Puritan Twins - Lucy F. Perkins

On Board the Lucy Ann

[Illustration] from Puritan Twins by Lucy F. Perkins

The family rose at daybreak the next morning, tasks were quickly performed, and after breakfast the Goodman read a chapter in the Bible and prayed long and earnestly that God would bless their journey, protect those who were left behind, and bring them all together again in safety. Then he and Daniel started down the path to the river, with Nancy and her mother, both looking very serious, following after. The tide was already coming in, and the bay stretched before them a wide sheet of blue water sparkling in the sun. In the distance they could see the sails of the Lucy Ann being hoisted and Captain Sanders in his small boat rowing rapidly toward the landing-place.

"Ship ahoy!" shouted Daniel, waving his cap as the boat approached.

"Ahoy, there!" answered the Captain, and in a moment the keel grated on the sand, and the Goodman turned to his wife and daughter.

"The Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other," he said reverently, and "Amen!" boomed the Captain. Then there were kisses and good-byes, and soon Nancy and her mother were alone on the shore, waving their hands until the boat was a mere speck on the dancing blue waters. As it neared the Lucy Ann, they went back to the cabin, and there they watched the white sails gleaming in the sun until they disappeared around a headland.

"Come, Nancy," said her mother when the ship was quite out of sight, "idleness will only make loneliness harder to bear. Here is a task for thee." She handed her a basket of raw wool. "Take this and card it for me to spin."

Nancy hated carding with all her heart, but she rose obediently, brought the basket to the doorway, and, sitting down in the sunshine, patiently carded the wool into little wisps ready to be wound on a spindle and spun into yarn by the mother's skillful hands.

Meanwhile Daniel was standing on the deck of the Lucy Ann, drinking in the fresh salt breeze and eagerly watching the shores as the boat passed between Charlestown and Boston and dropped anchor in the harbor to set the Captain's lobster-pots. All the wonderful bright day they sailed past rocky islands and picturesque headlands, with the Captain at the tiller skillfully keeping the vessel to the course and at the same time spinning yarns to Daniel and his father about the adventures which had overtaken him at various points along the coast. At Governor's Island he had caught a giant lobster. He had been all but wrecked in a fog off Thompson's Island.

[Illustration] from Puritan Twins by Lucy F. Perkins

"Ye see that point of land," he said, waving his hand toward a rocky promontory extending far out into the bay. "That's Squantum. Miles Standish of Plymouth named it that after an Indian that was a good friend of the Colony in the early days. Well, right off there I was overhauled by a French privateer once. 'Privateer' is a polite name for a pirate ship. She was loaded with molasses, indigo, and such from the West Indies, and I had a cargo of beaver-skins. If it had n't been that her sailors was mostly roarin' drunk at the time, it's likely that would have been the end of Thomas Sanders, skipper, sloop, and all, but my boat was smaller and quicker than theirs, and, knowing these waters so well, I was able to give 'em the slip and get out into open sea; and here I be! Ah, those were the days!"

The Captain heaved a heavy sigh for the lost joys of youth and was silent for a moment. Then his eyes twinkled and he began another story. "One day as we was skirtin' the shores of Martha's Vineyard," he said, "we were followed by a shark. Now, there's nothing a sailor hates worse than a shark; and for good reasons. They're the pirates of the deep; that's what they are. They'll follow a vessel for days, snapping up whatever the cook throws out, and hoping somebody'll fall overboard to give 'em a full meal. Well, sir, there was a sailor aboard on that voyage that had a special grudge against sharks. He'd been all but et up by one once, and he allowed this was his chance to get even; so he let out a hook baited with a whole pound of salt pork, and the shark gobbled it down instanter, hook and all. They hauled him up the ship's side, and then that sailor let himself down over the rails by a rope, and cut a hole in the shark's gullet, or whatever they call the pouch the critter carries his supplies in, and took out the pork. Then he dropped him back in the water and threw the pork in after him. Well, sir, believe it or not, that shark sighted the pork bobbing round in the water; so he swallowed it again. Of course it dropped right out through the hole in his gullet, and, by jolly! as long as we could see him that shark was continuing to swallow that piece of pork over and over again. I don't know as I ever see any animal get more pleasure out of his rations than that shark got out of that pound of pork. I believe in bein' kind to dumb critters," he finished, "and I reckon the shark is about the dumbdest there is. Anyhow that one surely did die happy." Here the Captain solemnly winked his eye.

"What became of the sailor?" asked Dan.

"That sailor was me," admitted the Captain. "That's what became of him, and served him right, too."

They slept that night on the deck of the sloop, and before light the next morning Dan was awakened by the groaning of the chain as the anchor was hauled up, and the flapping of the sails as Timothy hoisted them to catch a stiff breeze which was blowing from the northeast. The second day passed like the first. The weather was fine, the winds favorable, and that evening they rounded Duxbury Point and entered Plymouth Bay just as the sun sank behind the hills back of the town.

"Here's the spot where the Mayflower dropped anchor," said the Captain, as the sloop approached a strip of sandy beach stretching like a long finger into the water. "I generally bring the Lucy Ann to at the same place. She can't go out again till high tide to-morrow, for the harbor is shallow and we'd likely run aground; so ye'll have the whole morning to spend with your relations, and that's more than I'd want to spend with some of mine, I'm telling ye," and he roared with laughter. "Relations is like victuals," he went on. "Some agrees with ye, and some don't."

"Our relations are the Bradfords," said Goodman Pepperell with dignity.

"And a better man than the Governor never trod shoe-leather," said the Captain heartily. "He and Captain Standish and Mr. Brewster and Edward Winslow—why, those four men have piloted this town through more squalls than would overtake most places in a hundred years! If anything could kill 'em they would have been under ground years ago. They've had starvation and Indians and the plague followin' after 'em like a school of sharks ever since they dropped anchor here well nigh on to twenty years ago, and whatever happens they just thank the Lord as if 'twas a special blessing and go right along! By jolly!" declared the Captain, blowing his nose violently, "they nigh about beat old Job for patience! 'Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him,' says old Job, but his troubles was all over after a bit, and he got rewarded with another full set of wives and children and worldly goods, so he could see plain as print that righteousness paid. But these men,—their reward for trouble is just more trouble, fer 's I can see. They surely do beat all for piety."

"'Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth,'" quoted the Goodman.

"The Lord must be mighty partial to Plymouth, then," answered the Captain as he brought the sloop gently round the point, "for she 's been shown enough favor to spile her, according to my way of thinkin'."

[Illustration] from Puritan Twins by Lucy F. Perkins

It was too late to go ashore that night, and from the deck Dan watched the stars come out over the little village, not dreaming that it held in its humble keeping the brave spirit of a great nation that was to be.

When Daniel opened his eyes next morning, his father and the Captain were already stowing various packages in the small boat, and from the tiny forecastle came an appetizing smell of frying fish.

"Here ye be," said the Captain cheerily to Dan, "bright as a new shilling and ready to eat I'll be bound. As soon as we've had a bite we'll go ashore. I've got to row clear over to Duxbury after I do my errands in Plymouth, but I'll hunt ye up when I get back. Nobody can get lost in this town without he goes out of it! I could spot ye from the deck most anywhere on the map. Then, my lad, if your father says the word, I'll bring ye back to the Lucy Ann while he goes across the neck. Ye'll get a taste of mackerel-fishing if ye come along o' me. Ye can make yourself handy on deck and keep a quarter of your own catch for yourself if you're lively. A tub of salt fish would be a tidy present to your mother when you get back home."

"Oh, I want to go with you," cried Daniel, remembering with terror what was expected of him in the way of manners should he be invited to stay at the Governor's. He looked questioningly at his father, but was answered only by a grave smile, and he knew better than to plead.

"Here, now," cried the Captain, as Timothy appeared with a big trencher of smoking fish and corn bread, "tie up to the dock and stow away some of this cargo in your insides."

Neither Daniel nor his father needed a second invitation, for the keen salt air had given them the appetite of wolves, and the breakfast was soon disposed of according to directions. Then the two followed the Captain over the side and into the boat, which had been lowered and was now bobbing about on the choppy waves of the bay. When they were settled and the boat was properly trimmed, the Captain rowed toward a small stream of clear water which flowed down from the hills back of the town, and landed them at the foot of the one little street of the village. The Captain drew the boat well up on the shore and stowed letters and parcels in various places about his person, and the three started up the hill together. They had not gone far, when a childish voice shouted, "There's Captain Sanders," and immediately every child within hearing came tumbling down the hill till they swarmed about him like flies about a honey-pot.

[Illustration] from Puritan Twins by Lucy F. Perkins

"Pirates!" cried the Captain, holding up his hands in mock terror. "I surrender. Come aboard and seize the cargo!" He held open the capacious pocket which hung from his belt, and immediately half a dozen small hands plunged into it and came out laden with raisins.

"Here, now, divide fairly," shouted the Captain. "No pigs!" and with children clinging to his hands and coat-tails he made a slow progress up the hill, Daniel and his father following closely in his wake.

As they were nearing the Common House, two more children caught sight of him and came racing to meet him. The Captain dived into his pocket for more raisins and found it empty, but he was equal to the emergency. "Here, you, Mercy and Joseph Bradford," he cried, "I've brought you something I have n't brought to any one else. I've brought you a new cousin." The other children had been so absorbed in their old friend they had scarcely noticed the strangers hitherto, but now they turned to gaze curiously at Daniel and his father. Joseph and Mercy were both a little younger than Daniel, and all three were shy, but no one could stay shy long when the Captain was about, and soon they were walking along together in the friendliest manner.

"Where's thy father, young man?" said the Captain, speaking to Joseph. "I have a letter for him, and I have brought a relation for him too."

"I wish you would bring me a cousin," said one little girl enviously.

"Well, now," roared the Captain, "think of that! I have a few relations of my own left over that I'd be proper glad to parcel out amongst ye if I'd only known ye was short, but I have n't got 'em with me."

"Father's in there," said Joseph, pointing to the Common House. "They 're having a meeting. Elder Brewster's there, too, and Mr. Winslow and Captain Standish and Governor Prence." It was evident that some matter of importance was being discussed, for a little knot of women had gathered before the door as if waiting for some decision to be announced.

They had almost reached the group, when suddenly from the north there came a low roaring noise, and the earth beneath their feet shook and trembled so violently that many of the children were thrown to the ground, while the bundles Goodman Pepperell was carrying for the Captain flew in every direction. Those who kept their feet at all reeled and staggered in a strange, wild dance, and every child in the group screamed with all his might. The women screamed, too, calling frantically to the children, and the men came pouring out of the door of the Common House, trying to steady themselves as they were flung first one way, then another by the heaving ground. It lasted but a few dreadful moments, and the Captain was the first to recover his speech.

"There, now," said he, a little breathlessly, "ain't it lucky I had my sea legs on! 'Twa'n't anything but an earthquake, anyway."

The instant they could stay on their feet, the children ran to their mothers, who were also running to them, and in less time than it takes to tell it the whole village was gathered before the Common House. As Daniel, with the Captain and his father, joined the stricken company, Governor Bradford was speaking. He had been Governor of the Colony for so long that in time of sudden stress the people still turned to him for counsel though Mr. Prence was really the Governor.

"Think ye not that the finger of the Lord would direct us by this visitation?" he said to the white-faced group. "We were met together in council because some of our number wish to go away from Plymouth to find broader pastures for their cattle, even as Jacob separated from Esau with all his flocks and herds. In this I see a sign of God's displeasure at our removals one from another."

John Howland now found his voice. "Nay, but," he said, "shall we limit the bounty of the Lord and say, 'Only here shall He prosper us'?"

"What say the Scriptures to him who was not content with abundance, but must tear down his barns to build bigger?" answered the Governor. "'This night thy soul shall be required of thee.'"

There was no reply, and the pale faces grew a shade paler as a second rumble was heard in the distance, the earth again began to tremble, and a mighty wave, rolling in from the sea, crashed against the shore. Above the noise of the waters rose the voice of Governor Bradford. "He looketh upon the earth and it trembleth. He toucheth the hills and they smoke. The Lord is merciful and gracious. He will not always chide, neither will He keep his anger forever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins."

Seeing how frightened the people were, the Captain broke the silence which fell upon the trembling group after the Governor's words. "Lord love ye!" he cried heartily. "This wa'n't no earthquake to speak of. 'T wa'n't scarcely equal to an ague chill down in the tropics! They would n't have no respect for it down there. 'Twould n't more than give 'em an appetite for their victuals."

His laugh which followed cheered many hearts, and was echoed in faint smiles on the pale faces of the colonists. Governor Bradford himself smiled and, turning to the Captain, held out his hand. "Thou art ever a tonic, Thomas," he said, "and there is always a welcome for thee in Plymouth and for thy friends, too," he added, turning to the Goodman.

"Though thou knowest him not, he is haply more thy friend than mine," said the Captain, pushing the Goodman and Daniel forward to shake hands with the Governor, "He is married to Mistress Bradford's niece and his name is Pepperell."

"Josiah Pepperell, of Cambridge?" said the Governor's lady, coming forward to welcome him.

"At your service, madam," answered the Goodman, bowing low, "and this is my son Daniel."

Daniel bowed in a manner to make his mother proud of him if she could have seen him, and then Mercy and Joseph swarmed up, bringing their older brother William, a lad of fifteen, to meet his new cousin, and the four children ran away together, all their tongues wagging briskly about the exciting event of the day. The earthquake had now completely passed, and the people, roused from their terror, hastened to their homes to repair such damage as had been done and to continue the tasks which it had interrupted. Meanwhile the Captain distributed his letters and parcels, leaving the Governor to become acquainted with his new relative, learn his errand, and help him on his journey, while his wife hastened home to prepare a dinner for company.

It was a wonderful dinner that she set before them. There were succotash and baked codfish, a good brown loaf, and pies made of blueberries gathered and dried the summer before. Oh, if only Daniel's mother could have been there to see his table manners on that occasion! He sat up as straight as a ramrod, said "please" and "thank you," ate in the most genteel manner possible, even managing blueberry pie without disaster, and was altogether such an example of behavior that Mistress Bradford said before the meal was half over, "Thou 'lt leave the lad with us, Cousin Pepperell, whilst thou art on thy journey?"

"I fear to trouble thee," said the Goodman. "And the Captain hath a purpose to take him to Provincetown and meet me here on my return."

"The land is mayhap safer than the sea should another earthquake visit us," said the Governor gravely, "and he will more than earn his keep if he will but help William with the corn and other tasks. Like thyself we are in sad need of more hands."

Daniel looked eagerly at his father, for he already greatly admired his cousin William and longed to stay with him. Moreover, the earthquake had somewhat modified his appetite for adventure.

"His eyes plead," said the Goodman, "and I know it would please his mother. So by your leave he may stay."

A whoop of joy from the three young Bradfords was promptly suppressed by their mother. "For shame!" she said. "Thy cousin Daniel will think thou hast learned thy manners from the savages. Thou shouldst take a lesson from his behavior."

Poor Daniel squirmed on his stool and thought if he must be an example every moment of his stay he would almost choose being swallowed up by a tidal wave at sea after all. The matter had been settled, however, and that very afternoon the Goodman set off on a hired horse, with his musket across his saddle-bow, and a head full of instructions from the Governor about the dangers of the road, and houses where he might spend the nights.

There was a queer lump in Daniel's throat as he caught the last glimpse of his father's sturdy back as it disappeared down the forest trail, and that night, when he went to bed with William in the loft of the Governor's log house, he thought long and tenderly of his mother and Nancy. If he had only had a magic mirror such as Beauty had in the palace of the Beast, he might have looked into it and seen them going patiently about their daily tasks with nothing to break the monotonous routine of work except a visit from Gran'ther Wattles, who came to see if Nancy knew her catechism. The earthquake had been felt there so very slightly that they did not even know there had been one, until the Captain stopped on his return voyage the next week to bring them word of the safe journey to Plymouth.