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Title: Captain Sam - The Boy Scouts of 1814
Author: Eggleston, George Cary, 1839-1911
Language: English
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The Big Brother Series.

CAPTAIN SAM

Or

The Boy Scouts of 1814

by

GEORGE CARY EGGLESTON

Author of "The Big Brother," etc., etc.



New York:
G. P. Putnam's Sons,
182 Fifth Avenue.
1876.
Copyright.
G. P. Putnam's Sons.
1876.



TO MY BOY-FRIEND

MONTAGUE DOUGLAS,

IN RECOGNITION OF HIS MANLY CHARACTER, AND IN MEMORY

OF THE FOOT-JOURNEYS WE MADE TOGETHER A YEAR AGO,

I DEDICATE THIS BOOK.



CAPTAIN SAM.

CHAPTER I.

A MUTINY.


"If you open your mouth again, I'll drive my fist down your throat!"

The young man, or boy rather,--for he was not yet eighteen years
old,--who made this very emphatic remark, was a stalwart, well-built
youth, lithe of limb, elastic in movement, slender, straight, tall,
with a rather thin face, upon which there was as yet no trace of
coming beard, high cheek bones, and eyes that seemed almost to emit
sparks of fire as their lids snapped rapidly together. He spoke in a
low tone, without a sign of anger in his voice, but with a look of
earnestness which must have convinced the person to whom he addressed
his not very suave remark, that he really meant to do precisely what
he threatened.

As he spoke he laid his left hand upon the other's shoulder, and
placed his face as near to his companion's as was possible without
bringing their noses into actual contact; but he neither clenched nor
shook his fist. Persons who mention weapons which they really have
made up their minds to use, do not display them in a threatening
manner. That is the device of bullies who think to frighten their
adversaries by the threatening exhibition as they do by their
threatening words. Sam Hardwicke was not a bully, and he did not wish
to frighten anybody. He merely wished to make the boy hold his tongue,
and he meant to do that in any case, using whatever measure of
violence he might find necessary to that end. He mentioned his fist
merely because he meant to use that weapon if it should be necessary.

His companion saw his determination, and remained silent.

"Now," resumed Sam, "I wish to say something to all of you, and I will
say it to you as an officer should talk to soldiers on a subject of
this sort. Fall into line! Right dress! steady, front!"

The boys were drawn up in line, and their commander stood at six paces
from them.

"Attention!" he cried, "I wish you to know and remember that we are
engaged in no child's play. We are soldiers. You have not yet been
mustered into service, it is true, but you are soldiers, nevertheless,
and you shall obey as such. Listen. When it became known in the
neighborhood that I had determined to join General Jackson and serve
as a soldier you boys proposed to go with me. I agreed, with a
condition, and that condition was that we should organize ourselves
into a company, elect a captain, and march to Camp Jackson under his
command, not go there like a parcel of school-boys or a flock of sheep
and be sent home again for our pains. You liked the notion, and we
made a fair bargain. I was ready to serve under anybody you might
choose for captain. I didn't ask you to elect me, but you did it. You
voted for me, ever one of you, and made me Captain. From that moment I
have been responsible for everything.

"I lead you and provide necessary food. I plan everything and am
responsible for everything. If you misbehave as you go through the
country I shall be held to blame and I shall be to blame. But not a
man of you shall misbehave. I am your commander, you made me that, and
you can't undo it. Until we get to Camp Jackson I mean to command this
company, and I'll find means of enforcing what I order. That is all.
Right face! Break ranks!"

A shout went up, in reply.

"Good for Captain Sam!" cried the boys. "Three cheers for our
captain!"

"Huzza! Huzza! Huzza!"

All the boys,--there were about a dozen of them--joined in this shout,
except Jake Elliott, the mutineer, who had provoked the young
captain's anger by insisting upon quitting the camp without
permission, and had even threatened Sam when the young commander bade
him remain where he was.

The revolt was effectually quelled. The mutineer had found a master in
his former school-mate, and forebore to provoke the threatened
corporal punishment further.

The camp was in the edge of a strip of woods on the bank of the
Alabama river, the time, afternoon, in the autumn of the year 1814.
The boys had marched for three days through canebrakes, and swamps,
and had still a long march before them. Sam had called a halt earlier
than usual that day for reasons of his own, which he did not explain
to his fellows. Jake Elliott had objected, and his objection being
peremptorily overruled by Sam, he had undertaken to go on alone to the
point at which he wished to pass the remainder of the day, and the
night. Sam had ordered him to remain within the lines of the camp. He
had replied insolently with a threat that he would himself take charge
of the camp, as the oldest person there, when Sam quelled the mutiny
after the manner already set forth.

Now that he was effectually put down, he brooded sulkily, meditating
revenge.

As night came on, the camp fire of pitch pine threw a ruddy glow over
the trees, and the boys, weary as they were with marching, gathered
around the blazing logs, and laughed and sang merrily, Jake Elliott
was silent and sullen through it all, and when at last Sam ordered
all to their rest for the night, Jake crept off to a tree near the
edge of the prescribed camp limits and threw himself down there.
Presently a companion joined him, a boy not more than fourteen years
of age, who was greatly awed by Sam's sternness, and who naturally
sought to draw Jake into conversation on the subject.

"You're as big as Sam is," he said after a while, "and I wonder you
let him talk so sharp to you. You're afraid o' him, aint you?"

"No, but you are."

"Yes I am. I'm afraid o' the lightning too, and he's got it in him, or
I'm mistaken."

"Yes 'n' you fellows hurrahed for him, 'cause you was afraid to stand
up for yourselves."

"To stand up for you, you mean, Jake. It wasn't our quarrel. We like
Sam, if we are afraid o' him, an' between him an' you there wa'nt no
call for us to take sides against him. Besides we're soldiers, you
know, an' he's capt'n."

"A purty capt'n he is, aint he, an' you're a purty soldier, aint you.
A soldier owning up that he's afraid," said Jake tauntingly.

"Well, you're afraid too, you know you are, else you wouldn't 'a' shut
up that way like a turtle when he told you to."

"No, I aint afraid, neither, and you'll find it out 'fore you're done
with it. I didn't choose to say anything then, but _I'll get even with
Sam Hardwicke yet_, you see if I don't."

"Mas' Jake," said a lump of something which had been lying quietly a
little way off all this time, but which now raised itself up and
became a black boy by the name of Joe, who had insisted upon
accompanying Sam in his campaigns; "Mas' Jake, I'se dun know'd Mas'
Sam a good deal better'n you know him, an' I'se dun seed a good many
things try to git even wid him, 'fore now; Injuns, water, fire,
sunshine, fever 'n ager, bullets an' starvation all dun try it right
under my eyes, an' bless my soul none on 'em ever managed it yit."

"You shut up, you black rascal," was the only reply vouchsafed the
colored boy.

"Me?" he asked, "oh, I'll shut up, of course, but I jist thought I'd
tell you 'cause you might make a sort o' 'zastrous mistake you know.
Other folks dun dun it fore now, tryin' to git even wid Mas' Sam."

"Go to sleep, you rascal," replied Jake, "or I'll skin you alive."

Joe snored immediately and Jake's companion laughed as he crept away
toward the fire. An hour later the camp was slumbering quietly in the
starlight, Sam sleeping by himself under a clump of bushes on the side
of the camp opposite that chosen by Jake Elliott for his
resting-place.



CHAPTER II.

GETTING EVEN IN THE DARK.


Sam Hardwicke had thrown himself down under a clump of bushes, as I
have said, a little apart from the rest of the boys. Before he went to
sleep, however, his brother Tom, a lad about twelve years of age, but
rather large for his years, came and lay down by his side, the two
falling at once into conversation.

"What made you fire up so quick with Jake Elliott, Sam?" asked the
younger boy.

"Because he is a bully who would give trouble if he dared. I didn't want
to have a fight with him and so I thought it best to take the first
opportunity of teaching him the first duty of a soldier,--obedience."

"But you might have reasoned with him, as you generally do with
people."

"No I couldn't," replied Sam.

"Why not?" Tom asked.

"Because he isn't reasonable. He's the sort of person who needs a
master to say 'do' and 'don't.' Reasoning is thrown away on some
people."

"But you had good reasons, didn't you, for stopping here instead of
going on further?" asked Tom.

"Certainly. There's the Mackey house five miles ahead, and if we'd
gone on we must have stopped near it to night?"

"Well, what of that?"

"Jake Elliott would have pilfered something there."

"How do you know?" asked Tom in some surprise at his brother's
positiveness.

"Because," Sam replied, "he tried to steal some eggs last night at
Bungay's. I stopped him, and that's why I choose to camp every night
out of harm's way, and keep all of you within strict limits. I don't
mean to have people say we're a set of thieves. Besides, Jake Elliott
has meant to give trouble from the first, and I have only waited for a
chance to put him down. He isn't satisfied yet, but he's afraid to do
anything but sneak. He'll try some trick to get even with me pretty
soon."

"Oh, Sam, you must look out then," cried Tom in alarm for his brother.
"Why don't you send him back home?"

"For two or three reasons. In the first place General Jackson needs
all the volunteers he can get."

"Well, what else?"

"That's enough, but there's another good reason. If I let him go away
it would be saying that I can't manage him, and that would be a sorry
confession for a soldier to make. I can manage him, and I will, too."

"But Sam, he'll do you some harm or other."

"Of course he will if he can, but that is a risk I have to take."

"Well, I'm going to sleep here by you, any how," said Tom.

"No you mustn't," replied the elder boy. "You must go over by the fire
where the other boys are, and sleep there."

"Why, Sam?"

"Well, in the first place, if I'm not a match in wits for Jake
Elliott, I've no business to continue captain, and I've no right to
shirk any trial of skill that he may choose to make. Besides you're my
brother, and it will make the other boys think I'm partial if you stay
here with me. Go back there and sleep by the fire. I'll take care of
myself."

"But Sam--" began Tom.

"_You've_ seen me take care of myself in tighter places than any that
he can put me in, haven't you?" asked Sam. "There's the root fortress
within ten feet of us. You haven't forgotten it have you?"

"No," said Tom, rising to go, "and I don't think I shall forget it
soon; but I don't like to let my 'Big Brother' sleep here alone with
Jake Elliott around."

"Never mind me, I tell you, but go to the boys and go to sleep. I'll
take care of myself."

With that the two boys separated, Tom walking away to the fire, and
Sam rolling himself up in his blanket for a quiet sleep. He had
already removed his boots, coat and hat, and thrown them together in a
pile, as he had done every night since the march began, partly
because he knew that it is always better to sleep with the limbs as
free as possible from pressure of any kind, and partly because he
suffered a little from an old wound in the foot, received about a year
before in the Indian assault upon Fort Sinquefield, and found it more
comfortable, after walking all day, to remove his boots.

The camp grew quiet only by degrees. Boys have so many things to talk
about that when they are together they are pretty certain to talk a
good while before going to sleep, and especially so when they are
lying in the open air, under the starlight, near a pile of blazing
logs. They all stretched themselves out on the ground, weary with
their day's march, and determined to go at once to sleep, but somehow
each one found something that he wanted to say and so it was more than
an hour before the camp was quite still. Then every one slept except
Jake Elliott. He lay quietly by a tree, and seemed to be sleeping
soundly enough, but in fact he was not even dozing. He was laying
plans. He had a grudge against Sam Hardwicke, as we know, and was
very busily thinking what he could do by way of revenge. He meant to
do it at night, whatever it might be, because he was afraid to attempt
any thing openly, which would bring on a conflict with Sam, of whom he
was very heartily afraid. He was ready to do any thing that would
annoy Sam, however mean it might be, for he was a coward seeking
revenge, and cowardice is so mean a thing itself, that it always keeps
the meanest kind of company in the breasts of boys or men who harbor
it. Boys are apt to make mistakes about cowardice, however, and men
too for that matter, confounding it with timidity and nervousness, and
imagining that the ability to face unknown danger boldly is courage.
There could be no greater mistake than this, and it is worth while to
correct it. The bravest man I ever knew was so timid that he shrunk
from a shower bath and jumped like a girl if any one clapped hands
suddenly behind him. Cowardice is a matter of character. Brave men are
they who face danger coolly when it is their duty to do so, not
because they do not fear danger but because they will not run away
from a duty. Cowards often go into danger boastfully and without
seeming to care a fig for it, merely because they are conscious of
their own fault and afraid that somebody will find it out. Cowards are
men or women or boys, who lack character, and a genuine coward is very
sure to show his lack of moral character in other ways than by
shunning danger. They lie, because they fear to tell the truth, which
is a thing that requires a good deal of moral courage sometimes. They
are apt to be revengeful, too, because they resent other people's
superiority to themselves, and are not strong enough in manliness to
be generous. They seek revenge for petty wrongs, real or imaginary, in
sly, sneaking, cowardly ways because--well because they are cowards.
Jake Elliott was a boy of this sort. He was always a bully, and people
who imagined that courage is best shown by fighting and blustering,
thought Jake a very brave fellow. If they could have known him
somewhat better, they would have discovered that all his fighting was
done merely to conceal the fact that he was afraid to fight. He
measured his adversaries pretty accurately, and in ordinary
circumstances he would have fought Sam, when that young man talked to
him as he did in the beginning of this story. There was that in Sam's
bearing, however, which made Jake afraid to resist the imperious will
that asserted itself more in the quiet tone than in the threatening
words. He was Sam's full equal physically, but he had quailed before
him, and he could scarcely determine why. It annoyed him sorely as he
remembered the loud cheering of the boys. He chafed under the
consciousness of defeat, and dreaded, the hints he was sure to receive
whenever he should bully any of his companions, that he had a score
still unsettled with Sam Hardwicke. He knew that he was a coward, and
that the other boys had found it out, and he almost groaned as he lay
there in the silence and darkness, meditating revenge.

A little after midnight he got up silently and crept along the river
bank to the clump of bushes where Sam lay soundly sleeping. His first
impulse was to jump upon the sleeper and fight him with an unfair
advantage, but he was not yet free from the restraining influence of
Sam's eye and voice so recently brought to bear upon him.

No, he dared not attack Sam even with so great an advantage. He must
injure him secretly as he had determined to do.

Creeping along upon all-fours, he felt about for Sam's boots, and
finding them at last, was just about to move away with them when Sam
turned over.

Jake sank down into the sand and listened, his heart beating and the
sweat standing in great drops on his forehead. Sam did not move again,
however, but seemed still to sleep. After waiting a long time Jake
crept away noiselessly, as he had come.

Slipping down over the low sand bank he stood by the river's edge with
the boots in his hand.

"Now," he muttered to himself, "I guess I'll be even with 'Captain
Sam.' By the time he marches a day or two barefoot with that game foot
o' his'n, I guess he'll begin to wish he hadn't been quite so sassy."

Filling the boots with sand he swung them back and forth, meaning to
toss them as far out into the river as he could. Just as he was about
quitting his hold of them, a terrifying thought seized him. The
sand-filled boots would make a good deal of noise in striking the
water, and Sam on the bank above would be sure to hear. Jake was ready
enough to injure Sam, but he was not by any means ready to encounter
that particularly cool and determined youth, while engaged in the act
of doing him a surreptitious injury. He must go higher up the stream
before putting his purpose into execution.

The bank at this point was crowned with a great pile of drift wood,
the accumulation of many floods, which had been caught and held in its
place by two great trees from the roots of which the water had
gradually washed the sand away until the trees themselves stood up
upon great root legs, fifteen feet long. The trees and the drift pile
were the same in which Sam Hardwicke had hidden his little party a
year before, when the fortunes of Indian war had thrown him, with Tom
and his sister, and the black boy Joe, upon their own resources in the
Indian haunted forest. The story is told in a former volume of this
series.[1] Sam's resting place just now was within a few feet of
the great tree roots, but Sam was not sleeping there, as Jake Elliott
supposed. He had been wide enough awake, ever since Jake first
startled him out of sleep, and he had silently observed that worthy's
manoeuvres through the bushes. Jake crept along the edge of the
drift pile to its further end, intending to toss the boots into the
river as soon as he should be sufficiently far from Sam for safety. As
he went, however, his awakened caution grew upon him. He reflected
that Sam would suspect him when he should miss his boots the next
morning, and might see fit to call him to account for their absence.
He intended, in that case, stoutly to deny all knowledge of the
affair, but he could not tell in advance precisely how persistent
Sam's suspicion might be, and it seemed to him better to leave
himself a "hole to crawl through," as he phrased it, if the necessity
should come. He resolved, therefore, that instead of throwing the
boots away, he would hide them so securely that no one else could
possibly find them. "Then," thought he, "if the worst comes to the
worst I can find 'em, and still stick to it that I didn't take 'em
away." An opening in the pile of drift-wood just at hand, was
suggestive, and Jake crept into it passing under a great log that lay
lengthwise just over the entrance. The passage way through the drift
was a very narrow one but it did not come to an end at the end of the
great log as Jake had expected, and he felt his way further. The
passage turned and twisted about, but he went on, dark as it was.
After a while he found himself in a sort of chamber under one of the
great trees, and inside the line of its great twisted roots. He did
not know where he was, however, but Sam or Tom or Joe could have told
him all about the place.

[Footnote 1: The Big Brother, published by G. P. Putnam's Sons. A
friend suggests that many northern readers may doubt the existence of
such trees as those which I have described briefly here, and more
fully in "The Big Brother." I think it right to explain, therefore,
that I have seen many such trees with roots exposed in the manner
described, in the west and south, and my favorite playing place as a
boy was under precisely such a tree. Of course no tree could stand the
sudden removal of ten or fifteen feet of earth from beneath it; but
the trees described have gradually undergone this process, and the
roots have struck constantly deeper, their exposed parts gradually
changing from roots, in the proper sense, to something like a
downward-branching tree trunk.]

[Illustration: GETTING EVEN IN THE DARK.]

Here his journey seemed to be effectually interrupted, and he thrust
the boots, as he supposed, into a hole, driving them with some little
force through a tangled net work of small roots. What he really did
do, however, was to drive them through a net work of small roots,
between two great ones, into the outer air, at the very spot from
which he had taken them. When he quitted his hold of them, leaving
them, as he supposed, buried in the centre of a great drift pile, they
lay in fact by Sam's coat and hat, right where they had lain when Sam
went to sleep.

Sam had silently observed him as he entered the drift pile, and
running quickly to the entrance he seized a stick of timber and drew
it toward him with all his force. Sam Hardwicke had an excellent habit
of remembering not only things that were certainly useful to know, but
things also which might be useful. When Jake entered the drift pile,
Sam remembered that during his own stay there a year before, he had
carefully examined the great log which formed the archway of the
entrance, and that it was kept in its place only by this single stick
of timber acting as a wedge. Pulling this out, therefore, he let the
farther end of the great tree trunk fall, and completely blocked the
passage way.



CHAPTER III.

REVENGE OF A DIFFERENT SORT.


No matter where one begins to tell a story there is always something
back of the beginning that must be told for the sake of making the
matter clear. Whatever you tell, something else must have happened
before it and something else before that and something else before
that, so that there is really no end to the beginnings that might be
made. The only way I can think of by which a whole story could be told
would be to begin back at Adam and Eve and work on down to the present
time; and even then the story would not be finished and nobody but a
prophet ever could finish it.

The only way to tell a story then is to plunge into it somewhere as I
did two chapters back, follow it until we get hold of it, and then go
back and explain how it came about before going on with it. I must
tell you just now who these boys were, where they were and how they
came to be there. All this must be told sometime and whenever it is
told somebody or something must wait somewhere, and I really think
Jake Elliott may as well wait there in the drift-pile as not. He
deserves nothing better.

During the summer of the year 1813, while the United States and great
Britain were at war, a general Indian war came on which raged with
especial violence in middle and southern Alabama. The Indians fought
desperately, but General Jackson managed to conquer them thoroughly.
He was empowered by the government to make a treaty with them and he
insisted that they should make a treaty which they could not help
keeping. He made them give up a large part of their land, and so
arranged the boundaries as to make the Indians powerless for further
harm.

The Indians hesitated a long time before they would sign the treaty,
but it was Jackson's way to finish whatever he undertook, and not
leave it to be done over again. As the people of the border used to
say, he "left no gaps in the fences behind him," and so he insisted
upon the treaty and the Indians at last signed it. Meantime, however,
a great many of the Indians, and among them several of their most
savage chiefs had escaped to Florida, which was then Spanish
territory.

Jackson remained at his camp in southern Alabama through the summer of
1814 bringing the Indians to terms. During the summer it became
evident that the British were preparing an expedition against Mobile
and New Orleans, and Jackson was placed in command of the whole
southwest, with instructions to defend that part of the country. This
was all very well, and very wise, too, for there was no man in the
country who was fitter than he for the kind of work he was thus called
on to do; but there was one very serious obstacle in his way. He had
his commission; he had full authority to conduct the campaign; he had
everything in fact except an army, and it does not require a very
shrewd person to guess that an army is a rather important part of a
general's outfit for defending a large territory. He called for
volunteers and accepted any kind that came. He even published a
special address to the free negroes within the threatened district and
asked them to become soldiers, a thing that nobody had ever thought of
before.

The boys in the southwest were strong, hearty fellows, used to the
woods, accustomed to hardship and not afraid of danger. Many of them
had fought bravely during the Indian war, and when Jackson called for
volunteers, a good many of these boys joined him, some of them being
mere lads just turning into their teens.

Sam Hardwicke, was noted all through that country for several reasons.
In the first place he was a boy of very fine appearance and unusual
skill in all the things which help to make either a boy or a man
popular in a new country. He was a capital shot with rifle or
shot-gun; he was a superb horseman, a tireless walker, and an expert
in all the arts of the hunter.

He was strong and active of body, and better still he was a boy of
better intellect and better education than was common in that country
at that early day when there were few schools and poor ones. His
father was a gentleman of wealth and education, who had removed to
Alabama for the sake of his health a few years before, bringing a
large library with him, and he had educated his children very
carefully, acting as their teacher himself. Sam was ready for college,
and but for Jackson's call for troops he would have been on his way to
Virginia, to attend the old William and Mary University there, at the
time our story begins. When it became known, however, that men were
needed to defend the country against the British, Sam thought it his
duty to help, and reluctantly resolved to postpone the beginning of
his college course for another year.

All these things made Sam Hardwicke a special favorite, and persons a
great deal older than he was, held him in very high regard, on account
of his superior education, but more particularly on account of the
real superiority which was the result of that education; and I want to
say, right here, that the difference between a man or boy whose
education has been good and one who has had very little instruction,
is a good deal greater than many persons think. It is a mistake to
suppose that the difference lies only in what one has learned and the
other has not. What you learn in school is the smallest part of the
good you get there. Half of it is usually worthless as information,
and much of it is sure to be forgotten; but the work of learning it is
not thrown away on that account. In learning it you train and
discipline and cultivate your mind, making it grow both in strength
and in capacity, and so the educated man has really a stronger and
better intellect than he ever would have had without education. Many
persons suppose,--and I have known even college professors who made
the mistake,--that a boy's mind is like a meal-bag, which will hold
just so much and needs filling. They fill it as they would fill the
meal-bag, for the sake of the meal and without a thought of the bag.
In fact a boy's mind is more like the boy himself. It will not do to
try to make a man out of him by stuffing meat and bread down his
throat. The meat and bread fill him very quickly, but he isn't
fully-grown when he is full. To make a man of him we must give him
food in proper quantities, and let it help him to grow, and the things
you learn in school are chiefly valuable as food for the mind.
Education makes the intellect grow as truly as food makes the body do
so; and so I say that Sam Hardwicke's superiority in intellect to the
boys and even to most of the men about him, consisted of something
more than merely a larger stock of information. He was intellectually
larger than they, and if any boy who reads this book supposes that a
well-trained intellect is of no account in the practical affairs of
life, it is time for him to begin correcting some very dangerous
notions.

To get back to the story, I must stop moralizing and say that when Sam
made up his mind to volunteer, a number of boys in the neighborhood
determined to follow his example, and, as Sam has already explained,
the little company was organized, under Sam's command as captain. Of
course Sam had no real military authority, and he did not for a moment
suppose that his little band of boys would be recognized as a company
or he as a captain, on their arrival at Camp Jackson; but they had
agreed to march under Sam's command, and he knew how to exercise
authority, even when it was held by so loose a tenure as that of mere
agreement among a lot of boys.

We now come back to the drift-pile. When Jake had carefully hidden
Sam's boots, as he supposed, deep within the recesses of the great
pile of logs and brush and roots, he began groping his way back toward
the entrance. It was pitch dark of course, but by walking slowly and
feeling his way carefully, he managed to follow the passage way. Just
as he began to think that he must be pretty nearly out of the den,
however, he came suddenly upon an obstruction. Feeling about carefully
he found that the passage in which he stood had come to an abrupt
termination. We know, of course what had happened, but Jake did not.
He had come to the end of the log which Sam had thrown down to stop up
the passage way, and there was really no way for him to go. He
supposed, of course, that he had somehow wandered out of his way,
leaving the main alley and following a side one to its end. He
therefore retraced his steps, feeling, as he went, for an opening upon
one side or the other. He found several, but none of them did him any
good. Following each a little way he came to its end in the matted
logs, and had to try again. Presently he began to get nervous and
frightened. He imagined all sorts of things and so lost his presence
of mind that he forgot the outer appearance and size of the drift
pile, and frightened himself still further by imagining that it must
extend for miles in every direction, and that he might be hopelessly
lost within its dark mazes. When he became frightened, he hurried his
footsteps, as nervous people always do, and the result was that he
blacked one of his eyes very badly by running against a projecting
piece of timber. He was weary as well as frightened, but he dared not
give up his effort to get out. Hour after hour--and the hours seemed
weeks to him,--he wandered back and forth, afraid to call for
assistance, and afraid above everything else that morning would come
and that he would be forced to remain there in the drift pile while
the boys marched away, or to call aloud for assistance and be caught
in his own meanness without the power to deny it. Finally morning
broke, and he could hear the boys as they began preparing for
breakfast. It was his morning, according to agreement, to cut wood
for the fire and bring water, and so a search was made for him at
once. He heard several of the boys calling at the top of their lungs.

"Jake Elliott! Jake! Ja-a-a-ke!!" He knew then that his time had come.

What had Sam been doing all this time? Sleeping, I believe, for the
most part, but he had not gone to sleep without making up his mind
precisely what course to pursue. When he threw the log down, he meant
merely to shut Jake Elliott and his own boots up for safe keeping, and
it was his purpose, when morning should come, to "have it out" with
the boot thief, in one way or another, as circumstances, and Jake's
temper after his night's adventure, might determine.

He walked back, therefore, to his place of rest, after he had blocked
up the entrance of the drift-pile, and threw himself down again under
the bushes. Ten or fifteen minutes later he heard a slight noise at
the root of the great tree near him, and, looking, saw something which
looked surprisingly like a pair of boots, trying to force themselves
out between two of the exposed roots. Then he heard retreating
footsteps within the space enclosed by the circle of roots, and began
to suspect the precise state of affairs. Examining the boots he
discovered that they were his own, and he quickly guessed the truth
that Jake had pushed them out from the inside, under the impression
that he was driving them into a hole in the centre of the tangled
drift.

Sam was a brave boy, too brave to be vindictive, and so he quickly
decided that as he had recovered his boots he would subject his enemy
only to so much punishment as he thought was necessary to secure his
good behavior afterward. He knew that the boys would torment Jake
unmercifully if the true story of the night's exploits should become
known to them, and while he knew that the culprit deserved the
severest lesson, he was too magnanimous to subject him to so sore a
trial. He went to sleep, therefore, resolved to release his enemy
quietly in the morning, before the other boys should be astir.
Unluckily he overslept himself, and so the first hint of the dawn he
received was from the loud calling of the boys for Jake Elliott.
Fortunately Jake had not yet nerved himself up to the point of
answering and calling for assistance, and so Sam had still a chance to
execute his plan.

"Never mind calling Jake," he cried, as he rose from his couch of
bushes, "but run down to the spring and bring some water. I have Jake
engaged elsewhere."

The boys suspected at once that Sam and Jake had arranged a private
battle to be fought somewhere in the woods beyond camp lines, a battle
with fists for the mastery, and they were strongly disposed to follow
their captain as he started up the river.

"Stop," cried Sam. "I have business with Jake, which will not interest
you. Besides, I think it best that you shall remain here. Go to the
spring, as I tell you, and then go back to the fire, and get
breakfast. Jake and I will be there in time to help you eat it. If one
of you follows me a foot of the way, I--never mind; I tell you you
must not follow me, and you shall not."

There were some symptoms of a turbulent, but good-natured revolt, but
Sam's earnestness quieted it, and the boys reluctantly drew back.

Passing around to the further side of the drift-pile, more than a
hundred yards away from the nearest point of the camp, Sam called in a
low tone:--

"Jake! Jake!"

"What is it?" asked Jake presently, trembling in voice as he trembled
in limb, for he was now thoroughly broken and frightened. He dreaded
the meeting with Sam nearly as much as he dreaded the terrible fate
which seemed to him the only alternative, namely, that of remaining in
the drift-pile to starve.

"Come down this way," said Sam.

"Well," answered Jake when he had moved a little way toward Sam.

"Do you see a hole in the top, just above your head?" asked Sam.

"Yes, but I can't see the sky through it."

"Never mind, get a stick to boost you, and climb up into it."

Jake did as he was told to do, and upon climbing up found that there
was a sort of passage way running laterally through the upper part of
the timber, crooked and so narrow that he could scarcely force his
way through it. Whither it led, he had no idea, but he obeyed Sam's
injunction to follow it, though he did so with great difficulty, as in
many places sticks were in the way, which it required his utmost
strength to remove. The passage through which he was crawling so
painfully, was one which Sam and his companions had made by dint of
great labor, during their residence in the tree root cavern a year
before. It led from the main alley way to their post of observation on
top of the pile, their look-out, from which they had been accustomed
to examine the country around, to see if there were Indians about,
when they had occasion to expose themselves outside of their place of
refuge. As the only way into this passage was through a "blind" hole
in the roof of the main alley way, no one would ever have suspected
its existence.

After awhile Jake's head emerged from the very top of the drift pile,
and he saw Sam lying flat down, just before him. He instinctively
shrank back.

"Come on," said Sam; "but don't rise up or the boys will see us. Crawl
out of the hole and then follow me on your hands and knees."

Jake obeyed, and the two presently jumped down to the ground on the
side of the hummock furthest from camp.

Jake's first glance revealed Sam fully dressed, and standing firmly
_in his boots_. There could be no mistake about it, and yet a moment
before he would have made oath that those very boots were hidden
hopelessly within the deepest recesses of the drift-pile. He could not
restrain the exclamation which rose to his lips:--

"_Where_ DID _you get them boots_?"

"Never mind where, or how. I have a word or two to say to you. You
took my boots and were on the point of throwing them into the river.
If you think such an act by way of revenge was manly and worthy of a
soldier, I will not dispute the point. You must determine that for
yourself."

"Let me tell you about it, Sam," began Jake in an apologetic voice.

"No, it isn't necessary," replied Sam. "I know all about it, and it
will not help the matter to lie about it. Listen to me. You were about
to throw the boots into the river; but you changed your mind. You know
why, of course, while I can only guess; but it doesn't matter. You
took them into the drift pile and put them into a hole there. The next
thing you know of them I have them on my feet, and I assure you I
haven't been inside the drift pile since you entered it. Solve that
riddle in any way you choose. I blocked up the entrance, and this
morning I have let you out. Not one of the boys knows anything about
this affair, and not one of them shall know, unless you choose to tell
them, which you won't, of course. Now come on to camp and get ready
for breakfast."

With that Sam led the way. Presently Jake halted.

"Sam," he said.

"Well."

"My eye's all bunged up. What'll the boys say?"

"I don't know."

"What must I tell 'em?"

"Anything you choose. It is not my affair."

"They'll think you've whipped me?" exclaimed Jake in alarm.

"Well, I have, haven't I?"

"No, we hain't fit at all."

"Yes we have,--not with our fists, but with our characters, and I have
whipped you fairly. Never mind that. You can say you did it by
accident in the dark, which will be true."

"But Sam!" said Jake, again halting.

"Well, what is it now?"

"What made you let me out an' keep the secret from the boys?"

"Because I thought it would be mean, unmanly and wrong in me to take
such a revenge."

"Is that the only reason?"

"Yes, that is the only reason."

"You didn't do it 'cause you was afraid?" he asked, incredulously.

"No, of course not. I'm not in the least afraid of you, Jake."

"Why not? I'm bigger'n you."

"Yes, but you're an awful coward, Jake, and nobody knows it better
than I do, except you. You wouldn't dare to lay a finger on me. I
could make you lie down before me and--Pshaw! you know you're a coward
and that's enough about it."

"Why didn't you leave me for the boys to find, then, and tell the
whole story?"

"Because I'm not a coward or a sneak. I've told you once, but of
course you can't understand it; come along. I'm hungry."



CHAPTER IV.

A CERTIFICATE OF CHARACTER.


Three or four days after the morning of Jake Elliott's release, Sam
led his little company into Camp Jackson and reported their arrival.

As Sam had anticipated, General Jackson decided at once that the boys
could become useful to him only by volunteering in some of the
companies already organized, and Sam began to look about for a company
in which he and Tom would be acceptable. The other boys were of course
free to choose for themselves, and Sam declined to act for them in the
matter. As for Joe the black boy, he knew how to make himself useful
in any command, as a servant, and he was resolved to follow Sam's
fortunes, wherever they might lead.

"You see Mas' Sam," he said, "you'n Mas' Tommy might git yer selves
into some sort o' scrape or udder, an' then yer's sho' to need Joe to
git you out. Didn't Joe git you out 'n dat ar fix dar in de drifpile
more'n a yeah ago? Howsomever, 'taint becomin' to talk 'bout dat,
'cause your fathah he dun pay me fer dat dar job, he is. But you'll
need Joe any how, an' wha you goes Joe goes, an' dey aint no gettin
roun' dat ar fac, nohow yer kin fix it."

On the very morning of Sam's arrival, as he was beginning his search
for a suitable command in which to enlist, he met Tandy Walker, the
celebrated guide and scout, whose memory is still fondly cherished in
the southwest for his courage, his skill and his tireless
perseverance. Tandy was now limping along on a rude crutch, with one
of his feet bandaged up.

Sam greeted him heartily and asked, of course, about his hurt, which
Tandy explained as the result of "a wrestle he had had with an axe,"
meaning that he had cut his foot in chopping wood. He tarried but a
moment with Sam, excusing himself for his hurried departure on the
ground that he had been sent for by General Jackson. Having heard
Sam's story and plans Tandy limped on, and was soon ushered into
Jackson's inner apartment.

When the general saw him he exclaimed--

"What, you're not on the sick list are you, Walker?"

"Well no, not adzac'ly, giner'l, but I ain't adzac'ly a _walker_ now,
fur all that's my name."

"What's the matter?" asked Jackson.

"Nothin', only I've dun split my foot open with a axe, giner'l."

"That is very unfortunate," replied Jackson, "very unfortunate,
indeed."

"Yes, it aint adzac'ly what you might call _lucky_, giner'l."

"It certainly isn't!" said Jackson, a smile for a moment taking the
place of the look of vexation which his face wore; "and it isn't lucky
for me either, for I need you just now."

"I'm sorry, giner'l, if ther's any work to be done in my line, but it
can't be helped, you know."

"Of course not. The fact is Tandy, I want something done that I can't
easily find any body else to do. I'm satisfied now that the British
are at Pensacola and are arming Indians there, and that the
treacherous Spanish governor is harboring them on his _neutral_
territory. I have proof of that now. Look at that rifle there. That's
one of the guns they have given out to Indians, and a friendly Indian
brought it to me this morning. But you know the Indians, Walker; I
can't get anything definite out of them. I _must_ find out all about
this affair, and you're the only man I could trust with the task."

"I b'lieve that's jist about the way the land lays, giner'l," replied
Tandy, "but I'll tell you what it is; if ther' aint a _man_ here you
kin tie to fur that sort o' work, ther's a purty well grown boy
that'll do it up for you equal to me or anybody else, or my name aint
Tandy Walker, and that's what the old woman at home calls me."

A little further conversation revealed the fact that the boy alluded
to was none other than our friend Sam Hardwicke. General Jackson
hesitated, expressing some doubts of Sam's qualifications for so
delicate a task. He feared that so young a person might lack the
coolness and discretion necessary, and said so. To all of this Tandy
replied:--

"You'd trust the job to me, if I could walk, wouldn't you, giner'l?"

"Certainly; no other man would be half so good."

"Well then, giner'l, lem me tell you, that Sam Hardwicke is Tandy
Walker, spun harder an' finer, made out'n better wool, doubled an'
twisted, and _mighty keerfully waxed_ into the bargain. He's a smart
one, if there ever was one. He's edicated too, an' knows books like a
school teacher. He's the sharpest feller in the woods I ever seed, an'
he's got jist a little the keenest scent for the right thing to do in
a tight place that you ever seed in man or boy. Better'n all, he never
loses that cool head o' his'n no matter what happens."

"That is a hearty recommendation, certainly," said the general.
"Suppose you send young Hardwicke to me; of course nothing must be
said of all this."

"Certainly giner'l. Nobody ever gits any news out'n my talk." And with
that Tandy made his awkward bow, his awkwarder salute, and limped
away.



CHAPTER V.

SAM LAYS HIS PLANS.


Half an hour later Sam Hardwicke entered General Jackson's private
office, and was received with some little surprise upon the
commander's part.

"Why, you're the young man who reported in command of some young
recruits, are you not?" he asked.

Sam replied that he was.

"I didn't understand it so," replied Jackson, "when Walker recommended
you for this service. However, it is all the better so, because _I_
know your devotion, and Tandy has assured me of your competence. Sit
down, our talk is likely to be a long one."

When Sam was comfortably seated, with his hat "hung up on the floor,"
as Tandy Walker would have said, the general resumed.

"You understand of course," he said, "that whatever I say to you, must
be kept a profound secret, now and hereafter, whether you go on the
expedition I have in mind or not."

"You may depend upon my discretion, sir. I think I know how to be
silent."

"Do you? Then you have learned a good lesson well. Take care that you
never forget it. Let me tell you in the outset that the task I want
you to undertake is a difficult and perhaps a dangerous one. It will
require patience, pluck, intelligence and _tact_. Tandy Walker tells
me that you have these qualities, and he ought to know, perhaps, but I
shall find out for myself before we have done talking. I shall tell
you what the circumstances are and what I wish to have done. Then you
must decide whether or not you wish to undertake it; and if you do,
you must take what time you wish for consideration, and then tell me
what your plans are for its accomplishment. I shall then be able to
judge whether or not you are likely to succeed. You understand me of
course?"

"Perfectly, I think," replied Sam.

"Very well then. You know that a good many of the worst of these
Creeks escaped to Florida, Peter McQueen among them. I could not
pursue them beyond the border, because Florida is Spanish territory,
and Spain is, or at least professes to be, friendly to the United
States, and neutral in our war with the British. Now, however, I have
good authority for believing that the Spanish Governor at Pensacola is
treacherously aiding not only the Indians but the British also. A
force of British, I hear, has landed there, and friendly Indians tell
me that they are arming the runaway Creeks, meaning to use them
against us. The Indians tell big stories, so big that I can place no
reliance upon them, and what I want is accurate information about
affairs at Pensacola. If there is a British force there, it means to
make an attack on Mobile or New Orleans. I must know the exact facts,
whatever they are, so that I may take proper precautions. I must know
the size of the force, the number of their ships, and on what terms
they have been received by the Spaniards. If they are made welcome at
Pensacola, and permitted by the Spaniards to make that a convenient
base of operations against us, the government may see fit to authorize
me to break up the hornet's nest before the swarm gets too big to be
handled safely. However, that is another matter. What I want is
positive information of the exact facts, whatever they are. The
difficulties in the way are great. We are at peace with Spain, and
must do no hostile act upon her soil. I cannot even send an armed
scouting party to get the information I need. If you go, you must go
unarmed, and even then you may be arrested and dealt hardly with. It
will require the utmost discretion as well as courage, to accomplish
the task, and I have no wish that you should undertake it if you
hesitate to do so."

"I do not hesitate, sir," replied Sam, "if, after hearing my plan, you
think me competent for the business."

"Very well then," replied the general, "when will you be ready to lay
your plan before me?"

"I am ready now, sir," said Sam, "so far at least as the general plan
is concerned; little things will have to be dealt with as they
arise."

"Certainly. What is your plan in outline?"

"To go to Florida on a trapping and fishing excursion. I am not a
soldier yet, and may go, if I like, peacefully into the territory of a
friendly nation. I can take some of my boys with me, and camp by the
water side. I can easily go into Pensacola and find out what is going
on there. I shouldn't wish to be a spy, general, but this is scarcely
that, I think. The enemy has been received by a power professing to be
friendly. That power has given us no notice of hostility, and until
that is done I see no impropriety in going into his territory for
information not about his affairs at all, unless he is proving
treacherous, which would entitle us to do that, but about those of our
enemy, whom he should regard as an invader, however he may regard him
in fact."

"You've read some law, I see," said the general.

"No sir," replied Sam, blushing to think how he had been expounding to
the general, a nice point which that officer must understand much
better than he did. "No sir, I have read no law except a book or two
on the laws of nations, which my father said every gentleman should
be familiar with."

"A very wise and excellent father he must be," replied Jackson, "if I
may judge of him by the training he has given his son."

"Thank you, sir, in his name," answered Sam, rising and making his
best bow.

"To come back to the business in hand," resumed Jackson. "You'll need
a boat and some camp equipments."

"A boat, yes, but as for camp equipments, I can make out without them
very well. I've camped a good deal and I know how to manage."

"Very well, then, you'll be all the lighter. How many of your boys
will you need?"

"Two or three,--partly to make a show of a camp, but more because it
may be necessary to send some of them back with news. My brother Tom
and my black boy, with one or two others will be enough."

"Very well. Now you must be off as soon as possible. I shall march to
Mobile in a day or two, and organize for defence there. Send your news
there. You had better march directly from this place, so that your
arrival will excite no suspicion. I will provide you with a map of the
country. Have you a compass?"

"Yes sir, I brought one with me from home."

"There are boats enough to be had among the fishermen, I suppose, but
how to provide you with one is the most serious problem I have to
solve in this matter. My army chest is empty, and my personal purse is
equally so."

"I can manage all that, sir, if I may take an axe or two and an adze
from the shop here."

"How?"

"By digging out a canoe. I've done it before, and know how to handle
the tools."

"You certainly do not lack the sort of resources which a commander
needs in such a country as this, where he must first create his army
and then arm and feed it without money. You'll make a general yet, I
fancy."

"At present I am not even a private," replied Sam, "though the boys
call me Captain Sam."

"Do they? Then Captain Sam it shall be, and I wish you a successful
campaign before Pensacola, Captain. Get your forces into marching
order at once. Take all of your boys, unless some of them have
already enlisted,--it won't do to take actual soldiers with you, as
yours must be a citizen's camp,--and march as early as you can. I'll
see that you are properly provided with the tools you need."



CHAPTER VI.

CAPTAIN SAM BEGINS HIS MARCH.


At noon the next day Sam marched away from the camp at the head of his
little company, reduced now to precisely six boys in all, counting the
colored boy Joe, but not counting Captain Sam himself. Jake Elliott
was one of the company, rather against Sam's wish, but he had begged
for permission to go, and Sam thought his size and strength might be
of use in some emergency. Tommy was of the party of course, and the
other boys were Billy Bunker--called Billy Bowlegs by the boys,
because he was not bow-legged at all but on the contrary badly
knock-kneed,--Bob Sharp, a boy of about Tommy's size and age, and
Sidney Russell, a boy of thirteen, who had "run to legs," his
companions said, and was already nearly six feet high, and so slender
that, notwithstanding his extreme height, he was the lightest boy in
the company. The rest of the party had already enlisted and could not
go.

The outfit was complete, after Sam's notions of completeness; that is
to say, it included every thing which was absolutely necessary and not
an ounce of anything that could be safely spared. For tools they had
two axes, with rather short handles, a small hatchet, a pocket rule
and an adze; to this list might be added their large pocket knives,
which every man and boy on the frontier carries habitually. For camp
utensils each boy had a tin cup and that was all, except a single
light skillet, which they were to carry alternately, as they were to
do with the tools. Each boy carried a blanket tightly rolled up, and
each had, at the start, eight pounds of corn meal and four pounds of
bacon, with a small sack of salt each, which could be carried in any
pocket. This was all. They had no arms and no ammunition.

Their destination and the purpose of their journey were wholly unknown
to anybody in the camp, except General Jackson and Tandy Walker. The
boys themselves were as ignorant as anybody on this subject. Sam had
enlisted them in the service, merely telling them that he was going on
an expedition which might prove difficult, dangerous and full of
hardship. He told them that he could not make them legal soldiers
before leaving, but that implicit obedience was absolutely necessary,
and that he wanted no boy to go with him who was not willing to trust
his judgment absolutely and obey orders as a soldier does, without
knowing why they are given or what they are meant to accomplish. To
put this matter on a proper basis, he drew up an enlistment paper as
follows:--

"We, whose names are signed below, volunteer to go with Samuel
Hardwicke and under his command, on the expedition which he is about
beginning. We have been duly warned of the dangers and hardships to be
encountered; we freely undertake to endure the hardships without
shrinking, and to face the dangers as soldiers should; and,
understanding the necessity of discipline and obedience, we promise,
each of us upon his honor, fully to recognize the authority of Samuel
Hardwicke as our Captain, appointed by General Jackson; we promise
upon honor, to obey his command, as implicity as if we were regularly
enlisted soldiers, and he a properly commissioned officer."

(Signed.)

[Illustration: signatures]

When this paper was signed by all the boys, including black Joe, who
insisted upon attaching his name to it in the printing letters which
"little Miss Judie" had taught him, it was placed in General Jackson's
hands for keeping, and Sam marched his party away, amid the wondering
curiosity of the few troops who were in camp. They knew that this
party went out under orders of some sort from head quarters, but they
could not imagine whither it was going or why. Many of them had tried
to get information from the boys themselves, but as the boys knew
absolutely nothing about it, they could answer no questions, except
with the rather unsatisfactory formula "I dunno."



CHAPTER VII.

SAM'S TRAVELLING FACTORY.


The boys marched steadily until sunset, when Sam called a halt and
selected a camping place for the night. He ordered a fire built and
himself superintended the preparation of supper, limiting the amount
of food cooked for each member of the party, a regulation which he
enforced strictly throughout the march, lest any of the boys should
imprudently eat their rations too fast, which, as their route lay
through woods and swamps in a part of the country scarcely at all
settled, would bring disaster upon the expedition of course. Sam had
calculated the march to last about ten days, but he hoped to
accomplish it within a briefer time. The supplies they had would last
ten days, and Sam hoped to add to them by killing game from time to
time, for although the party were unarmed, Sam knew ways of getting
game without gunpowder, and meant to put some of them in practice.

Toward evening of the first day out, he had stopped in a canebrake and
cut three well seasoned canes, selecting straight, tall ones, about an
inch in diameter, and taking care that they tapered as little and as
regularly as possible. Cutting them off at both ends and leaving them
about fifteen feet in length, he next cut three or four small canes,
very long and green ones, without flaw.

That night, as soon as supper was over he brought his canes to the
fire and laid them down, preparatory to beginning work upon them.

"What are you a goin' to do with them canes, Sam?" asked Billy
Bowlegs.

"What do you think, Billy?"

"Dog-gone ef I know," replied Billy.

"Suppose you quit saying 'dog-gone' Billy," said Sam. "It isn't a very
good thing to say, and you've said it thirty-two times this
afternoon."

"Have I? well, what's the odds if I have?"

"Well, it's a bad habit, and if you'll quit it, I'll give you one of
those canes when I get them ready."

"What 'er you goin' to make 'em into?"

"Guns," said Sam, working away as hard as he could with his
jack-knife.

"Guns! what sort o' guns? Powder'd burst 'em in a minute, and besides
we aint got no powder."

"No, but I'm going to make guns out of these canes, and I'm going to
kill something with them too."

"What sort o' guns?"

"Blow guns."

"What's a blow gun, Mas. Sam?" asked Joe, becoming interested, as all
the boy were now.

Sam was too busy to answer at the moment and so Tom, who had seen
Sam's blow guns at home, answered for him.

"He's going to burn out the joints and then make arrows with iron
points and some rabbit fur around the light ends. The fur fills up the
hole in the cane, and when he blows in the end it sends the arrow off
like a bullet. But Sam!" he cried, suddenly thinking of something.

"What is it?" asked the elder brother without looking up.

"What are you going to burn them out with?"

"With that little rod," answered Sam, tossing a bit of iron about six
inches long towards his brother, "I brought it with me on purpose."

"Well, but it won't reach; you've got to reach all the joints you
know, and the rod must be as long as the cane."

"Oh no, not by any means."

"Yes it must, of course it must," exclaimed all the boys in a breath.
"It's just like burning out a pipe stem with a wire."

"No it is not," replied Sam, smiling, "but suppose it is. I can burn
out a pipe stem with a wire half as long as the stem."

"How?" asked two or three boys at once.

"By burning first from one end and then from the other."

"Yes, that's so," answered Sid Russell slowly, drawling his words out
as if he had to drag them up through his long legs, "but that don't
tell how you're goin' to bore out a big cane, fifteen feet long with a
little iron rod not more 'n six or eight inches long."

"Well, if you will be patient a moment, I'll show you," answered Sam,
picking up the bit of iron. Trimming off the end of one of his small
green canes, Sam measured it by the iron rod and trimmed again. He
continued this process until he had the end of the cane a trifle
larger than the iron was. Then taking an iron tube or band out of his
pocket, he drove the iron rod firmly into it for the distance of about
half an inch, leaving the other end of the tube open. Into this he
forced the end of the small green cane and having made it firm he had
a rod about ten feet long.

"There," he said, "I have a rod long enough to reach a good deal more
than half way through either one of my big canes. It isn't iron except
at the end, and it doesn't need to be," and with that he thrust the
end of the bit of iron into the fire to heat.

"Now, Tom," he said, "you must burn the canes out while I do something
else."

I wonder if there is any boy who needs a fuller explanation than the
one which Sam has already given, of what was going forward. There may
be boys enough, for aught I know, who never went fishing in their
lives, and so do not know what canes, or reeds, or cane-poles, as
they are variously called, are like. I must explain, therefore, that
the canes which Sam proposed to burn out, were precisely such as those
that are commonly used as fishing rods. These canes grow all over the
South, in the swamps. They are, in fact, a kind of gigantic grass,
although the people who are most familiar with them do not dream of
the fact. The botanists call them a grass, at any rate, and the
botanists know. Each cane is a long, straight rod, tapering very
gently, with "joints," as they are called, about eight or ten inches
apart. These joints are simply places where the cane, outside, is a
little larger than it is between joints, while inside each joint
consists of a hard woody partition, across the hollow tube, which is
otherwise continuous. Sam's plan was simply to burn these partitions
away with a hot iron, which would convert the cane into a long,
slender, wooden tube, very hard, very light, and straight as an arrow.

Tom went to work at once to burn out the joints, a work which occupied
a good deal of time, as the iron had to be re-heated a great many
times. He worked very steadily, however with the assistance of two or
three of the boys, and managed during that first evening to get two of
the blow guns burned out.

Meantime Sam made an arrow, very small and only about ten inches long,
out of some dry cedar.

"Now," he said, "I want those of you who are not busy burning out the
canes, to go to work making arrows just like that, while I do
something else."

The boys went to work with a will, while Sam, going into the nearest
thicket, cut a green stick about three quarters of an inch in
diameter. Returning to the fire, he split one end of this stick for a
little way, converting it into a sort of rude pincer. He then unrolled
his blanket, and revealed to the astonished gaze of his companions
several pounds of horse shoe nails.

"What on earth are you goin' to do with them horse shoe nails?" asked
Hilly Bowlegs, looking up from the cedar arrow on which he was
working.

"I'm going to make arrow heads out of them," answered Sam, thrusting
several of them into the bed of coals.

With the side of an axe for an anvil, and the hatchet for a hammer,
Sam was soon very busy forging his wrought nails into sharp arrow
points, holding the hot iron in his wooden pincers. Among the things
that Sam had thought it worth while to learn something about, was
blacksmithing, and he was really expert in the simpler arts of the
smith. He could shoe a horse, "point" a plow, or weld iron or steel,
very well indeed.

He had learned this as he had learned a good many other things, merely
because he thought that every young man should know how to do
tolerably well whatever he might sometime need to do, and in a new
country where shops are scarce and workmen are not always to be found,
there is no mechanical art which it is not sometimes very convenient
to know something about.

Sam wrought now so expertly that within less than an hour he had made
six arrow points. These he fitted to six of the arrows, and then he
suspended work for the evening, and marked progress on his map; that
is to say, he pricked on his map with a pin the course followed during
the afternoon, estimating the distance travelled as accurately as he
could.



CHAPTER VIII.

A MOTION WHICH WAS NOT IN ORDER.


The next day the march was resumed, and continued with some haltings
for rest until about three o'clock, when Sam chose a camp for the
night, saying that they had already made a better march than he had
planned for that day, and that there was no occasion to break
themselves down by going further.

The work was at once resumed upon guns and arrows, Sam beginning by
finishing the arrows already made. He cut strips from a hare's skin
which Tommy had brought with him at Sam's request, making each strip
about four or five inches long, and just wide enough to meet around
the end of an arrow. Binding these strips firmly, the arrows were
complete. Each was a slender, light stick of cedar, shod at one end
with a slender iron point, and bound around at the other, for a
distance of several inches, with the fur of the hare. Pushing one of
these into the mouth end of his blow gun, Sam showed his companions
that the fur completely filled the tube, so that when he should blow
in the end the arrow would be driven through and out with considerable
force.

Pointing the gun toward a tree a little way off, Sam blew, and in a
moment the arrow was seen sticking in the tree, its head being almost
wholly buried in the solid wood.

The boys all wanted to try the new guns, of course, and Sam permitted
them to do so, greatly to their delight, as long as the daylight
lasted. Then the manufacture of new arrows began, the boys working
earnestly now, because they were interested.

After awhile Sam took out his map and began pricking the course upon
it.

"I say, Sam," said Bob Sharp, "how do you do that?"

"How do I do what? Prick the map?"

"No, I mean how do you know where we are and which way we go?"

"That's just what I want to know," said Sid Russell.

"And me, too," chimed in Billy Bunker and Jake Elliott.

"Well, come here, all of you," replied Sam, "and I'll show you. We
started there, at camp Jackson,--you see, don't you, where the Coosa
and the Tallapoosa rivers come together and we are going down there,"
pointing to a spot on the map, "to the sea, or rather to the Bay near
Pensacola."

"Are we! Good! I never saw the sea," said Sid Russell, speaking faster
than any of the boys had ever heard him speak before.

"Yes, that is the place we're going to, and presently I'll tell you
what we're going for; but one thing at a time. You see the course is a
little west of south, nearly but not quite southwest. The distance, in
an air line is about a hundred and twenty-five miles: that is to say
Pensacola is about a hundred and ten miles further south than camp
Jackson, and about fifty miles further west."

"That would be a hundred and sixty miles then," said Billy Bowlegs.

"Yes," replied Sam, "it would if we went due south and then due west,
taking the base and perpendicular of a right angled triangle, instead
of its hypothenuse."

"Whew, what's all them words I wonder," exclaimed Billy.

"Well, I'll try to show you what I mean," said Sam, taking a stick and
drawing in the sand a figure like this:

[Illustration]

"There," said Sam, "that's a right angled triangle, but you may call
it a thingimajig if you like; it doesn't matter about the name.
Suppose we start at the top to go to the left hand lower corner; don't
you see that it would be further to go straight down to the right hand
lower corner and then across to the left hand lower corner, than to go
straight from the top to the left hand lower corner."

"Certainly," replied Billy, "it's just like going cat a cornered
across a field."

"Well," said Sam, pointing with his finger, "if I were to draw a
triangle here on the map beginning at camp Jackson and running due
south to the line of Pensacola, and then due west to Pensacola itself,
with a third line running 'cat a cornered' as you say, from camp
Jackson straight to Pensacola, the line due south would be about a
hundred and ten miles long and the one due west about fifty miles
long, while the 'cat a cornered' line would be about a hundred and
twenty five miles long."

"How do you find out that last,--the cat a cornered line's length?"
asked Tom.

"I can't explain that to you," said Sam, "because you haven't studied
geometry."

"Oh well, tell us anyhow, if we don't understand it," said Sid
Russell, who sat with his mouth open.

"Sid wants to find out how to tell how far it is from his head to his
heels, without having to make the trip when he's tired," said Bob
Sharp, who was always poking fun at Sid's long legs.

"Well," said Sam smiling, "I know the length of that line because I
know that the square described on the hypothenuse of a right angled
triangle is equal to the sum of the squares described on the other two
sides."

"Whew! it fairly takes the breath out of a fellow to hear you rattle
that off," replied Sid.

"Come," resumed Sam, "we aren't getting on with what we undertook. Now
look and listen. Here is the line we would follow if we could go
straight from Camp Jackson to Pensacola. If we could follow it, I
would only have to guess how many miles we march each day, and mark it
down on the map. But we can't go straight, because of swamps and
creeks and canebrakes, so I must keep looking at my compass to find
out what direction we do go; then I mark on the map the route we have
followed each day, and the distance, and each night's camp gives me a
new starting point."

"Yes, but Sam," said Tom, suddenly thinking of something.

"Well, what is it, Tom?"

"Suppose you guess wrong as to the distance travelled each day?"

"Well, suppose I do; I can't miss it very far."

"No, but it gives you a wrong starting-point for the next day, and two
or three mistakes would throw you clear out."

"Yes, but I make corrections constantly. You see, I have changed the
place of last night's camp a little on the map."

"How do you make corrections?"

"By the creeks and rivers. Here, for instance, is a creek that we
ought to cross about ten miles ahead. If we come to it short of that,
or if it proves to be further off, I shall know that I have got
to-night's camp placed wrong on the map. I shall then correct my
estimate. When we come to the next creek I shall be able to make my
guess still more certain, and by the time we get to Pensacola I shall
have the whole march marked pretty nearly right on the map."

"I'd give a purty price for that there head o' your'n, Sam," said Sid
Russell.

"It isn't for sale, Sid, and besides it will be a good deal cheaper to
use the one you have, taking care to make it as good as anybody's. Now
let me explain to all of you why we are going to Pensacola," and with
that Sam entered into the plans which we know all about already, and
which need not be repeated here. When he had finished the boys plied
him with questions, which he answered as well as he could. Jake
Elliott said nothing for a time, but after a while he ventured to
ask:--

"Don't they hang fellows they ketch in that sort o' business?"

"They hang spies," replied Sam, "but they can scarcely hold us to be
spies, especially as we shall be in the territory of a friendly
neutral nation, where there cannot properly be a British camp at all."

"Well, but mayn't they do it anyhow, just as they are a campin' there,
anyhow?"

"Of course they may, but I do not think it likely. In the first place
we mustn't let them suspect us, and in the second, we must make use of
what law there is if we should be arrested."

"Well, but if it all failed, what then?" asked Jake.

"Oh, shut up Jake," cried Billy Bowlegs. "You're afeard, that's what's
the matter with you."

"Well," replied Sam "that is simply a risk that we have to run, like
any other risk in war. I told you all in advance that the expedition
was a hazardous one."

"Of course you did, an' what's more you didn't want Jake Elliott to
come either," said Billy Bowlegs.

"Go into your hole, Jake, if you're scared," said Bob Sharp.

"Jake ain't scared, he's only bashful," drawled Sid Russell.

"I ain't afraid no more'n the rest of you," said Jake, "but you're all
fools enough to run your heads into a noose."

"What do you mean by that?" asked Sam, looking up quickly from the map
over which he had been poring.

"I mean just this," replied Jake, "that this here business 'll end in
gettin' us into trouble that we wont git out of soon, an' I move we
draw out'n it right now, afore its too late."

Sam was on his feet in an instant.

[Illustration: "DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE SAYING, SIR?"]

"Do you know what you're saying sir?" he cried. "Do you understand who
is master here? Do you know that no motions are in order? Let me
tell you once for all that I will tolerate no further mutinous words
from you. If I hear another word of the kind from you, or see a sign
of misconduct on your part, I shall take measures for your punishment.
Stop! I want no answer. I have warned you and that is enough."

Sam's sudden assertion of his authority, in terms so peremptory, took
Jake completely by surprise. Sam was a good tempered fellow, and not
at all disposed to "put on airs" as boys say, and hence he had been as
easy and familiar with his companions as if they had been merely a lot
of school boys out for a holiday; but when Jake Elliott suggested a
revolt, Sam, the good natured companion, became Captain Sam, the stern
commander, at once.

The other boys saw at once the necessity and propriety of the rebuke
he had administered. They believed Jake Elliott to be a coward and a
bully, and they were glad to see him properly and promptly checked in
his effort to give trouble.

It was growing late and the boys presently threw themselves down on
their beds of soft gray moss and were soon sound asleep.



CHAPTER IX.

JAKE ELLIOTT GETS EVEN WITH SAM.


Jake Elliott was a coward all over, and clear through. He had always
been a bully and pretended to the possession of unusual courage. He
had tyrannized over small boys, threatened boys of his own size and
sneered at boys whom he thought able to hold their own against him in
a fight. He had had many fights in his time, but had always managed to
get the best of his opponents, by the very simple process of choosing
for the purpose, boys who were not as strong as he was. As a result of
all this he had acquired a great reputation among his fellows, and
most of the boys in his neighborhood were very careful not to provoke
him; but he was a great coward through it all, and when he first came
in collision with Sam Hardwicke his cowardice showed itself too
plainly to be mistaken. Now there is a curious thing about cowards of
this sort. When they are once found out they lose the little
appearance of courage that they have taken such pains to maintain, and
become at once the most abject and shameless dastards imaginable. That
was what happened to Jake Elliott. When Sam conquered him so
effectually on the occasion of the boot stealing, he lost all the
pride he had and all his meanness seemed to come to the surface. If he
had had a spark of manliness in him, he would have recognized Sam's
generosity in sparing him at that time, and would have behaved himself
better afterward. As it was he simply cherished his malice and
resolved to do Sam all the injury he could in secret.

When Sam organized his expedition at Camp Jackson, Jake had two
motives in joining it. In the first place things around the camp
looked too much like genuine preparation for a hard fight with the
enemy, and Jake thought that if he should enlist he would be forced to
fight, which was precisely what he did not mean to do if he could
help it. By joining Sam's party, however, he would escape the
necessity of enlisting, and he thought that the little band was going
away from danger instead of going into it. He thought, too, that if
any real danger should come, under Sam's leadership, he could run away
from it, or sneak out in some way, and as he would not be a regularly
enlisted soldier, no punishment could follow.

This was his first reason for joining. His second one was still more
unworthy. He was bent upon doing Sam all the secret injury he could,
and he thought that by going with him he would have opportunities to
wreak his vengeance, which he would otherwise lose.

When he learned, as we have seen, whither Sam was leading his party,
and on what errand, he was really frightened, and Sam's sharp rebuke
made him still bitterer in his feelings toward his young commander. A
coward with a grudge which he is afraid to avenge openly, is a very
dangerous foe. He will do anything against his adversary which he
thinks he can do safely, by sneaking, and when Jake Elliott threw
himself down on his pile of moss he did not mean to go to sleep. He
meant to revenge himself on Sam before morning, and at the same time
to make it impossible for the expedition to go on. If he could force
Sam to return to Camp Jackson, he said to himself, he would humiliate
that young man beyond endurance, and at the same time get himself out
of the danger into which Sam was leading him. Everybody would laugh at
Sam, and call him a coward, and suspect him of failing in his
expedition purposely, all of which would please Jake Elliott mightily.

How to accomplish all this was a problem which Jake thought he had
solved by a sudden inspiration. He had formed his plan at the very
moment of receiving Sam's rebuke, and he waited now only for a chance
to execute it.

An hour passed; two hours, three. It was after midnight, and all the
boys were sleeping soundly. Jake arose noiselessly and crept to the
tree at whose roots Sam had laid his baggage. It was thirty feet or
more from any of the boys, and Jake was not afraid of waking them. He
fumbled about in Sam's baggage until he felt something hard and round
and cold. He drew out a little circular brass box about two and a half
inches in diameter, with a glass top to it. It was Sam's compass. He
tried hard to raise the glass in some way, but failed. Finally, with
much fear, lest he should awaken some of the boys, he struck the glass
with the end of his heavy Jack knife and broke it. This admitted his
fingers, and taking out the needle of the compass he broke it half in
two. Then replacing the brass lid, leaving all the pieces of the
ruined instrument inside, he slipped the compass back into its
original place and crept back to his bed by the fire.

"Now," he thought "I reckon Mr. Sam Hardwicke's long head will be
puzzled, and I reckon I'll be even with him, when he gives up that he
can't go on, and has to turn back to Camp Jackson. A pretty story
he'll have to tell, and wont people want to know how his compass got
broke? They'll think it very curious, and maybe they wont suspect that
he broke it himself, for an excuse. Oh! wont they though!"

He fairly chuckled with delight, in anticipation of Sam's humiliation.
He knew that the country south of them was wholly unsettled, a
perfect wilderness of woods and canebrakes and swamps, which nobody
could go through without some guide as to the points of the compass,
and hence he was satisfied that the destruction of Sam's instrument
was an effectual way of compelling the young captain to retreat while
it was still possible to retrace the trail the party had made in
coming. He was so delighted that he could not sleep and hours passed
before he closed his eyes.



CHAPTER X.

A DISTURBANCE IN CAMP.


Jake Elliott got very little sleep that night. Indeed it was nearly
daylight when he fell asleep and it was one of Sam's marching rules to
march early. He waked the boys every morning as soon as it was
sufficiently light for them to begin preparing breakfast, and by
sunrise they were ready to begin their day's march.

This morning it was cloudy and there were symptoms of a coming storm.
Sam was up at the first breaking of day, and he hurriedly waked the
boys.

"Come, boys," he said, "we must hurry or we shall be too late to cross
a river that's ahead of us, before it begins to rise. Get breakfast
over as quickly as possible, for we mustn't fail to make seventeen
miles to-day, and if it rains heavily it'll be bad marching in this
swamp. There's higher ground ahead of us for to-morrow, but we mustn't
be caught in here by high water in the creeks."

The boys sprang up quickly and made all haste in the preparation of
breakfast. Jake Elliott was dull and moody. The fact is he was sleepy
and tired with the night's excitement, and in no very good condition
to march. He dragged with his share of the work, but breakfast was
soon over, and Sam was ready to start. Taking out his compass to get
his bearings right he opened it, and saw the ruin that had been
wrought.

He looked up in surprise and caught Jake Elliott's eye. In an instant
he guessed the truth.

"Lay down your bundles, boys," he said, "we cannot start just yet."

"Why not, Captain Sam?" asked two or three boys in a breath.

"Because Jake Elliott has broken our compass," replied Sam, looking
the offender fixedly in the eye.

"Shame on the wretched coward," exclaimed the boys. "Let's duck him in
the creek."

"I'm not a coward, and whoever says I broke the compass--"

"Silence!" cried Sam peremptorily. "Don't finish that sentence, Jake.
It isn't a wise thing to do. Besides there's no use putting it in that
way. 'Whoever says,' is a vague sort of phrase. You know very well who
said that you broke the compass. I said it; Sam Hardwicke said it, and
you do not dare to say that I lie. Don't try to say it by calling me
'whoever says.' That isn't my name."

Sam was as cool and quiet as possible. There was no sign of agitation
in his voice, and no anger in his tone. The boys, however, were
furious. They were in earnest in this expedition, and they supposed,
of course, that the destruction of the compass would force them to
return to camp. Beside this, it angered them to think that Jake had
done so mean a thing.

Billy Bowlegs, the smallest boy in the party, was especially furious.
Walking up to Jake with his fists clenched, he said:

"Jake Elliott, you're a sneak and a coward, and you daren't answer for
yourself. Just deny it please, do deny it, so's I can bat you in the
mouth. I'm hungry to wallop you. Do say I lie, or say anything, open
your head, or lift your hand, or wink your eye, or look at me, or do
something. Just give me any sort of excuse and I'll give you what you
deserve, now and here."

Billy screamed this out at the top of his voice, advancing on Jake
every moment, as the latter drew back.

"What can I say to make you fight?" he continued. "I'll call you
anything that's mean. Just say what it shall be and consider it said.
Won't any thing make you fight? _There_, and _there_ and _there_, now
may be you'll resent that."

The words "there and there and there" were accompanied by three
vigorous slaps which Billy laid with a will on Jake's cheeks, in
despair of provoking him to resent anything less positive. It was all
done in a moment, and in another instant Sam had brought Billy Bowlegs
to his senses, by quietly leading him away and saying.

"Let him alone, Billy; there's no credit in fighting such a coward."

Enough had occurred, however, to show that Jake was thoroughly scared
by the little fellow's violence, and he could not have been more
thoroughly whipped than he was already.

When order had been restored, Sam said quietly:--

"The breaking of the compass is a serious mishap, and the want of it
will give us trouble all the way; but luckily it is not fatal to our
expedition, if you boys will help me work out the problem without the
aid of the needle."

"Help you! You see if we wont!" cried the enthusiastic boys in chorus.

"Thank you," replied Sam, lifting his cap, "I thought I could depend
upon you."

"But can you really find the way without the compass, Sam?" asked Tom.

"Certainly, else I shouldn't be fit to be in the woods."

"How can you do it?"

"I'll show you presently."

"What'll you do with Jake?" asked Sid Russell.

"I'll take him with us," replied Sam.

"Is that all?"

"That is enough, I think. He is the worst punished boy or man in
America this minute, and he'll be punished every minute while he stays
with us."

"Well but ain't nothin' more to be done to him? Can't I just duck him
a little or something of that sort?"

"No, certainly not. We all know him now, as a coward and a miserable
sneak. What's the good of demonstrating it further? It would be
dirtying your own hands."

"That's kind o' so, captain, but I'd sort o' like to duck him a little
anyhow. The creek's so handy down there."

"No," said Sam. "I want no further reference made to this matter. Jake
Elliott will go on with us, and as I have said already, he's punished
enough. Besides it may prove to be a lesson to him. He may do better
hereafter, and if he does, if he shows a genuine disposition to atone
for his misconduct by good behavior in the future, I want nobody to
tell of what has occurred here, after we get back to our friends. I
ask that now of you boys as a favor, and I shall think nobody my
friend who will not join me in this effort to make a man out of our
companion. I am ready to forgive him freely, and the quarrel has been
mine from the first. You can certainly afford to hold your tongues at
my request, if Jake tries to do better hereafter. I want your promise
to that effect."

The boys required some urging before they would promise, but their
admiration for Sam's magnanimity was too great for them to persist in
refusing anything that he asked of them. They promised at last, not
only not to refer to the matter during their campaign, but to keep it
a secret afterward, provided Jake should be guilty of no further
misconduct.

"Thank you, boys," said Sam, "and now, Jake," he continued, "you have
a chance to redeem your reputation. You cannot undo what you have
done, but you can act like a man hereafter, without having this
business thrown up to you."

Sam held out his hand, but Jake pretended not to see it.



CHAPTER XI.

BACKWOODS GEOMETRY.


The quarrel having ended in the way described in the last chapter, the
boys were compelled to find something else to talk about, as they were
under a pledge not to refer further to that matter. They were
prepared, therefore, to take an interest in Sam's preparations for
resuming the march without the assistance of a compass. Their
curiosity was great to know how he meant to proceed, and it was made
greater by what he did first.

The clouds were thick and heavy, as I have already said, so that there
was no chance to look at the sun for guidance; but Sam Hardwicke was
full of resources. He had a good habit of observing whatever he saw
and remembering it, whether he saw any reason to suppose that it
might be of use to him or not. Just now he remembered something which
he had observed the evening before, and he proceeded at once to make
use of it.

He cut a stick, sharpened it a little at one end, and drove it into
the ground at a spot which he had selected for the purpose. Then he
walked away twenty or thirty paces and drove another stake, sighting
from one to the other, and taking pains to get them in line with a
tree which stood at a little distance from the first stake.

"What are you doing, Captain Sam?" asked Bob Sharp, unable to restrain
his curiosity.

"I am getting the points of the compass," replied Sam.

"Yes, but how are you a doin' it?" asked Sid Russell.

"Well," replied Sam, "I'll show you. Just before sunset yesterday I
wanted to mark my map, and I sat down right here," pointing to a spot
near the first stake, "because it was shady here. The trunk of that
big tree threw its shadow here. Now the sun does not set exactly in
the west in this latitude, but a little south of west at this time of
year. The line of a tree's shadow, therefore, at sunset must be from
the tree a trifle north of east. Now I have driven this stake"
(pointing to the first one) "just a little to the right of the middle
of the shadow, as I remember it, so that a line from the stake to the
middle of the tree-trunk must be very nearly an east and west line.
The other stake I drove merely to aid me in tracing this line. Now I
will go on with my work, explaining as I go."

Taking his pocket-rule he measured off twenty feet east and west from
his first stake, and drove a stake at each point.

"Now," he said, "I have an east and west line, forty feet long, with a
stake at each end and a stake in the middle."

This is what he had:

[Illustration]

"A north and south line will run straight across this, at right
angles, and I can draw it pretty accurately with my eye, but to be
exact I have measured this line as you see. Now I'll draw a line as
nearly as I can straight across this one, and of precisely the same
length."

He drew and staked the second line, and this is what he had:

[Illustration]

"Now," he said, "if I have drawn my last line exactly at right angles
with my first one, it runs north and south; and to find out whether or
not I have drawn it exactly, I must measure. If it is just right it
will be precisely the same distance from the south stake to the east
stake as from the south stake to the west stake; and from the east
stake to the south one will be southwest, while from the west to the
south will be south-east."

With that Sam measured, and found that he was just a trifle out.
Readjusting his north and south stakes, he soon had his lines right.

"Now," he resumed, "I know the points of the compass, and I'll explain
how you can help me. Our course lies exactly in a line from me through
that big gum tree over there to the dead sycamore beyond. If we go
toward the gum, keeping it always in a line with the sycamore, we
shall go perfectly straight, of course; and by choosing another tree
away beyond the sycamore and in line with it, just before we get to
the gum tree, we shall still go on in a perfectly straight line. We
might keep that up for any distance, and travel in as straight a line
as a compass can mark. Now if this country was an open one with no
bogs to go around, and nothing to keep us from going straight ahead, I
shouldn't need any assistance, but could go on in a straight line all
day long. As it is, I must establish a long straight line, reaching as
far ahead as possible, and then pick out two things in the line, one
near me and one at the far end, which we can recognize again from any
point. Then we'll go on by the best route we can till we come to the
furthest object, and then I'll show you how to get the line again.
What I want you to do is to notice the 'object trees' as we'll call
them, so that we can be sure of them at any time. Notice them in
starting, and as often afterward as you can see them. The appearance
of trees varies with distance and point of view, and it is important
that we shall be sure of our object trees and make no mistake about
them."

"All right, Captain Sam," cried the boys, "pick out your object
trees."

"Well," said Sam, "the big sycamore yonder will do for one, and that
tall leaning pine away over there almost out of sight must do for the
other. That is in our line, and what we've got to do is to get to it.
It doesn't matter by how crooked a route, if we can remember the
sycamore tree again and pick it out from there."

"We'll watch 'em captain, and we won't let 'em slip away from us,"
said Sid Russell.

"Thank you, boys," replied Sam; "I shall be so busy picking our way,
that I can't watch them very well. Now then, we're ready, come on."



CHAPTER XII.

HOW TO HAVE A "LONG HEAD."


Two hours steady walking, over logs and brush, through canebrakes,
across a creek, and through a tangle of vines, brought the party to
the leaning pine tree. From that point the old sycamore tree looked
not at all as it did from the point of starting. The boys had taken
pains to watch its changes of appearance, however, and were able to
point it out with certainty to Sam.

"But what's the good of knowing it now?" asked Sid Russell, "we aint a
goin' back that way agin'."

"No," said Sam, "but it is necessary to know it, nevertheless. How
would you know which way to go without it, Sid?"

"Well, I'd pick out another tree ahead an' walk towards it."

"Well, but how would you know what tree to select?"

"Why I'd take one in a line with the pine."

"Well, every tree is in a line with the pine. It depends on where you
stand to take sight."

"That's so; but how's the old sycamore to help us?"

"By giving us a point to take sight from. Let me show you. Our proper
course of march is in the direction of a line drawn from the sycamore
to this pine tree. What we want to do is to prolong that line, and
find some tree further on that stands in it. If I stand on the line,
between the sycamore and the pine and turn my face toward the pine,
I'll be looking in exactly the right direction, and can pick out the
right tree to march to, by sighting on the pine. The trouble is to get
in the right place to take sight from. To do that I must find the line
between the sycamore and the pine. Now you go over there beyond the
pine, and take sight on it at the sycamore till you get the two trees
in a line with you. Then I'll stand over here, between the two object
trees, and move to the right or left as you tell me to do, till you
find that I am exactly in the line between them. Then I can pick out
the right tree ahead."

Sid did as he was told, the boys all looking on with great interest,
and presently Sam had selected their next object tree. The boys were
astonished greatly at what they thought Sam's marvellous knowledge,
but to their wondering comments Sam replied:--

"I haven't done anything wonderful. A little knowledge of mathematics
has helped me, perhaps, but there isn't a thing in all this that isn't
perfectly simple. Any one of you might have found out all this for
himself, without books and without a teacher. It only requires you to
think a little and to use your eyes. Besides you've all done the same
thing many a time."

"I'll _bet_ I never did," said Billy Bowlegs.

"Yes you have, Billy, but you did it without thinking about it."

"When?"

"Whenever you have shot a rifle at anything."

"How?"

"By taking aim. You look through one sight over the other and at the
game, and you know then that you've got it in a line with your eye
and the sights. I've only been turning the thing around, and nobody
taught me how. You've only got to _use_ your eyes and your head to
make them worth ten times as much to you as they are now."

"Seems to me," said Sid Russell, "as if your head 'n eyes, or least
ways your head is a mighty oncommon good one."

"You're right dah, Mas' Sid," said Black Joe; "you're right for
sartain. I'se dun see Mas' Sam do some mighty cur'ous things, I is. He
dun make a fire wid water once, sho's you're born. 'Sides dat, I'se
dun heah de gentlemen say's how he's got a head more 'n a yard long,
and I'm blest if I don't b'lieve it's so."

All this was said at a little distance from Sam and beyond his
hearing, but he knew very well in what estimation his companions held
him, and he was anxious to impress them, not with his own superiority,
but with the fact that the difference was due chiefly to his habit of
thinking and observing. He wanted them to improve by association with
him, and to that end he took pains to show them the advantage which a
habit of observing everything and thinking about it gives its
possessor. For this reason he took pains to make no display of his
knowledge of Latin or of anything else which they had no chance to
learn. He wanted them to learn to use their eyes, their ears and their
heads, knowing very well that the greater as well as the better part
of education comes by observation and thinking, rather than from
books.

Just now he was striding forward as rapidly as he could, as it was
beginning to rain.

"Keep your eye on the hind sight boys, and don't lose it," he cried;
"we must hurry or we shall be caught in a pocket to-night."

Hour after hour they marched, the rain pouring down steadily, and the
ground becoming every moment softer. The walking wearied them
terribly, but they pushed on in the hope that they might be able to
cross the upper waters of the Nepalgah river before night. This would
place them on the west bank of that stream, where Sam believed that he
should find the marching tolerable. If they should fail in this, Sam
feared that the water would rise during the night, and fill all the
bottom lands. In that event he must continue marching down the east
bank of the river; not going very far out of his way, it is true, but
having to pass through what he was satisfied must be a much more
difficult country than that on the other side.

Night came at last, and they were yet not within sight of the stream,
notwithstanding their utmost exertions. Sam called a halt just before
dark, and selected a camping place.



CHAPTER XIII.

WHAT DOES SAM MEAN?


When the halt was called, Sam said, very much to the astonishment of
the boys:--

"We must build a house here, boys."

"A house!" exclaimed Tom, "What for, pray?"

"To live in, of course. What else are houses for?"

"Yes, of course, but aren't we going on?"

"Not at present, and it rains. We must dry our clothes to-night if we
can, and keep as dry as we can while we stay here, which may be for a
day or two. To do that we must have a house, but it need not be a very
good one. Joe!"

"Yes, sah."

"Build a fire right here."

"Agin de big log dah, Mas' Sam?" pointing to the trunk of a great
tree which had fallen in some earlier storm.

"No, build it right here. Sid, you and Bob Sharp go down into the
canebrake there and get two or three dozen of the longest canes you
can find."

"Green ones?" asked Bob.

"Green or dry, it doesn't matter in the least," answered Sam. "The
rest of you boys go down into the swamp off there and cut a lot of the
palmetes you find there,--this sort of thing," pointing to one of the
plants which grew at his feet. "Get as many of them as you can, the
more the better. The fire will be burning presently and will throw a
light all around."

The boys were puzzled, but they hurried away to the work assigned
them. Sam busied himself digging a trench on the side of the fallen
tree opposite the fire. The great branches of the tree held it up many
feet from the ground at the point selected, and it was Sam's purpose
to make the trunk the front of his house, building behind it, and
having the fire in front. The lower part of the trunk was high enough
from the ground to let all the boys, except Sid Russell, pass under
without stooping; Sid had to stoop a little.

The fire blazed presently, and by the time that Sam had his ditch done
the boys began to come in with loads of cane and palmetes. The
palmetes are plants out of which what we call "palm-leaf fans" are
made. They grow in bunches right out of the ground in many southern
swamps. Each leaf is simply a palm leaf fan that needs ironing out
flat, except that the edge consists of long points which are cut off
in making the fans.

Sam cut two forked sticks and drove them in the ground about ten feet
from the fallen tree trunk, and about ten feet apart. When driven in
they were about five feet high, while the top of the trunk was perhaps
eight feet from the ground. Cutting a long, straight pole, Sam laid it
in the forks of his two stakes, parallel with the tree trunk. Then
taking the canes he laid them from this pole to the top of the tree
trunk, for rafters, placing them as close to each other as possible.
On top of them he laid the palmete leaves, taking care to lap them
over each other like shingles. When the roof was well covered with
them, he made the boys bring some armfuls of the long gray moss which
abounds in southern forests, and lay it on top of the roof, to hold
the palmete leaves in place, and to prevent them from blowing away.
For sides to the house bushes answered very well, and in less than an
hour after the company halted, they were safely housed in a shed open
only on the side toward the fire, and the ground within was rapidly
drying, while supper was in course of preparation.

"Sam," said Tom presently.

"Well," answered Sam.

"What did you dig that big ditch for? a little one would have carried
off all the water that'll drip from the roof."

"Yes, but I dug this one to carry off other water than that."

"What water?"

"That which was already in the ground that the house is built on. You
see this soil is largely composed of sand, and water runs out of it
very rapidly if it has anywhere to run to. I made the ditch for it to
run into, and if you'll examine the ground here you'll find that my
trench is doing its work very well indeed."

"That's a fac'," said Sid Russell, feeling of the sand.

"I say Sam," said Billy Bowlegs, squaring himself before Sam, with
arms akimbo.

"Well, say it then," replied Sam, laughing, and assuming a similar
attitude.

"If there is any little thing, about any sort o' thing, that you don't
happen to know, I wish you'd just oblige me by telling me what it is."

"I haven't time, Billy," laughed Sam, "the list of things I don't know
is too long to begin this late in the evening."

"Well, you've made me feel like an idiot every day since we started on
this tramp, by knowing all about things, and doing little things that
any fool ought to have thought of, and not one of us fools did."

"Come, supper is ready," replied Sam.

After supper the boys busied themselves drying their clothes by the
roaring fire of pitch pine which blazed and crackled in front of the
tent, making the air within like that of an oven. While they were
at it they fell to talking, of course, and it is equally a matter of
course that they talked about the subject which was uppermost in
their minds. They knew very well that until the house was built, and
supper over, they could get nothing out of Sam. "He never will explain
anything till every body is ready to listen," said Sid Russell, who
had become one of Sam's heartiest admirers. Recognizing the truth of
Sid's observation, the boys had tacitly consented to postpone all
questions respecting Sam's plans and queer manoeuvres until after
supper, when there was time for him to talk and for them to listen.
Now that the time had come, the long repressed curiosity broke forth
in questions.



CHAPTER XIV.

SAM CLEARS UP THE MYSTERY.


Tommy was the spokesman.

"Now then, Sam," he said, holding out his trowsers toward the fire to
dry them, "tell us all about it."

"I can't," replied Sam.

"Why not?"

"Because I don't know all about it myself."

"Well, what do you mean by building this shed?"

"Don't call it a shed, Tom," said Billy Bowlegs, "it's a mansion, and
these are our broad acres all around here."

"Yes, and the alligators down in the swamp there are our cattle," said
Sam.

"And here's our fowls," said Billy, slapping at the mosquitoes, "game
ones they are too, ain't they?"

"Stop your nonsense," said Sid Russell, "I want to hear Sam's
explanation. Tell us, Sam, what did you build the shanty for?"

"To live in while it rains, to be sure."

"Yes, but how long are we going to stay here?"

"I don't know."

"Well then, why are we to stop here at all?" asked Tom, "and what have
you been thinking about all the afternoon? You didn't open your head
after it began raining, until we got here; you were working out
something, and this halt means that you've worked it out. What is it?
That's what we want to know."

"You're partly right," said Sam, laughing, "but you're partly wrong. I
have been thinking how to get out of this pocket we're caught in, and
I've partly worked it out, but not entirely. That is to say, I must
wait till morning before I can say precisely what I shall have to do.
Let me show you where we are;" and with that Sam took out his map and
spread it on the ground before him, while the boys clustered around.

"Here we are," pointing to a spot on the map, "near the Nepalgah
river, at the upper end of the peninsula it makes with the Patsaliga
and the Connecuh rivers. You see the Patsaliga and the Nepalgah both
run into the Connecuh, their mouths being not many miles apart. This
peninsula that we're on is low, swampy, and full of creeks, a little
lower down. This heavy rain will raise all the rivers and all the
creeks, and make them spread out all over the low grounds on both
sides. The land is higher on the other side of the Nepalgah river, and
it was my plan to cross over to-day, but when this rain came on I
began to think it not at all likely that we could get to the river
before night, and then I began to lay plans for use in case of a
failure."

"That's what you've been puzzling over all the afternoon, then?" said
Bob Sharp.

"Yes. I've been wondering what we should do, and trying to hit upon
some plan. You see the matter stands thus: we can't go on on this
side, that is certain; the river will be out of its banks to-morrow
morning, and we can't easily get across it; and if we were across it
would still be difficult marching, as there are creeks and swamps
enough to bother us over there."

"What are we to do, then?" asked Tommy, uneasily. "We _mustn't_ go
back. That'll never do."

"Never you mind, Tom," said Sid Russell, whose faith in Sam's
fertility of resource was literally boundless, "never you mind. We
ain't a goin' back if the Captain knows it. He's got it all fixed
somehow in his head, you may bet your bottom dollar. Just wait till he
explains."

"That's so," said Billy Bowlegs, "only it seems to me he's got a
mighty hard sum this time, an' if he's got the right answer I'd like
to see just what it is."

"He's got it, ain't you, Sam?" asked Sid, confidently.

"I believe I have," said Sam.

"What is it?" asked all the boys in a breath.

"Canoe," answered Sam.

"To cross the river with? That's the trick," said Bob Sharp.

"No," replied Sam, "that was what I first thought of; or rather, I
first thought of building some sort of a raft to cross the river on,
and then it occurred to me that we could go on faster on high water in
a canoe than on foot; so my notion is to dig out a good big canoe and
ride all the way in it."

"Can we do that?"

"Yes, the Nepalgah river runs into the Connecuh, and the Connecuh into
the Escambia, and the Escambia runs into Escambia Bay, and Escambia
Bay is an arm of Pensacola Bay. Here, look at it on the map; you see
it's as straight a course as we could go even on land, or pretty
nearly."

"Well, but you said you couldn't tell till morning about it."

"I can't. I am not absolutely sure where we are, but I think we are
within a very short distance of the river. I shall look in the
morning, and if we are, we'll dig the canoe here, or rather, we'll
live here and dig the canoe down by the river, for it must be a big
one to carry all of us, and we can't carry it any distance. If I find
that we are not as near the river as I suppose, we must break up here
and find a camping ground further on. At all events we'll dig the
canoe and ride in it. The rivers will be high, and it will be easy
travelling with the current, while there won't be any danger of
getting the fever from being on the water, as there would have been
before the rain when the water was low. Come, our clothes are dry now
and we must go to sleep, as we've a hard day's work before us."

"How long will it take to dig out the canoe?" asked Bob Sharp.

"One day, I hope, but it may take as much as three. Luckily we've
killed so much game to-day, that we needn't be afraid of running out
of victuals. But we must lose no time."

"Oh, Sam--" began one of the boys after all had laid down for the
night.

"I won't open my mouth again to-night, except to yawn," said Sam, and
it was not long before the whole party were asleep.



CHAPTER XV.

A FOREST SHIP YARD.


Day light had no sooner shown itself the next morning than Sam started
away from the camp on a tour of observation. He was a fine looking
fellow as he strode through the woods, straight as an arrow, broad
shouldered, brawny, with legs that seemed all the more shapely for
being clothed in closely fitting trowsers that were thrust into his
long boot legs. Two of his companions watched him walk away in the
early light.

"What a splendid fellow he is, outside and inside!" said Bob Sharp,
half to himself and half to Jake Elliott, who stood by the fire. Jake
said nothing and Bob was left to guess for himself what impression
their stalwart young leader had made upon that moody youth. Meantime
Sam had disappeared in the forest. He walked on for a little way when
he came to a creek, a small one ordinarily, scarcely more than a
crooked brook, but swollen now to considerable size.

"This may do," he said to himself. "At all events it leads to the
river, and I may as well explore it as I go."

Accordingly he followed the stream. Mile after mile he walked, through
bottom lands that were well nigh impassable now, never losing sight of
the creek until he reached its point of junction with the river. It
was still raining, but Sam persisted in the work of exploration until
he knew the country thoroughly which lay between his camp and the
river. Then he returned, not weary with his four hours' walking, but
very decidedly hungry.

Luckily, Bob Sharp's enthusiastic admiration for his leader had taken
a very prosaic and practical turn. It was Bob's turn to prepare
breakfast, and a hare was to be cooked. The boys wanted it cut up and
fried, but Bob remained firm.

"No, siree," he said, "Captain Sam's gone off to look out for us,
without waiting for his breakfast, and when he comes back he's to
have roast rabbit for breakfast, and his pick of the pieces at that.
If any of you boys want fried victuals you may go and kill your own
rabbits and fry them for yourselves, or you may cook your bacon. I
killed this game myself, and nobody shall eat a mouthful of it till
Captain Sam carves it."

The boys were hungry, but they agreed with Bob, when he thus
peremptorily suggested the propriety of awaiting their young leader's
return, and so when Sam got back, about ten o'clock, he found a hungry
company and a beautifully roasted hare awaiting him, the latter
hanging by a string to a branch of an over-hanging tree immediately in
front of the fire.

After remonstrating with the boys in a good natured way, for delaying
their breakfast so long, Sam carved, as Bob had put it; that is to say
he held the hare by a hind leg, while another boy held it by a fore
leg, and with their jack knives they quickly divided it into pieces,
using the skillet for a platter.

The boys were not so hungry that they could forget their curiosity as
to the result of Sam's exploration.

"Where are we, Sam?"

"Did you find the river?"

"Is it close by?"

These and half a dozen similar questions were asked in rapid
succession.

"One thing at a time," said Sam, "or, better still, listen and I'll
tell you all about it without waiting to be questioned."

"All right, any way to get the news out of you," said Billy Bowlegs.

"Well then," said Sam, "to begin with, we're not very near the river.
It's about five miles away, as nearly as I can judge."

Billy Bowlegs's countenance fell.

"Then we can't make the canoe here after all our work to build a
house."

"I didn't say that, Billy. On the contrary, I think we must make it
here, as there is no fit place for a camp nearer the river than this.
Beside, the river will be out of its banks pretty soon if the rain
continues, and will overflow all the low grounds."

"Then we've got to carry the canoe five miles! We can't do it, that's
all," said Jake Elliott, who had not spoken before.

Sam looked at Jake rather sternly, and was about to make him a sharp
answer, but changed his mind and said instead:--

"You and Billy are in too big a hurry to draw conclusions, Jake. Billy
begins by assuming that because the river is five miles away we can't
make the canoe here, and you jump to the conclusion that if we make it
here we must carry it five miles. The fact is, you're both wrong. We
can make it here, and we needn't carry it five miles, or one mile, or
half a mile."

"How's that?" asked Tom.

"Now _you're_ in a hurry, are you Tom? I was just about to explain and
only stopped to swallow, but before I could do it you pushed a
question in between my teeth."

"SILENCE!" roared Billy Bowlegs, "the court cannot be heard." Billy's
father was sheriff of his county, and Billy had often heard him make
more noise in commanding silence in the court room than the room full
of people were making by requiring the caution.

Silence succeeding the laughter which Billy's unfilial mimicry had
provoked, Sam resumed his explanation.

"There's a creek down there about a hundred yards, which runs into the
river. It is a small affair, but is pretty well up now, and my plan is
to make the canoe here and paddle her down the creek to the river
while the water is high."

"Hurrah! now for work!" shouted the boys, who by this time had
finished their breakfast.

"Where's your timber, Sam?" asked Tom, bringing in the axes and adze
out of the tent.

Sam had taken pains to select a proper tree for his purpose, a
gigantic poplar more than three feet in diameter, which lay near the
creek, where it had fallen several years before.

When the boys saw it, they looked at Sam in astonishment.

"Why, Sam, you don't mean to work that great big thing into a dug-out,
do you?" asked Sid Russell.

"Why not, Sid?" asked Sam.

"Why, its bigger'n a dozen dug-outs."

"Yes, that is true, but we're not going to make an ordinary canoe.
We're going to cut out something as nearly like a yawl, or a ship's
launch as possible. She is to be sixteen feet long, and three and a
quarter feet wide amidships."

Sam had learned a good deal about boats during his boyhood in
Baltimore.

"Whew! what do you want such a whopper for?"

"Well, in the first place such a boat will be of use to us down at
Pensacola, where we couldn't use an ordinary canoe at all. You see I'm
going to shape her like a sea boat, partly by cutting away, and partly
by pinning a keel to her."

"What'll you pin it on with?" asked Tom.

"With pins, of course; wooden ones."

"What'll you bore the holes with?"

"With my bit of iron, heated red hot."

"That's so. So you can."

"But, Sam," said Sid.

"Well?"

"You said that was in the first place; what's the next?"

"In the next place, we'll need such a boat in running down the
river."

"Why?"

"Because there'll be no fit camping places in the low grounds, even if
the water isn't over the banks, and so we must stay in the boat night
and day, which would be rather an uncomfortable thing to do in a
little round bottomed dug-out, that would turn over if a fellow
nodded. Beside that I'm anxious to make all the time I can and when we
leave here I mean to push ahead night and day without stopping."

"How'll we manage without eatin' or sleepin'?" asked Jake Elliott, who
seemed somehow to be interested chiefly in discovering what appeared
to him to be insurmountable obstacles in the way of the execution of
Sam's plans.

"I have no thought," answered Sam, "of trying to do without either
eating or sleeping."

"Where'll we eat," asked Jake, "ef we don't stop nowhere?"

"In the boat, of course."

"Yes, but where'll we cook?"

"Here," answered Sam.

"Before we start?"

"Yes, certainly. We'll kill some game, cook it at night and eat it
cold on the way with cold bread. That will save our bacon to cook fish
with down at Pensacola."

"Well, but how about sleeping?"

"That is one of my reasons for making so large a boat. We can sleep in
her very comfortably, one staying awake to steer and paddle, all of us
taking turns at it."

This plan was eagerly welcomed by the boys, who speedily fell to work
upon the log under Sam's direction. The poplar was very easily worked,
and the boys were all of them skilled in the use of the axes.
Relieving each other at the work, they did not permit it to cease for
a moment, and in half an hour the trunk of the tree was severed in two
places, giving them a log of the desired length to work on.

Then began the work of hewing it into shape, and this admitted of four
boys working at once, two with the axes, one with the adze and one
with the hatchet. When night came the log had already assumed the
shape of a rude boat, turned bottom up, and Sam was more than
satisfied with the progress made. His comrades were enthusiastic,
however, and insisted upon building a bonfire and working for an hour
or two by its light, after supper. They could not work at shaping it
by such a light, but they turned it over and hewed the side which was
to be dug out, down to a level with its future gunwales. The next day
they began work early, and when they quitted it at night their task
was done. The boat was a rude affair but reasonably well shaped,
broad, so that she drew very little water considering her weight, and
with a keel which kept her perfectly steady in the water.



CHAPTER XVI.

CAPTAIN SAM PLAYS THE PART OF A SKIPPER.


The launching of the boat was easy enough, and she rode beautifully on
the water. To test her capacity to remain right side up, Sam put the
boys one by one on her gunwale, and found that their combined weight,
thrown as far as possible to one side, was barely sufficient to make
her take water.

The stores were stowed carefully in the bow and stern; rough seats
were fitted in after the manner of a boat's thwarts, but not fastened.
They were left moveable for the purpose of making it possible for
several of the boys to lie down in the bottom of the boat at once.
There was no rudder as yet, although it was Sam's purpose to fix one
to the stern as soon as possible, and also to make a mast when they
should get to Pensacola, where a sail could be procured. For the
present two long poles and some rough paddles were their propelling
power.

"When we get out into the river," said Sam, "she will float pretty
rapidly on the high water, and we need only use the paddles to give
her steerage, and to paddle her out of eddies."

"What are the poles for?" asked Tom.

"To push her in shoal water, for one thing," answered Sam, "and to
fend off of banks and trees."

A large quantity of the long gray moss of the swamps was stored in the
bottom for bedding purposes, and the boat was ready for her
passengers. One by one they took their places, Sam in the bow, and the
voyage down the creek began. This stream was very crooked, and many
fallen trees interrupted its course, so that it was very difficult to
navigate it with so long a boat. In addition to this, the river had
risen much faster than the creek, and the back water had entirely
destroyed the creek's current, so that the boat must be pushed and
paddled every inch of the way.

Nearly the entire day was consumed in getting to the river, five
miles away from the starting place, and as the afternoon waned the
boys grew tired, while Jake Elliott began to manifest his old
disposition to criticise Sam's plans.

"May be we'll make five mile a day, an' may be we wont," he said.
"We'll git to Pensacola in six or eight weeks, I s'pose, if we don't
starve by the way, an' _if_ this water runs that way."

"Very well," said Sam, "the longer we are on the route the better it
will please you, Jake."

"Why?"

"Because you don't want to get there at all. But we'll be there sooner
than you think?"

"How long do you reckon it will take us, Sam?" asked Billy.

"I don't know, because I don't know how long we'll be getting out of
this creek."

"Well, I mean after we get into the river."

"About a day and a half," replied Sam, "possibly less."

"You don't mean it?"

"Don't I? What do I mean, then?"

"How far is it?"

"Less than a hundred miles."

"Well, we can't go a hundred miles in a day and a half."

"Can't we? I think we can. We'll run day and night, you know, and the
current, at this stage of the water, can't be much less than five
miles an hour. Four miles an hour will take us ninety-six miles in
twenty-four hours."

"Hurrah for Captain Sam!" shouted Sid Russell, "Yonder's the river,
an' she's a runnin' like a mill tail, too."

Sid was standing up, and his great length lifted his head high enough
to permit him to see the rapidly running stream long before any one
else did. The rest strained their eyes, or rather their necks trying
to catch a glimpse of the stream, but the undergrowth of the swamp lay
between them and the sight. Sid's announcement put new energy into
them, however, and they plied their paddles vigorously for ten
minutes, when, with a sudden swing around a last curve of the creek,
Sam brought his boat fairly out into the river, and turned her head
down stream. The river was full to its banks, and in places it had
already overflowed. The current was so strong that the mouth of the
creek, out of which they had come, was out of sight in a very few
minutes. Work with the paddles was suspended, Sam only dipping his
into the water occasionally for the purpose of keeping the boat
straight in mid-channel. The river was full of drift-wood, some of it
consisting of large logs and uprooted trees, and night was already
falling. Jake Elliott now spoke again.

"We ain't a goin' to try to run in the dark in all this 'ere drift,
are we?" he asked.

"I can't say that we are," replied Sam.

"Why, you're not going to stop for the night, are you, Sam?" asked
Billy Bowlegs, who was enjoying the boat ride greatly.

"Certainly not," replied Sam.

"Why, you said you was, jist a minute ago," muttered Jake Elliott.

"Oh, no! I didn't," said Sam, whose patience had been sorely taxed
already by Jake's persistent disposition to find fault.

"What did you say, then?" asked that worthy.

"Merely that we're not going to try to run in the dark to-night."

"Well, you're a goin' to stop then?"

"No, I am not."

"I see how dat is," said Joe, suddenly catching an idea.

"Well, explain it to Jake, then," said Sam laughing.

"W'y, Mas' Jake, don't you see de moon's gwine to shine bright as day,
an' so dey ain't a gwine to be no dark to-night."

"That's it, Joe," replied Sam, "but if there was no moon I'd still go
on. The drift isn't in the least dangerous."

"Why not, Sam?" asked Tom.

"Well, in the first place, it wouldn't be very easy to knock a hole in
such a boat as this anyhow, and as we're only floating, we go exactly
with the drift nearest us; we go faster than the drift in by the shore
there, because we're in the strongest part of the current, but the
drift nearest us is in the same current, and moves as fast as we do,
or pretty nearly so. My paddling adds something to our speed, but not
much. I only paddle enough to keep the boat straight in the channel.
If we were to stop against the bank, and fasten the boat there, the
drift would bump us pretty badly, but it can do us no harm so long as
we float along with it."

[Illustration: SAM PLAYS THE PART OF SKIPPER.]

The moon, nearly at its full, was rising now, and very soon the river
became a picture. Running rapidly, bank full, with tall trees bending
over and throwing their shadows across it, with here and there a
fragment of a moon glade on the water, while the dense undergrowth of
the woods, lying in shadow, gave the stream a margin of inky blackness
on each side,--it was a scene to stimulate the imaginations of the
group of healthy boys who sat in the boat gliding silently but swiftly
down the river.

Hour after hour they sped on, not a boy among them in the least
disposed to avail himself of Sam's permission to lie down for a nap on
the moss in the bottom of the boat. Every bend of the river gave them
a new picture to look at, and finally Sam had to use authority to make
the boys lie down.

"We must all sleep some," he said, "for to-morrow the sun will shine
too strong for sleeping, and we've done a hard day's work. It will be
now about seven or eight hours until sunrise, and there are just
seven of us. It will take half an hour for the rest of you to get to
sleep, and so I'll run the boat for an hour and a half. Then I'll wake
Billy, and he can run it an hour. Then Joe must take the paddle,--his
name is Butler, you see,--and so on in alphabetical order, each of you
taking charge for an hour. If anything happens,--if you get into an
eddy, or for any other reason find yourselves in doubt about anything,
wake me at once. Now go to sleep."

Sam took the first watch, because he wished to see, before going to
sleep, that everything was likely to go well. Then he waked Billy
Bowlegs, and, surrendering the paddle to him, went to sleep.

There was no noise to disturb any one, and all the boys slept soundly,
none of them more soundly than Sam, who had worked especially hard
during the day, and had had a weight of responsibility upon him during
the difficult voyage down the creek. He was quietly sleeping some
hours later when suddenly the boat was sharply jarred, and turned very
nearly on her side, while the water could be heard surging around her
bow and stern.

Sam was on his feet in a moment, and the other boys sprang up quickly.

"Who's at the oar?" cried Sam, "and what's the matter?"

"We've got tangled in the drift, just as I told you we would,"
answered Jake Elliott from the bow, where he sat, paddle in hand, he
being on watch at the time.

"Just as you meant that we should," answered Sam. "You've deliberately
paddled us out of the current into a drift hammock, you sneaking
scoundrel," continued Sam, now thoroughly angry, seizing Jake by the
shoulders, and throwing him violently into the bottom of the boat. "I
have a notion to give you a good thrashing right here, or to set you
ashore and go on without you."

"Do it, Captain! Do it! He deserves it," cried the boys, but Sam had
made up his mind not to give way to his temper, however provoking
Jake's conduct might be, and as soon as he could master himself, he
renewed his resolution, which had been broken only in the moment of
sudden awakening.

The boat was not damaged in the least, but her position was a
difficult one from which to extricate her. She lay on the upper side
of a pile of drift which had lodged against some trees, and a floating
tree had swept down against her side, pinning her to the hammock, as
such drift piles are called in the South. The work of freeing her
required all of Sam's judgment, as well as all the boys' strength, but
within half an hour, or a little more, the boat was again in the
stream.

"Now," said Sam, speaking very calmly, "we've lost a good deal of
sleep and must make it up. Jake Elliott, you will take the paddle
again, and keep it till sunrise."

"Well, but what if he runs us into another snarl?" asked Sid Russell,
uneasily.

"He won't make any more mistakes," replied Sam.

"How can you be sure of that?" queried Tom.

"Because I have whispered in his ear," said Sam.

What Sam had whispered in Jake's ear was this:--

"_If any further accidents happen to-night, I'll put you ashore in
the swamp, and leave you there. I mean it._"

He did mean it, and Jake was convinced of the fact. He knew very well,
too, that if he should be left there in the swamp, with all the creeks
out of their banks, the chances were a thousand to one against his
success in getting back to civilization again. Sam's threat was a
harsh one, but nothing less harsh would have answered his purpose, and
he knew very well that Jake would not dare to incur the threatened
penalty.

The boys slept again, and soundly. The night waned and day dawned, and
still the current carried them forward. They breakfasted in the boat,
first stripping to the waist and sluicing their heads, necks, arms and
chests with water. Breakfast was scarcely over when the boat shot out
of the Nepalgah into the Connecuh river, whereat the boys gave a
cheer. About noon they entered the Escambia river, and their speed
slackened. Here they had met the influence of the tide which checked
the force of the current, and their progress grew steadily slower,
until Sam directed the use of the paddles. They had long since left
the drift wood behind, lodged along the banks, and they had now a
broader and straighter stream than before, although it was still not
very broad nor very straight. Two boys paddled at a time, one upon
each side, while a third steered, and by relieving each other
occasionally they maintained a very good rate of speed.

The moon was well up into the sky again when the river spread out into
Escambia bay, and the boat was moored with a grape vine, in a little
cove on one of the small islands in the upper end of the bay, about
fifteen miles above Pensacola. The boys leaped upon land again gladly.
Their voyage had been made successfully, and they were at last in the
neighborhood of the danger they had set out to encounter, and the duty
they had undertaken to do.



CHAPTER XVII.

THLUCCO.


"What's your plan now, Sam?" asked Tom, when the boat had been
secured, and a fire built.

"First and foremost, where are we?" asked Sid Russell.

"Yes, an' how fur is it to somewhere else?" questioned Billy Bowlegs.

"An' is we gwine to somewher's or somewher's else?" demanded black
Joe, with a grin.

"One question at a time," said Sam, "and they will go a good deal
farther."

"Well, begin with Sid's question, then?" said Tommy. "His is the most
sensible; where are we?"

"We're on an island," returned Sam, "and the island is somewhere here
in the upper part of Escambia bay. You see how it lies on our map.
The bay ends down there in Pensacola bay, and there is Pensacola,
about fifteen miles away. We came here, you know, to find out what is
going on in Pensacola and its neighborhood, and my plan is to run down
past the town, to some point four or five miles below, in the
neighborhood of Fort Barrancas. There I'll set up a fishing camp, but
first I must get tackle, and, if possible, some duck cloth for a
sail."

At this point the conversation was interrupted by the sudden
appearance of a canoe's bow in their midst. Their fire was built near
the water's edge, and the canoe which interrupted them had been
paddled silently to the bank, so that its bow extended nearly into
their fire.

"Ugh, how do," said a voice in the canoe, "how do, pale faces," and
with that the solitary occupant of the canoe leaped ashore and seated
himself in the circle around the fire.

Joe was frightened, but the other boys were reasonably self-possessed.

"Injun see fire; Injun come see. Injun friend."

"White man friend, too," said Sam, holding out his hand. "Injun eat?"
offering the visitor some food.

"No. Injun eat heap while ago. Injun no hungry, but Injun friendly.
Fire good. Fire warm Injun."

Sam continued the conversation, desiring to learn whether or not there
was an Indian encampment in the neighborhood. He was not afraid of an
Indian attack, for the Indians were not on the war path in Florida,
but he was afraid of having his boat and tools stolen.

"Injun's friends over there?" asked Sam, pointing in the direction
from which the canoe had come.

"No; Injun's friends not here. You know Injun; you see him before?"

"No," said Sam, "I don't remember you."

"Injun see you, all same. Injun General Jackson's friend. Injun see
you when you come General Jackson's camp. Me go way then for General
Jackson."

Here was a revelation. The young savage was, or professed to be, one
of the friendly Indians whom General Jackson was using as scouts. It
was certain that he had seen Sam on his entrance into General
Jackson's camp, and he must have left immediately after Sam's arrival
there.

"How did you get here so quick?" asked Sam.

"Me run 'cross country. Injun run heap."

"Where did you get your canoe?"

"Steal um," answered the Indian with the utmost complacency.

"Have you been here before?"

"Yes. Injun fish here heap. Injun go fishin' to-morrow."

"Where will you get lines and hooks."

"Me got um."

"Where did you get them?"

"Steal um," answered he again.

"We're going fishing, too," said Sam.

"You got hooks? You got lines? You got bait?"

"No," said Sam.

"Injun get um for you."

"How?"

"Steal um."

"No," said Sam, "you mustn't steal for us. I'll go to Pensacola and
buy what I want. But you may go with us, if you will, and show us
where to fish."

"Me go. Injun show you,--down there," pointing down the bay, "heap
fish there."

The Indian, Sam was disposed to think, was a valuable acquisition,
although he was not disposed to trust him with a knowledge of the real
nature of his mission. Warning the boys, therefore, not to reveal the
secret, he admitted the Indian, whose name was Thlucco, to his
company, not as a member, but as a sort of guide.

The next morning the boat went down the bay to the town, where Sam
stopped to purchase certain necessary supplies, chiefly fishing tackle
and the materials for making a sail, and to take observations.

He found many British officers and soldiers lounging around the town,
and had no difficulty in discovering that they were made heartily
welcome by the Spanish authorities, notwithstanding the professed
neutrality of Spain. It was clear enough that while the Spaniards were
at peace with us, they were permitting our enemy to make their
territory his base of supplies, and a convenient starting point of
military and naval operations against us. All this was in violation of
every law of neutrality, and it fully justified Jackson in invading
Florida, and driving the British out of Pensacola, as he did, not very
long afterward.

Sam "pottered around," as he expressed it, making his purchases as
deliberately as possible, and neglecting no opportunity to learn what
he could, with eyes and ears wide open.

In an open square he saw a sight which astonished him not a little.
Captain Woodbine, a British officer in full uniform, was endeavoring
to drill a band of Indians, whom he had dressed in red coats and
trowsers. A more ridiculous performance was never seen anywhere, and
only an officer like Captain Woodbine, who knew absolutely nothing of
the habits and character of the American Indian, would ever have
thought of attempting to make regularly drilled and uniformed soldiers
out of men of that race. They were excellent fighters, in their own
savage way, but no amount of drilling could turn them into soldiers
of the civilized pattern.

It was a cruel, inhuman thing to think of setting these savages
against the Americans at all, for their notion of war was simply to
murder men, women and children indiscriminately, and to burn houses
and take scalps; but to try to make soldiers out of them was in a high
degree ridiculous, and Sam could scarcely restrain his disposition to
laugh aloud, as he saw them floundering about in trowsers for the
first time in their lives and trying to make out what it all meant.

Thlucco, wrapped in his blanket, bare-headed and bare-footed, looked
at the performance with an expression of profound contempt on his
face.

"Red-coat-big-hat-white man big fool!" was the only comment he had to
make upon Captain Woodbine and his drill.

Having bought what he wanted, and learned what he could, Sam returned
to his boat, and paddled down the bay to a point not far from Fort
Barrancas. Here he established his fishing camp, and began work upon
his rudder, mast and sail. Before the evening was over he had his boat
ready for sea, and was prepared to begin the work of fishing the next
morning. He had news for General Jackson; and before going to sleep he
wrote his first despatch.



CHAPTER XVIII.

"INJUN NO FOOL."


Sam's despatch, written by the light of a few pine knots and with as
much care as if it had been an important state paper,--for whatever
Sam Hardwicke did he tried to do well,--was in these words:--

TO MAJOR GENERAL JACKSON,

Commanding Department of the South-West,

MOBILE, ALABAMA.

GENERAL:

     I arrived with my party to-day. In Pensacola, I found the
     British hospitably entertained, not only by the people, but
     by Governor Mauriquez himself. They are actually enlisting
     the savages in their service, arming them with rifles and
     knives and attempting to make regular soldiers out of them.
     I saw a British captain drilling about fifty Indians in the
     public square of the town at noon to-day.

     I beg to report, also, that the British occupy the defensive
     works of the town, including Fort Barrancas, from the
     flagstaffs of which float both the British and the Spanish
     ensigns, as if the two were allies in this war.

     I am unable to report as yet what the strength of the
     British force here is. I have observed men from seven
     different companies, in the streets, but have been unable to
     learn, without direct inquiry, which would excite suspicion,
     whether all these companies are present in full strength, or
     whether there are also others here.

     The ships in the bay, so far as I can make them out, are the
     Hermes, Captain Percy, 22 guns; the Sophia, Captain Lockyer,
     18 guns; the Carron, 20 guns; and the Childers, 18 guns.

     I shall diligently seek to discover the plans and purposes
     of the expedition, and will not neglect to report to you
     promptly, whatever I may be able to find out. At present it
     is evident only that an expedition is fitting out here
     against some point on our coast.

     I shall send this by a trusty messenger at daybreak.

     All of which is respectfully submitted.

(Signed,)

SAMUEL HARDWICKE,

Commanding Scouting Party.

This document was duly dated from "Fishing Camp, Five miles below
Pensacola," and when it was written, Sam quietly waked Bob Sharp.

"Bob," he said, "I have an important duty for you to do."

"I'm your man, Sam, for anything that turns up."

"Yes, I know that," replied Sam, "and that is why I picked you out
for this business. The choice lay between you and Sid Russell, and I
chose you, because I shall need a very rapid walker a little later to
carry a still more important despatch, I fancy."

"It's a despatch, then," said Bob.

"Yes, a despatch to General Jackson. You'll find him at Mobile, and it
isn't more than sixty or seventy miles across the country. I bought
three compasses in Pensacola to-day, and you can take one of them with
you. I can't give you my map, but I'll copy it for you on a sheet of
paper. Go to bed now, and be ready to start at daylight. I'll cook up
some food for you, so that you needn't stop on the way to do any
cooking. You must make the distance in the shortest time you can!"

"After delivering the despatch, then what?" asked Bob.

"Well, if you want to, you can come back here."

"Of course I want to," said Bob.

"But you must rest first, and I'm not at all sure that you'll find us
here. Perhaps you'd better wait in Mobile, at least till my next
despatch comes. Then General Jackson will tell you what to do."

"If you'll just give me permission to start right back, I'll be here
in a week. I kin make twenty-five miles a day, easy, an' that'll more
'n git me back here in that time."

"Very well, come back then."

At daylight Bob was off, and when the boys awoke they were full of
curiosity to know the meaning of his absence. While Thlucco was around
Sam would tell them nothing except that he had sent Bob away on an
errand. When Thlucco went to the boat to arrange something about the
fishing tackle, Sam briefly explained the matter, and cautioned the
boys to talk of it no more.

An hour later they went fishing on a slack tide, and when it turned
and began to run too full for the fish to bite they sailed their boat
to the shore, with fish enough in it to satisfy the most eager of
fishermen.

During the afternoon Sam sent Sid Russell, into the town, nominally to
buy some trifling thing but really with secret instructions to find
out what he could about the British forces, their movements, their
purposes and their plans.

"Injun go town, too," said Thlucco, and without more ado "Injun" went.

When he returned, about ten o'clock that night, he brought with him a
gun of superior workmanship, and a pouch full of ammunition.

"Where did you get that?" asked Sam in surprise.

"Pensacola," said the young savage.

"How?"

"Injun 'list. Big-hat-red-coat-white man give Injun gun, drill Injun."

"What in the world did you do that for?" asked Sam.

"Um. Injun got eyes. Sam got no guns. Sam need um. Injun git um. Injun
'list agin. Big-hat-red-coat-white man give Injun 'nother gun. Injun
'list six, seven times, git guns for boys."

"But we don't want any guns, Thlucco."

"Um. Injun no fool. Sam Jackson man. Injun know. Sam Jackson man. Boys
Jackson men. Sam find out things, boys go tell Jackson. Bob go first.
Um. Injun no fool. Injun Jackson man. Injun git guns, heap."

"But what can we do with them when you get them, Thlucco?"

"Um. Injun no fool. May be red coat men spy Sam. Sam caught. Sam want
guns. Um. Injun no fool."

Sam saw that it was useless to prolong the conversation. Thlucco was
stolidly bent upon doing as he pleased, and the only thing for Sam to
do was to take care to conceal the guns from the observation of
anybody who might happen to visit the camp.

Thlucco went to town every day and enlisted anew, only to desert with
his gun each time. Finally he enlisted twice in one day, and the next
day three times, bringing to Sam a gun for each enlistment. By the end
of the week Sam had an armory of ten new rifles, with a store of
ammunition for each. Thlucco could not count very well, and it
required a good deal of persuasion on Sam's part to induce him to stop
enlisting. He was persuaded at last, however, that there were more
than enough guns in camp to arm the whole party, and then he consented
to remain away from the town.

On the evening of the sixth day of their stay in the fishing camp, the
boys were just sitting down to their supper of fried fish, when a
familiar voice said:--

"I think you might make room for me."

"Bob Sharp back again, as sure's we're here!" exclaimed Billy Bowlegs,
and all the boys rose hastily to greet their comrade.



CHAPTER XIX.

SAM SEEKS INFORMATION IN THE DARK.


"Why, Bob, old fellow, how are you?"

"You don't mean to say you've got back agin?"

"How'd you find it in the woods?"

These and a dozen other questions were asked while poor Bob's hand was
wrung nearly off.

"Now, see here," said Bob, "I can't answer a dozen questions at once.
Besides, I've got despatches for the Captain."

"Have you?" asked Sam. "Let me have them, then."

Bob handed Sam an official looking document, which was merely an
acknowledgment of his service, a request that he should not abate his
diligence, and an instruction to use his own discretion in the conduct
of his expedition. Then followed questions and answers innumerable,
and the boys learned that General Jackson was in Mobile, without an
army, and likely to be without one until the Tennessee volunteers
should arrive.

Supper over, Sam quietly informed the boys that he was going into the
town, and that he could not say when he should return.

"What're you a goin' to town this time o' night for?" asked Sid
Russell, who was strongly prejudiced against staying awake a moment
later than was necessary after the sun went down.

"I've laid some plans to get some information," replied Sam, "and I'm
going after it," and with that he jumped into the boat, with only Tom
for company. In truth, Sam had been in search of the information that
he was going after for several days, and he had reason to hope that he
might get it on this particular night.

He had already learned that several of the British vessels, now lying
in the bay, had sailed away some little time before, and that they had
returned on the night before Bob's arrival. He knew that their voyage
must have had some connection with the plans they had laid for
operations against the American coast, and he thought if he could
discover the nature and purpose of this recent expedition, it would
give him a clew to their projects for the future. To accomplish this
he had taken many risks while the ships were away, and he was now
going to try a new way of getting at facts.

He sailed his boat up to the town, and before landing, said to Tom:--

"When I'm ashore, you put off a little way from land and lie-to for an
hour or so. When I want you, I'll come down here to the water's edge
and whistle like a Whip-Will's Widow. When you hear me, run ashore. If
I don't come by midnight, go back to camp, and march at once for
Mobile."

"Why can't I lie here by the shore till you come. You're going into
danger and may need me."

"First, because there are ruffians around here who might put you
ashore and steal the boat; but secondly, because I don't want to
excite suspicion by having our boat seen around here at night. It's so
dark that nobody can recognize her if you lie-to a hundred yards from
shore. I'm going into danger, but you can't help me."

Avoiding further parley, Sam jumped ashore, and walked quietly up into
the town, through the main street, until he came to a house built
after the Spanish model, with a rickety stair-way outside. Up this
stair-way he climbed, and when he had reached the top he pushed the
door open and entered. He found himself in a dark passage, but by
feeling he presently discovered a door. As he opened it he said:--

"It's a dark night."

"Is it dark?" answered a voice from within.

"It is very dark."

All this appeared to be merely a pre-arranged signal, for it had no
sooner been uttered than the owner of the voice within, who seemed
satisfied of Sam's identity, struck a light, with flint and steel, and
carefully closed the door.

The man was apparently a dark mulatto, and his hair was matted about
his head as if with some glutinous substance.

"You sent me this note?" asked Sam.

"Yes, I gave it to the Injun. He said you'd help me."

There was a brogue in the man's voice, very slight,--too slight,
indeed, to be represented in print,--and yet it was perceptible, and
it attracted Sam's attention. Perhaps he would scarcely have noticed
it but for the fact that all his senses were keenly on the alert. He
was not at all sure that he was acting prudently in visiting this man.
He had no knowledge whatever of the man, except that Thlucco had
somehow found him and arranged a meeting. Thlucco had brought Sam a
scrap of dirty paper, on which were traced in a scarcely legible
scrawl, these words:--

"Your man must say, 'It's a dark night!' I'll say, 'Is it dark.' We
will know each other then."

In delivering this note, with directions as to the method of finding
the man, Thlucco had said:--

"Injun no fool. Injun know m'latter man. M'latter man tell Sam heap.
Sam take m'latter man way."

By diligent questioning, Sam had made out that this man had knowledge
of affairs in the British camp which he was willing to sell for some
service that Sam could do him.

Sam was not sure of Thlucco. His knowledge of the Indian character did
not predispose him to trust Indian professions of friendship, and he
strongly suspected treachery of some sort here. He thought it possible
that this was only a scheme to entrap his secret and himself, and he
had gone to the conference determined to be on his guard, and in the
event of trouble, to use the stout cudgel which he carried as
vigorously as possible.

"If we are to talk," he said to the man, "you must come with me."

The man hesitated, afraid, apparently, of treachery.

"I do not know you," he said, "and the Indian may have lied."

"Listen to me," said Sam in reply, "I do not know you, and the Indian
may have lied to me. Yet I have trusted myself here in the dark. You
must trust something to me. Go with me, and when we have talked
together for an hour, if you wish to return here, I pledge you my word
of honor, as a gentleman's son, to bring you back safely. If you will
not go with me, we may as well part at once. I positively will not say
another word, I'm going. Follow me in silence, or stay here, as you
please."

With that Sam opened the door and walked out. The man quickly
extinguished the light and crept after Sam, in his bare feet.

Sam led the way by a route just outside the town, without exchanging a
word with his companion. Half an hour's walking brought them to the
lonely strip of beach on which Sam had landed.

"Whip-Will's Widow," whistled Sam, shrilly.

His companion started back in affright, and was on the point of
running away, when Sam seized him by the arm, and, shaking him
vigorously, said:--

"I'll not play you false. Trust me. I have a boat here."

"You come from the Fort?" said the man in abject terror.

"No, I do not. I am an American," said Sam, no longer hesitating to
reveal his nationality, now that he saw how terrified the man was at
thought of falling into British hands.

The words re-assured the man, and when Tom came ashore with the boat
he embarked without further hesitation.

"Beat about, Tom," said Sam, "I may have to land again. I have
promised this man to return him safely to the place in which I found
him, if we don't come to some agreement. Sail around here while we
talk."

Turning to the man, he said:--

"Let us talk in a low voice. Who are you, and what?"

"I'm a deserter from the marine corps."

"British?"

"Yes. I'm an Irishman. I've blacked my hair and skin, that's all."

"When did you desert?"

"Yesterday. I was to be flogged for insubordination, and I jist run
away."

"Were you with the late expedition?"

"Yes."

"Very well. I think we can come to an understanding. You want to get
away, out of reach of capture?"

"Sure I do. If I'm caught, I'll be shot without mercy."

"Very well. Now if you'll tell me everything you know, I'll help you
to get away. More than that, I'll get you away, within our own lines.
I have the means at my command."

"Faith an' I'll tell you everything I ever know'd in my life, if
you'll only get me out of this."

The man was now in precisely the mood in which Sam wished to have him.
He had already confessed his desertion, and had now every reason to
speak freely and truly, and it was evident that he meant to do so.

"Tom," said Sam.

"Well," replied Tom.

"You may beat up toward our camp, now."

"And you'll save me?" asked the man, seizing Sam's hand and wringing
it.

"I will. Now let's come to business."

"I'm ready," answered the man.

"Where did the ships go?"

"To the Island of Barrataria."

"To treat with Jean Lafitte, the pirate?" exclaimed Sam.

"Yes, to enlist him and his cut-throats in the war against you."

"Did they succeed?"

"I don't know. The officers dined with Lafitte, and treated him like a
prince. They came away in good spirits, and must have succeeded, else
they'd a' been glum enough."

"What do they propose to do next?"

"They're a goin' to sail again in a few days, and the boys say it's
for Mobile this time. The men had orders yesterday to get ready."

"What preparation are they making?"

"They're storing the ships and taking water aboard. The marines are
kept in quarters on shore, and a lot o' them red savages is in camp at
the fort, with Captain Woodbine in command."

"Well, now," said Sam, "tell me why you think the next movement will
be against Mobile? May it not be New Orleans instead?"

"Well, you see them pirates is wanted for the New Orleans work. They
know all the channels, and have got the pilots. When the fleet starts
for New Orleans some o' them 'll be on board. Besides, the officers
talk over their rum, and the men hear 'em, an' all the talk is about
Mobile, and Mobile Point, whatever that is; so its pretty sure
they're going to Mobile first."[2]

[Footnote 2: It is scarcely necessary to tell readers who are familiar
with American History, that Jean Lafitte was not properly a pirate,
although he was called so in 1814; nor is it necessary to tell here
how the British attempt to use his lawless band against the Americans
miscarried. All that belongs to the domain of legitimate history.]

By this time the boat, which was running under a good stiff breeze,
ran upon the beach by Sam's camp, and Sam led the way to the dying
camp fire, which he replenished, for the sake of the light. Then
getting his writing materials he prepared a despatch to General
Jackson. It ran as follows:--

CAMP NEAR PENSACOLA,

September 8th, 1814.

TO MAJOR-GENERAL JACKSON,

Commanding Department of the South-West.

GENERAL:--

     I beg to report that several of the British vessels of war
     now lying at anchor in the harbor of Pensacola, have just
     returned from a brief voyage, the object and nature of which
     I have endeavored to discover. I have succeeded in finding a
     deserter from the British marine corps, from whom, under
     promise of protection, I have drawn such information as he
     possesses. He accompanied the late expedition, and tells me
     that it went to the Island of Barrataria, to seek the
     assistance of Jean Lafitte, the pirate, and his gang of
     outlaws, against the United States. Whether the negotiations
     to that end were successful or not, he does not know, but he
     supposes, from the temper in which the officers returned,
     that they were.

     From this deserter I learn, also, that preparations are
     making for a hostile movement, which the British marines and
     soldiers believe, from the remarks made by officers in their
     presence, is to be directed against Mobile by way of Mobile
     Point, which I take to be the point of land which guards the
     entrance to Mobile bay, where Fort Bowyer stands.

     I send the deserter with the messenger who takes this to
     you, partly because I have promised to secure him against
     recapture, and partly because you may desire to question him
     further.

     There are no present appearances of the immediate sailing of
     this expedition, but from what the deserter tells me, I
     presume that it will sail within a few days. I shall remain
     here still, to get what information I can, and will report
     to you promptly whatever I learn. I cannot say how long I
     shall be able to stay, as a British officer visited my camp
     yesterday, and questioned my boys, as I thought, rather
     suspiciously. I shall be on the alert, and take no
     unnecessary risk of capture.

     All of which is respectfully submitted.

SAMUEL HARDWICKE,

Commanding Scouting Party.



CHAPTER XX.

A SUSPICIOUS OCCURRENCE.


When Sam had finished his despatch he quietly aroused Bob Sharp and
Sidney Russell, and entered into conversation with them.

"Sid," he said, "I have a prisoner and a despatch of very great
importance to send to General Jackson. You must take the despatch and
leave as soon as possible, with the prisoner, who is a deserter and
who must be got away from here before daylight. Bob, I want you to
give Sid as good directions as you can, as you've been over the route
twice."

"Yes an' I've sort o' blazed it too, and picked out all sorts o'
land-marks to steer by, but I don't knows I can make any body else
understand 'em. Are you in a big hurry with the despatch?"

"Yes, the biggest kind. It's of the utmost importance, and time is
every thing. A single hour lost may lose Mobile or a battle."

"Then maybe Sid an' me'd both better go,--Sid to do the fast running
an' me to show him the way."

"There's no use of both of you going," replied Sam, "but if you had
had a couple of days rest I would send you instead of Sid, because you
know the way, and I don't believe anybody can make the distance any
quicker than you have done it."

"I know a feller that kin," replied Bob.

"Who is it?" asked Sam.

"Me."

"You? How do you mean?"

"I mean that I kin go to Mobile most a day quicker 'n I dun it before.
I got into a lot o' tangles before that I know how to keep out of
now."

"Yes, but you can't start back again without at least a day's rest."

"Can't I though? I'm as fresh as an Irish potato without salt, an' if
you just say the word, I'll be off the minute you git your papers
ready. The boys have got somethin' cooked I reckon."

Sam complimented Bob upon his vigor and readiness, and accepted his
offer. Ten minutes sufficed for all necessary preparations, and Bob
was about starting with his prisoner, when Sid Russell spoke.

"I say, Sam, did you say this 'ere feller's a deserter?"

"Yes. What of it?"

"Nothing only there's a camp o' British an' Injuns back there a little
ways, an' if Bob don't look out he'll run right into it."

"A camp? Where?" asked Sam.

"Right in rear of us, not three hundred yards away."

"When was it established there?"

"To-night, just after you went away in the boat."

"All right," replied Sam. "Jump into the boat, Bob, and we'll sail
down below and you can start from there."

It was easy enough to carry Bob and the deserter down to a point below
the camp, but Sam was not at all pleased to find the British so near
him. He feared already that he was suspected, and he was not sure that
this placing of troops near him was not a preparation for something
else. At all events, it was very embarrassing, for the reason that it
would prevent him from withdrawing his party suddenly to the woods on
their retreat, if anything should happen, and this made Sam uneasy. He
returned to camp, after parting with Bob and the deserter, and sat for
an hour revolving matters in his mind.

At first he was disposed to wake the boys and quietly withdraw by
water to a point lower down, but upon reflection he was convinced that
his removal by night immediately after the troops had been stationed
near him, would only tend to excite suspicion. He thought, too, that
he must have been wrong in supposing that the camp had been
established in rear of him with any reference to him or his party.

"If they suspected us in the least, they would arrest us without
waiting to make sure of their suspicions," he thought; nevertheless,
it was awkward to be shut in and cut off from the easy retreat which
he had planned, as a means of escape, in the event of necessity, and
he determined to seek an excuse for removing within a day or two from
his present camping place to one which would leave him freer in his
movements. He was so troubled that he could not sleep, and the
flickering blaze of the dying camp fire annoyed him. He got up,
therefore, from his seat on a log and went to the boat and sat down in
the stern sheets to think.

He had no fear of danger for himself, or rather, he was prepared to
encounter, without flinching, any danger into which his duty might
lead him; but I have not succeeded very well in making my readers
acquainted with Sam Hardwicke's character, if they do not know that he
was a thoroughly conscientious boy, and from the beginning of this
expedition until now, he had never once forgotten that his authority,
as its commander, involved with it a heavy responsibility.

"These boys," he frequently said to himself, "are subject to my
command. They must go where I lead them, and have no chance to use
their own judgments. I decide where they shall go and what they shall
do, and I am responsible for the consequences to them."

Feeling his responsibility thus deeply, he was troubled now lest any
mistake of his should lead them into unnecessary danger. He carefully
weighed every circumstance which could possibly affect his decision,
and his judgment was that his duty required him to remain yet a day or
two in the neighborhood of Pensacola, and that it would only tend to
awaken suspicion if he should remove his camp to any other point on
the shores of the bay. He must stay where he was, and risk the
consequences. If ill should befall the boys it would be an unavoidable
ill, incurred in the discharge of duty, and he would have no reason,
he thought, to reproach himself.

Just as he reached this conclusion, Thlucco came from somewhere out of
the darkness, and stepping into the boat took a seat just in front of
Sam, facing him.

"Why, Thlucco," exclaimed Sam, "where did you come from?"

"Sh--sh--," said Thlucco. "Injun know. Injun no fool. Injun want
Sam."

"What do you want with Sam?"

"Sam git caught! Injun no fool. Injun see."

"What do you mean, Thlucco? Speak out. If there is any danger, I want
to know it."

"Ugh! Injun know Jake Elliott!"

"What about Jake?" asked Sam.

"Um, Jake Elliott _devil_. Jake hate Sam. Jake hate General Jackson.
Injun no fool. Injun see."

Sam was interested now, but it was not easy to draw anything like
detailed information out of Thlucco.

"What makes you think that, Thlucco? What have you seen or heard?"

"Um. Injun see. Injun know. Injun no fool. Jake cuss Sam. Jake cuss
Jackson. Injun hear."

"When did you hear him curse me or General Jackson, Thlucco?" asked
Sam.

"Um. To-day! 'Nother day, too! 'Nother day 'fore that."

"What did he say?"

"Um. Jake _cuss_. Um. Jake gone."

"What!" exclaimed Sam. "Gone! where?"

"Um. Injun don't know. Injun know Jake gone."

"When did he leave camp?"

"Um. When Sam go 'way Jake go too! Injun follow Jake. Jake cuss Injun.
Injun come back."

"Is that all you know, Thlucco?"

"Um. That's all. That's 'nough. Jake gone 'way."

Sam jumped out of the boat and waked the boys.

"Where did Jake Elliott go to-night?" he asked.

None of the boys knew.

"Did any one of you see him leave camp?"

"Yes," answered Billy Bowlegs, "but we didn't pay much attention to
him. He's been so glum lately that we've been glad to have him out of
sight."

"Has he ever gone away before?" asked Sam.

"No, only he never stays right in camp. He sleeps over there by them
trees," said Billy Bowlegs, pointing to a clump of trees about forty
or fifty yards away, "an' I guess he's only gone over there. He never
stays with us when you're not here."

Sam strode over to the trees indicated, and searched carefully, but
could find no trace of Jake there. Returning to the camp he asked:--

"Did any of you observe which way he went when he went away?"

"Yes," answered Sid Russell, "he went toward his trees."

"That is toward the town," answered Sam.

"Yes, so it is."

"Have you observed anything peculiar about his conduct lately?"

"No," replied Billy Bowlegs, "only that he's been a gettin' glummer
an' glummer. I'll tell you what it is, Captain Sam, I'll bet a big
button he's deserted an' gone home. He's a coward and he's been scared
ever since he found out that you wa'n't foolin' about this bein' a
genu-_ine_, dangerous piece of work, an' I'll bet he's cut his lucky,
an' gone home, an' if ever I get back there I'll pull his nose for a
sneak, you just see if I don't."

"Very well," said Sam, "go to sleep again, then. If he has gone home
it is a good riddance of very bad rubbish."

Sam was not by any means satisfied that Jake had gone home, however.
Indeed he was pretty well convinced that he had done nothing of the
sort, and he wished for a chance to think, so that he might determine
what was best to be done. He believed Jake would not dare to go home
as a deserter, knowing very well what reputation he would have to bear
ever afterward, in a community in which personal courage was held to
be the first of the virtues, and the lack of it the worst possible
vice. Where had he gone, then, and for what? Sam did not know, but he
had an opinion on the subject which grew stronger and stronger the
more he revolved the matter in his mind.

Jake Elliott, he knew, had a personal grudge against him, and no very
kindly feeling for the other boys. He was confessedly afraid to
continue in the service in which he was engaged, and it was not easy
for him to quit it. There was just one safe way out of it; and that
offered, not safety only, but revenge of precisely the kind that Jake
Elliott was likely to take. Sam knew very well that, notwithstanding
his magnanimity, Jake still bitterly hated him, and still cherished
the design of wreaking his vengeance upon him at the first
opportunity.

"What is more probable, then," he asked himself, "than that Jake is
trying to betray us into the hands of the enemy to die as spies? He is
abundantly capable of the treachery and the meanness, and his
desertion of the camp to-night strongly confirms the suspicion."

This much being decided, it was necessary for Sam to determine what
should be done in the circumstances. If there had been no camp in his
rear, he would have withdrawn his command through the woods at once.
As it was, he must find some other way. It was clearly his duty to
escape with his boys, if he could, and to lose no time in attempting
it. The danger was now too near at hand, and too positive to be
ignored, and there was really very little more for him to do here. He
must escape at once.

But could he escape?

That was a question which the event would have to answer, as Sam could
not do it. Unluckily, it was already beginning to grow light, and he
would not have the shelter of darkness.

He aroused the boys again, before they had had time to get to sleep,
and quietly began his preparations.

"Make no noise," he said, "but put what provisions you have, and all
your things into the boat. _Don't forget the guns and the ammunition._
Sid! take our little water keg and run and fill it with fresh water."

The boys set about their preparations hurriedly, although they but
dimly guessed the meaning of Sam's singular orders.

At that moment Jake Elliott shuffled into the camp.



CHAPTER XXI.

JAKE ELLIOTT MAKES ANOTHER EFFORT TO GET EVEN.


As it is impossible to tell at one time the story of the doings of two
different sets of persons in two different places, it follows that, if
both are to be told, one must be told first and the other afterward.

For precisely this reason, I must leave Sam and his party for a time
now, while I tell where Jake Elliott had been, and what he had been
about.

When Sam let him off as easily as he could at the time of the compass
affair, and even went out of his way to prevent the boys from
referring to that transaction, he did so with the distinct purpose of
giving Jake an opportunity and a motive to redeem his reputation; and
he sincerely hoped that Jake would avail himself of the chance.

It is not easy for a man or boy of right impulses to imagine the
feelings, or to comprehend the acts of a person whose impulses are all
wrong, and so it was that Sam fell into the error of supposing that
his badly behaved follower would repent of his misconduct and do
better in future. This was what all the boys thought that Jake ought
to do, and what Sam thought he would do; but in truth he was disposed
to do nothing of the sort, and Sam was not very long in discovering
the fact. Instead of feeling grateful to Sam for shielding him against
the taunts of his companions, he hated Sam more cordially than ever,
when he found how completely he had failed in his attempt to embarrass
the expedition. He nursed his malice and brooded over it, determined
to seize the first opportunity of "getting even," as he expressed it,
and from that hour his thoughts were all of revenge, complete,
successful, merciless. He was willing enough, too, to include the
other boys in this wreaking of vengeance, as he included them now in
his malice.

His first attempt to accomplish his purpose, as we know already, was
an effort to wreck the boat in a drift pile, and that affair served
to open Sam's eyes to the true character of the boy with whom he had
to deal. He trusted him no more, and managed him thereafter only by
appeals to his fears.

When the camp was formed near Pensacola, Sam carefully canvassed the
possibilities of Jake's misconduct, and concluded that the worst he
could do would be to injure the boat or her tackle, and he
sufficiently guarded against that by always sleeping near the little
craft.

Jake was more desperately bent upon revenge than Sam supposed, and
from the hour of going into camp he diligently worked over his plan
for accomplishing his purpose. He had learned by previous failures, to
dread Sam's quickness of perception, of which, indeed, he stood almost
superstitiously in awe. He would not venture to take a single step
toward the accomplishment of the end he had set himself, until his
plans should be mature. For many days, therefore, he only meditated
revenge not daring, as yet, to attempt it by any active measures. At
last, however, he was satisfied that his plans were beyond Sam's
power to penetrate, and he was ready to put them into execution. On
the night of Bob Sharp's return, which was the night last described in
previous chapters, Sam went to the town, as we know, accompanied by
Tom, who sailed the boat. As soon as he was fairly out of sight Jake
walked away toward Pensacola. The distance was considerable, and the
way a very difficult one, as the tide was too high for walking on the
beach, so that it was nearly midnight when Jake knocked at a house on
a side street.

"Who is there?" asked a night-capped personage from an upper window.

"A friend," answered Jake.

"What do you want?" said the night-capped head, rather gruffly.

"I want to see the Leftenant."

"What do you want with me?"

"I want to talk with you."

"Oh, go to the mischief! I'm in bed."

"But I must see you to-night," said Jake.

"On business?"

"Yes, sir."

"Important?"

"Yes."

"Won't it keep till morning?"

"No, sir; I'm afraid not."

"Very well. I suppose I must see you then. Push the door open and find
your way up the stairs."

Jake did as he was told to do, and presently found himself in the room
where Lieutenant Coxetter had been sleeping. That distinguished
servant of His Majesty, King George, had meantime drawn on his
trowsers, and he now lighted a little oil lamp, which threw a wretched
apology for light a few feet into the surrounding darkness.

"Now then," said the officer, in no very pleasant tones, "What do you
want with me at this time o' night? Who are you, and where do you come
from?"

Jake was so nervous that he found it impossible to find a place at
which to begin his story, and the impatient Lieutenant spurred him
with direct questions.

"What's your name?" he asked. "You can tell that, can't you?"

"Yes, sir," faltered Jake.

[Illustration: "SPEAK, MAN! OR I CHOKE YOU."]

"Well, tell it then, and be quick about it."

"My name is Jacob Elliott," said that worthy, fairly gasping for
breath in his embarrassment.

"Oh! you do know your name, then," said the officer. "Now, then, where
do you come from?"

"From Alabama," answered Jake.

"From Alabama! the mischief you do! You're an American then? What the
mischief are you doing here?"

"Oh, sir, that's just what I want to tell you about, if you'll let
me."

"If I'll _let_ you? Ain't I doing my very best to _make_ you? Havn't I
been worming your facts out of you with a corkscrew? But you'd better
be quick about giving an account of yourself. If you don't give a
pretty satisfactory one, too, I'll arrest you as a _spy_,--a _spy_, my
good fellow, do you understand? _A spy_, and we hang that sort o'
people. Come, be quick."

"Spies! that's just it, Lieutenant. I came here to-night to tell you
about spies."

"Then why the mischief don't you do it? You'll drive me mad with your
halting tongue. Speak man, or I'll choke you!" and with that the
officer stood up and bent forward over Jake, to that young man's
serious discomfiture.

"They's some spies here--" Jake began. "Where?" asked the impatient
officer interrupting him.

"Down there, in a camp," said Jake, talking as rapidly as he could,
lest the officer should interrupt him again; "Down there in a camp by
the bay, an' they've got a boat an' guns, an' they're boys, an' they
pretend to be a fishin' party."

"Ah!" said the Lieutenant, "I thought I'd make you find your tongue.
Now listen to me, and answer my questions, and mind you don't lie to
me, sir; mind you don't lie."

"I won't. I pledge you my honor--," began Jake.

"Never mind pledging that; it isn't worth pledging. You see you're a
sneak, else you wouldn't be here telling tales on your fellow
countrymen. But never mind. It's my business to make use of you. I'm
provost-marshal."

This was not at all the sort of treatment Jake had expected to receive
at the hands of British officers. He had supposed that the value of
his services in betraying his fellows, would be recognized and
rewarded, and he had even dreamed of receiving marked attentions and a
good, comfortable, safe place in the British service in recompense. It
had never occurred to him that while all military men must get what
information they can from deserters, and traitors, they do not respect
the sneaking fellows in the least, but on the contrary hold them in
profoundest contempt, almost spurning them with their boots. Jake had
gone too far to retreat, however, and must now tell his whole story.
He told where the boys were, and how they had come there, and for what
purpose, lying only enough to make it appear that he himself had never
willingly joined them, but had been deceived at first, and forced
afterward into the service.

The Lieutenant listened to the story and then asked:--

"Have you anything to show for all this?"

"How do you mean?" asked Jake.

"Why, you wretched coward, don't you understand? How am I to know how
much of your story is true, and how much of it false? Of course it
isn't all true. You couldn't talk so long without telling some lies.
What I want to know is, what can you show for all this story? If I
arrest these boys, what can be proved on them?"

"Well, the Captain's got a despatch from General Jackson; that'll
prove something."

"When did he get it?"

"To-night."

"Very well. That's something. Now you just sit still till I tell you
to do something else."

So saying the Lieutenant summoned a courier or two, and sent them off
with notes.

"These boys have a boat, you say?"

"Yes."

"Do they know how to sail it?"

"A little; the Captain handles it better'n the rest."

"Has he ever been to sea?"

"No, sir."

"What sort of a boat is it?"

"A dug-out; we made it ourselves."

"Oh, did you? Why didn't you tell me that first? Never mind, it's all
right. They'll never try to put to sea in a dug-out, but they may try
to escape to some point lower down the bay in it, so my message to
the fort won't be amiss."

The Lieutenant had sent a message to the fort that at daylight he
should arrest the party, and that if they should take the alarm and
try to escape by water, a boat must be sent from the fort to overhaul
them.

He now dressed himself, first sending for a file of soldiers under a
sergeant, with instructions to parade at his door immediately.

When all was ready he said to Jake.

"Now then, young man, come with me, and guide me to the camp of these
lads."

Jake led the way, and when a little after daylight they approached the
camp the Lieutenant said to him:--

"I don't want to make any mistake in this business. You go ahead to
the camp and see if the lads are there. That'll throw 'em off their
guard, and I'll come up in five minutes."

"But Lieu--" began Jake, remonstratingly.

"Hold your tongue, and do as I tell you, or I'll string you up to a
tree, you rascal."

Thus admonished, Jake walked on in fear and trembling to the camp. As
he approached it he observed the unusual stir which was going on, and
wondered what it meant, but he did not for a moment imagine that Sam
had guessed the truth.



CHAPTER XXII.

THE SEA FIGHT.


When Jake entered the camp it was fairly light, and as Sam looked at
him he caught a glimpse of the file of soldiers in the thicket, three
or four hundred yards away.

He knew what it meant.

"We're about to leave this place, Jake," said Sam, as the boys stowed
the last of their things in the boat, "we're about to leave this
place, and you're just in time. Get in."

"Well, but where--" began the culprit.

"Get in," interrupted Sam, who stood with one of the rifles in his
hands.

Jake hesitated, and was indeed upon the point of running away, when
Sam, placing the muzzle of his gun almost against Jake's breast,
said:--

"Get into the boat instantly, or I'll let daylight through you, sir."

There was no help for it, and Jake obeyed.

Sam quickly cast the boat loose, and as he did so, the Lieutenant
discovered his purpose, and started his men at a full run toward the
camp.

Sam pushed the boat off and, taking his place in the stern, took the
helm.

"Hoist the sail, quick!" he said; and the sail went up in a moment. A
strong breeze was blowing and the sail quickly bellied in the wind.

"Lie down, every man of you," cried Sam, but without setting the
example. A moment later a shower of bullets whistled around his ears.
He had seen that the soldiers were about to fire upon him, and had
ordered his companions to lie down, confident that the thick solid
sides of the boat would pretty effectually protect them.

As for himself, he must take the chances and navigate his boat. The
soldiers were not move than fifty yards from him when they fired but
luckily they failed to hit him.

"Now for a run!" he exclaimed. "Before they can load again, I'll be
out of range, or pretty nearly."

The breeze was very fresh, almost high, and as the boat got out from
under the lee of the shore timber, she heeled over upon one side, and
sped rapidly through the water. The Lieutenant made his men fire
again, but the distance was now so great that their bullets flew wide
of the mark.

"We're off boys at last. Look out for Jake Elliott and don't let him
jump overboard, or he'll swim ashore. He is a prisoner."

"Is he? what for?" asked Billy Bowlegs.

"For betraying us to the British."

At this moment a boat pushed out from the dock at the fort, and Sid
Russell, who was Sam's most efficient lieutenant, and was scanning the
whole bay for indications of pursuit, cried:

"There goes a row boat out from the fort, Sam, an' they's soldiers on
board 'n her. I see their guns."

"Arm yourselves, boys," was Sam's reply. "I want to say a word first.
Jake Elliott has betrayed us to these people, and they are trying to
arrest us. If they catch us, we shall be treated as spies; that is to
say, we shall be hanged to the most convenient tree. I believe we're
all the sons of brave men, and ready to die, if we must, but I, for
one, don't mean to die like a dog, and for that reason I'll never be
taken alive."

"Nor me," "nor me," "nor me," answered the boys, neglectful of
grammar, but very much in earnest.

"Very well, then," replied Sam. "It is understood that we're not going
to surrender, whatever happens."

"It's agreed," answered every boy there except the wretched prisoner,
who was no longer counted one of them.

"That boat has no sail," said Sam, "and she's got half a mile to row
through rough water before she crosses our track half a mile ahead. I
think I can give her the slip. If I can't we'll fight it out, right
here in the boat. Now, then, one cheer for the American flag!" and as
he said it, Sam drew forth a little flag which he had carried in all
his wanderings, for use if he should need it, and ran it up to his
mast head by a rude halyard which he had arranged in anticipation of
some such adventure as this.

The boys gave the cheer from the bottom of their broad chests, and
every one took the place which Sam assigned him, with gun in hand.
Meantime Sam tacked the boat in such a way as to throw the point of
meeting between her and the British boat as far from the fort as
possible. It was very doubtful whether he could pass that point before
the row boat, propelled by six oars in the hands of skilled oarsmen,
should reach it. If not, there remained only the alternative of
"fighting it out."

"Reserve your fire, boys, till I tell you to shoot. There are only six
armed men in that boat. If they shoot, lie down behind the gunwale.
You mustn't shoot till we come to close quarters. Then take good aim,
and make your fire tell. A single wasted bullet may cost us our lives.
Above all, keep perfectly cool. We've work to do that needs coolness
as well as determination."

The boats drew rapidly nearer and nearer the point of meeting, and Sam
saw that he would succeed in passing it first, but narrowly, he
thought.

"We'll beat them, boys," he said. "The sea is rough, and they can't
do much at long range, and they won't get more than one shot close to
us." At that moment the men in the British boat fired a volley, after
the manner which was in vogue with British troops at that day. The two
boats were not a hundred yards apart, but the roughness of the water,
on which the row boat bobbed about like a cork, rendered the volley
ineffective.

"They're good soldiers with an idiot commanding them," said Sam.

"Why?" asked Tom, who was very coolly studying the situation.

"Because he made them fire too soon," replied Sam, "and we can slip by
now while they're loading. Don't shoot, Joe!" he exclaimed to the
black boy who was manifestly on the point of doing so. "Don't shoot,
we've got the best of them now; we are past them and making the
distance greater every second. Give them a cheer to take home with
them. Hurrah!"

It was raining now, and the wind was blowing a gale, so that Sam's
boat was running at a speed which made pursuit utterly hopeless. The
British soldiers fired three or four scattering shots, and then
cheered in their turn, in recognition of the admirable skill and
courage with which their young adversary had eluded them.

Sam's escape was not made yet, however. A war ship lay below, and her
commander seeing the chase, and the firing in the bay, manned a light
boat with marines, and sent her out to intercept Sam's craft, without
very clearly understanding the situation or its meaning.

Sam saw this boat put off from the ship, and knew in an instant what
it meant. He saw, too, that he had no chance to slip by it as he had
done by the other, as it was already very near to him, and almost in
his track.

"Now, boys," he said very calmly, "we've got to fight. There's no
chance to slip by that boat, and we've got to whip her in a fair
fight, or get whipped. Keep your wits about you, and listen for
orders. Cover your gun pans to keep your priming dry. Here, Tom, take
the tiller. I must go to the bow."

Tom took the helm, and as he did so Sam said to him:--

"Keep straight ahead till I give you orders to change your course, and
then do it instantly, no matter what happens. I've an idea that I know
how to manage this affair now. You have only to listen for orders, and
obey them promptly."

"I'll do what you order, no matter what it is," said Tom, and Sam went
at once to the bow of his boat.

His boys were crouching down on their knees to keep themselves as
steady as they could, and their guns, which they were protecting from
the rain, were not visible to the men in the other boat, who were
astonished to find that they had, as they supposed, only to arrest a
boat's crew of unarmed boys.

The boats were now within a stone's throw of each other, the English
boat lying a little to the left of Sam's track, but the officer in
command of it, supposing that the party would surrender at the word of
command, ordered his men not to open fire.

"They's a mighty heap on 'em for sich a little boat," whispered Sid
Russell.

"So much the better," said Sam. "They're badly crowded."

Then, turning to his companions, he said:--

"Lie down, quick, they'll fire in a moment."

The boys could see no indication of any such purpose on the part of
the British marines, but Sam knew what he was about and he knew that
his next order to his boys would draw a volley upon them.

Turning to Tom, and straightening himself up to his full height, while
the British officer was loudly calling to him to lie to and surrender,
Sam cried out:

"Jam your helm down to larboard, Tom, quick and hard, and ram her into
'em!"

Tom was on the point of hesitating, but remembering Sam's previous
injunction and his own promise, he did as he was ordered, suddenly
changing the boat's course and running her directly toward the British
row boat, which was now not a dozen yards away. The speed at which she
was going was fearful. The British, seeing the manoeuvre, fired, but
wildly, and the next moment Sam's great solid hulk of a boat struck
the British craft amidships, crushed in her sides, cut her in two, and
literally ran over her.

"Now, bring her back to the wind," cried Sam, "and hold your course."

The boat swung around and was flying before the wind again in a
second. Boats were rapidly lowered from the war ship to rescue the
struggling marines from the water into which Sam had so
unceremoniously thrown them.

"Three cheers for our naval victory, and three more for our
commodore!" called out Billy Bowlegs, and the response came quickly.

"It's too soon to cheer," said Sam. "We're not out of the scrape yet."

The next moment a puff of smoke showed itself on the side of the war
ship and a shower of grape shot whizzed angrily around the boat. A
second and a third discharge followed, and then came solid shot,
sixty-four pounders, howling like demons over the boys' heads, and
plowing the water all around them. Their speed quickly took them out
of range, however, and the firing ceased.

They now had time to look about them and estimate damages. None of the
solid shot had taken effect, but three of the grape shot had struck
the boat, greatly marring her beauty, but doing her no serious damage.

"Are any of you hurt?" asked Sam. All the boys reported themselves
well.

"Then make a place for me in the middle of the boat, where I can lie
down," replied Sam, "I'm wounded."

"Where?"

"How?"

"Not badly, I hope, Sam?" the boys answered quickly.

"I'm hurt in two places. They shot me as we ran over that boat," said
Sam, "but not very badly, I think. I'm faint, however," and as he lay
down in the boat he lost consciousness.



CHAPTER XXIII.

CAPTAIN SAM.


The boys were now badly frightened, and the more so because they did
not know what to do for their chief, who lay dying, as they supposed.
His left hand and shoulder were bleeding profusely, and Tom,
remembering some instructions that Sam had once given him[3] with
respect to the stopping of a flow of blood, at once examined the
wounds, to discover their nature. Two fingers of Sam's left hand had
been carried away, and a deep flesh wound showed itself in his
shoulder. By the use of a handkerchief or two Tom soon succeeded in
staunching the flow of blood, while one of the other boys sailed the
boat. After a little while the dashing rain revived the wounded boy,
and while he was still very weak, he was able, within an hour, to
take the direction of affairs into his own hands again.

[Footnote 3: See "The Big Brother" Chapter 3.]

But what mischief maybe done in an hour! The boys had never once
thought of anything but Sam, during all that time, and they had been
sailing for an hour straight out into the Gulf of Mexico, at a furious
rate of speed! It was pouring down rain, and land was nowhere visible!

When Sam's questions drew out these facts, the boys were disposed to
be very much frightened.

"There's no cause for alarm, I think," said Sam, reassuringly. "I
think I know how to manage it, and perhaps it is better so."

"Of course you know how to manage," said Sid Russell, admiringly. "I'm
prepared to bet my hat an' boots on that, now or any other time. You
always do know how to manage, whatever turns up. That long head o'
your'n's got more'n a little in it."

Sam smiled rather feebly and replied:--

"Wait till I get you out of the scrape we're in, Sid, before you
praise me."

"Well, I'll take it on trust," said Sid, "an' back my judgment on it,
too."

"Let me have your compass, Tom," he said; and taking the instrument
which he had confided to Tom's hands at starting on the voyage, he
opened his map just enough to catch a glimpse of the coast lines
marked on it, having one of the boys hold a hat over it, to protect it
from the rain as he did so. After a little while he said:--

"Take the helm, Tom, and hold the boat due west. There, that will do.
Now let her go, and keep her at that. The wind is north-east, and
she'll make good time in this direction."

"Where are you aiming for, Sam?" asked Tom.

"The mouth of Mobile Bay."

"Does it lie west?"

"Not exactly, but a little north of west. We can sail faster due west,
however, and after awhile we'll tack to the north till we see land.
It's about forty miles from the mouth of Pensacola Bay to the mouth of
Mobile bay, and we're going, I think, about six or seven miles an
hour."

"But, how'll you find the mouth of the bay?"

"I don't know that I can, but I can find land easily enough, as it
stretches in a bow all along to the north of us. But I want to strike
as near the mouth of the bay as I can, so as to have as little
marching to do as possible. If I can get into the bay, I can sail
clear up to Mobile."

"But, Sam?"

"Well."

"What if it storms? It looks like it was going to."

"Well, I think we can weather it. This boat can't spring a leak, and
if she fills full of water she won't sink, for she's only a log
hollowed out."

"That's so, but won't she turn over like a log?"

"I think not. She's heaviest at the bottom, and I made her keel very
heavy on purpose."

"Why, did you expect to go to sea in her?"

"No, but I thought I might have to do it, to get away from Pensacola."

"Did you think of that when you planned her, up there in the woods?"

"Yes."

"Yes," said Sid, "of course he did! Don't he always think of every
thing before it comes?"

It was rapidly coming on to storm. The rain was falling very slightly
now, and the wind was shifting to the east and rapidly rising. Sam
directed the boys to shorten sail, and showed them how to do it. The
wind grew stronger and stronger, suddenly shifting to the south. The
sail was still further shortened. The sea now began coming up, and Sam
saw that their chief danger was that of getting washed overboard. He
cautioned the boys against this, and changed the boat's course, so as
to keep her as nearly as possible where she was. A heavy sea broke
over her, and carried away their only water keg, which was a dire
calamity. After a little while their store of food went, and they were
at sea, in a storm, without food or water!

"I say, Sam," said Tom.

"What is it?"

"Is there land all to the north of us?"

"Yes."

"How far is it?"

"Twenty miles, perhaps,--possibly less."

"Why can't we head the boat about, and run for it?"

"Because the wind is blowing on shore, and there's a heavy surf
running."

"What of that?"

"Why, simply this, that if we run ashore on a long, flat beach, the
boat will be beaten to splinters a mile or more from land."

"How?"

"By the waves; they would lift her up, and receding let her drop
suddenly on the sands, splitting her to pieces in no time, and the
very next wave would do the same thing for us. We must stay out here
till the storm's over. There's nothing else for it."

The storm lasted long enough to make a furious sea, and the boys could
do nothing but hold on to the boat's gunwales. As night came on the
wind ceased, very suddenly, as it frequently does in Southern seas,
but the waves still rolled mountain high.

"When the sea goes down we'll try to make land, won't we, Sam?" asked
Tom.

"Yes, but before the surf is safe for us, we can sail several hours
toward Mobile, and gain that much. Indeed, I think we can get that far
west before it will be tolerably safe to run ashore. We're hungry and
thirsty, of course, but we must endure it. There's no other way."

The boat was presently headed to the west, and the sail unfurled
again, but as the night advanced the wind fell to a mere breeze, and
then died altogether. It began to grow hazy. The haze deepened into a
dense fog. The sea went down, and the boat rocked idly on a ground
swell.

"Now, let's run ashore," said Billy Bowlegs.

"What will we run with? There isn't a cap full of wind on the Gulf of
Mexico, and there won't be while this fog lasts."

"What shall we do, then?"

"Nothing, for there is literally nothing to be done," answered Sam.

"Mas' Sam," said Joe, "I'll tell you what."

"Well, Joe, what is it?"

"Ef we jist had a couple o' paddles."

"But we just haven't a couple of paddles," answered Sam. "No, what we
need now is courage and endurance. We must wait for a wind, and keep
our courage up. We are suffering already with hunger and thirst, and
will suffer more, but it can't be helped. We must keep our courage up,
and endure that which we cannot do anything to cure. It is harder to
endure suffering than to encounter danger, but a brave man, or a brave
boy, can do both without murmuring."

Sam's words encouraged his companions, and they managed to get some
sleep. After awhile day dawned, and the fog was still thick around
them, while not a zephyr was astir. Nearly an hour later, a sudden
booming startled them. It was a cannon, and was very near.

"What is that?" asked the boys in a breath.

"A sunrise gun, I think," said Sam, "and it's on a ship or a fort. Now
then all together with a shout."

They shouted in concert. No answer came. They shouted again and again,
and finally their shout was answered. A little later a row boat came
out into the fog, and the first man Sam saw in it was Tandy Walker.

It is not necessary to repeat the greetings and the explanations that
were given. Sam learned that the gun had been fired from Fort Bowyer,
the guardian fortress, which, standing on Mobile Point, commanded the
entrance to the bay. The fort had been garrisoned only the day before,
and Tandy was one of the garrison. Sam's boat had drifted further west
than he had supposed, and he found himself now precisely at the point
he had tried to reach.

       *       *       *       *       *

As Sam was too weak to walk, and there was no wind with which to sail
up to the town, a messenger was sent by land from the fort, bearing to
General Jackson a detailed account of Sam's wanderings and adventures
in the shape of a written report. When the wind served, the little
band of weary wanderers sailed up to Mobile, and when Sam reached the
hospital to which he had been assigned for the treatment of his
wounds, he found there an official despatch from General Jackson, from
which the following is an extract:--

"The commanding General begs to express his high sense of the services
rendered by Samuel Hardwicke and his band, and his appreciation of the
rare courage, discretion and fortitude displayed by the youthful
leader of the Pensacola scouting party. A few blank commissions in the
volunteer forces having been placed in the commanding General's hands
for bestowal upon deserving men, he is greatly pleased to issue the
first of them to Mr. Hardwicke, in recognition of his gallant conduct,
creating him a captain of volunteers, to date from the day of his
departure on his recent mission."

"So, you're really 'Captain Sam' after all," said Sid Russell, when
the document was read in his presence, and the formal commission had
been inspected reverently by all the boys.

"Yes, an' he's been a real 'Captain Sam' all the time," said Billy
Bowlegs.

What became of Jake Elliott?

If he had been an enlisted soldier he would have been tried by court
martial. As it was, the boys formally drummed him out of their
company, and he disappeared from Mobile. He did not go home as the
boys learned a few months later, when, after the battle of New
Orleans, peace was proclaimed throughout the land, and they were led
back by their favorite hero, Captain Sam.


THE END.



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