your grandmother Atkins, to bring presents to the tree for you. How'd you feel if you had to go there and hark for your name to be called, and hear it: 'John Henry Lewis'--then you march out before 'em all and git a little candy-bag; 'John Henry Lewis'--then you march out and get an orange; 'John Henry Lewis'--then you march out and get a girl's book, and all of them things that everybody else has? Guess you'd be ashamed to go to Christmas trees as much as me. If your folks be poor and can't have things, I guess you don't want to tell of it before everybody."
Jim Mills turned about and went on with a defiant stride; John Henry followed, tugging the potato-sack. When the boys reached the house his mother called out of the window to set it down directly, he would lame his shoulders, and Jim Mills flushed all over his little pinched face.
"Told you it was too heavy for you," he muttered.
"It's as light as a feather, mother," called John Henry.
He ran around to the wood-shed and got a little wheelbarrow and loaded the potato-sack into that.
"There! you can carry it easier this way," he said; and Jim Mills trundled off, without any thanks save an acquiescent grunt. Jim Mills had so few favors shown him that sometimes they seemed to awaken within him an indignant surprise, instead of gratitude.
John Henry was so abstracted during dinner that his mother feared he was ill, and wished him to take some tincture of rhubarb. After dinner he went out in the barn, and curled himself up in the hay-mow to think. During the next two days he seemed to be in a brown study. Monday, the day before Christmas, Jim Mills brought the wheelbarrow home, and John Henry beckoned him into the barn.
"Look here, Jim; you'd better go to that tree to-morrow night."
"What for, I'd like to know?"
"Oh, 'cause you'd better."
"Why had I better? I ain't going to tramp half a mile to that old school-house to get a candy-bag and an orange and a girl's book."
"Say, Jim, you go."
"Oh, something," replied John Henry, mysteriously and evasively.
Jim Mills's gray eyes took on a sudden sharpness. "What d'yer mean?"
"Oh, nothing. I rather guess you'll get something more this time, though."
"Say what you heard, John Henry Lewis!" Jim Mills questioned, eagerly.
"I didn't say I'd heard anything. You just better go to the Christmas tree, though; if you don't, you'll be sorry."
"No, I ain't fooling!"
Finally Jim Mills agreed to go to the Christmas tree; in fact, John Henry made him promise solemnly, though he would not give his reason. However, Jim Mills went home in a state of bewildered expectation and elation. He was finally convinced that somebody was going to hang something fine on the Christmas tree for him, that John Henry knew it, and had promised not to tell. The tree was to be in the district school-house. All Tuesday afternoon John Henry, with some other boys and girls, worked hard decorating the school-house with evergreen. The tree had been set up in the morning, and people had begun to bring the presents; the teacher and some of the older girls were tying them on. Now and then John Henry made a détour in that direction, and peeped furtively. Before he went home he made quite sure that all the presents which he expected were there. He counted them over as he trudged home over the moonlit snow-crust. A deep snow had fallen on Sunday, and so averted the danger of a green Christmas. The moon was full, and considerably above the horizon, though it was still early. John Henry hurried, for he had much to do.
Supper was all ready when he reached home, and he ate it so hastily that his mother was afraid he would have indigestion. After supper he went up to his room and put on his best clothes, which his mother had laid out on the bed for him. Then he watched his chance--standing at the head of the stairs, and making sure that the doors below were shut--of stealing softly down and out of the front door.
It was about an hour before the time set for the Christmas festivities. He sped along through the moonlight. Twice he saw some one coming far down the road, and slunk to the cover of a bush, like a rabbit. One man went crunching past without a pause, but the other stopped when he neared the bush, and stared about him incredulously.
"I swan, I thought I see somebody ahead here," John Henry heard him say. He hugged close to the shadow of the bush until the squeaking crunch of the man's footsteps were out of hearing, then he came out and ran for the school-house, which was not far distant.
The windows were quite dark, and the door was locked. John Henry, however, was not dependent upon a door; he raised a window, and climbed in easily enough. The little interior was full of the spicy fragrance of evergreen, which had also a subtle festive suggestiveness. John Henry stole across to the desk, took a match from his pocket, and lighted a lamp, and then the tree blazed out. It was a fine tall tree, festooned with garlands of pop-corn, and grafted, as it were, into splendid and various fruit bearing. John Henry was not long in the school-house. He had brought a lead-pencil and rubber, and had noted the exact hanging places of his presents. It was barely ten minutes before the windows were again dark and John Henry was hurrying home.
His mother, who was very busy putting on a new brown cashmere dress, and his father, who was shaving, had not missed him. He stole in quietly, and sat down by the sitting-room stove. He was elated, but he had some misgivings. He was quite sure of his good motives, and yet there was a little sense of guilt.
When at length he started again, with his father and mother, he was very quiet. His mother asked him two or three times on the way if he did not feel well, and pulled his scarf more closely around his neck.
The district school-house was packed that evening; all the scholars and their families had come. Jim Mills was already there when John Henry entered, and rolled his eyes about at him with a curious expression of mingled hope and doubt.
Poor Jim Mills turned pale when the distribution of gifts began, and listened intently, every nerve strained, for his own name. He had not long to wait. He went down the aisle, his knees shaking, and received--not an orange, not a candy-bag, not the girl's book, of which he had still a bitter suspicion, but a parcel which at the first touch he knew, with a bewilderment of rapture, to contain skates. He had scarcely reached his seat before his name was called again, and forth he went for the second time, and was given a jack-knife with many blades. Then he went up to receive a top, then a boy's book, then another boy's book, then a pair of beautiful red mittens, then a sled. Jim Mills started up at the sound of his name and traversed the school-room until everybody stared, and the teacher began to look puzzled and anxious. She consulted with the committee-man who was distributing the presents, and his wife, who had been helping her that afternoon. Then she went to John Henry's father and mother, and one of his aunts who was there, and they all whispered together. Finally she bent over Jim Mills and whispered to him, and he immediately crooked his arm around his face, leaned forward upon his desk, and began to cry. He was a nervous boy; he had not eaten much that day, and the fall from such an unwonted height of joyful possession was a hard one.
"You must tell me the truth, Jim Mills," the teacher whispered, sharply.
"I--didn't," responded Jim Mills, with a painful cry, as if she had struck him.
"If you did come in here while we were gone and mark John Henry Lewis's presents over for yourself, tell me at once, if you do not want to be very severely punished," said the teacher, quite aloud.
Jim Mills did not repeat his denial; he only gave a great heaving sob. The scholars stood up in their seats to see.
"What a wicked boy!" exclaimed a woman near John Henry.
"He ought to be put in jail," returned another.
"He didn't do it!" John Henry cried out, wildly.
"He must have," said the first woman.
"Yes; you're a real good boy to stand up for him, but he must have," agreed the second woman.
"I tell you he didn't!" almost screamed John Henry; but they paid no more attention. He called the teacher, waving his arms frantically, but she was still busy with Jim Mills, and did not hear or see him. He tried to get up the aisle to her, but it was now blocked. He could not reach his father and mother for the same reason.
Finally John Henry Lewis made a desperate plunge down the aisle, and into the middle of the floor beside the tree. He raised his hand, and everybody stared at him. He was very pale, and his voice almost failed him, but he persisted in the first speech of his life.
"I did it," said he. "He mustn't be blamed. He didn't know anything about it. I told him he'd better come to-night, 'cause he'd get something nice, but that was all he knew about it. All he had last Christmas was an orange and a candy-bag and a girl's book, and he wasn't coming again. I had all the presents and he didn't have anything, and so I swapped. He ain't the one to be blamed; I am."
John Henry, pretty little mother's boy that he was, stood before them all, tingling with the rare shame of a generous action, meeting the astonished faces with the courage of one who invites punishment for guilt.
There was a pause--some one said afterwards that there were five minutes during which you might have heard a pin drop--then a woman caught her breath with something like a sob, and the teacher spoke.
"You may go to your seat, John Henry," said she.
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After the Christmas tree that night there was great speculation as to whether Jim Mills would be allowed to keep John Henry Lewis's presents, and as to what John Henry's folks would say to him.
It was ascertained beyond doubt that Jim Mills did keep the presents, and it was reported that all John Henry's father said to him was that in future he mustn't lay his plans to do anything like that without telling his folks about it. As for John Henry's mother, she and his grandmother Atkins bought him a little silver watch for a New-Year's present, because they felt uneasy about letting him sacrifice quite so much. His grandmother, who was superstitious, said that John Henry had always been delicate, and she was afraid it was a bad sign.
CHRISTMAS AT THE DOOR.
BY MARGARET E. SANGSTER.
Here's Christmas at the door again! There's never a day so dear, Nor one we are half so glad to see, In the course of the whole round year.
It isn't that Santa Claus comes back, And his hands with gifts are full; It isn't that we have holidays, When we need not go to school.
But the air is thrilled with happiness, The crowds go up and down, And people laugh and shout for joy When Christmas comes to town.
There's nobody left to stand outside, The world is bright with cheer, For Christmas-time is the merriest time In the whole of the big round year.
We try to love our enemies now, And our friends we love the more, That strife and anger fade away When Christmas taps at the door.
"THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS."
[Illustration: CLEMENT C. MOORE.]
The author of the famous poem that recounts in such graphic language "The Visit of St. Nicholas" was born in the city of New York, July 15, 1779. His boyhood was passed at the country-seat of his father, called Chelsea, then far remote from the city, but now a very thickly settled portion of it, and embracing a large tract in the vicinity of Ninth Avenue and Twenty-third Street.
Dr. Moore received his early education in Latin and Greek from his father, the venerable Bishop of New York, and in 1798 he graduated from Columbia College. He devoted himself to the study of the Hebrew language, and the result of his labors appeared in the form of a Hebrew and English Lexicon, which was published in 1809, and he was thus the pioneer in the work of Hebrew lexicography. In 1821 Dr. Moore was made Professor of Biblical Learning in the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church. From his magnificent estate he donated to the Episcopal Church the tract on Ninth Avenue between Twentieth and Twenty-first streets, and the Theological Seminary there erected is a lasting monument to his liberality and devotion to the sacred cause.
In the intervals between the time devoted to more serious studies his principal amusement was writing short poems for the amusement of his children, and among them was "The Visit of St. Nicholas," which was written for them as a Christmas gift about 1840. The idea, he states, was derived from an ancient legend, which was related to him by an old Dutchman who lived near his father's home, and told him the story when a boy.
In those days every young lady was supposed to have an "album," and a relative who was visiting the family quickly transferred the verses to hers. They were first published, much to the surprise of the author, in a newspaper printed in Troy. They attracted immediate attention, and were copied and recopied in newspapers and periodicals all over the country. An illustrated edition, in book form, was published about 1850, and since then School Readers have made them familiar to generation after generation of children. They have been translated into foreign languages, and a learned editor informed us of his delight and surprise when travelling in Germany to hear them recited by a little girl in her own native tongue.
After a long life of honor and usefulness, Dr. Moore died, at his summer residence in New York, July 10, 1863. For him may be claimed the peculiar distinction of being the author of the two extremes of literature--learned works on ancient languages for profound scholars, and Christmas verses for little children. The learned works, upon which he spent years of constant labor, have been superseded by works of still greater research, but the man is yet to be born who can write anything to supersede the little poem that has made Santa Claus and his tiny reindeer a living reality to thousands of children throughout our broad land.
[Illustration: REDUCED FAC-SIMILE OF THE MANUSCRIPT OF DR. MOORE'S FAMOUS POEM.]
THE WORD OF THE GUNS.
BY EARLE TRACY.
The little _Mystery_ was lying off the pier at Martinez's. Night had covered sail-boat and row-boat alike, and while all Potosi gathered towards the front celebrating Christmas eve with the rockets and the fire-crackers that are not once thought of on the Fourth of July, Mr. Martinez and Bascom were silently carrying bags of gold on board the _Mystery_. As the sails ran up in the snapping cold, the mournful cry of her ropes was the only sound on the Back Bay, and it smote Bascom; and Mr. Martinez's grasp and his whispered cautions to Captain Tony, and the solemn gold that he had carried, weighed upon his heart as they put out.
Everything had been arranged on the deck for mounting the one which was best preserved of the six mysterious old cannon that he had found the summer before sunk in Potomoc Bay. It had been left covered by tarpaulins in a row-boat off Captain Tony's point, where they could get it as they passed. They ran the schooner across from Mr. Martinez's to the point, and neither of them spoke along the way. When they reached the boat, Bascom sprang over into it and lifted off the tarpaulins. There was nothing underneath.
"The cannon's gone," he whispered. "What does it mean?"
"Somebody playin' a joke to spoil our fun," said the Captain, and the darkness hid the worried frown upon his face. "Yo' mus' go ashore an' look for it; bud doan' be long."
"Looks like it's too funny for a joke," said Bascom, "less'n it's one of ole Captain Aristide's. I never heard of his playin' one, only he was along here to-day when I was a-polishin' the gun, an' he seemed mighty inter_est_ed. It kind o' shivered me, but I went on sweet an' innocent about our keepin' Christmas, firin' in the channel."
"Aristide?" repeated Captain Tony, and he crossed his arms on the tiller and pulled his hat down over his eyes, and thought, while Bascom rowed ashore. Captain Aristide Lorat was known by every one to be the craftiest man along the coast. His neighbors had never guessed that in his free and gallant youth he had been a pirate neither more nor less. He was too old now to enjoy the personal risk of such enterprises, and he gave his direct attention to a prosaic carrying trade; but his old preferences survived in the form of a few boats which did whatever smuggling or wrecking came in their way. They were seldom seen in Pontomoc Bay, and had never been recognized in their true character nor connected with Captain Lorat, and yet Captain Tony did not like to think that old Aristide had been nosing in their affairs. For it was something unusual that was taking the _Mystery_ out on Christmas eve.
Mr. Martinez, the owner of the great canning-factory for which Captain Tony and Bascom sailed, was the chief of a quiet organization of Cubans who were wealthy enough to make their patriotism of substantial disadvantage to Spain. Just now, in one of the frequent insurrections, there had been an unexpected call on the society for aid. A Cuban boat was secretly coasting off Horn Island, waiting their messenger, for this was at a time when the United States was not much inclined towards sympathy. Martinez had two reasons for sending Captain Tony out to it. Tony was infallibly prudent and brave, and he was trustworthy, both from the integrity of character which made him dislike the mission, and from an indebtedness to his employer which forbade his refusing it. Mr. Martinez had given them the _Mystery_.
"They made a clean job," whispered Bascom, coming back. "They've taken that and the two next best out'n the shed where I was polishin' them. It must have been Captain Aristide. Has he any grudge agin us?"
"None dat I know of," the Captain said; "an' we can't stop an' study 'boud it now. It is of mo' impo'tance dat we do ouah wo'k dan dat we fire guns, even to say dat it is done." Captain Tony's regret at taking Bascom out on a holiday had suggested carrying the best cannon along and firing it, for Bascom had been putting all his savings into ammunition and fireworks for Christmas. Mr. Martinez approved, thinking a water celebration would help to explain their going, and they were to fire him a reassurance when they went through Potosi Channel on their way to the oyster-beds when their mission had been carried out.
The actual fact of the case was that Captain Lorat needed no more than the knowledge that a boat was going out. Other bits of knowledge gained from other sources only required this to piece them to a whole. He decided it would be better not to let Bascom have a gun on board, and while the _Mystery_ was taking her cargo at Martinez's pier, he had all of them that looked as if they might be used loaded upon a schooner that had come into the bay since dark.
[Illustration: ONE OF THE MEN JUMPED ON BOARD AND GRAPPLED WITH THE CAPTAIN.]
Toward three in the morning Bascom found his eyelids growing so heavy that he could scarcely keep from drowsing against the mast in the snug warm lee of the sail. The _Mystery_ was just about to round the Horn when a row-boat load of men swished past her bows. Bascom drew himself together and sprang swiftly to the rail. One of the men was already climbing up the side, but he jumped on board and grappled with the Captain. There was a volley of shots, and the Captain dodged into the cabin, where the gold was stowed. The men swarmed up over the deck. For a moment Bascom had thought they were the Cubans, but now he caught up one of his rockets, lighted it, and held it steady while it rose. The Cuban boat must surely be waiting round the point of the island, and it would see the signal. A man leaped round the mast and knocked him down, but as Bascom rolled over to the rail he saw the rocket singing up to break in scintillating brightness through the night. He wriggled like a cat to the stern and dropped down the hatchway. He pulled the hatches shut, but there was a rush of feet along the deck, and the blade of the anchor came crashing through the cabin-top. Bascom threw himself into a bunk, and before the Captain, who was reloading in a corner, could close his revolver and lift it, the roof was torn from over them; three men poured in, seized the Captain and Bascom, bound them both, and carried off the gold. The lantern hung battered, but its light was not out, and the prisoners looked at each other in despair.
"Reckon I give it to dem better dan I got," he said, "bud I'm t'inkin' 'boud how we can catch dem again an' take ouah money back."
"I'm kind of expectin' comp'ny," said Bascom. "Them Cubans is dumber'n I take 'em for if they don't mosey up to see what my rocket meant. I fired one just as you dodged in the cabin."
"Dere is one question," Captain Tony said. "Get yo'se'f close an' tuhn a little so I can take a bite at dat rope. Yo' signal may have attrac' de government cruiser dat's lyin' off Ship Islan'."
"Oh!" said Bascom. "Well, we got a lot of time before they can steam over." He rolled himself against the Captain, who craned his neck forward and worked with his strong creole teeth at the knots. He was still pulling at them when feet were heard scrambling to the deck again, and two men looked in at the shattered hatch. They spoke to Captain Tony in Spanish, of which Bascom only recognized the pass-word that Mr. Martinez had given them.
"Dey come to yo' rocket," the Captain translated while the men unbound them, "an' dey was in time to see de boat put off from de _Mystery_, so de Cuban schooner has gone after dem, sendin' dese two men in a skiff here."
"Which way've the scalawags gone?" inquired Bascom, jumping to his feet.
"De way dey had to," answered the Captain, hurrying to the deck. "Dey reach deir schooner, an' as de Cubans was comin' from outside, dey had to put in. We'll be ovah-haulin' dem; dese men say de Cuban boat is as good at chasin' as she is at showing her heels. We goin' along too. Reckon yo' has to tek de tiller," he added, and he stood by, with his arm wrapped in a piece of canvas for a sling, and laid the course. Ahead of them they could just see the Cuban boat plying back and forth with a long tack and a short tack, and the _Mystery_ turned eastward. The Cuban boat could not trust herself far inland where she did not know the channels, and the smugglers would take their first opportunity to make a sudden run east into one of the bayous; and Captain Tony determined that the _Mystery_ should cut them off. It was a hare-and-hounds chase, and the hours passed among the stars while the three boats doubled and redoubled at top speed, gaining on one tack, losing on the next. Pale clouds began to drift across the sky, and there was a taste of morning in the wind. The Captain slapped Bascom on the back. "Yo' boy," he chuckled, "dat Cuban boat is de stuff! She's run dem down so fine dat dey's headin' 'cross de shoals, an' dey boun' to stay dere an' wait faw us, by my reckonin'."
Bascom giggled, but the Captain whistled in a new tone. "W'at in de name of reason!" he exclaimed; "dey tu'nin' back across de Cuban's course? Oh ho!"
A cloud of smoke went up, and there was a great rumbling hoarse report such as had not been heard in those waters since the war. "Dey firin'!" the Captain gasped. The sound vibrated among the waves and sank away, and the smoke cleared. The Cuban was not hurt. She turned like a girl courtesying, and a sharper shot came caracoling on the waves, this time from her.
"De mad folly!" shouted the Captain. "Dey wan' to raise de dead, let alone all de cruisers on de coas'!"
Bascom danced at the tiller. He was quivering with his first thrill of war--not only war between the Cubans and the smugglers, but soon with the United States. Over their shoulders he could see the faint line of a cruiser's smoke against the west. The Captain was looking very grave. "Dis'll be de darkes' day de _Mystery_ seen yet," he said. "I 'ain't nevah liked dis job, me, bud it look like we couldn' refuse."
"One thing for the firing," said Bascom, "it's Christmas mornin'."
"Christmas gift," said the Captain, grimly. "Reckon de smugglers is sayin' it! Dey los' a mas' by dat las' shot."
"Christmas--" ejaculated Bascom, and stopped short as the whistle of the wind in the rigging was drowned again by a terrific explosion that shook the sea. As they peered out under the smoke, something dropped like a spent ball on the deck. The Captain picked it up, and after a moment's scrutiny passed it over to Bascom. It was an unmistakable fragment from the muzzle of one of Bascom's guns. The peculiar alloy that was neither brass nor bronze, and that had puzzled every one when the guns were raised, left no opening for doubt.
"Golly," said Bascom, "rather bust than shoot agin its frien's!" He stroked the powder-smelling piece against his cheek and almost kissed it for delight.
The Captain noted the growing trail of smoke in the west and spoke to the two Cubans. One of them pointed at the smugglers' schooner. She was settling fast, and the men on board of her were raising a white flag. The _Mystery_ and the Cuban boat answered the signal, and the three Captains met on board the _Mystery_ to make terms.
The smuggler Captain was a tall, pleasant-faced American of Scotch descent, with a wounded cheek and big fierce-looking mustaches. "I've got the best of myself so bad," he declared, "that you can say what you want, but it'll not be to your advantage to leave my schooner standing on the edge of the bar to tell tales; so what I propose is this: I'll give you back your scads without any more fuss if you'll tow what's left of her into Davis Bayou out of sight and give us permission to skip."
The Cuban Captain declined to do this, and it was finally decided that while the _Mystery_ beat back and forth in the sound, the Cuban should tow the smugglers out of danger and then make good her own escape.
Bascom went across in the tender with the other skiffs to get his guns. "Your boss is grit, ain't he?" said the smuggler Captain as they pulled through the white foam on the bar. "I reckoned on an ordinary skeery creole, but the way things has turned out, it's good I reckoned wrong."
"It would have been gooder for you if you hadn't reckoned on my guns," said Bascom, getting aboard the wreck, among a demoralized crew, and laying his hand on the only piece he saw. "What's gone with the first one? How did you know about 'em, anyhow?"
The Captain preluded his answer with a fair volley of imprecations. "And I wish the fiends had taken 'em before they ever fouled my deck," he finished. "I didn't count on firin' 'em; I jus' took 'em to keep you from makin' a noise, but I brought along your ammunition for prudence an' knowin' it would come handy some day, an' when I was close put I jus' let 'em holler. First one broke loose an' jumped into the water, shootin' at kingdom come, an' the nex' busted an' busted us, so I wish you joy of firin' this third."
"Joy?" said Bascom; "well, I rather guess!" It was the one he had planned for from the first, and which had been stolen from the row-boat. "You wasn't allowing that guns what's seen enough of life to know what side they're on would turn agin their frien's, was you? Just you listen an' you'll hear this one speakin' calm and pleasant when she gets on board the _Mystery_. And I'll give you this pointer," he added, from the boat to which the gun had been lowered, "next time you want to borrow something of mine, jus' remember that my things mos'ly has peculiar workin's, an' I can manage 'em best."
Half or three-quarters of an hour later, when every trace of the wreck was out of sight, and the sails of the Cuban boat were flitting innocently between Horn Island and the shore on the way east, the United States cruiser shone near at hand, trim and slender and dauntless in the sunrise.
"Well," said Captain Tony, as they watched her despatch an officer towards them in a boat, "it's jus' to brass it out now. We've got to do it faw Mr. Martinez. He'll be in mighty bad troubl' if our tale don't satisfy dat young chap comin' dere. Bud if it do, it's good enough faw ev'ybody else--even ole Aristide, although it will disturb him mo' dan he will say--if what we t'ink is true. Dis insurrection an' secret-service business may be all hones' faw de peopl' dat belongs to it, bud it cost me an' yo' an' de little _Mystery_ mo' in small feelin' dan it pay, an' I say dis is de las' time faw enemy or frien'."
"Me too," cried Bascom, "an' the old gun thinks the same. They was dead down on this from the start, an' I reckon that's the word what they've waited so patient to get a chance to say."
The ship's boat drew alongside, and the officer came aboard to inquire, with the commander's compliments, why a little battered schooner was idling among the shoals in a norther, firing cannon.
Bascom and the Captain saluted together. "Christmas gifts," they cried.
"Usses had dese curious ole gun," the Captain explained, "w'at we raised out of de water las' yeah, an' dis boy has been waitin' evah since faw Christmas mornin' to fire 'em. An' I t'ought me dat it would be mo' safe to come out heah an' try dem before firin' in Potosi Channel, as was his wish. An' indeed it has prove dat I was right, for one of dem stepped right off into de water dat it come from, an' de nex' it busted, as you see," and he pointed to the cabin-top and to the bits of cannon that Bascom had gathered for keep-sakes from the sinking boat.
"Usses has been havin' a reg'lar party," Bascom added. "You are our most 'ristocratic callers, but you isn't our first. They'll be takin' the word of the guns clear to Mobile an' as far as you go, whichever way that is."
"Then this is one of the forgotten guns that were raised in Pontomoc Bay last summer?" the Lieutenant said. "I've heard of them." He examined the piece like a toy. He was a young man with straightforward clear eyes that commanded the same frankness they expressed, and had been very uncomfortable to meet until this open subject was reached. The Lieutenant saw Bascom's face light up with responsive enthusiasm, and he ran on: "It may have belonged to one of the old discoverers. Why, I can just see the old chaps that manned it when the ship went down, standing on tiptoe round it, with their swords clanking and their queer old clothes flapping in this very wind perhaps! You know I believe they would like it if we had the old veteran fire a salute."
"Usses would like that too," the Captain said.
Bascom had no answer. He looked across to the ship where the stars and stripes that had fought their way from so much ancient bravery were riding high in the gold sun-light and the wind. He looked until his eyes grew dim and the figure of the Lieutenant priming the cannon became blurred so that all the shadowy old crew seemed to have marshalled themselves aboard the _Mystery_ to man their gun. "Christmas gift," he murmured, and his heart came up into his throat. Then the voice of the gun rolled out, mellow and husky and peaceful after centuries of sleep.
The recoil went from stem to stern like a great thrill of joy. The smoke swept away on the wind, and the Lieutenant touched Bascom on the shoulder. There was an interval of silence, and then the man-of-war saluted the little _Mystery_.
A LOYAL TRAITOR.
A STORY OF THE WAR OF 1812 BETWEEN AMERICA AND ENGLAND.
BY JAMES BARNES.
No one was stirring in the inn except a sleepy, draggle-headed pot-boy, lazily sweeping out the tap-room. Although I was very hungry, I determined on a ramble along the water-front before breakfast, and I headed down the street.
I remembered very well where I had landed from the _Minetta_, and that upon the occasion of her entering the harbor I had been surprised at the number of vessels at the wharves; but now they seemed to be trebled. A maze of masts and rigging arose above the tree-tops, but the scene lacked the life and movement of loading and unloading.
The vessels appeared slovenly and unkempt, their yards at all angles, and their shrouds sagging. Close to me, with a long bowsprit extending almost into the front yard of one of the white houses that clustered at the southern bend of the harbor, was a great three-masted ship. Her cut was different from most of those that I had seen, but what held my eye was this: her foremast had been spliced neatly with wrappings of great rope, and three or four jagged breaks showed in her topsides and bulwarks. She was lying close to a great warehouse that prevented a view of the open bay, and I walked down the pier. The great vessel had quarter-galleries, like a man-of-war, and above her rudder-post I read the words, "_Northumberland_ of Liverpool"; then I remembered hearing the night before that this vessel had come in under the lee of the _Young Eagle_, and had been one of the richest fruits of her first cruise.
When I reached the pier-head I walked out on the string-piece, and climbing on the top of a pile of lumber, I looked out across the smooth water. A quarter of a mile from shore lay the tidiest-looking craft that I ever clapped my eyes on. She was not very small, but sat low in the water. A backward rake to her masts gave her a jaunty appearance, and the tall spars that lifted high above her deck looked as slender as whipstocks. Her jib-boom was of tremendous length, but at that time I did not know enough either to criticise or to appreciate her altogether at a glance.
It was setting out to be a scorching day. The smell of sperm-oil and pine timber came from beneath and about me, and so still was it that the sound of a man rowing a dory over against the farther shore sounded plainly. I could hear every thump in the thole-pins. The clicking of a block and tackle broke out, and a musical high-toned bell hurriedly struck the hour from the little brig. That she was the _Young Eagle_ I had no doubt, and it flashed across me that maybe I had gotten myself in somewhat of a predicament, and that maybe it would be better for me to find Captain Temple and inform him that, while I did know something of small arms, I was in truth nothing of a sailor.
I took the paper out of my pocket, and saw that there was no reference made to performing the duties of seamanship, but that I had been enlisted to instruct the crew in a branch with which I felt myself perfectly familiar.
My old friend Plummer had promised to help me learn the ropes, and so I determined to go ahead without any explaining.
Thinking that it would be best to report to my commander at the inn and await his orders, I turned my footsteps back into the town. And as I walked the path along the tree-lined street, why I should fall to thinking of Mary Tanner I do not know. I took a squint down at myself in my sailor finery, and rather admired the way the wide bell-shaped trousers flapped about my ankles. The wish grew upon me that Mary could see me as I was. Thus, with my head down, I hastened on, and did not perceive that an open gate swung across the way until I had run afoul of it, bows on.
As I leaned over to rub my shin I heard a laugh, and looking up, there, not ten feet from me, was the very person who had been in my mind--Mary Tanner herself! The power is given to women to control the expressions of their feelings in a manner that fails men altogether. At least I might say we are more clumsy at it. I was so astounded that I could not speak a word, and stood there on one leg like a startled sand-piper. She spoke first.
"Well, where did you come from?" she laughed, gathering up her apron in one hand. It had been filled with roses she had been clipping from a bush.
If the time had been longer since I had seen her, I think I might have been tempted to reply from China or some distant port, as her laughter galled me sharply. But as it was, I answered her somewhat falteringly, to be sure,
"From up there," pointing with my fingers toward the north.
"How did you get away from Gaston?" she asked.
At the mention of the old man's name I could not help but give a glance over my shoulder, at which Mary laughed and asked another question.
"Where did you get those outlandish clothes?"
"I'm a sailor," I replied, giving a hitch to my trousers.
"Oh no, you're not," said Mary, throwing back her head. "You're a boy."
"I wish you a good-morning, Mistress Tanner," I replied, making an effort to pull off the tight-fitting Portugee cap, and only succeeding in giving my hair a tweaking. "Good-morning, Mistress Tanner; time has not improved your manners."
I walked away, angry. It is no evidence of superior wisdom on my part to here make an observation; but six months of a town life will change a woman and teach her more than five years spent on a hill-side farm, and this is no falsehood. I had gone but a few rods when I heard my name called, and, looking back, I saw Mary leaning over the fence and beckoning to me with a rose in her fingers. Affecting a great deal of leisure, I retraced my steps.
"Are you really going to sea?" she asked.
Now although I could see how great the change had been that had come over her, this was spoken after the old manner; and despite the feeling that things were not exactly as they had been, I felt more at my ease.
"I'm one of the crew of the _Young Eagle_," I replied, and I must confess it, proudly.
"My!" was all Mary vouchsafed to this, but I noticed that her eyes brightened and that she flushed. The rose she had been holding fell from her hand, and I bent over and picked it up. As I offered to return it, she looked at me slyly.
"Why don't you keep it?" she asked.
"Because you have not given it to me."
"Then I will give you another."
As I took the flower she extended, an entirely new sensation thrilled me, and though this part of our short interview may be interesting or not, I am glad to set it down fully.
"Oh, I've got some news to tell," said Mary, looking at me archly.
"What is it?" I inquired. "Good news?"
"Yes; I may be rich some day, John."
"Rich!" I exclaimed. "How is that, pray tell me?"
"You see, my grandfather who lives in Canada was a Tory," Mary answered. "His name is Middleton--one of the Irish Middletons--and when he left New London my mother would not go with him, for my father was an American soldier. Now my grandfather wishes me to come to him."
"Oh, are you going?" I asked, with my heart beating loudly.
"Well, I won't go now," Mary replied. "You see, my father is very ill here at my uncle's." A shade of sadness came into her voice. "He wants me to go," she continued, "but I won't leave him for any grandfather, no matter how rich he is."
"If you went, perhaps I would never see you again," I said faintly.
"Why," she answered, opening her eyes wide, "you could come and see me."
"When you got command of your own ship." She smiled as she spoke.
"I'll have one some day," I spoke up bravely. "And that is what I'll do."
But an interruption came to this little dialogue.
"Look up the street," cried Mary, suddenly pointing.
I did so, and my heart fell. Here came the frightful old Gaston, shambling along, with his arms dangling in front of him; his clothes and head-gear were fit to make a ghost grin. But as if he had been a schoolmaster and I a truant schoolboy, I dodged through the gate and hid behind the rose-bush. For years I could not think of this action without chagrin, but now I could laugh at it.
"You had better not let him catch you," Mary observed, joining me, and we peered about the corner of the rose-bush until after Gaston had passed. That he was in quest of me there was no doubt, and I cannot help thinking that my evident fear amused Mary Tanner, for she stood there smiling at me, and pulling at a green branch over her head (oh, I can well recall how she looked!); but the scene was interrupted by the approach of a slight, quick-stepping man, who rattled a walking-stick along the fence-pickets as he came nearer.
"Here's Captain Temple," I said, straightening up. "Now you'll see whether I'm a sailor or not."
When the Captain was opposite the gate I stepped from behind the rose-bush and saluted.
"Heigh, oh!" he exclaimed, looking longer at Mary than he did at me. (She was a tall girl, and appeared older than her years.) "Heigh, oh, I'm just in time to rescue you, my lad. 'Tis plain you're a prize to beauty! Ay, and would fly her colors too," he added, pointing to the rose, which I had thrust in my bosom. As he spoke the officer bowed gallantly, and Mary dropped him a courtesy.
"Sorry, lad," Captain Temple went on, "but I may have use for you. Can you read and write?"
"Ay, ay, sir; French and English, and Latin too," I answered.
"Ecod! a scholar, eh?" was the return. "Scholars make bad sailors. But Bullard has gone to New London, and I would have somebody come to McCulough's office and help me with the papers. So bid good-by to your sweetheart, and come along--come along. We'll get under way to-morrow mayhap, or the day after."
[Illustration: "GOOD-BY, MARY," I SAID, EXTENDING MY HAND, "DON'T FORGET ME."]
"Good-by, Mary," said I, extending my hand. "Don't forget me."
"Good-by," she said simply, and thus we parted.
I was filled with the idea, as we went down the street, that I would run across Gaston; but I determined that if this happened, I should not show the fear of him that I had a few moments since. But we met no one except some villagers driving their cows to pasture, and approaching the wharves once more, we entered one of the warehouses, and found awaiting there a crowd of seamen. They all touched their hats as Captain Temple and I came to the doorway. A red-faced man with a great bulbous nose and snuff-powdered coat greeted us.
"You're late, Captain," he grumbled; "and look at the gentry that have been awaiting you. There may be some seamen amongst them, but I'll wager we've got some hog-butchers and tailors here, at any rate."
He might properly have added pirates in his category, for some of the men were as rough-looking cut-throats as any one might wish to see.
"Here, act as shipping-clerk, lad," said Captain Temple, shoving a great ledger toward me. "And set things down right and ship-shape, too, in plain English. Never mind the spelling--just so one can read it."
Luckily it happened that the page before was but half filled, and I saw at a rapid glance the mode of procedure. I recognized also Bullard's handwriting. And now began the examination that to me was most interesting.
Temple looked at every man, as he presented himself, slowly from top to toe, and I noticed that many of them gave a shake to their shoulders when he lowered his eyes, as if a chill had passed over them. The questions were very simple, consisting in asking the man's name, age, previous occupation, and the vessel that he had last sailed in, and if satisfactory, he was told to get his dunnage and present himself at the pier some time before noon.
"We have no idlers on board this ship," said the Captain, addressing the crowd. "If you're not doing one thing, you're doing something else. I want both-handed men about me."
In about two hours the work was finished, and Captain Temple, looking over the ledger, paid me a compliment upon my writing, and expressed the opinion that evidently I was an old hand; in which I did not contradict him. Before noon arrived, however, I was almost famished, but I had found no time to search for anything to eat.
It had got noised about the lower part of the town that the remaining part of the crew of the _Young Eagle_ were to debark at that hour, and quite a crowd had gathered along the shore to see them off. I had managed to run up to the inn and to secure my small bundle, and had hastened back again.
Already a boat-load had gone off to the ship, and as I clambered down the rough ladder, the crowd and those in the second boat were indulging in much rough playfulness. It was a very mixed assembly, and there appeared to be no deep feelings shown in any of the farewells. Just as we shoved off, I heard my name called--that is, my first name. "John! John!" said a voice, and looking up, I saw Mary Tanner standing at the edge of the pier. She waved her hand to me, and then, with a quick glance about her, kissed it.
My return to this, which I kept repeating for fully a minute, was not conspicuous, because half of the men gathered in the stern-sheets were doing the same thing and indulging in mock-lamentations. Three or four silent ones, perhaps, felt more deeply than the others.
As we came alongside the brig, I noticed that her free-board was not more than six feet amidships, but that her bulwarks were fully the height of a man's shoulder. Her sides shone as if they had been varnished, and the brass-work along her rails gleamed like gold. But when I set my foot on deck, it was then that I was astonished. I have seen many privateers and vessels of the regular navy since that day, but never have I seen such a clean sweep of deck and such fine planking in my life. All the loose running-gear was flemished down neatly, many of the belaying-pins were of brass, and her broadside of six guns was very heavy for her tonnage.
Amidships, carefully lashed and blocked, was a long twelve-pounder. The others were eighteen-pound carronades. Two brass swivels she carried besides these--one on her forecastle, and one forward of the wheel on the quarter-deck. She was built upon a plan different from most of the vessels of that time, but now become more adopted in America. Instead of having her greatest breadth well forward, it was farther aft, and she was cut away like a knife-blade. I have never seen her equal in going close-hauled; or, in fact, in any point of sailing.
Now, as I stood there with my bundle in my hand, I longed for some one to ask questions of, and then I remembered that if we sailed on the morrow, Plummer would be left behind. Most of the men coming off shore had carried their hammocks with them, and where I was to get mine I did not know. But as Captain Temple had been so kind to me on shore, I thought nothing of going to him, and considered that it would be the best way out of the difficulty, so I stepped up to where he was standing near the binnacle. He looked at me as if he had never seen me before; in fact, he appeared a totally different man.
"Well!" he said, sternly. "Coming aft in this fashion! If you wish to speak to me, wait at the mast."
"I have no hammock, sir," I began.
"Sleep on the deck, then," he returned. "Go forward."
He spoke to me much as one might address a dog, but there was nothing for me to do but to obey like one, and I went down the hatchway to the berth-deck. How so many men were going to sleep in that crowded space I could not see. They were so close that as they moved about they touched one another, and so low were the deck-beams that the tallest could not stand erect, and even I brought up against one with a tremendous whack that set starry skies before me. To my relief, I perceived that I was not the only greenhorn, and that there were a few others who knew even less than I did of what was expected of them.
A gawky country lad, who had been standing there gorming about open-mouthed, approached me.
"Tell me, please," he said, "where are our beds. Where are we going to sleep?"
I explained that the long bundles some of the men carried, and that they were taking up to stow in the nettings on the deck, were hammocks, and that he would probably have one served to him. He thanked me kindly, and probably looked upon me as being a very knowing, able seaman.
The men were joking and cursing roughly, and before we had been on board ten minutes a fight had started between two half-drunken sailors, which occasioned only merriment amongst the lookers-on, until a great, thick-set figure, that I afterwards learned was Edmundson, the third lieutenant, ran down the companion-ladder, and sent both of the fighters to the deck with two blows of his great fist.
"If you're after sore heads, you can get them!" he cried. "But avast this quarrelling." No one said a word; even the fighters stopped cursing.
I was mad for something to eat, for, as I have told, I had had nothing since the night before; but soon the word was passed through the forecastle that there would be no grub until the evening, at which there were many mutterings and more strange oaths. During the afternoon the crew was divided into watches, and the men were given their numbers and stations, but so far as I could see no provision was made for their comfort in any manner; no regular messes had been organized, and at six o'clock, when we were fed, we sat about in groups on the deck, and ate with our knives and fingers from the rough tubs; but the feed was wholesome, and there was plenty of it. I did full justice to a very healthy appetite.
Before dark Mr. Bullard came on board. As he walked forward I managed to catch his eye, and saluted.
"Ah, here's our sailor fencing-master," he half laughed.
"Might I have a word with you, sir?" I inquired.
"What is it?" he said, frowning.
"There are two country lads on board that have no hammocks; they know little of shipboard, but are willing. Can you not help them out, sir?"
I did not tell him that one of the country lads was myself. He muttered a curse, and here I found out that asking favors of ship's officers generally makes them cross. But he turned and spoke to an old seaman standing near by.
"Willmot, get two hammocks and give them to this lad," he ordered.
I followed the old sailor to the forward hold, and a few minutes afterwards presented a new hammock to the lank countryman, and kept the other myself; following the example of the other seamen, we marked our names on them in plain, black lettering.
The countryman, whose name was Amos Craig, and I found a hook forward and agreed to swing together. It was near the hatchway, but we took it because the air would be better, and it was already foul from much breathing. I did not turn in early, being in the first watch, which we kept as if we were at sea; but that night, as I looked out toward the lights of the town and realized how great a change the life before was from that I had been leading, I was half tempted to slip overboard and make a swim for it, for I felt that all this did not mean liberty. I had yet to learn that there is freedom in faithful and loyal service.
I had been much surprised by the difference in the manners shown by Captain Temple ashore from those on shipboard. This change, however, is the natural sequence of absolute authority, and the relief occasioned by being able to throw off responsibility. In after-years I felt it much the same with me, but in the writing of this tale, as I cannot claim that I have the power of adding adornment, I also intend to be as free from moralizing as I can. So, to return to what happened. As I leaned over the rail, I made up my mind to accept anything that came, and make the best of it, and to do my duty according to the best of my powers.
Half of the watch on deck were lying sprawled out and snoring against the bulwarks, keeping carefully out of the moonlight, for the reason, as I afterwards learned, that sleeping in the glare of the moon addles men's brains; but this may be mere superstition.
Up and down the quarter-deck a restless figure paced in quick, nervous strides. A sailor, with his heavy hair done in a long queue down his back, and two small gold rings in his ears, approached me and nudged me with his knee.
"Old Never-sleep is on the rampage," he said, directing his thumb over his shoulder. "We'll catch it to-morrow, you can wager on that, messmate. I've cruised with him, and I know his tricks!"
"Is he a good officer?"
"Ay, good for those who work for him, but he'll hound a shirker till you can see his bones. Some men on this 'ere craft will wish themselves overboard before this cruise is over. Jump when he speaks, that's my advice!"
Then the man went on to ask me questions. I dodged them as best I could by asking others, and as he liked to talk, I picked up not a little worth remembering. I found that Captain Temple had various nicknames that described his qualifications and characteristics to a nicety. Every skipper, no matter what his age, is called "old" on shipboard. Temple, I should judge, had not turned four-and-thirty, although he was slightly grizzled and his face was weather-seamed. "Anger-eyes" they called him on account of his keenness of vision. "Old Gimlet-ears," because it was rumored that he could hear in the cabin what went on in the forecastle. "Kill Devil," for the reason that he feared not to fight the powers of hell if they were arrayed against him. But chief of all, "Old Never-sleep," for a very evident reason. He apparently stood all watches when there was aught to be gained by vigilance.
The quartermaster on deck stepped aft as the sailor and I were talking, and spoke to Captain Temple.
"Make it so," were the words I caught from the Captain's lips.
Immediately the musical high-toned bell struck the hour. On the voyage of the _Minetta_ I had learned to tell time after the manner at sea, and I knew that the other watch was coming on. In ten minutes I was below in my hammock.
So great a number of people composed the _Young Eagle_'s company that the men were swinging double in the close-crowded space--that is, one hammock was underneath the other, the upper lashed high against the beams, and the lower sagging so that its occupant could touch the deck with his hand.
I had never heard such a chorus of snoring and muttering in my life, and it took me a few minutes to become accustomed to the reeking air. But at last I dozed off into a fitful rest of ever-changing dreams, and was awakened by the rolling of a drum and a confused sound of stirring, cursing, and piping. Now began a day in which I had to face some trials, I assure you, and call upon many resources that I did not know that I possessed.
[TO BE CONTINUED.]
BY MAJOR G. B. DAVIS, U.S.A.
[Illustration: LAWSON ON THE WATCH.]
To begin with, it was not an investment of gold or silver, in land or bonds, or any of those things for which men vainly toil and strive, in constant peril of their souls. Of all that, I know nothing. I am simply to tell how Lawson, a volunteer soldier, defended the Cienega Ranch during the long hours of a summer day against a band of Mescalero Apaches, red-handed, thirsting for plunder, and bent upon his destruction.
I have said that Lawson was a volunteer soldier. If I rightly understood him, he was born in Ohio. At any rate, he served in the Ohio infantry, and enlisted for the war, with a thousand others, in the early fall of 1861. By rights he ought to have been drilled and properly set up and disciplined in some sort of camp of instruction in Kentucky or southern Ohio, but there was not thought to be time for that, so great was the need for men, and so he had to acquire his manual of arms and other military fundamentals in the field from day to day as he went along. Now this is not the best way nor the way laid down in the books, but it was the only way for Lawson, and whatever may be said against it, it is thorough and to the last degree effective.
In the raw early spring of 1862, Lawson's regiment, still rusty in its ployments and facings, and having as yet no abiding knowledge of the goose step, began its campaigning in West Tennessee. He was at Donelson and Shiloh, and later got his first lessons in digging and the use of the head-log at the siege of Corinth. After that was over, he marched about, hither and yon, as his Generals wished--but somewhat aimlessly as he thought--in northern Mississippi. This sort of thing was kept up all through the fall and winter until the spring came, and the Army of the Tennessee set out to do something at Vicksburg. He did his share of digging and fighting in the hot trenches there, and then, just as the cool fall breezes were beginning to blow, he betook himself with Sherman to the relief of his beleaguered comrades at Chattanooga, arriving just in time to share in Corse's gallant but unfruitful assault upon the north end of Missionary Ridge. Always a private, he missed none of the marching or fighting or digging of the Atlanta campaign, and closed the year '64 with the long sweet-potato walk to Savannah and the sea. Then he waded and toiled up through the miry Carolinas, adding not a little to his military stature and to his stock of technical war knowledge in the way of corduroying and trestle bridges, and at Bentonville finished, as he had begun, a private, full of dearly bought experience, fuller still of malaria, an expert in all the arts of defence, a resolute and resourceful soldier, who had been tried on many an emergent occasion, and who had stood shoulder to shoulder with the boys whenever they lined up at the sound of the long-roll or rushed to the parapet to repel the assaults of the enemy.
At last, when the whole thing was over, and he had been paid off and discharged, and had spent the greater part of the little that was coming to him in seeing the great world that lay between Pittsburg and Columbus, Lawson fared back to the peaceful Maumee Valley, with his chills and fever and his slender resources, only to find himself a sort of living vacancy in the body-politic. Look where he would, there seemed to be no place open for an old soldier like him in the changed order of things that somehow seemed to prevail in the little community which he called his home. He was in no sense a "hustler," he had no trade but war, no capital save his strong arms and an honest heart, and no powerful friends to push him in any direction, and so, after many disappointments, it came about that he drifted down to Cincinnati, and there enlisted in the regular army. He had served side by side with the regulars for four long years, and they were now the only folk with whose goings and comings he was familiar; and for the first time since his discharge he felt at home among the lean infantrymen as he ate his bacon and beans in the company kitchen, and took his turn at guard, as he had been used to do, or discussed the characters of his Generals with the old men who had served under them when they were Lieutenants in Mexico, in the hazy days before the war, when men's minds were at peace and soldiering a trade worth thinking of.
The days rolled into weeks and months. There was little to do, there were many to do it, and he was content, ay, happy--happier than he had been at any time, that he could remember, since the winter quarters at Chattanooga, after the blockade was broken and fresh beef and soft bread were issued every day. But this was altogether too good a thing to last, and the end came one day when a big detachment of ex-deserters and bounty-jumpers were assigned to the Fourteenth, and the good times were gone forever. To Lawson it was an enigma, and he gave it up, but it came about in this way: When the great volunteer armies were disbanded and sent to their homes, there remained on hand a residuum of deserters and men without souls, who had been bought with a price, but who belonged to no regiment, and so were kept in pay when the rest were mustered out and discharged. Of a sudden it occurred to the powers that this unpromising material might be put to some use in filling the depleted ranks of the regular army.
But fire and water will not mix, and if honest dough-boys be shaken together with such sons of Belial the regimental traditions will suffer, and discipline will surely come to naught. And so it happened that the old Fourteeth had to undergo all the pangs of dyspepsia before it could make way with the indigestible mass that had thus been cast upon it. There is no telling what dire happening would have come to the regiment had this state of things been allowed to continue indefinitely. A period was put to it at last, however, by a telegram, which came to the commanding officer at dead of night, transferring the Fourteenth to Arizona. Then it was that the deserters and bounty-jumpers held council of the situation, and being of one mind as to the unpleasing outlook, took wing and troubled the service no more, and the old Fourteenth, weaker in numbers but stronger in _men_ than it had been since Fredericksburg, was landed at Yuma, where it was appointed to garrison the abandoned posts and protect the overland mail from the depredations of the Apaches, who had been working their will of late upon the unprotected settlements in southeastern Arizona. Here, taking his chances with the rest, and doing his full share of escort and fatigue, Lawson served "honestly and faithfully," as it ran in his discharge papers, until his term expired and he was a free man again. And then it was that he went up to keep the mail station at the Cienega.
The Cienega, or, to give the place its fall name, the Cienega de las Pimas, was a low-lying, swampy valley through which a small stream ran, alternately rising and sinking after the manner of creeks and rivers in Arizona. To the west, twenty-eight miles away, was the pueblo of Tucson, a cathedral town, once the capital of the territory. To the east, twenty-two miles distant, was the middle crossing of the San Pedro. To the north there was nothing; while to the south were the Whetstone Mountains, then old Camp Wallen, the Patagonia Mine, and Old Mexico. The Cienega itself was flat, infested with all manner of poisonous vermin, submerged in the rainy season, and miry and impassable, in a military sense, at all times. It was also malarial, and to the last degree unlovely to the eye. A few dead cottonwood-trees, upon which the owls creaked at sunset, rose stiffly here and there out of the general dead level of sacaton grass and chaparral, while the tarantula and centipede and the ubiquitous rattlesnake reserved to their unhallowed uses the moist, impenetrable depths below. The station had been located just where it was because it broke into two fairly equal parts the long fifty-mile drive from Tucson to the crossings of the San Pedro. Wagon trains and occasional parties of prospectors or travellers camped at the Cienega on their way to the White Mountains, or to the Apache Pass and New Mexico, and from their small needs in the way of refreshment for man and beast Lawson and his partner eked out an extremely moderate existence. At very rare intervals a troop of regular cavalry passed that way, and the ranchmen ministered to its needs in the way of long forage to the extent of twenty dollars or more. These were red-letter days for Lawson--a very gold-mine, indeed--and led him to hope that, sometime in the uncertain future, he might be able to leave the Cienega forever, and go back to Ohio, where green grass and tall trees grew, where churches and kindred were, and where he might, perhaps, take a new start in life in a land beyond the dim eastern mountains, where pistols were not, and where civilization flourished throughout the year. This was a dream that came to Lawson in the night when a big escort camped at the Cienega and he could eat and sleep in peace.
No one who knows Arizona need be told that the Apaches were particularly bad in the early seventies. No place outside the towns or beyond the lines of the garrisoned forts was safe from their incursions. Depredations were of daily occurrence, and were only desisted from when there were no white men left to kill and no horses or cattle to steal and carry away. A single traveller journeyed south of the Gila and east of the Santa Cruz, not simply at his peril, but to certain, inevitable death. It was the same with two, or three; if four travelled together, one had a running chance to escape if the marauding party was less than ten, or if the attack came within an hour of darkness. On the whole, the best local judgment, both civil and military, was that five persons, alert, fully armed, and, above all, judiciously scattered along the trail, were the smallest company that could venture into the country ranged over by the Mescalero or Chiricahui Indians with any chance of getting out alive. The roads were dotted with the graves of those who had paid, with their lives, the awful penalty of being too venturesome, and the isolated ranches were heavily barred and otherwise defended against the common enemy. The Cienega was no exception to the rule; indeed, on account of its perilous situation, it had one or two defensive features which less-exposed ranches lacked, and which I shall presently describe. Partly because it was located near the junction of several large north and south Indian trails, and partly because of the ease with which it could be approached from the dense chaparral, it was always surrounded by hostile Apaches, and its occupants went in and out under their constant observation.
The ranch building proper, for there was but one, stood on the east bank of the muddy creek, just above where the old overland stage-road had managed to find a practicable crossing. As the trail left the ford, it wound sharply up the slope and passed between the ranch building and a huge outcrop of volcanic rocks which stood directly opposite the main entrance to the inner court, or corral. This pile of rocks had been regarded as having some defensive value when the ranch was built, apparently with the idea that, in the event of an attack, it might serve as a kind of outwork which could be defended for several hours before the garrison would be compelled to fall back to the shelter of the ranch proper. It was also so situated that, in case of siege, a small party could sally out of the main building and find cover behind the rocks long enough to enable its defenders to get a supply of water from the creek.
The enclosure, which was rectangular in plan, measured about sixty feet on each front or side. The middle of the front wall, facing the north, was pierced by a sally-port, or entranceway, about fifteen feet in width, which was closed by a heavy oaken gate. In conformity to the style of domestic architecture prevailing in all Spanish-American countries, where life and property are less safe than they are in the lands more favored of Heaven where the Anglo-Saxon dwells, this gateway was the only means by which an entrance could be effected, as the other walls were without openings of any kind save those which looked upon the inner court. The rudely constructed interior can be quickly described. On the east side of the entrance was a large living-room some twenty feet square; on the west were several smaller rooms for horse-gear and the storage of grain. The other three sides were roofed, but not otherwise enclosed, and were used as stables.
At the southeast corner, opposite the living-room, Lawson had built a circular flanking tower, which projected a little more than three feet beyond the outer walls, and from this corner tower, which was loopholed, the east and south sides of the enclosure could be raked or flanked. It was a novel construction, and Mexican cargadors, wrapped in their serapes of manta, sat squat on their haunches and soberly regarded it for hours, wondering at the Gringo's strange conceit in building. Curious travellers casually observed it in passing, and thought it a spring-house, or perhaps a place where whiskey and other precious valuables could be safely deposited; but none, even the most inquisitive, suspected its real purpose or gave it a moment's serious thought. We shall presently see, however, how useful it proved to be.
The living-room was simple and plain to the last degree. In the first place, there was a fireplace of adobe, at which all the cooking was done; there were two rude bunks, in which Lawson and his partner slept, and there was a rough table, made out of a discarded hardtack box, which stood under the window overlooking the interior court. These, with a half-dozen stout chairs with rawhide seats, completed the scanty array of furniture. Each man wore a pistol and a thimble-belt always, and was never far from a repeating Winchester rifle. At the head of each bed, ready for instant use, stood a perfect arsenal of weapons of all dates and calibres. Some were modern, and likely to be of service in an emergency, the rest were antiquated and obsolete, mere bric-à-brac indeed, and were kept because, as Lawson put it, "they might come in handy sometime."
So, as the matter stood, the garrison--that is, Lawson and his partner Green, an ex-Confederate from the Army of Northern Virginia--had thought the thing all over, and settled in their minds that, in the event of an attack, they would proceed in about this wise. If the attack came from the north, which was by all odds the most exposed and dangerous quarter, they would first hold the rock outwork to the last extremity. It was agreed between them that their principal danger would consist in an attempt on the part of the Indians to scale the walls, either to make a lodgement on the roof or to set it on fire. Now if such an attempt happened to be made on the east or south side, which was commanded by the flanking tower, the garrison would be heard from, and serious injury might be inflicted upon the assailants--enough, perhaps, to hold them in check until the mail-drivers, who passed daily in either direction, could carry the alarm to the regular cavalry posts at Tucson and the Apache Pass. It should be said, however, that so much of the partners' ingenious plan of defence as depended upon the arrival of a mail-rider was, at best, a feeble reliance, as they were more likely to be killed than not in the event of an attack; but feeble as it was, it was all that seemed to stand between the occupants of the ranch and a lingering death by torture, should the Apaches conclude to make a descent in force upon the Cienega; and thus matters stood there just before sunrise on the morning of the 21st of July, 1870.
[Illustration: AS GREEN SPED THROUGH HE FELT THE HOT BREATH OF HIS PARTNER'S WINCHESTER.]
The attack came about in this way: At the gray of dawn, Green, who was astir feeding the animals, as was his custom, fancied that he heard some suspicious noises among the hogs who were hunting young rattlesnakes in the big rock pile in front of the main door. Seizing his rifle, he unfastened the gate and stole cautiously out across the road, and pushed up, under cover of the bowlders, to a point of vantage from which he could overlook the swamp lying to the northward. He had hardly reached shelter when two sharp reports rang out in the still morning air, _not from the swamp in front, but from the road at his right and rear_! Green's soldierly instinct told him what this meant, and before the reports had ceased to echo he plunged back across the road, and shot through the big gate in safety. As Green sped through the storm of bullets, closely followed by an athletic warrior, he felt the hot breath of a rifle-ball from his partner's Winchester, which brought down his pursuer stone-dead well within the entrance-gate. The long-looked-for attack had come, and the first brief passage at arms was over. Save that their skins were whole, the partners had but little to congratulate themselves upon. The first step in their carefully elaborated plan of defence had utterly miscarried. Green had been compelled by a flank attack to abandon the outwork without even an attempt at resistance. Lawson had tried to shut the gate, but had failed, and it was now too late to undertake so dangerous a task under the rifles of a score or more of Apache warriors, who, from their perches in the rocks, now fully commanded every approach to the building from the north.
So the partners fell back towards the south wall of the enclosure, and established themselves among the kicking-posts, in a position from which they could still command the half-open gateway. It would now seem as if the Indians had it in their power to carry the building by a single bold rush through the entrance-gate; and that is precisely what would have happened had the attacking party been composed of white men, or of Sioux Indians or Cheyennes--or Nez Percés, for that matter--but the Apache is a brutal coward, and doesn't do things that way. With him the taking of human life is always a means to an end. His first object is plunder, and he kills whatever stands between him and the object of his unholy desire. But he does nothing blindly or without carefully calculating all the chances, so as to eliminate or reduce to a minimum the risk of losing his own worthless life or those of his companions in iniquity. A marauding party will spend hours in planning the murder of a mail-rider, and will arrange every detail with such devilish cunning as to leave their victim absolutely no loophole of escape.
And this, strangely enough, was Lawson's present salvation. The Indians did not know how many men there were in the ranch, or how they were posted. Until they had gained this information, the partners could count upon it that there would be no assault by way of the half-closed gate, as it shut out from view more than half of the interior of the court. A thorough knowledge of their wily enemies, however, served to determine the next step in their scheme of defence. It is a dogma of the Apache's crude and grewsome religious belief that some dire happening will befall the band that leaves its dead in the hands of an enemy. Now Green's pursuer, carried forward by the tremendous pace at which he was running, had fallen, as we have seen, well within the gateway, and his dead body was stretched out in full view of the partners from their station in the corral. It was certain as anything in Apache warfare could be that the next move of the enemy would be to recover the body of the dead Indian; the only question was as to whether, in making the attempt, they would charge in considerable force or intrust the difficult task to the prowess of a single warrior.
The garrison had not long to wait. There was a hurried conference among the rocks, a scratching of moccasined feet on the hard clay without the gate, and then the notes of the death-song rose on the morning breeze as a lusty warrior made a dash for the body of his comrade. As he bent to lift his ghastly burden, he fell under the sight of Lawson's rifle and dropped across the lifeless body of his companion. There were now two dead Apaches in the gateway under control of the partners' rifles, and to Lawson's mind the next move of the enemy was perfectly clear. For their souls' peace, the bodies of the dead must be gotten back at all hazards. The attempt was only a question of time, and of a short time at that. The only hope in the situation for the partners was that the rush, when it came, would be for the sole purpose of recovering the bodies, and that the Indians would not succeed at the same time in gaining a view of the defenceless interior. And so, as matters stood, if the partners could in some way manage to delay the recovery of the bodies, there would be so much time gained, and they would increase to that extent their slender chance of relief. It must be confessed that the outlook was far from cheerful. The cloudless sky glared over them, and the stifling heat reflected from the white clay floor penetrated every corner of the enclosure as the morning hours slowly burned themselves away. An ominous silence reigned without everywhere, and neither sight nor sound came from the enemy to relieve the consuming anxiety of the beleaguered garrison.
Through the partly open gate nothing could be seen of what was happening outside, for a chopping-log intervened in such a way as to shut out from their view the narrow opening under the gate, between its lower rail and the ground. As the sun rose higher and began to light up the dark passageway leading out of the enclosure, it occurred to Green that by moving down a stall or two nearer the front it would be just possible for him to see out, _under the gate_, from beyond the end of the chopping-log, and thus, perhaps, get some notion of the movements of the enemy. And so, quietly communicating his intention to his comrade, he cautiously pulled himself along by the hay-racks to gain his point of view.
Just as he was straining his neck to get sight of the opening under the gate, he was brought to his feet by a shot from his partner's Winchester, only to find that his manoeuvre was too late--_the bodies of the Indians were gone_. Lawson, who was standing erect, had seen the bodies begin to move, and had fired somewhat at random, in the hope of preventing their recovery. He was not successful, however, and he could only look on as they slowly disappeared from his view. The partners looked at each other in silence. Each changed his tobacco slightly and tightened his thimble-belt, but otherwise made no sign. Both knew only too well what the movement meant. It was now a matter of watching out the day, not knowing when or in what form the direful end would come. It seemed idle to count upon anything in the shape of relief from the mail-drivers, who were really in greater peril than themselves, as the Indians were watching the roads for some distance in either direction. More than this, the buckboard from the west would not reach the Cienega until midnight, while the driver from the San Pedro crossing, though due just after dark, if he were so fortunate as to escape with his life, would have a stiff hundred-mile drive to double back to the cavalry post at Apache Pass. They knew that Colonel Stanwood, its able and resolute commander, would start at the first note of alarm, and ride hard and fast to their relief; but push as he might, the distance was great, and the better part of twenty-four hours would be consumed in covering the hot hundred-mile march across a waterless desert that lay between his post and the beleaguered garrison at the Cienega.
The sun grew hotter, the blinding glare increased, the morning breeze fell away, and not a sound from the enemy reached the strained ears of Lawson and his comrade. The hours dragged heavily along until the sun stood past noon, and still the partners kept their weary vigil, and strained eye and ear for some sign or sound of the enemy. Their continued silence was felt by the garrison to be due to the fact that part of the Indians had gone some distance away to bury their dead in the rocks, or hide them from view in the dark fastnesses of the swamp; but when and in what manner they would renew the assault was still a mystery past their solving.
Suddenly, an hour or more past midday, Lawson, who had crawled down towards the living-room in quest of water, heard a faint grating sound which seemed to come from the top of the corral wall upon which the flat roof of the stable rested. Springing back into the corner tower, and adjusting his eye to the loophole, the plan of the assailants could be seen at a glance. The Indians had brought a light cottonwood log from the ruins of a disused bridge, a mile or more up the road, and were now attempting to scale the wall with a view to set fire to the rough thatch which covered the stables at the northeastern corral. As Lawson reached the loophole, an athletic Apache had succeeded in reaching the top of the wall, while two of his fellows, standing on the ground, held the pole steadily between them as their companion climbed. It seemed never to have entered their heads that their movements could be observed from the flanking tower, or that they were in danger from any other quarter than the entrance-gate in the north wall of the enclosure. They were now to get their first lesson in civilized warfare, and a sorrowful lesson it was to be for the scaling party.
Taking in the situation at a glance, Lawson summoned his comrade with a gesture, and they quickly agreed upon their plan. The loophole in the north side of the tower, which commanded a view of the assaulting party, was about eighteen inches high and hardly more than two inches wide at the outside, but as it entered the wall it flared or opened to a width of nearly a foot in order to give the defenders a greater field of fire. To insure the greatest results, both were to fire together. Lawson, who was the taller of the two men, was to fire from the top of the loophole and was to bring down the Indian who had climbed the pole and had just succeeded in starting a little blaze in the dry tulle grass at the edge of the loosely thatched roof. Green, who was to give the signal, was to fire below Lawson, and was to wait until his sights covered the two Apaches who were steadying the pole. It seemed to Lawson, whose task was easy, as if the signal would never come. First one Indian would stoop to adjust his hold, then the other would move forward; then for an instant both would cross each other as they strove to keep the pole from turning. At last, after what seemed an age of waiting, the warrior at the top, satisfied with his incendiary endeavor, signalled to his comrades below to hold fast and make ready to descend. As the Indians at the bottom braced themselves squarely to steady the improvised ladder, the signal came, and two deafening reports rang out in the burning air, filling the narrow tower with smoke so dense as for a time to conceal the enemy from view. As the smoke slowly cleared away, the partners anxiously looked out. _The scaling party were nowhere to be seen!_ The climber and one of his supporters lay dead at the foot of the wall. Above them the thatch was beginning to crackle and burn. The other had disappeared from view, but the sounds of scurrying feet in front of the ranch, however, made it plain to the little garrison that he had not escaped scot-free. The partners silently shook hands, and for the first time since the investment began, renewed their chews of tobacco and made a general and deliberate readjustment of their clothing and cartridge-belts.
Assault number two had been repulsed, and the Apaches had had their first lesson in modern fortification. But they were apt pupils, and, as will presently be seen, were to apply their dearly bought knowledge in a manner most surprising to the closely besieged ranchmen. Now the besetting sin of all flanking arrangements is the "dead angle," well known to all military men, and studiously avoided by them in all defensive constructions. That the reader may rightly know what awful misfortune resulted to Lawson from his neglect in this particular, I will explain as best I may the mystery of the dead angle. Now a bastion or corner tower, or what device soever may be resorted to by those skilled in the art of fortification to bring a cross or raking fire along the exposed face of a fort or a field-work, _must itself be flanked_ in some way, else its defensive value is lost, and it becomes a source of weakness to the besieged, and gives a great and positive advantage to the besieger. For an enemy may approach its outer or unflanked side with impunity, and work there such havoc as he wills; and to this space, not swept by fire from any other part of the work, military men have given the name of dead angle.
So it chanced that when Lawson--who, as we have seen, had not been trained in the schools--was constructing his corner tower, he had cut loopholes close to the eastern and southern walls, through which those fronts might be raked along their entire length, but it had not occurred to him that, by omitting the loopholes in the outer circumference of his tower, he left a large dead angle against which an assault could be brought which the garrison would be utterly powerless to hinder or obstruct.
The Indians, after their second rebuff, seemed to have again gone into silent committee of the whole, and were now brewing another scheme of assault which should take into account the white man's new engine of destruction. The sun was beginning to cast slanting shadows from the west, but the heat and glare showed no sign of relenting, and the close corner tower glowed like a living furnace. As the Indians seemed to have given up all thought of an assault by the entrance, gate, the partners determined to abandon the general defence of the interior, and restrict their endeavors to the flanking tower. And so, panting with heat and tortured by thirst, the defenders stood at their posts, each watching from his loophole the angle of ground outside the walls that fell within the limits of his narrow view, and waited, stoically, for what the afternoon was to bring in the way of unwelcome or dangerous surprise. As we are about to see, the outcome of their waiting was not to be long delayed.
[Illustration: ALMOST INSTANTLY LAWSON FIRED UPWARD AT RANDOM.]
The declining shadows marked about the hour of four as Lawson drew back suddenly from his loophole and cast a searching glance upward at the low-hanging roof. In a moment a suspicious noise which had caught his ear was renewed. _It was the grating sound again_, as of crackling adobe, but nearer; and there could be no mistaking its ominous meaning. Suddenly Green touched his partner, and pointed up to the thatch, where a few fragments of adobe, dislodged by the jar outside, were falling over their very heads, showing that the enemy were at work in the dead angle where there were no loopholes. The Indians had discovered the weak point in their scheme of flank defence, and the garrison was now absolutely at their mercy. The exact purpose of the enemy was not yet quite plain. If it were another endeavor to burn the roof, there was still a shadow of hope. If the Indians were going to attempt to breach the walls, or, worse, moisten them with water from the creek and saw them down with a horsehair lariat, then the end was indeed near. Meantime the noise increased; there was a scraping of feet on the dry thatch on the top of the wall, then a shot, and Green, with a bullet through his brain, fell dead at his comrade's feet. Almost instantly Lawson fired upward at random, and a heavy thud on the ground outside evidenced the success of his endeavor to avenge his comrade, and the temporary failure of the enemy's new plan of assault.
Alone with his dead, Lawson now stoically awaited the end. The Indians were maddened at their losses; darkness was still some hours away, and death by torture or, at the last extremity, by his own hand seemed to the exhausted survivor a question of but a few moments' time. Having solved the mystery of the dead angle, a dozen warriors could now climb the tower, or if their next attempt were as original in its conception as the last, a single Apache, from the top of the pole, could hold his rifle over the roof and riddle the interior with perfect safety. To add to his peril, the afternoon breeze from the north had sprung up, and the gate was beginning to swing slowly back and forth; the least stiffening, and the gate would be blown open and the whole interior exposed to view.
[Illustration: HE NO LONGER HOPED NOR FEARED.]
Still the silence continued, and Lawson stood by his dead partner and mechanically turned the cylinder of his revolver as he speculated idly whether the last cartridge, which he had reserved for himself, would miss fire when the awful emergency came. They had missed so often--for it was in the early days of metallic ammunition, and pistol cartridges were notoriously unreliable. If it did fail, they would give him no chance to try again. He no longer hoped nor feared; his past was an eventless, uninteresting blank, which he had neither will nor power to recall. Dazed at the happenings of the day, his busy brain ceased to plan; he leaned on his rifle and strove to breathe in the stifling atmosphere, and waited for what the next instant was to bring. How long this continued he could never tell. He could only remember how his heart started to beat as he heard, through the northern loophole, the faint tinkling of a distant bell. Could it be so? Again he strained his ear to listen, and again came the harsh tinkling. There could be no doubt of it; it was relief at last, unexpected and unhoped-for, and seemed to have come to him from the blazing skies. A train of freight-wagons, heavily manned, which he had supposed to be still on the Yuma desert, had left Tucson at dawn of day, and was now slowly making its way through the swamp, intending to make camp at the Cienega ere the sun went down. The Indians had accurately measured its strength, and recognizing their utter inability to cope with twenty well armed teamsters, had decamped as quietly and silently as they had come, and the siege was over.
LUCK THAT FELL FROM THE SKIES.
BY ALBERT LEE.
It was an unusually cold Christmas eve, and the keen wind that had come close after the heavy snow-storm was blowing little white drifts up into every corner, and howling around the eaves of the tall houses in a way that made people turn their collars up high about their necks and thrust their hands deep into pockets and muffs. Nevertheless the streets were full of shoppers, and every one seemed to be loaded with bundles and packages that were surely full of all sorts of good things for old people and young children for the celebration of the morrow.
Just around the corner from one of the busiest of the shopping streets stood three boys stamping their feet over an iron grating, through which arose the warm air from an eating-house kitchen in the cellar below, bringing occasionally an odor which, to them at least, was savory. The three boys were all of about the same age, and all were engaged in the same enterprise of selling newspapers--an enterprise which had not proved particularly remunerative on this particular day, as the wayfarers seemed to be engrossed in matters more important to them than the reading of news. One of the lads had red hair, and was known to his companions as "Ratsey" Finnigan. The names of the other two were similarly characteristic of newsboy cognomens--"Swipes" Molloy, and "Tag" McTaggart. The boys were discussing the probability of their getting a Christmas dinner--a prospect which was apparently not very bright.
[Illustration: "WELL, DEN," REMARKED SWIPES, "I GUESS WE'RE ALL TREE UP AGIN IT."]
"Well, den," remarked Swipes, as he stood alternately on one foot, and then on the other, "I guess we're all t'ree up agin it."
"It looks dat way, sure," assented Ratsey; "except Tag goes to de mission."
"Ah-h, de mission!" exclaimed Tag, scornfully. "Don't youse fellers know dey won't let me into de mission no more?"
"Didn't youse go fer T'anksgivin'?" asked Ratsey.
"Sure, I did; an' didn't I get fired out?"
"What fer?" inquired the red-haired lad, eagerly.
"Scrappin'," was the laconic reply. And then, as his companions seemed to require fuller explanation, he continued: "Dat blue-faced Mike sat nex' to me at de table, an' he took me pie off o' me. So I handed him one in the face, and he yelled like he was hurted, but he was not hurted a bit, and he falls down on de table an' makes a big bluff--wid me pie in his pockut all de time. Well, Pink-whiskers, de super, he seen me hit Mike, and he rushes up ter me, and grabs me, and turns me out, and says as how I'll never come inside de mission to grub again." There was a brief silence, then Tag continued, "But I got square wid Mike de nex' day."
"Did youse do him?" asked Ratsey.
"Did I _do_ him?" repeated Tag. "Have youse _seen_ him?" Neither of his listeners had seen the unfortunate Mike. "Well," added Tag, "I guess his mudder 'ain't got t'rough pickin' up de pieces yet. I 'ain't been down to Hester Street to see, neider."
"Den, if youse is fruz outen de mission," said Swipes, "sure, we'll all have to hustle fer a Christmas feed."
"'Less it drops from der sky," put in the hopeful Ratsey; and then all three danced vigorously on the grating.
By the time they had reached this conclusion it had grown dark--or as dark as it ever gets in the shopping district of the great city, where the hundreds of electric lights blink and twinkle over the sidewalks. There seemed now to be a lull in the rush of people that had been surging up and down the thoroughfare all the afternoon, and when one of the boys looked up at a big clock a block away, he saw that it was past six o'clock.
"Let's go over to de dago's an' touch him," suggested Tag, when the hour had been announced; "we won't sell no more papes now till de late extrys is out."
"Dat's what," returned Swipes. "We touch de dago! If we gets grub ter-night, we calls it a Christmas-eve dinner!"
And so the three youngsters, with their hands deep in the pockets of their scant trousers, started off westward toward "the dago's." The "dago" was a good-hearted Italian who ran a cheap restaurant on Tenth Avenue, and he was always generous with what came away from the tables, especially to the newsboys. But it was not often that Tag and Swipes and Ratsey would call upon him, for their hunting-grounds were usually too far away; on this occasion, however, the boys had invaded the shopping district, hoping to dispose more rapidly of their wares.
They whistled as they trudged along the slippery sidewalks, but wasted few words in conversation. They crossed Sixth Avenue, and by the time they had reached Seventh Avenue they had left the Christmas shoppers behind them. Only an occasional woman passed them, hurrying homeward; and if she carried a bundle, it was a very small one. When they came to Ninth Avenue they turned up one block in order to come out nearer to the "dago's." The thoroughfare was dark and almost deserted, and the snow deadened every sound but the roaring of the elevated cars. As the three boys passed under the iron structure a train went tearing uptownward with a clatter that made Ratsey exclaim:
"Golly, dat's a express, sure! I wish't I was in it; de cars is warm!" He had hardly spoken these words, and the noise of the wheels was already lessening in the distance, when something struck him on the head with a soft thud, and rolled him headlong into the slush underfoot. "Gee!" he exclaimed, as he scrambled to his feet. But before he could say anything more Swipes and Tag had shouted, "Hi-yi!" and "Shut up!" and had turned to gather up what looked to Ratsey like a hundred bundles scattered about in the snow.
"Swipe 'em and run," whispered Tag; and Ratsey, with an inborn instinct to get all he could out of this world, grabbed all he saw, and started on a run after his two companions toward Tenth Avenue. A butcher who had seen the bundles fall from the elevated train as it rushed by came out of his shop and shouted at the boys, but they heeded no calls, and were well out of sight before the man had thought of pursuit.
As soon as they had reached a dark spot in the side street, they dodged into an area to see if they were being chased, and upon making certain that no one was after them, they set out again and made rapidly toward the "dago's." On the way they made up a story to tell to the Italian, and upon entering the place, Tag accounted for the large number of packages they had by announcing that they were delivering Christmas purchases. He also asked the "dago" if they might lay their bundles out on a table in his place, and go over them for easier distribution. There were few customers on hand, and the good-natured Italian let the boys into one of the dozen "parlors" that his restaurant consisted of--stalls, curtained off, and lighted with an oil-lamp that hung down from the ceiling. In some of the other stalls were Italian laborers eating and smoking and talking loud.
The boys drew their curtain carefully, and amid much excitement placed eleven bundles on the little table between them. These packages were from a number of different shops, but had evidently all been done up into one large bundle by the owner for convenience in carrying. The fall of the greater package, however, had reduced it again to its elements.
"Now we all opens one package at a time," whispered Swipes, eagerly, at the same time grabbing the largest of the lot. The other boys likewise seized two promising-looking parcels, and snapped the twine. Then followed exclamations, subdued "ohs!" and "ahs!"--and cries of delight were restrained with the greatest difficulty. The pangs of hunger were entirely forgotten. Tag's package proved to be a good-sized box full of Christmas-tree decorations--candles, globes, glass balls, tinsel, stars, cornucopias, miniature toys of various kinds, bells, and any number of other things. These were all taken out and passed around.
Swipes had drawn three dolls, and was somewhat disgusted (although he asked Tag what he thought they would "sell for"); but Ratsey was wild with delight, for he had opened a box of soldiers. This, of course, brought the others to his side at once, and the soldiers were taken out of the box and lined up on the table, and a battle was about to be inaugurated, when Tag suggested that all the other bundles be opened to see if there were not more troops available for the slaughter.
Then followed the breaking of every string and the unwrapping of every parcel on the table, but no more soldiers were forth-coming. There were a Noah's ark, and some picture-books, a train of cars, blocks, puzzles, a horn (which Ratsey almost blew before Tag throttled him), a box of writing-paper, a pocket-book, and a set of garden tools. When these treasures lay heaped upon the table, the boys very nearly had spasms, for such a wealth of playthings they had never seen before (having always been chased out of toy-shops by officious and unfeeling salesmen).
"Findin's is keepin's, I suppose," remarked Swipes, presently.
So engrossed had they all been in the examination of the toys that this feature of the situation had not entered the minds of Tag and Ratsey.
"Say, it's an awful lot to keep," began Tag, hesitatingly.
"We can give some uv it to oder kids," ventured Swipes.
"Really, dough," put in Ratsey, fondling one of the soldiers, "it ain't really ourn."
"Well, whose is it?" inquired Swipes.
This, of course, was a staggerer, and Ratsey had no reply to make.
"Sure, it's de bloke's what dropped it offen de train," said Tag, presently.
"An' who's he?" asked Swipes.
"You'd 'a' found out if youse hadn't runned!" said Ratsey.
"Didn't youse run wid us?" retorted Swipes.
"Sure, I did," admitted Ratsey, "an' who wouldn't? But these ain't ourn, and we ought ter take 'em back. Dey's fer some rich kid's Christmas tree."
"How'll you find out what kid?" continued Swipes, who really harbored no evil intentions, but was extremely desirous of finding it impossible to make restitution. "Dere ain't no names on de papers."
Whereupon the three boys carefully examined every piece of wrapping-paper, but the name of a purchaser was to be found on none.
"If dere wasn't so much," stammered Tag, "I wouldn't mind. But dem t'ings must 'a' cost a hunnerd dollars!"
"Ah-h," sneered Swipes, "a hunnerd dollars! Youse never bought no toys; what d'ye know about it?" A remark which precipitated a lively discussion concerning the probable price of the toys; and when it finally ended, each boy had his own idea as to what money had been paid for them, and no two agreed. The investigation into the ownership was then resumed, but no clew was found until Ratsey opened the box of writing-paper, which had not interested the boys until then, and discovered an address engraved upon each sheet--144 WEST 134TH STREET. Whereupon he said:
"De people what lives in dat house would know about dese t'ings."
"A-hunnerd-and-t'irty-fourt' Street!" exclaimed Tag.
"Gee, dat must be goats livin' dere!" added Swipes.
Then there was another pause, during which Ratsey replaced the soldiers neatly in the box with his little grimy fingers, and wrapped the parcel again in the paper it had come in.
"What yer doin'?" asked Swipes.
"I dun'no' what youse two is agoin' to do," replied Ratsey, "but I'se goin' to take de bundles what I found, an' lug 'em up to A-hunnerd-and-t'irty-fourt' Street."
"Say," broke in Tag, "youse is on de square ter-night, Finnigan! But, by ginger, Swipes, de kid's right! Dese ain't ourn. I say we takes de hull swag up town--hey?"
"Perhaps dey'll give us a quarter apiece fer bringin' it back," cried Swipes. "Let's wrap up de stuff;" and they all set to work tying up the bundles they had undone. They made a sorry job of it, and the knots that held the gifts together were bewildering. As they worked they discussed the probable reward they would receive from the owner of the goods, and each boy announced what he would spend his money for, if he got any.
With the good resolutions to return the lost property came back the pangs of hunger that had originally led the trio into their adventure. Ratsey, as the smallest of the company, was deputed to go and beg something of the "dago," and in this mission he was successful, for he returned presently with a plate heaped with bread, cold potatoes, and assorted morsels of meat.
"But de dago says we must git out," announced Ratsey, with his mouth full of victuals. "He says we's been here a hour."
Indeed time had fled in the stall that had for a few moments been transformed into a very fairyland for those three boys; and it is probable that the Italian had forgotten their presence, so quiet had they been the while, or they would have been dislodged long before. It required but a few minutes to dispose of the booty Ratsey had brought in, and then the boys gathered up their sorry-looking packages, and, having presented their host with a set of evening papers, departed. The journey to 134th Street was a long one to look forward to, and as they trudged eastward toward Ninth Avenue, they debated as to how it should best be made. The simplest method seemed to be to steal rides on trucks as often as possible, and this scheme they adopted. In this manner they finally reached their destination, after an hour and a half of zigzagging from one side of town to the other on various wagons, the trip being enlivened by whip-slashes and hard words from more than one driver whose hospitality they had courted. So it was well on toward half past nine when they dropped from the step of an ice-cart and made their way through 134th Street toward No. 144.
This proved to be a large double house with the windows all lighted up and decorated with holly wreaths. The boys hesitated for some moments about ascending the broad brownstone steps, but finally rallied to the emergency, and Ratsey, for having suggested the return of the packages, was pressed into acting as the spokesman of the party.
The bell sounded with a loud twang in the basement, and a few moments later a maid, in spotless cap and apron, opened the heavy door. Her surprise at seeing the three urchins shivering in the cold on the snowy stoop was in no degree assumed, and she half closed the door again before Ratsey had found his voice.
"Please, m'm," he began, "is dis de place where de gent lives as dropped dese packages offen de elevated road?"
Instead of replying to the boy, the maid turned and pulled back the heavy curtain that hung between the hall and the front room. The boys caught a glimpse of a tall Christmas tree and heard the sound of many voices.
"Mrs. Raymond," said the maid, excitedly, "here are some little boys with Mr. Raymond's lost bundles!"
In a moment the hallway was full of people--or rather it seemed so to the boys--and a young man in his shirt sleeves, with his clothes and hair all covered with tinsel, was dragging them into the house. They huddled in a corner, and held firmly to their burdens.
"Where did you find those things, kids?" asked the young man, smiling.
"Dey fell on us in Nint' Av'noo," replied Ratsey, very much embarrassed. "Is dey yourn?"
"You bet they are," answered the young man, looking over the packages. "That is, they belong to the gentleman who lives in this house, and they are for his Christmas tree. He was standing on the crowded platform of a train, and the wind blew the package and his hat away from him."
"We 'ain't got de hat," put in Swipes--and everybody laughed.
"Poor papa!" said one of the ladies, "he's been tramping around for the last two hours trying to duplicate the things."
Just then there was the sound of a key in the lock of the front door, and when it was opened, there entered a fat gentleman loaded with packages. It is hardly necessary to state here what the fat gentleman said when the situation was explained to him, nor to repeat the marvellous account of the rescue of the toys as given by Ratsey. It seems enough to relate that the three boys were taken down into the kitchen and filled full of warm coffee and bread and butter, and eventually placed upon an elevated train and sent down to their own district, each with a silver half-dollar in his pocket. And furthermore, on the following night, Christmas, the same three boys were again in the basement of the big house--this time by invitation--and the tidy maid was furnishing them with such a dinner as they had never even dreamed of. And at the plate of each one was a present--out of the duplicates Mr. Raymond had purchased--Ratsey's being a brass horn of even greater proportions than the one he had found the previous evening. Tag and Swipes likewise received gifts, and the talking those three lads did that night would fill a thick book.
"Sure," said Ratsey, as they finally started down town again, "Harlem beats a mission all holler, eh, Tag?" And the other two agreed with him.
HARPER'S ROUND TABLE
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DUTY OF THE YOUNG VOTER
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By the Rev. EDWARD EVERETT HALE, D.D.
WHAT A "POLITICAL PARTY" MEANS
By Hon. CARL SCHURZ
WHAT A PRIMARY MEANS
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By THOMAS WENTWORTH HIGGINSON
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THE FAIRY FÊTE. A CHARLES LAMB PARTY
THE CHILDREN'S HOUR. A DELFT PARTY
By EMMA J. GRAY
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A LOYAL TRAITOR
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THE PAINTED DESERT
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SHORT STORIES BY FAMOUS AUTHORS
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A PARISIAN CHARACTER
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By CAMILLE FLAMMARION
A SCHOOL-BOY OF SCOTLAND
By IAN MACLAREN
BOYS AT SEA. WOMEN AT SEA
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THE FATE OF UTE JACK
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AN AMERICAN BOY IN THE FRANCO-GERMAN WAR
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AN AMERICAN BOYHOOD
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THE LITTLE BISHOP
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AN APRIL-FOOL'S DAY
By LAURENCE HUTTON
* * * * *
ASCENTS OF GREAT PEAKS. METHODS OF CLIMBING
By EDWARD WHYMPER
FIRST ASCENTS IN AMERICA
MT. TACOMA MT. ST. ELIAS MT. CHIMBORAZO MT. POPOCATEPETL MT. WHITNEY GRAND TETON
By G. P. SERVISS
* * * * *
OUR ARMY AND NAVY
MAKING OF TORPEDOES. MAKING OF BIG GUNS
By FRANKLIN MATTHEWS
PERSONNEL AND NAVAL RESERVE. NAVAL ORGANIZATION
COMMERCE DESTROYERS. CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS
By Lt.-Com. J. D. JERROLD KELLEY, U.S.N.
* * * * *
STORIES OF AFRICAN TRAVEL
THE DWARFS OF AFRICA. ARAB SLAVE TRADERS
By CYRUS C. ADAMS
TRAVEL WITH STANLEY. THE AFRICAN FOREST
ACROSS THE PLAINS WITH STANLEY TO KAVALLIS
By Lieutenant A. I. MOUNTENEY JEPHSON
[Illustration: S. R. Crockett]
[Illustration: François Coppée]
[Illustration: W. Clark Russell]
[Illustration: Owen Wister]
[Illustration: Poultney Bigelow]
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A "BOY'S TOWN" STORY
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A WILD DAY IN '48
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THE TIMBER WOLF. THE MIGHTY ELK
By Hon. THEODORE ROOSEVELT
STILL HUNTING. BEAR HUNTING
By CASPAR WHITNEY
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OF THE SHORT SERIAL
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AN ADIRONDACK BOY AFLOAT
By JOHN R. SPEARS
CORPORAL FRED'S COMMISSION
By Capt. CHARLES KING, U.S.A.
THE ADVENTURES OF SANDBOYS
By JOHN KENDRICK BANGS
THE BOY WRECKERS
By W. O. STODDARD
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A BOY AND A BOAT
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THE SILVER OMELET
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IN OLD PORTSMOUTH
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A STARTLING ADVENTURE
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THE FIRST ENGLISH FLAG IN THE TRANSVAAL
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THOUGHTS OF A LITTLE GIRL
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THE MODERN ANGLER
By Doctor LEROY M. YALE
TROUT FISHING. BASS FISHING
By E. C. KENT
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A FIFTY-TWO-WEEK FEAST
THE BEST OF MENAGERIES.
My pa's the best menagerie That ever any one did see; I need no pets when he is by To make the days and hours fly, For any bird or beast or fish I want he'll be whene'er I wish. For instance, if I chance to want A safe and gentle elephant, He'll fasten on his own big nose One of my long black woollen hose, And on his hands and bended knees Is elephantine as you please, And truly seems to like the sport Of eating peanuts by the quart. Then, when I want the lion's roar, He'll go behind my bedroom door And growl until I sometimes fear The King of Beasts is really near; But when he finds my courage dim He peeps out, and I know it's him. And he can meow just like a cat-- No Tom can beat my pa at that-- And when he yowls and dabs and spits, It sends us all off into fits, So like it seems that every mouse Packs up his things and leaves the house. Then, when he barks, the passers-by Look all about with fearsome eye, And hurry off with scurrying feet To walk upon some other street, Because they think some dog is there To rush out at 'em from his lair. And oh, 'twould make you children laugh When daddy plays the big giraffe. He'll take his collar off, you know, And stretch his neck an inch or so, And look down on you from above, His eyes so soft and full of love, That, as you watched them, you would think From a giraffe he'd learned to blink. 'Tis as a dolphin though that he Is strongest as it seems to me, And I don't know much finer fun Than sitting in the noonday sun Upon the beach and watching pop, As in the ocean he goes flop, And makes us children think that he's A porpoise from across the seas. And when he takes a tin tube out, And blows up water through the spout, The stupidest can hardly fail To think they see a great big whale! And that is why I say to you My pa's a perfect dandy zoo, The very best menagerie That ever you or I did see, And what is finest, let me say, _There never is a cent of pay!_
GASTON V. DRAKE.
THE BOY WRECKERS.
BY W. O. STODDARD.
THE WRECK ON THE BAR.
It was something tremendous for a young landsman to find himself away out at sea in a three-cornered boat. Captain Kroom noticed Sam's look and said:
"This 'ere isn't any mill-pond, eh? Well, my boy, all I'm afraid of is that it'll be a dead calm before we can get there and back again. What I hate is a calm. I got stuck in one once for more'n a month. It's next thing to being wrecked."
"She's a hard boat to row," said Pete; and he spoke of the _Elephant_.
Sam did not say anything, but it seemed to him that the face of the Atlantic might wear its pleasantest expression when it had no wrinkles at all. He would even have been willing to row a little. The _Elephant_ thus far had wind enough in her sail for a boat of her size, and the stranded ship could be seen pretty well without any glass. So the Captain put the "binocular" back into its case and returned it to the valise. Before he did so, however, he had looked across the sea long and carefully, and he remarked:
"She's a-standing straight up, and the tugs are trying to pull her off. Guess she isn't going to break up."
Sam felt better the moment he could again take an interest in the wrecking business. After all, the ocean was reasonably good-tempered that morning, and the terrible lines of surf were now far behind him. He understood, too, that shallow water extended to a long distance out, and that the _Elephant_ was in very good hands.
"He knows all about the weather," Pete told him; and the 'longshore boy appeared to feel altogether at home.
According to him, they were now in the very best cruising-ground for blue-fish, and even mackerel, but the Captain did not encourage trying their luck. Nearer, nearer sped the _Elephant_, and at last Sam ventured to remark:
"I guess it's just as you said. Is she on a rock?"
"Nary rock," growled the Captain. "But I'm worse puzzled than ever 'bout the valise. This isn't the _Narragansett_. This is the _Goshawk_, and she's from Liverpool. If we haven't come away out here for nothing! Anyhow, I'll hail her."
It occurred to Sam that it was not needful to go close to the ship to make them hear the trumpetlike voice with which the Captain demanded, "What ship is that?"
"Keep away! No loafers wanted!" came back loudly.
"Stuck in the mud, are ye?" thundered the Captain. "Some lubbers don't know how to handle a ship. I want to get some word of the _Narragansett_, Captain Silas Pickering, New Haven. Can any of you wreckers tell me--"
"Mate, hold on; it's old Captain Kroom."
"I say, Kroom," shouted another voice from the deck of the _Goshawk_, "Pickering's on board. The insurance men are in charge of this craft. That feller's nothing but her old mate. There's been more thieves--"
"Come aboard, Kroom," broke in the mate. "You're all right, but we've had the worst kind of luck."
"No, you haven't," returned Kroom, as the _Elephant_ swept alongside the _Goshawk_. "I've been worse wrecked than you are. Why, you are going to save the hull and cargo!"
"That's so," said the mate, leaning over the rail; "but we lost all our sticks. Everything that was on deck. Pickering? We took him on at Liverpool. His ship had to be refixed, and the owners sold her, and he won't go aboard a steamer if he can help it."
"I guess there's the right stuff in him, then," said Captain Kroom, with energy; but the mate went on:
"He's awful, though. Some fellers came aboard soon after we struck, and they stole his kit, and there's lots of things missing. He's been sittin' 'round with a gun on his lap ever since, watching for thieves."
"Kroom," came loudly from behind the mate, "what do you want of me?"
The Captain said nothing, but he held up the valise, while Pete did the same with the trousers of the blue suit.
"Where'd you get 'em?" gasped the mate.
"Trolled for 'em," responded Kroom; but he added a pretty full explanation.
A very tall, gaunt old man was now leaning over the rail near the mate, and he did not interrupt, but when the Captain finished his account he took his hat off and held it out.
"Kroom," he said, "you can beat me spinning yarns. That stuff was on deck, and they pitched it overboard to get it away. I bought that tackle in London. Found the clothes below in my cabin, and rolled the tackle up in 'em. Don't know why. It was all stolen day before yesterday. My other luggage went in a tug this morning. Are you and the young chaps coming aboard?"
"Want to, boys?" asked Kroom. "There isn't anything worth seeing."
"Guess not," said Pete. "I'll hand him up the valise and things."
"I'd rather go home," said Sam.
"No, you needn't hand it up," said Captain Pickering. "I'm coming ashore with you. I won't be landed in a tug-boat if I can help it. I'd a'most rather swim."
"Just my thinking," rolled out at the stern of the _Elephant_. "I quit the sea on account of 'em--all sorts of steamers. I'm a sailor, I am. I don't want anything to do with steam."
"Fact!" whispered Pete to Sam. "He hates even a railroad. Everything but the old kind of ships."
[Illustration: THE START HOMEWARD FROM THE WRECK.]
Captain Pickering did not bring any gun with him. Nothing but a small satchel. He came down over the side of the _Goshawk_ by a rope, and Sam felt a little queer to perceive what an addition the tall, brawny old seaman made to the load to be carried by the _Elephant_. Hardly had he taken his seat in the middle of the boat before the wind was in her sail and her head was turned landward.
"It's comin' on a calm," said Pickering, "but we may get there first."
"Not across the bay," replied Kroom; "but we may get inside the bar. That was an old trick of the thieves with that spar for a buoy. No use to search their boat, you know. I've known it tried in all sorts of places."
"They reckoned on getting it again alongshore?" asked Pickering.
"Yes," replied Kroom; "but they didn't reckon on the tide through the inlet. Our bay-men pick up stuff all the while that came in that way. It's all right. Dry as a bone."
"Of course it is," said Pickering. "I say, boy, if that suit fits you, keep it. You and he can have some of the tackle."
That meant Pete and Sam, and they were ready to say "Thank you, sir"; but they were a great deal more ready to keep still while the two old sailors talked about the storm which had stranded the _Goshawk_, and about other storms they had known. It must have been quite a hurricane; but even before it was fully described, Captain Pickering had his valise open, and was slowly looking over some of its contents. Log-books, log-books, log-books. Sam knew what they were now, and he would have given something to know what was in them.
"That's one of the _Narragansett_'s," said its owner, laying it down. "I sailed her for six years. One trip was 'round the world. Last ship I'll ever have. She was an old one. They're not buildin' many more of those prime clippers we used to have. It's all steam nowadays. I can't do anything with steam, Kroom. Can you?"
"I don't want any," replied the Captain. "It's taking the place of horses, too, on land. That and 'lectricity and these 'ere two-wheeled things they call cycles. I wouldn't any more ride one of 'em--"
"Did you ever ride a horse?" asked Pickering. "I did once; but I didn't know how to steer him, and we made a losin' voyage of it."
"Well," said the Captain, "I can drive. Kind o' drive. But I'd rather have some other feller navigate, as a rule. I'm most at home in a boat. Watch now. We'll be in the breakers in less'n five minutes."
"Good boat," remarked Captain Pickering. "But we're too many in her." Nevertheless, he talked right along about ships, as cool as a cucumber, even when the _Elephant_ was making her dangerous way through the blind channel. "Glad you know where it is," he said to Kroom. "I'd ha' swamped her tryin' to find it. We're nigh half full o' water anyhow."
That was what had troubled Sam, for again and again the tossing waves of the channel had washed over in, and he and Pete had been baling their best. Not that Pete appeared to be troubled, and he had remarked to their passenger: "Captain Kroom knows every channel around this bay. He'll get through."
So he did, and they were now inside of the breakers, between them and the bar. Right ahead of them, moreover, was another cat-boat, twice as large as the _Elephant_, with four men in it.
"There they are!" exclaimed Pickering. "The very chaps that came aboard the _Goshawk_ this morning. Reckon they'd been there before, too. Tell you what, Kroom, they're hunting for that spar-buoy, to get the things they hung to it."
"They won't get 'em," growled Kroom. "But every man of 'em belongs on the other side o' the bay. They are oyster and clam dredgers. Some of our fishermen are born wreckers, sure's you live. Anything they can take off a stranded ship is fair game to them."
"I guess so," said Pickering. "They thought they'd made a good find this time. That valise'd ha' been a fortune to 'em, chronometers and all. Glad you struck it."
"Sam hooked it," said Pete, "but it was Captain Kroom pulled it in. Sam thought he had the biggest kind of fish."
"Hullo, Captain!" came from the other boat. "Have ye had any luck?"
"Not any," responded Kroom. "But I want to get inside before it's calm."
"That there wreck out there's a Britisher," said the boatman. "They'll get her off. We haven't struck a fish to-day. We're goin' on in."
They were only out there fishing, all innocent, therefore, but they let the _Elephant_ keep away a little, or they kept away from her.
"Wonder what they've picked up?" muttered Pickering.
"Look back," replied Kroom. "Don't you see something?"
"I do!" whispered Sam to Pete. "It's something white--"
"Right in the wake of their boat," said Kroom. "They must ha' let go of it just as we came out of the channel."
"That's it!" said Pickering. "That's where those life-preservers went to. One of 'em makes a better buoy-mark than any spar would."
"Captain," put in Pete, "that one isn't hitched to anything; it's running right along on the tide. It's loose."
"Fact!" exclaimed Kroom. "You've pretty good eyes, Pete. I saw 'em. They didn't pull up anything, but they tried to. It only broke loose, whatever it was."
"No, you don't!" said Pickering, sharply. "It's hitched on the bottom again. They saw us coming, and they let go. That's all."
"Get out your lines, boys," shouted Kroom. "We'll try for blue-fish, up and down here," and then he added, to the men in the other boat: "I won't go home empty-handed. Why don't you fellers throw a hook?"
"No use, Captain," came back. "We may get some weakfish in the inlet, but you'll only throw away time."
"We've got all the time there is," said Captain Kroom; but Sam and Pete were making haste, and when the _Elephant_ tacked again their lines were out.
"Shouldn't wonder if they were kind o' mad," remarked Pickering. "But there was more'n one life-preserver on deck. They can hunt for the others."
"That's what they'll do," said Kroom; "but this one's follerin' us. Whatever is hitched to it'll anchor it in shoal water. Things have to go over the bar and into the bay at high tide. They know that, and they think they can wait."
The wide spread of water between the surf and the beach was now comparatively smooth, with long low waves playing lazily across it.
There might be fish there, but most likely not, the Captain said, and it ought not to arouse any suspicions of the wreckers that he wanted to try it.
They sailed ahead for the inlet, but Pete may have been correct when he told his shipmates, old and young:
"They're a-watching us. They mean to see if we're just after fish."
"There comes that thing!" exclaimed Sam; but Pickering caught his arm.
"Don't you point, boy! Don't anybody look at it! Fish away. I guess it isn't worth much, but they needn't see us get it."
The _Elephant_ had not begun her remarkable voyage very early in the day, and more time had passed than her boy crew were aware of. Her commander, however, had kept track of the tides and the hours, like the sharp old fisherman that he was.
"We went out with the tide," he said to Pickering. "It's turned to run in now. Those chaps'll wait for that stuff at the other end of the inlet. I don't want 'em to guess that we know a thing about it; but it'll be good and dark before we get home."
"My folks know I went fishing," said Sam. "They won't care."
"Mine won't, if they learn that I'm with Captain Kroom," said Pete. "They know he doesn't come home early-- Hullo! Blue-fish!"
He had struck one; he pulled it in rapidly, but, the moment it came within reach, Captain Kroom seized it and stood straight up in the boat, hailing the wreckers with:
"All right!" came faintly back over the water. "It's all you'll get."
"Guess not," grumbled Pickering. "But I wish I knew if they had anything from the _Goshawk_ in their boat. There was another lot of chaps there, just like 'em."
"We can't help it if they have," said Kroom. "Do you know, they're not a bad kind of chap. Honest as the day on shore. Wouldn't cheat you in the weight of a fish. It was just so with the Cornish wreckers that plundered me once."
"Never was wrecked in my life," replied Pickering. "This _Goshawk_ business wasn't mine. I wasn't in charge of the ship. It doesn't count."
"Well," said Kroom, "I wasn't ever wrecked after I got to be Captain. Most of mine came younger. I went to sea when I was a little feller. What I hate around a wreck is sharks."
If he was just about to tell a shark story, his chance for it was spoiled. He had a line of his own out now, and the next instant he exclaimed:
"Pete! Pickering! Take care of the boat while I get him in. 'Tisn't any blue-fish this time!"
The _Elephant_ yawed and leaned over dangerously before Captain Pickering could get to the tiller, but Pete let the sail swing out like a tiptop young boatman.
"Just in time!" he said. "Sam, the Captain's got a big one!"
It was indeed a fish, but the flurry of excitement on board the _Elephant_ had not escaped eyes that were watching her. One eye, the right eye of a pretty sharp pair, had been squinting through a pocket-telescope, such as coast-wise men of that sort are very apt to carry.
"Boys," exclaimed its owner, "old Kroom has found something. Come on!"
The next moment that cat-boat, with the four wreckers in it, was tacking as straight a course as it could make toward the _Elephant_.
"Meet 'em, Pickering," thundered Captain Kroom. "I'm bringing him in. They mustn't guess we are after anything but fish."
"They won't," said Pickering, "not if you can show 'em a prime sea-bass."
"That's what it is, Sam," said Pete. "I told you this was the place to get 'em. If he doesn't know all about fish!"
The Captain was putting out his strength as well as his knowledge just now. A less-experienced fisherman might have lost that splendid bass, hooking him with only blue-fish tackle. It was well, too, to have Pickering in charge of the _Elephant_, for she ran into rougher water while the fish-fight went on.
[TO BE CONTINUED.]
[Illustration: INTERSCHOLASTIC SPORT]
The All-Connecticut Interscholastic Football Team for 1896 is as follows:
J. B. PORTER, _New Britain High-School_ end. P. F. MCDONOUGH, _New Britain High-School_ tackle. PAUL THOMPSON, _Hillhouse H.-S._ guard. E. W. SMITH, _Hartford H.-S._ centre. R. B. HIXON, _Hotchkiss School_ guard. T. L. MONTAGUE, _Hotchkiss School_ tackle. NORMAN GILLETTE, _Hartford H.-S._ end. F. R. STURTEVANT, _Hart. H.-S._ quarter-back. E. A. STRONG, _Hartford H.-S._ half-back. H. C. LANE, _Meriden H.-S._ half-back. PETER O'DONNELL, _New Brit. H.-S._ full-back.
The substitutes are: J. R. Smith, Norwich Free Academy, end; T. F. Flannery, New Britain H.-S., tackle; F. A. Wheeler, Bridgeport H.-S., guard; Ernest Towers, New Britain H.-S., centre; J. E. Meehan, New Britain H.-S., quarter-back; Godfrey Brinley, New Britain H.-S., half-back; J. D. Lucas, Norwich Free Academy, full-back.
[Illustration: NORMAN GILLETTE, End.]
[Illustration: P. F. McDONOUGH, Tackle.]
[Illustration: E. W. SMITH, Centre.]
[Illustration: T. L. MONTAGUE, Tackle.]
[Illustration: J. B. PORTER, End.]
[Illustration: R. B. HIXON, Guard and Captain.]
[Illustration: PAUL THOMPSON, Guard.]
[Illustration: F. R. STURTEVANT, Quarter-back.]
[Illustration: H. C. LANE, Half-back.]
[Illustration: E. A. STRONG, Half-back.]
[Illustration: PETER O'DONNELL, Full-back.]
In selecting these players care has been taken to look over very carefully the work of the men on the weaker teams. The requirements of each man are "sand," experience, and physical endurance.
For centre, E. W. Smith, of Hartford, is undoubtedly the best man playing at that position among the schools of Connecticut. He plays a very fast game, is good at making holes, tackles well, and follows the ball every time. R. B. Hixon, of the Hotchkiss School, is beyond doubt the best guard of the schools. He has played every year since he has been in school. He understands the game thoroughly, and has a magnificent physique, which virtually makes him a "stone wall." Thompson of Hillhouse H.-S. is better than Wheeler of Bridgeport, because he is more strategic and quicker on his feet. He can get through the line very nearly every time, and gets in a great many tackles. He is also very good on the defence.
T. L. Montague, of Hotchkiss School, and P. F. McDonough, of New Britain, are easily chosen for tackles. Both run well with the ball, hold their man well, and are good in getting through and making tackles. Flannery of New Britain runs well with the ball and holds his man, but is not so good at tackling as either Montague or McDonough.
J. B. Porter, of New Britain, is beyond doubt the best among the ends. He is an almost sure tackler, and is down the field every time on a punt. Norman Gillette, of Hartford, has been chosen for the other end, because he breaks up interference well and gets hold of his man nearly every time. J. R. Smith is good, but too often lets his man go after making a tackle.
For quarter-back it is hard to choose between F. R. Sturtevant, of Hartford, and J. E. Meehan, of New Britain. Both play the game for all it is worth. In passing and tackling Sturtevant surpasses Meehan, but Meehan gets into the interference a great deal better than Sturtevant. On the whole, however, taking in the important points of strategy and command of men, Sturtevant may be ranked as the better player.
It is extremely difficult to pick out the half-backs. H. C. Lane, of Meriden, is one of the finest players that ever played in the League. He runs extremely hard and fast, and tackles superbly. The difficulty came in choosing the other half-back. For this position E. A. Strong, of Hartford, and Godfrey Brinley, of New Britain, are the best men. Brinley runs very fast around the end and displays a great deal of "sand," but he has always been assisted with first-class interference. Strong, on the other hand, has as much, if not more, "sand" as Brinley. He runs fast, and knows how to interfere with his hands, and if he had had such good interference as Brinley did, I think his runs would have been as long.
For full-back the choice lies between Peter O'Donnell, of New Britain, and J. D. Lucas, of Norwich. Lucas does not hit the line as hard as O'Donnell, but fully equals him in tackling and punting. O'Donnell has a better knowledge of the game.
For captain of this team R. B. Hixon, of Hotchkiss, should have the honor. The team he was captain of is one of the best teams playing football among the schools this year. He has plenty of experience, and a good control over his men.
The financial side of the Interscholastic football season in Connecticut seems to have been very successful this year, for the statement of receipts and expenditures as made out by the treasurer shows that there is $400 in the treasury. This does not include the total profit from all the games, as the managers of the Association hold back each year $100, for incidental expenses the next season.
The profits of this year--that is, the $400--are to be divided among the eight elevens that made up the membership of the Association, each school to receive $50. I have gone into this detail in order that I might introduce a rather startling quotation from the Meriden _Journal_. It is to be hoped that this paper does not represent the Connecticut idea of sportsmanship. At any rate, the Meriden _Journal_ avers that the division of the spoils is not quite just. It argues that Meriden and New Britain, having played for the championship at New Haven, deserve to receive more money than the other teams of the League. It cannot understand why Suffield, who was only admitted to the Association this year, and forfeited its scheduled match against Norwich, should have the same amount of cash as any other team.
As a remedy for this state of affairs the _Journal_ suggests that the two elevens which came together for the final championship contest divide fifty per cent. of the net receipts for the season, the elevens in the semi-finals thirty per cent., and the elevens which figured in the opening games only, twenty per cent. If this is not advocating the playing of football for money, and is not thus a direct propaganda of professionalism, I don't know what is. If the editor of the Meriden _Journal_ believes that the schoolboys in his neighborhood are playing football for the prize-money to be divided at the end of the year I am sure he is very much mistaken in his men.
Nevertheless, any such statement as this, especially when given currency in the city of the team that stood second in the League, is exceedingly injurious not only to the reputation of that team and school but to the entire Connecticut Association. Many persons who read this, and who do not know that the _Journal_ is discussing a subject in which its ignorance is made evident by what it says, will believe that interscholastic sport is being carried forward on a money basis.
Everybody knows, of course, that no enterprise, not even sport in the truest amateur spirit, can be carried on without the expenditure of some money. The railroads will not carry amateurs free of charge, nor will tailors furnish them with football suits for nothing. Therefore it is necessary that the Association have some revenue. This is usually obtained in one of two ways, either by subscriptions levied in the various schools or by charging admission-fees at the more important games. The latter is in many respects the better, because it distributes the taxation over a greater number of people.
If, however, at the end of the year it is found that the revenues are greater than the expenses, the treasurer of the Association should profit by this knowledge to do away with certain features of taxation the next year; for his endeavor should be to collect only just the amount of money that is needed to defray the legitimate expenses of the several football teams under his care.
The very fact of dividing up money at all savors of professionalism, but when you come to dispose of it in proportion to the success of the teams, the offence is made even worse. Any of these elevens in question that accepts a dividend makes itself liable to charges of professionalism, and a strict interpretation of the ethics of sport would find it guilty. It is to be hoped that the Connecticut Association will recognize this fact as soon as it is pointed out to them, and reconsider the proposition of sending $50 to each team. If the money were left in the treasury of the Association it would be a different affair entirely from dealing it out to the treasuries of the various schools that played in the League.
The simple fact that $100 is held by the Central Treasury for next year's expenses shows that the $400 is considered as a surplus or profit. Therefore any team that accepts such profit puts itself in a dangerous position, so far as its amateur standing is concerned. As I understand the case--and as it should be, if it is not--the treasurer of the Association defrays the expenses of the several teams upon requisition of the several managers. Therefore he alone should handle the moneys of the Association, and next year, when the expenses begin again, it is he who should provide what is necessary.
The $400 now standing to the account of the Connecticut Association should be devoted to the maintenance of that Association, and not to the benefit of the individuals who make up its membership. The fact that there is so much money on hand will make it very well possible for the games next year to be carried on without the charge of an admission-fee, or it will enable the managers to present this year a trophy of some kind to the winning team, or they might even go to the extravagance of presenting the eleven champions with some small souvenir, as is frequently done in the colleges, such as a gold football for a watch-charm.
The misunderstanding which has occurred in the New England Interscholastic Football League, and which was spoken of briefly in this Department last week, may be briefly stated as follows: The constitution of the Association as published in book form requires that fifteen days' notice of the eligibility of any player be given in writing to the secretary before the date of playing. At the beginning of the season the Boston _Journal_ was voted the official organ of the Association, and on October 30 that paper published a part of the constitution, but omitted entirely any reference to the fifteen-day clause. The same article contained also the names of the various players for the schools, and was published on the first day of the games of the interscholastic series.
[Illustration: THE CAMBRIDGE MANUAL-TRAINING SCHOOL FOOTBALL TEAM.]
The Cambridge Manual-Training School acknowledges the rule in the constitution which requires a fifteen-day notice, but pleads ignorance for not having complied with it in the case of one of its players, urging its belief that the fifteen-day clause had been stricken out, since it did not appear in the constitution as published by the Boston _Journal_, the official organ of the Association, on October 30. The donors of the cup for which the teams contest have the power to change the constitution as they wish. C.M.-T.S. thought that the donors had availed themselves of this privilege when they saw the constitution printed in the _Journal_ without the fifteen-day clause.
The player whose name was not submitted to the committee is S. S. Merrill, who played end on the Worcester Academy team last season. This year he has been a member of the Burdett Business College of Boston, playing end on its football team until he changed to Cambridge Manual-Training School. He entered Cambridge Manual-Training School October 26, and his name was sent to the Executive Committee November 9. On November 13 Merrill played against Hopkinson's, and the game was protested by the latter school inside the allotted time for protests. In the games with Boston Latin and English High, on November 17 and November 20 respectively, Merrill also played, and while these games were protested by the two schools their claims were on different grounds than those of Hopkinson's. Boston Latin's protest related to Merrill not being a member of Cambridge Manual fifteen days before playing, which was not sustained according to statistical proof from the principal of Cambridge Manual. English High's protest was on a question of fact, and an article of the constitution settled that.
While the consequences have been serious to the Cambridge Manual-Training School, it appears that the sentiment of the entire Association was for some reason so strong against C.M.-T.S. that the officers of the Association could not allow that school to violate even one letter of the constitution. The committee accepts the statement that there was no malicious intent, and says in its decision that it feels that "Cambridge Manual has not intentionally broken the constitution, and has acted in perfect good faith."
This is an unfortunate complication, and one greatly to be deplored. Cambridge Manual seems to have suffered a penalty out of all proportion to the offence committed, and while it is just that the committee of the Interscholastic Association should enforce the constitution to the very letter, and while it seems that in the present case they have not in any way exceeded their duties, still I believe that, so long as Merrill was a _bona fide_ student at the school, every sportsman will consider C.M.-T.S. the virtual, if not actually the pennant-holding, champion of the Senior League of the New England Interscholastic Football Association.
In especial relation to these recent occurrences, it is good news that a conference of interscholastic football authorities will be held in the latter part of next month. It is proposed at that time to go over the constitution carefully, and to add or eradicate such clauses as the conditions in Boston may seem to require.
The protest of Trinity School against De La Salle was withdrawn at the last meeting of the New York Interscholastic Association's executive committee, and the championship has been awarded to De La Salle Institute. This makes one more unpleasant incident that is put away into the past without being dragged out to an unpleasant length; and no matter what Trinity's position may have been in the case, her athletic managers have done well to drop their protest.
In addition to in-door track athletics this winter the Brooklyn schools will have a handball league, and the schedule of games has already been laid out as follows:
January 16--Pratt Institute _vs._ Brooklyn High, and Poly. Prep _vs._ Brooklyn Latin. January 23--Pratt _vs._ Brooklyn Latin, and Adelphi _vs._ Poly. Prep. January 30--Brooklyn High _vs._ Brooklyn Latin, and Pratt _vs._ Adelphi. February 6--Brooklyn Latin _vs._ Adelphi, and Poly. Prep. _vs._ Pratt. February 20--Brooklyn High _vs._ Pratt. February 27--Poly. Prep. _vs._ Brooklyn High.
Brooklyn Latin School and Poly. Prep, will probably have the strongest teams, from present appearances, and as the game has been played by both these institutions for some seasons past, some exciting contests should result.
_Unless unforeseen contingencies arise to prevent, the All-New York and the All-Chicago Interscholastic Football Teams will be announced in the next issue of this Department._
"FOOTBALL FACTS AND FIGURES."--BY WALTER CAMP.--POST 8VO, PAPER, 75 CENTS.
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QUESTIONS FOR YOUNG MEN.
ON CHOOSING A PROFESSION.
The old story told of the great Duke of Wellington, the man who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo, that he wanted football-players for his Generals has been supplemented within the last few weeks by a similar statement made by the Honorable Theodore Roosevelt, the president of the police commissioners of the greatest city of America. Mr. Roosevelt's remark was made at a public meeting which he was addressing on the general subject of the modern city, with especial reference to the police, and he said that he wanted vigorous, manly men for policemen, men who in their younger days had made or would have made good football-players had they been given the chance. This does not mean that everybody from a policeman up to a General is made a competent official merely because he has played football. It is merely a phrase, but that phrase has a distinct meaning to every one, because it suggests what qualities are required in any walk of life to make successful, competent workers.
The great Duke and the distinguished police commissioner meant by this that they wanted for their lieutenants men who knew what discipline was--men who were ready at any moment to jump into any work, and do it with all their strength of mind or body, or both; men who were self-reliant and could be trusted, who knew how to obey and how to command and how to do things themselves. It is not enough to-day to say that this or that boy is absolutely trustworthy in order to get him a situation in a shop, a banking-house, or a law-office, in the leather or the toy business. He _must_ be trustworthy. It is taken for granted that he is honest. This is not undervaluing honesty in the least. Quite the reverse, in fact, because if a boy is not absolutely reliable, nobody wants him, no matter how clever he may be. But there are hosts of honest boys--in fact almost all of them are straightforward. But to get a place in any establishment much besides honesty and reliability is required, and hence the good old Sunday-school-story type of boy who made millions because--and only because--he was honest, is unfair to the average boy reader, since it makes him think that success is at his hand if he is only honest.
That is the mistake many a fine chap makes, and when after a while he does not get ahead, in spite of his honesty, he grows melancholy and disgusted. When you get a place as boy in a store, as clerk in a banking-house, or assistant in a professional office, you must take things into your own hands. Naturally you want to advance yourself, but the quickest way of doing this is to let your own interest drop for the time, and study out what is your employer's interest. Having found this, try every day in the year to see how you can improve, suggest, push forward his success. Pretty soon he begins to notice you, to think over your suggestions. In time something comes up, and he wants a man for a certain purpose. Ten to one he will think you are the only one for it, because you have been keeping yourself before him so much in a way that helps him. And not long afterwards you are the man he relies on. That is the beginning, and like all good thorough beginnings, it is more than half the battle.
When you sit down to choose a profession, then--unless you have a very definite idea of what you want to do, and in that case the work is easy, for you only have to work at it hard and long to make your living by it--when you sit down to make a choice, and have no great preference, say to yourself that you will take whatever job you can get, and will not only do that which is given you to do honestly and thoroughly, but will get up each morning thinking out some little thing that may possibly be of advantage to your employer's purse or fame. It cannot help making an impression, for business men are just as human as office-boys, and if you only show them that you are trying your best to add to their fortunes or their name, they cannot help watching you, trusting you, advancing you. And any business that is done well and vigorously will not only become interesting, but will give you a chance to make a successful life, and to add to the good of your fellow-countrymen, besides giving you a living into the bargain. Anything well done and worked at hard and long--for twenty years, say--is sure to be conquered, and whether it is the keeping of a grocery-store or the running of a government, the same qualities of honesty, originality, and thoroughness are required, and, if employed, are successful. What you do, then, is not so important as the push and vigor which you put into it.
* * * * *
AMERICA STILL AHEAD.
Russia is a very large country, and with Siberia's immense area included, the size of the United States suffers in comparison with her. One of her newspapers has vaunted the proposed transporting of a whole town some forty odd miles along a frozen river (a heretofore unknown feat, as it claims), the object of the removal being to place the town among some hills that lend themselves admirably to the purpose of fortification, thus securing a valuable military station. It will undoubtedly be quite a feat to accomplish such a task, and if the Russian engineers find any hitch in their plans, they can surmount the difficulties by reference to a similar undertaking successfully accomplished in the State of Illinois, namely, the moving of the town of Nauvoo over a frozen river. In the course of three winters this was done, and seven hundred houses were transported, and a new town, now a prosperous place, was established. The Russian newspapers can boast of the great work of moving one of their towns; but it is a pleasure to know that the United States long ago anticipated them in such matters.
[Illustration: THE CAMERA CLUB]
Any questions in regard to photograph matters will be willingly answered by the Editor of this column, and we should be glad to hear from any of our club who can make helpful suggestions.
IMITATION CARBON PRINTS.
Those of our amateurs who have used the formulas for tinted papers will enjoy preparing paper in imitation of carbon prints. The method is one of the simplest forms of sensitizing paper. The formula is as follows:
White gum-arabic 4 oz. Distilled water 6 oz.
Dissolve the gum-arabic in the water--heating the water--and if, when dissolved, the mixture does not measure ten ounces, add enough clear water to make that amount.
Bichromate of potash 1 oz. Distilled water 9 oz.
For use mix equal parts of the solution, and filter; then take a tube of moist water-color, any tint desired, and dissolve enough of it in the solution to produce the tint desired. Pin a sheet of photographic paper to a flat board, and apply the solution with a flat brush after the manner described for sensitizing paper. The paper must be sensitized by gas or lamp light.
This paper is not a printing-out paper, but is developed. Expose under the negative, lay the print for a few seconds in lukewarm water, then place it face up on a sheet of glass, and develop it with hot water, using it about 110° F.; rinse, and place for ten minutes in a bath made of
Powdered alum 1 oz. Water 20 oz.
As the progress of the printing cannot be seen, it is a good idea to sensitize a strip of paper, and experiment with the printing till the time for exposure can be ascertained.
SIR KNIGHT KENNETH TANNER, 711 First Avenue, Asbury Park, N. J., says that he has intensified several of his negatives with mercury, and that they are fading fast, and wishes to know how to preserve them. They may be restored by soaking in a solution made of Schlippe's salts, 40 gr., and water, 4 oz. Soak the negative in clear water till thoroughly wet, and then immerse in the restoring solution till the desired effect is obtained.
LADY EUDORA LANDERS asks if the picture which she encloses in her letter belongs in any of the classes for which prizes are offered. The picture is that of a building--a log house--and therefore would not come in any of the classes. The picture is a good one, and well taken; but the camera was not exactly level, and the lines of the horizon slant. If the picture is squared by the horizon-line and trimmed, this defect will be remedied.
SIR KNIGHT R. J. GEDDES asks if by prepared photographic paper is meant salted paper. The paper, if bought unsalted, must be salted before it is used. Sir Knight Geddes will find directions for making green tones in No. 862, May 5, 1896.
SIR KNIGHT LEONARD KEBLER, 142 Harrison St., East Orange, N. J., asks if his name is enrolled among the members of the Camera Club, and for the number of the ROUND TABLE which contains directions for enlarging. Sir Leonard says that in an answer to one of the queries asking about enlarging, the answer was that directions could be found in No. 801, March 5, 1895, but that he looked in this number and there was no article on photography. By referring to the number mentioned the editor finds an article on "Bromide Enlargements." This tells how to make an enlarged photograph from a small negative, which is what Sir Leonard means. Bromide paper is the sensitive paper used for such photographs, and they are called bromide enlargements. Sir Leonard is enrolled in the Camera Club.
SIR KNIGHT HARRY CHASE sends a print, and asks if it would come under marines or landscapes. It would be classed with the marines. It is a good picture, the water looking like water and not like chalk or snow.
SIR KNIGHT F. G. CLAPP asks if the rule in the photographic competition saying no picture shall be sent which has been submitted in other competitions, means the ROUND TABLE competitions, or all competitions. It means any competition in which prizes are offered for best photographs. The object of our prize competition is to stimulate our club to do its best work expressly for this competition. We wish new pictures with fresh subjects, not pictures that have been sent to other competitions and placed on exhibition.
SIR KNIGHT GILBERT JACKSON asks if there is any way to remove an object from a negative which one does not want in the finished print. The objectionable part of the picture may be blocked out by painting over it, on the glass side of the negative, with Gihon's opaque, a non-actinic water-color paint.
"EDITH" asks how to enlarge from a silver print. In order to enlarge from a silver print, it would be necessary to make a negative from the print, and then make a bromide enlargement from the negative according to direction given in No. 801, March 5, 1895.
SIR KNIGHT CONANT TAYLOR encloses a print and asks what is the matter with it. The picture was not printed deep enough, and has faded in the toning. It has the appearance of being overtoned, or toned in poor solution. In toning, when not sure that the bath is all right, test it according to directions given beginners for testing toning solutions. Take a piece of blue litmus paper and dip it into the toning solution. If it turns red the bath is too acid. Add enough of the alkali to turn the paper back to blue. Bicarbonate of soda is an alkali. In toning remove the prints from the bath before they are quite toned, as they fade in washing.
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[Illustration: STAMP COLLECTORS]
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Harper's New Catalogue
Thoroughly revised, classified, and indexed, will be sent by mail to any address on receipt of ten cents.
A MYSTERY TRIP.
A PUZZLE WITH FORTY DOLLARS OFFERED IN PRIZES FOR BEST ANSWERS.
A mystery trip it was indeed, that of our Half Dozen Club. The route of the journey was decided by a game of hare and hounds. The points of interest to be visited were snatched by the hounds while following the track of the hare from innumerable papers which designedly marked the latter's course. Could any route be made more uncertain?
After the game, when the papers, previously marked with the names of notable persons, places, and things, were put together in order, it was found that we should have a remarkable company, and an even more remarkable route. Let me describe both as we take the journey in fancy together.
Our conveyance was the magic carpet(1) of Prince Houssain. Safe? Well, it might not have been had we not carried the Dart of Abaris(2). Then the god(3) who was thrown from Olympus for getting mixed up in a family row acted as guide and kept us from danger by wearing Tidbottom's spectacles(4). For a rudder he used Van Tromp's broom(5).
We arrived in no time at Kit's Coty House(6), and began at once to pick up souvenirs. The Knight of the Rueful Countenance(7) got the bones of his famous horse(3). The witty English clergyman(9) who, to make his nag speedier, hung his food before the nag's nose, but just out of his reach, got the bones of a dog that won literary fame for his master(10).
Snatching the magic tent of Prince Ahmed(11) and a supply of smoke farthings(12), onion pennies(13), and screw dollars(14) to pay expenses, we passed through the ivory gate(15) to the shore of the sea of darkness(16), where we embarked in the ship Skid Bladnir(17). We visited the islands of Laputa(18), were ship-wrecked while passing the magnetic mountain of Prince Agib(19), and barely escaped with our lives and curios to the shore of the Land of Cakes(20).
Here we were joined by Dr. Mirabilis(21), the mutton-eating king(22), the hero of the red shirt(23), Abel Shufflebottom(24), and a company of bridge bachelors(25). So many were we that the supply of Galli-Maufry(26) ran low, and when we reached the Land of Cocaigne(27) we were wellnigh starved.
Our party now separated, some going to the Grid-iron palace(28) and others to King Cunobelin's Gold Mines(29). Of course we were disappointed at not being able to visit the heart of Midlothian(30), Montezuma's Watch(31), or the Land of the Morning Calm(32). But we got home on Running Thursday(33), just in time for New Year next day. We had a little money left, for we had consulted the wise men of Gotham(34). Had we not done so, we should certainly have donned the badge of poverty(35) forthwith, or we might have put on a badge bearing what follows, and charge a certain sum per guess at the answer. Did you ever hear of a person increasing his income in that way? But here is what we might have donned, for people whom we met to answer.
"I(36) used to live, for two hundred years or so, in the tops of high trees in the forest. Then I was smashed, oh! so fine, and went into war. I played an important part in the Civil War. I helped to kill, and was, by thousands and thousands of men, torn to pieces myself. I am light, yet heavy, and everybody knows me, or of me."
Or this badge might have earned us more money:
"I(37) have two legs only, but everybody would say, judging from my name, that I have a dozen. I am often called a crank. Know books? Yes, but never read them. I have much to do with chairs--wearing them out--and people often wonder how I live."
But to return to the trip long enough to say that it was a great one!
* * * * *
In this fanciful story are mentioned some famous people, usually by their nicknames, and some odd historic places and things. There are also two riddles. In sending answers, do not write out the story. Number names as numbered here, write one below another in the proper order, and put your name and address at the top of your first sheet of answers. Mail answers not later than January 9, 1897, to HARPER'S ROUND TABLE, New York--no street number required--and put in the lower left-hand corner of your envelope "Puzzle Answer." Correct answers, with names of winners, will be published in HARPER'S ROUND TABLE as early after the close of the contest as possible, probably within about two weeks.
The prizes, which will be awarded by the Messrs. Harper & Brothers, Publishers, New York, are: $40, divided among the ten best solvers according to merit. If one solver stands conspicuously ahead of the rest he or she will be given from $10 to $25, as the comparative excellence of the answer warrants. Persons of any age may help find the answers, but only those who have not passed their 18th birthday, and who are members of households in which this paper is regularly read, may send them in. Merit signifies correctness and neatness, and has no reference to the solution reaching the office of HARPER'S ROUND TABLE first in point of time. Elaborate decoration of answers is not encouraged. Use common stationery, note size, and do not roll. Write on one side of the paper only. Everything comes to those who--try!
This Department is conducted in the interest of stamp and coin collectors, and the Editor will be pleased to answer any question on these subjects so far as possible. Correspondents should address Editor Stamp Department.
The stamp business was unusually dull throughout the summer and fall, and the expected revival has not yet appeared. Probably one reason is that every one is waiting for the 1897 catalogues. The astonishing rise in the value of unused stamps seems to have concentrated speculation in this direction, and the needless manufacture of "new varieties" with fancy prices has discouraged the average collector. It is high time to come down to a philatelic basis, and let the financial side of collecting alone for a season. The advance in prices has nearly reached its limit in the majority of cases, and subsequent increase of value will be slow. In many instances there will be either a retrocession, or--the dealers will keep the stamps in their safes vainly waiting for customers.
Some idea of the extent of the U. S. postal service is given in the following figures from the President's message:
MAIL MATTER FOR THE YEAR ENDING
June 30, 1896.
Weight. Pounds. Revenue. Letters and postal cards 65,337,343 $60,624,464 Newspapers 348,988,648 2,996,403 Books, seeds, etc. 78,701,148 10,324,069 Merchandise 19,950,187 3,129,321 Free matter 94,480,189 .... Received for box rents, etc., over .... 5,424,951 ----------- ----------- Total 607,457,515 $82,499,208
The entire expenditures of the department, including pay for transportation credited to the Pacific railroads, was $92,186,195.11, which may be considered as the cost of receiving, carrying, and delivering the above mail-matter.
F. ORMISTON.--An immense quantity of Roman States remainders were sold to dealers, hence prices are very low. Your stamps are worth from 3c. to 5c. each.
M. E. JENKINS.--U. S. cent, 1798, worth 20c.; 1802, 25c.; half-cent, 1809, 10c.; 1828, 20c.; 10c. shinplaster, face. "Army and Navy" is not a coin, but is a token, and has no money value.
D. W. HARDIN, 1003 Court Street, Saginaw, Mich., wishes to exchange U. S. Revenues with beginners in the same line.
H. L. MOSSMAN.--Canadian penny, 1854, is worth face only.
CONSTANT READER.--1. See reply to A. W. de Roade in No. 893. 2. The coins have no premium. 3. Apply to any respectable dealer.
F. T. O.--Bergedorf half-schilling is worth 50c. The 5c. Columbian worth 1c.
DEL ROSE MCCANN, Ridley Park, Pa., F. MIKELSKI, Bath, Me., wish to exchange stamps.
J. RICO.--Do not attempt too much. The collection of minor varieties requires time, money, and knowledge. You had better collect "straight" stamps only. By the time you have got together three or four thousand you will have required much knowledge, and then be in a position to decide what special line, _if any_, you purpose to take.
A. A. LATO.--West Indian and U. S. stamps _unused_ were the fashionable stamps during the past year. The results of the late auctions indicate quite a falling off in values. Probably now would be a good time to collect them, if you care to specialize in them.
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For Young Americans
* * * * *
By WOODROW WILSON, Ph.D., LL.D. Copiously Illustrated by HOWARD PYLE, HARRY FENN, and Others. Crown 8vo, Cloth, Deckel Edges and Gilt Top, $3.00.
Professor Wilson has made at the same time a new biography of Washington and a new history of America in Washington's time. In the perspective of American history, a perspective clearer, perhaps, to this writer than to any other, the period treated is especially significant, being the culmination of the colonial era, and including the final overthrow of French dominion on American soil, the Revolutionary War, and the establishment of the Republic on the firm basis of constitutional law. Upon this historic background Professor Wilson has painted his living portrait of Washington, and with masterly skill and homely simplicity has shown the relation of the man to the stirring events of his time, and has made the whole epoch luminous with the spirit of its foremost man. To many readers the most charming feature of this work will be the picture presented of Washington in the quiet days of Mount Vernon before and after the Revolution.
* * * * *
HARPER & BROTHERS, Publishers, New York
POSTER CALENDAR. 1897
_By Edward Penfield. Price 50c._
Published by R. H. Russell & Son, New York.
[Illustration: THE ANIMALS ENJOY A NOVEL CHRISTMAS TREE BY COURTESY OF THE SQUIRREL.]
* * * * *
A BRAVE LITTLE GIRL.
Just one more kiss for good-night, mamma, Just one more kiss for good-night; And then you may go to my dear papa, And--yes--you may put out the light; For I'll promise you truly I _won't_ be afraid, As I was last night; you'll see, 'Cause I'm going to be papa's _brave_ little maid, As he told me I ought to be.
But the shadows won't seem so dark, mamma, If you'll kiss me a _little_ bit more; And you know I can listen, and hear where you are, If you only _won't_--shut the door. For if I can hear you talking, I think It will make me so sleepy, maybe, That I'll go to sleep just as quick as a wink, And forget to--to cry like a baby.
You needn't be laughing, my mamma dear, While you're hugging me up so tight; You think I am trying to keep you here, You, and--I guess--the _light_. Please kiss me good-night once more, mamma; I could surely my promise keep If you'd only stay with me just as you are, And kiss me till--I go to sleep.
* * * * *
ONE GOOD REASON.
BETTIE WITLESS. "Why does that little boy always go barefooted?"
SALLIE KNOWALL. "Why, because he has more feet than shoes."
* * * * *
Abraham Lincoln was fond of a good story, and it is a well-known fact that he often illustrated an important point in the business at hand by resorting to his favorite pastime. Probably one of the best he ever told he related of himself when he was a lawyer in Illinois. One day Lincoln and a certain judge, who was an intimate friend of his, were bantering each other about horses, a favorite topic of theirs. Finally Lincoln said:
"Well, look here, judge. I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll make a horse-trade with you, only it must be upon these stipulations: Neither party shall see the other's horse until it is produced here in the court-yard of the hotel, and both parties must trade horses. If either party backs out of the agreement, he does so under a forfeiture of twenty-five dollars."
"Agreed," cried the judge, and both he and Lincoln went in quest of their respective animals.
A crowd gathered, anticipating some fun, and when the judge returned first, the laugh was uproarious. He led, or rather dragged, at the end of a halter the meanest, boniest, rib-staring quadruped--blind in both eyes--that ever pressed turf. But presently Lincoln came along carrying over his shoulder a carpenter's horse. Then the mirth of the crowd was furious. Lincoln solemnly set his horse down, and silently surveyed the judge's animal with a comical look of infinite disgust.
"Well, judge," he finally said, "this is the first time I ever got the worst of it in a horse-trade."
* * * * *
NEW VARIETY OF COOKING.
MOTHER. "Freddie, pass the bread."
FREDDIE (_who has been studying about minerals at school_). "Do you want aluminum bread, or the other kind?"
MOTHER. "What do you mean?"
FREDDIE. "One is very light and the other isn't."
* * * * *
SOME NATURAL HISTORY.
TRIPSEY. "I wonder does the catamaran feed on mice?"
FRIPSEY. "Yes; and the dromedary maid gives him cheese that she makes. The tomahawk catches young chickens for food, the wanderoo eats nothing on a journey, the spinning-jenny lives on cotton, the monkey-wrench apes the saw horse, and lives on wood; while the gunwale eats nothing, the toad-eater diets on favors, and the Welsh rabbit feeds everybody but himself. Animals are queer things, Trip."
* * * * *
PROFESSOR SNIBLEY. "The _os humeris_ is the shoulder-blade, is it?"
STUDENT. "I'm not sure, sir; but it's somewhere near the funny-bone."