Изображения страниц

some of the more southerly tribes, preferred to rely on strategy rather than on prowess. At three o'clock in the morning, having masked their purpose by repeated volleys, they piled a great mass of hay against a corner of the house and set it afire. Wheeler, whose wound had grown worse and had practically incapacitated him, called for volunteers to put out the flames, and put out they were by a brave company that sallied forth, buckets in hand, under cover of a protecting fire from the rest of the garrison. And while they fired, and the valiant bucket brigade labored, one of their number, Sinon Davis, who had taken Wheeler's place as commander, in language of true Puritanical fervor spurred them to deeds of even greater daring. "God is with us and fights for us," was his cry, "God will deliver us out of the hands of these heathen." Nor when the door was cautiously opened to admit the returning fire-fighters, could the plucky settlers and their faithful wives doubt that God was indeed fighting for them. Not a life had been lost in the daring and completely successful attempt to spoil the Quaboags' cruel stratagem.

Now, however, Wheeler begged Curtis to try once more to summon help. Willingly the trader consented, but in a few minutes he crept back to the house with the news that the Indians were so numerous that he could not possibly pass their lines. Try again, urged Wheeler, and to his urging was added the pitiful pleading of the women of the settlement. May

hap, who knows, they nerved him to greater resolution by silently pointing to a bed in one corner of the smoke-filled room where, amid the turmoil of the battle, four helpless infants were catching their first glimpse of the world. For two women became mothers during the siege, and twins were born to each. Whatever the arguments used, Curtis bravely disappeared into the darkness again, and this time he did not return.

Morning brought with it some rest for the besieged. Beyond firing an оссаsional shot, the Indians passed the day in merrymaking, and found their chief diversion in crowding into the village meeting-house for mock religious services.

But after dark they once more essayed to burn the settlers out, this time by shooting against the roof of their crude fort arrows to which blazing rags had been attached. Only by cutting holes through the roof and beating out the flames was this device foiled. They then tried the scheme of the night before, supplementing it by massing themselves about the door to prevent the passage of another squad of fire-fighters. But the garrison again outwitted them by chopping an exit through the back of the house and smothering the fire. Thus dawn found the situation unchanged, the Indians still baffled, and the settlers resolute as ever, though wellnigh worn out. On this, the third day of the siege, the Quaboags indulged in no merrymaking. Instead, they made preparations for the night with an ominous thoroughness. Cabins which had hitherto been spared from the torch were destroyed, and excepting a barn or two there were left standing in all Brookfield only the meeting-house and the battle-scarred house on the hill. The meeting-house, which was within gunshot of the garrison, the Indians now fortified strongly, and afterwards turned their attention to building rude but formidable wheeled firemachines. It was evident that they were making ready for a supreme effort, and the besieged, understanding this, spared no pains to strengthen their defenses, at the same time praying devoutly that deliverance would come. As if in answer to their prayers a heavy shower fell just before dark, rendering the firemachines useless; and with renewed confidence the brave little garrison replied to the first discharge of bullets directed against them from the shelter of the meeting-house.

For upwards of an hour the fusilade continued without result. But the end could not be far off. Red-eyed, groping for balls and powder, and gasping for breath in the choking smoke, the defenders had almost reached the limit of their endurance and their ammunition. Suddenly, the Quaboags ceased firing, and at the saine moment the sound of flying hoofs was heard. More Indians, was Wheeler's first thought, and he bade


[graphic][merged small]


his men prepare for a last stand. then a cheery English shout rang clear in the night, and the cry,

"Are you still alive?"

Sweeping gallantly down the road came a company of horse, fifty strong, at their head a gaunt, grizzled, mud-bespattered old man. Wheeler knew him well Major Simon Willard, of Groton, a veteran of seventy years, and as boldhearted a Puritan as ever took part in the founding of New England. With a fervent "Thank God!" he threw open the door, and called, - •

"This way! Come on! Come on!"

Now from the meeting-house rose a wrathful roar, followed by the spiteful cracking of muskets. Two men reeled in their saddles, but only from flesh wounds. A minute more and the relief party were dismounting and tying their horses in the yard of the improvised fort. Another minute and they were safe within its walls. Hurriedly Willard ex

plained his timely arrival. Curtis, it seemed, had eluded the Indians and reached Marlborough in safety, and from Marlborough messengers had been rushed to Lancaster whence it was known Willard and his company had been ordered to march against some Indians who were threatening hostilities in that part of the colony. Rightly deeming this enterprise of less importance than the relief of Brookfield, he had changed his course. And now let the Indians do their worst.

Not until morning did the Quaboags acknowledge that the siege had failed. All night they worried the garrison with a desultory fire, which did no damage beyond killing a few of the horses. Shortly before daybreak they burned the meeting-house. Then they silently. stole away, to unite with Philip and his Wampanoags in a bloody and relentless war against the helpless settlers in the more westerly valley of the Connecticut.




With an Introduction by NATHAN HASKELL DOLE

EAR FRIEND: Ah, I shan't tell you the honors I got in Portsmouth nor the ovsters! nor the Charleston, S. C. people!! I met there. I only wonder you don't subscribe to the Portsmouth papers which have found out what a great man Tom Thumb is but don't suppose I shall buy them and cut out the compliments.

[ocr errors]

Am I not good to write you this when I am to preside at Miss Dickinson's lecture to-night and yet I behave just as modestly as any common man!!

I did tremble to think (on the basis that "no world could bear two Suns") of writing to you the same day that I presided, but how one gets used to greatness and takes it all as matter of course, flowers and fruit and elections.

Best respects to

the Major.




[ocr errors]

what with my rôle as husband, quartereditor, marketman, abolition lecturer, "member of half the committees G. L. S. gets up," and other duties I have been just smothered then 30 or 40 letters a day left me just this, to write you when I was fagged out or not at all. Now I've a rule never to write to one I like when the flavor of the thing will be distasteful and associate the writer with disagreeable recollections. I would never write a friend except when mind and hand were willing, ves eager. So, thus,


July 5th. Don't forget me

Dear Mrs. Stearns: I know you won't do that. Don't misunderstand me. No- that's just as much not your way. Well, believe I've been the greater loser in being away from Oak Hill, or Oakside, which is it? It must be one or the other since R. W. E. planted an oak there.* I know all I've lost without your reproachful eyes impressing it on me. And truly I've paved every day with good intentions. But *Emerson planted an oak at "The Evergreens."

accordingly and therefore weeks have clambered over weeks, strawberries have come and gone, and I have never penned a line to you


nor got that ride which G. has so often promised me. He is SO busied with engineering half a dozen newspapers and superintending a small army of clerks in every sort of room and work that he .misses no one. If he did he'd merely organize four new committees, one in Phila., one in Cambridge and one in Nashville, and scrupulously attend every session of each! How does he put 48 hours into each day? Steal the art and teach me, and I'll promise to bore you 6 hours out of those 48.

[blocks in formation]

write you is not strictly true. Alcott is partly to blame. Once, when detained for a train I might have used the 3-4 hour to scribble something, but opening the drawer the gem, unique, pet book that A. wrote and you set up looked up at me and seduced me into wast - no, spending that lull on it. Yes, on the whole, it was your fault! an ordinary setting might have been resisted and that hour fitly used. So I'm wholly spotless and you are the criminal for tempting a wellmeaning, weak-eyed man into misusing his minutes. Retire into your oratory, 'close your Emerson, open your Goethe,' and repent, eschew æsthetics and take this for your penance - forgive me and write me a long letter!

Goodbye I've no doubt your punishment will be greater than you can bear, and I'll have to come out and graduate it, which I'll do soon.


Dear Mrs. Stearns: Did I mention the giant I sat near in the cars? Well that reminds me that your native state gives us the largest bodied men. Sitting in the cars the last time I was there I saw five men walk through who had to stoop as they passed along. None were soldiers. Capt. Cuttle-like I made a note of iteither tall men do not volunteer or the draft does not blow up on their level. I've met with one youth who shared one of my virtues; he slept all the time. I only wish I shared one of his: He rose every time a lady entered and so risked losing his seat. The mother was impatient of both his virtues and rebuked them in so strong a voice that, if I had dared, I should have ventured to suggest something in his behalf, but one glance at that mother - but not motherly face, disarmed me. Whether this disarmament came from fear, policy or other motive I refuse to avow. When you will tell me who wrote I'll tell you my motives. Till then they rest with Dr. Johnson's reasons "In drying orange peel " "unknown to my best friends Oh there is a man descending hawklike on me. He has alighted.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Poor old woman she forgot where she was to stop. Conductor wont bite your head off though he roars like it. See he snips a bit out of my ticket as if he were biting me and seems to enjoy it almost as much. How angrily he snips the nippers together. Poor man! that ham this morning was tough and he suffers in consequence. So do we. Mem. Railways should supply conductors with the tenderest meats and French cooks for our sakes. Suggest to Twitchell.

See that gloomy young man! He has been depressed ever since we stopped at Pittsfield and two pretty school girls got out and were swamped in the frolic kisses of three other school girls - envious, unenterprising young man! Who knows what his pretty moustache might have done had he tried!

Sweet baby hasn't uttered a sound the whole way Angel! perfect. But that old man, just to make court to the smiling mother, must talk baby talk to him. Dignified baby sees through the cheat, will be courted for his own sake or not at all. Takes no note of the old hypocrite. Railroad travel is delicious just now. Peanuts are not; and apples at five cents apiece are rarely bought, so one's neighbors don't see one crazy champing and chewing.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors]

begun it yesterday. But an ardent Yankee conscientiously opposed to wasting a moment of life, employed me as a questionee was anxious to know how tall Lord John Russell was whether "Brougham was really as ugly as Punch painted him "- how" the feeding was in England" supposed "we were about the biggest nation I'd ever read of "and guessed I "had once in a while had some disturbance in my meetings." I assured him that the best picture I had ever seen of a human face was Brougham's face by Gambadella now in the Athenæumthat two Lord John's one atop of the other would slightly exceed his stature and that I once came very near being mobbed. He seemed content and retired to another seat to munch peanuts. Disliking the odor I sought refuge in another distant seat where the floor was perhaps cov

two I saw planted in the vicinity of Boston.

Well, I had a crowd to talk to and the President assured me the few empty seats would have been filled but folks were scared with the idea that I should repeat my awful attack made on Lincoln in N. Y. So you see how much harm associating with the Commonwealth and getting reported in the Herald does an innocent young man! ! Lecture one of



ered an inch deep with apple parings-reminding a fast young man,like your humble servant, of a small room occupied all night by gamblers who using a pack of cards only once sit up to their knees in waste cards by the time the sun rises. Sleep folds me in her welcome arms, and I dream of "smiling meadows, tufted groves." Can these last have any association with Tufts College and its neighborhood! One thing I know, the oaks down here don't look half as vigorous as

[ocr errors]


[blocks in formation]

After an hour's torture he graciously burst out "The pity is, W. P. nobody minds what you say because you say it." Then he bade me goodbye, leaving that for comforter and night-cap! I was never so much impressed with the gentle Sir-Philip-Sydneyism of your native State and I went to bed settled in my conviction that it was an exceedingly wholesome thing for both speaker and hearer to interchange the exact truth. All hail the Sunrise State!!

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »