A LITTLE MAID OF PROVINCE TOWN
By ALICE TURNER CURTIS
Author Of A Little Maid of Massachusetts Colony A Little Maid of Narragansett Bay A Little Maid of Bunker Hill A Little Maid of Ticonderoga A Little Maid of Old Connecticut A Little Maid of Old Philadelphia
Illustrated by Wuanita Smith
THE PENN PUBLISHING COMPANY Philadelphia
COPYRIGHT 1913 BY THE PENN PUBLISHING COMPANY
CHAPTER PAGE I. Anne Nelson 1 II. Anne Wins a Friend 14 III. Anne's Secret 27 IV. Anne and the Wolf 39 V. Scarlet Stockings 51 VI. Captured by Indians 62 VII. Out to Sea 73 VIII. On the Island 86 IX. The Castaways 97 X. Safe at Home 107 XI. Captain Enos's Secrets 119 XII. An Unexpected Journey 129 XIII. Anne Finds Her Father 143 XIV. A Candy Party 157 XV. A Spring Picnic 177 XVI. The May Party 186 XVII. The Sloop, "Peggy" 195
PAGE The Creature Sprang to Its Feet 1 A Blanket Fell Over Her Head 65 She Worked Steadily 111 "This Is From Boston" 162 The Boat Began to Tip 194
A Little Maid of Province Town
"I don't know what I can do with you, I'm sure!" declared Mistress Stoddard, looking down at the small girl who stood on her door-step gazing wistfully up at her.
"A man at the wharf said that you didn't have any little girls," responded the child, "and so I thought——"
"'Twas Joe Starkweather told you, I'll be bound," said Mrs. Stoddard. "Well, he's seven of his own to fend for."
"Seven little girls?" said Anne Nelson, in an almost terror-stricken voice, her dark eyes looking earnestly into the stern face that frowned down upon her. "And what would become of them if their mother should die, and their father be lost at sea?"
"Sure enough. You have sense, child. But the Starkweathers are all boys. Well, come in. You can take your bundle to the loft and leave it, and we'll see what I can find for you to do. How old are you?"
"Eight last March," responded Anne.
"Well, a child of eight isn't much use in a house, but maybe you can save me steps."
"Yes, indeed, Mistress Stoddard; I did a deal to help my father about the house. He said I could do as much as a woman. I can sweep out for you, and lay the table and wash the dishes, and bring in the wood and water, and——" there came a break in the little girl's voice, and the woman reached out a kindly hand and took the child's bundle.
"Come in," she said, and Anne instantly felt the tenderness of her voice. "We are poor enough, but you'll be welcome to food and shelter, child, till such time as some of your own kinsfolk send for thee."
"I have no kinsfolk," declared Anne; "my father told me that."
"Come you in; you'll have a bed and a crust while I have them to give you," declared the woman, and Anne Nelson went across the threshold and up to the bare loft, where she put her bundle down on a wooden stool and looked about the room.
There was but a narrow bed in the corner, covered with a patchwork quilt, and the wooden stool where Anne had put her bundle. The one narrow window looked off across the sandy cart tracks which served as a road toward the blue waters of Cape Cod Bay. It was early June, and the strong breath of the sea filled the rough little house, bringing with it the fragrance of the wild cherry blossoms and an odor of pine from the scrubby growths on the low line of hills back of the little settlement.
It was just a year ago, Anne remembered, as she unwrapped her bundle, that she and her father had sailed across the harbor from Ipswich, where her mother had died.
"We will live here, at the very end of the world, where a man may think as he pleases," her father had said, and had moved their few household possessions into a three-roomed house near the shore. Then he had given his time to fishing, leaving Anne alone in the little house to do as she pleased.
She was a quiet child, and found entertainment in building sand houses on the beach, in wandering along the shore searching for bright shells and smooth pebbles, and in doing such simple household tasks as her youth admitted. A week before her appearance at Mrs. Stoddard's door, John Nelson had gone out in his fishing-boat, and now he had been given up as lost. No sign of him had been seen by the other fishermen, and it was generally believed by his neighbors that his sloop had foundered and that John Nelson had perished.
Some there were, however, who declared John Nelson to be a British spy, and hesitated not to say that he had sailed away to join some vessel of the British fleet with information as to the convenience of the harbor of Province Town, and with such other news as he had brought from Ipswich and the settlements nearer Boston. For it was just before the war of the American Revolution, when men were watched sharply and taken to task speedily for any lack of loyalty to the American colonies. And John Nelson had many a time declared that he believed England meant well by her American possessions,—a statement which set many of his neighbors against him.
"'Mean well,' indeed!" Joseph Starkweather had replied to his neighbor's remark. "When they have closed the port of Boston, so that no ship but the king's war-ships dare go in and out? Even our fishing-boats are closely watched. Already the Boston people are beginning to need many things. Americans are not going to submit to feeding British soldiers while their own men go hungry."
But now Joseph Starkweather was the only man who interested himself in the lonely child. Day after day of that first week of her father's absence Anne had stayed close to the little house, looking hopefully out across the harbor for a sight of his boat; and day after day Joseph Starkweather had come lounging down the beach to speak with the child, to ask her what she had for breakfast, and if she slept safe and unafraid.
"The meal is gone," she told him one morning, "and I do not sleep now—I wait and listen for my father;" and then it was that he told her she must seek another home.
"You are too young to stay alone," he said; "pick up a bundle of your clothes and go to Mrs. Stoddard on the hill. She hasn't a chick or child of her own. Like as not you'll be a blessing to her." And Anne, used to obedience and sorrow, obeyed.
There was nothing of much value in the small house, but on the day after Anne's entrance as a member of the Stoddard family, Captain Stoddard loaded the poor sticks of furniture on a handcart, and pulled it through the sandy tracks to his cottage door.
"It's the child of an English spy you're giving shelter to," he had said, when Martha Stoddard had told him that Anne was to live with them, "and she'll bring no luck to the house." But his wife had made no response; the dark-eyed, elfish-looking child had already found a place in the woman's heart.
"I don't eat so very much," Anne announced as Mrs. Stoddard gave her a bowl of corn mush and milk when she came down-stairs.
"You'll eat what you want in this house, child," answered her new friend, and Anne ate hungrily.
"Now come to the door, Anne, and I'll brush out this tangle of hair of yours," said Mrs. Stoddard; "and after this you must keep it brushed and braided neatly. And bring down your other frock. I'll be doing some washing this afternoon, and I venture to say your frock is in need of it."
The first few days in the Stoddard family seemed almost unreal to Anne. She no longer watched for her father's boat, she no longer wandered about the beach, playing in the sand and hunting for shells. Her dresses were not now the soiled and ragged covering which had served as frocks, but stout cotton gowns, made from a skirt of Mrs. Stoddard's, and covered with a serviceable apron. A sunbonnet of striped cotton covered the dark head, and Anne was as neat and well-dressed as the other children of the settlement. To be sure her slender feet were bare and tanned, and hardened by exposure; but there was not a child in the neighborhood who wore shoes until the frost came, and Mrs. Stoddard was already making plans for Anne's winter foot-gear.
"I'll trade off something for some moccasins for the child before fall," she had resolved; "some of the Chatham Indians will get down this way when the beach plums begin to ripen, and will be glad of molasses, if I am lucky enough to have it."
For those were the days when the little coast settlements had but few luxuries, and on Cape Cod the settlers were in fear of the British. Province Town was especially exposed, and at that time there were but thirty houses; and the people had no established communication with the outside world. The sea was their thoroughfare, as a journey over the sandy country from Province Town to Boston was almost impossible. News was a long time in reaching the little settlement of fishermen. But they knew that King George III had resolved to punish Boston for destroying his cargoes of tea, and had made Salem the seat of government in the place of Boston. War-ships from England hovered about the coast, and the children of Province Town were quick to recognize these unwelcome craft.
"Mistress Stoddard," said Anne one morning, when she had returned from driving the cow to the enclosed pasturage at some little distance from the house, "Jimmie Starkweather says there is a big ship off Race Point, and that it is coming into harbor here. He says 'tis a British ship, and that like as not the men will land and burn down the houses and kill all the cows." Anne looked at Mrs. Stoddard questioningly.
"Nonsense!" responded the good woman. "Jimmie was but trying to make you afraid. 'Twas he sent thee running home last week in fear of a wolf that he told you was prowling about."
"But there is a ship, Mistress Stoddard. I went up the hill and looked, and 'tis coming along like a great white bird."
"Like enough. The big ships go up toward Boston and Salem on every fair day. You know that well, child."
"This seems a different kind," persisted Anne; and at last Mrs. Stoddard's curiosity was aroused, and with Anne close beside her she walked briskly up to the hill and looked anxiously across the blue waters.
"'Tis much nearer, now," said Anne. "See, it's coming to—'twill anchor."
"Sure enough," answered Mrs. Stoddard. "Jimmie Starkweather is a wise lad. 'Tis a British man-of-war. Trouble is near at hand, child."
"Will they kill our cow?" questioned Anne. "Jimmie said they would, and eat her," and Anne's voice trembled; for the small brown cow was the nearest approach to a pet that the little girl had. It seemed a loss hardly to be borne if "Brownie" was to be sacrificed.
"It's like enough they will," replied Mrs. Stoddard. "They'll be sending their boats ashore and taking what they can see. Run back to the pasture, Anne, and drive Brownie down the further slope toward the salt-meadow. There's good feed for her beyond the wood there, and she'll not wander far before nightfall, and she will not be quickly seen there."
Anne needed no urging. With another look toward the big ship, she fled back along the sandy road toward the pasture, and in a short time the brown cow, much surprised and offended, was being driven at a run down the pasture slope, around the grove of scrubby maples to the little valley beyond.
Anne waited until Brownie had sufficiently recovered from her surprise to begin feeding again, apparently well content with her new pasturage, and then walked slowly back toward the harbor. The village seemed almost deserted. The children were not playing about the boats; there was no one bringing water from the spring near the shore, and as Anne looked out toward the harbor, she saw two more big ships coming swiftly toward anchorage.
"Poor Brownie!" she said aloud, for if there was danger in one ship she was sure that three meant that there was no hope for the gentle brown cow which she had just driven to a place of safety.
Before night a boatload of British sailors had landed, filled their water-barrels at the spring, bought some young calves of Joseph Starkweather and returned quietly to their ships.
"They seem civil enough," said Captain Stoddard that night as he talked the newcomers over with his wife. "They know we could make no stand against them, but they treated Joseph Starkweather fairly enough."
Anne listened eagerly. "Will they take Brownie?" she asked.
"Indeed they won't if I can help it," answered Mrs. Stoddard; "we'll not drive the creature back and forth while the British are about. I can slip over the hill with a bucket and milk her night and morning. She's gentle, and there's no need of letting the pirates see how sleek and fat the creature is."
"And may I go with you, Mistress Stoddard?" asked Anne.
"Of course, child," answered Mrs. Stoddard, smilingly.
After Anne had gone up to the loft to bed Captain Stoddard said slowly: "She seems a good child."
"That she does, Enos. Good and careful of her clothes, and eager to be of help to me. She saves me many a step."
"'Tis John Nelson, they say, who has brought the Britishers into harbor," responded Captain Enos slowly. "Joseph Starkweather swears that one of the sailors told him so when he bargained for the calves."
"Anne's not to blame!" declared Mrs. Stoddard loyally, but there was a note of anxiety in her voice; "as you said yourself, Enos, she's a good child."
"I'll not be keeping her if it proves true," declared the man stubbornly. "True it is that they ask no military duty of any man in Province Town, but we're loyal folk just the same. We may have to barter with the British to save our poor lives, instead of turning guns on them as we should; but no man shall say that I took in a British spy's child and cared for it."
"They'd but say you did a Christian deed at the most," said his wife. "You're not a hard man, Enos."
"I'll not harbor a traitor's child," he insisted, and Mrs. Stoddard went sorrowfully to bed and lay sleepless through the long night, trying to think of some plan to keep Anne Nelson safe and well cared for until peaceful days should come again.
And Anne, too, lay long awake, wondering what she could do to protect the little brown cow which now rested so securely on the further side of the hill.
ANNE WINS A FRIEND
"Come, Anne," called Mrs. Stoddard at so early an hour the next morning that the June sun was just showing itself above the eastern horizon.
"Yes, Mistress Stoddard," answered the little girl promptly, and in a few minutes she came down the steep stairs from the loft.
"It is early to call you, child," said the good woman kindly, "but the captain has made an early start for the fishing grounds, and I liked not to leave you alone in the house in these troublous times; and so eat your porridge and we'll go and milk Brownie."
Anne hastened to obey; and in a few moments the two were making their way up the slope through the fragrant bayberry bushes, and breathing in the sweet morning air. No one else seemed astir in the little settlement. Now and then a flutter of some wild bird would betray that they had stepped near some low-nesting bird; and the air was full of the morning songs and chirrupings of robins, red-winged blackbirds, song sparrows, and of many sea-loving birds which built their nests among the sand-hills, but found their food upon the shore.
Anne noticed all these things as they walked along, but her thoughts were chiefly occupied with other things. There was one question she longed to ask Mrs. Stoddard, yet almost feared to ask. As they reached the summit of the hill and turned for a look at the beautiful harbor she gained courage and spoke:
"Mistress Stoddard, will you please to tell me what a 'spy' is?"
"A spy? and why do you wish to know, Anne?" responded her friend; "who has been talking to you of spies?"
"Is it an ill-seeming word?" questioned the child anxiously. "The Cary children did call it after me yesterday when I went to the spring."
"Did they that!" exclaimed Mrs. Stoddard angrily, "and what reply did you make, Anne?"
The little girl shook her head. "I said nothing. I knew not what they might mean. Does it mean an orphan child, Mistress Stoddard?" and the little girl lifted her dark eyes appealingly.
"I will tell you its meaning, Anne, and then you will see that it has naught to do with little girls. A 'spy' is like this: Suppose some one should wish to know if I kept my house in order, and what I gave the captain for dinner, and could not find out, and so she came to you and said, 'Anne Nelson, if you will tell me about the Stoddard household, and open the door that I may come in and see for myself, I will give thee a shilling and a packet of sweets'; then, if you should agree to the bargain, then you could be called a spy."
"But I would not do such a thing!" declared Anne, a little flash of resentment in her dark eyes. "Do the Cary children think me like that? I will throw water on them when next we meet at the spring—aye, and sand."
"Nay, Anne," reproved Mrs. Stoddard, but she was not ill-pleased at the child's spirit. "Then you would be as bad as they. It does not matter what they may say; that is neither here nor there. If you be an honest-thinking child and do well they cannot work harm against you."
As they talked they had walked on and now heard a low "Moo!" from behind a bunch of wild cherry trees.
"There's Brownie!" exclaimed Anne, "but I do wish she would not 'moo' like that, Mistress Stoddard. The British might hear her if they come up this far from shore."
"'Tis only to remind me that it is time she was milked," said Mrs. Stoddard. "You can play about here, child, till I have finished."
Anne did not wander far. There was something else she wished to know, and when the bucket was filled with foamy, fragrant milk, of which Mrs. Stoddard bade the child drink, she said:
"'Tis near a month since my father went. The Cary children also called after me that my father was a 'traitor'; is that an ill-seeming word?"
"The little oafs!" exclaimed Mrs. Stoddard, "and what else did they say?"
"'Twill not make you dislike me, Mistress Stoddard?" questioned the child. "I honestly do not know why they should so beset me. But they called me 'beggar' as well, whatever that may be; though I'm sure I am not it, if it be an ill-seeming word."
Mrs. Stoddard had set down her milking-pail; Brownie was quietly feeding near by; there was no one to see, and she put her arm about the little girl and drew her near. It was the first outward show of tenderness that she had made toward the child, and as Anne felt the kindly pressure of her arm and looked up into the tender eyes her own face brightened.
"We'll sit here for a bit and rest, child," said Mrs. Stoddard, "and be sure I think only well of you. Thou art a dear child, and I will not have aught harm thee or make thee unhappy."
Anne drew a long breath, and snuggled closely to her good friend's side. A great load was lifted from her sad little heart, for since she had come to Province Town she could remember but few kindly words, and to have Mistress Stoddard treat her with such loving kindness was happiness indeed. For a moment she forgot the taunts of the Cary children, and sat silent and smiling, her head resting against Mrs. Stoddard's shoulder. There was a peaceful little silence between the two, and then Anne spoke.
"I would wish to know what 'traitor' might mean, Mistress Stoddard?"
"Very like to 'spy,'" answered Mrs. Stoddard. "The children meant that your father had told the British that they could find good harbor and provisions here. That, like a spy, he had opened the door of a friend's house for silver."
Anne sprang from the arm that had encircled her, her cheeks flushed and her eyes blazing. "Now!" she declared, "I will throw water upon them when I go to the spring! All that the bucket will hold I will splash upon them," and she made a fierce movement as if casting buckets full of wrath upon her enemies, "and sand!" she continued; "while they are wet with the water I will throw sand upon them. 'Tis worse to say things of my father than of me."
"Come here, child," said Mrs. Stoddard; "we will not let words like the Cary children speak trouble us. And you will remember, Anne, that I shall be ill-pleased if I hear of water-throwing at the spring. Come, now, we'll be going toward home."
Anne made no response, but walked quietly on beside her companion. When they reached the hilltop they paused again before going down the slope toward home.
"Look, Anne! Are not the fishing-boats all at anchor? What means it that the men are not about their fishing? We'd best hurry."
Captain Enos met them at the door. He gave Anne no word of greeting, but said to his wife, "The British tell us to keep ashore. They'll have no fishing. They know full well how easy 'tis for a good sloop to carry news up the harbor. They are well posted as to how such things are done."
"But what can we do if we cannot fish?" exclaimed Mrs. Stoddard. "'Tis well known that this sandy point is no place for gardens. We can scarce raise vegetables enough to know what they mean. And as for corn and wheat, every grain of them worth counting has to be bought from the other settlements and paid for in fish. If we do not fish how shall we eat?"
The captain shook his head. "Go about your play, child," he said, turning toward Anne, and the little girl walked slowly away toward a bunch of scrubby pine trees near which she had established a playhouse. She had built a cupboard of smooth chips, and here were gathered the shells she had brought from the beach, a wooden doll which her father had made her, and the pieces of a broken earthenware plate.
She took the doll from its narrow shelf and regarded it closely. Her father had made it with no small skill. Its round head was covered with curls carved in the soft wood; its eyes were colored with paint, and its mouth was red. The body was more clumsily made, but the arms and legs had joints, and the doll could sit up as erect as its small mistress. It wore one garment made of blue and white checked cotton. It was the only toy Anne Nelson had ever possessed, and it had seemed more her own because she had kept it in the little playhouse under the pines.
"Now, you can go up to the house and live with me," she said happily, "and now you shall have a truly name. You shall be Martha Nelson now. I know my father would want you to be called Martha, if he knew that Mrs. Stoddard put her arm around me and called me a 'dear child,'" and Anne smiled at the remembrance.
She did not speak of her father before the Stoddards, but she could not have explained the reason for her silence. She had wondered much about him, and often watched the harbor yearningly, thinking that after all the old sloop might come sailing back, bringing the slender, silent man who had always smiled upon her, and praised her, and had told her that some day she should have a Maltese kitten, and a garden with blossoming trees and smooth paths. Anne did not forget him, and now as she regarded her wooden doll a great longing for a sight of his dear face made her forget everything, and she leaned her head against a little pine and cried silently. But as she cried the remembrance of the taunts of the Cary children came into her thoughts, and she dried her eyes.
"'Tis near the hour when they go to the spring," she said, laying the doll carefully back in its former resting place. "I will but walk that way that they may not think me afraid of their ill-seeming words," and with her dark head more erect than usual, Anne made her way down the path, her brown feet sinking ankle-deep in the warm sand at every step.
The Cary children, a boy and a girl, both somewhat Anne's seniors, were already filling their buckets at the spring. Jimmie Starkweather was there, and a number of younger children ran shouting up and down the little stream which flowed from the spring across the road.
As Anne came near, Jimmie Starkweather called out: "Oh, Anne Nelson! The Indians from Truro are camping at Shankpainter's Pond. I've been over there, near enough to see them at work, this morning. My father says they'll be gone as soon as they see the British vessels. We'll not have time to buy moccasins if they go so quickly."
Anne's eyes rested for a moment upon Jimmie, but she did not speak. She could hear the Carys whispering as they dipped their buckets in the spring, and as she came nearer, their voices rose loudly: "Daughter of a spy! Beggar-child! Beggar-child!"
But their taunts vanished in splutterings and pleas for mercy; for at their first word Anne had sprung upon them like a young tiger. She had wrenched the bucket of water from the astonished boy and flung it in his face with such energy that he had toppled over backward, soused and whimpering; then she had turned upon his sister, sending handful after handful of sand into the face of that astonished child, until she fled from her, wailing for mercy.
But Anne pursued her relentlessly, and Captain Enos Stoddard, making his mournful way toward the shore, could hardly believe his own senses when he looked upon the scene—the Cary boy prostrate and humble, while his sister, pursued by Anne, prayed for Anne to stop the deluge of sand that seemed to fill the air about her.
"I'll not be called ill-seeming names!" shrieked Anne. "If thou sayest 'traitor' or 'spy' to me again I will do worse things to you!"
Captain Stoddard stood still for a moment. Then a slow smile crept over his weather-beaten face. "Anne!" he called, and at the sound of his voice the child stopped instantly. "Come here," he said, and she approached slowly with hanging head. "Give me your hand, child," he said kindly, and the little girl slipped her slender fingers into the big rough hand.
"So, Jimmie Starkweather, you'll stand by and see my little girl put upon, will you!" he exclaimed angrily. "I thought better than that of your father's son, to stand by and let a small girl be taunted with what she cannot help. It speaks ill for you."
"I had no time, sir," answered the boy sulkily; "she was upon them both in a second," and Jimmie's face brightened; "it was fine, sir, the way she sent yon lubber over," and he pointed a scornful finger toward the Cary boy, who was now slinking after his sister.
"Here, you Cary boy!" called the captain, "come back here and heed what I say to you. If I know of your opening your mouth with such talk again to my girl here," and he nodded toward Anne, "I'll deal with you myself. So look out for yourself."
"I'll see he keeps a civil tongue, sir," volunteered Jimmie, and Captain Enos nodded approvingly.
"Now, Anne, we'd best step up home," said the captain. "I expect Mistress Stoddard will not be pleased at this."
Anne clung close to the big hand but said no word.
"I am not angry, child," went on the captain. "I like your spirit. I do not believe in being put upon."
"But Mistress Stoddard told me I was not to throw water and sand," responded Anne, "and I forgot her commands. I fear she will not like me now," and remorseful tears dropped over the flushed little cheeks.
"There, there! Do not cry, Anne," comforted the captain; "I will tell her all about it. She will not blame you. You are my little girl now, and those Cary oafs will not dare open their mouths to plague you."
Mrs. Stoddard, looking toward the shore, could hardly credit what she saw—the captain, who but yesterday had declared that Anne should not stay under his roof, leading the child tenderly and smiling upon her!
"Heaven be thanked!" she murmured. "Enos has come to his senses. There'll be no more trouble about Anne staying."
Mrs. Stoddard said nothing to Anne of the trouble at the spring, and when Anne would have explained her part in it, her friend said quickly: "Captain Enos is not displeased with you, Anne. He thinks the Cary children not well taught at home, and says for you not to play with them," so that Anne had gone happily back to her playhouse, and told "Martha" that there was no one so good as Mistress and Captain Stoddard, "except my dear father," the little girl had added loyally.
"Now, Martha, you must be a good and quiet child," she advised, "for after this you will live in the house with me. You can come out here to play with me, but every night you are to sleep in my bed; and it may be, Mistress Stoddard will let you rest in the kitchen now and then, and you may go with me over the pasture hill to see Brownie."
The big British ships lay quietly at anchor for several days. The men came ashore in boat-loads, washed their clothes at the spring, bought such provisions as the little settlement could offer, and wandered about the shore. The citizens treated them not uncivilly, for since the men of Province Town were unable to make any resistance to those they felt to be their country's foes, they knew it to be best to be silent and accept the authority they had not the strength to defy. So the fishing-boats swung at anchor in the harbor, and the men lingered about the landing, or fished for plaice fish and sole from their dories near shore.
"We'll be poor indeed when frost comes," complained Mrs. Stoddard; "my molasses keg is near empty now, and the meal barrel not half full. If those Britishers do not soon leave the harbor so that the men can get back to the fishing, this place will know hunger, for our larder is no poorer than our neighbors'."
"Yes," agreed Captain Enos, "the whole coast is feeling the king's displeasure because we will not pay him taxes to fill his pockets, and make slaves of us. I wish we had some news of our Boston friends. The Freemans are well to do, but with Boston beset on all sides with British soldiers they may be hard pressed."
"'Twill come to worse yet, be sure," predicted Mrs. Stoddard gloomily.
It was but a few days after this when with joyful songs the British sailors made ready to sail, and on a bright July morning the vessels, taking advantage of a fair wind, bent their sails and skimmed away up the coast.
"They are bound for Boston," declared Captain Enos, "and 'Tis soon enough they'll be back again. The Boston folk will not let them come to anchor, I'll be bound."
Hardly had the ships got under headway before the fishermen were rowing out to their sailboats, and soon the little fleet was under sail bound off Race Point toward the fishing grounds.
"Now, Anne, you had best go after Brownie and bring her back to her old pasture. I like not the long tramp morning and night to milk the creature," said Mrs. Stoddard, and she watched Anne, with the wooden doll clasped in her arm, go obediently off on her errand.
A little smile crept over her face as she stood in the doorway. "Captain Enos would like well that Anne be called Anne Stoddard," she said aloud; "he begins to recall good traits in her father, and to think no other child in the settlement has the spirit that our girl has. And I am well pleased that it is so," she concluded with a little sigh, "for there will be poor days ahead for us to bear, and had the captain not changed his mind about Anne I should indeed have had hard work to manage," and she turned back to her simple household tasks.
Anne went slowly up the sandy slope, stopping here and there to see if the beach plums showed any signs of ripening, and turning now and then to see if she could pick out Captain Enos's sail among the boats going swiftly out toward the open sea.
As she came in sight of the little grove of maples her quick eyes saw a man moving among them. Brownie was quietly feeding, evidently undisturbed. Anne stopped, holding Martha very tightly, her eyes fixed upon the moving figure. She was not afraid, but she wondered who it was, for she thought that every man in the settlement had gone to the fishing grounds. As she looked, something familiar in the man's movements sent her running toward the grove.
"It is my father. I know it is my father," she whispered to herself. As she came down the slope the man evidently saw her, for he came out from the wood a little as if waiting for her.
"Anne, Anne!" he exclaimed, as she came near, and in a moment his arm was around her and he was clasping her close.
"Come back in the wood, dear child," he said. "And you have not forgotten your father?"
Anne smiled up at him happily. "I could never do that," she responded. "See, here is my doll. Her name is Martha Stoddard Nelson."
"An excellent name," declared the man smilingly. "How neat and rosy you look, Anne! You look as if you had fared well. Be they kind to you?"
"Oh, yes, father. They say now that I am their little girl. But I am not," and Anne shook her head smilingly. "I am my own father's little girl; though I like them well," she added.
The two were seated on a grassy hummock where no eye could see them; but from time to time John Nelson looked about furtively as if expecting some one to appear.
"You are not a 'traitor' or a 'spy,' are you, father?" questioned the child. "When the Cary children did say so I chased them from the spring, and Captain Enos said I did well. But I did think you lost at sea, father!"
The man shook his head. "Try and remember what I tell you, child, that you may know your father for an honest man. The day I left harbor on my fishing trip I was run down by one of those British vessels. The sloop sank, and they threw me a rope and pulled me on board. It was rare sport for their sailors to see me struggle for my very life." The man stopped and his face grew very grave and stern. "Then they said they were coming into Cape Cod Harbor, and that I should be their pilot. They said they would make a good bonfire of the shanties of the settlement. And then, child, I misled them. I laughed and said, ''Tis a settlement of good Royalists if ever there was one.' They would scarce believe me. But they came into harbor, and when the men proved civil and refused them nothing, then they credited what I said. But they told me they were bound for Dorchester Harbor, and there they would make a good English soldier of me. I said nothing, but this morning, in the confusion of making sail, I slipped overboard and swam ashore, bound that I would have a look at my girl and know her safe and well."
"And now, father, shall we go back and live in the little house by the shore? Mistress Stoddard has kept our things safely, and she has taught me many useful things," said Anne proudly.
"No, child. For me to stay in this settlement would bring trouble upon it. Those ships will return here, and if I were found among the men here, then, indeed, would their anger be great. They must think me drowned, else they would indeed make a bonfire of every house along the shore."
"But what will you do, father? You must stay with me now."
"No, dear child. I must make my way up the cape to the settlements and join the Americans. My eyes are opened: 'Tis right that they should protect their homes. I will have some information for them, and I no longer have any place here. The Stoddards are good to you, Anne? They task thee not beyond thy strength? and they speak pleasantly to thee?"
"They are ever kind, father; they do smile on me, and Captain Enos does always give me the best piece of fish at table; and he told the Cary children that I was his little girl, and that I was not to be plagued. But he is not my own father," answered Anne, "and if you must go up the cape I will go with you. The nights are warm and pleasant, and I shall like well to sleep out-of-doors with the stars shining down on us. And if you go with the Americans I will go too. They will not mind one little girl!"
Her father smoothed the dark hair tenderly and smiled at the eager, upturned face.
"You love me, Anne, and I'll not forget that I have a dear, brave daughter waiting for me. I'll be the braver and the better man remembering. But you cannot go with me. I shall be scant fed and footsore for many a long day, and I will not let you bear any hardship I can keep from you. It will be a joy to me to know you safe with Mistress Stoddard; and if I live they shall be repaid for all they do for you. They are indeed kind to you?" he again questioned anxiously.
"They are indeed," responded Anne, seriously.
"Now I must begin my journey, Anne. And do not say that you have seen me. Keep in your heart all I have told you. I shall come for you when I can. But you are to be happy and not think of me as in danger. A brave man is always quite safe, and I wish you to believe that your father is a brave man, Anne."
"Am I not to tell Mistress Stoddard?"
"Tell no one, Anne. Remember. Promise me that when they speak of me as drowned you will say no word!"
"I will not speak, father. But if they do say 'traitor' or 'spy' I am not to bear it. Captain Enos said I need not."
A little smile came over the man's face and he nodded silently. Then he kissed his little daughter and again promising that it should not be long before he would come for her, he turned and made his way through the wood, and soon Anne could no longer see him.
For a long time the little girl sat silent and sorrowful where he had left her. She had forgotten all about the little brown cow; her wooden doll lay neglected on the grass beside her. But after a little she remembered the errand on which she had been sent, and, picking Martha up, started off to drive Brownie back to the pasture near home.
Anne was so quiet that day that at night Mrs. Stoddard questioned her anxiously. "Have those Cary children been saying hateful words to you again, child?" she asked.
"No, I have not been to the spring," answered Anne.
"Has Jimmie Starkweather been telling thee more foolish tales of a big wolf that comes prowling about at night?" continued Mrs. Stoddard.
"Oh, no, Mistress Stoddard. And indeed I do not think Jimmie Starkweather would frighten me. You know his father has seen the wolf. 'Twas near Blackwater Pond."
"Then, child, I fear you are ill. Your face is flushed and you left your porridge untasted. Would you like it better if I put a spoonful of molasses over it?"
Anne nodded soberly. Molasses was not to be refused, even if she must live without her brave father; and so she ate her porridge, and Mrs. Stoddard patted her on the shoulder, and told her that the beach-plums would soon be ripening and then she should have a pie, sweet and crusty. And if the captain did well at the fishing, and the British ships kept their distance, she should have some barley sugar, a great treat in those days.
"We'll be getting you some sort of foot-gear before long, too," promised Mrs. Stoddard. "I have enough wool yarn in the house to knit you a good pair of warm stockings. 'Tis an ugly gray; I wish I could plan some sort of dye for it to make it a prettier color."
"But I like gray," said Anne. "Last winter my feet were cold, and ached with the chilblains. My father knew not how to get stockings for me, and cut down his own, but they were hard to wear."
"I should say so!" said Mrs. Stoddard; "a man is a poor manager when it comes to fending for children's clothes. 'Tis well I am provided with some warm garments. When the frost comes you shall learn to knit, Anne; and if we be in good fortune you shall do a sampler," and Anne, comforted and somewhat consoled by all these pleasant plans for her future happiness, went to sleep that night with the wooden doll closely clasped in her arms, wishing her father might know how good Mistress Stoddard was to her.
ANNE AND THE WOLF
"A pie of beach-plums, sweet and crusty," Anne repeated to herself the next day as she carried Martha out to the playhouse, and rearranged her bits of crockery, and looked off across the harbor.
"I do wish they would ripen speedily," she said aloud. "Indeed those I tasted of yesterday had a pleasant flavor, and I am sure Mistress Stoddard would be well pleased if I could bring home enough for a pie. I will take the small brown basket and follow the upper path, for the plum bushes grow thickly there," and Martha was carefully settled in her accustomed place, and Anne ran to the house for the brown basket, and in a few moments was following a sandy path which led toward the salt meadows.
She stopped often to pick the yellowing beach-plums, and now and then tasted one hopefully, expecting to find the sweet pungent flavor which the children so well loved, but only once or twice did she discover any sign of ripeness.
"I'll cross the upper marsh," she decided; "'Tis not so shaded there, and the sun lies warm till late in the day, and the plums are sure to be sweeter. I hope my father finds many to eat along his journey. I wish I had told him that it was best for me to go with him. We could have made little fires at night and cooked a fish, and, with berries to eat, it would not have been unpleasant."
The July sun beat warmly down, but a little breath of air from the sea moved steadily across the marshes filled with many pleasant odors. Here and there big bunches of marsh rosemary made spots of soft violet upon the brown grass, and now and then little flocks of sand-peeps rose from the ground and fluttered noisily away. But there was a pleasant midsummer stillness in the air, and by the time Anne had crossed the marsh and reached the shade of a low-growing oak tree she began to feel tired and content to rest a time before continuing her search for ripe beach-plums.
"I wish I had put Martha in the basket," she thought as she leaned comfortably back against the scrubby trunk of the little tree; "then I could have something to talk to." But she had not much time to regret her playmate, for in a second her eyes had closed and she was fast asleep. There was a movement in the bushes behind her, a breaking of twigs, a soft fall of padded feet, but she did not awaken.
A big animal with a soft, gray coat of fur, with sharp nose and ears alertly pointed, came out from the woods, sniffed the soft air cautiously, and turned his head warily toward the oak tree. The creature was evidently not alarmed at what he saw there, for he approached the sleeping child gently, made a noiseless circle about her, and then settled down at her feet, much as a big dog might have done. His nose rested upon his paws and his sharp eyes were upon the sleeping child.
In a little while Anne awoke. She had dreamed that Jimmie Starkweather had led a beautiful, big gray animal to Mistress Stoddard's door, and told her that it was a wolf that he had tamed; so when she opened her eyes and saw the animal so near her she did not jump with surprise, but she said softly, "Wolf!"
The creature sprang to its feet at the sound of her voice, and moved off a few paces, and then turned and looked over its shoulder at Anne.
"Wolf!" Anne repeated, brushing her hair from her eyes and pulling her sunbonnet over her head. Then she reached out for the plum basket, and stood up. Still the animal had not moved.
"I do believe it is tame," thought Anne, and she made a step toward her visitor, but the gray wolf no longer hesitated, and with a bound it was off on a run across the marsh, and soon disappeared behind a clump of bushes.
"I wish it had stayed," Anne said aloud, for there had been nothing to make her afraid of wild creatures, and Jimmie's stories of a big wolf ranging about the outskirts of the settlement had not suggested to her that a wolf was anything which would do her harm, and she continued her search for beach-plums, her mind filled with the thought of many pleasant things.
"I do think, Mistress Stoddard, that I have plums enough for a pie," she exclaimed, as she reached the kitchen door and held up her basket for Mistress Stoddard's inspection.
"'Twill take a good measure of molasses, I fear," declared Mrs. Stoddard, "but you shall have the pie, dear child. 'Twill please Captain Enos mightily to have a pie for his supper when he gets in from the fishing; and I'll tell him 'twas Anne who gathered the plums," and she nodded smilingly at the little girl.
"And what think you has happened at the spring this morning?" she went on, taking the basket from Anne, who followed her into the neat little kitchen. "Jimmie Starkweather and his father near captured a big gray wolf. The creature walked up to the spring to drink as meek as a calf, and Mr. Starkweather ran for his axe to kill it, but 'twas off in a second."
"But why should he kill it?" exclaimed Anne. "I'm sure 'Tis a good wolf. 'twas no harm for it to drink from the spring."
"But a wolf is a dangerous beast," replied Mrs. Stoddard; "the men-folk will take some way to capture it."
Anne felt the tears very near her eyes. To her, the gray wolf had not seemed dangerous. It had looked kindly upon her, and she had already resolved that if it ever were possible she would like to stroke its soft fur.
"Couldn't the wolf be tamed?" she questioned. "I went to sleep near the marsh this morning and dreamed that Jimmie Starkweather had a tame wolf." But for some reason, which Anne herself could not have explained, she did not tell her good friend of the wild creature which had come so near to her when she slept, and toward whom she had so friendly a feeling, and Mrs. Stoddard, busy with her preparations for pie-making, did not speak further of the wolf.
There was a good catch of fish that day, and Captain Enos came home smiling and well pleased.
"If we could hope that the British ships would keep out of harbor we could look forward to some comfort," he said, "but Starkweather had news from an Ipswich fisherman that the 'Somerset' was cruising down the cape, and like as not she'll anchor off the village some morning. And from what we hear, her sailors find it good sport to lay hands on what they see."
The appearance of the beach-plum pie, warm from the oven, turned the captain's thoughts to more pleasant subjects. "'Tis a clever child to find ripe beach-plums in July," he said, as he cut Anne a liberal piece, "and a bit of tartness gives it an excellent flavor. Well, well, it is surely a pleasant thing to have a little maid in the house," and he nodded kindly toward Anne.
After supper when Anne had gone up to her little chamber under the eaves, and Captain Enos and Mrs. Stoddard were sitting upon their front door-step enjoying the cool of the evening, Captain Enos said:
"Martha, Anne calls you Mistress Stoddard, does she not?"
"Always," answered his wife. "She is a most thoughtful and respectful child. Never does she speak of thee, Enos, except to say 'Captain.' She has been in the house for over two months now, and I see no fault in her."
"A quick temper," responded Captain Enos, but his tone was not that of a person who had discovered a fault. Indeed he smiled as he spoke, remembering the flight of the Cary children.
"I would like well to have the little maid feel that we were pleased with her," continued the captain slowly. "If she felt like calling me 'Father' and you 'Mother,' I should see no harm in it, and perhaps 'twould be well to have her name put on the town records as bearing our name, Anne Stoddard?" and Captain Enos regarded his wife questioningly.
"It is what I have been wishing for, Enos!" exclaimed Mrs. Stoddard, "but maybe 'twere better for the child to call us 'Uncle' and 'Aunt.' She does not yet forget her own father, you see, and she might feel 'twere not right to give another his name."
Captain Enos nodded approvingly. "A good and loyal heart she has, I know," he answered, "and 'twill be better indeed not to puzzle the little maid. We'll be 'Uncle' and 'Aunt' to her then, Martha; and as for her name on the town records, perhaps we'll let the matter rest till Anne is old enough to choose for herself. If the British keep on harrying us it may well be that we fisherfolk will have to go further up the coast for safety."
"And desert Province Town?" exclaimed Mrs. Stoddard, "the place where your father and mine, Enos, were born and died, and their fathers before them. No—we'll not search for safety at such a price. I doubt if I could live in those shut-in places such as I hear the upper landings are."
Captain Enos chuckled approvingly. "I knew well what you would say to that, Martha," he replied, "and now we must get our sleep, for the tide serves early to-morrow morning, and I must make the best of these good days."
"Captain Enos was well pleased with the pie, Anne," said Mrs. Stoddard the next morning, as the little girl stood beside her, carefully wiping the heavy ironware. "And what does thee think! The captain loves thee so well, child, that it would please him to have thee call him Uncle Enos. That is kind of him, is it not, Anne?" and Mistress Stoddard smiled down at the eager little face at her elbow.
"It is indeed, Mistress Stoddard," replied Anne happily; "shall I begin to-night?"
"Yes, child, and I shall like it well if you call me 'Aunt'; 'twill seem nearer than 'Mistress Stoddard,' and you are same as our own child now."
Anne's dark eyes looked up earnestly into Mistress Stoddard's kind face. "But I am my father's little girl, too," she said.
"Of course you are," answered her friend. "Captain Enos and I are not asking you to forget your father, child. No doubt he did his best for you, but you are to care for us, too."
"But I do, Aunt Martha; I love you well," said Anne, so naturally that Mrs. Stoddard stopped her work long enough to give her a kiss and to say, "There, child, now we are all settled. 'twill please your Uncle Enos well."
As soon as the few dishes were set away Anne wandered down the hill toward the spring. She no longer feared the Cary children, and she hoped to see some of the Starkweather family and hear more of the gray wolf, and at the spring she found Jimmie with two wooden buckets filled and ready for him to carry home to his waiting mother.
"You missed the great sight yesterday, Anne," he said, as she approached the spring. "What think you! A wolf as big as a calf walked boldly up and drank, right where I stand."
"'twas not as big as a calf," declared Anne; "and why should you seek to kill a wild creature who wants but a drink? 'Tis not a bad wolf."
Jimmie looked at her in surprise, his gray eyes widening and shining in wonder. "All wolves are bad," he declared. "This same gray wolf walked off with Widow Bett's plumpest hen and devoured it before her very eyes."
"Well, the poor creature was hungry. We eat plump hens, when we can get them," answered Anne.
Jimmie laughed good-naturedly. "Wait till you see the beast, Anne," he answered. "Its eyes shine like black water, and its teeth show like pointed rocks. You'd not stand up for it so boldly if you had but seen it."
Anne made no answer; she was not even tempted to tell Jimmie that she had seen the animal, had been almost within arm's reach of it.
"I must be going," she said, "but do not harm the wolf, Jimmie," and she looked at the boy pleadingly; "perhaps it knows no better than to take food when it is hungry."
"I'd like its skin for a coat," the boy answered, "but 'Tis a wise beast and knows well how to take care of itself. It's miles away by this time," and picking up the buckets he started toward home, and Anne turned away from the spring and walked toward the little pasture where Brownie fed in safety.
She stopped to speak to the little brown cow and to give her a handful of tender grass, and then wandered down the slope and along the edge of the marsh.
"Maybe 'twill come again," she thought, as she reached the little oak tree and sat down where she had slept the day before. "Perhaps if I sit very still it will come out again. I'm sure 'Tis not an unfriendly beast."
The little girl sat very still; she did not feel sleepy or tired, and her dark eyes scanned the marsh hopefully, but as the summer morning drifted toward noon she began to realize that her watch was in vain.
"I s'pose Jimmie Starkweather was right, and the gray wolf is miles away," she thought, as she decided that she must leave the shadow of the oak and hurry toward home so that Aunt Martha would not be anxious about her.
"I wish the wolf knew I liked him," the little girl said aloud, as she turned her face toward home. "I would not chase him away from the spring, and I would not want his gray fur for a coat," and Anne's face was very sober, as she sent a lingering look along the thick-growing woods that bordered the marsh. She often thought of the wolf, but she never saw it again.
 A coarse chinaware.
"Good news from Truro, Captain Enos," said Joseph Starkweather, one morning in August, as the two neighbors met at the boat landing. "There'll be good hope for American freedom if all our settlements show as much wit and courage."
"And what have Truro men done?" demanded Captain Enos. "They are mostly of the same blood as our Province Town folks, and would naturally be of some wit."
Joseph Starkweather's eyes brightened and twinkled at his neighbor's answer.
"'twas the sand-hills helped them," he answered. "You know the little valleys between the row of sand-hills near the shore? Well, the British fleet made anchorage off there some days since, and the Truro men had no mind for them to land and spy out how few there were. So they gathered in one of those little valleys and, carrying smooth poles to look like muskets, they marched out in regular file like soldiers over the sand-hill; then down they went through the opposite depression and around the hill and back, and then up they came again, constantly marching; and the British, who could be seen getting boats ready to land, thought better of it. They believed that an immense force of American soldiers had assembled, and the ships hoisted sail and made off. 'twas good work."
"Indeed it was," responded Captain Enos. "I could wish that we of this settlement were not so at the mercy of the British. Our harbor is too good. It draws them like a magnet. I do think three thousand ships might find safe anchorage here," and Captain Enos turned an admiring look out across the beautiful harbor.
"Have you any news of John Nelson?" questioned Joseph Starkweather.
"How could there be news of a man whose boat sunk under him well off Race Point in a southerly gale?" responded Captain Stoddard.
Joseph approached a step nearer his companion and said: "He was on one of the British ships, Enos; he was seen there, and now news comes by way of a Newburyport fisherman that 'twas no fault of John Nelson's. The Britishers ran down his boat and took him on board their ship, and the news goes that when the fleet anchored off here Nelson escaped; swam ashore in the night, the story goes, and made his way to Wellfleet and joined the Americans at Dorchester who are ready to resist the British if need be."
Captain Enos's face brightened as he listened. "That is indeed good news!" he said. "I am glad for our little maid's sake that her father is known to be a loyal man. But 'Tis strange he did not seek to see Anne," he continued thoughtfully.
"John Nelson loved the little maid well," declared Joseph Starkweather. "He had but poor luck here, but he did his best. The Newburyport man tells that the British are in great anger at his escape, and vow that the settlement here shall pay well for it when they make harbor here again."
"We have no arms to defend the harbor. 'Tis hard work to rest quiet here," said Captain Enos; "but it is great news to know that our little maid's father is a loyal man. We like the child well."
"'twas I sent Anne to your house, Enos," responded Joseph. "My own is so full that I dared not ask Mistress Starkweather to take the child in; and I knew your wife for a kind-hearted woman."
"It was a good thought, Joseph," responded the captain, "and Anne seems well content with us. She has her playhouse under the trees, and amuses herself without making trouble. She is a helpful little maid, too, saving Mistress Stoddard many a step. I must be going toward home. There was an excellent chowder planned for my dinner, and Martha will rejoice at the news from Truro," and the captain hurried toward home.
Half-way up the hill he saw Anne, coming to meet him. "Uncle Enos! Uncle Enos!" she called, "Brownie is lost! Indeed she is. All the morning have I gone up and down the pasture, calling her name and looking everywhere for her, and she is not to be found."
"Well, well!" responded Captain Enos; "'Tis sure the Britishers have not stolen her, for there is not one of their craft in sight. The cow is probably feeding somewhere about; we'll find her safe in some good pasturage. Is the chowder steaming hot and waiting?"
"Yes, Uncle Enos," replied Anne, slipping her hand into the captain's, "but Aunt Martha is greatly concerned about Brownie. She fears the Indians may have driven her off."
"We'll cruise about a little after dinner," answered the captain. "I don't like to think that the Indians would show themselves unfriendly just now," and his pleasant face grew stern and serious.
But his appetite for the chowder was excellent, and when he started out to search for Brownie he was sure that he would find her near the marsh or perhaps in the maple grove further on, where the cattle sometimes wandered.
"Now, Anne, I have an errand for you to do," said Mrs. Stoddard, as the captain started on his search. "I've just remembered that the Starkweather children had good stockings last year of crimson yarn. Now it may be that Mrs. Starkweather has more on hand, and that I could exchange my gray, as she has stout boys to wear gray stockings, for her scarlet yarn; and then we'll take up some stockings for you."
Anne's face brightened. "I should well like some scarlet stockings," she said.
"I mean you to be warmly clad come frost," said Mrs. Stoddard. "Now see that you do the errand well. Ask Mrs. Starkweather, first of all, if she be in good health. It is not seemly to be too earnest in asking a favor. Then say that Mistress Stoddard has enough excellent gray yarn for two pair of long stockings, and that she would take it as a kindness if Mistress Starkweather would take it in exchange for scarlet yarn."
"Yes, Aunt Martha, I will surely remember," and Anne started off happily.
As she passed the spring a shrill voice called her name, and she turned to see Amanda Cary, half hidden behind a small savin.
"Come and play," called Amanda. "I am not angry if you did chase me. My mother says you knew no better!"
Anne listened in amazement. Knew no better! Had not Captain Enos approved of her defense of herself, and were not the Cary children the first to begin trouble with her! So Anne shook her head and walked sedately on.
"Come and play," repeated the shrill voice. "My brother and Jimmie Starkweather are gone looking for our cow, and I have no one to play with."
"Is your cow lost, too?" exclaimed Anne, quite forgetting Amanda's unkindness in this common ill-fortune.
Amanda now came out from behind the savin tree; a small, thin-faced child, with light eyes, sandy hair and freckles.
"Yes, and we think the Indians have driven them off. For the Starkweathers' cow is not to be found. 'twill be a sad loss, my mother says; for it will leave but three cows in the town."
"But they may be found," insisted Anne. "My Uncle Enos has gone now to look for Brownie."
"'Uncle Enos'!" repeated Amanda scornfully. "He's not your uncle. You are a waif. My mother said so, and waifs do not have uncles or fathers or anybody."
"I am no waif, for I have a father, and my Uncle Enos will tell your mother not to say such words of me!" declared Anne boldly, but she felt a lump in her throat and wished very much that she had not stopped to talk with Amanda.
"I don't see why you get angry so quick," said Amanda. "You get angry at everything. I'd just as soon play with you, if you are a waif."
"I wouldn't play with you anyway," said Anne; "I have an errand to do, and if I had not I would rather never play than play with such a hateful, ill-speaking child as you are," and Anne hurried on her way toward the Starkweathers' low-built, weather-beaten house near the shore.
"I shall be glad indeed to get rid of some of my scarlet yarn," declared Mrs. Starkweather, "and you can take home a skein or two of it and tell Mistress Stoddard that her little girl does an errand very prettily. I could wish my boys were as well-mannered."
Anne smiled, well pleased at the pleasant words.
"Uncle Enos says there is no better boy than Jimmie," she responded. "He says he is a smart and honest lad,—a 'real Starkweather,' he calls him," she responded.
"Does he so?" and the woman's thin face flushed with pleasure at this praise of her eldest son. "Well, we do prize Jimmie, and 'Tis good news to know him well thought of, and you are a kindly little maid to speak such pleasant words. Mistress Stoddard is lucky indeed to have you."
"I call her Aunt Martha now," said Anne, feeling that Mrs. Starkweather was nearly as kind as Mrs. Stoddard, and quite forgetting the trouble of Brownie's loss or of Amanda's teasing in the good woman's pleasantness.
"That is well," replied Mrs. Starkweather. "You will bring her much happiness, I can well see. I could wish you had come to me, child, when your father went; but the Stoddards can do better for you."
"Should I have called you 'Aunt'?" Anne asked a little wistfully.
"Indeed you should, and you may now if Mistress Stoddard be willing. Say to her that I'd like well to be Aunt Starkweather to her little maid."
So Anne, with her bundle of scarlet yarn, started toward home, much happier than when she had rapped at Mrs. Starkweather's door.
Amanda was still sitting at the spring. "Anne," she called shrilly, "may I go up to your house and play with you?"
Anne shook her head, and without a backward look at the child by the spring kept on her way toward home. She had much to tell her Aunt Martha, who listened, well pleased at her neighbor's kind words.
"And Amanda Cary said that their cow was lost, and the Starkweathers' cow, too. Amos Cary and Jimmie are off searching for them now, and do fear the Indians have driven them off," said Anne.
"'twill be bad fortune indeed if that be true," replied Mrs. Stoddard, "for we are not as well provisioned for the winter as usual, and it would be a worrisome thing to have the Indians bothering us on shore and the British to fear at sea. But I'll take up your stockings to-day, Anne. The yarn is a handsome color, and well spun."
"I think I will not leave Martha at the playhouse after this," said Anne thoughtfully; "something might happen to her."
Mrs. Stoddard nodded approvingly, and Anne brought the wooden doll in.
"Like as not your Uncle Enos will make you a wooden chair for the doll when the evenings get longer," said Mrs. Stoddard. "He's clever with his knife, and 'twill give him something to busy his hands with. I'll call his attention to the doll."
"My!" exclaimed Anne, "I do think an aunt and uncle are nice to have. And a father is too," she added quickly, for she could not bear that any one should think that she had forgotten her own father.
"Yes, indeed, child; and there's good news of your own father. He was on the British ship and escaped and made his way to Wellfleet to join the American soldiers."
"Oh, Aunt Martha!" and the little girl sprang up from her little stool and grasped her good friend's gown with eager hands, and then told her the story of her father's visit. "But I could not tell it before," she said.
"Indeed you are a loyal little maid," replied Mrs. Stoddard approvingly, "and you must always keep a promise, but see to it that you promise nothing quickly. I think the better of John Nelson that he took great risk to make sure his little daughter was safe and well cared for. The captain will think it good news, too."
"My father will come back some day," declared Anne, and Mrs. Stoddard agreed cheerfully.
"To be sure he will," she said, "but do not think of that too much, dear child. See, I have the stitches all cast on, and your scarlet stockings are really begun."
CAPTURED BY INDIANS
The more Anne thought about Brownie the more fearful she became that some harm had befallen the pretty brown cow.
"Her foot may have caught in those twisted roots on the hill," thought the little girl, "or perhaps the Indians have fastened her in the woods. I do believe I could find her, and save Uncle Enos the trouble," and the more Anne thought of it the more eager she became to search for Brownie; and, on the day that the scarlet stockings were begun, Anne resolved to walk up the hill and look about for the missing cow.
As she trudged along she thought of many things, of the gray wolf, which had disappeared completely, having probably made its way up the cape to better hunting grounds; and she thought a great deal about her father, and of the day he had come to tell her of his safety. But Anne did not think much about the Indians. The cape settlements had been on friendly terms with the Chatham Indians for some time, and the people of Province Town were more in peril from the freebooters of the sea than from Indians.
Anne had climbed the hill, passed the grove of scrubby pines, and stood looking across the sand-dunes toward the open sea. She had looked carefully for Brownie, but there was no trace of her. But Anne was sure that, at the edge of the pine woods, some creature had been near her. She had lived out-of-doors so much that her ears were quick to distinguish any sound. At first she had wondered if it might not be the wolf, and, as she stood looking across the sand, she almost hoped that it might be. "Perhaps I could tame it and have it live at our house," she thought, and then remembered what Aunt Martha had said: that it would be a hard winter, "and wolves eat a good deal, I suppose," decided Anne, "so 'twill not be wise to tame it."
Had she looked behind her she would not have felt so secure. An Indian woman had been following Anne, and was now within arm's reach of her. And Anne had just come to her decision in regard to the wolf, when a blanket fell over her head, was quickly twisted about her, and she felt herself lifted from the ground. Then she heard a chatter of voices in a strange tongue, and realized that she was being carried away from the pine woods. She tried to free herself from the blanket, and tried to call out; but she could not move, and her voice made only a muffled sound. She heard a laugh from the squaw who was carrying her so easily, and in a moment felt herself dropped on the soft sand, and held down firmly for a moment. Then she lay quietly. She knew, though she could not see, that a canoe was being launched. There was talk among a number of people near her, and then she was lifted and put into the canoe, and again firmly held by a strong arm. Then came the smooth dip of paddles, and Anne knew that she was being taken away from home, and she felt the tears on her cheeks. She did not try to scream again, for there had been a rough twist of the blanket about her head when she cried out before, and she was held too firmly to struggle. She could hear the guttural voices of the Indians, and, after what seemed a long time, she realized that her captors were making a landing. She was again dropped on sand, and now the blanket was unwound and Anne stood up. She found herself facing three Indian women. Two of them frowned at her, but the younger smiled and nodded, and patted Anne's shoulder.
The two elder squaws began to talk rapidly, but the one who stood beside Anne remained silent. The canoe was lifted from the beach by the two, as they talked, and carried up toward the rough pasture-land. Anne's companion took her by the hand and led her after the others.
"I want to go right home," Anne announced. "You must take me right back to Captain Stoddard's." The young squaw shook her head, still smiling, and Anne realized that her companion could not understand what she said. The little girl stopped short, and then the smile faded from the squaw's face; she gave her an ugly twitch forward, and when Anne still refused to move a stinging blow on the cheek followed. Anne began to cry bitterly. She was now thoroughly frightened, and began to wonder what would become of her.
The squaws hid the canoe carefully, covering it up with vines and brush, and then started along the shore. Anne and her companion now kept close to the other two. And the three squaws talked together. Now and then they would stop, and shading their eyes with one hand, look seaward as if watching for some expected boat, but none appeared. Anne's bare feet began to ache. She believed they would be blistered, but the women paid no attention to her. Anne knew that they were very near the Truro beach. She could see the big waves dashing up in a long curving line, and as they came round a high cliff of sand they came suddenly upon a big fishing-boat drawn up on the beach. Two sailors stood by it. In an instant the squaws had turned to flee, dragging Anne with them. But she screamed, and threw herself down on the sand. The sailors came running toward them, and the Indian women fled.
"It's a white child," exclaimed one of the men, picking Anne up, and wiping her face with a big soft handkerchief. "What were they doing with you, child?" And leaning against his friendly arm, Anne told her story, and showed her bruised feet.
"'Tis lucky for you we put ashore," said the man. "We'll take you home, little maid, safe and sound."
"You are not from Province Town?" Anne ventured to ask, looking up into the kind blue eyes.
"We are good English sailors, my girl," the other man answered her question, "and we borrowed this boat from a settler up shore to get fish for His Majesty's ship 'Somerset'; but we'll take you safe home, never fear."
The blue-eyed man lifted Anne into the boat, and the two men were soon pulling strongly at the oars.
"'Tis a stiff pull to Province Town, but the tide's with us, William," said the last speaker.
Anne sat very quiet. She was wondering if Aunt Martha had missed her, and if Uncle Enos would blame her for having wandered to the outer beach. She looked up to see the sailor whom his companion called "William" smiling at her.
"Do not be afraid," he said kindly; "the folks at home will be glad to see you, and you'll not be scolded."
Anne tried to smile back. She wanted to ask him if he had any little girls of his own; but she remembered that he was an Englishman, and decided that it was best not to say anything.
"Can you walk across the pasture if we set you ashore near here?" asked the sailor, when they had reached the smooth beach near where Anne had been seized by the Indians. "You'll not be troubled again, and we cannot well round the point to-night."
"I can get home from here. I see the pine woods," Anne agreed, and the men ran the boat well up on the beach, and William lifted her out.
"'Tis hard for those tender feet," he said, "but be quick as you can. My name is William Trull, if your folks ask who 'twas that fetched you home, and my mate's name here is Richard Jones."
"Thank you; my name is Anne Nelson," Anne replied.
She turned back and waved her hand to them when she had reached the land above the shore, and saw them push off their boat and row away. It was very hard now to walk over the rough ground, and Anne felt very tired and unhappy. She kept steadily on, and was soon in sight of home. Mistress Stoddard and Captain Enos were both standing in the doorway looking anxiously toward her.
"Well, well, Anne, and do you think you should stay away like this? And what has become of your sunbonnet?" questioned Mrs. Stoddard.
"Indians!" wailed Anne. "Indian women, Aunt Martha! They carried me off," and, with Mrs. Stoddard's arm about her, and Captain Enos listening in angry amazement, Anne told the story of her adventure.
"'twas an evil thing!" declared the captain. "I'm thankful the English sailors were on shore. I'll remember their names."
Mrs. Stoddard bathed the tired feet, and Anne was quite hungry enough to relish the hot corn bread, even though she had no milk to drink with it.
"We must be careful about letting the child wander about alone," Captain Enos said, after Anne was safe in bed that night. "'Twould be ill-fortune indeed if harm befell her."
"I'll keep her more at home," replied Mrs. Stoddard. "She is to begin knitting now, and that will give her amusement indoors."
"'Tis said that English soldiers are coming into Boston by land and sea," said Captain Enos. "We Province Town people are exempt from military service, but we are loyal to the American forces, and some of us think the time is near when we must let you women stay here by yourselves," and Captain Enos looked at his wife questioningly.
"We'd do our best, Enos, be sure of that," she answered bravely, "and I'd have Anne for company, if you're needed in Boston."
"If we stood any chance of getting there," complained Captain Enos, "without the Britishers making us prisoners. No boat gets by them, I'm told."
"Talk no more of it to-night, Enos. Mayhap things may be settled soon, and these unhappy days well over," and Mistress Stoddard stepped to the door and looked out on the peaceful little settlement. "We have great cause to rejoice this night that our little maid is safe at home," she said.
"I'll make a good search for Brownie to-morrow," declared Captain Enos, "but I fear now that the Indians have her."
The good couple decided that it would be best to say as little of Anne's adventure as possible, and to tell her not to talk of it to her playmates.
"I'll caution the mothers," said Mrs. Stoddard, "but 'Tis no use for our little people to frighten themselves by wondering about Indians. Maybe they will not come near us again, and they'll not dare to make another mistake." So but little was made of Anne's escape from the squaws, although the children now stayed at home more closely, and Anne did not often stray far from Aunt Martha.
OUT TO SEA
Captain Enos and the boys returned without having found any trace of the missing cattle, and the villagers felt it to be a loss hardly to be borne that three of their six cows should have disappeared. The men went about their fishing even more soberly than before, and the women and children mourned loudly.
Amanda Cary waited at the spring each day for Anne's appearance. Sometimes the two little girls did not speak, and again Amanda would make some effort to win Anne's notice.
"Your father is a soldier," she declared one morning, and when Anne nodded smilingly, Amanda ventured a step nearer. "You may come up to my house and see my white kittens if you want to," she said.
There could be no greater temptation to Anne than this. To have a kitten of her own had been one of her dearest wishes, and to see and play with two white kittens, even Amanda's kittens, was a joy not lightly to be given up. But Anne shook her head, and Amanda, surprised and sulky, went slowly back toward home.
The next morning, as Anne went toward the spring, she met Amanda coming up the hill, carrying a white kitten in her arms.
"I was just going up to your house," said Amanda. "I was bringing up this white kitten to give to you."
"Oh, Amanda!" exclaimed Anne, quite forgetting her old dislike of the little girl, and reaching out eager hands for the kitten which Amanda gave to her.
"My mother said that we could not afford to keep two kittens," Amanda explained, "and I thought right off that I would give one to you."
"Thank you, Amanda," and then Anne's face grew sober, "but maybe my Aunt Martha will not want me to keep it," she said.
"I guess she will," ventured Amanda. "I will go with you and find out, and if she be not pleased I'll find some one to take it."
The two little girls trudged silently along over the sandy path. Anne carried the kitten very carefully, and Amanda watched her companion anxiously.
"If Mistress Stoddard says that you may keep the kitten may I stay and play a little while?" she asked as they came near the Stoddard house.
"Yes," answered Anne, "you may stay anyway, and I will show you my playhouse."
Amanda's thin freckled face brightened. "If she won't let you keep the kitten you may come over to my house every day and play with mine," she said; and almost hoped that Mistress Stoddard would not want the little white cat, for Amanda was anxious for a playmate, and Anne was nearer her age than any of the little girls of the settlement.
Mrs. Stoddard was nearly as much pleased with the kitten as Anne herself, and Amanda was told that she was a good little girl, her past unkindness was forgotten, and the two children, taking the kitten with them, went out to the playhouse under the pines. Amanda was allowed to hold the wooden doll, and they played very happily together until disturbed by a loud noise near the shore, then they ran down the little slope to see what was happening.
"It's Brownie!" exclaimed Anne.
"And our cow and the Starkweathers'," declared Amanda. "Where do you suppose they found them?"
Jimmie Starkweather drove Brownie up to the little barn, and Mrs. Stoddard came running out to welcome the wanderer.
"Where did they come from, Jimmie?" she questioned.
"A Truro man has just driven them over," explained Jimmie; "he found them in his pasture, and thinks the Indians dared not kill them or drive them further."
"It's good fortune to get them back," said Mrs. Stoddard. "Now you will have milk for your white kitten, Anne. Since the English sailors rescued you from the Indians, they've not been about so much."
The kitten was almost forgotten in petting and feeding Brownie, and Amanda looked on wonderingly to see Anne bring in bunches of tender grass for the little brown cow to eat.
"I cannot get near to our cow," she said; "she shakes her horns at me, and sniffs, and I dare not feed her," but she resolved to herself that she would try and make friends with the black and white animal of which she had always been afraid.
"Come again, Amanda," said Anne, when Amanda said that she must go home, and the little visitor started off happily toward home, resolving that she would bring over her white kitten the very next day, and wondering if her own father could not make her a doll such as Anne Nelson had.
"Thee must not forget thy knitting, Anne," cautioned Mrs. Stoddard, as Anne came in from a visit to Brownie, holding the white kitten in her arms; "'twill not be so many weeks now before the frost will be upon us, and I must see to it that your uncle's stockings are ready, and that you have mittens; so you must do your best to help on the stockings," and Mrs. Stoddard handed the girl the big ball of scarlet yarn and the stocking just begun on the shining steel needles.
"Remember, it is knit one and seam," she said. "You can sit in the open doorway, child, and when you have knit round eight times we will call thy stint finished for the morning. This afternoon we must go for cranberries. We will be needing all we can gather before the frost comes."
Anne put the kitten down on the floor and took the stocking, eyeing the scarlet yarn admiringly. She sat down in the open doorway and began her stint, her mind filled with happy thoughts. To have Amanda speak well of her dear father, to know that Brownie was safe in the barn, to possess a white kitten of her own, and, above all, to be knitting herself a pair of scarlet stockings made Anne feel that the world was a very kind and friendly place. The white kitten looked at the moving ball of yarn curiously, and now and then made little springs toward it, greatly to Anne's amusement, but in a few moments she found that her progress was slow, and the white kitten was sent off the broad step to play by itself on the sandy path.
From time to time Mrs. Stoddard would come to look at Anne's knitting, and to praise the smoothness of the work.
"Your uncle says you are to have stout leather shoes," she said. "Elder Haven tells me that there will be six weeks' school this autumn and it be good news."
"Shall I go to school, Aunt Martha?" questioned Anne, looking up from her knitting.
Mrs. Stoddard nodded, smiling down at the eager little face. "Indeed you will. 'twill be the best of changes for you. Like as not Elder Haven will teach thee to write."
"I know my letters and can spell small words," said Anne.
"I'll teach thee to read if time allows," answered Mrs. Stoddard. "Your Uncle Enos has a fine book of large print; 'Pilgrim's Progress' it's named, and 'Tis of interest. We will begin on it for a lesson."
That afternoon found Anne and Mrs. Stoddard busily picking cranberries on the bog beyond the maple grove. Jimmie Starkweather and Amos Cary were also picking there, and before the afternoon finished, Amanda appeared. She came near Anne to pick and soon asked if Anne was to go to Elder Haven's school.
"Yes, indeed," answered Anne, "and maybe I shall be taught writing, and then I can send a letter, if chance offers, to my father."
"You are always talking and thinking about your father," responded Amanda; "if he should want you to leave the Stoddards I suppose you would go in a minute."
Anne's face grew thoughtful. Never had she been so happy and well cared for as at the Stoddards'; to go to her father would perhaps mean that she would go hungry and half-clad as in the old days, but she remembered her father's loneliness, how he had always tried to do all that he could for her, and she replied slowly, "I guess my father might need me more than Aunt Martha and Uncle Enos. They have each other, and my father has only me."
Amanda asked no more questions, but she kept very close to Anne and watched her with a new interest.
"I wish I could read," she said, as, their baskets well filled, the two girls walked toward home. "I don't even know my letters."
"I can teach you those," said Anne eagerly. "I can teach you just as my dear father did me. We used to go out on the beach in front of our house and he would mark out the letters in the sand and tell me their names, and then I would mark them out. Sometimes we would make letters as long as I am tall. Would you like me to teach you?"
"Yes, indeed. Let's go down to the shore now," urged Amanda.
"We'd best leave our berries safely at home," replied Anne, who did not forget her adventure with the Indian squaws and was now very careful not to go too far from the settlement, and so it was decided that they should hurry home and leave their baskets and meet on the smooth sandy beach near Anne's old home.
Anne was the first to reach the place. She brought with her two long smooth sticks and had already traced out an enormous A when Amanda appeared.
"This is 'A,'" she called out. "'A' is for Anne, and for Amanda."
"I know I can remember that," said Amanda, "and I can make it, too."
It was not long before a long row of huge letters were shaped along the beach, and when Amos came down he looked at them wonderingly.
"Amos, can you spell my name?" asked his sister.
"Of course I can!" replied the boy scornfully. "I'll mark it out for you," and in a short time Amanda was repeating over and over again the letters which formed her name.
After Amos had marked out his sister's name in the sand he started along the shore to where a dory lay, just floating on the swell of the incoming tide.
"Amos is going to fish for flounders," said Amanda; "he catches a fine mess almost every afternoon for mother to cook for supper. He's a great help."
"Want to fish?" called out Amos as the two little girls came near the boat and watched him bait his hooks with clams which he had dug and brought with him.
"Oh, yes," said Anne; "do you think I could catch enough for Uncle Enos's supper?"
"Yes, if you'll hurry," answered the boy; "climb in over the bow."
The barefooted children splashed through the shallow curl of the waves on the beach, and clambered over the high bow of the dory. Amos baited their lines, and with a word of advice as to the best place to sit, he again turned to his own fishing and soon pulled in a big, flopping, resisting flounder.
"The tide isn't right," he declared after a few minutes when no bite came to take the bait. "I'm going to cast off and pull a little way down shore over the flats. They'll be sure to bite there. You girls sit still. You can troll your lines if you want to. You may catch something."
So Anne and Amanda sat very still while Amos sprang ashore, untied the rope from the stout post sunk in the beach, pushed the boat into deeper water, and jumped in as it floated clear from the shore.
It was a big, clumsy boat, and the oars were heavy; but Amos was a stout boy of twelve used to boats and he handled the oars very skilfully.
"The tide's just turning," he said; "'twill take us down shore without much rowing."
"But 'twill be hard coming back," suggested Amanda.
"Pooh! Hard! I guess I could row through any water in this harbor," bragged Amos, bending to his oar so lustily that he broke one of the wooden thole-pins, unshipped his oar, and went over backward into the bottom of the boat, losing his hold on the oar as he fell. He scrambled quickly back to his seat, and endeavored to swing the dory about with one oar so that he could reach the one now floating rapidly away. But he could not get within reach of it.
"You girls move forward," he commanded; "I'll have to scull," and moving cautiously to the stern of the boat he put his remaining oar in the notch cut for it and began to move it regularly back and forth.
"Are you going inshore, Amos?" questioned his sister.
"What for?" asked the boy. "I've got one good oar, haven't I? We can go along first-rate."
"It's too bad to lose a good oar," said Amanda.
"Father won't care," said Amos reassuringly; "'twa'n't a good oar. The blade was split; 'twas liable to harm somebody. He'll not worry at losing it."
The dory went along very smoothly under Amos's sculling and with the aid of the tide. Amanda and Anne, their lines trailing overboard, watched eagerly for a bite, and before long Anne had pulled in a good-sized plaice, much to Amos's satisfaction. He drew in his oar to help her take out the hook, and had just completed this task when Amanda called out:
"Amos! Amos! the oar's slipping!"
The boy turned quickly and grabbed at the vanishing oar, but he was too late—it had slid into the water. They were now some distance from shore and the tide was setting strongly toward the mouth of the harbor. Amos looked after the oar and both of the little girls looked at Amos.
"What are we going to do now?" asked Amanda. "We can't ever get back to shore."
ON THE ISLAND
Amos made no answer to his sister's frightened exclamation. He was well used to the harbor, as he often went fishing with his father, and had been on cruises of several days. Tide and wind both took the boat swiftly toward Long Point, a low, narrow sand-beach, which ran out into the harbor.
"We'll run straight into Long Point if the wind don't change," said Amos.
Anne had held fast to her line and now felt it tugging strongly in her grasp.
"I've caught something!" she exclaimed, "and I don't believe I can ever pull it in."
Amos reached across and seized the line. "Gee!" he exclaimed, "I'll bet it's a cod," and he pulled valiantly. It took all the boy's strength to get the big fish into the boat. "I'll bet it weighs ten pounds," declared Amos proudly, quite forgetting in his pleasure over the big fish that the boat was still moving swiftly away from the settlement.