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Title: Lion Ben of Elm Island - Elm Island Stories
Author: Kellogg, Elijah
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1868, by
  In the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the District
  of Massachusetts.

  19 Spring Lane.



  Others in preparation.


If the writer ever tasted unalloyed happiness, it has been when
exciting to manly effort a noble boy, whose nature responded to the
impulse as a generous horse leaps under the pressure of the knee.

Hours and years thus spent have brought their own reward. The desire
to meet a want not as yet fully satisfied, to impart pleasure, and, at
the same time, inspire respect for labor, integrity, and every noble
sentiment, has originated the stories contained in the “Elm Island
Series,” in which we shall endeavor to place before American youth the
home life of those from whom they sprung; the boy life of those who
grew up amid the exciting scenes and peculiar perils and enjoyments
incident to frontier life, by sea and land; in fine, that type of
character which has transformed a wilderness into a land of liberty and
wealth, and replaced the log canoe of the pioneer by a commerce, the
marvel of the age;--to the intent that, as insects take the color of
the bark on which they feed, they also may learn to despise effeminacy
and vice, and sympathize with, and emulate, the virtues they here find


  CHAPTER                                                       PAGE

      I. ELM ISLAND.                                              9

     II. THE RHINES FAMILY.                                      25

    III. TIGE RHINES.                                            39

     IV. BEN’S COURTSHIP.                                        50

      V. SALLY TELLS HER MOTHER ALL ABOUT IT.                    64

     VI. BEN BUYS ELM ISLAND.                                    70


   VIII. BREAKING GROUND ON ELM ISLAND.                          88

     IX. TOO GOOD A CHANCE TO LOSE.                             107

      X. THE SURPRISE PARTY.                                    115

     XI. THE CHRISTENING.                                       122

    XII. THE PULL-UP.                                           127

   XIII. INJURED PEOPLE HAVE LONG MEMORIES.                     135


     XV. ENCOURAGING NATIVE TALENT.                             153


   XVII. THEY MARRY, AND GO ON TO THE ISLAND.                   172

  XVIII. THE BRIDAL CALL.                                       184

    XIX. AN UNGRATEFUL BOY.                                     193

     XX. PETER CLASH AND THE WOLF-TRAP.                         201

    XXI. WHY THE BOYS LIKED UNCLE ISAAC.                        210

   XXII. BEN’S NOVEL SHIP.                                      224





In one of the most beautiful of the many romantic spots on the rugged
coast of Eastern Maine lived Captain Ben Rhines. The country was just
emerging from the terrible struggle of the revolution, and the eastern
part of the state had settled very slowly. The older portion of the
inhabitants, now living in frame houses, had been born and passed their
childhood in log camps.

Captain Rhines’s house stood at the head of a little cove, on the
western side of a large bay, formed by a sweep in the main shore on the
one side, and a point on the other, called (from the name of its owner,
Isaac Murch) “Uncle Isaac’s Point.”

A small stream, that carried a saw and grist mill, found an outlet at
the head of it, while the milldam served the inhabitants for a bridge.
A number of islands were scattered over the surface of the bay, some
of them containing hundreds of acres; others, a mere patch of rock and
turf, fringed with the white foam of the breakers.

At a distance of six miles, broad off at sea, in a north-westerly
direction, lay an island, called Elm Island, deriving its name from the
great numbers of that tree which grew on its southern end.

As we shall have a great deal to do with this island, it is necessary
to be particular in the description of it. It was about three miles
in length, rocks and all, by two in width, running north-east and
south-west, and parallel to the main land. From the eastern side,
Captain Rhines’s house and the whole extent of the bay, and Uncle
Isaac’s Point, were visible. Nature seemed to have lavished her skill
upon this secluded spot.

The island was formed by two ridges of rock forming the line of the
shore, the intervening valley dividing the island nearly in the middle.
These ridges sloped gradually, on their inner sides, into fertile
swales of deep, strong soil. The shores were perpendicular, dropping
plump down into the ocean, being in some places forty feet above the
level of the water. They were rent and seamed by the frost and waves;
and, in the crevices of the rocks, the spruce and birch trees thrust
their roots, and, clinging to the face of the cliff, struggled for life
with waves and tempests.

The island would have been well nigh inaccessible, had not nature
provided on the south-western end a most remarkable harbor. The line
of perpendicular cliffs on the north-west ran the whole length of
the island, against which, even in calm weather, the ground-swell
of the ocean eternally beat. The westerly ridge, which was covered
with soil of a moderate depth, gradually sloped as it approached the
south-western end, till it terminated in a broad space occupying the
whole width between the outer cliffs, and gradually sloping to the
water’s edge. This portion of the island was bare of wood, and covered
with green grass. The eastern ridge terminated in a long, broad point,
covered with a growth of spruce trees, so dense that not a breath of
wind could get through them, and, curving around, formed a beautiful
cove, whose precipitous sides broke off the easterly sea and gales.

Into the head of this cove poured a brook, which, like a little boy,
had a very small beginning. It came out from beneath the roots of two
yellow birch trees that grew side by side in a little stream not more
than two inches deep. As it ran on, it was joined by two other springs,
that came out from the westerly ridge. The waters of these springs,
together with the rains which slowly filtered through the forest, made
quite a brook, which was never dry in the hottest weather.

At certain periods of the year the frost-fish and the smelts came up
from the sea into the mouth of this brook. The cove, also, was full of
flounders and minnows, eels and lobsters, and abounded in clams. The
fish attracted the fish-hawks and herons, who filled the woods with
their notes. Sometimes there would be ten blue herons’ nests on one
great beech. The fish-hawks attracted the eagles, who obtained their
principal living by robbing the fish-hawks. The wild geese, coots,
whistlers, brants, and sea-ducks also came there to drink. This was
not the natural habitat of the large blue heron, their food not being
found there to any great extent, as the shores were too bold, and the
waters too deep; their favorite feeding grounds are the broad shallow
coves, where they can wade into the water with their long legs, and
catch little fish as they come up on the flood tide; but they prefer
to go after their food, rather than abandon this secluded spot, where
they are secure from all enemies, and where the tall trees afforded
these shy birds such advantages for building their nests. As for the
fish-hawks, who dive and take their food from the water, it was just
the place for them.

There was also on the eastern side of the western ridge a swamp, a
most solitary place, so thickly timbered with enormous hemlocks and
firs, mixed with white cedar, that it was almost as dark as twilight
at noonday. Here dwelt an innumerable multitude of herons, where they
had bred undisturbed for ages. Much smaller than the great blue heron,
they built their nests in the low firs and cedars; and as they fed upon
frogs, grasshoppers, mice, tadpoles, and minnows, they were not obliged
to leave the island for their food: they were perfectly at home and

They belonged to that species called, by naturalists, _ardea
nycticorax_. The inhabitants called them squawks and flying foxes,
from the noise they made. Like all the heron tribe, they are extremely
quick of hearing, and feed mostly in the morning and evening twilight,
half asleep through the day among the branches of the firs, standing
on one leg. They make shallow nests of sticks, and lay three or four
green eggs. You may walk through their haunts: all is still as death,
apparently not a heron on the island, while thousands of them are
right over your head, and all around you, listening to every step you
take, the slightest noise of which they will hear, when you do not
notice it yourself. Crack goes a dry stick under your foot; you catch
your toe under a spruce root, and tumble down; instantly the intense
stillness of the woods is broken by a flapping of wings and rustling of
branches, succeeded by quaw, quaw, squawk, squawk, producing a chorus
almost deafening. The sound they emit, which is a union of growl, bark,
and scream, comes from their throat with such suddenness, breaking upon
the deep silence of the woods, like the whirr of the partridge, that
it will make you jump, though you are prepared for it and accustomed
to it. Then you will see them, after flying to a safe distance, light
on the tips of the fir limbs, holding themselves up with their wings
on the bending branch, like a bobolink on a spear of herds-grass, from
which they will in an instant crawl down into the middle of the tree,
sitting close to the trunk, where it is impossible to see them. You
must therefore shoot them when they are on the wing, or at the moment
they light.

They will bear a great deal of killing, and even make believe dead. I
knew a boy once who shot four squawks, and after beating them with an
iron ramrod, left them tied up in his pocket-handkerchief at the foot
of a tree while he was clambering up after eggs: when he came down, two
of them had crawled out of the handkerchief and run away. They will
show fight, too, when they are wounded, bite and thrust with their
bill, and scratch terribly with their claws. As if to compensate for
the horrible noise they make, the full-grown male is a very handsome
bird. The top of the head and back are green, the eyes a bright,
flashing red, and just above them a little patch of pure white. The
bill is black, the wings are light blue, the back part and sides of
the neck lilac, shading on the front and breast to a cream color, and
the legs yellow. From the back part of the head depend three feathers,
white as snow and extremely delicate, rolled together, and as long as
the neck.

The mouth of the little brook of which we have spoken was a very busy
place when the fish-hawks were fishing, or carrying sticks to build
their nests, and screaming with all their might, the herons fishing for
minnows, squawks catching frogs, the wild geese making their peculiar
noise, the sea-fowl diving, the ducks quacking, and the fish jumping
from the water in schools. It shows how God provides for all his
creatures, for though there are thousands of these islands scattered
along the coast of Maine, on the smallest of them, and some that are
mere rocks, you will find springs of living water.

On this island was a spring, that whenever the tide was in was six feet
under water; but when the tide ebbed, there was the spring bubbling up
in the white sand, as good fresh water as was ever drank.

Old Skipper Brown said he knew the time when it was a rod up the bank;
that when he used to go fishing with his father, he had filled many a
jug with water out of it; but the frost and the sea had undermined the
bank and washed it away, till the tide came to flow over it.

There is another thing in relation to this little harbor, of great
importance; for though the high rocks and the thick wood sheltered the
little cove from all but the south and south-west winds, yet it would
have been (at any rate the mouth of it) very much exposed to the whole
sweep of the Atlantic waves in southerly gales; and though the cove was
so winding that a vessel in the head of it could not be hurt by the
sea, yet it would have been very hard going in, and impossible to get
out in bad weather, had it not been for a provision of nature, of which
I shall now speak, consisting of some ragged and outlying rocks.

One of these was called the White Bull, deriving its name from the
peculiar hoarse roar which the sea made as it broke upon it, and also
the white cliffs of which it was composed. It was a long granite
ledge, perpendicular on the inside, and far above the reach of the
highest waves. On the seaward side it ran off into irregular broken
reefs, covered with kelp, the home of the rock cod and lobster, and
the favorite resort of all the diving sea-fowl, who fed on the weeds
growing on the bottom.

In the centre of these reefs was a large cove. Between this rock and
the eastern point of the island was another, of similar shape, but
smaller dimensions, called the Little Bull: they were connected by a
reef running beneath the water, against which the sea broke, in storms,
with great fury; and even in calm weather, from the ground swell of the
ocean, it was white with the foaming breakers.

On the western side was a long, high, narrow island, called, from its
shape, the “Junk of Pork,” with deep water all around it, and covered
with grass. The two ends of this island lapped by the western point
of the White Bull and the western point of the main island, thus
presenting a complete barrier against the sea. The whole space between
the main land and these outlying rocks and islands was a beautiful
harbor, the bottom of which was clay, and sand on top, thus affording
an excellent hold to anchors.

There were two passages to go in and out, according as the wind might
happen to be, with deep water close to the rocks. This harbor was a
favorite resort of the fishermen, who came here to dig clams in the
cove, and catch menhaden and herring for bait; they also stopped here
in the afternoons to get water, and make a fire on the rocks, and
take a cup of tea, before they went out to fish all night for hake;
they also resorted to it in the morning to dress their fish and make
a chowder, and lie under the shadow of the trees and sleep all the
afternoon, that they might be ready to go out the next night.

The bottom of the cove on the White Bull was of granite, sloping
gradually into deep water, and smooth as ice. Beneath this formation
of granite was a blue rock of much softer texture than granite. The
sea, in great storms, rolled the fragments of blue stone back and forth
on this granite floor, and wore away and rounded the corners, making
them of the shape of those you see in the pavements of the cities. The
action of these stones for hundreds of years, on this granite floor,
had worn holes in it as big as the mouth of a well, and two or three
feet in depth. Sometimes a great square rock would get in one of them,
too big for the summer winds to fling out, and the sea would roll
it round in the hole all summer, wear the corners off, and then the
December gales would wash it out. Among the quartz sand in the bottom
of this cove you could pick up crystals that had been ground out of the
rocks, from an eighth of an inch to an inch in diameter.

It was a glorious sight to behold, and one never to be forgotten,
either in this world or the next, when the waves, which had been
growing beneath the winter’s gale the whole breadth of the Atlantic,
came thundering in on these ragged rocks, breaking thirty feet high,
pouring through the gaps between them, white foam on their summits
and deep green beneath, and when a gleam of sunshine, breaking from a
ragged cloud, flashed along their edges, displaying for a moment all
the colors of the rainbow. But when in the outer cove of the White Bull
the great wave came up, a quarter of a mile in length, bearing before
it the pebbles, some weighing three hundred pounds, others not larger
than a sparrow’s egg, all alive and moving in the surf, and rolling
over each other on the smooth granite bottom, how solemn to listen to
that awful roar, like the voice of Almighty God!

Amid all this commotion, the little harbor, protected by its granite
ramparts, was tranquil as a summer’s lake. The surface of it was indeed
flecked with the froth of the breakers that drifted in little bunches
through the gaps of the rocks, and there was a slight movement caused
by the last pulsation of some dying wave; but that was all, and way up
in the cove there was no motion whatever.

It may be interesting as well as instructive, having the old traditions
of the island to guide us, to consider the manner in which this
picturesque and most useful harbor was formed.

Captain Rhines said his father told him, that when he was a boy (nearly
seventy years before the date of our tale) these outer rocks were all
connected with the main island. Between the eastern end of the island
and the Little Bull, and between the Little Bull and the White Bull,
was a strip of clay loam, covered with a growth of fir, hemlock,
and spruce; and between the White Bull and the Junk of Pork, and the
western point of the main island, were sand-spits mixed with stones,
and salt grass growing on them. What is now the harbor was then a
swamp, into which the brook and all the rain-water from the higher
portions of the island drained. In the middle of this swamp was a pond,
margined with alder bushes, cat-tail flags, and rotten logs. In high
courses of tides the salt water came into it, and this brackish water
bred myriads of mosquitos.

When people went on there, they had to pick a smooth time, and go right
on the top of the tide, and haul their boat over a sand-spit into the
swamp. It was impossible to land, or get away from there, when it was
rough. Captain Rhines went on there once a gunning, in December, and
had to stay a week. Having no axe to build a camp, he turned his boat
bottom up to sleep under, and getting fire with his gun, cooked and ate
sea-fowl; but he got awful tired of them.

He said, moreover, that the land on the outside kept caving off every
spring when the frost came out, and falling into the sea, till there
was only a little strip of land, with three old hemlocks upon it, left;
and he used to pity them as they stood there shivering in the gale,
their great roots sticking out drying in the wind, and dripping with
salt spray, for he knew they were doomed, and must go.

At length there came a dreadful high tide and south-east gale; the sea
broke in and swept the whole soil off, and in the course of ten years
turned it into a clam bed. It was the greatest place to get clams,
for a clam chowder, that ever was in the world. He said that it kept
gradually scouring out and deepening, till it became a first-rate

This island was owned by a merchant of Boston, in whose employ Captain
Rhines had sailed for many years, who gave him liberty to pasture it
with sheep, as a recompense for taking care of and preventing squatters
from plundering it of spars and timber. As sheep are very fond of
sea-weed and kelp, they would make a very good living on a place like
this island, where most of our domestic animals would find pretty hard

An island like this of which I have spoken is a very pretty spot to
describe or visit; but I should like to ask my young readers if they
think they could be happy in such a place, especially after they have
enumerated with me the things, those we suppose to be living there
would be deprived of, and which they often imagine they could not live

There was not a road on the island, nor a side-walk, only foot-paths;
not a horse, a store, church, school-house, post-office, museum, or
toy-shop; not a piano, nor any kind of musical instrument, except the
grand diapason of the breakers; no circus, caravan, soldiers, nor
fireworks; no confectionery nor ice-creams.

The island stood alone in the ocean; and though you could land at any
time when you could get there, yet there were weeks together in winter,
when, in case of sickness or death, not a boat could live to cross from
the main land; they were completely shut out from all the rest of the
world. But you say, perhaps, these people must have been very poor.

O, not at all. If you mean, by being poor, that they had not much
money, or horses, or carriages, or rich dresses, and servants to
wait on them, why, then they were poor; but if you mean by the term
poor, such poverty as you see in the cities or in the large country
towns, where you may see aged women in rags begging from door to door;
children with their little bare feet as red as the pigeons’ with the
cold, picking the little bits of coal out of the ashes that are thrown
out of the stores and houses; gathering pieces of hoops and chips
around the wharves and warehouses to carry home to burn; with the tears
running down their little cheeks, crying, “Please give me a cent to buy
some bread,”--O, there was no such poverty as that there: they never
knew what it was to want good wholesome food, and good coarse warm
clothing to keep out the frost and snow.

“But how did they get it, if they had not much money to buy it?”

“Get it? Why, they worked for it; and if any one had called these
island people beggars, they would have broken his head, or flung him

You may think as you like, my young friends; but people did live on
this island, and were happy as the days are long, though they had their
trials and “head flaws,” as we all must.



In order that you may know all about them, we will resume the thread of
our story, and trace the history of Captain Rhines and his family.

The captain was a strong-built, finely proportioned, “hard-a-weather”
sailor, not a great deal the worse for wear, and seasoned by the suns
and frosts of many climates. In early life he had experienced the
bitter struggle with poverty.

His father came into the country when it was a wilderness, with nothing
but a narrow axe, and strength to use it. His first crops being cut
off by the frosts, they were compelled to live for months upon clams,
and the leaves of beech trees boiled. There were no schools; and the
parents, engaged in a desperate struggle for existence with famine
and the Indians, were unable to instruct their children. Fishing
vessels from Marblehead often anchored in the cove near the log camp,
and little Ben, anxious to earn somewhat to aid his parents in their
poverty, went as cook in one of these vessels when so small that some
one had to hang on the pot for him. He was thus engaged for several
summers, till big enough to go as boy in a coaster. During the winters,
arrayed in buckskin breeches, Indian moccasons, and a coon-skin cap,
he helped his father make staves, and hauled them to the landing on a

At nineteen years of age he went to Salem, and shipped in a brig bound
to Havana, to load with sugar for Europe. He was then a tall, handsome,
resolute boy as ever the sun shone upon, without a single vicious
habit; for his parents, though poor, were religious, and had brought
him up to hard work and the fear of God.

He was passionately fond of a gun and dogs, and what little leisure he
ever had was spent in hunting and fowling. As respected his fitness for
his position, he could “steer a good trick,” had learned what little
seamanship was to be obtained on board a fisherman and coaster, but he
could not read, or even write his name.

The mate of the vessel conceived a liking for him the moment he
came over the ship’s side, and this good opinion increased upon
acquaintance. They had been but a fortnight at sea, when he said to the
captain, “That long-legged boy, who shipped for a green hand, will
be as good a man as we have on board before we get into the English
Channel; he will reeve studding-sail gear, already, quicker than any
ordinary seaman. I liked the cut of his jib the moment I clapped eyes
on him. If that boy lives he’ll be master of a ship before many years.”

“I hardly see how that can be,” replied the captain, “for he can’t
write his own name.”

“Can’t write his own name! Why, that is impossible.”

“At any rate he made his mark on the ship’s articles, and he is the
only one of the crew who did.”

“Well,” replied the mate, “I can’t see through it; but he’s in my
watch, and I’ll know more about it before twenty-four hours.”

That night the mate went forward where Ben was keeping the lookout.


“Ay, ay, sir.”

“Where do you hail from?”

“Way down in the woods in Maine, Mr. Brown.”

“What was you about there?”

“Fishing and coasting summers, and working in the woods in the winter.”

“Why didn’t you ship, then, for an ordinary seaman, and get more

“Because, sir, I was never in a square-rigged vessel before, and I
didn’t want to ship to do what I might not be able to perform.”

“I see you made your ‘mark’ on the brig’s articles. Were you never at

“No, sir.”

“Why not?”

“There’s no such thing where I came from.”

“Couldn’t your parents read and write?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Then why didn’t they learn you themselves?”

“There were a good many of us, sir, and they were so put to it to raise
enough to live on, and fight the Indians, they had no time for it.”

The mate was a noble-hearted man; all his sympathies were touched at
seeing so fine a young man prevented from rising by an ignorance that
was no fault of his own. He took two or three turns across the deck,
and at length said,--

“I tell you what it is, youngster: I’ll say this much before your face
or behind your back: you’re just the best behaved boy, the quickest to
learn your duty, and the most willing to do it, that I ever saw, and
I’ve been following the sea for nearly thirty years; and before I’ll
see an American boy like you kept down by ignorance, I’ll do as I’d be
done by--turn schoolmaster, and teach you myself.”

Mr. Brown was as good as his word. While the rest of the crew in their
forenoon watch below were mending their clothes, telling long yarns,
or playing cards, and when in port drinking and frolicking, Ben was
learning to read and write, and putting his whole soul into it. He
stuck to the vessel, and Mr. Brown stuck to him. When he shipped the
next voyage as able seaman, he wrote his name in good fair hand.

They went to Charleston, South Carolina, to load with pitch, rice, and
deer-skins, for Liverpool. The vessel was a long time completing her
cargo, as it had to be picked up from the plantations. Ben improved the
time to learn navigation. From Liverpool they went to Barbadoes. While
lying there, the captain of the ship James Welch, of Boston, named
after the principal owner, died. The mate taking charge of the ship,
Ben, by Mr. Brown’s recommendation, obtained the first mate’s berth. He
was now no longer Ben, but Mr. Rhines, and finally becoming master of
the ship, continued in the employ of Mr. Welch as long as he followed
the sea. He then married, built a house on the site of the old log
camp, and surrounded it with fruit and shade trees, for, by travel and
observation, he had acquired ideas of taste, beauty, and comfort, quite
in advance of the times, or his neighbors. He then took his parents
home to live with him, and made their last days happy.

Although he was compelled by necessity thus early to go to sea, he had
a strong attachment to the soil, and would have devoted himself to its
cultivation in middle life, had he not met with losses, which so much
embarrassed him, that he was compelled to continue at sea to extricate

Captain Rhines’s fine house, nice furniture, and curiosities which he
brought home from time to time, excited no heart-burnings among his
neighbors, because they knew he had earned them by hard work, and did
not think himself better than others on account of that.

Thus, when he became embarrassed, instead of saying, “Good enough for
him,” “He will have to leave off some of his quarter-deck airs now,”
everybody felt sorry for him, and told him so.

Indeed, everything about the Rhines family was pleasant, and excited
cheerful emotions. The old house itself had a most comfortable, cosy
look, as it lay in the very eye of the sun, with an orchard before it,
green fields stretching along the water, sheltered on the north-west by
high land and forest. The shores were fringed with thickets of beech
and birch, branches of which, at high tide, almost touched the surface
of the water.

Some houses are high and thin, resembling a sheet of gingerbread set
on edge; they impress you with a painful feeling of insecurity, as
though they might blow over. Such houses generally have all the windows
abreast, so that when the curtains are up, and the blinds open, you
can look right through them. They seem cold, cheerless, repellent; you
shrug your shoulders and shiver as you look at them. But _this_ house
was large on the ground, and looked as if it grew there, with an ell
and long shed running to the barn, a sunny door-yard, a spreading beech
before the end door, with a great wood-pile under it, suggestive of
rousing fires.

There was a row of Lombardy poplars in front of the house, and a
large rock maple at the corner of the barn-yard, which the children
always tapped in the spring to get sap to drink and make sap coffee.
There was a real hospitable look about the old homestead; it seemed
to say, “There’s pork in the cellar, there’s corn in the crib, hay in
the barn, and a good fire on the hearth: walk in, neighbor, and make
yourself at home.”

But the popularity of Captain Rhines among his neighbors had a deeper
root than this. A great many of the young men in the neighborhood had
been their first voyage to sea with him; he had treated them in such a
manner, had taken so much pains to advance them in their profession,
that they respected and loved him ever after.

When it was known in the neighborhood that Captain Rhines was going to
sea, the question was not, how he should _get_ men, but how he should
get _rid_ of them, there were so many eager for the berth.

It would have done your heart good to have seen the happy faces of the
men grouped together on that ship’s forecastle, waiting, like hounds
straining in the leash, for the order to man the windlass; not an old
broken-down shellback among them, but all the neighbors’ boys, in their
red shirts, and duck trousers white as the driven snow, which their
mothers had washed.

As each one of them had a character to sustain, was anxious to outdo
his shipmate, and the greater portion of them were in love with some
neighbor’s daughter, and expected to be married as soon as they were
master of a ship, it is evident there was very little to do in the way
of discipline. It was a jolly sight, when there came a gale of wind,
to see them scamper up the rigging, racing with each other for the

Captain Rhines, though a large and powerfully built man, was a pygmy
to his son Ben. Ben measured, crooks and all, six feet two inches in
height, weighing two hundred and thirty pounds. He was possessed of
strength in proportion to his size, and, what was more remarkable, was
as spry as an eel, and could jump out of a hogshead without touching
his hands to it. His neighbors called him “Lion Ben.” He obtained the
appellation from this circumstance.

One day when the inhabitants of the district were at work on the roads,
they dug out a large rock. Ben, then nineteen years of age, took it up,
carried it out of the road, dropped it, and said it might stay there
till they raised another man in town strong enough to take it back.

He was now twenty-six years of age, of excellent capacity, and good
education for the times, his father having sent him to Massachusetts
to school. It was very difficult to provoke him; but when, after long
provocation, he became enraged, his temper broke out in an instant,
and he knew no measure in his wrath. His townsmen loved him, because
he used his strength to protect the weak, and were at the same time
excessively proud of him, as in all the neighboring towns there was not
a man that could throw him, or that even dared to take hold of him.

He had a large chair made on purpose for him to sit in, and tools for
him to work with; and if anybody lent a crowbar to Captain Rhines,
they always said, “Don’t let Ben use it,” as in that case it was sure
to come home bent double, and had to be sent to the blacksmith’s to be

He was passionately fond of gunning, and would risk life and limb to
shoot a goose or sea-duck. Though he had followed the sea since he was
seventeen years of age, yet he was greatly attached to the soil, and
when at home loved to work on it. It was a curious sight to see this
great giant weeding the garden, or at work upon his sister’s flower-bed.

He was a generous-hearted creature; when anybody was sick or poor he
would get all the young folks together, make a bee, get in their corn,
do their planting, or cut their winter’s wood for them. He had often
done this for the widow Hadlock, who was their nearest neighbor.
The widow Hadlock’s husband, a very enterprising sea captain, had
died at sea, in the prime of life, leaving his widow with a young
family, a farm, a fine house well furnished, but nothing more. The
broken-hearted woman had struggled very hard to keep the homestead for
her children, and the whole family together. Being a woman of great
prudence, industry, and judgment, with the help of good neighbors, she
had succeeded. Her oldest son was now able to manage the farm, and the
bitterness of the struggle was past.

The tax-gatherer came to the widow for the taxes.

“Why, Mr. Jones,” said the widow, “you tax me altogether too much; I
have not so much property.”

“O, Mrs. Hadlock,” said he, “we tax you for your faculty.”

Notwithstanding all the sterling qualities we have enumerated, the
personal appearance of Ben Rhines was anything but an exponent of his
character. There was such an enormous enlargement of the muscles of
the shoulders, and his neck was so short, that his head seemed to come
out of the middle of his breast. The great length of his arms was
exaggerated by the stoop in his shoulders: though his legs and hips
were large, yet the tremendous development of the upper part of the
body gave him the appearance of being top-heavy.

From such a square-jawed fellow you would naturally expect to proceed a
deep bass voice; but from this monstrous bulk came a soft, child-like
voice, such as we sometimes hear from very fat people; and unless
he was greatly excited, the words were slowly drawled: the entire
impression made by him upon a stranger was that of a great, listless,
inoffensive man, without penetration to perceive, or courage to resist,

But never was the proverb, “Appearances are deceitful,” more strikingly
verified than in this instance. That listless exterior, and almost
infantile voice, concealed a mind clear and well informed, and a
temper, that when goaded beyond the limits of forbearance, broke out
like the eruption of a volcano.

In his position as mate of a vessel it became his duty to control men
of all nations. Being well aware that his appearance was calculated to
invite aggression, he took singular methods to escape it. He knew that
his temper, when it reached a certain point, was beyond his control.
He also knew his strength; and as the good-natured giant didn’t want
to hurt anybody when milder methods would answer the purpose, he
would come along just as the ship was getting under way, the men at
the topsail halyards, and reaching up above all the rest, bring them
down in a heap on deck, causing those that were singing to bite their
tongues. Sometimes when two or three sailors were heaving with the
handspikes to roll up a spar to the ringbolts, singing out and making
a great fuss, he would seize hold of the end of it, and heave it into
its bed apparently without any effort, while the men would wink to each
other and reflect upon the consequences of having a brush with such a
mate as that.

By proceeding in this way, though he had taken up one or two that had
insulted him beyond endurance, and smashed them down upon the ground,
kicked a truckman into the dock who was beating his horse with a
cordwood stick, he never struck but one man in his life, which happened
in this wise.

Ben was on board a ship in port, with only a cook and two boys, the
captain having gone home, and the rest of the crew being discharged.
He hired an English sailor to help the boys trim some ballast in the
hold; they complained that he kicked and abused them.

Ben told them to go to work again, and he would see about it. After
dinner he lay down in his berth for a nap, when he was disturbed by a
terrible outcry in the hold, and, going down, found the sailor beating
the boys with a rope’s end. He asked him what he was doing that for;
the man said they wouldn’t work, and were saucy to him. Ben replied
that the boys were good boys, that he had always known them, and that
he mustn’t strike the boys. The bully asked him if he meant to take
it up. Ben replied that he didn’t wish to take it up, but he mustn’t
strike the boys.

The sailor then threatened to strike him; upon which Ben stood up
before him, and folding his arms on his breast, in his drawling,
childish way, told him to strike. The man struck, when Ben inflicted
upon him such a terrible blow, that, falling upon the ballast, he lay
and quivered like an ox when he is struck down by the butcher.

“O, Mr. Rhines,” exclaimed the terrified boys, “you’ve killed him,
you’ve killed him!”

“Well,” he replied in his quiet way, “if I’ve killed him, I’ve laid him



There was another member of the family whose qualities deserve especial
mention--the great Newfoundland dog.

We have already alluded to the captain’s fondness for the race: there
was always a dog in his father’s family. Often had old Lion furnished
them with a meal, or detected the ambush of the lurking Indian. As
though to round and complete the sum of kindly associations clustering
around this pleasant household, even Tiger partook of the good
qualities of the family. Captain Rhines said that he wouldn’t have a
dog that would make the neighbors dislike to come to the house; but as
for Tiger, he was both a gentleman and a Christian.

The breed of dogs to which he belonged are both by nature and
inclination fitted for the water, and as insensible to the cold as a
white bear. Their skin is greasy; there is a fine wool under their long
hair which turns water; when they come ashore they give themselves a
shake or two and are nearly dry. They are also partially web-footed;
they do not swim like common dogs, thrusting their paws out before them
like a hog, but spread out their great feet and strike out sidewise
like a boy.

The way in which the captain made the acquaintance of Tige was on this
wise: One of his last voyages was to Trieste; he met in the street a
fine-looking dog carrying a basket full of eggs; greatly pleased with
the appearance of the animal, he turned to look after him, when, as he
passed a stable door, a dog as large as himself attacked him in the
rear. He bore it patiently till he came to a house, when, putting down
his eggs, he turned upon his persecutor, and gave him such a mauling
that he was glad to escape on three legs, and covered with blood. The
captain followed the dog to a menagerie, where he ascertained that it
was the dog’s daily duty to bring eggs to feed the monkeys; that he had
flogged the other a day or two before, who thought to avenge himself by
attacking him at a disadvantage.

The captain succeeded in buying the animal, though he never dared to
tell what he gave for him.

“Were I not pushed for money,” said the showman, after the bargain was
concluded, “I never would have parted with him; he will protect your
person and your property; you never will be sorry that you bought him,
though I shall often regret that I was obliged to sell him.”

Captain Rhines soon found that the showman had spoken the truth. He
could leave the most valuable articles on the wharf, and trust them to
his keeping.

So well was his disposition known, that not a child in the neighborhood
feared to come to the house by night or day. He would permit any person
to inspect the premises, but not to touch the least thing.

They might, in the night time, knock at the door as long as they
pleased; but if they put their hand on the latch, he would knock it
off with his paw, and show his teeth in a way that discouraged further
attempts. When the little children came who could not knock loud enough
to be heard, he would bark for them till he brought somebody to the

There was nothing so attractive to Tige as a baby on the floor, nor
anything in which he so much delighted as to follow them around, and
with his great tongue lick meat and gingerbread out of their fists. No
wonder his master said he was a gentleman and a Christian; for though
he would tear a thief in a moment, these little tots would get on him
as he lay in the grass, stuff his mouth and nose full of clover heads
to hear him sneeze, and, when tired of that, lie down on him and go to

Next to playing with babies, his favorite employment was fishing. In a
calm day, when the water was clear, he would swim off to a dry ledge,
called Seal Rock, in the cove before the house, dive down, and bring up
a fish every time.

The fish always worked off on the ebb tide, and came up on the flood.
Tige knew as well when it was flood tide, and time to go floundering,
as did John Rhines, his bosom friend and constant companion. Tige
always went to meeting, and slept _on_ the horse-block in fair weather,
and _under_ it in foul.

The good women said, they did wish Tige Rhines would stay at home, for
when they had fixed the children all up nice to go to meeting, they
were sure to be hugging him, and he would slobber them all over, lick
their hair down about their eyes, and chew their bonnet “ribbins” into

Captain Rhines hired Sam Hadlock to help him hoe. When he went home
Saturday night, he hung up his hoe in the shed, as he expected to work
there the next week, but, finding his mother’s corn was suffering to
be hoed, went back to get it. The family had gone to bed, and Tige
wouldn’t let him touch it, though they were great friends, and he was
the next neighbor. He was going into the house without knocking, for
they didn’t fasten doors in those days; but the instant he put his hand
on the latch, the dog knocked it off with his paw, and he was obliged
to knock till Ben came and got the hoe for him.

A more singular proof of his sagacity occurred soon after. They had a
fuss in the district with the schoolmaster, and a lawsuit grew out of
it. Captain Rhines’s daughter was summoned as a witness by the master.
He came one evening to see her about it, when the rest of the family
were from home. Tiger thought, as she was alone, all was not right; so
he waits upon the master to the door, and when she opened it, stood
up on his hind legs, and put his fore paws on the master’s shoulders,
and without offering to harm him, kept him there. They had to do their
talking over Tiger’s shoulder; but when it was finished, he made no
objection to his departure.

In the cove before the house was a beach of fine white sand, without
a stone in it, which when wet was as hard as a floor. The children
were never tired of playing on this spot. The upper portion, which was
only occasionally wet by the tide, was dry and the sand loose, while
the lower part, which the water had recently left, was hard and smooth
to run on, thus affording them a variety of amusements. Some would run
races on the beach, chase the retreating waves, and then scamper back,
screaming with delight, as the wave broke around their heels.

Others sailed boats, waded in the water after shells, and if they
could get Tige, they would spit on a stick and fling it as far as they
could into the water, and send him in to fetch it out, while those
who were learning to swim would catch hold of his tail and be towed
ashore. While all this was going on at the water’s edge, another party
on the upper portion would be rolling over on the hot, clean sand, and
building forts, and digging wells with clam shells; others still, under
the clay bank, were making mud puddings and pies, and roasting clams at
a great fire made of drift-wood.

Parents did not like very well to have the children, especially the
little ones, play there so much, for fear of their getting drowned; and
the larger ones could not well be spared from work to go with them;
but they could not find it in their hearts to forbid them, they had
such a good time of it. So, once or twice every week during the summer,
a group of little folks would come to the captain’s, and one of them,
making her best “courtesy,” would say,--

“Captain Rhines, me, and Eliza Ann Hadlock, and Caroline Griffin, and
the Warren girls, are going down to the cove to play, and my marm wants
to know if Tige can go and take care of us.”

Tige, who knew what the children wanted as well as they did themselves,
would stand looking his master in the face, wagging his tail, and
saying, as plain as a dog could say, “Do let me go, sir.”

Captain Rhines, one afternoon, set a herring net in the mouth of the
cove. These nets are very long, and are set by fastening the upper
edge to a rope, called the _cork-rope_. On this rope are strung corks,
or wooden buoys made of cedar, which keep it on top of the water. It
is then stretched out, and the two ends fastened to the bottom by
“grapplings.” To each end larger buoys are fastened; weights are then
attached to the lower edge, so that it hangs perpendicular in the
water. The fish run against it in the dark, and are caught by their

It is the nature of Newfoundland dogs to bring ashore whatever they
see floating. Tige went down to the Seal Rock floundering, and saw the
buoys bobbing up and down in the water; away he swims to bring them
ashore. Finding them fast to the bottom, what does he do, but with his
sharp teeth gnaws off the cork-rope and set them adrift? till there
were not enough left to float the net, and it sank to the bottom. He
then carried all the floats to the Seal Rock and piled them up, and
thinking he had done a meritorious act, lay down to rest himself after
his labors.

The next morning Captain Rhines and Ben went to take up their net. They
thought some vessel must either have run over it and carried it off on
her keel or rudder, or else that so many fish were meshed as to sink
it. They grappled and brought it up, when, to their astonishment, there
was not a fish in it, the cork-rope cut to pieces, the two large buoys
and about two thirds of the net-buoys gone.

But as they pulled home by the Seal Rock there was every one of the
missing floats, with the marks of Tiger’s teeth in the soft wood.
Captain Rhines was in a towering passion, because it was not only a
great deal of work to grapple for the net, but the cork-rope, which
was valuable in those days, was all cut to pieces.

He sent John up to the house after Tige, and got a big stick to beat
him. The beach was covered with children of all ages. They left their
sports and ran to the spot. John Rhines begged his father not to
lick the dog, while the children began to cry; but the captain was
determined. “Father,” said Ben, “I wouldn’t beat him; if you beat him
for bringing these floats ashore, he won’t go after birds when you
shoot them.” Upon this, the captain, who was an inveterate gunner,
flung away the stick; and the children, drying up their tears, took
Tige off to frolic with them.

The miller’s daughter, three years and a half old, had a speckled
kitten; a brutal boy drowned it in the mill-pond. The little creature
went down to look for her kitten, and fell in. Just then Captain Rhines
and Tige came to the mill with a grist. The child had gone down for the
third time. He jumped from the horse, and threw in a stone where he saw
the bubbles come up. Tige instantly followed the stone, and brought up
the child with just the breath of life in it.

The overjoyed mother hugged the child, and then hugged Tige. The miller
gave him a brass collar, with an account of this brave act engraved
upon it.

Ever after this he had a warm place in the affections of the whole
community, and was almost as much beloved and respected as his master.

The sentiments of the young folks, in respect to Tige, were put to
the test the next summer. A boy came there in a fishing vessel, who
was full of pranks, had never received any culture, knew nothing of
the history of Tige, and perhaps, if he had, would not have cared; to
gratify a malicious disposition, he put some spirits of turpentine on
him, causing him great agony. The enraged children enticed the boy to
the beach, and while he was in swimming, carried off his clothes, and,
having prepared themselves with sticks, fell upon him as he came out of
the water, and beat him to a jelly.

A few days after the event just narrated, Captain Rhines was sitting in
the door after dinner, when he saw little Fannie Williams, the miller’s
daughter, coming into the yard. She was evidently bent on business of
importance, for, though passionately fond of flowers, she never looked
at the lilies, hollyhocks, and morning glories, on each side of her,
but walking directly up to him, and putting both hands on his knees,
said, with the tears glistening in her little eyes, “You won’t whip
Tige, will you, if he does do naughty things?”

“God bless the child!” said the captain, taking her in his lap and
kissing her, “have you come way down here to ask me that?”

“Nobody knowed it, and nobody telled me to come; I comed my own self,
’cause he shan’t be whipped. Fannie loves Tige.”

“You’ve good reason to love him, for if it had not been for him you’d
been a dead baby now. I never will whip him, nor let anybody else.”

The captain then took her by the hand, and led her into the orchard,
where he picked up some pears, and put in a basket; he then culled a
bunch of flowers as large as she could carry, and putting the handle of
the basket in Tige’s mouth, sent him home with her. The little girl,
with her fears quieted, trudged along, putting her flowers to Tige’s
nose for him to smell of, telling him he shouldn’t be licked, ’cause
Captain Rhines said so.



Ben had never been to sea with his father. Captain Rhines didn’t
believe it was a good plan for relations to be shipmates; he didn’t
want his son to be “ship’s cousin,” but to rise on his own merits, as
his father had done before him; and if he couldn’t do that, then he
might stay down. But Ben had proved himself to be a man of capacity.
The owners were all willing, and his father wanted him to take the ship
and let him stay at home.

Ben gladly accepted the offer, and was making preparations to go; but
there was a matter of great importance for him to settle, before he
left home. Ben loved Sally Hadlock, though he had never dared to tell
her of it.

She had a great many admirers among the young men, and he felt that it
was risking altogether too much to go on a long voyage, and run the
venture of Sally’s being snapped up by some of them before his return.
The greatest source of apprehension in his mind was the fact, that
he heard she had said, she never could, nor would, marry a man that
followed the sea.

Her father and oldest brother were lost at sea. Sally could never
forget the agony of her mother when her father’s sea chest came home,
nor the trial of those bitter years, during which she and her mother
had struggled along, and kept the family together until the younger
children grew up.

Sally Hadlock was a poor girl, but she was as pretty as a May morning.
Though she knew scarcely a note of music, she could warble like a bird,
and, as the neighbors said, “she was faculized.” Everybody loved and
respected Sally for her kindness to her mother, and because she was
as modest as she was beautiful, and as lively as a humming-bird. Her
mother idolized her, as well she might.

Never was the widow so happy as when, over a good cup of souchong, she
descanted upon the fine qualities of her daughter, utterly regardless
of Sally’s blushes, and whispered, “O, don’t, mother.” “Yes,” the old
lady would say, shoving her spectacles up on her cap, and stirring
slowly her tea, “I’ll put my Sally, though I say it that shouldn’t say
it, for taking a fleece of wool as it comes from the sheep’s back, and
making it into cloth, against any girl in the town; and then she always
has such good luck making soap, and such luck with her bread! she beats
me out and out in hot biscuit. You see this table-cloth; well, she spun
the flax, and bleached the thread, drew it into the loom, and wove it,
all sole alone.”

Sally was not without some dim perception of Ben’s attachment to her.
She knew that he was very fond of her brother Sam; and that if he
wanted to borrow anything they had, he would always come himself, both
to get it and to bring it home.

When he came home from sea, he always brought presents for the widow
Hadlock. Many of them, though very beautiful, didn’t seem altogether
adapted to an old widow; and then her mother would say, “Sally, these
things are very beautiful, but I shall never put off my mourning for
your dear father; they would be very becoming to you.”

Ben went to singing-school, in the school-house. A young man had
recently come into the village from Salem, as a singing-master. He
had a way that took mightily with the girls. This excited a general
antipathy to him among all the young men in the place, who, since his
advent, found themselves at a discount with the ladies. Latterly, his
attentions had been directed particularly to Sally Hadlock, as the
prettiest girl in the village.

The house being crowded one evening, Ben had gone into the seat usually
reserved for the singers. The singing-master, who was an empty coxcomb,
with nothing but good looks to recommend him, ordered him out. Ben,
with his usual good nature, would have obeyed; but the tone was so
contemptuous, and the place so public (probably Sally’s presence might
have had something to do with it), that it stung; Ben replied that he
sat very well, and remained as he was.

This drew the eyes of all upon him, as expecting something interesting.
In a few moments his tormentor returned, and assured him, if he did
not move, and that quick, he would be put out. Upon this, Ben rose up
to his full height, and looking down upon the frightened man of music,
said, “I don’t think there are men enough in this school-house to put
me out.”

This sally was received with a universal shout by the audience, who
not only had not the least doubt of the fact, but also rejoiced in the
discomfiture of the puppy.

Sally was very much grieved at the master’s insulting treatment of Ben,
who had done so much for her mother. It is said that all women are

When she saw him so completely frightened out of his impertinence, and
made ridiculous, noticed the forbearance of Ben, who might have squat
him up like a fly between his fingers and thumb, she became conscious
of a tenderer feeling for her old schoolmate, who that night went home
with her and her mother for the first time.

Ben now determined to make a bold push, and go and see Sally Sunday
night, though he knew she, and everybody else, would know what it
meant. It seems very singular that Ben Rhines, who had been half over
the world, and in a privateer, should be afraid to go over to the
widow Hadlock’s before dark; but he was: so he broke the matter to his
most intimate friend, Sam Johnson, who offered to go with him the next
Sunday night.

It was a pleasant Sabbath afternoon, in August, about four o’clock.
Captain Rhines had been sitting in his arm-chair reading the Apocrypha,
and fell asleep.

Ben was sitting at the window, all dressed up, quite nervous, waiting
for Sam.

Sam came at length, and asked Ben if he wanted to go into the pastures
and get a few blueberries. Ben assented, when, to their astonishment,
old Captain Rhines roused up and inquired, “Where are you going, boys?”

“We’re just going out to get a few blueberries.”

“Well, I don’t care if I go, too.”

Here was a dilemma; but love helps wit. They found a thick bush for the
old gentleman to pick, crawled away on their hands and knees to a safe
distance, then got on their feet, and ran for the widow Hadlock’s.

The old captain having hallooed for them long after they were in the
widow’s parlor, finally went home. Just as they expected, they were
asked to stop to supper.

After supper, Sally and her mother went out to milking, while Ben and
Sam leaned on the fence to look at them. The old speckled cow, which
Sally had milked ever since she was a girl, acted as if bewitched: she
switched Sally’s comb out of her head with her tail, and finally put
her foot in the milk-pail.

While all this was going on, Sam Johnson unaccountably disappeared. Ben
could do no less than offer to carry in the milk for them; was invited
to spend the evening; and the old lady, excusing herself on account of
ill health, slipped off to bed, and Ben and Sally were left together.

In due time Ben asked Sally if she liked him well enough to marry him.

Now Sally was a good, sensible New England girl: she didn’t faint nor
scream, but she blushed a little, and finally consented to marry him,
on condition that he should give up going to sea, and stay at home with

The reader must bear in mind that this is not a love scene of a
sensation novel, but conversation of people, who, loving each other
sincerely, looked upon married life as a sacred obligation, in which
they put their whole heart, and expected to find their sole happiness.

Ben did not therefore reply that he loved Sally to distraction, that
he could not exist a moment without her, and that he would never dream
of going to sea again; but, after some considerable hesitation, he at
length moved his chair nearer to Sally, and looking up full in her
face, said, “Sally, you and I have known each other from the time we
made bulrush caps together in your mother’s pasture, when we were
children, till now; and I think you know me well enough to know that I
am a man of few words, and would never ask a woman to marry me unless I
really loved her, and intended to support her, for you know that must
be thought of.

“As for going to sea, though I have been fortunate, and risen in my
profession faster than any young man in town, faster, perhaps, than I
ought,--for I was mate of a ship before I was twenty,--though I have no
reason to be afraid of men, and can handle the roughest of them like
children, and care nothing for hardship, yet I never liked the sea. O,
how I have longed, on some East India voyage, to see an acre of green
grass, or hear a robin sing! I don’t like to feel that people obey me
just because they are afraid of me, and to go stalking round the decks
like some of those giants we read of in the old story books. I do love
the land better than the sea. I love the flowers; I love to plough and
hoe; I love to see things grow. I’m as loath to go to sea as you can be
to have me;” and he put his arm around her neck and kissed her; “but
the seaman’s life is my profession. I have spent many of the best years
of my life, employed the time that might have been devoted to learning
a trade, or some other business on shore, in fitting myself for it. I
now have a ship offered me: this affords me at once the opportunity of
reaping the fruits of my past labor, and supporting a wife; besides,
Sally, we are both poor. You may think it strange, that, as I have been
officer of a vessel for some time, I should not have laid up something;
but my father became involved some years ago, and I felt it my duty to
help him out; and I am neither sorry for it nor ashamed of it. This
was the reason I did not dress better, because I felt that I ought to
economize, for the sake of the best parents ever a boy had. I suppose
many people, who knew I was earning a good deal of money, thought I was
mean, or spent it in some bad way; and perhaps you did.”

“No, Ben,” replied Sally; “I knew better than that. I knew that, if
you didn’t, like a snail, put everything on your back, you were always
ready to help any one who needed it; and no person can go on long in a
bad course without those who love them finding it out.”

“You see how it is, Sally, if I take this ship, I am at once in
circumstances to be married, with the prospect of a comfortable living.
To be sure, I could work on the land, for I was a farmer till I was
seventeen; but then I should have to run in debt to buy it. There is
not much money to be got off a farm; it always took about what father
earned to pay the hired help, the taxes, and family expenses, and he
soon had to go to sea again for more.”

Poor Sally listened, as Ben thus placed before her the “inevitable
logic of facts.”

She looked first this way, and then that, and finally laid her head on
Ben’s shoulder, and cried like a child.

Ben was greatly distressed: he knew not what to say, and remained
for a long time silent; at length he said, “There is a way that I
have thought of, but I didn’t like to mention it, for fear--” Here he

“For fear of what?” cried Sally, lifting her head from his shoulder,
and looking at him through her tears.

“Why, for fear, if I should do it, and you should marry me on the
strength of it, and we should be poor, see hard times, and people
should look down on us, that then you might perhaps feel--” And here he
stopped again.

“Feel what?”

“Why,” stammered Ben, finding he must out with it, “feel that if you
had only married some of these young men that I know have offered
themselves to you, and that had rich fathers, instead of poor Ben
Rhines, you wouldn’t have needed to have brought the water to wash your

“When I marry,” replied Sally, bluntly, “I shall not marry anybody’s
father, but the boy I love. Now, let’s hear your plan, Ben.”

“You know,” he replied, more slowly than he had ever spoken before in
his whole life, “the island off in the bay that father has had the care
of so many years?”

“What, Elm Island?”

“That’s it.”

“Yes, indeed! I’ve been there a hundred times with our Sam and Seth
Warren, after berries.”

“It’s the best land that ever lay out doors, covered with a heavy
growth of spruce and pine, fit for spars; many of them would run
seventy feet without a limb. I think old Mr. Welch would sell it on
credit to any one he knew, and that anybody might cut off the timber,
and have the land, and wood enough to burn, left clear. It would make
a splendid farm, and a man might pick up considerable money by gunning
and fishing; but,” said Ben, his countenance falling, “what a place
for a woman! No society, no neighbors, right among the breakers; and
sometimes, in the winter, there’ll be a month nobody can get on nor
off. It would be a good place to get a living, and lay up money; but
no woman would go on there, and a man would be a brute to ask her. I’m
sorry I said anything about it.”

“There’s one woman will go on there,” replied Sally, “and not repent
of it after she gets there either; and that woman’s Sally Hadlock. I
hold that if a girl loves a man well enough to marry him, she’ll be
contented where he is, and she won’t be contented where he isn’t. As to
the society, I had rather be alone with my husband than have all the
society in the world without him. I had rather be on an island with my
husband, working hard, and carrying my share of the load, than to be
in the best society, and have every comfort, and at the same time know
that my husband is beating about at sea, in sickly climates, perhaps
dying, with nobody to do for him, in order to support me in luxury and
laziness, or in circumstances of comfort which he cannot enjoy with
me; and I say that any woman, that _is_ a woman, will say amen to it.
We may have a hard scratch of it at first, and have to live rough; but
I have always been poor; it’s nothing new to me. What reason on earth
is there, bating sickness or death, why we should not get along? I’ve
always maintained myself, and helped maintain my mother and family. You
have maintained yourself, paid your father’s debts, and more too, for
you have helped my mother lots.”

“Yes, but I was going to sea then,” put in Ben.

“It is strange, then,” continued Sally, without heeding the
interruption, “that we two, who have supported ourselves and other
folks, can’t support our own selves. I see how it is, Ben; this island
can be bought very cheap, on account of the disadvantages of living on
it; that you can pay for it by your own labor, and see no other way of
getting your living on the land. Is that it, Ben?”

“That is it.”

“Well, then,” replied this noble New England girl, reddening to the
very roots of her hair, and her eyes flashing through her tears, “I
will marry you, and go to that island with you; we will take the bitter
with the sweet; we will suffer and enjoy together. If you love me well
enough to give up a ship, and go on to that island to live with me,
I love you well enough to go on it and be happy with you. I thank God,
that if he has given me a handsome face, as they say, he has not given
me an empty head nor an idle hand to go with it. I have worked, and
saved, and denied myself for my mother and brothers, and have been
right happy and well thought of in doing it. I can do the same for
my husband; and if any think _less_ of me on that account, I shan’t
have them for next door neighbors to twit me of it. My home is in my
husband’s heart, and where his interest and duty lie.”

Ben thought she never looked half so beautiful before, and imprinted a
fervent kiss upon the lips that had uttered such noble sentiments. The
day was breaking as they separated.



Sally slept in the same room with her mother. The old lady waked, and
finding Sally’s bed not tumbled, called loudly for her daughter. When
she came, her mother said, “Why, Sally, your bed has not been tumbled
this live-long night; how flushed you look! your hair is all of a
frizzle, and you’ve been crying: what is the matter with you?”

Poor Sally, nervous and excited after the night’s conflict, made a
clean breast of it.

“Mother, I’ve said I’d have Ben, that is, if you are willing,” and,
burying her face in the pillow, she burst into a flood of tears. The
good old lady was not so much troubled by tears as Ben had been, but,
putting her arms round her daughter, said, “That’s right, dear; cry
as much as you please; it’ll ease your mind, and do you good;” and,
wrapped up in her own reflections about an event she had long foreseen,
patiently waited till Sally should think best to speak. Finding Sally
not inclined to break the silence, she said, “I think you could not
have done better than to be engaged to Ben; and I’m sure you could not
have done anything so pleasing to me; that is, if you love him, for
that is the main thing.

“I’ve always told you it is very wrong for a girl to marry a man whom
she doesn’t love; it isn’t right in the sight of God, and always leads
to misery. Ben isn’t so good-looking as some young men, nor rich in
this world’s goods; but he has good learning and good manners: he is of
a good family; can do more work than any three young men in town; and
for all he is such a giant, never gives a misbeholden word to any one.
You’ve known him from childhood. It’s a great deal better to marry him
with only the clothes to his back, and the good principles that are in
him, than to marry some one who is rich and handsome now, may die a
drunkard, and perhaps, some time, throw up to your poverty.”

“O, I know all that, mother; but there’s something else, which,
perhaps, I ought not to have done without asking you. I’ve promised to
go and live on Elm Island, right in the woods, and among the breakers;”
and then she told her mother every word that she and Ben had said,
from beginning to end, throwing in, as a sweetener, a circumstance
which she knew would have great influence with her parent; “but then,
you know, he has promised never to go to sea any more.”

She was most agreeably disappointed when the widow, after a little
pause, replied in her mild way, “I not only approve of what you’ve
done, but should have been very sorry if you had done otherwise. Your
grandmother, girl, was born in old Rowley, Massachusetts, was brought
up to have everything she wanted, and knew nothing of hardships; but
she married your grandfather because she loved him, though he was
a poor man. They came down here, and took up this farm when it was
all woods. I’ve stood in the door of our old house, and seen eleven
wolves come off Birch Point and go on the ice to Oak Island: one of
them had lost his leg in a trap, and could not keep up with the rest,
and they would squat down on the ice and wait for him. They burnt up
their first house in clearing the land, and had to live in a brush
camp till they built another. I’ve heard mother say, a hundred times,
that the happiest years of her life were those hard years; that the
anticipation of living easier by and by, and having a good farm, was
better than the good farm when they got it; that there was nothing in
her well-to-do life afterwards to compare with the satisfaction of
looking back to those hard times when she had the strength to endure
those hardships. Then her face would light up, her eyes kindle, and the
color come into her old cheeks; and as I looked at her, I used to hope
that I should live to see such pleasant hardships, to be glad of and
tell about when I was old.

“Well, Sally, I’ve had _troubles_, and _bitter_ ones; the sea has been
a devourer to me; but not _hardships_, because I married and lived at
home; but you have the chance, girl, to know something about it. Don’t
be afraid of being poor; people here don’t know what poverty is. Go to
Liverpool, if you want to see what real poverty is, as I have been many
a time with your poor father, who is dead and gone. A man with a farm
is sure of a living, and a good one, too; the farmers feed the world,
and they are great fools if they don’t lick their own fingers. Two
thirds of the merchants fail; a great many seamen die at sea, and it’s
a dog’s life at best. The sailor is only anxious when the wind blows;
but the wind blows all the time for the poor wife at home, and her
pillow is often wet with tears.

“The last time I was in Rowley, I saw rich men’s sons; whose fathers
scorned your grandfather because he was a farmer, going about killing
hogs and cutting wood for folks. For a farmer to kill his own hogs,
or to change work with his neighbors to kill theirs, then they help
him kill his, or to cut his own wood, is a very different thing from
what it is for people, who felt as large as they did once, and, in
their pride and prosperity, looked down on every one that labored, to
have to do it for a living. Your grandmother said, it used to make her
blood run cold to see them come into the house of God with such an air,
getting up and sitting down two or three times, flaunting with their
‘ribbins,’ and chattering like a striped squirrel on the side of a
tree. I was up there the year before Sam was born; and now to see how
they live! just the least little scriffin of bread and butter, or a
little pie; the least little piece of meat, about as big as your hand,
which they run to the butcher’s to get, for they never have anything
in the cellar; then, instead of doing as we do, cutting it thick, and
telling everybody to help themselves, they cut it into little slices
and help them, for fear, I suppose, they should take too much; and then
so many compliments to so little victuals! But they put it on their
backs, Sally; that’s what they do with it; they put it on their backs.
As they have no hearty victuals and hard work to give them color, they
paint their faces, and look out of the windows, as Jezebel did: they
spend most all their time looking out of the windows.”

Sally rejoiced to find that, when following the inclinations of her own
heart, she had done just right; and with a face from which every trace
of tears had vanished, replied, “I thought I knew your mind, mother;
but I must go and get breakfast, for I thought I heard Sam getting up.”



Ben went to Boston to see the old merchant, whom he knew very well,
having often seen him at his father’s when he was on his summer visits.
The good merchant, who had been a poor boy, and earned his property by
his own industry, and was both too wise and too good to value himself
by his wealth, received Ben so kindly, that he told him all his heart;
what he wanted the island for, of the promise he had made to Sally, and
all about it. He commended Ben; told him he knew Sally’s father (that
he had sailed for him), and her mother, too; she was of good blood;
there was a great deal in the blood. He told him he would have a happy
life; that he had always regretted he had not been a farmer himself.
He had worked night and day, amassed a large property, educated his
family, and looked forward to the time when they would be a source of
happiness to him; but his children were indolent, knew he had wealth,
and had no desire to do anything for themselves; he feared they would
spend his money faster than he had earned it. “Indeed, Ben,” replied
the merchant, with a sigh, “I would much rather take your chance for
happiness, and a comfortable living in this world, than that of either
of my sons.”

Ben was utterly amazed. He had thought, when looking upon that splendid
furniture, and wealth and taste there displayed, that people in such
circumstances must be extremely happy; but, as he was not deficient in
shrewdness, he learned a lesson that effectually repressed any desire
to murmur at his own lot.

The merchant then said to him, “Mr. Rhines, if you were buying this
island on speculation, I should charge you a round price for it, as
the timber is valuable, easy of access by water, the taxes are merely
nominal, and your father prevents it from being plundered; but as you
are buying it to make a home of, and I know what you have done for your
father,--for he told me himself,--I shall let you have it at a low
rate, and any length of time you wish to pay for it in.”

As they parted, he encouraged Ben by telling him that a Down-easter
would get rich where anybody else would starve.

It was now the month of October. Ben proposed that they should be
married; Sally should live with her mother during the winter, while he
went on to the island, cut a freight of spars, dug a cellar before the
ground froze, and made preparations for building in the spring. But
Sally declared she would as lief have Ben at sea as have him on this
island, running back and forth in the cold winter; that after a man had
been at work a whole week, he didn’t want to pull a boat six miles, and
be wet all through with spray; that there would be a great many days,
when, if he was off, he could not get on, and if he was on, he could
not get off, and there would be a great deal of time lost. Man and wife
ought not to be separated; ’twas no way to live; she would go to the
island and live with him.

“Live where, Sally?” inquired Ben.

“Why, with you. I suppose you will live somewhere--won’t you?”

“Well,” replied Ben, with a comical look at his great limbs, “I can
live anywhere a Newfoundland dog can; but I shouldn’t want you to, nor
should I consent to it. I expect to take some hands with me, build a
half-faced cabin, good enough for us to live in, cut spars and timber,
build a house next summer, and move in the fall.”

“It’ll cost you a good deal to build this house.”

“Why, yes. I can get the frame on the island, and the stuff for the
boards and shingles. I shall have to buy bricks, and lime, and nails,
and hire a joiner.”

“What does’t cost to build a log house?”

“Next to nothing, because we can build them of logs that are fit for
nothing else.”

“Are they warm?”

“Warmest things that ever you saw. The boards on a house are only an
inch thick, but you can have the logs three feet thick, if you like.”

“Are they tight?”

“They can be made as tight as a cup.”

“I don’t think, then, a Newfoundland dog would be likely to suffer much
in your shanty.”

“I was telling how a log house _could_ be made. I don’t expect to take
much pains with mine.”

“Would not all this timber that you are going to make frame, boards,
and shingles of, fetch a good price in the market?”

“Why, yes, it would nearly all make spars.”

“Then you should build, instead of a half-faced cabin, a real log
house, ‘three feet thick,’ if you like, and ‘as tight as a cup.’ I’ll
go on with you; it’ll be a great deal better than to take turns in
cooking, and live like pigs, as men always do when they live together.
I’ve heard you say you had rather eat off a chip, and then throw it
away, than eat off a china plate, and have to wash it when you were
done; then there would be no time lost. When you came in from your work
you would have your meals warm, and we would have a real sociable time
in the evening.”

“O, that will never do.”

“But it will do, Ben; you’ve just said that a log house was warm and

“Indeed it is,” chimed in the old lady, who, with her spectacles above
her cap, and her hands upon her knees, sat leaning forward, her whole
soul in her face, while the favorite cat, who for twenty years had
spent the evening in her patron’s lap, stood with one paw upon her
mistress’s knee, and the other uplifted with an air of astonishment at
being prevented from securing her accustomed place,--“indeed it is.
Mother used to say this house never began to be so warm or so tight as
the old log house.”

“O, dear, Sally!” exclaimed Ben, greatly troubled; “I thought ’twas bad
enough to take you on to the island to live at all, and now you insist
on living in a log house. What will folks say? They will say, there’s
Sally Hadlock, that might have had her pick of the likeliest fellows
in town, and never have had to bring the water to wash her hands, has
taken up with Ben Rhines, and gone to live in a log shanty on Elm

“Look here, Ben,” replied Sally; “suppose my father had been a
fisherman, and lived on Elm Island; wouldn’t you have come on there and
lived with me, though all the young fellows in town had said, There’s
Ben Rhines, that might have been master of as fine a ship as ever swum,
has taken up with old Hadlock’s daughter, and gone to live on Elm

“To be sure I would.”

“Well, then,” said Sally, coloring, “I hope you don’t want me to say,
right here before mother, that I’d rather live on Elm Island, in a log
house, with the boy I love, than with the best of them in a palace. I
want to bring the water to wash my hands. I don’t believe that God made
us to be idle, or that we are any happier for being so.”

“That’s right,” shouted the old lady, in ecstasies, rising up and
kissing her daughter’s cheek; “that’s the old-fashioned sort of love,
that will wear and make happiness, and it’s all the thing on this earth
that will; it will bear trial; it is a fast color, and won’t fade
out in washing. Most young people nowadays want to begin where their
fathers left off, and they end with running out all that their fathers
left them. You’re willing to begin and cut your garment according to
your cloth, and you will prosper accordingly.”



The morning succeeding Ben’s return from Boston gave tokens of a coming

“Ben,” said Captain Rhines, “we’re going to have a gale of wind; here’s
an old roll coming from the east’ard, and the surf is roaring on the
White Bull. Let us take the canoe, slip over to Elm Island, and get a
couple of lambs, before it comes on. I’m hankering after some fresh

When, having caught the lamb, they were pulling out of the harbor, the
old gentleman, resting on his oar, looked back upon the mass of forest,
and said, “What a tremenjus growth here is! here are masts and yards,
bowsprits and topmasts, for a ship of the line; and there’s no end of
the small spars and ranging timber; a great deal of it, too, ought to
be cut, for it has got its growth, and will soon be falling down. It is
first-rate land, and would make a capital farm after it’s cleared. I
wish old father Welch had to give it to me; he never would miss it. I
believe my soul all he keeps it for is for the sake of coming down here
once in three or four years, and going over there gunning ’long with

At noon the gale came on with great violence. The captain took
advantage of the stormy afternoon to kill a lamb, and have a regular
“tuck out” on a sea-pie. Under his directions, Mrs. Rhines lined the
large pot with a thick crust, put in the lamb and slices of pork,
with flour, water, and plenty of seasoning, and covered the whole
with a crust, which Captain Rhines pricked full of holes with his

In addition to this were pudding, pies, and fried apples; coffee,
which was seldom indulged in at that day; and last, but not least, a
decanter of Holland gin beside his plate. When they had despatched this
substantial repast, the family, eight in number, all drew up around
the fire. The old house shook with the violence of the gale; the rain
came down in torrents; the roar of the surf was distinctly heard in the
intervals of the gusts, while the blaze went up the great chimney in
sheets of flame.

The old seaman flung off his coat, kicked off his boots, and sitting
down in the midst of this happy circle, while the cheerful light
flickered around his weather-beaten form, animated by as noble a heart
as ever throbbed in human breast, cried, as he listened to the clatter
without, “Blow away, my hearty; while she cracks she holds; let them
that’s got the watch on deck keep it; it’s my watch below; eight hours
in to-night.”

He then sat some time in silence, with his hands clasped over his
knees, and looking into a great bed of rock-maple coals. Rousing up
at length, he laid his hard hand on his wife’s shoulder, and, with an
expression of heartfelt happiness on his rugged features, that was
perfectly contagious, said, “Mary, I do believe I’ve never had one
hardship too many. When I think how poor I began life; what my parents
suffered before they got the land cleared; why, I’ve seen my poor
father hoe corn when he was so weak from hunger that he could scarcely
stand. There were times when we should have starved to death, if it had
not been for the old dog (stooping down and patting Tige’s head, who
lay stretched out before the fire, with his nose on his master’s foot).
How glad I felt as I carried them the first dollar I ever earned! and
how glad they were to get it! Well, as I was saying, when I hear the
wind whistle, and the sea roar, as it does now, I can’t help thinking
how many such nights on ship’s deck, wet, worn out, listening to the
roar of the surf, and expecting the anchors to come home every minute;
next ‘vige’ perhaps in the West Indies; men dying all around me, like
sheep, with the yellow fever and black vomit. When I look back, and
feel it’s all over, that I’ve got enough to carry me through, can do
what little duty I’m fit for, among my comforts, and surrounded by
my family, I don’t believe I ever could have had the feelings I’ve
got in my bosom to-night, before this comfortable fire, if I hadn’t
been through the cold, the hunger, the dangers, and all the other
miseries first;” and he rolled up his sleeves in the very wantonness of
enjoyment, to feel the grateful warmth of fire on his bare flesh.

“I don’t wonder you do feel so, husband,” replied his wife; “as you
say, you’ve enough to carry you through, as far as this life is
concerned; but there is another life after this, and, perhaps, if
we get to the better world, that also will seem sweeter for all the
crosses we take up, and the self-denial we go through in getting there.
I’ve often told you, Benjamin, that you lack but one thing; for surely
never woman had a kinder husband, or children a better father, than
you have always been.”

“God bless you, Mary!” exclaimed the old seaman in the fulness of his
heart; “I’ve never been half so good a husband as I ought, and must
often have hurt your feelings; for I’m a rough old sea-dog; never had
any bringing up, but grew up just like the cattle.

“I never see John Strout but it puts me in mind of his oldest brother,
George. We both of us shipped for the first time, as able seamen, in
the same vessel; we were about of an age--‘townies;’ both in the same
watch, full of blue veins and vitriol, and were forever trying titles
to see which was the best man. It was hard work to tell, when the watch
was called, whose feet struck the floor first, his’n or mine. If he
got into the rigging before I did, I’d go up hand over fist on the
back-stay. I’ve known him to go on the topsail yard in his shirt-flaps
to get ahead of me. We allers made it a p’int to take the weather
earing, or the bunt of a sail, away from the second mate, who was the
owner’s nephew, and put over the head of his betters.”

“Was that the reason, father,” said Ben, “you wouldn’t let me go to sea
with you?”

“Yes,” he replied. “I’ve seen enough of these half-and-half fellers put
in to command before they are fit for it, just to lose better men’s
lives, and destroy other people’s property.”

“I think you have the right of it, father. I don’t believe I shall ever
be sorry that I came in at the hawsehole, instead of the cabin windows.”

“One terrible dark night, in the Gulf,” continued the old man, “all
hands were on the yard trying to furl the fore-topsail; my sheath-knife
was jammed between my body and the yard, so that I couldn’t get at it;
I reached and took his’n out of the sheath, which he wore behind, and
used it; but when I went to put it back again, he was gone; when or how
he went, nobody ever knew. I was young then, and new at such things. We
had allers been together. I couldn’t keep it out of my mind, and didn’t
want to stay in the vessel after that, for everything I took hold of
made me think of him.”

“Don’t you think, husband,” said his wife, “that we ought to think
where our blessings come from, and not to think it’s all our own work?”

Though Captain Rhines had a rugged temper of his own when roused, with
only the education he had picked up at sea, and the culture acquired
by friction as he was knocked about in the world, yet he was perfectly
moral, and temperate for that day; that is, he was never intoxicated.
He had a great respect for religion, especially his wife’s, she being
a woman of admirable judgment and ardent piety. She was not in the
practice of reproving every unguarded expression, and annoying him with
exhortations; telling the ministers her anxieties and fears about him,
and urging them to talk to him on the spot, whether they were in a
frame to converse, or he to listen. She was satisfied he knew where her
heart was, that she prayed earnestly for him, and let it rest at that,
save when, as on the present occasion, he put the words in her mouth.

“Well, wife,” he replied, willing to change the subject, “you’ve got
religion enough for both of us.”

“No, husband, that must be every one’s own work.”

“That ain’t all, neither. How many years was I going to sea, just
coming home to look in to the door, and say, ‘How are you all?’ then
off again, leaving you to manage farm, family, and hired help! Why,
I had scarcely any more care of my family than an ostrich has of her
eggs. It seems so much more happy to be with them now, on that very
account! I’m half a mind to believe what I then thought to be the worst
trial of all, was a blessing, too. I only wish that great critter over
there in the corner,” pointing to Ben, “could get half so good or
good-looking a wife as his mother is; but he’s so homely, and there’s
so much of it, I’m afraid there’s not a ghost of a chance for him.”

At this there was a general titter amongst the young folks. Ben could
hold in no longer, but astonished his parents by telling them what he
_had_ done, and what he _meant_ to do.

“By heavens, Ben!” exclaimed his father, springing to his feet, “you’ve
been fishing to some purpose; I’d moor head and stern to that girl, and
lie by her as long as cables and anchor would hold.”

“I don’t know how to build a log house,” said Ben; “and they’ve been
out of use so long round here, I don’t know anybody that does.”

“I do. Isaac Murch; he helped tear down our old log house, when I was
a boy. I suppose you know he is the most ing’nious critter that ever
lived. I believe he could make a man, if he should set out for it; and
I don’t know but he could put a soul in him after he was done. Your
grandfather was old and childish, and hated to have the house torn
down; so I got Isaac to make a model of it, to please him. I know that
he could make one exactly like it, if he had a mind to. I really think
I should come to see you a good deal oftener if you were living in the
old house, or one that looked just like it.”

“But, father, he wouldn’t work out.”

“He’d do most anything to accommodate you or Sally Hadlock; for, when
her father was living, he and Isaac were like two fingers on one hand.
I believe he thinks as much of the Hadlock children as he does of his
own. There’s no knowing how much he’s done for those children first and

The next day Ben rode over to Isaac’s, who, with his wife, gave him a
warm welcome.

“By the way,” said she, “are you engaged to be married to Sally
Hadlock? At any rate, I heard so, and it come pretty straight; own up
like a man; murder will out.”

“If it is so, I hope it’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

“Ben Rhines, if you’ve got Sally Hadlock, it’s the best day’s work you
ever did in your life.”

“I don’t know what you’ll say when I tell you the rest of it.” He then
informed them that he had bought Elm Island, and was going to live on

“But, Ben, is Sally willing to go on that island to live? I’m sure I
should be frightened to death to live there.”

“’Twas her own plan. She wouldn’t hear to my going to sea; and when
I said I didn’t know of any way to live ashore, unless I bought that
island, she said ’twas just the thing. I was intending to build a frame
house next summer; but she says, ‘Build a log house, go right into it,
and build a frame house when you’re better able;’ and declares she’ll
live in a log house, and nothing else. I had money enough, that I got
privateering, to have bought the island, and built the house on’t; but
I felt it my duty to help my father out of his difficulties.”

“Goodness! gracious! goodness me!” exclaimed Hannah Murch, holding up
both hands. “Ben Rhines, are you a wizard, to bewitch the girls after
this fashion? Such offers as that girl has had, to my sartin knowledge!
She loves you, Ben, and you may be sure of that to begin with. Well!
well! well! this beats all the story books.”

“She’s just right,” said Isaac. “She knows that Ben gives up the
cap’in’s berth to please her; that he’ll have a hard scratch of it, and
she means to scratch, too. You’re just right, both of you.”

“Now, Uncle Isaac,” said Ben, “this house must go right up. Will you
go on with me and another man, and ‘boss’ the job?”

“I will, Ben; and I won’t turn my back to any body for building a log

“To-day is Thursday. I should like to begin Monday, if you can come.”

“Well, I don’t know anything to hender; if you haven’t got anybody
looked out to help you, I think you’d better get Joe Griffin; he’s a
strapping stout feller, handy with an axe, or any kind of tools. I know
he’ll go; and if you say so, I’ll bring him along with me, and we’ll be
at the landing at sunrise, or thereabouts.”

During Ben’s absence, the widow Hadlock put on her changeable silk,
which her husband bought in foreign parts, and her best cap, and taking
her knitting-work, went over to Captain Rhines’s. When she came back,
she reported that it was all right, and the Rhineses were as much
pleased with the match as she was.



Monday morning came, and in the little cove, abreast of Captain
Rhines’s door, lay moored a “gundelow,” containing some hay, an ox
cart, plough, scraper, pot and tea-kettle, and provisions, raw and
cooked. Just as the sun rose, Ben came down the hill with a yoke of
oxen, and an axe on his shoulder weighing fourteen pounds. Joe Griffin
made his appearance on foot, and Isaac Murch on horseback, with his
wife (who had come to take the beast back) riding behind him on a
pillion. It was a bright October morning; the fields were white with
frost, which was just beginning to melt as the sun rose.

“Halloa!” cried Joe, as he caught sight of Ben’s head over the rising
ground; “this is the weather for the woods; the frost puts the grit in.”

Hannah Murch, saying that she was going to see Sally Rhines, that is to
be, and would meet them at four o’clock Saturday afternoon, rode off.

They put up a boat’s sail in the forward part of the “gundelow,” and,
as the wind was fair, made good progress. Ben steered, while the others
stretched themselves at full length upon the hay.

Joe was half asleep, when he felt his leg grasped by Ben, who motioned
him to crawl to him as easily as possible.

“There’s a flock of coots to leeward; steer her right down on them, and
when they rise I’ll give it to them.”

He carefully lifted a board, under which lay a gun, with an old flint
lock, with a stocking leg over it to keep off the damp of the sea and
the mist of the morning. Ben crawled forward behind the hay, where he
lay with his finger on the trigger. The unsuspicious fowl kept diving
and chasing each other over the water: at length they seemed to take
alarm, and began to huddle together.

“They’re going to rise, Ben,” whispered Joe.

“Well, let them rise.”

Coots, when they are fat, cannot well rise from the water, except
against the wind. As they rose and flew towards the “gundelow,”
exposing their most vital parts to a shot, five fell dead, and four

“There’s our supper to-night, at any rate,” said Ben; “and were we in
anything else than this scow, I’d have those wounded ones.”

They reached the island, and luffing round its eastern point, ran
the “gundelow” on the beach at the mouth of the cove. Joe, making
a leaping-pole of an oar, sprang ashore. “Throw us a rope, and you
go astern, and I’ll haul her in.” While Joe pulled on the rope, Ben
stepping overboard, put his little shoulders to the stern of the
“gundelow,” and shoved her so high up on the beach that Isaac Murch
stepped out without wetting his feet.

“I say, Ben,” exclaimed Joe, “suppose you take an ox under each arm,
and bring them out. I never was here before, but if this ain’t just
the handsomest place I ever set eyes on. Such a nice little harbor to
keep a craft; and a brook, and this little green spot in the lee of the
woods; then such a master growth of timber; there’s a pine that’ll run
seventy feet without a limb. I say it’s great, I do.”

Let us glance a moment at the character and capacities of these three
men, as they stand together on the beach of this little gem of the wild
Atlantic coast.

They represent the yeomanry of the nation. They are of the old stock;
not technically religious men, and yet no word of profanity, or
disrespect to religion, finds utterance or countenance from them. That
which, in their estimation, is of the greatest importance, is to have
something which they have earned with their own hands. Look at them,
as they stand there at the water’s edge, and know them. Physically
considered, they are noble specimens of manly vigor and power.

What would some of the effeminate dandies that throng our streets,
or the scions of nobility in the old world, be good for on that wild
sea-beach? But these men can live there, and cause others to live, and
turn the wilderness into a garden.

Isaac Murch is five feet eleven inches in height, fifty-three years of
age, without a gray hair on his head, of powerful, compact frame, with
a world of intelligence and kindness in his face, and something about
him that, without the least assumption, caused his neighbors to respect
his opinion, and look up to him as a leader. His early advantages for
learning were very slight; but since he has been in easy circumstances,
he has improved strong natural capacities by reading and observation.

Joe Griffin was twenty-two--a boy, as Isaac Murch called him; and
a great red-cheeked, corn-fed boy he was, too; six feet in his
stockings, and weighing a hundred and eighty pounds; loose-jointed,
big-boned, thin in the flanks, not long-legged, but getting his length
between his shoulders and his hips. He is of less capacity, and more
interested in physical matters. He can read and write, cipher as far as
the “rule of three,” and cast interest; but he has a knack of handling
tools that comes by nature. As the neighbors say, he has an eye,--that
is, he can judge of proportions, and, with his great clumsy fingers,
do anything with wood that he likes; but his great ambition is, to go
ahead and do the work. He’s smart, and knows it, and likes to have
other people know it. He don’t calculate to let anybody go ahead of
him with a scythe, or chop into the side of a tree, or put hay on to a
cart, quicker than himself. Indeed there were very few that could; for
he was not only strong, but tough, and possessed infinite tact, laying
out his strength to the best advantage.

Let us consider the type of labor presented to us. Here are three live
Yankees, in whom all the shrewd, inventive genius of the race has been
stimulated by necessity,--all of them, from early life, having been
flung upon their own resources.

They are helping one of their number to build a house for himself and
his young wife to live in. One of them has already passed through that
experience of life which their employer is about to enter. The other
expects to, for he also intends to be married, and have a home and
land of his own. They therefore go about their work with interest and

How different are these men from what is generally termed _help_! They
are hired, to be sure; but the sentiment which inspires their labor is
entirely different from that feeling of drudgery, under the influence
of which the tenantry of Europe, or even the Irish servants in this
country, perform their work.

Isaac Murch is an independent, wealthy farmer,--a mechanic by
nature,--who has acquired the property he holds with his own hands,
and would scorn to be a hired servant, like an Irish navvy; but for
_accommodation_, he will hire some one to get in his own harvest, and
in the cold, frosty nights, when he might be comfortable at home in the
blankets, he will go on to Elm Island, sweat and work, live rough, and
sleep on the ground, to build a house for his neighbor; for _neighbor_
meant something in those days.

As for Joe Griffin, he’s counting every dollar, and looking forward to
the day when he shall have a home of his own, and plough his own acres,
and is ambitious to earn his wages.

How superior are the results of such labor, to that of the man who
has no ambition of ever being anything more than a servant, and only
exercises his ingenuity in getting through the day, and shirking all
the work he can! They knew that Ben had nothing but his hands to
help himself with, and couldn’t afford to pay them for watching the
shadows; besides, they had a reputation to sustain, of which they
were sufficiently proud. They knew very well that everybody within a
circle of ten miles would know what they were about before night, and
what remarks would be made about them at the blacksmith’s shop, the
grist-mill, and around the firesides.

“Well, now, if there ain’t a team--Isaac Murch, Ben Rhines, and Joe
Griffin! Pine trees’ll have to take it now, if they’ve got Isaac Murch
to lay out the work, and Ben and Joe to back him up. Won’t they have a
good time, though, seeing which is the smartest?”

“Wal, sartainly,” exclaimed old Aunt Molly Bradish, “Joe Griffin has
met his match for once; he can’t do anything with Ben Rhines; he’d
pull up a pine tree by the roots, if he took a notion.”

“Joe can’t, of course, take hold of a log to lift with Ben, nor anybody
else in this world,” said Seth Warren; “but I’ll bet he’ll chop into
the side of a tree as quick; he strikes so true, he wouldn’t miss a
clip once in a fortnight. I saw him cut a pig of lead in two, down at
the mill; and though he struck ten times, he hit so true that you could
see but one mark of the axe.”

“Wal,” replied Aunt Molly, “there’s this to be said of Ben Rhines,
that is not to be said of everybody: I took him in my arms when he
was born, and have lived a near neighbor to him from that day to
this, and I never knew or heard of his using his strength to harm a
fellow-critter, except they desarved it most outrageously. I’ve seen
little snipper-snappers impose upon him, and all the same as spit in
his face, and he never let on that he heard them. Sally’s my own niece,
and I set my eyes by her; but I couldn’t wish her better luck than to
marry Ben. He’s helped everybody; I should think somebody might have
sprawl enough to get up a ‘bee’ and help him.”

They also knew that, when they went to meeting, Sunday, everybody
would want to know how much they’d done. Added to this was the pride
of emulation, which leads men of any pluck to exert themselves in the
presence of each other. This is a kind of labor that can exist nowhere
but in a free country, is the result of its institutions, from which
proceed the motives, and a thousand subtle influences which beget it.

The island well merited Joe’s encomium. On the eastern side, adjoining
the brook, was a large space, having a slight elevation, covered
with green grass, extending back to the middle ridge, which, at
its extremity, terminated in a perpendicular ledge, which, sloping
gradually on the eastern side, and disappearing, crossed the brook,
where it again came to the surface, forming a natural dam, about two
feet in height, with a little fissure in the middle, worn by the
passage of the water. Over this the stream fell with a pleasant murmur,
mingling very sweetly with the deeper tone of the breakers. On either
side of the brook were two enormous elm trees, united by a great root,
flat on the surface, which bridged the brook a very little above the
fall. Under this root, which was as large as a man’s body, the water
had a free passage, except in the spring and autumn, when the brook
was swollen by melting snows and rains. Then the old root was half
buried in water. The high tides came over this natural dam; and in the
brackish water were great quantities of smelts and frost fish; and eels
also ran up through the fissure in the ledge. The summit of the high
ledge was covered with white birches, the great forked roots, rough
and black with whorls and blisters, running along the very edge of the
rocks, while their limbs, stretching themselves towards the sun, fell
in great masses over its edge.

They are very much mistaken who suppose that no one can appreciate
natural beauty, or hold communion with the beautiful forms of nature,
and grow by it, who has not graduated at a university and read Homer.

Joe Griffin appreciated the beauty of this spot, and felt it to his
heart’s core; and so did big Ben, though they could not express it in
artistic language.

Ben, in consultation with uncle Isaac, had determined to hew his logs
for their whole length only on two sides, which, as it was late in the
year, and they were pressed for time, would save much labor; but at
the ends, and where the doors and windows were to be, to hew them to a
“proud edge.” This would give good joints at the ends, and make the
house as tight as though it was all square timber.

“Where are you going to set your house?” inquired Uncle Isaac.

“Here,” said Ben, walking up to the slope above some elms that grew
close together, and sticking down a crowbar; “I want my house under the
lee of the woods and the hill, and my garden under that warm ledge.”

“How large will you have it on the ground?”

“Thirty-six by thirty-nine.”

“Jerusalem!” exclaimed Joe; “that’s a big house for two people, and a
little yellow dog with white on the end of his tail, to live in; hope
you won’t be crowded.”

“Log houses,” said Uncle Isaac, “last some time; perhaps he thinks
there’ll be more of them before it rots down.”

“At first,” said Ben, “and perhaps for some years, it’ll have to be
house, barn, corn-house, workshop, and everything.”

“You’ll have your cellar under half of it; how high will you have it?”

“I never have thought anything about that.”

“Well, I’d drop the beams down, and have it a story and a half; that
great chamber’ll be the best part of the house; ’twill make you a
splendid corn-house; that’s the way your grandfather’s was, and many a
bushel of corn I’ve shelled in it. If I’m boss, as you, Ben, are strong
enough to hold the scraper alone, you and Joe can take the plough, and
go to ploughing and scraping out the cellar, and I’ll go to the woods
and pick out and cut the trees.”

“The sun is getting low,” said Ben; “it is time we were making
calculations for sleeping to-night, whether in the ‘gundelow,’ with a
sail over us, or in a bush camp.”

“I go in for the bush camp,” said Uncle Isaac.

“And I’m the boy to build it,” said Joe; “takes me to do that.”

“Go ahead, Joe, and build it, and we’ll get the wood for the fire.”

Without a moment’s hesitation, Joe went into the edge of a little
clump of bushes, and in a few minutes cut out a space about twelve
feet square, leaving an opening between two trees, where he went in,
of about three feet. As fast as he cut the trees, he thrust them back,
and jammed them in among the others, making a thick wall; he then wove
two or three small trees in on the side to keep them from falling
in. He then cut three or four small beech limbs, twisted them into
withes, bent down the tops of three or four trees on the sides, tied
them together with the withes, thus forming the roof; then getting the
boat’s sail, threw it over the top, and a little brush over that, to
break the force of the rain. He then strewed some hemlock brush on the
floor to sleep on.

“I’ll risk any rain-storm driving us out of that,” said Joe,
contemplating his edifice with great satisfaction.

“I must have a door,” said Joe, “or these plaguy oxen and sheep’ll be
in there when we ain’t, and bother us.”

You may think this a difficult matter, but Joe never wasted a thought
on’t. He took three spruce poles, as long as the height of the opening,
drove them into the ground, and wattled them with birch limbs; he then
fastened a pole across each end, and one in the middle, leaving the
middle one protruding about four inches on the right side; that was a
latch. He now took a little hemlock, peeled the bark off, and drove
it into the ground on the left side; this was the door-post. He made
hinges of withes, which slipped easily round the smooth pole. On the
right hand tree grew a limb, slanting upwards; this he cut off about
three inches from the tree; then lifting the door, he threw it into
the angle, and it was shut and latched.

He drove two crotch-poles into the ground, just before the door, and
put another across; he then cut a limb with a side branch growing out
of it, and hooked it over the pole; cut a deep notch in the lower end
of it, to receive the bail of the pot, and hung it on.

Uncle Isaac and Ben now came with a whole cart full of dry wood, which
they had picked up, and a fire was kindled. It was not long before the
flavor of the coot stew saluted their nostrils.

“O, that smells good,” said Joe; “I’m savage hungry.” Seizing his axe,
he cut some great chips out of the side of a tree, which he hollowed
out, and giving one to each, said, “There’s the plates; they don’t need
any washing; you can shie them into the fire when you’re done; there’s
enough more where they come from.”

The stew was now taken from the fire, and these hardy men, who had
shown so much capacity for labor during the day, manifested no less
for eating. When the solid contents of the stew had disappeared, Joe
exclaimed, “I think it’s too bad to lose all this good gravy in the
pot.” He went to the beach and got three clam-shells; these they stuck
in the end of split sticks, and soon despatched the contents of the pot.

“Well,” said Uncle Isaac, as they stretched themselves around the
blazing fire, “we’ve got on here, made a beginning, and got to
housekeeping; and that will do pretty well for one day. We couldn’t
expect to make much show to-day; but to-morrow we shall get to work
betimes, and bring more to pass.”

“I’m sorry I forgot to bring a drag,” said Ben; “we’ve nothing to haul
the rocks on.”

“That’s a thing we must have,” said Uncle Isaac; “I’ll make one right

“You can’t make it to-night,” said Ben.

“The dogs I can’t. Joe, cut that little red oak; you can do it in
three minutes. Make a blaze, Ben, to see to work by; then run to the
‘gundelow,’ and bring up that plank I saw there.”

By the time Ben returned with the plank the tree was down.

“Now, Joe,” said Uncle Isaac, “you can take one side of the tree, and I
will the other, and see if you can keep up with your grandfather. You,
Ben, may saw up that plank into pieces three feet long, and make some
wooden pins.”

By nine o’clock the drag was made.

“There,” said Uncle Isaac, “that hasn’t killed anybody; ’twould have
been an awful waste to have taken good daylight for that. I’m not sure
but ’twould have been a sin; and we’ve plenty of time left to sleep.”

Thursday was occupied in framing together the sills, and laying the
lower floor, in order that they might have it to stand on while rolling
up the logs. It was left rough, because Uncle Isaac said it would wear
smoother than if ’twas planed.

“I hope,” said Joe, “it won’t be like old Uncle Yelf’s floor. He had
a floor of hemlock boards, rough from the saw; they had a heap of
grandchildren, every one of them barefoot. Go in there when you would,
for a fortnight, there’d be old granny with her darning-needle, and
a great young one’s foot up in her lap, a-picking out the splinters,
while the young one, with both hands on the floor, was screaming bloody
murder. By the time she’d picked the splinters out of his feet, there’d
be as many more in his hands.”

Saturday forenoon was spent in hauling logs, and rolling them up on
skids, preparatory to hewing.

Just as they had finished dinner, Joe suddenly cried, “What’s that in
that bushy spruce on the edge of the bank?”

“I don’t see anything,” said Ben.

“Nor I, now; but I know there was something there, and I believe it’s
there now.”

“Perhaps it’s a coon,” said Uncle Isaac.

“A coon? How could a coon get on to this island?”

“How could he get here? How could the squirrels and woodchucks get
here? God Almighty put ’em here.”

Going to the tree, Joe peered a long time among the branches; at length
he exclaimed, “Here he is: get your gun, Ben!”

“I shot away the last powder I had to kindle fire this morning; but
we’ll stone him down.”

They pelted him with stones in vain, the thick limbs causing them all
to glance.

“Climb up and get him, Joe.”

“Climb up yourself, Ben; they say their bite’s rank ‘pizen.’”

“I’ll have that coon,” said Ben, “if it takes all day. Cut the tree
down, Joe.”

As it fell, the coon leaped from it; and though the stones fell thick
and fast around him, he ran up the bank and under the logs. Then began
a most exciting race, the men rolling the logs here and there, and
striking at him between them, till finally he broke cover, and ran for
the woods, with the whole scout at his heels. Ben overtook him just as
he was running up a tree, and, catching him by the tail, flung him over
his head: he landed on Joe’s back, who, having a mortal terror of the
bite of a coon, roared with agony; but the creature, too frightened to
bite, rolled off his back to the ground, and passing Uncle Isaac, who
was so full of tickle that he could not lift a finger to stop him, ran
under the timber again. As he was now too far gone to try another race
for the woods, he hid under a log, one end of which lay upon a block,
and the other on the ground.

Ben saw his eyes shine, and kicked the log off the block; as the coon
attempted to run out, it fell on his tail and held him fast. There he
sat, captive but undismayed, showing his white teeth, and frothing at
his mouth with pain and rage.

“How are you, coonie?” said Joe, taking off his hat and making a low
bow; “by the chances of war you are now our prisoner; we are cannibals,
of the cannibal tribe, and eat all our captives; you must die for the
good of the tribe;” and thus saying he knocked him on the head.

“I’ll get mother to bake him to-night,” said Ben; “come over to-morrow,
Joe, and help eat him.”

“Boys,” said Uncle Isaac, “don’t you think we look well skylarking at
this rate? and to-day is Saturday, too; now we must put in hard enough
to make up for it.”

They labored till dark, as if their lives depended on it.

“I thought you were going to leave off earlier Saturday night,” said
Hannah Murch, as she met them at the landing. “I’ve been waiting here
more’n two hours in the cold. I was afraid some accident had befallen

Ben held up the raccoon.

“I see how it is; you’ve been cooning, and had to work later to make it
up. Isaac, I do wish you would ever leave off being a boy.”

“Well, you’re the first woman I ever heard of that wanted her husband
to grow old.”



Ben persuaded Joe Griffin to go home with him, stay all night, and
help eat the coon. Though one of the most kind-hearted creatures that
ever lived, Joe’s proclivity for practical jokes was both instinctive
and inveterate. If the choice lay between making a mortal enemy for
life and a good joke, he could not prevail upon himself to forego the
joke. He was very shrewd withal, and would extricate himself from
difficulties, and accomplish his ends by pleasantry, where others would
be compelled to fight their way out, or miss of their object.

One autumn, the blacksmith, having great quantities of axes to make for
the loggers, hired Joe a couple of months, as there was a great deal
of striking with the sledge, and his apprentice was young and light.
The smith was a very driving man, but kept his men well, and was very
hospitable. He was obliged to be absent occasionally to deliver his
axes. At such times his wife, who was penurious in the extreme, kept
the boys very short. Joe, knowing that his master did not approve of
this, resolved to put a stop to it. They worked evenings. One night the
smith came home full of grit, as he had been riding and resting, and
prepared to forge an axe. Placing a hot iron on the anvil, he cried,
“Strike, Joe, strike.” Joe struck a few feeble blows, when exclaiming,
“It’s going! it’s going! it’s all gone!” dropped his sledge on the
floor, and seemed ready to faint away.

“What’s gone?” cried the smith, in a rage at having lost his heat.

“That water porridge we had for supper.”

The master then took them to the house, and gave them a hearty meal.

Once more the iron was laid upon the anvil; Joe struck tremendous
blows, making the sparks fly all over the shop, crying, “It’s coming!
it’s coming! it gives me strength! I feel it! I feel it!”

“What’s coming, and what do you feel?”

“That good beefsteak I had for supper.”

Joe could talk like anybody under heaven, and look like them too. He
could talk more like Uncle Sam Yelf than Uncle Sam could himself. This
gift, however, he used very sparingly, for he could take a joke as well
as give one; felt that ’twas mean to turn the peculiarities of others
into ridicule, and in a way in which they could not retaliate.

Yelf had a sort of hitch in his voice, which was very ludicrous, but,
like many people who have an impediment, could sing distinctly and
shout tremendously; he was also very hot in his temper. Sometimes, when
they met at the store, Joe would begin to talk with him, and just like

The old man would fly in a passion in a moment, begin to sputter, and
Joe would “take him off,” while no human being could help laughing. It
was fine sport for the young folks, and the more so on account of its
rarity, as it was but seldom that Joe could be persuaded to do it, and
was sure to give the old man some tobacco soon after. He could also
imitate the cry of any beast, wild or tame, to perfection, from a moose
to a muskrat; and of birds, except the squawk; Joe said the squawks
were too many for him.

This power was of great value to him in hunting. He could call a moose
or muskrat within range, by imitating the notes of either.

In the evening Ben went over to the widow Hadlock’s. He was in the
habit of making a bootjack of the crane; standing on one leg, and
steadying himself by the mantel-piece, he put the other foot into the
crotch of the crane, and pulled off his boot. Joe had often seen him do
this, and laid his plans accordingly. After the family were all asleep,
Joe got up, and with a crowbar pulled out the dogs that held the crane,
and then put them back again in such a manner that the least touch
would loosen them, and bring crane and all on to the floor. He then
took a cow-bell from a cow’s neck in the barnyard, and putting some
stones in an old tin pail, hung them and a bottle of sour milk on the
crane, and went back to bed.

About twelve o’clock Ben came. He felt round for a candle, expecting
to find it where his mother usually left it--on the mantel-piece; but
Joe had taken very good care to remove both candle and matches; so,
feeling for the crane, he clapped in his foot and pulled; down came
the crane on to the floor. Ben went over backwards, full length on the
floor, with a force that shook the whole house from garret to cellar;
the cow-bell and tin pail rattled; the sour milk ran all over Ben; his
mother awaked from a sound sleep, and screamed murder; and old Captain
Rhines came rushing out in his night-shirt, with a pistol in each hand,
blazed away at the sound, putting one bullet through the window, and
the other into a milk-pan of eggs, which stood upon the dressers, while
the children, roused by the frantic screams of the mother and the
pistol shots, came shrieking from their beds.

“Don’t shoot any more, father,” cried Ben; “it’s me.”

“My God!” exclaimed Captain Rhines, feeling the milk, which, by hanging
over the fire, had become warm, as it touched his bare feet, and
mistaking it for blood; “have I shot my own son?”

“No, father,” said Ben; “it’s some of that confounded Joe Griffin’s
work. I’ll fix him.” He ran up stairs to take summary vengeance. In
this he was disappointed, for the moment Joe heard the crash, he slid
down on a pole, which he had previously placed at the window, and ran

We must remember that Ben had been courting; had on his best
broadcloth, purchased on the last voyage, and in which he was to be

Broadcloth suits in those days were limited to a very few. The minister
had a coat and breeches for Sabbath; so of a few of the seafaring
people and their families; but the clothing of the people in general
was both manufactured and made up at home, there being no such thing as
a tailor.

Here, then, was Ben’s best suit, made in Liverpool by a professional
tailor, soaked with sour milk, and covered with ashes; his light buff
waistcoat all over smut, from the pot, crane, hooks, and trammels, that
fell over him. Thus, though Ben’s temper was not easily roused, and
soon subsided, he was now thoroughly mad, and, had he caught Joe, would
probably have crippled him for life. Perhaps some such thought crossed
his mind, as he said to his father on coming down, “He’s gone, and I’m
glad of it; but I’ll be even with him before snow flies.”

Aunt Molly Bradish’s declaration that Ben Rhines had helped everybody
that needed help, and that she should think somebody might give him
a lift, was not lost. Seth Warren happened to be in there, and heard
the old lady’s remarks. Seth was a kind-hearted, jovial fellow, who
had been many a time with Ben on his errands of mercy, and loved any
kind doings. He went directly to the store, where, as he expected, he
found, as it was Saturday night, a good portion of the young men of
the place assembled. He took them aside, and said, “You know what a
good fellow Ben Rhines is; how he has always been getting up ‘bees’ to
help everybody that was behindhand: now, what say for going on to the
island next week, the whole crew of us, and giving him a lift with his

Seth’s proposition was received with acclamations. “Now, boys,” he
continued, “you know how such things always leak out, and that spoils
the whole. Now, don’t say a word about it to neither sister, mother,
or sweetheart, till they have gone back to the island Monday morning,
and then we can talk as much as we please, and they cannot possibly get
wind of it.”

This was solemnly assented to.

“I,” said Seth, “will go over and sleep with Joe Griffin Sunday night,
and, without letting him suspect anything, find out how far they’ve
got along with their work, that we may know when our help will be most
needed.” This he did, when Joe told him what he did the night before at
Captain Rhines’s.

“What do you suppose Ben’ll do to you? He’ll murder you after he gets
you on to the island. I shouldn’t want to be in your shoes.”

“Poh! he won’t, neither; he’s like a bottle of beer, soon up and soon
over. I think it is like enough he’ll throw me overboard; if he does, I
don’t care; I’d be willing to be ducked twenty times for the sake of
the fun I had that night, and for the better fun I shall have thinking
about it and telling of it.”

The next morning Seth accompanied Joe to the shore; but no sooner was
the gundelow fairly off, than getting on the horse with Hannah Murch,
who had come to bring her husband, he let out the whole matter to her.
Hannah, by no means backward in the good work, told everybody she met
on the road, and went to the school-house and told the mistress.

The result of this was, that thirty-five young men agreed to go,--among
whom were ten ship-carpenters from Massachusetts, who were there
cutting ship timber, with their master workman, Ephraim Hunt; also, Sam
Atkins, from Newburyport, who was at home on a visit.

The girls, under the direction of Hannah Murch, were to cook and
furnish the provisions, while John Strout engaged to set them on in his
fishing schooner, the Perseverance, an Essex pink-stern, of sixty tons.



Wednesday morning the axes were flying merrily, as Ben and his crew
were busy at their timber, when they were startled by a tremendous
cheer, and, to their utter amazement, beheld thirty-five men, in
military order, emerging from the woods, led on by Seth Warren, with
a three-cornered cap, in which were the tail feathers of a turkey,
with a skein of yarn for a sash, and shouldering an adze. Each man was
armed,--some with broad-axes, others narrow-axes, saws, augers, and
other tools.

When Seth had marched his men up in front of the cellar, he commanded
them to stand at ease.

It is impossible adequately to describe the amazement of the party on
the island. Joe stood leaning on his axe, with his mouth wide open;
Uncle Isaac held his hat before him with both hands, as if for a
shield; while Ben, who had, under the first impulse, started forward
to meet Seth, unable to get any farther, stood with both hands in his
pockets, the picture of astonishment and doubt.

“Now, Ben,” exclaimed Seth, with a magnificent flourish of his hand,
and very much at his ease, while his eyes were dancing in his head with
suppressed glee, as he noticed the completeness of the surprise, “did
you suppose there were never to be any more ‘bees,’ and that folks
wan’t going to help each other any more, because you are going to be
married, and have got through with it? I tell you, you’ve learnt us the
trade, and we’ve come to practise, and help the fellow that has set us
so good an example--ain’t we, boys?”

Seth’s speech was received with a cheer. Poor Ben, feeling that he must
say something, and not knowing what to say, presented a most ludicrous
picture. His great body swayed to and fro; he stood first on one foot
and then on the other, to the great delight of his friends, who were in
high glee at this evidence of the thoroughness of the surprise.

At length the great creature, who would have faced a battery without
winking, blurted out, “Neighbors, I--’m--sure, I don’t know what I’ve
done to deserve all this kindness,” and burst into tears.

“Don’t know what you’ve done?” replied Seth, anxious to cover Ben’s
confusion; “_I_ should like to know what you _haven’t_ done. Who raised
a scout, and built Uncle Joe Elwell a barn, after his’n was struck by

“Who,” said John Lapham, “got in the widow Perry’s harvest, and cut all
her winter’s wood, after her husband was killed stoning a well?”

“Ah!” exclaimed John Strout, the skipper of the Perseverance, “who was
it took care of me when I had the smallpox in Jacmel, and everybody
else, even my own relation, run away from me?”

“Well,” replied Ben, whose modesty revolted at such a display of his
virtues, “I didn’t do any more than my duty.”

“That’s just what we’re going to do,” replied Seth.

“And that’s where you’re right,” said Uncle Isaac, putting on his hat.
“Come on, boys; if you’re so anxious to work, I’ll give you enough of
it to start the grease out of you.”

“Let you alone for that, uncle,” said a voice from the crowd.

“Who’s that? As I’m alive it’s my nephew, Sam Atkins. Where did you
drop from, Sam?”

“Why, you see, uncle, we were waiting for timber at Newburyport, that
is to come in a vessel; and as Jacob Colcord was coming down in his
schooner, I thought it would be a good time to make a visit home.”

“You couldn’t have done a better thing; you’re just the boy I want.
Now, Master Hunt, if you’ll be good enough to line these timbers for
these boys to hew, I’ll be doing something else.”

Sam Atkins, who was well assured his uncle would not overlook his
capabilities, sat on a log whittling. After he had set all the rest to
work, Uncle Isaac came to him, and laying his hand upon his shoulder,
said, “Sam, I’ve got a nice job for you; I want you to frame the roof;
you’ll find tools in my tool-chest. There are the rafters, and they
will have the ridge-pole and purlins hewed by the time you will want

As soon as a good number of sticks were hewed, they began to roll them
up, while Uncle Isaac, Joe Griffin, and two of the ship carpenters,
cut the dovetails. By twelve o’clock they had the timber for the walls
hewed, and the walls raised to the chamber, and the beams and sleepers
for the chamber floor hewed, and Sam and his crew had the roof framed.

In order to make the surprise to Ben complete, they had anchored the
schooner behind the woods, on the north-east end of the island; but
they now brought her round, and anchored her in the cove, and brought
ashore their provisions--jugs of coffee all made, with the sweetening
boiled in; cheese and doughnuts, bread and butter, beef, pork, and
lamb, all cooked, which the girls had provided; and a good deal more
raw, which they meant to have the fun of cooking themselves.

They laid some boards on logs, and thus made their tables.

After dinner, they lay on the grass and talked and laughed, while the
older ones smoked, and had a jolly good time.

At length Uncle Isaac said, putting his pipe in his waistcoat pocket,
“Boys, do you calculate on having a frolic in the house to-night?”

“Yes, we do,” replied a score of voices.

“Then it’s high time you were laying the chamber floor.”

“You old drive,” said Joe, speaking thick, with the ribs of a sheep
between his teeth, “didn’t you know old Captain Hurry is dead? cast
away, going down to Make Haste? Can’t you give a feller time to eat?
That’s been the way ever since I’ve been here, boys. I’m getting quite

“He don’t show it much,” said Uncle Isaac, pointing to Joe’s fat
cheeks; “he has had an hour and a half, and eaten almost a whole sheep.”

As nothing was planed except the edges of the floor boards, and what
was absolutely necessary to make the joints, the work went on “smoking.”

“Ah,” said Uncle Isaac, stopping to draw a long breath, while the sweat
dropped from the end of his nose on to the axe handle, “that’s the time
of day, my bullies; all strings are drawing now.”

In a short time Joe sung out that the floor beams were all laid, cross
sleepers in, and they wanted something to do to keep them from freezing.

“Well, lay the rough floor, and be quick about it; the boards are all
jointed, and we shall be at your heels with the upper one.”

By the time Joe and his crew had laid half of the loose floor, the ship
carpenters began to lay the other one over it, and they finished nearly
at the same time.

There were two courses of logs above the floor beams, so that the house
was a story and a half in height. The logs being hewn on two sides,
then smoothed with an adze, the window frames fitted close, the walls
two feet or more in thickness, and very few windows, the house was
almost as tight as though it grew there.

“Hand that timber right up here,” shouted Uncle Isaac, from the chamber
floor, “and clap the roof on. That’ll be enough for one day; there’s
reason in all things.”

As there were half a dozen men to a rafter, the timber went up in a few



“Halloa, Uncle Isaac!” shouted Joe from the house-top, “this ridge-pole
won’t fit; you didn’t make it right.”

“Yes, I did. I never made a bad joint in my life.”

“Well, it won’t fit, anyhow. Master Hunt says ’twont.”

“O, if I could only get a little spirit to rub on it,” said Uncle
Isaac, in great perplexity, “I’ll bet ’twould fit; but I’m sure I don’t
know how I can get it on this island.”

“There’s some aboard the schooner,” said John Strout; and, as it was
passed up the frame, Joe announced that the ridge-pole fitted first

“Now, boys, the frame is up, and must be named. Who shall name it?”

“Seth Warren,” was the cry; “he got up the scrape.” Seth, all at
once, became extremely diffident, and required as much urging as a
distinguished man at Commencement dinner, but finally was prevailed
upon, at a great sacrifice of his own feelings, to gratify his friends.
With a bottle of rum in his right hand, and astride the ridge-pole, he
gave vent to the following effusion:--

  Here, in the woods, yet out at sea,
    Where robins sing amid the surf,
  Where ivy clasps the moss-grown tree,
    And flowers are breaking from the turf,--

  We’ve reared, where house ne’er stood before,
    Nor reaper bound the swelling grain,
  A dwelling-place, amid the roar
    Of waves, that break to break again.

  Good luck to those who here shall live,
    Prosperity their path attend,
  With every blessing Heaven can give--
    Health, competence, till life shall end.

  To them its wealth may ocean yield,
    The herds their milky tribute pour;
  Rich harvests crown the fertile field,
    A bouncing baby grace the floor.

  So strong a man ne’er held a plough,
    A seaman tried, a shipmate true;
  So sweet a girl ne’er milked a cow,
    Or bleached her linen in the dew.

  This goodly house yet lacks a name;
    Good people all, I pray you tell,
  How I most worthily the same,
    This afternoon, may christen well.

  We’ll not forget, where’er we roam,
    When thirty-five young stalwart men,
  And Uncle Isaac, reared the home
    Of old Elm Island’s Lion Ben.

  I name it, then, the “Lion’s Den;”
    When we are dead these walls shall last,
  To tell of times when men were men,
    And keep the record of the past;--

  When worth, not wealth, won woman’s heart,
    While she her lighter burden bore;
  At wheel and loom performed her part,
    And added to the common store.

As he concluded, he dashed the bottle on the ridge-pole, and flung the
neck high in the air. Seth was frequently interrupted with applause;
but, when he finished, there was a complete storm of cheers.

“I call that the cap-sheaf,” said Uncle Isaac; “there’s some chaw to
that; it’s raal sentimental; none of your low blackguard stuff, such as
they generally have to raisin’s. I think we ought all join together,
and get Squire Linscott, the town clark, to copy them are varses, and
buy a gilded frame, and have ’em hung over Ben’s fireplace; then our
grandchildren will know about it, for we haven’t done anything on this
island we’re ashamed of, and don’t mean to.”

It was universally agreed that after such an effort a man must be
thirsty; and a large pail of milk punch appeared from the schooner.
Seth, as the poet of the day, received the first draught; then Uncle
Isaac and Master Hunt, and so it went round.

“It is not near night yet,” said Seth, who was greatly pleased with his
successful effort; “what do you say for boarding the roof and ends?
there is such a swarm of us that we can do it in less than an hour.”

“I think we have done enough,” said Uncle Isaac; “but I’m in for it if
you are.”

They accordingly boarded the roof and the ends.

“Now,” said Seth, “for some fun.”

The chips were all cleared out of the house, and the floor swept with
spruce boughs; it made a noble hall; not a thing in it, and almost
square. Uncle Isaac, rolling a log in front of the house, sat down to
smoke, contemplating his workmanship with the greatest complacency.
His thoughts were also occupied in preparing for the morrow. He was
desirous of making the most of this godsend, but did not want the
boys to feel that he and Ben were trying to get all they could out of
them. They had come to work, but for a good time as well. This was the
secret of his influence over the boys. He had not outlived his youthful
feelings; knew theirs, and liked to frolic as well as they did. Knowing
that Seth and Joe were leaders of the rest, and would do anything
in reason for Ben, the wise old man determined to create a public
sentiment, and then follow the leadings of it; so he took them aside,
and told them this plan, of which they highly approved, and which Seth
was to propose at the proper time, and Joe to advocate. Seats were now
made along the walls; a great quantity of pitch knots were piled up on
the foundation of the chimney, and set on fire. This made such a light,
that the very heads of the nails in the floor were visible, while the
smoke went out of the hole left in the roof for the chimney.



“As we can’t have any kissing without the girls,” said Joe, “let’s play
‘Pull up.’”

The handle of one of the axes was knocked out, and the game began. It
was a most severe test of strength. Two of the company, sitting upon
the floor, and putting the soles of their feet together, took hold of
the axe-handle, and endeavored to pull each other up. If either broke
his hold he was adjudged beaten. Victory in this game depends not
merely upon weight, as it might seem at first, but upon strength in the
hands, and power of endurance. A man may be very heavy, and have great
strength in his arms, and not be strong in his fingers to retain his
hold upon the axe-handle.

The young men would sit there and pull, with their teeth set, and the
perspiration streaming down their faces, and their eyes almost starting
from their sockets. When they were pretty equally matched, one would
raise the other from the floor an inch or two, and then lose it again,
as his opponent made desperate efforts, and recovered the ground, their
friends meanwhile encouraging either party; and as the weakest men
were brought on first, and afterwards the strongest and most equally
matched, the game became, towards the close, most intensely interesting.

Joe Bradish had pulled up four of his opponents, and being a very
conceited fellow, strutted about the floor, and challenged the crowd
to pull him up. The challenge would not have remained long unaccepted,
but the contest had now become limited to a few of the strongest men,
who, knowing they were to be pitted against each other, were saving
themselves for the final struggle.

Uncle Isaac saw how it was; and, as he wished to see how the sport
would go on, and to teach the braggart a little modesty, he rose up,
threw off his outer garment, and accepted the challenge. His proposal
was received with shouts of laughter.

“I’m sorry he’s done it,” said Seth to Joe Griffin, “though I can’t
help laughing. I should be sorry to see him pulled up before this
crowd, for I know it would mortify him; he is just as much of a boy as
any of us.”

“He won’t be pulled. Uncle Isaac, I can tell you, is an all fired
strong man; it don’t lay in Joe Bradish’s breeches to pull him up.”

“I know that; but he’s getting in years.”

“He can’t wrestle and jump quite as well as he could once; but he can
lift as much, and pull up as well, as ever he could. Joe Bradish will
get a good lesson; he’ll never hear the last of it as long as he lives.”

“Well, boys,” said Uncle Isaac, “fling on some pitch knots; if I am
going to be beat, I want everybody to see it.”

“What did I tell you?” said Joe, giving Seth a poke in the ribs; “the
old man knows what he’s about.”

The two champions sat down.

“Say when you’re ready, Joe,” said Uncle Isaac.

“Ready,” says Joe.

Uncle Isaac was not only strong, but of very quick strength; and before
the words were well out of the other’s mouth, he pulled him over his
head, into Joe Griffin’s arms, who was eagerly looking over Uncle Isaac.

“It ain’t fair,” said Joe, his face as red as fire; “I wasn’t ready.”

“You said you was.”

“Well, I thought I was; but I wasn’t.”

“Try it again,” was the cry. They sat down. Uncle Isaac waited
patiently till Joe had spit on his hands, and said he was completely
ready, when he pulled him up just as easily as before.

“I thought you was some, Joe,” said Uncle Isaac; “but you ain’t

John Strout, a large, muscular man, whose occupation as a sailor had
the effect to concentrate strength in the fingers and chest, had pulled
up all who opposed him. The call was now for Joe Griffin, as no one
thought of pulling with Rhines. Joe came forward at the summons. Severe
was the struggle; and, as these were the last antagonists, the interest
was proportionally great. Joe finally pulled John from the floor, but
the blood spun from his nose in consequence of his efforts; and John
was so exhausted that he could scarcely stand.

“I could not have done it, John, if you had taken hold of me when you
were fresh, for an ounce more would have broken my hold.”

Uncle Isaac now gave the wink to Seth, who said, loud enough for
everybody to hear, “I think it’s a pity, now we’re here, that we
couldn’t shingle the house, and build Ben a hovel to put his cow in,
and hang the doors; then all he would have to do would be to get

“Well, we would do it, if we had the shingles to do it with--wouldn’t
we, boys?” said Joe Griffin.

“Yes,” was the reply from twenty voices; “and we’ll build the hovel and
hang the doors, at any rate; we’ve got all the materials for that.”

“Well, boys,” said Uncle Isaac, “since you are so free-hearted, I’ll
tell you what I’ve been thinking of, for I feel about nineteen, since I
pulled up Joe Bradish. I’ve been thinking I should like first rate to
have a clam bake.”

“A clam bake! a clam bake!” was the cry.

“But then, you see, we have no hoes to dig clams with; and we want some
eggs, potatoes, and apples to bake with them. Now, I’ve got a whole lot
of hemlock bark on the edge of the bank on my point, where you can go
to it with the gundelow--enough to cover three such houses. I’ll lend
it to Ben, and when he peels bark next June he can pay me; and I’ve
got nails likewise. If we can get an early start in the morning, we
can do the whole, clam bake and all. The bark is all piled up, so that
it is flat, and will lay first rate; it will make as tight a roof as
shingles, and last seven or eight years, and by that time Ben can make
his own shingles. Some of you can load the gundelow, and some can get
the hoes and nails; and tell Hannah to give you some corn that grows
in the western field,--it’s a late piece--the frost hasn’t touched it
yet,--it’s just right to roast; and also get all the apples, eggs, and
potatoes you want.”

Uncle Isaac’s plan met with a hearty approval; and they brought in some
brush, and lay down to sleep.

The next morning, at daybreak, John Strout, with a strong party,
started after the bark, taking a jug of coffee and a cold bite with

The others went to work making preparations to cover the roof of the
house, and build the hovel. Uncle Isaac gave Joe Griffin a gang, and
set him to build the hovel. Sam Atkins, with the ship carpenters, went
to work upon the doors, while the rest put up the staging upon which to
work while covering the roof.

The hovel was built of round logs, notched together, with a roof on one
side,--what is called a half-faced cabin,--just high enough to clear
the cattle’s backs, and large enough to hold a cow and yoke of oxen.
Nothing was hewed except the poles that made the floor, which were
flatted on the upper side; and the openings between the logs filled
with clay and mortar.

The crew now arrived with the bark, when, who should come with them,
but Uncle Sam Yelf and Jonathan Smullen! Yelf was seventy, Smullen
seventy-five. The old men wanted to share in the clam bake, have a
little milk punch, and, above all, to witness the wrestling: they had
both been champions of the ring in their day.

All hands, except the carpenters, now joined in putting on the sheets
of bark; they were lapped like shingles, and, being four feet in
length, were laid with great rapidity.

“There are more of you here than can work to advantage,” said Uncle
Isaac; “some of you, dig clams.”

In the mean time the carpenters hung the doors. The hinges and latches
were all made of wood. The latch was lifted by a leather string, which
was put through a hole in the door above it, and hung down on the
outside. Thence came the phrase, “the latch-string out,” to denote
open doors and hospitality; since, when it was pulled in there was no

“What on airth,” said Uncle Isaac, “has become of Sam Atkins? I haven’t
set eyes on him this whole forenoon.”

While the rest were preparing for the clam bake, he went everywhere
looking for Sam. A great fire was now built in the hollow of a ledge,
till the rocks were red hot. Into this were put the clams, together
with eggs, potatoes, and corn with the husk on; the whole was then
covered with sea-weed, to keep in the steam while they were cooking.

There was a short log left in the building of the house, and, in order
to pass the time away, while waiting for the dinner, they dug it out,
and made a hog’s trough: thus Ben’s _first_ article of furniture was a
hog’s trough.

The clams formed the first course; eggs, corn, apples, and cheese, the
second; concluding with milk punch, which passed from hand to hand in a
tin quart.

If ever there was real enjoyment, it was to be found among that
frolicsome throng of young men, conscious that they had done a noble
act, and, in aiding a neighbor, had found the purest happiness for



As Ben had shown no disposition to retaliate for the joke played upon
him, had never mentioned it to any one, or ever alluded to it, Joe
supposed that, with his usual good nature, he had forgotten it.

Ben, on the contrary, had resolved to pay Joe in his own coin, with
usury, whenever a fitting opportunity presented itself.

Some weeks before he had mown some tall grass, which grew on the beach,
made it into hay, and enclosed it with a brush fence, to protect it
from the sheep. Adjoining the stack was a honey-pot. Honey-pots are
mires, sometimes twenty feet or more in depth, composed of a blue,
adhesive mud, which, by the constant soaking of some hidden spring, and
the daily flow of the tide, is kept in a half fluid state, except upon
the surface, where the clay, being somewhat hardened by the sun at low
water, is stiff, and will bear a man to walk over it quickly; but, if
he stands a moment, down he goes.

Joe, who had never been on the island before, was ignorant of the
existence of this mire. Ben, while the rest were asleep the night
before, had removed all the sand and drift stuff, and scraped the hard
clay from the surface of the honey-pot, till it would hardly bear a dog.

While the boys were stretched upon the grass, laughing and talking
after dinner, Ben asked Joe to help him bring some hay on the poles for
the oxen. When two persons carry hay on poles, the one behind cannot
see where he steps, but must follow his leader, who picks the road for
him. Ben went as near to the edge of the honey-pot as he dared. The
moment he got a little by, he turned short off, bringing Joe right into
the middle of it. In he went, carried down both by his own weight and
that of the load, clean to his breast, when Ben, twitching the poles
away, sat down on the bank to laugh at him.

“O, Ben,” cried Joe, “we’re square now; help me out.”

Ben took out his knife, and began to whittle.

Getting frightened, as he found himself gradually sinking, Joe roared
for help, drawing the whole party to the spot. This was just what Ben
wanted. He knew that Joe had told everybody in the neighborhood of the
trick he put on him, and it was his turn now.

The moment Joe saw Uncle Isaac, he cried out, “Do help me; I’m going
down.” As there was now real danger of his smothering in the mud, Ben
ran the poles under his arms. Joe made desperate efforts to extricate
himself by means of the poles, but the mire so sucked him down, that he
only succeeded in getting out his shoulders.

At this juncture Tige came rushing along, and, seizing him by the
collar, endeavored to lift him out; but sinking down into the slime,
which Joe’s struggles had wrought into a complete porridge, his mouth
and nose were filled with mud and water: giving a vigorous snort, he
completely plastered Joe’s face and eyes with it, who, not being in the
most amiable of moods, hit him a cuff on the side of the head. Tige,
enraged at being thus rewarded for his good intentions, was going to
bite him, when Ben pulled him away by the tail.

“Pity I wan’t a dog,” whined Joe; “then there’d be some feeling for me.”

He now appealed again to Uncle Isaac; but the old man had thought the
matter all over, and come to the deliberate conclusion that it was
time Joe’s wings were clipped; that, if not checked, he would become
unbearable; that there could be no better time to administer reproof,
and one stringent enough to be remembered.

“You know, Joseph,” said he, in a severe tone, “that the trick you
played last week on Ben was not by any means the first you’ve played
on him and others. Who was it put on a bear-skin, got down on all
fours, followed the widow Hadlock when she was going home from my house
through the woods, and growled, and frightened the poor woman so that
she was sick for three months, and the whole town turned out the next
day to kill the bear?”

“I cut all her winter’s wood, to pay for it.”

“Who,” said Joe Riggs, “stopped up the chimney, when the young folks
had a New Year’s party in the chamber over the store, and put peas on
the stairs, so that Seth Warren fell from top to bottom, and broke his

“Joe Griffin,” cried Seth.

“He’d done the same to me, if he’d had the chance, and wit enough.”

[Illustration: JOE GRIFFIN IN THE HONEY POT. Page 139.]

“It makes my heart ache, Joseph,” said Uncle Isaac, “to see a young
man in your situation in such an unreconciled frame of mind; we never
should do wrong to others because they have done, or would do, wrong
to us. So far from manifesting any contrition, you justify yourself in
your evil courses. Instead of resignation under trial, you appear to me
to be ‘gritting your teeth,’ and thrashing about like unto a seal in a
herring net.”

“Who was it,” asked John Strout, “when Mose Atherton was all dressed
up, going to walk round the head of the bay, to see Sally Bannister,
offered to show him a shorter cut over the marsh, and led him into a
honey-pot, then went to John Godsoe’s, told them there was a man’s
hat on Moll Graffam’s honey-pot, and he guessed somebody must be in
trouble? When Godsoe’s people got there, the tide was flowing around
him, and the water up to his chin.”

Joe made no reply to this.

“Don’t be sullen, Joe, for you must perceive we’re measuring you by
your own bushel. I begin to fear it may become our duty to leave you
here till you’re in a more submissive frame of mind.”

“O, Uncle Isaac, you won’t leave me in this mire, six miles from any
human being, to perish?”

“Not to perish, young man, but to repent. Let me see: to-day’s
Thursday; we can give you a little light food, and leave you over the
Sabbath; it’s a good day, and should bring serious reflections. The
water don’t come up here, except when it’s a storm. I don’t see any
signs of a storm--do you, boys?”

The others didn’t see much signs of one; some thought that ’twas a
little “smurry.”

“Reflection is profitable, Joseph. Monday we might find you more

“I’ll do anything you want me to, if you will only take me out.”

“That is better. Will you promise not to play any more tricks upon any
of this company, or anybody else?”

“Don’t make him lie,” said Ben; “he can’t help it.”

“Well, then, will you promise not to play any more upon any one here,
and say that you are sorry for what you did to Ben?”

“I will.”

“Then we will take you out; and I trust it will be a warning to you in
future. Boys, build up a fire; he must be half perished with cold.”

Ben got some boards, and laying them two-thick upon the surface of the
honey-pot, walked to the place, and pulled him out; and a miserable
plight he was in.

“Jump into the water, Joe,” said John Strout, “and wash yourself; and I
will go to my chest in the schooner and get you a shift of clothes.”

Joe washed the mud off in the water, and then stood by the fire till
John came with the clothes; then, putting them on, he washed his own,
and hung them on a tree to dry.

“Joe,” said Uncle Isaac, “did you see anything of Sam Atkins in that
honey-pot? for I’m blest if I know what has become of him.”

“Here he comes,” said Joe; and, sure enough, he was now seen coming up
from the shore, with something on his shoulder.

“What is that, Sam?” asked Uncle Isaac.

“A cradle for that bouncing baby Seth told about.” He had got out
the stuff unnoticed by the rest of them, and then went on board the
schooner and put it together. This was examined by all, and caused
abundant jests at Ben’s expense.

It was now proposed that they should end the day with a ring wrestle,
both at close hugs and arms’ length. While the wrestling was going on,
the two old gentlemen, for whom a comfortable seat had been provided
near the fire, sat looking on, criticising the proceedings, and
entering into every detail with intense interest.

The presence of these distinguished veterans, with their great bony
frames,--for they had been men of vast pith and power, and famed
through all the region,--acted as a mighty incentive to the young men.

“I think, Uncle Jonathan,” said Yelf, “you and I have seen the day
we could show these boys some things they haven’t learned yet. Do
you remember that wrastle we had when Captain Rhines’s house was
raised--there was stout, withy men around these bays in them days;--how
you threw Sam Hart, that came forty miles to wrastle with you, and said
God Almighty never made the man that could heave him? But he found the
man--didn’t he?” giving his friend a nudge in the ribs with his elbow.

“They said,” replied Smullen, “he was so mortified because he’d bragged
so much, that he went home and hung himself. Ah, my toe was so sartin
in those days, when I put it in! You know I had a particular trip with
my left foot.”

“Hoora!” said Uncle Sam, as John Strout crotch-locked Sam Pettigrew,
and threw him; “a fair fall that, and no mistake. Both shoulders and
both hips on the ground.”

The plaudits of the veterans were like fuel to the fire. The young
men exerted themselves to the utmost in the presence of such competent

At length their aged blood began to circulate more briskly, under the
combined influence of the warm fire, milk punch, and old associations.

“Uncle Sam,” said Smullen, “what do you say to me and you trying a
fall; we’ve had hold of one another afore to day?”

“Agreed,” was the reply; “but it must be at arm’s length. I’ve had the
rheumatics so much that my back’s got kinder shackly.”

The young people laughed till the tears ran down their cheeks as they
stepped into the ring, their upper garments removed, heads bare, and
the white locks flowing round their shoulders. Uncle Yelf, producing
his snuff-box,--a sheep’s bladder,--after taking a pinch, offered it to
Smullen, and the contest began.

They exhausted every feint known to the art, and it was soon evident to
the young people that these veterans possessed a skill unknown to them,
and that it was only in the strength of youth they were lacking.

Beside them was an elm, that separated at the root into two parts.
Between the forks Smullen threw Yelf with such force, that he was
firmly-wedged, and had to be pulled out.

“Well,” said Uncle Sam, “he ought to throw me; he’s the oldest.”

Just before sunset they took leave of Ben, and, with hearty cheers,
made sail.

It was a current saying, in respect to Uncle Isaac, that he could
keep more men at work, bring more to pass, with less fuss, and have
everybody good-natured, than any man in the district; and nobly had he
justified the general verdict.



The party on the island sat by the camp fire, listening to the voices
of their departing friends, till they died away in the distance.

“Who are you going to get to build your chimney, Ben?” asked Uncle

“Joe Dorset.”

“I never’d get him; a poor man can’t afford to hire him; he came from
Newburyport, and he’d be always heaving out, and telling how much
better they have things in Massachusetts; growling about the stuff he
has to work with, and can’t do anything without merchantable brick.”

“I don’t know anything about him,” said Ben, “only I’ve heard he is an
excellent workman.”

“Well, so he is; but when you’ve said that you’ve said everything.
He’ll have a great many long stories to tell, that’ll eat up his own
time, and hinder other people. I like to hear a good story myself, and
tell one too; but I always do it after work, and not to hinder work,
in my own time, and not my employer’s; besides, he’s so lazy! He went
fishing one year with John Strout, and he was so long hauling up a
codfish that a dogfish eat him all up, and left nothing but the bare
hooks to come to the top of the water.”

“Who shall I get?”

“Get Sam Elwell.”

“He ain’t a mason.”

“No, but he’s a plaguy sight better for your purpose; he’s a natural
stone layer--took it up of his own head; he’d build you a chimney out
of the stones, right here on the island, that’ll carry the smoke first
rate, and that’s all you want of a chimney; and he’ll do it in quarter
of the time. Then the chimney’ll compare with the house, and they’ll be
all of a muchness.”

At this period of the conversation Joe flung himself upon the brush,
and was soon sleeping soundly.

“Uncle Isaac, now that we are alone, I want to tell you how I feel. It
does seem to me that it’s bad enough to bring Sally into a log house
at all, and that I ought, in reason, to have had panel doors in it;
more than two windows in the whole in a broadside, with a good brick
chimney and oven laid in lime mortar.”

“Plank doors, tongued and cleated, are the warmest. Panel doors in a
log house would look like a man with a beaver hat on and barefoot. You
can cut out a window whenever you like, and the less holes the warmer.”

“But the chimney,” persisted Ben; “what will she say to that? and how
can she get along without an oven?”

“Sally is one that looks into the realities of things; and if she
has made up her mind to live on this island, depend upon it she has
considered the matter all round, is looking forward to something
better, and that will keep her from being discouraged, however severe
things may appear at first. I don’t suppose as how an _oven_ can be
made of stone; but I’ll tell you what I will do--take up the bricks in
my butt’y floor, and lend ’em to you; it’s altogether too late for you
to get bricks this fall.”

“Well, I hope ’twill all turn out well; but I know in my soul that
she’s no more idea of what living in a log house is, than she has of

“I know a great deal more about Sally Hadlock than you do, though you
are engaged to be married to her, because I know her people, and
there’s a great deal in the blood. She is the living picture of her
grandmother Hannah, my wife was named for, who came down here when
it was a howling wilderness, fought hunger and the Injuns, and beat
’em both. Handsome as she is, and gentle and good as she seems and
is, she’s got the old iron natur of that breed of folks, who had much
rather earn a thing than have it gin to ’em. She’s had nothing to call
out that grit yet; but you’ll find out what she’s made of when she
comes to be put to’t.”

“There’s one thing that troubles me, that perhaps you haven’t thought
of. If I was going to take her into a new settlement, where everybody
lived in log houses, and all fared alike, it would be another thing;
but I am going to bring her where she can look right across the bay,
and see the smoke of her mother’s chimney, and all her friends and
folks living in nice frame houses. Now, if she’s unhappy, and keeps it
to herself on my account, and grief is gnawing at her heartstrings, I
can’t bear that.”

“Benjamin,” said Uncle Isaac, solemnly, who saw his friend was really
distressed, “what I’m going to say to you now I say candidly, and what
I know to be a fact. I’m a married man, Ben, and know what a woman is.
When a woman really sets her heart on a man, he is almost like God
Almighty to her; and the more she can put herself out for him, the more
contented she is; that is, if she’s morally sartin he loves her. Now,
Sally loves you with her whole soul, for she might have had her pick of
half the young men in town, and she knows it. She is also sure that you
love her, or you would never have given up the business prospects that
you had, and undergo all that you must undergo on this island just on
her account; therefore the more hardships she’s called to suffer ’long
with you, the lighter hearted she’ll be; yes, she’ll take pride in’t.
O, Benjamin, these rich folks, who never know what it is to strive and
contrive to get along, don’t taste the real honey of married life; they
don’t know what’s in one another, and don’t love one another as those
do who have to fight for a living. Why, they can’t; they haven’t had to
lean on each other, and be so necessary to each other.”

“Well, I never thought of that before.”

“Of course, you haven’t; I expect you’ll have the happiness of finding
that out. I tell you, Hannah and I take lots of comfort Sabbath
nights, when we ain’t tired, talking over all we’ve been through
together. And then sometimes I get the Bible, and read them are varses,
where it says, ‘She seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with
her hands; she will do him good, and not evil, all the days of her
life.’ I can’t help giving her a kiss, and saying, ‘Well, wife, I never
should’ve got through it if’t hadn’t been for you.’”

This last sally of the noble old philosopher of the woods completely
silenced Ben, who promised he’d never harbor another doubt in respect
to the matter.

“There’s another thing, Benjamin; don’t try to slick it over any, but
make it full as bad as ’tis. If she expects the worst, and then finds
it a great deal better’n she expected, ’twill make her more contented.
There’s a great deal in the first feeling and the first look of a
thing, especially to a woman.”

The next day Ben and Joe were employed in hauling stone for the
chimney, and making clay mortar. Uncle Isaac cut a red oak, and hewed
out a mantel-bar, to form the top of the fireplace; it was twelve feet
in length, and no less than nine inches square, as it was to support a
great weight of stone. Though of wood, it was so far from the fire, on
account of the great height and depth of the fireplace, that it could
not well burn; besides, it was always the custom, whenever they had a
great fire, to wet the mantel-bar the last thing before going to bed.

He then cut a hole through the floor, in what was to be the front
entry, to pour potatoes through into the cellar (because the cellar was
under the south part of the house), and made a door to cover it.

The house would seem to my readers but a poor place to live in. There
were but four windows below, and these being put on the corners, to
admit of making others between them when they should be able, gave to
the house a funny look. The house consisted of but two rooms below,
separated by a rough board partition, in which were two doors of rough
boards, hung by wooden hinges. The chamber was reached by a ladder;
the boards of the floors were rough, and full of splinters, just as
they came from the saw. Against the wall in the north-west corner, with
shelves and closets nicely planed, were some dressers to hold dishes.
In the cellar was a square arch of stone, into which Uncle Isaac put
shelves, and to which he made doors. He then made a cross-legged table,
all in one leaf, and a settle to place before the fire, with a back
higher than the top of a person’s head, to keep off the draughts of air
that went up the great chimney.

They went off Saturday, well satisfied with what they had accomplished.



The moment Uncle Isaac landed, he set out for Sam Elwell’s. Going
along, he saw Yelf’s horse feeding beside the road, with the bridle
under his feet, and, a little farther on, his master lying in a slough
hole, to all appearance dead, but, as it turned out, only dead drunk.
He pulled him out, and, as he was unable to stand, set him against the
fence to drip, while he caught the horse; his gray hairs and face were
plastered with mud; his nose had bled; the blood was clotted upon his
beard, and soaked the bosom of his shirt.

“How came you in this mud hole?”

“Why, you see, Isaac, the mare went in to drink; the bridle slipped out
of my hand; I reached down to get it, kind o’ lost my balance, and fell
right over her head, and hit my nose on a rock. I think, Isaac, I must
have taken a leetle drop too much.”

His friend scraped the mud from him as well as he could with a chip,
put him on the mare (for Yelf could ride when altogether too drunk to
walk), and left him at his own house, which lay in the direction he was

“That’s a bad sight,” said Uncle Isaac to himself, as he went on, “and
it’s one that’s getting altogether too common. I remember the time when
he was content with his three glasses a day, and perhaps a nightcap;
but now he can’t stop till he stops in a ditch. There ain’t a man in
this town but what drinks spirit, myself among the rest, and most of
them more than’s good for ’em. I don’t see why people can’t use liquor
with moderation, and without making a beast of themselves. If it was
only these old, worn-out ones, like Yelf, ’twouldn’t be so much matter;
but it’s amongst the young folks; and even boys get the worse for
liquor. It’s natural they should; for if men sail vessels, boys’ll sail
boats. It’s time something’s done, though what can be done I’m sure I
don’t know. What an awful thing it would be, if, one of these days,
Ben or Joe Griffin should pick me out of a ditch, and carry me home to
my family looking like that! I’ll think about it, and talk with Hannah
this blessed night.” He was aroused from his meditations by hearing the
voice of Sam at his own door.

He was about the age of Isaac, but a much heavier man, being very
thick set, with a stoop in his shoulders. His hands were of great size,
full of cracks; his fingers crooked, from constant working with stone
hammers and drills; many of the nails jammed off, and his face as hard
as the stones he worked on. He was also a man of very few words, while
Isaac liked to talk; yet they had been close friends from boyhood, took
great delight in each other’s society (if it could be called society
where one talked and the other listened), and always got together, and
worked together, whenever they could. They were both passionately fond
of gunning. Isaac was the quicker shot; but Sam could scull a float
steadier and faster than any man along the shore. He could also lay
brick well, but was possessed of a remarkable gift for working upon
rocks. He knew just how to take hold of a great rock to move it, and
could do a better quality of work than they ever had occasion for in
that rude state of society, where nobody had hammered doorsteps but
Captain Rhines, widow Hadlock, and a few others. He knew all about
the nature and grain of rocks, could dress underpinning, or make a
millstone out of a boulder in the pasture.

He had just come home from a long job, and was taking his tools out of
the cart.

“Let them be,” said Isaac; “I’ve got another job for you:” as he spoke
he pulled the clevis-pin out of the tongue.

Sam, without a word, unyoked the oxen, and went into the barn to feed
them, while the other tied them up.

Isaac, without any invitation, followed Sam into the house. The table
was in the floor, and Sam’s wife had just put on the victuals. “Set
along,” said Sam, motioning Isaac to a chair. That’s the way they
lived. If they chanced to be in each other’s houses about meal time,
they always stopped. If they met on the road, or were at work together
in the woods, or had been off gunning, they always went to the house
that was nearest. Their wives never worried about them, for they knew
where they were, and were as good friends as their husbands.

“Sam,” said Isaac, “did you ever see a fireplace and chimney built of


“You didn’t?”

“I’ve seen stones set up in a log camp to build a fire against, with
a ‘cat and clay’ chimney built over them; but ’twas a make-shift till
they could get bricks.”

“Could it be done?”

“They say Necessity’s the mother of Invention. I suppose it might, by
putting in the proper stone.”

“Well, Ben Rhines has got his house up, can’t get bricks this fall,
and don’t know what to do. He was going to get Joe Dorset to build his
chimney; but I told him I knew you could build a good fireplace and
chimney out of the rocks on the island, if you had a mind to.”

“Dorset don’t know anything about rocks,” growled Sam.

“Now, let me tell you about the stone. There’s a granite ledge on the
western p’int that lays in thin sheets, that you can break up with your
stone hammer.”

“Granite’s first rate for a chimney, but ’twont do for a fireplace.”

“Then there’s a kind of gray stone, with white streaks in it, but
softer than granite.”

“That’s a bastard soapstone; that’ll do for a fireplace.”

“Well, can you do it?”


“Will you?”


“Enough said. Now, I’m bound Sally shall have an oven; and I’m going
to take up my butt’ry floor to make it of.”

“You needn’t do that. I can make as good an oven of that stone as
ever a woman baked bread in. It’ll crack some, but not half as bad as
granite. It’ll hold heat wonderfully.”

“You beat all, Sam. I told Ben I knew you could build a chimney without
a brick in it; but I never dreamt of your building an oven.”

“Who am I to have to tend me, and help handle these big stones?”

“That pretty little Ben Rhines and Joe Griffin, to say nothing of

When Sam went on to the island and saw the stone, he rubbed his hands,
and chuckled, and talked to himself, and appeared overjoyed.

“What a queer old coon he is!” said Joe; “anybody’d think he’d found a
gold mine, instead of a pile of rocks.”

There was but one fireplace, and that was in the kitchen; but the
hearths were laid in the two front rooms for two more, whenever they
should be parted off and finished.

This fireplace was made of three large stones, which Uncle Sam cut
and fitted together without any mortar. It was five feet to the
mantel-bar, eight between the jambs, and of proportionate depth. This
monstrous cavern was the fireplace. Such a master was Uncle Sam of his
business, that when he saw a rock in the pile that he wanted, he would
throw a little stone at it, and Ben or Joe would bring it to him.

But it was upon the oven that Uncle Sam displayed his genius. He found
a place where a large portion of this bastard soapstone ledge had
cracked and fallen out into the sea, leaving a smooth perpendicular
face. He told Ben this rock was rent when Christ was crucified. From
this ledge he split off just such large, flat slabs as he wanted, made
them perfectly smooth, squared the edges, and of them built his oven
in the form of a stone box, having top, bottom, and sides of perfectly
smooth stones; for he threw sand and water on them, and putting on
another great stone, as big as he and Uncle Isaac could lift, he got
Ben to scour them, while he stood by and threw on sand and water, till
they were perfectly smooth. He now put them together, leaving a space
of a foot or more at the sides and ends. The covering stone was made to
project on every side, so as to enter into the body of the chimney, in
order that, if it should crack, it could not fall down. He now built
a roaring fire in it. By and by the great stone on top, and one on the
side, cracked with a loud noise.

“Crack away,” said Uncle Sam; “crack all you want to.”

He then took some clay mortar, filled all the space round the sides,
worked it into all the cracks and joints, and, after it was thoroughly
dry, made another great fire, and baked it all into brick. It would
never crack any more, because the fire had already opened all the bad
places in the soapstone, and these were filled with clay mortar, which
was now burned into brick.

When the chimney was up to the chamber floor, he made what was called
an _eddy_; that is, he brought the chimney right out into the chamber.
Across it he put three beech poles, called lug-poles: these were to
hang anything on which it was desired to have smoked. He also made a
stone shelf in one corner to put an ink-bottle on, or anything that was
to be kept from freezing. There was so much fire left on the hearth at
night that these great chimneys never got cold. Uncle Isaac then made a
tight door, to keep the smoke from coming into the chamber.

“Ben,” said Uncle Sam, “are you going to have a crane?”

“No; I can’t afford it.”

“Then I’ll put in another lug-pole.”

It was the custom to fasten a chain to this to hang the pot on.

“That’s right,” said Uncle Isaac, delighted with the effect of his
teachings; “a withe is just as good; I’ll give you a piece of chain
to put on the end of it. When you go up in the spring with a load of
spars, you can buy iron, and have a crane made.”

“I,” said Joe, “will make it for you; I’m blacksmith enough for that.”

“Now,” said Sam, “I want just one thing--some lime to lay the stone in
after I get above the roof, and collar the chimney.”

There was a large lot of clam shells on the shore, where the fishermen
had shelled clams for bait. These he burned into as handsome white lime
as ever you saw. Uncle Sam, though a man of but few words, possessed
a very kind heart, and was much attached to Sally; hence the great
pains he bestowed upon the chimney and oven. He now, therefore, as
the chimney stood right out in the room, and was not concealed by any
woodwork, took some of the lime and white-washed it, and also the arch
in the cellar. Uncle Isaac now made a fire to try it. It was found to
carry smoke splendidly,--upon which he praised it in no measured terms.
Sam was evidently much pleased with the encomiums of his friend; and,
that both might have cause for satisfaction, Joe then told Sam about
Uncle Isaac’s pulling up Bradish.

The last thing Uncle Sam did was to split out two large stones for
doorsteps. After they were placed, he said to Ben, “These stones are
the best of granite; and when you build a frame house, if I ain’t dead,
or past labor, I’ll dress them for you, and they’ll make as handsome
steps as are in the town of Boston.”

“Well, Ben,” said Uncle Isaac, as they left the island, “that’s a log
house; but it’s a very different one from those in which your father
and I were born and brought up: they were no better than your hovel. We
had no cellar, but kept our sass in a hole in the ground out doors. My
poor mother never had an oven while she lived, but baked everything on
a stone, or in the ashes. She raised a rugged lot of children, for all
that, who live in good frame houses, and have land of their own now;
but then it’s harder for you than ’twas for us, because _we_ were all
alike, and had never seen anything better; while you are going to live
in a log house, right in sight of those who live in better ones. But
you will be supported, Ben, and will be prospered.”



Sally and Ben now began to make preparations for housekeeping. She had
a little money, earned by her labor, and she persuaded Ben to go in a
schooner that was bound to Salem, and make some purchases for her. No
sooner was Ben out of sight, than Sally started for Uncle Isaac’s. She
found him alone in the barn.

“Uncle Isaac,” said she, “will you do something for me?”

“Anything in reason, Sally.”

“Could you get me over to Elm Island, and not any soul know it?”

“I suppose I might.”

“Well, will you?”

“But what do you want to go there for?”

“I’ll tell you. I’m determined to live there, and be contented and
happy, and make my husband happy; but I know it will be very different
from anything that I have ever seen, or can imagine.”

“You’ll find it a rough place, Sally.”

“I’m afraid that when I go on with Ben I might be kind of surprised,
and by looks, if nothing else, show it, and hurt Ben’s feelings.”

“That you might burst out crying?”


“Well, you go down to the point, and hide in the bushes till I come.”

In a short time Uncle Isaac came. Sally got in, and lay down in the
bottom of the boat; he covered her over with spruce boughs, and pulled
for the island. It was a bright, sunshiny morning. He rowed right into
the mouth of the brook, and on to the beach. As Sally felt the boat
touch the bottom, she flung off the covering, and, rising up, looked
around her.

“What a beautiful spot!” was her involuntary exclamation, as she gazed,
enraptured, upon the dense foliage of the maple and birch, rich with
all the tints of autumn, and listened to the ripple of the brook that
fell over the rocks before her. Then, clapping her hands, she burst
into a clear, ringing laugh, as her eye rested upon the house--her
future home. Uncle Isaac was confounded. At first he thought it was
an hysterical affection, and concealed grief and disappointment; but,
as he looked into her eyes, he saw that it was heartfelt. He was
in the position of a sailor, who, having braced his yards to meet a
squall, is caught aback by the wind coming in an opposite direction.
All the way to the island he had been preparing himself for the task of
consolation, and arranging his arguments for that purpose,--never for a
moment doubting but Sally, with all her resolution, would at first be
somewhat disheartened.

“Uncle Isaac,” cried Sally, “did that house grow there? See, the bark
is on it. What on earth is the chimney made of?”

Then she burst out again into peals of laughter, so joyous that Uncle
Isaac joined with her, and laughed till his sides ached.

“Why, Uncle Isaac, Ben told me it was a most desolate-looking place,
all woods and rocks; that the house was right on the shore, and that
in great storms the sea roared awfully, and the spray would fly on to
the windows. He never said a word about the brook. I do love brooks so
much! I mean to have my wash-tub, in summer, right under that yellow
birch; you see if I don’t. Such a nice place to spread out linen thread
and cloth to bleach; and things look so much whiter when they are
spread on the grass! Why, here is a piece of grass almost large enough
for a field; such a sunny, sheltered spot, too! the woods and the hill
break off every bit of wind. What a nice place, under that ledge, to
plant early potatoes, peas, and beans, and have currant bushes! But I’m
dying to see the house; do let us go in; what a nice doorstep this is!”

As they opened the door and went in, Uncle Isaac watched Sally’s face
in vain to detect any trace of disappointment or sorrow.

She is fire-proof, just like her grandmother, thought he.

“I supposed log houses were stuffed between the logs with clay and
moss; mother said so; but I couldn’t put the point of my scissors
between these logs.”

“So they were,” said he; “but this is an improved one. Ben means, when
he is able, to make this room into two, and have a fireplace in each;
and a couple of nice rooms they will make.”

“I am glad he didn’t do any more. Now, I want to see the kitchen; I
care the most about that. This is a splendid one; what nice dressers
and drawers! but where is the oven? Why, it’s stone; ain’t it a beauty;
how smooth it is!” said she, putting in her head and shoulders, and
feeling all around it with her hands. “I don’t see how folks can make
such nice things of stone. I wish we had a candle.”

She was, if possible, more delighted with the chamber than anything

“How high it is!” she said; “what a capital place this would be to spin
and weave in! Well, now I’ve seen the whole.”

“No, you haven’t;” and here he opened the door in the side of the
chimney, and let her look in.

“Why, what in the world is this for?”

“This is a smoke-house; you see it’s on one side of the chimney, so
that there won’t be heat enough go in there to melt the hams or fish.
All you have to do, when you want to smoke anything, is to hang it up
on these lug-poles, and the common fire you have every day will smoke
it. It’ll be a nice place for Ben, when he has an ox-yoke, wooden bowl,
or shovel to season or toughen. Now I want you to see the cellar.”

He pulled from his pocket a horn filled with tinder, and striking a
spark into it with a flint and steel, kindled a piece of pitch-wood,
and they went down.

“O, my! if here isn’t an arch; what a nice place that will be to keep
my milk, when I get it.”

“Now we’ve got a light, let’s look into the oven.”

“I know that oven will bake well,” said Sally; “it looks as though it
would. Now, I think this is a real nice place, and that Ben has made a
good trade; and, if we have our health, we can pay for it well enough.
Only think how much we’ve saved by living in this house, which is good
enough for young folks just beginning, and better than many have. Why,
it ain’t a month since the trees were growing, and now it’s all done.
Didn’t he make a good trade, Uncle Isaac?”

“He made a better one when he got you, you little humming-bird,” said
Uncle Isaac, who was brim full, and could no longer restrain himself;
patting her on the head, “you would suck honey out of a rock.”

“I’m much obliged to you, you good old man. I’ll tell you what we’ll do
(that is, when we are able); you shall come over here with Aunt Hannah,
and bring all your tools, and we’ll part off the front rooms, and have
a front entry, ceil up the kitchen, have Uncle Sam to build fireplaces
in the front rooms, and Joe Griffin to make fun for us. I’ll make you
some of those three-cornered biscuit and custard puddings you like so
well. In the evenings we’ll have a roaring fire; you can tell stories,
and we will sit and listen, and knit. Ben says this is the greatest
place for gunning that ever was; and you can bring on your float and
gun, and you and Uncle Sam can gun to your heart’s content. Ain’t I
building castles in the air?” cried Sally, with another laugh, that
made the house ring; “but we must go off, or we shall be caught.”

A little breeze had sprung up, and Uncle Isaac putting up a bush for a
sail, they landed on the other side without detection.

He said he never wanted to tell anything so much in his life, as he
did to tell Ben how much Sally was delighted with the island; but he
resolutely kept it to himself.

As it would be difficult getting off in the winter, Ben carried on
provisions, hay for a cow, and for oxen that he might get occasionally.
He put the hay in a stack out of doors. He bought the hay of Joe
Griffin’s father, and Joe was to deliver it on the island. Being
disappointed in respect to the man who was engaged to help him, he took
old Uncle Sam Yelf, as better than nobody. There was a long easterly
swell; the scow rolled a good deal, and, the hay hanging over the side
and getting wet, she began to fill. At some distance from them Sydney
Chase and Sam Hadlock were fishing. “Shall I holler, Mr. Griffin?”
said Yelf, who was terribly frightened, and had a tremendous voice.


“What shall I holler?”

“Holler fire.”

“Fire! fire! fire!” screamed Yelf.

As their neighbors rowed up, they could not help laughing to see two
men up to their waists in water, and one of them crying fire.

“I thought,” said the old man, “I’d holler what I could holler the



The wedding was at the widow Hadlock’s; but Captain Rhines made the
infare, as ’twas called,--which was an entertainment given the day
after the wedding at the house of the bridegroom. To this were invited
all who had aided in building the house, including the girls who
prepared the victuals; and a merry time they had of it.

It was very hard for Sally and her mother to part. Since the death of
her father, and while the other children were small, Sally had been her
mother’s great dependence; and, as they came to the edge of the water,
the widow lifted up her voice and wept.

Sally, with her eyes full, strove to comfort her mother.

“Well, I ought not to feel so, I know; but it sort o’ brings up
everything, and tears open all the old wounds. May God bless you!
you’ve been a good child to me in all my trials, and, I doubt not,
you’ll make a good wife. There’s a blessing promised in the Scriptures
to those who are dutiful to their parents. Keep the Lord’s day, Sally,
as you’ve been taught to do, and seek the one thing needful.”

Ben had chosen a sunny, calm morning, that the impressions made upon
Sally’s mind might be as pleasant as possible, not dreaming that
she had already visited the island, and been all over the house.
Nevertheless, as he sat down to the oars, his old fears began somewhat
to revive; but Providence ordered matters in a much better manner than
he could have done, to render Sally’s first impressions of the island
both pleasant and permanent.

When he left it the last time, knowing that Sally would return with
him, he had crammed the great fireplace with dry wood, and pushed under
the forestick the top of a dry fir, with the leaves all on, and covered
with cones full of balsam. They were well on their way when a black
cloud rose suddenly from the north-west, denoting that the wind, which
had been south for some days, was about to shift, with a squall.

“We are two thirds over now,” said Ben; “we shall be head to the sea,
and soon get under the lee of the island; ’tis better to go ahead than
to go back.”

“I wish we were there now,” said Sally to herself, as she thought of
that sheltered spot behind the thick woods, that no wind could get

“Sit down in the bottom of the canoe, Sally; if the water flies over
you, don’t move.”

When the squall struck, the wind seemed to shriek right out, and in an
instant raised a furious sea, drenching them with water from head to
foot. Sally uttered not a word, but sat perfectly still, though the
cold spray flew over and ran under her, wetting her through and through.

The little boat, managed with consummate skill and strength, rode the
sea like an egg-shell. It began to grow smoother as they approached the
high woods on the island, when Ben, exerting his strength, drove her
through the water, and they were soon at the mouth of the brook, where
it was as smooth as a mill-pond. Jumping out, he dragged the canoe from
the water, and, taking Sally out, stood her, all dripping, on the beach.

“What a calm place,” she exclaimed, “after that dreadful sea! O, you
wicked Ben, how could you tell me ’twas such an awful place?”

“You’re shaking with the cold; let’s go where there’s a fire;” and
catching her up, he ran into the house with her; then striking fire, he
lighted the fir top under the forestick; in an instant the bright flame
flashed through the pile of wood, and roared up the chimney, diffusing
a cheerful warmth through the room. Ben pulled up the great settle;
Sally stretched herself upon it, her wet garments smoking in the heat.

“Isn’t this nice?” she said, as, safe from danger, she basked in the
warm blaze. “I shall always love this great fireplace after this, as
long as I live.”

Ben was delighted. He knew by experience the power of strong
contrasts,--for the whole life of a seaman is made up of them,--and
that nothing could have made the island seem so much like home to
Sally, as there finding safety when in danger, and warmth when
shivering with cold.

They now went over the house together; and Sally made Ben completely
happy by telling him she would have been thankful for a house not half
so good. We see in this well-matched and hardy pair the representatives
of those who laid broad and deep the foundations of our free
institutions, and whose strength was in their homes.

They flung themselves with alacrity upon these hardships, which were
to procure for them a heritage of their own,--the product of their
own energies,--confident in their own resources, and the protection of
that Being whom they had been educated to believe helps those who help

They were now on an island, in the stormy Atlantic, six miles from the
nearest land, which, with the exception of a little strip of grass
along the beach, was an unbroken forest.

Here they had commenced married life, in the face of a long, hard

It may seem to many of our readers idle to talk about happiness in
relation to people in such circumstances. They, perhaps judging from
their own feelings, wonder how they could pass their time.

In the first place, they had health and strength, were not troubled
with dyspepsia, and hence did not look at life through green
spectacles. They took pride in overcoming obstacles, and feeling that
they were equal to the emergency. They had plenty to do from the time
they rose in the morning till they went to bed at night; not a moment
to brood over and dread difficulties; and a June day was too short for
all they found to do in it. Finally, they loved each other, had an
object to look forward to, had never known any of those things which
are considered by many as necessary to happiness, and thus neither
pined after nor missed them.

Sally had plenty of bed-clothes, which she had made herself; also
beautiful table-cloths and towels of linen, figured, that she had spun,
woven, and bleached; and tow towels, coarse sheets, and table-cloths
for every day. One little looking-glass, about six inches by eight in
size, graced the wall, with a comb-case, made of pasteboard, hanging
below it. They had one really beautiful piece of furniture, which her
father had brought from England--a mahogany secretary, with book-cases
and drawers, and inlaid with different kinds of wood, contrasting
strangely with the rough logs against which it rested. They had chairs
with round posts, and bottoms made of ash-splints; mugs, bowls, a
tea-pot, and pitchers of earthen ware; and pewter plates, from the
largest platter to the smallest dishes and porringers; also an iron
skillet. Ben had a shoe-maker’s bench, awls and lasts, and quite a good
set of carpenter’s tools.

Sally now put all the earthen and new pewter ware upon the dressers,
which made quite a show.

“I declare, Ben, I’ve forgotten my candle-moulds, and we’ve got no
light. Here’s a lamp, but not a drop of oil or wick in it.”

“I’ll shoot a seal,--I saw three or four on the White Bull when we came
over,--then to-morrow you can try out the blubber.”

Ben was better than his word, for before night he shot two.

There was one piece of property that Sally valued more than anything
else, because ’twas alive, and there was such a look of home about it.

The widow Hadlock had a line-backed cow, that gave a great mess of
milk. Sally had milked her ever since she was large enough to milk;
indeed, she milked her that memorable night when Ben and Sam Johnson
went blueberrying in the widow’s parlor.

They raised a calf from her, which was marked just like the old cow,
and Mrs. Hadlock had given it to Sally. The creature, having been
brought up with a large stock of cattle, missing her mates, had been
very lonesome on the island, and roared and moaned a great deal. As
Sally opened the door to throw out some water, the heifer came on
the gallop, and, putting her feet on the door-stone, rubbed her nose
against Sally’s shoulder, and licked her face. The tears came into
Sally’s eyes in a moment. “You good old soul,” said she, putting her
arms round her neck,--half a mind to kiss her,--“do you know me, and
were you glad to see me? I wish I had an ear of corn to give you.”

After this the cow made no more ado, but went to feeding, perfectly
contented with the knowledge that her old mistress was present. As
night came on, Sally made the discovery that they had no milk-pail; but
Ben was equal to the emergency: he cut down a maple, cut a trough in
it, drove the cow astride of it, while Sally milked her into this novel
pail. That evening Ben dug out a pine log, put a bottom in it, and a
bail, then drove two hoops on it, and made a milk-pail.

The next day Sally tried out the seals, while Ben went into the swamp
and got some cooper’s flags, which he cut into short pieces, for

Fowling, for a person in Ben’s situation, was not merely a source of
pleasure, but of profit, as the feathers sold readily for cash, the
bodies were good for food, and could be exchanged at the store for
groceries, or with the farmers for wool and flax, which Sally made into

Ben had a little yellow dog, with white on the end of his tail, that
would _play_. Sea-fowl possess a great share of curiosity, which leads
them to swim up to anything strange, in order to see what it is. They
would often swim in to a squirrel, playing in the bushes at the water’s
edge, to see what he’s about. The gunners take advantage of this trait
in their character; they teach a little dog to play with a stone on the
beach: he’ll roll it along the ground, stand up on his hind legs with
it in his fore paws, and when he gets tired of it, his master’ll throw
him another from his ambush. The birds swim in to see what he is doing,
and are killed, and the little dog swims off and brings them ashore.
All dogs cannot be taught this, only those who have a genius for it.

Tige Rhines would pick up birds right in the surf, or in the dead of
winter, but could never be taught to play; he was too dignified.

It is impossible for one destitute of a taste for fowling to conceive
of the intensity which the passion will acquire by indulgence. Ben was
so eager for birds, that he would lie on a ledge till Sailor froze his
ears and tail. There were a great many minks on the island, whose furs
were valuable: these Sailor would track to their holes, when Ben would
smoke them out.

The widow Hadlock had brought up her family to cherish a great
reverence for the Lord’s day. Ben had been trained by his mother in the
same way; but, after leaving home, he, like most seafaring men, carried
a traveller’s conscience, and did many things on that day which would
not have met her approval.

One Sabbath morning a whole flock of coots swam into the mouth of
the brook to drink; ’twas a superb chance for a shot. Ben, without a
moment’s hesitation, took down his gun from the hook, and was just
going out the door when Sally laid her hand on his arm.

“Ben, where are you going?”

“To shoot those coots; I never saw such a chance for a shot in my life.
I shouldn’t wonder if I could knock over twenty with this big gun.”

“Why, Ben, you must be out of your head; do you know what day ’tis?
would you go gunning on the Lord’s day?”

“No, I wouldn’t _go_ a-gunning; but when they come right in under my
nose, asking to be shot, I’d shoot them.”

“Well, I never would begin by breaking the Lord’s day; ’tis not right,
and we shall not prosper; if we’ve not much else, let us, at least,
have a clear conscience. What do you think your father and mother
would say, if they heard you had fired a gun on the Lord’s day?”

“It wouldn’t trouble father much; he would do the same himself; but
’twould mother, and I see it does you.”

He took his ramrod, and thumped on the side of the house; the coots
took to flight in an instant.

“There goes the temptation,” said he. “I didn’t know before that you
was a professor of religion.”

“No more I ain’t, nor a possessor either; wish I was; but I mean to
keep the Lord’s day; I’ll do that much, any way.”

“I know you’re right, Sally; but you must make some allowance for a
feller who has been so long at sea, and couldn’t keep it, if he would,
as people can ashore. Suppose a hawk was carrying off a chicken on the
Sabbath--wouldn’t you let me shoot it?”

“No, I’m sure I wouldn’t; but if an eagle was carrying off a baby, I

This was the first and only time Ben ever took the gun down on the
Sabbath. They made it a day of rest.

They had some good books, and one Sally’s mother had given her, which
she was very fond of reading, called “Hooks and Eyes for Christian’s
Breeches.” It was a queer title, but a very good book. In those days
people did not wear suspenders, but kept their breeches up by buttoning
the waistband, or by a belt. Where people were well-formed, and had
good hips, they would keep up very well; but when they were all the
way of a bigness, or were careless and didn’t button their waistbands
tight, they would slip down; so some had hooks and eyes to keep them
up, and prevent this by hooking them to the waistcoat. Thus this book
was designed for those slouching, careless Christians who needed hooks
and eyes to their breeches, and were slack in their religious duties.



Parents and friends of the new-married pair had watched with no small
anxiety their progress through the squall. During the height of it,
they could see the canoe when it rose upon the top of a wave; as
it disappeared in a trough of the sea, the widow clasped her hands
convulsively, and gave them up for lost.

“They are safe,” cried Captain Rhines, drawing a long breath; “they’ve
got under the lee of the island. John, run to the house and get my

With the aid of the glass he saw them land, and Ben carry Sally to the
house in his arms.

“She’s fainted with fright, poor thing; it’s a rough beginning for
her,” said the widow.

“He only wants to get her to the fire; there’s nothing the matter with
her but a good soaking.”

’Twas now the Indian summer, with calm moonlight nights.

“Wife,” said Captain Rhines, “I expect Sally’s mother is dying to know
how she got on the island that morning. If we don’t go now, we shan’t
be able to go this winter; it’ll be too rough by and by. John, run over
there, and ask her if she would like to go and see Sally.”

“Can I go, too, father?”

“Yes, I want you to help row; so do your chores, tie up the cattle, and
bear a hand about it.”

Sally had washed her supper dishes, and Ben was pulling off his boots,
when the door was opened, and in walked the party. It was a most joyful
surprise to the new-married couple.

“Why, mother!” exclaimed Sally, kissing her again and again; “I was
thinking the other day whether you would ever venture to come on to
this island; and now you’re here so soon, and in the fall of the year,

“Indeed, Sally, you know I never lacked for courage, only for strength.
You must needs think I had a strong motive.”

But, of all the group, none seemed more delighted than John. He stared
at the log walls, looked up the chimney, capered round the room with
Sailor, and finally getting up in Ben’s lap, put both arms round his
neck, and fairly cried for joy.

“How should you like to live on here, Johnnie?” said Ben.

“O, shouldn’t I like it! you’d better believe.”

“I shot two seals the other day, on the White Bull; and within a week
I’ve killed fifty birds, of all kinds.”

“Won’t you ask father to let me come on and stay a little while, and go
gunning? O, I do miss you so!”

“I shouldn’t wonder if there were ducks now feeding on the flats; take
my gun; she’s all loaded.”

The moment Sailor saw the gun taken down, he was all ready: so
perfectly was he trained, that when it was not desirable he should
play, he would lie still till the gun was fired, and then bring in the

“How I should like to be on here in the daytime!” said John. “Do you
know, Ben, I was never here in all my life before?”

“Why, Sally,” said her mother, “how did you get over in that dreadful
squall? We were all watching you, and felt so worried! Wasn’t you
frightened almost to death?”

“No, mother, I wasn’t much frightened; but I was terrible cold, and
wet all through. I never saw anything look so good, in all my life, as
this great fireplace did, for Ben made a roaring fire in it; and I’m
just as happy and contented as I can be.”

In the midst of this conversation the door opened, and in walked Uncle

“It was such a pleasant night,” said he, addressing the captain, “I
told Hannah we’d take a run down to your house; and when I found you’d
come over here, I thought I’d take your gunning float and follow suit.”

“Why didn’t you bring Hannah with you?” inquired Sally.

“Well, I wanted to; but she ain’t much of a water-fowl, and was afraid
to come in a tittlish gunning float, and said she’d stay and visit
Captain Rhines’s girls; but she sends her love to you, and says if
she’d known I was coming, she’d sent you over a bag of apples.”

“How this does carry a body back!” said the widow; “it don’t seem but
t’other day since I was living in a log house; and how much I’ve been
through since then!”

They then went all over the house, and down cellar.

“Well, Isaac,” said Captain Rhines, “you’ve done yourself credit in
building this house; I knew you would. ’Tisn’t much like the house
I was born in; that wasn’t tighter than a wharf, except while it was
stuffed with moss and clay; and some of that was always falling out.
I’ve gone to bed many a night, and waked up in a snow drift, because
the wind had blown the clay out, and the snow in; but I thought,
when I was coming up from the shore, and saw it standing here in the
moonlight, that it was as much like the one father built, after his
boys got big enough to be of some help to him, as two peas in a pod:
just as many windows, just as high, and with a bark roof; but it ain’t
much like it other-ways; for the timber wan’t hewed--only the bark
and knots taken off where it came together; but this is as tight as a
churn. And then that fireplace; I wouldn’t believed it possible.”

“Well,” said Uncle Isaac, “I did the best I could; but I think Sam beat
the whole of us. I should be glad to swap my fireplace and chimney for
that, and give a yoke of oxen to boot.”

“Do you know, Isaac, there’s nothing carries me back to my boy days
like that old chamber? It’s the very image of ours; it seems to me
as if I was setting there now, on a rainy day, astraddle of a tub,
shelling corn on the handle of mother’s frying-pan, with my thoughts
running all over the world, longing to go to sea, and contriving how I
should get father’s consent.”

A loud mewing was now heard in the corner of the room.

“I declare to man,” said the widow, “I’ve been so taken up with old
times, I forgot. See here, Sally,”--opening her basket and taking out
a kitten,--“I thought she’d be company for you. You know them speckled
chickens, Sally, that the old top-knot hen hatched out.”

“Yes, mother.”

“Well, the hawks carried off three of ’em; and I meant to brought the
rest over to you, but Sam said they wouldn’t lay much this winter;
you’d have to buy corn, and you’d better have ’em in the spring. But
I’ve brought you over a pillow-case full of flax.”

“I,” said Mrs. Rhines, “brought you over some wool.”

“And I,” said Captain Rhines, “a barrel of cider and some vegetables,
to go with your coots and salt beef.”

“While I,” said Uncle Isaac, “am all the one that’s come empty-handed;
but I know what I’ll do; I’ll give you a pig, and Ben can get him next
time he comes off.”

John now came in, bringing five ducks, that he had shot.

“He’s just like the rest of us, Ben,” said his father: “I believe it
runs in the breed of us to shoot.”

“Let him come over here, and stay a day or two, and gun with me.”

“He’s too good a boy,”--patting him fondly on the head;--“I couldn’t
get along without him.”

“That is just the reason,” said his mother, “that he ought to be
gratified once in a while. It’s a great deal better he should be here
with Ben, than with some of the boys he goes with; I should feel much
easier about him than I do when he’s with them in boats, and gunning.
I’m always afraid they’ll shoot one another, or be drowned.”

“Well, it’s just as his mother says; I’m at home so little, I don’t
interfere with her concerns; she’s cap’n; I’m only passenger.”

“But you’re going to be at home all the time now; and I should like to
give up my authority.”

“By the way, Ben, I’ve had a letter from Mr. Welch; he says large,
handsome masts, bowsprits, and spars are in great demand; that he can
find a market in Boston and Salem, in the spring, for all you can send

“I’m going to cut small spars directly, father; but I want snow to fall
the large ones on, else I shall have to bed them with brush, for fear
of breaking them.”

“He says that the war in Europe is throwing all the carrying trade into
the hands of neutrals; that now we’ve got our government going, it’ll
be snapping times; and that while they’re all fighting like dogs over a
bone, we can run off with the bone; and if I want to try a voyage, he
has a vessel for me.”

“Well, you’re not going,” said his wife; “you’ve been enough, and
you’ve done enough. If Ben could afford to give up going to sea, in the
prime of life, for the sake of Sally, I’m sure you can, in your old
age, for the sake of Betsey; and you belong to me for the rest of your

“Old!” said the captain, dancing over the room; “I don’t feel a bit
old. I should like a little cash, just to fix up the buildings a
little, buy that timber lot that joins the rye field; and then”--with
a comical look at his wife--“I should like to do a little more for the
minister. I should be so thankful, sometimes, if somebody would come
in that could talk about anything else than some old horse, or cow, or
sheep that’s got the mulligrubs!”

“Father,” said John, as they were preparing to go, “why can’t I stay

“Because, child, I want you to help me row.”

“Let him stay,” said Uncle Isaac, who, from instinct, always took the
part of the boys; “I’ll go over with you.”

“But there’s my float over here, and I want to go gunning to-morrow.”

“We’ll take her in tow,” said Uncle Isaac.

With mutual good wishes they now separated, leaving John in high glee
at the result, with Ben, for a visit.



It may seem very singular to some of our readers, that Captain Rhines,
whom we have spoken of as having a strong attachment to the soil,
should express a willingness so soon to leave it. But this will not
seem at all remarkable to any seafaring man whose eye may chance to
glance over our pages.

He had in early years been prevented from gratifying this inclination.
On the other hand, his life from boyhood had been spent at sea,
in company with seafaring men, and amid excitement and peril. The
habits of years are not easily to be overcome; and as age had made
no impression upon his iron constitution, after being at home a few
months, an almost irresistible longing came over him, at times, to be
once more among the very perils he had so congratulated himself upon
having escaped, and to hear some talk except about barley and butter.

He also, the moment he came home, began to make improvements--as he
said, made things look “ship-shape.” But this required money, and he
missed the cash he was accustomed to receive at the end of a voyage;
besides, a trip to the West Indies seemed to the old sailor as mere
recreation, which would enable him to carry out some of his farm
produce as a venture, and get his sugar, molasses, coffee, and rum. Had
he abandoned the sea at Ben’s age, before its habits had ripened into a
second nature, it would have been another matter.

John remained on the island a week. On his return he received a warm
welcome from Tige, who met him at the shore, and almost wagged his tail
off, he was so glad to see him. He had been perfectly miserable without
John, for they were inseparable companions. Not knowing how otherwise
to express his joy, he began to take up sticks in his mouth, and run
about with them.

“Here, old fellow,” said John; “if you want something to do, take these
birds and carry them to the house, for our dinner.”

“John,” said his father, “have you had as good a time as you expected?”

“O, father, I never had such a good time in all my life! You know the


“Well, it’s the greatest place for frost-fish you ever did see. The
sea-fowl come in there to drink, and there is the best chance to creep
to them behind the wood. You never saw such a good dog to play as
Sailor is; you throw him a stone, and he’ll play half an hour with it.
What’s Tige been about, father, since I’ve been gone?”

“Well, when he wan’t down on the beach watching for you, barking and
whining, he was smelling all round the barn and orchard, and going up
in your bedroom: he has rooted the clothes of your bed a dozen times,
to see if you was in it; and every night he has slept on your old

The opinion expressed by John’s mother, that ’twas much better he
should be on the island than in the company of some of the boys he went
with, grew out of the following circumstances:--

During the past summer, a boy by the name of Peter Clash ran away from
a Nova Scotia vessel, that came in for a harbor. Old Mr. Smullen had
taken him in, out of charity. This boy was eighteen years of age, and
belonged in Halifax, where, having the run of the streets and wharves,
he learned all kinds of vice. He was of a malicious disposition, and
intolerably lazy.

He soon made the acquaintance of all the boys in the neighborhood, but
consorted chiefly with Fred Williams, the miller’s son, John Pettigrew,
Isaac Godsoe, Henry Griffin, and some others.

None of these boys would have been disposed to engage in any mischief
beyond mere fun, or that was injurious to any one’s person or property,
if left to themselves; they also had but little leisure, as, when
not at school, they were at work; but Peter, who did very much as he
pleased at old Uncle Smullen’s, had a great deal of spare time, when
he both planned mischief and persuaded the others to aid him in the
execution. He had been in the place but a month, when he manifested
his mean, cowardly disposition by a trick that he played upon his

The old people had fed, clothed, and sheltered him when he had no place
to put his head, for which the little labor he performed was by no
means an equivalent, as he generally contrived to be out of the way
just when his help was needed.

In those days nobody thought of hauling up a year’s stock of wood, and
having it cut and dried; but they picked it up as they wanted it, and
hauled it home on a sled, as wheels were by no means common in those
days. The old folks were in the habit of getting on the sled, and
riding out in the woods with Peter, helping him load, and then riding

Peter had found a large hornet’s nest in a heap of beech limbs; so he
drives the sled right over it, and stops the cattle; when the enraged
insects, who were of the yellow-bellied kind, and the most cruel of
stingers, attacked the old people, and stung them terribly, as they
were too feeble to get quickly away.

It was thought the old gentleman would never see again. They then
turned upon the oxen, who, frantic with fear and agony, ran into the
woods, tore the sled in pieces against the trees, and ran into the
water, where they would have been drowned but for Joe Bradish and
Captain Rhines.

Peter pretended that he didn’t know the hornets were there, and the
kind old people believed him; but it came out afterwards that he had
done it on purpose.

He used also to torment small boys, whenever he could get a good

It was the influence of these boys which Mrs. Rhines feared; but she
apprehended danger where none existed. Peter, John despised: as to the
others, they were too much below him in point of intelligence and force
of character to exert any influence over him.

He was now in his fifteenth year, very large of his age, beautifully
proportioned, with his father’s gray eyes and dark hair; excelled in
wrestling, swimming, and all kinds of boys’ sports, and bade fair
almost to rival Ben in strength. He had an eye that you could look
right into, as you can look down into the depths of a clear spring.
The whole expression of his face was so manly and frank, it was felt
at once to be an index of his character. According to Fred Williams,
John Rhines was just as full of principle as he could stick; and the
boys never thought of proposing to him any plan which their consciences
told them was of doubtful morality. John was less accessible to
temptation, for the reason that he loved out of doors, and the
stimulus his nature craved was of a healthy character. He delighted in
everything that required great physical force and endurance; and we
cannot but think that the wrestling, jumping, pulling up, and rough
out-door sports of that period, though a man’s leg was broken now and
then, or somebody killed outright, were infinitely preferable to the
effeminate amusements of the present day, which turn boys into coxcombs
and men-milliners, and destroy both soul and body. Nothing was more
agreeable to him than the pleasure derived from contrasts between great
extremes. Those pursuits which promised neither peril nor hardship
possessed for him very little attraction.

He loved to fly through the water in a boat, with all the sail she
would suffer, while the spray came by bucketfuls on to the side of his
neck, and then, rounding a densely-wooded point, run her into a calm,
sunny nook, among the green leaves, exchanging the dash of the cold
spray and the shrill whistle of the wind for the warm sunshine and the
song of birds.

His father used to say he believed that John would pound his finger
for the sake of having it feel better when it was done aching; not
considering that the boy inherited his own temperament, and that he
had manifested the same disposition, when, basking in the warmth of a
blazing fire, filled to repletion with sea pie and pudding, he told his
wife how much the recollection of his past perils added to his present

To complete the sum of John’s attractions, his voice was naturally
modulated to express every shade of feeling; as Uncle Isaac said, “it
came from the right place, and went to the right place.”



Captain Rhines was called to Boston on account of some business with
Mr. Welch, and John was kept from school to take care of matters at

One pleasant morning, his mother having given him the day, he had made
up his mind to go gunning and fishing, taking his dinner with him, Sam
Hadlock having agreed to do what was necessary in his absence.

As he was about to set out, Fred Williams came along, with his
dinner-pail in his hand, on his way to school.

“Where are you going, John?”

“Frost-fishing and gunning.”

“I’ll go with you; ’tis too pleasant to go to school.”

“I wouldn’t play truant, Fred.”

“Father won’t know it; our girls ain’t going to-day; so there’s nobody
to tell.”

“But you’ll know it yourself, Fred.”

“I don’t care.”

“If you won’t play truant, I’ll go some Saturday with you.”

“Saturdays father makes me work in the mill; he thinks I don’t want to
play, as other boys do.”

John could not persuade him to go to school; so they started off
together. They spent the forenoon in gunning. At noon they made a fire
on the rocks, made some clay porridge, then took a sea-fowl and dipped
into it, feathers and all, coating it completely with clay; they then
dug a hole in the ground, filling it partly with stones, which they
made red hot; on these they put the bird, then threw back the loose
earth. After a proper time they took it out, and peeled off the clay,
which brought the feathers and skin with it, leaving the carcass clean
and well cooked.

John had brought pepper, salt, and butter, and they had plenty of bread
and meat in their dinner-pails. Tige wouldn’t touch the bird; so they
gave him the meat.

“How good this is!” said Fred, with the wing of a sheldrake in his
mouth; “how glad I am I didn’t go to school!”

John made no reply, for his mouth was full; neither did he approve
of playing truant. They now went to Uncle Isaac’s brook, fishing. The
frost-fish swim up into the mouth of little brooks, where the water
is only about two or three inches deep, and are very slow in their
movements in cool weather. The boys caught them by fastening a cod-hook
to a stick, three or four feet long, and hauling them out. They set out
on their return in good season, that Fred might get home at the proper
time, and escape detection.

As they came to the landing, John jumped out to haul the boat ashore,
while Fred pushed with an oar; the boat, striking a rock, stopped so
suddenly, that he fell down into the bottom of her, and stuck one of
the hooks into his thigh. The remorseless steel buried itself in the
flesh beyond the barb. There was the miserable boy, with both hands
behind him, holding himself up, afraid either to get up or sit down, as
he could not move an inch without taking with him the great stick to
which the hook was fastened. John, reaching carefully under him, cut
the string which fastened it to the hook, letting it fall off.

Fred now prostrated himself on the beach, while John proceeded to
examine; he pulled a little.

“O-w-w! you hurt me!”

“It’s over the barb; I can’t pull it out without almost killing you.”

“My father’ll kill me quite, if he finds out I’ve played truant;
father’s awful when he rises. O, I wish I’d gone to school.”

“I should think you would.”

“It must come out somehow; can’t you _cut_ it out?”

“I’ll try; but it’ll hurt.”

“I can’t help it; but be as easy as you can.”

John had been shelling clams with his knife the day before, and that
forenoon he’d used it as a screw-driver, to tighten the flint in his
gun; but he whet it on the sole of his boot, and began to cut.

“O, dear! what shall I do? Boo-oo! cut away, John! I shall die! I shall
die! I wish I’d gone to school! Murder! murder!! murder!!!”

“Fred,” cried John, flinging away the knife, his eyes filling with
tears, “I can’t bear to hurt you so.”

“Father’ll hurt me worse; he’ll rip it right out, and lick me into the

“There’s a file in the canoe, they have to sharpen hooks; perhaps I can
file it off.”

“Do, John; do.”

Just as the voices of the children were heard going home from school,
John succeeded in filing it off. Fred jumped up, his mouth full of
gravel, where he had bitten the beach in his agony, and ran home. He
didn’t sleep much that night. The sawing of the flesh with a dull knife
produced irritation, and by morning it began to fester. It hurt him to
walk, it hurt him to move, and it hurt him to sit still. All day long
he sat on the edge of his seat, and didn’t go out at recess to play.
When he got home, he found his cousin John Ryan had come to spend the
night. As he was a general favorite, the children all wanted him to sit
next them at the table. They were all standing up around the table,
wrangling about it, when the miller, who had a grist to grind before
dark, and was in a hurry for his supper, lost all patience.

“Down with you--will you, somewhere?” cried he to Fred; “you’re big
enough to behave,” and pushed him slap down into a chair.

“O!” screamed Fred, jumping upright, bursting into tears, and clapping
both hands to the aggrieved part.

It all came out now; but in consideration of what he had suffered, and
had yet to undergo, he escaped a whipping. His mother bound some of the
marrow of a hog’s jaw on the wound, and, after a while, the hook came

Fred promised John Rhines solemnly that he not only would never play
truant again, but in all respects try to become a better boy; yet the
wound was scarcely healed before he was again engaged in mischief.

Captain Rhines had a fish-flake on the beach, just above high-water
mark. Uncle Isaac had been making fish on it, and they were nearly

He cherished a bitter antipathy to the Tories, and, like all the people
on the sea-coast of Maine, was inclined to dislike the inhabitants of
Nova Scotia, among whom they sought refuge after they were driven from
the colonies. This prejudice extended itself to Peter Clash, and was
greatly strengthened by his treatment of his benefactors; he therefore
never treated him with the cordiality he did the other boys. This Pete
highly resented. He persuaded Fred, Jack Pettigrew, Ike Godsoe, and
some others, to go with him in the evening, take the fish from the
flakes, and throw them on the beach. It was a very difficult matter to
persuade the boys to do this, for they all loved and respected Uncle
Isaac; besides, he was not a person to be trifled with. After going
once, all, except Fred, Jack, and Ike, refused to go again; and after
Pete and his satellites had gone, Henry Griffin and the others went
back and replaced the fish. Pete, with his crew, continued the sport,
and enjoyed a malicious pleasure, as, hid in the bushes, they saw him
picking up the fish, many of which, getting in the tide’s way, were

[Illustration: PETER CLASH AND THE WOLF TRAP. Page 207.]

Uncle Isaac set a wolf-trap beside the flake, covering it in the sand,
and hid himself among the bushes. The boys manifested a great deal of
caution, pretending they had merely come down to fling stones into the
water. The conduct of Uncle Isaac, who continued quietly to pick up the
fish, without saying a word, made them suspicious; they thought there
must be something “under that heap of meal.” By and by they began to
edge up towards the flake, often stopping to listen. At last Pete went
up to the fish; walking along the edge of the flake, he threw off the
fish as he went, crying, “There’s nobody here; why don’t you come on,
you cowards.” The words were scarcely out of his mouth, when snap went
the great iron jaws of the trap, and up jumped Uncle Isaac from the
bushes. Pete roared with agony. Well he might; the trap would have cut
off his leg, or crushed it to pomace, if Uncle Isaac had not tied down
one of the springs, thus diminishing its force. His captor uttered
never a word; but catching him up, trap and all, walked right into the

“O! Mr. Murch, I’ll never do so again! What be you going to do to me?”

“Drown you, you spawn of a Tory; your hide isn’t worth taking off.”

Pete poured forth agonizing entreaties for mercy, and made the most
solemn promises of amendment, if his life could be spared.

“You’re a rotten egg; you’re spilin’ all our boys, you varmint,” said
Uncle Isaac, chucking him right into the water, head and ears.

“Murder! murder!” screamed Pete, the moment he got his head out.

“Will you clear out in the spring, in the first fisherman that comes
along, and go where you come from?”

Pete called God to witness that he would.

“You can do as you like; but if you don’t, I’ll be the death of you. I
calculate,” said Uncle Isaac, as he picked up his fish, “he’ll keep his
word this time; he’ll have about as much as he can do to take care of
that leg this winter.”

John Rhines, being lonesome, after Ben went on to the island, had kept
company to some extent with these boys; but it was very much like
trying to mix oil and water; they played together occasionally, but
there was no fusion. When he heard of the last-mentioned occurrence, he
said to his mother,--

“I won’t be seen with those boys any more. O, mother, I do wish I had
somebody to love besides Tige.”

“Why, John Rhines, where are your parents, your sisters, and all your

“You know what I mean; some boy of my age, that I could love clear
through; that you, and father, and Ben could love, and love to have me
with; and, when he come to our house, you’d give him a piece of cake,
and wouldn’t look so, as you do when Fred comes. I mean somebody that
wasn’t like these boys, either stupid or wicked.”

The boy’s heart, overflowing with the impulses of youth, longed for a
kindred spirit of his own age.



It has been very evident, during the progress of this story, that the
young men were very much attached to Uncle Isaac; yet the boys were not
a whit the less so; the reasons of which will appear as we proceed.

In the first place, he retained in his feelings all the freshness
and exuberance of his youth; they knew that he liked them; and it is
strange how this unwritten, unspoken language of the heart is generally
felt and understood.

In the next place, he was never known to divulge a secret, and was
the depositary of half the love affairs of the young people in the
neighborhood; indeed, the boys often confided to him their intended
pranks. If mere fun was the object of them, he permitted them to take
their course, but, if they were of a malicious nature, would induce
them to give them up, by proposing something else,--generally a tramp
with him in the woods, or on the water, the seductions of which no boy
was able to resist. It was well it was thus, for he knew infinitely
better how to manage them than half their parents. It has been well
said, that man must look up in order to worship; ’tis just so with
boys. A timid, effeminate man can have no influence over a mess of
boys; and if you have any doubt on this point, just read the names on
the boys’ sleds and boats.

When, in the winter, he happened to ride by the school-house, just as
school was out, a curious scene presented itself. Children, in those
days, were taught to make their manners; but when Uncle Isaac came
along, they first made a bow, or dropped a courtesy, just to manifest
respect; and then boys and girls would pile into the sleigh, and hang
around his neck, till he was well nigh smothered. The old horse would
lay back his ears, and look around, as though distrusting his ability
to draw the unwonted load; while the schoolmaster, looking out of the
window, attracted by the noise, and amused to see the little ones
searching his pockets for apples, would forget to notice when the
minute-glass had run out.

There was another thing which imparted to his society a wonderful
fascination for the boys, which we can in no other way explain so
well as by relating a conversation between little Bobby Smullen and
his grandfather. The boy was at play before the door, as Uncle Isaac
returned from Sam Elwell’s, after picking Yelf out of the ditch. He
endeavored, with all his might, to entice him to go in, as he wanted to
listen, while he talked over old times with his grandparent; but Uncle
Isaac was in a hurry, and, patting his head, went on.

Bobby, who was a bright, observing little chap, looked after him till
he was out of sight. Going into the house, he said, “Grandsir, what
makes Uncle Isaac walk so?”

“Walk how?”

“Why, you know how; he don’t walk like other folks.”

“The child means,” said his grandmother, “because he toes in.”

“That’s because he’s an Indian, Bobby.”

“Why, Jonathan, ain’t you ashamed of yourself? he’s no more of an
Indian than you are. I knew his father and mother well; old Mr. Murch
and his wife were the best of people.”

“Well, the Indians brought him up, anyhow. I don’t jestly know the
rights of it; but they carried him off, with some others of his people,
when he was a boy; part of them they tomahawked, and part they roasted
alive; but one of the chiefs took him, and brought him up. He lived
with them years and years, learnt their language and their ways, and
was as good an Indian as the best of them. I’ve heard him say, he
thought their kind of life was happier than ours; he never will get
that wild nature out of him. When the Penobscots come here in the
summer, and camp on his point, he’ll carry them beef, pork, potatoes,
and milk, and says they have as good right here as he has, and better,
too. He’ll give them anything except rum; he says that wasn’t made for
an Indian, because it makes him crazy.”

“Don’t it make white people crazy, too, grandsir?”

“Hush, child; you put me out, and you don’t know what you’re talking
about. For all he’s such a desperate working cretur, he’ll go down
right in haying time, and set on a log, and talk with them, and seems
just as uneasy all the time they’re about as John Godsoe’s geese.”

“What about John Godsoe’s geese?”

“Nothing, child.”

“Yes, there is; I know there is; do tell your little boy, grandsir.”

“Why, John’s got some wild geese that can’t fly, because one joint of
their wings is cut off. They go in the pasture with the other geese as
peaceable as can be; but in the spring, when the wild ones are flying
over and konking, they’ll flap their old stubs of wings, and holler,
and be as uneasy; that’s jest the way Isaac’s took when the Indians are
round. I sometimes think he’d go off with them, if he could get his
family to go.”

The horrors of Indian massacre were still fresh in the recollections of
older people. Smullen’s first wife and old Mr. Yelf’s father were both
killed by the Indians; and there was nothing more attractive to the
youth of that day. No marvel, then, that a romantic interest mingled
in the minds of the boys with the affection they entertained for Uncle

It is frequently said, one boy is better than two boys, and that three
is just no boy at all; but half a dozen of them would work all day for
dear life, with Uncle Isaac, encouraged by the promise, always kept,
of going on a tramp with him when the job was over. Boys don’t like
to go gunning, and come home empty-handed. When they went with him,
they always brought home game with them; for if they couldn’t shoot
anything, he could. These attractions enabled him to exert a great
influence over them, which he improved to the noblest ends, and made
impressions that were never eradicated. He was neither in his own
opinion, nor by profession, a religious man; but the teachings of a
pious mother had laid deep in his young heart the foundation of faith
and love. When torn from her by the savages, in the solitude of mighty
forests, he had pored and prayed over them, till they ripened into a
heartfelt love for Him “who causeth the grass to grow for cattle, and
herb for the service of man.”

His teachings were therefore of such a nature, that while divested
of the stiffness generally connected with all attempts at advice or
instruction, they deepened every good impression, and stirred the young
heart to the quick.

A most silly and hurtful notion, often entertained by young people
in respect to religion, is, that it has a tendency to make people
narrow-minded, or, as they phrase it, meeching. Such a feeling was
effectually repressed, as they listened to ideas of that nature from
one who hesitated not to grapple with the fiercest beasts of the
forest, and bore on his person the scars of many wounds. His influence
over them was very much increased, for the reason that he seemed
anxious to make them happy in this world, as well as the other;
inculcated with great earnestness those principles which lie at the
bottom of thrift, competence, and the well-being of society.

Religious discourse from their parents, the catechising of the
minister, advice in respect to their conduct in life, might be quite
dry and uninteresting; but with what power to attract and move were
the same ideas invested, as they fell from the lips of the hunter
and warrior, on a wild sea-beach, amid the roar of breakers; in some
sunny nook of the hills, with the rifle across his knees, made juicy
and attractive by his graphic language; not thrust upon them against
the stomach of their sense, but, like the teachings of the great
Parent of nature, in harmony with bursting buds, the springing grass,
shading into a deeper green, or mingling in their ear with the brook’s
low murmur, and the music of summer winds among the foliage,--thus
imperceptibly, as the increase of their strengthening sinews, growing
up with, and moulding the very habit of their thoughts!

There had been no adverse element to disturb these pleasant and
profitable relations, till Peter Clash came into the neighborhood.
Nothing but the entire conviction of the uselessness of all efforts to
reclaim him, and a knowledge of the injury his influence and example
was doing to the other boys, caused Uncle Isaac to treat him with such
severity, and made him resolve to drive him out of the place.

“I wouldn’t be so mean,” said he, “as to throw my weeds into other
people’s gardens; but when they throw their weeds into mine, I’ll fling
them back again: he shan’t take root and go to seed here; we’ve weeds
enough of our own.”

The first leisure day John had, after his father’s return, he took his
hoe, and going directly to the field where he knew Uncle Isaac was
digging potatoes, went to work with him.

“I don’t mean to play any more with Pete, and that set; I mean to play
with you, Uncle Isaac.”

“I should like to have a playmate first rate; I’ve been pretty much
alone of late.”

“Will you go gunning with me in your float, after we get these potatoes


“Won’t you tell me an Indian story now?”

“I can’t talk and work too; but I’ll tell you one to-night, after we’ve
done work, and when we go gunning, and are waiting for birds. Work when
you work, and play when you play; that’s my fashion.”

When the time arrived, John reminded Uncle Isaac of his promise.

“Well, John, where do you want to go? into the woods, or after

“I’ll tell you what I want to do, above all things; but perhaps you
wouldn’t; I want you to learn me to shoot flying. I can shoot very well
now at a dead mark; but I never, in all my life, shot anything flying.”

“You’ll never be much of a gunner till you can, because there’s ten
chances to shoot flying or running game where there is one to shoot
that which is still. Take a fox, for instance; ’tain’t one time to a
hundred you can shoot one, except on the clean jump, going twelve or
fifteen foot at a leap, and looking just like a little streak. All
these sea-fowl fly out of the bays every night. Now, there’s a place
between Smutty Nose and the Sow and Pigs, not more than half a gun-shot
in width, which they fly through about sunrise, when they come into the
bay. I’ve gone there before sunrise, with three guns, and killed over
a hundred; been back by the middle of the forenoon, got my breakfast,
and, by working a little later, done a good day’s work. What d’ye think
of that, Johnny?”

“O!” cried John, his eyes flashing, “I shouldn’t want to live any
longer, if I could do that.”

“There’s a good many other places where they fly through; for it’s the
nature of them to follow the land. They used to fly through between
Elm Island and the outer ledges, but I expect Ben has pretty much put
an end to that; besides, if you have two guns, or a double barrel, it
gives you two chances--you can fire at them in the water, and when they
rise give it to them again.”

“I know it; I’ve seen you and Ben shoot wild geese when they were
flying over. Ben burnt mother awfully with a wild goose.”

“How could that be?”

“Well, mother was frying fish in the Dutch oven; Ben fired into a flock
that was flying over the house, and down came an old gander, right down
chimney, and flung the fat all over her face.”

“Well, John, as to the learning, you must forelay for them; when
they’re coming towards you, swing your gun as they fly, and aim jest
before their bill, and then they’ll fly right into the shot. The best
bird for a boy to practise on is a fish-hawk, because they are a large
mark, and fly steady, but they are all gone south now; but a coot will
do very well. You must shoot, and shoot, and practise till you get it;
and jest as you begin to think you never can get it, ’twill come. You
better take my gun; it goes quicker than yours. I’ll manage the boat;
you can fire, and I’ll watch you and tell you.”

On their way home they fell into conversation about the other boys.

“I don’t think,” said John, “that Fred is a bad-hearted boy; we’ve
always played together, and he was a good boy till Pete came here. I
believe all of them would do well enough, if ’twasn’t for him, and
would never do any real mean mischief of their own heads; they like
fun, and so do I, and should be as full of mischief as any of them, if
I didn’t like gunning so much better, which takes up all my spare time.”

“That Pete is too rotten to nail to. As for Fred, there’s more
foundation to him; he’s had a better bringing up; he’s like the fish
that take the color of the bottom they feed on; he falls in with the
company he keeps, and can’t stand on his own legs.”

“I don’t believe I should have been one whit better than Fred, if I
had been brought up as he has. I’ve known Fred to do a real good day’s
work, and his father and mother never take the least notice of it;
now, big boy as I am, there’s nothing pleases me so much as to have
father come and see what I’ve done, and praise me for it; then his
father always sets his bounds, and tells him he may go to such a tree
or rock; of course he wants to go over; he’d be a fool if he didn’t.
I’ve gone over there sometimes, all dressed up, to play with him, and
his father would keep him to work, when Fred knew, and I knew, that the
work might be just as well done the next day. I tell you, that makes a
boy feel ugly. Now, just look at my father; I’ve known him, when boys
came over here to play with me, to let me off, and work till after dark
himself. Think I didn’t put in the next day, and watch for chances to
make it up? and do you think I’ll ever forget it, as long as I live?
’Tisn’t every boy, Uncle Isaac, that’s got as good father and mother as
I have.”

“You never spoke a truer word than that, John.”

“I don’t believe a boy can love a man, just because he’s his father, if
he treats him just like a dog.”

“Don’t you think, then, instead of leaving Fred altogether, it would be
better to ask him to go with you and me sometimes?”

“I think we should have a great deal better time without him.”

“Perhaps so; but we ought to be willing sometimes to displease
ourselves, for the sake of benefiting others. A boy or man, who never
thinks of anybody’s comfort or happiness but his own, is a pretty mean
sort of an affair, and ought not to be allowed round. There’s Pete;
he’s no credit to his Maker, and only a plague to the neighborhood, and
swears awful; yet God feeds and clothes him.”

“No, he don’t, Uncle Isaac; because Mrs. Smullen makes the cloth, and
makes the clothes, too.”

“If she does, the Lord gives her the stock, and wit, and strength to
manufacture it. You allow yourself there’s some good in Fred; and I say
it’s no part of a man, when a poor fellow’s on his hands and knees,
trying to get up, to jump on him.”

“But you don’t understand. It isn’t just for the sake of going gunning,
and hearing the Indian stories, that I like so well to go with you; but
I like to hear you talk about good things, and tell me how I can make a
man of myself. Fred wouldn’t care a straw for such things.”

“How can that ever be known, till it’s tried? According to your tell,
he’s never had much of such treatment.”

“That is very true.”

“You’re very sorry he’s a bad boy; wish he was better; but are not
willing to forego your own pleasure for the sake of getting him into
better company, and giving him an opportunity to rally. We’ve spent all
this day, and have patiently managed the boat, that you might learn to
shoot flying, and you’ve made out to kill two birds; whereas, if I’d
taken the gun, made you manage the boat, or gone without you, I might
have killed twenty, and been home at dinner-time.”

“I’m ashamed of myself, Uncle Isaac; I won’t be so mean and selfish any

“Well, Pete’ll have enough to do to take care of his legs this winter,
and I think he’ll go off in the spring. Speak kindly to Fred, and keep
hold of him; and when the warm weather comes, we’ll take him with us,
and try to save him.”



It was now early winter, and the proper time to work in the woods.

“Do you think,” said Ben to Uncle Isaac, “I’d better hire Joe?”

“He asks great wages, but he’s the cheapest man you can hire, for all
that. I’ve seen a man fall spars, so that they all had to be hauled
out top foremost; it was like twitching a cat by the tail. Most men
will break more or less masts, falling them, and soon throw away all
their wages; but though Joe seems to be such a great heedless creature,
there’s nothing pertains to falling, hauling, or rafting timber, that
he don’t know; he can also shave shingles and rive staves, and will be
just as profitable in stormy weather as at any other time.”

The next morning, as Ben and Joe were grinding their axes to attack the
forest, they were very much surprised by a visit from Uncle Isaac.

“I felt,” said he, “as though I must look upon Elm Island once more,
before the axe and firebrand went into it, and while it was as God made
it. Perhaps it’s owing to my Indian bringing up, but I hate to see the
forest fall; and when I have to go fifty miles to shoot a deer or a
bear, the relish will be all taken out of life for me.”

“I feel very much as you do,” said Ben; “I know I shall spoil its
beauty, but I see no other way to pay for it.”

“I’m not so sure of that; there’s no doubt but Congress, by and by,
will give a bounty to fishermen; fishing is going to come up. Mr. Welch
don’t want his money any more than a cat wants two tails; he told you
to take your own time, and I’d take my time. I believe you can pay for
this island by clearing only what you need for pasture and tillage.
That will make quite a hole in your debt, and the rest you can pull out
of the water.”

“But I don’t want to be a fisherman; I detest it; work all summer, and
eat it all up in the winter; so much broken time, when it’s so windy
you can’t fish, and can’t do anything else, for fear it will come good
weather, and you will have to leave it.”

“That’s the right kind of talk; I like to hear you talk so; but you
can fish till the land is yours--can’t you? All the time you are
fishing, the timber will be growing, and then you can farm it to your
heart’s content; farming is going to be a first-rate business, too.
People round here are all stark mad about lumbering and fishing; they
will touch anything but a hoe, and think barley ain’t worth thanking
God for. Since the peace, the country is full of foreign goods, and
they are ready to strip the land to get money to buy them. Nothing but
French calico, silks, and satins, and all such boughten stuffs, will
do for ‘my ladyship’ now. If people are going to work in the woods all
winter, and drive the river and work in the mills all summer, I should
like to know where the corn, hay, pork, and beef, to feed all these
people that grow nothing, is to come from. I wonder if the people that
stay at home and raise it won’t get a round price for it.”

“I’ve thought of that,” said Ben. “I know that a great many fishermen
come here for supplies, must have them, and no time to run after them,
and will give whatever the men ask that bring them alongside.”

“There’s another thing; this timber will be worth more every year it
stands, because it will be growing scarce.”

“O, Uncle Isaac, this is a great country; it won’t be till you and I,
and our grandchildren, if we have any, are dead and gone.”

“That’s true; and it ain’t true there’s no end to the timber in the
country; but the timber that is directly on the shore, where a vessel
can go right to it, is growing scarce, more especially these big masts.
The king’s commissioners scoured the sea-coast pretty well before the
war; and masts and spars on an island like this, with a good harbor,
where they can be got to the ship’s tackles with little expense, will,
in a few years, bear a great price; for if timber is plenty, labor is
not. Thank God, every one has enough to do; and it costs, I can tell
you, to bring timber down a river thirty miles, to what it does to roll
it off the bank, as you can here.”

“I see you are right; for I’m sure I don’t know of another island that
is timbered like this. Others have all been cut, and burnt over by the
fishermen setting fires in the summer; about half the timber on the
islands is burnt up by mere carelessness.”

“You wouldn’t like to lose this brook--would you?”

“Lose the brook! I’d as soon lose the island; it would not be worth
much without the brook.”

“Well, just as sure as you clear the middle ridge, and the north-east
end of the island where the springs are that feed it, and let the sun
and wind in on the land, you’ll dry the brook.”

“Do you think so?”

“I don’t _think_ so--I _know_ so. There’s a brook runs through my
field. Long since I can remember it used to carry a saw-mill; but my
father and I cleared the land, and the people at the source of it
cleared theirs, and now it’s dry all summer, and but a little water in
it early in the spring and late in the fall.”

“I’m glad you told me this; you know I’m a sailor, and don’t know much
about such matters. I hope you’ll never be mealy-mouthed, but speak
just as you think.”

“I’m an ignorant man, and have never been to school, and over the
world, as you have; but I know about these sort of things, because
I’ve either tried ’em, or seen other people try them; it’s jest my

When he had thus spoken he prepared to depart.

“Do stay to dinner, Uncle Isaac,” said Sally.

“It’s impossible; I ought to be at home this very minute; but I
couldn’t help coming over here and freeing my mind;” and, dropping his
oars into the water, he was in a moment round the eastern point.

This conversation made a deep impression upon Ben; he looked upon the
island not merely as offering advantages for a living, but he loved it.
All his ideas of beauty and sublimity were ingrafted upon these woods
and shores; from boyhood he had been accustomed to go there with his
father. Often, in the lonely hours of the middle watch on the ocean,
had memory painted the green foliage of the birches drooping over the
high ledge.

In many a black night of tempest, as he stood amid the pouring rain
and flashing lightning, did his thoughts revert to that tranquil cove,
reflecting from its bosom the overhanging rocks and trees, while the
sunlight of a summer’s morning was glancing on the glossy breasts of
the sea-ducks sporting in its calm waters.

Standing upon the beach where he had parted with his friend, he looked
over the scene, and pictured to himself the middle ridge, shorn of its
green coronal of majestic forest, covered with blackened stumps and the
charred ruins of mighty trees. The interlacing network of tree-roots,
ferns, and mosses of a thousand hues, that now adorned the rocks, burnt
off, leaving them white and barren, and the bare bones of the soil
sticking out. No shelter for fruit trees or crops, man or beast, and
the supply of water greatly diminished; the sweet music of the brook
hushed, and the multitudes of hawks and herons, who, notwithstanding
their harsh notes, could ill be spared, banished forever, and the
island left a shelterless rock in the ocean for the cold sea winds to
whistle over.

He found that Sally shared his feelings in the fullest extent, and
together they resolved to submit to any privations, and make every
possible effort in order to save, at least, a good part of the forest.

The axes now went merrily from daylight till dark. They made a workshop
of the front part of the house, and in stormy days made staves and
shingles, as there were many trees, which, after they were cut, proved
to have a hollow in the butt, or were “konkus,” and, though not
suitable for spars, made good shingles. Sometimes an oak was in the way
of a road, which, cut, made staves.

Ben, while privateering, had taken from a prize some fine rifles; two
of these he sold, and bought a large yoke of oxen, and hiring four
more, he began to haul his spars to the beach. As the distance was
short, and the ground in general descending, he did not wait for snow,
but hauled the smallest spars on the bare ground, leaving the large
masts and bowsprits till the snow came. This was not so difficult as
it might appear; for it is very different hauling in the woods from
doing the same thing on a road. The ground was in most places covered
with a network of roots, strewn with leaves and frozen, and the sled
slipped over these quite easily; besides, wherever there was a hard
spot, or a hollow, they cut small trees, peeled the bark off, and put
them along the road for the sled to slip over, and thus, though they
could not move the largest sticks in this way, they got along as fast
with the others as though there was snow; for if they hauled smaller
loads, having no snow to wade through, and no road to break, they went
the oftener. Even when the snow came, his team was light to haul some
of the biggest masts; but they made calculations take the place of
strength, put rollers under the sticks, and helped the cattle with a

Thus they spent the winter. As the spring came on, how he longed to
plough up the clear spot along the beach, to plant a few peas and
potatoes, or set out a currant bush or two in the warm sunny ground,
under the high ledge, that every time he passed it seemed to say, “Do
plant me, Ben.”

How much more difficult it was to let the wild geese alone, that were
flying in vast flocks over his head! It made him half crazy to hear the
guns of Uncle Isaac, John, and his father, who were letting into them
right and left, as they went, bang, bang.

It was not like the gunning nowadays, when a great lazy fellow goes all
day to shoot a sandpiper or a sparrow; but there was profit as well as
sport in it. Nevertheless, he manfully resisted temptation, and plied
the axe.

“I’ll not live another spring without a gunning float,” said he to Joe,
and dismissed the matter from his thoughts.

“What fools we are!” said Joe; “we’ve not had a drink of sap yet.” As
he spoke, he struck his axe with an upward blow into the body of a rock
maple, and stuck a chip in the gash; he then cut down a small hemlock,
took off a length, and from it made a trough. The sap ran down the chip
into the trough, and in a few hours they had enough to drink.

“How good that looks!” said Joe, as he got down on his hands and knees,
and looked into the luscious liquid, as clear as crystal; “and it don’t
taste bad, neither.”

The first thing Joe did the next morning was to visit the trough,
expecting to find it full; but it was entirely empty.

“It was half full when I left it, and it must have run fast; what a
fool I was I didn’t drink it all up! I know who’s got it,” cried he,
as he noticed on a little patch of snow some tracks, that looked not
unlike those made by the bare feet of little children, for they had
been enlarged by the thawing of the snow; “they are that coon’s wife
and children, that we killed when we were hewing timber. They will be
nice neighbors, Ben, when you come to plant corn here.”

“I don’t care if they do eat a little corn; I want all the neighbors
I can get. It will be first rate to know just where to go and get a
coon when you want one. I shall be as well to do as the grand folks
in England, and have my own game preserve; besides, if they get
troublesome, I can kill them all with Sailor in a week, on a place no
larger than this.”

There was no vessel in that vicinity larger than a fisherman’s, or a
wood coaster. It required a vessel of larger size to carry such spars,
and to have hired one from a distance would have eaten up a great part
of their value. Determined at any risk to save a great part of the
forest, he devised and executed a most audacious plan, that he might
realize every dollar from the sale of his spars, by avoiding the great
expense of transportation.

With a cool daring and skill, perfectly characteristic, he rolled his
masts and spars on to the beach, where, by the help of the tide, he
could handle them as he pleased, and built them somewhat into the shape
of a vessel, securing the whole firmly together with cross-ties and
treenails. He then made a large oar to steer with, which no one but
himself could lift, that worked in a port, so that it could not slip
out and float up. He then put a large timber across the stern, with
deep notches cut in it, to hold the oar in whatever direction he placed
it, in order that he might be able to leave it, and go to other parts
of the raft to attend to other matters. A mast had been already built
in when the raft was made; he bought an old mainsail that belonged to
John Strout, made for the Perseverance, and put a cable, anchor, and
boat-compass on board.

“I must have a chance to make a cup of tea,” said Ben; “for I shall be
up nights, as there’s only one in a watch.”

They placed a large flat stone in the midst of the raft to build
the fire on, and then made a fireplace with stones laid in clay,
to prevent the wind from blowing the fire away from the kettle. Two
crotches were then placed each side of the fireplace, and a pole put
across to hang the tea-kettle on. Wood and water were now put on board;
some dry eel-grass to lie down on; staves, shingles; and feathers, the
results of gunning at odd times; and the preparations for the voyage
were complete.

“Ben,” said his wife, “Joe says you are going to Boston on that thing

“I’m going to set out, Sally. I can tell you better when I come back,
whether I get there or not.”

“Suppose you should get blown off to sea, and never be heard from

“Suppose, what is more likely, I shouldn’t.”

“Suppose the raft should come to pieces.”

“Suppose it should stay together. We never shall save the woods, and
the beach, and all the pretty things, if it costs half the spars are
worth to get them to market.”

“Better lose the island than your life; what if there should come a big
sea, and wash you overboard?”

“What, if when the angels were taking Elijah to heaven, they had let
him drop?”

Perceiving he had fully made up his mind, she said no more, but quietly
set about preparing his food for the voyage. This was put under the
canoe, which was turned bottom up on the raft, and lashed.

There were but four pieces of rope on the whole raft, for rope was high
in those days: these were the cable, the canoe’s painter, and the sheet
and halyards of the sail.

The logs were lashed with withes, as also the canoe, water, and other
things. These withes were of enormous strength, though stiff and hard
to handle; for many of them were as thick as a man’s wrist, which Ben
twisted as though they had been willow switches.

Ben had not mentioned his plan to any one out of his own house, but,
when the wind came in strong from the north-east, set sail just as the
sun came up.

The first proceeding of John Rhines at this time of year, when he got
out of bed, was to look out of his window, to see if there were any
wild geese round that were anxious to be shot, that he might give the
alarm to his father. No sooner did he espy the novel craft come out
from the harbor, and proceed to sea, than going down stairs three
steps at a time, he shouted, “Father! father! see what this is!”

“It is a raft, that has come down from the head of the bay, and is
going over to Indian Creek Mill.”

“But it came from Elm Island; I saw it.”

“You thought it did; but it came down by it, and appeared to you to
come from it.”

“No, father; it came right out of the harbor, for I saw it with my own

“Get the glass, John; that will tell the story.” Resting the glass on
the fence, he looked long and carefully. At length he said, “John,
that’s your brother Ben on that raft. He’s got half an acre of spars,
I verily believe--all they have cut this winter; well, he’s one of the
kind to make a spoon or spoil a horn--always was.”

“But where’s he going to?”

“Boston, I expect; he’s steering that way, and is making first-rate
headway, too.”

Forgetting all about his breakfast, John ran to Uncle Isaac’s, while
Captain Rhines went in to tell the news to his wife.

“Ben’s going to Boston on a raft!” he shouted; “O, come quick, or he’ll
be out of sight!”

They watched him from the hill, and then from the garret window, till
he disappeared from view.

“If the wind should come in fresh at north-west,” said Uncle Isaac, “no
power on earth could prevent his going to sea, and that would be the
end of him;” but, noticing the look of anxiety upon John’s face, he
said, “Come in and take breakfast with us, and then we’ll see what your
father thinks about it.”

“Don’t you think Ben’s running a great risk?” asked Uncle Isaac of
Captain Rhines.

Now, Captain Rhines had never done much else, except to run risks, and
therefore was not particularly sensitive on that score.

“It’s a risk, that’s certain; but then it’s a risk that’s well worth
the running, to get such a tremendous raft of spars as that to market,
as you may say, for nothing. The wind often holds easterly, this time
of year, a fortnight; it’s our trade-wind; he is going every bit of
four knots. I’ll risk Ben; he’s one of the kind that always come on
their feet. There’s not another man in the world that looks as bad as
he does, that would have got Sally Hadlock. Nobody else could have
got Elm Island from Father Welch. I have been trying to buy it of him
these twenty years; but he said it was his father’s before him, and he
wouldn’t sell it, for he didn’t want to see it stripped; and he knew I
would cut the timber off the first thing. No, I’ll risk Ben. Did I ever
tell you what a Yankee trick he served a British man-of-war, when he
was captain of a privateer?”

“No; what was it? I didn’t know he ever was captain.”

“Well, he never was, only in this way. Their captain was killed in
action with an armed merchantman; Ben, being lieutenant, took charge,
and acted as captain the rest of the cruise. You see, they were
cruising off the coast, to try and cut off some of the English supply
vessels, that were bringing provisions and ammunition to their armies,
for our folks were mighty short of powder, and everything else, for
the matter of that. They were lying by in a thick fog--not a breath
of wind--couldn’t see your hand before you; and when the fog lifted
at sunrise, they were right under the guns of a fifty-gun ship, that
was off there looking out for the expected transports. No squeak for
them. What does Ben do but strip off his clothes, get into his berth,
and make the doctor bind his right leg and arm all up with splinters
and bandages, as though they were broken, then bleed him, and put the
blood over the wound, as though it had been done by a shot! John Strout
was second mate; so he became first mate, or first lieutenant, when
Ben took charge; you know he and Ben are like knife and fork--always
together. The man-of-war put a prize captain and crew on board, and put
Ben’s crew in irons, and ordered her into New York. They took him out
of his berth, and put him between decks with his men, which was just
what he wanted, though he groaned and took on terribly when they were
moving him, it hurt him so; and the doctor said ’twas real barbarity to
move a patient in his condition.

“The English in time of war were always short of seamen,--more so now
than ever,--as they were fighting with us and France both; they had but
few men to spare for a prize crew; they took out part of Ben’s crew,
and put the rest in irons; made a captain of an old quartermaster, with
two midshipmen for lieutenants; gave them about a dozen seamen, and
three or four petty officers, thinking, as ’twas so short a run into
port, there was no great risk of their meeting any Yankee cruiser. Ben
knew very well there was no time to lose, and laid his plans with the
doctor for re-taking the vessel that very night. They apprehended but
little trouble from the seamen, who were most of them pressed men; but
there were three marines to be got rid of,--one on the forecastle, and
one at each gangway, and armed to the teeth. The doctor secured the key
of the arm-chest as soon after twelve o’clock as the watch, who came
below, were well asleep. Ben took off the splints and bandages, and
crawling out of his hammock, wrenched the handcuffs from the wrists of
eight of his men.”

“Who did he let loose?” said Uncle Isaac; “anybody I know?”

“Yes; John Strout, and black Cæsar, who was the strongest man in the
vessel, except Ben.”

“I knew him; he was a slave to Seth Valentine, and he gave him his
liberty when the war broke out.”

“And Calvin Merrithew, who was almost as stout; and Ed Griffin, brother
to Joe, who was killed afterwards, with Jack Manley, in the Lee
privateer. The rest of ’em didn’t belong round here.”

“I heard something about it at the time, but never heard the
particulars. But were not these sailors armed?”

“No; they don’t allow sailors arms when about their duty; the marines
do all the guard duty; the sailors are only armed in time of action.
The doctor had a dog, who got the end of his tail jammed off a
day or two before, under the truck of a gun carriage. The men, for
deviltry, would touch it, to make him sing out; he got so at last,
that if anybody pointed at it he would howl. They resolved to make
the howl of the dog, which was too common to attract attention, a
signal for action. They dressed themselves in the hats and coats of
the watch who had turned in, that they might be taken in the dark for
men-o’-war’s-men. Cæsar went up the main hatch, passed the sentry on
the forecastle, and went into the head. As ’twas nothing uncommon
for men to come up in the night, the marine took no notice of ’em.
Merrithew, Ed Griffin, and another, lay at the steps of the main
hatch, watching the marine there; Ben, John Strout, and the others
at the after hatch. The doctor, who went and came without question,
pinched the dog’s tail, who instantly began to howl. Cæsar felled the
marine with a blow of his fist, and flung him overboard; Merrithew,
rushing upon the marine at the hatchway, whose attention was occupied
with the noise on the forecastle, flung him head foremost into the
hold, while the others put on the hatches and barred them down. In
the mean time Ben, rushing upon the sentry in the gangway, flung
him against the lieutenant, who was pacing the deck, with such force
as to fell him senseless on the planks, while the doctor locked the
cabin doors, and the rest barred down the after hatches, then, seizing
the boarding-pikes that were lashed to the main boom, joined their
comrades. The seamen made little or no resistance. A terrible noise and
swearing were now heard aft; the prize captain, having got up on the
cabin table, with his head out of the skylight, was screaming to know
why the doors were fastened, and what was the matter.

“‘Come out here and see, my little man,’ said Ben, reaching down, and
taking him by both ears, he pulled him through the skylight, and set
him astride a gun.

“‘Who are you?’ exclaimed the astonished commander.

“‘This,’ said the doctor, ‘is the man with the broken leg; he’s got
well; I never had a patient mend so rapidly.’”

“I don’t think that was very civil treatment for a prisoner of war,”
said Uncle Isaac.

“It was tit for tat,” said Captain Rhines. “In the first of the war
the British frigates used to run our privateers down, and destroy all
hands, and starve and maltreat our prisoners in their hulks; but they
got more civil in the last of it. I tell you, Ben would stick a mast
into Elm Island, and sail it to Boston, if he undertook it.”



“Sam Hadlock,” said his mother, “they say Ben’s gone to Boston on a
raft, all alone. I don’t believe it; but go right over and see what it
all means, and take Sally’s hens on.”

Sam arrived at Elm Island about dusk, with the hens and a crower. The
first thing a rooster does, upon finding himself in a strange place,
is to flap his wings and crow, in order that it may be known he is
round. The next morning, as the daylight shone in between the logs of
the hovel, he raised his cry of defiance to all things in general, and
everybody in particular.

Now, although the squawks had been in possession of the island from
time immemorial, they had never heard a rooster crow, or even seen
one. The instant that shrill, defiant voice rose on the morning air,
saying, “I’m somebody; who are you?” every squawk on the island uttered
his loudest yell. This startled the herons and fish-hawks; the crows
joined the chorus, and Sailor exerted his lungs to the utmost. Sally
woke up in alarm, and was for some time unable to account for the
terrible uproar. It was a week before the Elmites would permit the
rooster to crow, or a hen to cackle, in peace. The moment he attempted
it, the whole community combined to drown his voice, and rebuke his
presumption; but, after a while, they began to recognize him as an
adopted citizen of that of which they had so long been the sole
occupants. It was laughable to see with what gravity they would cluster
on the trees, at the edge of the woods near the house, and, with their
keen eyes, stare at him and his dames. Now and then a great blue heron
would sail lazily overhead, when, the cock raising the cry of alarm,
all would scud for the barn; but they learned, after a while, that none
of the original inhabitants were to be feared, except the eagles.

The next morning, after the arrival of the hens, a calf, bright red,
with a white star in his forehead, and white on his fore legs and the
end of his tail, made his appearance.

Sally was delighted; the birth of the calf opened a prospect not
only of milk, of which they had been deprived for two months, but of
butter. It was also the first domestic animal that had been born on
the island; besides, there are so many pleasant memories of childhood
connected with a “bossy,” that it seemed a great affair to Sally in
her lonely situation. She scarcely ever came in from the barn but her
sleeves were all chewed up, in consequence of stopping to pet the calf.

“How much it seems like home,” said she to Joe, “to have a calf to
pet, and hear it crying for the cow! to hear a rooster crow, and hens
cackle, and have eggs to hunt after! I used to think, when I first came
on here, it would be music to hear a pig squeal.”

“I can give you music,” said Joe, and set up a cry so much like that
of a pig in his last agonies, that Sally was glad to stop her ears. He
then began to make a noise like a calf in trouble, which soon brought
the mother running from the woods, where she had been browsing upon
maples that Joe had cut down for her.

Peter Clash embraced the first opportunity in the spring to ship in a
fishing vessel, being in mortal fear of Uncle Isaac, who, Joe Griffin
had told him, had Indian blood in him, and would carry him into the
woods and roast him alive, as he had been taught to do among the
Indians. But he was determined, before he departed, to revenge himself
upon Uncle Isaac, and inflict some injury upon John Rhines. He hated
John, although he had never injured him, because he was a good boy,
and Uncle Isaac and everybody liked him. Although two years older, he
feared to attack him. He talked with the boys who were most under his
influence, and by ingenious falsehoods contrived to prejudice them
against him, by possessing them with the idea that John helped Uncle
Isaac set the trap, and was in the bushes with him watching them when
it sprung.

“I hate him, too,” said Jack Godsoe, whose mind Pete had completely
warped to his own interest, and who was also older than John, and a
smart, resolute boy.

“He thinks he’s too good to play with us, because his father is
captain, and lives in a big house, and because he goes with Uncle
Isaac; I hate him; let’s lick him, and take some of that grand feeling
out of him.”

They seated themselves on the beach, under a great willow that hung
over the bank, in earnest consultations as to the best means of
revenging themselves upon Uncle Isaac. Jack proposed they should pull
up his corn.

“That,” said Fred Williams, “is too much work, and he could plant it
over again.”

“Let us put his sheep in the well,” said Sam Smikes.

“It’s too near the house,” said Pete; “we shall be caught; besides, it
wouldn’t be bad enough for the ‘old cuss;’ he could get them out, and
would save the wool and the pelts, for they are not sheared. O! I’ll
tell you what we’ll do; we’ll kill his apple trees.”

Uncle Isaac had an orchard in full bearing, that he valued very highly,
having, at a great deal of labor and expense, obtained the trees of the
Rev. Samuel Deane, of Portland. They were most of them grafted,--a rare
thing in those parts at that day,--as Dr. Deane understood the art and
mystery of grafting. They determined to girdle all these trees, which
would be a most severe blow to Uncle Isaac, as he had watched over
them for twenty years; and they were now in full bearing, having been
planted on a burn among the ashes, and had thriven apace in the new,
strong soil. It could also be accomplished without risk of detection,
as the orchard was at a distance from the house. The meanness of the
act seemed greater, because of the generous nature of the owner, who
was not a niggard of his fruit, but gave the boys all the apples
and cider they wanted. The fact that this villanous plan was eagerly
assented to by the rest, shows to what an extent the example and
influence of Pete had corrupted these boys. They thought themselves
secure from interruptions, as they commanded from the place where they
sat a view of the whole beach, and, becoming excited, talked in a
louder tone than they were aware of.

“I’ll set a trap for him that will make him ache as much as his trap
did me,” said Pete, chuckling. But doubtful things are uncertain.

John’s mother had sent him on that morning after some willow bark,
to color with. He directed his steps to the great willow, and coming
upon the party before they were aware of it, heard the latter part of
their conversation. Pete espied him, and jumping up, in a pleasant tone
invited him to come down among them, when John, who had not heard that
portion of the consultation which related to himself, complied: they
all, at a wink from Pete, surrounded him, who now thought proper to
change his tone.

“You heard what we were saying about?” he inquired, pointing in the
direction of Uncle Isaac’s.


“And you’ll tell him of it?”


“Ain’t that just what I told you?” said he, turning to the other boys;
“just such a mean, low-lived fellow as he is; go and peach on his

“I should think if anything was mean, it was barking a man’s apple
trees in the night.”

Now, Pete was more anxious to bark the apple trees than he was to lick
John; so he replied,--

“Well, if we will promise to give it up, will you promise to say
nothing about it?”

Pete’s design in this was to prevent Uncle Isaac being put on his
guard, to bark the trees that night, and go off the next morning,
leaving the other boys to take the consequences. He knew if John gave
his word he’d keep it. But John fathomed their design; and although
_they_ could trust _him_, _he_ would not trust _them_, and refused.

At this Pete said, “You’re a mean fellow; I’ve owed you a hiding this
long time, and now you’ll get it.”

“You can’t begin to do it.”

“We all can,” cried Jack.

John, seeing there was no help for it, determined to have the first
blow, and before the words were fairly out of Jack’s mouth, knocked
him down; but as the ground was descending, and the sand afforded
poor footing, he fell forward with the force of his own blow, and
came upon one knee. They all piled on top, but John threw them off.
By a well-directed blow he sent Fred yelling from the conflict, and
would have gained his feet and handled the whole of them, had not Jack
recovered, and, catching him by the hair, pulled him down again.

“Now,” cried Pete, as cruel as he was cowardly, “let’s lick him within
an inch of his life.”

Finding he was to receive no quarter, John began to shout for aid. Tige
was sleeping in the sun before the door, as dogs always sleep, with one
ear open. The instant he heard the cry, he got up, stretched himself,
gaped, and listened. It was repeated. He leaped the front yard fence
at a bound, and in a moment was running full speed in the direction of
the noise. Captain Rhines, who recognized John’s voice, followed him. A
narrow path led down the bank to the beach, where the scuffle was going
on, and which was hard trodden and polished by the frequent tramping of
the boys, who resorted there to swing on the great willow, whose limbs
hung over the beach, and to make whistles. So headlong was the speed
of the dog, that, his feet slipping upon the smooth path, he turned a
complete somerset from the top to the bottom of the bank, and came down
upon his back among these little fiends, while employed in their work
of torture, thus affording them a moment’s respite while he was picking
himself up. With all the speed the fear of instant death could inspire,
they fled along the beach, with the exception of Smike, who, with great
presence of mind, catching a limb of the willow, was in a few moments
among its topmost branches, screaming with all his might. Pete was the
hindmost. With a horrible growl, Tige sprung upon him and crushed him
to the earth. He bit through both his hands, with which he strove to
defend his throat, tore away half of his chin, and, taking him by the
back, shook him as he would a woodchuck.

The dog now pursued Fred, whom he bit through both thighs and arms,
and, as the others were out of sight, would have killed him, had not
John compelled him to desist by cramming his cap into his mouth, and
coaxing and scolding him.

The Newfoundland dog is very slow to wrath, but ferocious enough when
once aroused. Tige’s rugged temper, excited by the strongest possible
provocation,--injury to the person of his friend,--was now thoroughly
up; his eyes were green with rage, his lips covered with foam; his
great tearing teeth stood out, and every hair on his body was erect.

As Captain Rhines came up, the blood was spirting in jets from Fred’s
right leg. “God o’ mercy!” cried he, “the arter is cut;” and, clapping
his thumb on the place, stopped the flow of blood in a moment.

“John,” cried he, “take off my garter and put it twice round his leg,
above the bite, and tie the ends together.”

John did as he was directed.

“Now get a stick and twist it.”

John twisted.

“Twist harder; twist with all your might. Now run to Dr. Ricker’s, and
tell him to come to our house with tools to tie an arter, as quick as
he can.”

“Will he die, father?”

“No; I hope not; but he would have been dead in two minutes more, if I
had not stopped that blood.”

He now took the boy in his arms, and carried him to his own house,
while Tige lay down at the foot of the willow to keep watch of Smike.

The doctor said that the boy must not be moved; and his mother came to
take care of him. John now went down, called off Tige, and liberated
Smike from the tree.

“John,” said the captain, after the excitement was over, “did you set
the dog on those boys?”

“No, father; they had me down on the ground, beating me; I screamed for
help, and Tige came and went right at ’em. I got him off of Fred as
soon as I could, but he wouldn’t mind me; and he was so savage I was
afraid of him myself.”

“What did they beat you for?”

“They were all sitting on the beach, planning out to pull Uncle Isaac’s
corn up, throw his sheep in the well, and girdle his apple trees;
because I overheard ’em, and wouldn’t promise not to tell him, they
pitched into me. I believe I could have whipped the whole of them, if I
hadn’t fell down.”

“I wouldn’t have believed that of boys raised round here; it’s a pity
Tige hadn’t finished that Pete; he was at the bottom of it.”

When Pete recovered from his wounds he left the place. The parents of
the others gave them a severe whipping, in consequence of which Jack
Godsoe ran away from home, but the others left off their tricks, and
became steady, industrious boys.

“On deck there!” cried Captain Rhines, from the roof of the house,
where he was stopping a leak.

“What is it, father?” said John.

“Tell your mother Ben has just come round Birch Point in his canoe, and
is going across to the island; I guess he wants to kiss Sally, for he’s
making the canoe go through the water like blazes.”

The next morning they saw him coming off in the canoe.

“Well, Ben,” said his father, after the greeting had passed, “when I
was young, folks didn’t go to sea without bidding their folks good by.
Now, give an account of yourself.”

Ben, who knew his father, old sailor like, would want to know the
details of the passage, said, “By twelve o’clock the first night I was
up with Purpooduck, right off the pitch of the cape; the wind was very
strong and steady from sunrise till midnight.”

“I know it was; for I was up watching it.”

“It then died away to a flat calm; and as the flood tide was drifting
me into Portland Sound, I anchored and made a fire.”

“What on?”

“A flat stone I carried; made a cup of tea, and slept till daylight,
when the wind, blowing the smoke in my face, woke me. The wind held,
and plenty of it. I run her all day and all night, and by eight o’clock
the next morning I was up with Cape Ann, when it fell calm. It was
flood tide; I went to sleep and let her drift. When I woke up, the tide
had carried me, with a little air of wind there was, up to East Point;
and, in the course of the day and night, I tied her to Long Wharf,
Boston--not much sorry.”

“What did Mr. Welch say?”

“He was somewhat astonished. There were hundreds of people on the
wharf to look at me or the raft, I don’t know which. I got there in a
good time. There were a great many vessels there, from Europe, after
spars--especially big masts. I sold enough to pay for half the island,
and I haven’t cleared a quarter of it; but that is not the best of it.”

“I should think that was good enough; what can be any better?”

“I sold all the timber that I used to confine the raft (and that was
full of holes) for wharf stuff--the cable, sail, everything but the
compass, canoe, and tea-kettle. I got a chance to pilot a French ship,
that was bound to Portland for lumber and horses, and got a round price
for it. They took the canoe on the ship’s deck. In Portland I found a
schooner bound to Nova Scotia; they took me to Gull Rock, and I rowed
home. Thus I got mighty good pay for doing my own work.”

“Well, Ben, at that rate I would cut every stick off the island, and
sell the island for whatever anybody, who is fool enough to live there,
will give, and come on to the main land, and buy a place among folks.”

“Not yet, father; that is, if Sally likes to live there. I wouldn’t
swap it for the best place and house in town.”

Ben was now reduced to a single yoke of oxen, as those he had hired
were needed at home, and without them he could not handle spars, which
must be hauled some distance; but on the eastern side of the island was
a place where the rocks, undermined by the frosts and sea, had fallen
into the water. He cut the trees around it into mill-logs that were not
fit for spars, rolled them down the chasm into the water, towed them to
the mill, bringing back the boards, and sticking them up on the shore
to season. Thus they worked all through the summer, despite of black
flies and mosquitos.

They then cut a lot of cedar, and piled it up to dry with the boards.

“What are you going to do with all this cedar?” said Joe; “and why
don’t you sell your boards at the mill, instead of bringing them back

“I won’t tell you,” said Ben; “so you needn’t ask me.”

In September, Joe, who had agreed to go on a fishing trip with John
Strout, left, and Ben was once more alone.

Let us now see how matters are going with Fred, who, by fright, wounds,
loss of blood, and remorse of conscience, was brought well nigh to
death’s door. For a long time he was so reduced, and in such a state of
stupor, as not to know where he was; but as he regained strength and
perception, it mortified and stung him to the quick to find himself in
the house, and the object of care and solicitude to those whom he had
so recently injured; for, notwithstanding the mean, cowardly treatment
John had received from Fred, he was unremitting in his attentions to
him,--sleeping in the same room, and ministering to all his wants. It
is wonderful to what lengths a boy of a naturally kind and generous
nature may be induced to go in wickedness,--and mean wickedness,
too,--through the influence of evil examples and companionship.

Such a boy was Fred; and this kind treatment was perfect torture. At
length he could bear it no longer; but upon a night when he had been
feverish and very restless, and John had been up great part of the
night, bathing his head, and giving him drink and medicines, he said,
while his voice was choked with sobs, “O, John, I don’t deserve all
this kindness at your hands; I don’t see how I could ever have gone in
with that miserable Pete, and those boys, to hurt you. If I ever get
well, I’ll be a better boy, and try to show you and your folks that I
am not ungrateful.”

He had made promises of amendment to John before, especially when
suffering under the smart of the fish-hook. They came from the lips
then--a repentance in view of consequences; but Tige’s teeth went
deeper than the fish-hook, and this time they came from the heart.

Little Fannie now came down to see her brother. The first thing she
did, upon entering the house, was to put both arms round Tige’s neck,
and tell him he shouldn’t be whipped if he did do naughty things, for
Captain Rhines said so.

Fred’s father was a stern, passionate man, who did not secure the
affections of his children. His mother was a fretful, teasing woman;
thought she had to work harder, and had more to try her than anybody
else in the world; didn’t see what she had so many children for; when
the window was down she wanted it up, and when it was up she wanted it
down; was never suited. She was a great deal more inclined to scold
her children for doing wrong, than to praise them for doing well. The
doctor said Fred would never get well, if his mother took care of him,
she kept such a fuss, and made him uneasy; so Mrs. Rhines told her
there were a good many of them, and they could take care of him as well
as not, and had plenty of room; that she had a great family, with much
to do, and young children; their dog did the harm, and they would take
care of him.

As Fred began to mend, Mrs. Rhines would take her work and sit down
by him in the afternoon, and talk with him as she did with her own
children; in her kind, motherly way, tell him of the results of vice,
and the inducements to a virtuous course; and, as the tears ran down
his cheeks, wiped them away, soothing and encouraging him, till the
boy’s inmost soul responded to her teachings. His eyes would light up
with satisfaction when he saw her take her knitting work to sit by his

Not long after Fred had given vent to his feelings, John, meeting Uncle
Isaac on the beach, said to him, “I believe Fred would be right glad to
see you, but don’t like to say so.”

“Well, I’ll happen in.”

So he happened in. What passed between them was never known; but the
next day Fred said to John, “Uncle Isaac’s a good man--ain’t he?”

“Good! He’s the goodest man that ever was.”

Not many days after he happened in again, when Fred said to him, “I
have an uncle in Salem that’s a tanner and shoemaker. He and I were
always great friends; he wants me to come and live with him, and learn
the trade. Father has said a great many times that I am such a bad boy,
and plague him so much, that he should be glad if I was there. I’ve
been thinking while on this bed, that since I have got such a bad name
round here, it would be a good thing to go where nobody knows me, or
what I have done, and begin brand fire new.”

“The tanner’s trade is a first-rate one, and I should like to have you
learn it; but the place where you have lost your character, Fred, is
the very place to get it again. There was a man lived in Rowley, who
was accused of stealing a sheep. He said he wouldn’t stay in a place
where he was so slandered, and moved to Newbury. He had not been there
a fortnight when the report came that he had stolen three sheep when he
lived in Rowley, and he moved back again.”

“But everybody will scorn me; and when I go to school the boys will
twit me of it, and holler after me when I go along the road.”

“No boy or man, whose opinion is worth minding, will do it when they
see you mean to mend; besides, you ought to be willing to suffer some
mortification on account of the sorrow you have caused your parents and
friends, and for all the mischief you have done, and meant to do.”

“That is true; and I _am_ willing they may say or do what they like;
I’ll _face_ it.”

“That’s right; that’s bravely spoken,” said Captain Rhines, laying
his great hand upon the pale forehead of the sick boy; “you’ll live
it down, and be thought more of for it. You see, my son, building
character is just like building a vessel. We build a vessel model,
fasten, spar, and rig her the best we know how, and _think_ she’ll
prove serviceable; still we don’t know that. But when she’s made a
winter passage across the western ocean, and the captain writes home
that she is tight, and sails and works well in all weathers, then you
see that vessel’s got a character; sailors like to go in her, and
merchants like to put freight in her. That will be the way with you;
people will say there’s good stuff at bottom in that boy; he’s been
through the mill.”

“But,” said the poor boy, “who will believe that I’m going to be a good
boy? and who will go with me at the first of it, while I’m proving

“John will go with you, and our girls.”

“I,” said Uncle Isaac, “will get Henry Griffin to go with you. Pete
tried to get hold of him, but he didn’t make out. I’ll get him to come
down and see you to-morrow.”

When the cool weather came on, Fred gained strength, went to school,
and began to help his father in the mill.

It was remarkable how soon people began to notice the change in him,
and to say, “What a smart boy Fred Williams is getting to be! and
how much help he is to his father!” He could not have been placed
in a better position to have his light shine, than in a mill, where
everybody in the whole town came, and were convinced of the shrewd
wisdom of Uncle Isaac’s declaration, that the place to look for a
thing was where you lost it; the place to regain confidence, where you
had forfeited it.

Our readers will recollect the longing for some kindred spirit near his
own age, which John expressed to his mother. That desire was now to
be gratified in a most wonderful manner, as will be seen in the next
volume of “Elm Island Stories,” entitled CHARLIE BELL, THE WAIF OF
ELM ISLAND; and we cannot help thinking it must have been as a
reward for his remarkable conduct towards Fred.


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Transcriber’s Note:

Punctuation has been standardised. Spelling and hyphenation have been
retained as they appear in the original publication. Changes have been
made as follows:

  Page 62
    I I love you well enough _changed to_
    I love you well enough

  Page 75
    and its all the thing on this earth  _changed to_
    and it’s all the thing on this earth

  Page 198
    and all kinds of boy’s sports _changed to_
    and all kinds of boys’ sports

  Page 244
    maltreat our prisoners in their hunks _changed to_
    maltreat our prisoners in their hulks

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