STORIES OF AMERICAN LIFE AND ADVENTURE
Author of Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans, A First Book in American History, and A History of the United States and its People for the Use of Schools
American Book Company New York : Cincinnati : Chicago
This book is intended to serve three main purposes.
One of these is to make school reading pleasant by supplying matter simple and direct in style, and sufficiently interesting and exciting to hold the reader's attention in a state of constant wakefulness; that is, to keep the mind in the condition in which instruction can be received with the greatest advantage.
A second object is to cultivate an interest in narratives of fact by selecting chiefly incidents full of action, such as are attractive to the minds of boys and girls whose pulses are yet quick with youthful life. The early establishment of a preference for stories of this sort is the most effective antidote to the prevalent vice of reading inferior fiction for mere stimulation.
But the principal aim of this book is to make the reader acquainted with American life and manners in other times. The history of life has come to be esteemed of capital importance, but it finds, as yet, small place in school instruction. The stories and sketches in this book relate mainly to earlier times and to conditions very different from those of our own day. They will help the pupil to apprehend the life and spirit of our forefathers. Many of them are such as make him acquainted with that adventurous pioneer life, which thus far has been the largest element in our social history, and which has given to the national character the traits of quick-wittedness, humor, self-reliance, love of liberty, and democratic feeling. These traits in combination distinguish us from other peoples.
Stories such as these here told of Indian life, of frontier peril and escape, of adventures with the pirates and kidnappers of colonial times, of daring Revolutionary feats, of dangerous whaling voyages, of scientific exploration, and of personal encounters with savages and wild beasts, have become the characteristic folklore of America. Books of history rarely know them, but they are history of the highest kind,—the quintessence of an age that has passed, or that is swiftly passing away, forever. With them are here intermingled sketches of the homes, the food and drink, the dress and manners, the schools and children's plays, of other times. The text-book of history is chiefly busy with the great events and the great personages of history: this book seeks to make the young American acquainted with the daily life and character of his forefathers. In connection with the author's "Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans," it is intended to form an introduction to the study of our national history.
It has been thought desirable to make the readings in this book cover in a general way the whole of our vast country. The North and the South, the Atlantic seaboard, the Pacific slope, and the great interior basin of the continent, are alike represented in these pages.
A White Boy among the Indians
The Making of a Canoe
Some Things about Indian Corn
Some Women in the Indian Wars
The Coming of Tea and Coffee
The Last Battle of Blackbeard
An Old Philadelphia School
A Dutch Family in the Revolution
A School of Long Ago
Stories of Whaling
A Whaling Song
A Strange Escape
The Great Turtle
The Rattlesnake God
Witchcraft in Louisiana
A Story of Niagara
Among the Alligators
Song of Marion's Men
A Brave Girl
A Prisoner among the Indians
Hungry Times in the Woods
Scouwa becomes a White Man again
A Baby Lost in the Woods
The River Pirates
A Boy's Foolish Adventure
A Foot Race for Life
Loretto and his Wife
A Blackfoot Story
How Fremont crossed the Mountains
Finding Gold in California
Descending the Grand Canyon
The Lazy, Lucky Indian
The Greatest of Telescope Makers
Adventures in Alaska
STORIES OF AMERICAN LIFE AND ADVENTURE.
A WHITE BOY AMONG THE INDIANS.
Among the people that came to Virginia in 1609, two years after the colony was planted, was a boy named Henry Spelman. He was the son of a well-known man. He had been a bad and troublesome boy in England, and his family sent him to Virginia, thinking that he might be better in the new country. At least his friends thought he would not trouble them so much when he was so far away.
Many hundreds of people came at the same time that Henry Spelman did. Captain John Smith was then governor of the little colony. He was puzzled to know how to feed all these people. As many of them were troublesome, he was still more puzzled to know how to govern them.
In order not to have so many to feed, he sent some of them to live among the Indians here and there. A chief called Little Powhatan asked Smith to send some of his men to live with him. The Indians wanted to get the white men to live among them, so as to learn to make the things that the white men had. Captain Smith agreed to give the boy Henry Spelman to Little Powhatan, if the chief would give him a place to plant a new settlement.
Spelman staid awhile with the chief, and then he went back to the English at Jamestown.
But when he came to Jamestown he was sorry that he had not staid among the Indians. Captain John Smith had gone home to England. George Percy was now governor of the English. They had very little food to eat, and Spelman began to be afraid that he might starve to death with the rest of them. Powhatan—not Little Powhatan, but the great Powhatan, who was chief over all the other chiefs in the neighborhood—sent a white man who was living with him to carry some deer meat to Jamestown. When it came time for this white man to go back, he asked that some of his countrymen might go to the Indian country with him. The governor sent Spelman, who was glad enough to go to the Indians again, because they had plenty of food to eat.
Three weeks after this, Powhatan sent Henry Spelman back to Jamestown to say to the English, that if they would come to his country, and bring him some copper, he would give them some corn for it. The Indians at this time had no iron, and what little copper they had they bought from other Indians, who probably got it from the copper mines far away on Lake Superior.
The English greatly needed corn, so they took a boat and went up to the Indian country with copper, in order to buy corn. They quarreled with the Indians about the measurement of the corn. The Indians hid themselves near the water, and, while the white men were carrying the corn on their vessel, the Indians killed some of them. About this time, seeing that the white men were so hungry, the Indians began to hope that they would be able to drive them all out of the country.
Powhatan saved Spelman from being killed by the Indians; but, now that the Indians were at war with the white men, who were shut up in Jamestown without food, they wished to kill all the white people in the country.
Spelman and a Dutchman, who also lived with Powhatan, began to be afraid that he would not protect them any longer. So, when a chief of the Potomac Indians visited Powhatan, and asked the Dutchman and the boy to go to his country, they left Powhatan and went back with them. Powhatan sent messengers after them, who killed the Dutchman. Henry Spelman ran away into the woods. Powhatan's men followed him, but the Potomacs got hold of Powhatan's men, and held them back until Spelman could get away. The boy managed at last to get to the country of the Potomac Indians.
It was very lucky for Spelman that he was among the Indians at this time. Nearly all the white people in Jamestown were killed, or died of hunger. Spelman lived among the Indians for years. During this time more people came from England, and settled at Jamestown. A ship from Jamestown came up into the Potomac River to trade. The captain of the ship bought Spelman from the Indians. He was now a young man, and, as he could speak both the Indian language and the English, he was very useful in carrying on trade between the white men and the Indians.
At the time that Henry Spelman first went among the Indians, they had no iron tools except a very few that they had bought of the white people. They had no guns, nor knives, nor hatchets. They had no hoes nor axes. They made their tools out of hard wood, shells, stones, deer horns, and other such things. They had not yet bought blankets from the white men, but made their clothes mostly out of the skins of animals.
The Indians could not learn much about the white man's arts from Spelman, because he did not know much. Besides, he had no iron of which to make tools. He learned to make arrows of cane such as we use for fishing rods. He also learned to point his arrows with the spur of a wild turkey, or a piece of stone. These arrow points he stuck into the arrow with a kind of glue. But he first had to learn how to make his glue out of deers' horns. Before he could make any of the tools, he had to make himself a knife, as the Indians did. Having no iron, the blade of his knife was made out of a beaver's tooth, which is very sharp, and will cut wood. He set this tooth in the end of a stick. You see how hard it was for an Indian to get tools. He had to learn to make one tool in order to use that in making another tool.
One of the principal things that an Indian had to do was to make a canoe; for, as the Indians had no horses, they could travel only by water, unless they went afoot. Canoes were the only boats they had. They had to make canoes without any of the tools that white men use. Let us explain this by a story about Henry and an Indian boy. The things in the story may not have happened just as they are told, but the account of how things are made by the Indians is all true.
THE MAKING OF A CANOE.
Henry had a young Indian friend whose name was Keketaw. One day Keketaw said to him, "Let us go into the woods and make a canoe."
"If we had an ax to cut down the trees," said the white boy, "or an adz, such as they have at Jamestown, or if we could get a hatchet, we might make a canoe; but we have not even a little knife."
"We will make a canoe in the Indian way," said Keketaw. "I will show you how. Let us get ready."
"What shall we do to get ready?" asked Henry.
"We must take our bows, and we must make many arrows, so as to get something to eat, and we must have fishing lines," said Keketaw, "or we shall not be able to live in the woods."
For some days the two boys were getting ready. It took them a long time to scrape a piece of bone into a fishhook by means of a beaver's tooth set in a stick, but they made three of these hooks. They made some more hooks not so good as these by tying a splinter of bone to a little stick. Keketaw's mother made fishing lines for them. She took the long leaves of the plant which we call Spanish bayonet, and separated these threads into a hard cord, rubbing them between her hand and her knee.
"We must have swords," said Keketaw.
"We can cut our meat with this," said Henry, pointing to a knife made of cane, such as the Indians called a pamesack.
"But the Monacans may come," said Keketaw. "If we should see one sticking up his head, I should want a sword to fight him with; and if we should kill him, we could cut off his scalp with it;" and Keketaw's eyes glistened a little at the thought of fetching home a Monacan's scalp.
The Monacans were fierce Indians of a tribe living in the country west of the Powhatan Indians. They were deadly enemies of Keketaw's tribe.
The two boys, by much slow work with stones and shells and beaver-tooth chisels, managed to scrape a wooden sword into shape. This, Henry was to wear at his back. Keketaw, for his part, found a piece of deer's horn. He stuck it into a stick so that it made something like a small pickax. With this he said he could quickly break the head of a Monacan. It would also serve as a sort of hatchet.
The land round the village in which Keketaw lived had been cleared of trees. This had been done by burning the trees in order to make room for fields. In these fields the Indians planted corn, beans, pumpkins, and tobacco, and a plant something like a sunflower, which is called an artichoke. Of the root of this artichoke they made a kind of bread.
For many miles there were no good canoe trees near the water. They had all been picked out and used. Henry and Keketaw traveled twenty miles into a deep woods, and chose a tree that would make a good canoe, and that stood near a stream which ran into the James River.
The first thing they did was to break down young trees and boughs, and build themselves a brush tent. They made a bed out of dry leaves. The first night they had nothing to eat, for they had no time to shoot any game. The next morning they were too hungry to sleep late, and they knew that squirrels are early risers. Soon after daylight the Indian boy killed a squirrel with an arrow. Having no fire, they ate it without cooking; for, when one is a savage, one must not be too nice.
How should they get a fire? They first took a piece of dry wood, which they scraped flat with stones. Then, with a blow of his tomahawk of deer's horn, Keketaw made a round hole in the wood. One end of a dry stick was placed in this hole. The other end was supported in the hollow of a shell which Keketaw held in his hand.
The string to Henry's bow was made of one of the cords or sinews of a deer's leg. He wound this once round the stick. With his left hand, Keketaw then put some dry moss about the stick where it entered the hole in the dry wood.
When all was ready, Henry drew his bow to and fro like a saw. Keketaw pressed the shell down on the upper part of the stick. The bow-string holding the stick made it whirl in the hole beneath. At first this seemed to produce no effect. After a while the rapid rubbing of the piece of wood in the hole made heat. Presently a very thin thread of smoke began to come up through the little heap of moss about the stick. Henry was now pretty well out of breath, but he sawed the bow faster than ever. At last the moss began to smolder and to show fire.
Keketaw then withdrew the smoking stick, and gathered the moss together. Lying down by it, and putting his arm about it, the Indian lad began to blow it gently. The smoldering fire increased until a little blue flame, which he could barely see, appeared. Keketaw now added some very thin paper-like bits of dry bark and some small twigs to the pile of smoking moss. These caught fire, and sent up a straw-colored flame. Henry put on larger twigs until there was at last a crackling blaze.
Taking lighted sticks from this fire, the boys made a fire all round the base of a large tree from which they meant to get the canoe. This fire they kept going constantly for two days. They even got up at night to put dead boughs on, it.
On the third night of their stay in camp, they didn't lie down at the usual time, for the tree was burned nearly through. About two o'clock in the morning a little breeze rustled in the leaves of the great tree. Slowly at first, then more and more rapidly, the tree fell with a tremendous crashing sound, until with a final thundering roar it lay flat upon the ground.
Sleepy as the boys were, they did not lie down for the night until they had built a new fire near the trunk of the tree. Having no ax to chop with, they had to burn the log in two. They put the fire at a place that would cut off enough of the tree trunk to make a canoe.
The next day they built up this new fire, and then went fishing in the neighboring stream with their bone fishhooks, and lines made of the Spanish bayonet leaf. In two days after the fall of the tree they had burned off the log that was to make their canoe, and had scraped off all the bark with shells.
They then lighted little fires on top of the log, and, when these had charred the wood for an inch or more in depth in any place, they removed the fire and scraped away the charcoal. Then they built another little fire in the same place. These little fires were made with gum taken from the pine trees.
By burning and scraping they gradually dug out the inside of their boat, scraping out one end of it while they were burning out the other, and working at it day after day.
The only tools they had for scraping were shells from the river, and sharp stones. Keketaw sometimes used his deer-horn tomahawk for the same purpose. It was fourteen days from the time they first lighted the fire at the foot of the tree until their canoe was finished. Two more days were spent in making paddles. This work was also done by burning and scraping.
When all was done, the canoe was slid down the soft bank into the water. It floated right side up to the delight of its makers. The boys now thought it would be a fine stroke to take a deer home with them. So they pulled one end of their canoe up on the shore, and started out to look for one.
But the first tracks they found were not deer tracks. They were the footprints of men. Keketaw made a sign to Henry by turning the palm of his hand toward the earth, and then moving the hand downward. This meant to keep low, and make no noise. Then Keketaw climbed a high pine tree. From the top of the tree he could see a number of Indians at a spring of water.
The boy slid down the tree in haste. "Monacans on the war path!" he whispered as he reached the ground.
Swiftly and silently the two boys hurried back to their canoe. They wasted no time in admiring it. They gathered their weapons and fishing lines, and got aboard. It was not a question of killing Monacans now, but of saving themselves and their friends. They rowed with all their might from the start.
For hours they kept their new paddles busy. They reached the village after dark, and when they uttered the dreadful word "Monacans," it ran from one wigwam to another. The women and children shuddered with fear. The warriors smeared their faces with paint, to make themselves uglier than ever, and departed. Soon after the boys had started home, the Monacans had found their camp fire still burning. Thinking they had been discovered, and knowing that a strong party of the Powhatan Indians might come after them, the Monacans had hurried back to their own home more swiftly than they had come.
SOME THINGS ABOUT INDIAN CORN.
When the white people first came to America, they had never seen Indian corn, which did not grow in Europe. The Indians raised it in little patches about their villages. Before planting their corn, they had to clear away the trees that covered the whole country. Their axes were made of stone, and were not sharp enough to cut down a tree. The larger trees they cut down by burning them off at the bottom. They killed the smaller trees by building little fires about them. When the bark all round a tree was burned, the tree died. As dead trees bear no leaves, the sun could shine through their branches on the ground where corn was to be planted.
Having no iron, they had to make their tools as they could. In some places they made a hoe by tying the shoulder blade of a deer to a stick. In other places they used half of the shell of a turtle for a hoe or spade to dig up the ground. This could be done where the ground was soft. In North Carolina the Indians had a little thing like a pickax which was made out of a deer's horn tied to a stick. An Indian woman would sit down on the ground with one of these little pickaxes in her hand. She would dig up the earth for a little space until it was loose. Then she would make a little hole in the soft earth. In this she would plant four or five grains of corn, putting them about an inch apart. Then she covered these grains with soft earth. In Virginia, where the ground was soft and sandy, the Indians made a kind of spade out of wood.
Sometimes they planted a patch a long way off from their bark house, so that they would not be tempted to eat it while it was green. The Indians were very fond of green corn. They roasted the ears in the ashes. Some of the tribes held a great feast when the first green corn was fit to eat, and some of them worshiped a spirit that they called the "Spirit of the Corn."
When the corn was dry, the Indians pounded it in order to make meal or hominy of it. Sometimes they parched the corn, and then pounded it into meal. They carried this parched meal with them when they went hunting and when they went to war. They could eat it with a little water, without stopping to cook it. They called it Nokick, but the white people called it No-cake.
When the Pilgrims came to Cape Cod, they sent out Miles Standish and some other men to look through the country and find a good place for them to settle. Standish tried to find some of the Indians in order to make friends with them, but the Indians ran away whenever they saw him coming. One day he found a heap of sand. He knew it had been lately piled up, because he could see the marks of hands on the sand where the Indians had patted it down. Standish and his men dug up this heap. They soon came to a little old basket full of Indian corn. When they had dug further, they found a very large new basket full of fine corn which had been lately gathered.
The white men, who had never seen it before, thought Indian corn very beautiful. Some of the ears were yellow, some were red. On other ears blue and yellow grains were mixed. Standish and his men said it was a "very goodly sight." The Indian basket was round and narrow at the top. It held three or four bushels of corn, and it was as much as two men could do to lift it from the ground. The white men wondered to see how handsomely it was woven.
Near the pile of corn they found an old kettle which the Indians had probably bought from some ship. They filled this kettle with corn, They also filled their baskets with it. They wanted the corn for seed. They made up their mind to pay the Indians whenever they could find them. The next summer they found out who were the owners of this buried corn, and paid them for all the corn they had taken. If they had not found this corn, they would not have had any to plant the next spring, and so they would have starved to death.
The people that were with Miles Standish settled at Plymouth. They were the first that came to live in New England. An Indian named Squanto came to live with the white people at Plymouth. Squanto was born at this very place. He had been carried away to England by a sea captain. Then he had been brought back by another captain to his own country. When he got back to Plymouth, he found that all the people of his village had died from a great sickness. He went to live with another tribe near by. When the white people came to Plymouth, they settled on the ground where Squanto's people had lived. As he could speak some English, and as all his own tribe were dead, he now came to live with the white people.
The people at Plymouth did not know how to plant the corn they had found, but Squanto taught them. By watching the trees, the Indians knew when to put their corn into the ground. When the young leaf of the white oak tree was as large as a squirrel's ear, they knew that it was time to put their corn into the ground. Squanto taught the white people how to catch a kind of fish which were used to make their corn grow. They put one or two fishes into each hill of corn, but they were obliged to watch the cornfield day and night for two weeks after planting. If they had not watched it, the wolves would have dug up the fishes, and the corn with them.
The white people learned also to cook their corn as the Indians did. They learned to eat hominy and samp, and these we still call by their Indian names. "Succotash" is another Indian word. The white people learned from the Indians to use the husks of Indian corn to make things. The Indians made ropes of corn husks, and in some places they made shoes of plaited husks. The white people in early times made their door mats and horse collars and beds of corn husks. They also twisted and wove husks to make seats for their chairs.
Of all the plants that grew in America, Indian corn was the most important to the Indians. It was also of the most value to the first white people who came to this country.
SOME WOMEN IN THE INDIAN WARS.
When white people first came to this country, they had much trouble with the Indians. After a while, when they had learned to defend themselves and got used to danger, they did not mind it much. Even the women became as brave as soldiers.
In very early times there were some families of people from Sweden living not far from where Philadelphia now stands. One day the women were all together boiling soap. It was the custom then to make soap at home. Water was first poured through ashes to make lye. People put this lye into a large kettle, and then threw into it waste pieces of meat and bits of fat of all kinds. After boiling a long time, this mixture made a kind of soft soap, which was the only soap the early settlers had. The large kettle in which the soap was boiled was hung on a pole. This pole was held up by two forked sticks driven into the ground. A fire was kept burning under the kettle. Of course, this soap boiling took place out of doors.
Some Indians, creeping through the woods, saw the women together without any men. They thought it a good chance to kill them or make them prisoners; but the women caught sight of the Indians, and ran away to their little church. The churches in that day were often built so they could be used for forts. The church to which these women ran was one of this kind. But the women had no guns with them. They knew that when they got into the church they would have nothing to fight with. So two of them took hold of the ends of the pole on which the kettle of boiling soap was hanging, and carried the kettle into the little church with them.
The Indians tried to get into the church, but every time an Indian climbed up to get in, a woman would just dip up a ladleful of boiling soap, and dash it on him. This was a kind of fighting the Indians did not like. They were not used to soap in any form. So, when an Indian was scalded by the soap, he would run away in great pain, and not try it again. The next Indian that came got some of the same hot medicine. He also would have to go away to cool off, if he could.
While some of the women were watching the Indians, and fighting them with hot soap, one of them took up a dinner horn and blew it. This dinner horn was made of a great shell called a conch shell. The tip of a conch shell was sawed off so as to make a hole in it. By blowing into this hole, a very loud noise could be made. Such horns were used in that day to call people to dinner, and to call the neighbors when there was any danger. The woman blew the conch-shell horn, and kept on blowing.
The men who were away in the woods heard the sound of the horn. They knew that something was wrong, because the horn was blowing when it was not dinner time. Either a house was on fire or the Indians had come. The men took up their guns and hurried toward the little church. When the Indians saw the men coming, they ran away.
There was a woman in Massachusetts named Bradley. She had once been a prisoner among the Indians. She lived in a blockhouse which had a high fence of posts set up close together all round it to keep the Indians out. Such a fence was called a stockade. One day Mrs. Bradley was boiling soap. The gate of the stockade had been left open a little way. Suddenly she saw an Indian, with war paint on his face and his tomahawk in his hand, rushing in at the gate. The Indian thought it would be an easy thing to kill Mrs. Bradley. But the woman was too quick for him. She dashed a ladle of boiling soap upon him before he could run away. The soap was so hot that the Indian was killed by it.
The Indians came once more to take Mrs. Bradley. This time, not having any soap, she got a gun and shot the foremost one dead. The rest ran away.
In King Philip's War the Indians tried to take the town of Hadley. The men of the town fought hard, but the Indians were getting the best of the battle. A little cannon had been sent from Boston. It reached Hadley while the battle was going on. As all the men were busy fighting, the women loaded the cannon themselves. First they put in powder, and then small shot and nails. When the cannon was loaded, the women took it to the men, who pointed it into the thickest of the crowd of Indians, and fired it. A hail-storm of nails was a new thing to the Indians. Those who were not killed ran away very much frightened.
There was a young girl in Maine who was in a house when the Indians attacked it. She held the door shut until thirteen women and children could get out of the house by the back door, and pass into a blockhouse, which is a kind of fort. The Indians beat down the door at last, and then knocked down the brave girl behind it, but they did not kill her.
Sometimes the Indians attacked a blockhouse when there were none but women in it. In such cases the women would put on hats, and fix their hair so as to look like men. Then they would use their guns well. The savages, thinking there were men in the place, would go away.
There was one girl who was a captive among the Indians for three weeks. One day she saw a horse running loose in the woods. She stripped some tough bark from a tree, and made a bridle of it. Then she caught the horse, and put her bark bridle on him. It was just growing dark when she climbed on his bare back, for she had no saddle. She turned the horse's head toward the settlements, and rode hard all night. The next morning she was safe among her friends.
THE COMING OF TEA AND COFFEE.
When the first settlers came to this country, tea and coffee were unknown to them. The favorite drink of that time was a kind of weak beer, which was usually made at home. The first settlers in America could not buy drinks such as they had had in England, and in a new country they often could not make them. So they found out ways of making other drinks in place of them. What we call root beer and birch beer, and a drink flavored with the chips of the hickory tree, were made in New England. Farther south the people made a kind of drink by mixing water and molasses together, and putting in Indian corn.
Such drinks were taken at meals as we take tea and coffee. People also drank a great deal of cider. As the cows hardly ever gave any milk in winter, children were given cider and water to drink. But about fifty years after the time that the first settlers came to this country, people in England began to get tea and coffee. Tea and coffee were soon after brought into this country. At first they were thought to be medicines good for many diseases. Little books were written to tell how many diseases these new drinks would cure. Root beer and birch beer, and tea and coffee, were good things in one way. After they came into use, people did not care so much for stronger drinks.
When tea first came, it was very fashionable. It was called the new China drink. Along with the tea, people brought from China little teacups to drink it from. Most of the cups before this time had been made of pewter. The new cups and saucers were called chinaware. They also brought from China pretty little tables on which they set the teacups when they drank the tea.
When people first got tea in country places, they did not know how to use it. There was a minister in Connecticut who bought two pounds of tea in New York. He took it home with him, and put it away to use when anybody in his house should be ill. He wanted the tea for medicine. His daughters had heard about the fine ladies in town who took tea. They were curious to taste it, and were not willing to wait until they should be ill. So one afternoon, without letting their father know it, they asked two young men who were friends of theirs to the house. Then they got out the package of tea, intending to treat themselves and the young men to a new pleasure. They knew nothing about making tea. When they had boiled it a long time, they poured off the tea and threw it away. They put the tea leaves on a dish, and tried to eat them as one would eat spinach. This is the way they punished themselves for disobeying their father.
Before the Revolution, when gentlemen called at fine houses in the afternoon, the ladies always gave them tea to drink. As soon as a gentleman's little cup was empty, one of the ladies would fill it up again, and it was not polite to refuse to drink all the tea that was offered. A French prince who was in Philadelphia during the Revolution drank twelve little cups of tea one afternoon. The ladies kept giving him more, and the poor prince did not know how to stop them until another French gentleman told him privately that if he would lay his teaspoon across the top of the cup no more tea would be poured in. He put the teaspoon across the teacup as a sign that he did not wish to drink any more.
Long after tea and coffee were in use in this country they were not known in the backwoods. The people on the frontier drank tea made from the root of the sassafras tree or from the leaves of some wild vines. The whole work of preparing food was done at home. When they wanted to grind meal, they did it by pounding corn in a hole cut in the stump of a tree. They used a large stone pounder which was tied by a rope to a limb of a tree above. After each blow the limb would spring back and raise the pounder. Their corn meal was sifted through a sieve made of deerskin with little holes punched through it. They had to make their shoes and hats and caps themselves, and to weave their cloth at home.
A boy who lived on the west side of the Alleghany Mountains in those days afterward wrote a book telling all about this rough life. His name was Joseph Doddridge. He spent his boyhood in a log cabin, in constant danger from Indians. The settlers had built a fort in the middle of the settlement. Sometimes in the night Joseph would hear a man tapping gently on the back window of his father's cabin. As soon as anybody waked up, the man would whisper, "Indians!" Joseph's father would then take down his gun. The children would be dressed in the dark as quickly as possible. Such things as would be needed in the fort were then picked up. Not a word was spoken, nor was any candle lighted. Even the little children learned to be perfectly silent, and the dogs were taught not to bark. When all was ready, the family would hurry away along the foot path to the fort. All the other families in the settlement would be called in the same way.
Every fall these settlers sent pack horses over the mountains. The horses were loaded with the skins of animals. When they came back, they carried salt, which was the one thing that could not be made in the settlement. But the men never thought it worth while to bring home with them tea and coffee or other unnecessary things.
When Joseph was about seven years of age, he was sent over the mountains to school. The little boy was very much puzzled when he first saw a house that was plastered inside. He had never in his life seen anything but a cabin built of logs. He could not understand how a plastered house was built. It seemed to him like something that had grown that way.
When supper time came in this plastered house, he saw a teacup and saucer for the first time in his life. The people in his neighborhood used wooden bowls to drink out of. But here he saw what seemed to him to be a little cup standing in a bigger one. He had never heard of coffee. He only knew that the brownish-looking stuff in his cup was not milk, or hominy, or soup. What to do with the little cups, or how to make use of the spoon that was in them, he could not tell, so he watched the big folks handle their cups and spoons. He drank the coffee just as they did, but he disliked it very much. It made the tears come into his eyes to drink it. When he got his cup nearly empty, it was filled again. He did not dare to say that he had had enough, and he did not know what to do. At last he saw one man turn his empty cup bottom upward in the saucer, and lay his little spoon across the bottom of the cup. That was the custom in those days. He saw that this man's cup was not filled any more. So Joseph drank his coffee as quickly as possible, turned his cup over in the saucer, and laid the spoon across the bottom. He was delighted that he did not have to drink any more coffee.
In the days when our country belonged to England, white people were brought here to be sold. Some of these were poor people who could not get a good living in England. They came over to this country without any money. The captain of the ship in which they came sold them in this country to pay their passage.
Men and women who were sold had to serve four years; and boys and girls, a longer time. The person sold was just like a slave until his time was out. The man who had bought him might beat him, or sell him to another master. Many of these white slaves did not get enough to eat.
Here are some stories of boys who were brought to this country and sold before the Revolution. They are all true stories.
THE STORY OF PETER WILLIAMSON.—TWICE A SLAVE.
One day a boy named Peter Williamson was walking along the streets of Aberdeen in Scotland. The little fellow was eight years old. Two men met him, and asked him to go on board a ship with them. When he got on board, he was put down in the lower part of the ship with other boys. The ship sailed to America with twenty boys. Like Peter, the other lads had been stolen from their parents. They were taken to Philadelphia and sold, to work for seven years.
Little Peter was lucky enough to fall into the hands of a kind master. Among those who came to buy boys off this ship was a man who had himself been stolen from Scotland when he was young. He felt sorry for little Peter when he saw him put up for sale. The price the cruel captain asked for him was about fifty dollars. The Scotchman paid this money, and took Peter for his boy. He sent him to school in the winter, and treated him kindly. Peter, for his part, was a good boy, and did his work faithfully. He staid with his master after his time was out.
When Peter was about seventeen years old, this good master died. He left to Peter about six hundred dollars in money for being a good boy. He also gave him his best horse and saddle and all his own clothes. Some years after this, Peter married, and went to live in the northern part of Pennsylvania. He was by this time a man of property.
One night, when his wife was away from home, the Indians came about his house. He got a gun and ran upstairs. He pointed the gun at the Indians, but they told him that if he would not shoot they would not kill him. So he came down, and gave himself up as a prisoner.
The Indians treated him very cruelly. He was with them more than a year. His sufferings were so great that he wished sometimes that he was dead. He knew that if he ran away the Indians would probably catch him, and kill him in some cruel way. But one night, when the Indians were all asleep, he resolved to take the risk. You may believe that when he had started he ran with all his might.
When daylight came, he hid himself in a hollow tree. After a while he heard the Indians running all about the tree. He could hear them tell one another how they would kill him when they found him. But they did not think to look into the tree.
The next night he ran on again. He came very near running into a camp of Indians. But at last he came in sight of the house of a friend. He was tired out, and starving. He had hardly any clothes left on him. He knocked at the door. The woman who saw him thought that he was an Indian. She screamed, and the man of the house got his gun to kill him. But he quickly told his friend that he was no Indian, but Peter Williamson. Everybody had given him up for dead. But now all his friends were happy to see him alive once more. He had twice been carried into slavery,—once by cruel white men, and once by yet more cruel red men.
SOLD LIKE JOSEPH.—STORIES OF TWO KIDNAPPED BOYS.
You have heard the beautiful story of Joseph in the Bible. You remember that he was sold by his brothers. Then he was carried into Egypt, where he became a great man.
In 1730 there was a little English lad at sea with his uncle, who was the captain of a ship. Whether the boy's father and mother were dead or not, history does not tell. But the boy was sailing on his uncle's ship, as though he were the captain's son.
One day the captain was taken ill at sea. After a while he died. The mate and the sailors thought that they would like to steal the ship and all the captain's property. But it now all belonged to the little boy. Like Joseph's brothers, the sailors laid a plan to get the boy out of the way. You remember that Joseph's brothers saw some slave traders going by. These traders were Arabs, like the Arabs that carry off slaves to-day. Joseph's brothers stopped the Arabs, and sold little Joseph to them. The Arabs took Joseph to Egypt and sold him.
Just so the mate and his men saw a ship coming toward them. This ship had a great many people on board. They were Irish people, who were being taken to America to be sold as servants.
The mate hailed the ship, and made a bargain with the captain and the mate. He sold the poor little boy, who had no friends, to this captain.
Then the mate and his men sailed away. What became of them we do not know; but the ship, loaded with white servants, sailed to Boston. It landed at the Long Wharf, a pier running far out into the water. The servants were obliged to run up and down this wharf. The people who came to buy watched them to see how strong they might be.
The little boy sold by the mate was there. He ran up and down with the others, to show how nimble his legs were. He was bought by a Mr. Willard.
The boy served out his time, and became free. He became a well-known officer in the Indian wars. His name was Johnson. He did not become so great as Joseph in Egypt, but, like Joseph, he gained honor in the country into which he had been sold as a slave.
Here is another story of the same kind. A little boy six years old got lost in London. After he had wandered about a good while, a ship captain met him, and told him that he would take him to his father. The captain took him into a boat, put him on board his ship, carried him to Maryland, and sold him. After the boy had served out his time and grown to be a man, he became a rich farmer.
The wicked ship captain who carried off the boy was caught stealing many years afterward. In that day, thieves were often sold into America for seven years, as a punishment. This captain who had sold others was now put on a ship and sent to be sold in Maryland. The man who bought him was the very person whom he had carried off when he was a boy.
You remember how much Joseph's brothers were afraid of him when they found themselves in his power. This wicked old sea captain was frightened when he saw that he was now a slave to the boy he had stolen. He was so much alarmed that he killed himself.
A LITTLE LORD SOLD INTO BONDAGE.
There lived in Ireland a long time ago a certain Lord Altham. The time was about sixty years before our American Revolution. This Lord Altham was a weak and foolish man. He quarreled with his wife, and sent her away. He wasted his money in wicked living, and got into debt. He had a little son named James Annesley. "Jemmy," as he was called, was sent to a boarding school; but the father grew more wicked, and more careless of his son. He sent the boy away, and pretended that he was dead. He did this because he wanted to sell some property that he could not sell if Jemmy were alive.
Jemmy found himself badly treated where he lived. When he complained, he was told that his father did not pay his board: so he ran away. He lived in the streets with rough boys. He ran on errands for pay, like the other little street boys. But still the boys knew that Jemmy was the son of a lord. Strangers were surprised to hear a little ragged boy called "my lord" by his playmates.
When he was about thirteen years old, his father died. Then Jemmy Annesley became Lord Altham in place of his father; but his uncle Richard, who was a cruel man, took Jemmy's property, and called himself Lord Altham.
The wicked uncle was afraid that people would find out that Jemmy was alive, and he sent a man to see where the boy was. When the boy was found, his uncle accused him of stealing a silver spoon. He hired three policemen to arrest the boy and put him on a ship. Poor Jemmy wept bitterly. He told the people he was afraid his uncle would kill him. The ship took him to Philadelphia, where he was sold to a farmer to serve until he should be of age.
One day, when he was about seventeen years old, he came into his master's house with a gun in one hand and a squirrel in the other. There were two strangers sitting by the fire. They had found the door open, and had walked in.
One of the men said, "Are you a servant in this house?"
"I am," said James.
"What country did you come from?"
"We are from Ireland ourselves," said one of the strange men. "What part of Ireland are you from?"
"From the county of Wexford."
"We are from that county. What is your name?"
"I never heard that name there," said the traveler.
"Did you know Lord Altham?" asked the boy.
"Well, I am his son."
"What!" cried the stranger, "you the son of Lord Altham! Impossible!"
But the young man insisted that he was Lord Altham's son.
"Tell me how Lord Altham's house stands," said the stranger.
The young man told him enough to show that he knew all about the place. Then the stranger said, that, if James ever came to Ireland to claim his estate, he would do what he could to help him.
James Annesley was badly treated by his master. At length he ran away, but he was retaken, and put into a jail in Lancaster. He was kept in prison a good while. He had a fine voice, and he amused himself by singing. The people used to stand outside of the jail to hear him sing.
For running away he was obliged to serve a still longer time. He spent thirteen years in slavery.
When he got free at last, he told Mr. Ellis of Philadelphia about his case. This kind-hearted man gave him a passage on a ship going to the West Indies. An English fleet was then in the West Indies. It was commanded by the famous Admiral Vernon. When the brave admiral heard James Annesley's story, he took him to England. In England James found friends ready to help him.
There was a long lawsuit, but James's old friends and schoolmates came to court as witnesses for him. One of the men who had talked with him while he was a servant in Pennsylvania told the Court about it. Two of the policemen that had helped to put little Jemmy on shipboard confessed the dreadful act they had done.
Then the jury gave a verdict that James Annesley was the true Lord Altham. There was great joy among the people, and everybody detested the cruel uncle. The people made songs about him, and sang them under his windows. James Annesley was now called Lord Altham. But before the young lord came into possession of his title and his property, he was taken ill and died.
I am glad that we live in better times. Children are not kidnapped and sold now.
THE LAST BATTLE OF BLACKBEARD.
Our country now reaches from one ocean to the other. But in the days before the Revolution there were only English colonies stretching up and down the Atlantic coast. Merchandise was carried from one colony to another, and from one country to another, in slow-going sailing vessels, for there were neither railroads nor steamships.
In those old times there were robbers on the sea. We call sea robbers pirates. These men carried cannon on their ships, and they robbed any vessels not stronger than they were. In our days of large steamships a pirate would not stand any chance of getting away. He would soon be caught. Some of the pirates of old times sailed up and down the American coast. They captured ships sailing from America to Europe and from Europe to America. The worst of all these pirates was Blackbeard.
His real name was Thatch. He was called Blackbeard because he wore a long black beard that covered his face. This made him look frightful in that day, when other men shaved their faces smooth. He divided his beard into locks, and twisted each lock, tying it at the end with ribbons. To make himself look still worse, he fastened some of these twists over his ears.
When he was fighting against another ship, he wore a strap over his shoulders to which were fastened large pistols. In those days, cannon were touched off by means of a slow match, a kind of cord that burns slowly like punk. When Blackbeard went into battle, he twisted some of these slow matches or cords round his head, and stuck some of them under his hat. The ends of these matches were burning, and they looked like fiery, hissing snakes. With his beard turned back over his ears, and fire all about his head, he seemed to be a tall fiend.
Blackbeard was more like a fiend than a man. He was cruel and wicked in every way. Some bad men are sometimes kind-hearted, but Blackbeard was always cruel. He would shoot even his own men in order to make his crew afraid of him.
He did much of his bad work on the coast of North Carolina. Here he found bays and sounds where the water was shallow. Large ships could not easily follow him into these places. The Governor of North Carolina was a bad man. He took part of Blackbeard's plunder, and let Blackbeard go safely about the country. The people were afraid of the pirate. They sent to the Governor of Virginia, and asked him to fit out a ship to capture Blackbeard.
Two sloops that could sail in shallow water were sent. Lieutenant Maynard was the commander. The ships left Virginia secretly. No one knew where they were going.
When Maynard came in sight of Blackbeard's sloop, he hung out his flag. Blackbeard took a glass of rum and drank it, calling to Maynard, "I'll give you no quarter, nor take any."
Maynard replied, "I do not expect any quarter from you, nor will I give any."
This meant that neither of them would take any prisoners, but that every man must fight for his life.
Maynard tried to run alongside Blackbeard's ship. He wanted to take his men on board the pirate ship, and fight it out on her deck. But Blackbeard had put a large negro near to the gunpowder on his ship. He said to the negro, "If the men from the other ship get on board of ours, you must set fire to the gunpowder, and blow us all up."
Maynard was running toward the pirate ship to get on board; but Blackbeard fired all the cannon on that side of his ship, and killed some of Maynard's men. This was really lucky for Maynard; for, if he had got on board, the negro would have set fire to the gunpowder, and the pirates and Maynard's men would all have been blown to pieces at once.
Maynard now sent his men down into the hold of the ship. They were out of sight of the pirates, but they had their pistols and swords ready. The sloops were soon close together, and Blackbeard's men threw boxes full of powder and shot, and pieces of lead and iron, on the deck of Maynard's sloop. These were so fixed as to go off like bombshells. But, as nearly all of Maynard's men were down below the deck, these boxes did little harm.
Blackbeard, thinking that most of Maynard's men had been killed, jumped on board the sloop with fourteen men. Maynard now called his men from below, and there was a desperate fight. Blackbeard was shot five times, and was wounded with swords; but the old monster fought until he fell down dead while cocking his pistol. The rest of the pirates on the deck of Maynard's ship were taken prisoners.
Maynard's other sloop was fighting with the men left on board Blackbeard's vessels. These surrendered, but they had trouble to keep the big negro from setting fire to the gunpowder and blowing them all up.
Maynard took away from the Governor of North Carolina many hogsheads of sugar that Blackbeard had stolen. Then he hung the great ugly head of the pirate at the bow of his ship, and sailed back to Virginia in triumph.
AN OLD PHILADELPHIA SCHOOL.
There was a schoolmaster in Philadelphia before the Revolution who did not like to beat his pupils as other masters of that time did. When a boy behaved badly, he would take his switch and stick it into the back of the boy's coat collar so that the switch should rise above his head in the air. He would then stand the boy up on a bench in sight of the school, in order to punish him by making him ashamed.
This schoolmaster's name was Dove. If any boy was not at school in time, the master would send a committee of five or six of the scholars to fetch him. One of this committee carried a lighted lantern, while another had a bell in his hand. The tardy scholar had to march down the street in broad daylight with a lantern to show him the way, and a boy ringing the school bell to let him know that it was time for him to be there.
One morning Mr. Dove slept too late, or forgot himself. The boys made up a committee to bring the teacher to school. They took the lantern and the bell with them. Mr. Dove said they were quite right. He took his place in the procession, and the people saw Schoolmaster Dove taken to school late with a lantern and a bell.
The larger schoolboys of that time were very fond of foot races. They would take off their coats and tie handkerchiefs about their heads before starting. The short breeches they wore were fastened at the knee by bands. When they were going to run a race, they would loosen these bands, and pull off their shoes and stockings. Some of the boys ran barefoot in this way, but others wore Indian moccasins. The race course was round a block; that is, about three quarters of a mile. Crowds would gather to see the boys run, and the people rushed from one side of the block to the other to see which was leading in the race.
A DUTCH FAMILY IN THE REVOLUTION.
What is now the State of New York was first settled by people from Holland who spoke the Dutch language. New York afterward became an English colony, but the Dutch settlers and their descendants still spoke the language of Holland, at the time of the American Revolution.
In Flatbush, which is now a part of Brooklyn, was a family that spoke the Dutch language, while they were true Americans in feeling. When the British landed on Long Island, they got ready to leave the town. The horses were hitched to the wagon, and such things as were thought most valuable were put in. The first thing they put into the wagon was the great Dutch Bible with heavy brass clasps. A tall clock was also carefully lifted into the wagon. Then clothing and other things followed.
The father of the family told the two faithful negro men, Caesar and his son Mink, how to take care of things. Femmetia, the most active of the daughters, had the whip in her hand, and, as the sound of firing was coming nearer and nearer, she tapped the horses on their ears, and the family dashed away to the house of a cousin who lived beyond the region where the fight was to be.
That evening Femmetia helped her father, who was an invalid, to climb to the top of a little hill from which they could see a fire raging in the village of Flatbush. The direction of the fire showed the father and daughter that it was their own house which was burning.
When the fight was over, General Washington's troops had been driven from Long Island. The good Dutch family went back and found their house burned. They moved into another house, whose owner was still away, and then began to build a new house. The mother bought some boards with what money she had saved, but she could not get any nails. In that day nails were not made by machinery, as they are now. Each nail had to be hammered out separately by a blacksmith. Nails made in this way cost a great deal of money.
There was but one way to do. Femmetia and her sister had to find nails by raking over the ashes of the old house. Some of these nails were crooked, and they had to be hammered to make them straight enough to use.
Some American officers had been made prisoners at the battle of Long Island. They were allowed to go about the village after having given their word not to go farther. They liked to help the girls find nails in the ashes, and hammer them straight on the stones. Other young girls came to help them, so that there was a party of young people talking, joking, laughing, and digging in the ashes, every day. It was fun for all of them. There were not boards enough to finish the house. The room in which the two sisters slept was upstairs. It had but half a floor. Where the rest of the floor should have been were only bare beams.
One night the negro woman, whose name was Dian, came into the room below, and called Femmetia. She told her that the British soldiers had come into the barn, and that they would soon take away what were left of the chickens.
"You jes' come down." said Dian to Femmetia. So the old slave and the young girl went out together. They carried a gun and a broomstick. The moon was shining. They took great pains not to let the soldiers see them. First they dodged behind a great walnut tree. Then, when they were sure the soldiers did not see them, they ran behind the corncrib. Their next march brought them behind the wagon house, and then they slipped into the dark shadow of the barn.
Dian thrust the rifle through a hole in the side door of the barn. At the same moment the bold Femmetia threw a stone which made the soldiers look round. There was moonlight enough for them to see the muzzle of the gun coming through the door as though it were ready to fire at them. They ran away in great haste, and left the chickens behind.
The silver plate and other valuable things were buried under the hearth in the house. A lady in a neighboring house hid her gold coins in the middle of a great round ball of a pincushion. Such ball pincushions were worn by some of the Dutch women at that time. They hung them at their sides, tied by a bit of ribbon. A party of English soldiers came into this lady's house. They were much amused to see this ball at the lady's side. One of them rudely cut the ribbon with his sword, and then the soldiers played ball with the cushion. It was sent here and there about the room. Twice it fell into the ashes.
The woman who owned it expected that it would be torn, and all her gold would spill out, but she went on with her work. If she had shown any anxiety about the ball, the soldiers might have thought to look for her money in the cushion. At last they gave it back to her, much-soiled, but holding its treasures safe.
A SCHOOL OF LONG AGO.
A hundred and fifty years ago there was a famous teacher among the German settlers in Pennsylvania who was known as "The Good Schoolmaster." His name was Christopher Dock. He had two little country schools. For three days he would teach at a little place called Skippack, and then for the next three days he would teach at Salford.
People said that the good schoolmaster never lost his temper. There was a man who thought he would try to make him angry. He said many harsh and abusive words to the teacher, and even cursed him. But the only reply the teacher made was, "Friend, may the Lord have mercy on you."
Other schoolmasters used to beat their scholars severely with whips and long switches. But Schoolmaster Dock had found out a better way.
When a child came to school for the first time, the other scholars were made to give the new scholar a welcome by shaking hands with him, one after another. Then the new boy or girl was told that this was not a harsh school, but a place for those who would behave. And if a scholar were lazy, disobedient, or stubborn, the master would in the presence of the whole school pronounce him not fit for this school, but only for a school where children were flogged. The new scholar was asked to promise to obey and to be diligent. When he had made this promise, he was shown to a seat.
"Now," the good master would say, when this was done, "who will take this new scholar and help him to learn?"
When the new boy or girl was clean and bright looking, many would be willing to take charge of him or her. But there were few ready to teach a dirty, ragged little child. Sometimes no one would wish to do it. In such a case the master would offer to the one who would take such a child a reward of one of the beautiful texts of scripture which the schoolmasters of that time used to write and decorate for the children. Or he would give him one of the pictures of birds which he was accustomed to paint with his own hands.
The old Pennsylvania teachers were fond of making these tickets with pictures and writing on them. The pictures which we have here will show you what they looked like. The writing is in German, as you will see.
Whenever one of the younger scholars succeeded in learning his A, B, C, Christopher Dock would send word to the father of the child to give him a penny, and he would ask his mother to cook two eggs for him as a treat. These were fine rewards for poor children in a new country.
At certain stages in his studies, the industrious child in one of Dock's schools would receive a penny from his father, and eat two eggs cooked by his mother. But all this time he was not counted a member of the school. He was only on trial. The day on which a boy or girl began to read was a great day. If the pupil had been diligent in spelling, the morning after the first reading day, the master would give him a ticket carefully written with his own hand. This ticket read "Industrious—One Penny." This showed that the scholar was now really received into the school. But if he afterward became idle or disobedient, Schoolmaster Dock would take away his token.
There were no clocks or watches in the country. The children came to school, one after another taking their places near the master, who sat writing. They spent their time reading until all were there. But every one who succeeded in reading his passage without mistake stopped reading, and came and sat at the writing table to write. The poor fellow who remained last on the bench was called the Lazy Scholar.
Every Lazy Scholar had his name written on the blackboard. If a child at any time failed to read correctly, he was sent back to study his passage, and called again after a while. If he failed a second or a third time, all the scholars cried out, "Lazy!" Then his name was written on the blackboard. Then all the poor Lazy Scholar's friends went to work to teach him to read his lesson correctly. And if his name should not be rubbed off the board before school was dismissed, all the scholars might write it down, and take it home with them. But if he could read well before school was out, the scholars, at the bidding of the master, called out, "Industrious!" and then his name was rubbed off the board.
The funniest of Dock's rewards was that which he gave to those who made no mistake in their lessons. He marked a large O with chalk on the hand of the perfect scholar. Fancy what a time the boys and girls must have had, trying to go home without rubbing out this O.
If you had gone into this school some day, you might have seen a boy sitting on a punishment bench all alone. This was a fellow who had told a lie or used bad language. He was put there as not fit to sit near anybody else. If he committed the offense often, a yoke would be put round his neck, as if he were a brute. Sometimes, however, the teacher would give the scholars their choice of a blow on the hand or a seat on the punishment bench. They usually preferred the blow.
At certain times the scholars were permitted to study aloud, but at other times they were obliged to keep still. And a boy or girl was put as a watcher, to set down the names of those who talked in this time of quiet.
The old schoolmaster in Skippack wrote one hundred rules of good behavior for his scholars. This is perhaps the first book on good manners written in America. But rules of behavior for people living in houses of one or two rooms, as they did in that day, were very different from those needed in our time. Here are some of the rules:
"When you comb your hair, do not go out in the middle of the room," says the schoolmaster. This was because families were accustomed to eat and sleep in the same room.
"Do not eat your morning bread on the road or in school," he tells them, "but ask your parents to give it to you at home." From this we see that the common breakfast was bread alone, and that the children often ate it as they walked to school.
The table manners of that day were very good for the time, but they seem very curious to us. He says, "Do not wabble with your stool," because rough home-made stools were the common chairs then, and the floors, made of boards that were split and not sawed, were so uneven that a noisy child could easily rock his stool to and fro.
"Put your knife upon the right and your bread on the left side," he says. Forks were little used in those days, and the people in the country did not have any. He also tells them not to throw bones under the table. It was a common practice among some people of that time to throw bones and scraps under the table, where the dogs ate them.
The child is not told to wait for others when he has finished eating, or to ask to be excused. "Get up quietly," says the schoolmaster, "and take your stool with you. Wish a pleasant mealtime, and go to one side." The child is told not to put the remaining bread into his pocket.
As time passed on, Christopher Dock had many friends, for all his scholars of former years loved him greatly. He lived to be very old, and taught his schools to the last. One evening he did not come home, and the people went to look for the beloved old man. They found their dear old master on his knees in the schoolhouse. He had died while praying alone.
STORIES OF WHALING.
In the old days, before petroleum or kerosene had been found in this country, people had many ways of lighting their houses. A cheap light was made by putting a little grease or oil in a saucer in which was a little wick or rag lying over the edge of the saucer or drawn up through a cork that floated on the grease. When this wick was burning, it gave hardly as much light as a candle. This is one of the oldest ways of making light. It was used thousands of years ago. Many people now living remember little lamps made in this way.
Poor people often made light by burning pine knots, or bits of pitch pine chopped out of old stumps. These gave a bright light for a time. Pitch pine in New England was called candle wood; in the South it was called light wood.
The commonest light in old times was the tallow candle. This was sometimes made by dipping a candle wick into melted tallow. Then, when the tallow had cooled, the candle was dipped again and again. A little tallow remained on it each time, and at last it was thick enough to burn. Candles made in this way were called "dips." Better candles were made by running melted tallow into molds.
Before the Revolution a favorite candle for burning at fine houses was made of the wax-myrtle berry. This berry is full of a kind of green wax which came out when it was boiled. When this wax rose to the top of the pot, it was skimmed off and used for making wax candles. These candles had a pretty green color, and gave out a delicate perfume when they were burning. More expensive candles were made of beeswax.
For hundreds of years whale oil was burned in large lamps, and thousands of whales were killed in order to get the oil. Candles were also made from spermaceti, which is a substance taken from the head of the sperm whale.
When the people first settled on Long Island, there were a great many whales in the sea. Sometimes these whales would run into bays and other shallow places. When the tide went out, the whale would be left without water enough to swim in. Sometimes he found himself lying on the dry ground. Before the white people came, the Long Island Indians used to kill whales stranded in this way, with spears. The Indians used the fat of the whale for food. The white people killed them, and got the oil out of the fat by boiling. This oil they sold for lamp oil.
Finding that much money could be made by selling whale oil, the people on Long Island fitted up boats, which they kept always ready along the seashore. Whenever anybody saw a whale, the boatmen ran to their boats, and rowed out to kill it. They did not yet know how to go out to sea in whaling ships as some people in Europe did. After a while the Long Island people learned to take their small boats out to sea for miles to look for whales. This way of killing the whales spread from Long Island to Connecticut, and from there to Cape Cod.
The people on the island of Nantucket had also learned to kill the whales that came into shallow water. They got a man to come out from Cape Cod to show them how to go out in boats and kill whales along the coast. After a while they built small ships in which they went to sea to seek for whales, but they brought the fat on shore in order to get the oil out of it.
In 1718 the people on this island began to build ships with great kettles in them for rendering the oil on board the ships. The brave Nantucket men, and the men on the coast near by, soon began to send their ships into very distant seas. Some of them sailed among the icebergs in the Arctic regions; others went to the Southern Ocean; and some of the Nantucket and Cape Cod ships went round Cape Horn into the Pacific Ocean. The hardy whalemen ran great risks during their long voyages, but, if they were fortunate in killing whales, they made a good deal of money.
There are still whaling vessels in our times, but not so many as there used to be. We do not need whale oil so much, because we have kerosene, gaslights, and electric lights. There are not so many whales to be found as there used to be.
When the men on a whale ship in the old times discovered a whale, they fitted out their boats and rowed toward it. The whale would go down out of sight. Each officer would place his boat where he thought the whale would come up. When the whale came up to get breath, the men in the nearest boat would row toward it. The officer who stood in the bow of the boat would then throw a harpoon, which would stick fast in the whale. As soon as the whale was struck with the harpoon, he would go down into the water. There was a line fast to the harpoon, which was coiled in a tub standing in the whaleboat. Sometimes the whale would run down so far, that it would take more line than the boat carried, to keep hold of him. When this was likely to happen, another whaling boat would come alongside, and tie its line to the line of the harpoon that was fast to the whale. In some cases nearly five thousand feet of line were drawn out of the boats before the whale came to the top again. Whales breathe air as we do, so the whale that had been harpooned would have to come up again. Then the whaling boat would run close to him, and the officer would try to kill him with a sharp lance. When a whale was killed, the men drew him alongside the ship.
A whale's body is covered with a great mass of fat called blubber. When the dead whale was lying alongside the ship, the whalemen would fasten a hook in the blubber. They then cut the blubber into a long strip running round the whale. As they pulled on the hook with ropes, the strip of blubber came off the whale, the whale rolling over and over. The men unwound the blubber from his body in this way, pulling it up on board the ship, and cutting it into pieces.
If it was a sperm whale, they would cut a hole in his head, to reach a place where there was a great quantity of oil. This oil they dipped out. Sometimes forty barrels of oil were dipped out of the head of a whale. From the fat of some very large whales more than two hundred barrels of oil could be secured.
The men on the whaling ships were gone from home for years at a time. When there were no whales in sight, they had to find ways of amusing themselves. Many of them carried sharp pocket knives, and passed their time in whittling. By long practice they became very skillful with their knives. Some of them carved pretty figures in wood, and made pieces of furniture. Others carved shells into beautiful shapes. After years at sea, they would bring these things home with them, to give to their wives or sweethearts. Such work done on shipboard is called scrimshaw work.
Some of the whaleships met with very curious accidents. In 1807 a ship named "The Union" was sailing along very quietly. All at once she struck something which jarred her from end to end. It was found that she had run right on a whale. Casks of water were thrown out of the ship to make her lighter, but the bottom of the ship was badly injured. The men on board had to get out the boats at once. They took food and water with them, and compasses to sail by. Soon after the boats got clear of the ship she filled with water, and upset.
The men now found themselves in open boats in the ocean. The land nearest to them was Newfoundland, but, as the wind was blowing straight from that land at that season of the year, they knew that they could not reach it. So they set out in the direction toward which the wind blew, sailing for the islands called the Azores. These were hundreds of miles away. They made a sail for each boat.
One day they saw a schooner, but they could not make the schooner see them. The next day they had fine sailing, but at night a fearful wind arose. There were violent squalls and bursts of thunder. The boats were obliged to lie still with their bows to the wind. At last the waves broke into the captain's boat, and it was all they could do to get the water out again.
They now had to throw overboard most of their fresh water, so that they suffered much with thirst from this time on. They had only three quarts of water a day to be divided among sixteen men. That is about a small teacupful apiece. After sailing eight days, they came in sight of the beautiful islands of the Azores. Here they found a ship to bring them back to their own country again.
A still stranger accident happened to the ship "Essex" in 1820. She was far away in the Pacific Ocean. Three of the boats of the ship went out after a whale. The mate's boat, having been injured, went back to the ship. As the mate stood on the ship, he saw a large sperm whale rush directly at the vessel. The whale seemed to think the ship some great animal, and that it would be fine fun to have a fight with it. He struck the ship with his great square head. The crash was fearful. For a moment or two the crew were so astonished that they could do nothing. Then they found the ship sinking. They put up signals for the other boats to come back.
But the whale was not satisfied. He wanted to fight it out with the ship. He was soon seen coming toward the vessel again. He came on so fast that the water foamed round him. He struck the ship a second blow, which almost crushed it. The mate now quickly put what provisions he could into a boat, and got ready to leave the ship.
The other boats returned. The men were so horrified that for some time they could not speak to one another. The ship fell over on her side. The men cut away her masts. Then they cut holes into the ship's side, and got out what bread and water they could carry. They were a thousand miles from land, in the direction that the winds blew.
After twenty-eight days of sailing in these open boats, the men got to Ducie's Island. Here they could not find food enough for so large a party, so the boats put off to sea again. Three men remained behind on the island. These were afterward found by a passing ship, which took them home. Some of the men in the boats perished, but the rest of them were picked up by a ship and taken home.
A WHALING SONG.
PART OF A FAVORITE SONG SUNG BY WHALEMEN IN OLD TIMES.
When spring returns with western gales, And gentle breezes sweep The ruffling seas, we spread our sails To plow the watery deep.
Cape Cod, our dearest native land, We leave astern, and lose Its sinking cliffs and less'ning sands, While Zephyr gently blows.
Now toward the early dawning east We speed our course away, With eager minds and joyful hearts, To meet the rising day.
Then, as we turn our wondering eyes, We view one constant show,— Above, around, the circling skies, The rolling seas below.
When eastward, clear of Newfoundland, We stem the frozen pole, We see the icy islands stand, The northern billows roll.
Now see the northern regions where Eternal winter reigns; One day and night fills up the year, And endless cold maintains.
We view the monsters of the deep, Great whales in numerous swarms, And creatures there, that play and leap, Of strange, unusual forms.
When in our station we are placed, And whales around us play, We launch our boats into the main, And swiftly chase our prey.
A STRANGE ESCAPE.
In 1658 there was a little French colony at Onondaga in New York. Some of the men in this colony were traders, and some were missionaries. They were living among the Onondaga Indians.
The Indians had been very friendly, but the French found out that a plot had been formed to put them all to death. Stakes had even been set up in order to burn some of them alive. There seemed no hope for the Frenchmen to escape. They knew, that, if they tried to get away by land, they should all be killed. If they shut themselves up in their fort, the Indians would besiege them, and they would starve to death. They had no boats by which to get away by sailing through the lakes and down the St. Lawrence River.
The Frenchmen went to work and built boats secretly in the attic of their fort or trading house. They built them strong enough to bear the floating ice. They had also some light canoes made of bark, which they hid in the upper part of their house. The question now was how to get away without the Indians finding it out and pursuing them.
One of the young Frenchmen had been adopted into the tribe of these Indians. He invited the Indians to a feast. It was a feast, of a kind the Indians give, in which every guest is obliged to eat everything that is set before him, leaving nothing. The Indians kept on eating, while the French amused them with dancing and games. The young Frenchman played on his guitar, while the guests ate. The Indians having eaten too much, at length began to fall asleep one by one. The feast was not over until late at night, nor until every Indian had eaten till he begged not to be given any more. Some of the Indians fell asleep while they were eating. The rest of them were soon sleeping soundly in their wigwams.
The Frenchmen now quickly brought their boats down stairs and put them into the water. They loaded them with food and other things needed for their journey. Then they pushed off without making any noise or speaking above a whisper. The water froze about their boats as they rowed, and every moment they feared an attack from the Indians. They rowed all night long, and then they rowed and paddled all the next day without taking any rest. It was not until the evening of the second day that they felt they had passed out of the greatest danger.
The Indians slept late the morning after the feast. When they waked at last, they came out of their huts one by one, and went toward the French house. They were surprised to see it shut up, and everything silent about it. They supposed that the French were at prayer, so they waited quietly outside. They could hear the fowls crowing in the yard, and when they knocked at the door of the house, the dog barked. Noon came, and yet no Frenchmen appeared.
Late in the afternoon the Indians climbed up the side of the house and got in by a window. They could hear no sound but their own steps. They were much frightened as they stole through the house and opened the main door. They searched the building from top to bottom, but not a Frenchman was to be found.
As they were sure that the French had no boats, they were struck with fear. They gazed a moment at each other in silence. Then they fled from the house. They believed that the Frenchmen had, by some magic, made themselves invisible; that is, so that they could not be seen. They believed that the French had flown away through the air, or walked off on the water.
Meanwhile the French passed down Lake Ontario through many dangers. They went down the River St. Lawrence, working their way over rapids and waterfalls. At last they reached Montreal, where the people looked on them as men that had come up from the grave.
Mr. Alexander Henry was made prisoner by the Indians on Lake Superior when Fort Mackinaw was taken by Indians. This was in the time of the Indian war which is called Pontiac's War, because the great chief Pontiac started it.
Nearly all the white men in Fort Mackinaw were killed, but Mr. Henry was saved. He had an Indian friend named Wawatam, who paid for his life. He went to live with Wawatam. He had his head shaved, and put on the dress of an Indian. He lived and hunted as the Indians did.
One day Mr. Henry saw a very large pine tree. Its trunk was six feet in diameter. The bark had been scratched by a bear's claws. Far up on the tree there was a large hole. All about this hole the small branches were broken.
Mr. Henry looked at the snow. There were no bear tracks in it. So he thought that an old bear had climbed up into the tree before the snow fell. Bears sleep nearly all winter. They do not even come out to get anything to eat.
Mr. Henry told the Indians about the tree. There was no way of getting up to the bear's hole. They could not get the bear out except by cutting down the tree. But the Indian women did not believe that the Indians could do it. Their axes were too small to chop down so big a tree.
However, the Indians wanted the bear's oil, which is of great use to them. It serves them for lard, and butter, and many other things. So at the tree they went with their little axes. As many as could stand about the tree worked at a time, and when one rested, another chopper took his place. They all worked, men and women, and they chopped all day. When the sun went down, they had chopped about halfway through the tree.
The next morning they began again. They chopped away until about two o'clock. Then the top of the great pine tree began to tremble. Slowly it leaned a little. Then the tree began to fall. Everybody got far out of the way. It fell down among the other trees with a crash that made the woods roar, and lay at last upon the ground.
But no bear came out of the big tree. Mr. Henry began to be afraid that there was no bear there. He thought such a crash was enough to wake up the sleepiest bear in the world. At last the nose of a bear was poked out of the hole. Then came the head. Then came out the great brown body of one of the largest bears in the woods. Mr. Henry shot the bear dead.
Though the Indians kill and eat bears, they are very much afraid of the ghosts of the bears after they are dead. They are more afraid of a bear after it is dead than when it is alive. So, whenever an Indian has killed a bear, he always begs the dead bear's pardon. Each of these Indians now politely begged pardon of the bear. The old woman who had adopted Mr. Henry for her son took the bear's head in her hands and kissed it. She called it her grandmother, and asked it not to do them any harm. The Indians told the dead bear that a white man had killed it. Of course, the dead bear did not say anything.
Though they called the bear their grandmother, they made haste to take off its skin. They were glad to find that Grandma Bear was very fat. It took two persons to carry home the fat. Four more were loaded with the meat of this nice old relative of theirs.
But still wishing to fool the bear's ghost, they carried the head also to their tent. They put all kinds of silver trinkets on the head, and many belts of wampum or shell beads on it. In order to please the ghost of Grandmother Bear still more, they laid the head on a kind of table that they made for it, and placed a large quantity of tobacco near its nose.
The next morning a feast was made to please the bear's ghost. The head of the bear was lifted, and a new blanket was spread under it. All the Indians lighted their pipes, and blew tobacco smoke into the bear's nose. Wawatam made a speech to the bear's spirit. He told it they were very sorry to have to kill their friends. But he said it could not be helped, for, if they did not do this, they should starve to death.