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Rebecca, The Drummer

Rebecca, The Drummer image
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It was about nine o'clock in the njornnig wheu ibe ship flrst appeared. At .mee there was the greateBt excitement in the vülage, it was a BntÍ8h war-ship. What wuuld she do!' Would she tack iDoui in the bay to piek up stray coast ers as pnze, or would sbe land soldiers to uuru the town Í In either case lüere wuuld be trcuble enough. Tüose were sad days, those old warames in 1812. The sight of a British war sbip in Boston Bay was not pleasaut. We were poor then, and had no monitors to go out and 6ink the eneniy or diive hmi off Oar navy was small, and, tuough we ai'ter'wards had the ictoiy and sent the troublesome ships away, uHver to return, at that time they otten oauie near enough, and the good peuple in the little village of Scituate Harbor were in great distress over the il range ship that had appeared at the uiouth of the harbor. It was a fi hing place in those days, rtiid the haruor was full of smacks and HOHts of all kiuds The soldiers could easily enter the harbor and burn up eveiything. and noonecouldpreventthem. l'here were men enough to uiake a good iigljt, but tbey were poorly armed, and uad uuthing but fowling-pieces and shotguus, whiie tne soldiers had niuskets and 0 llllldll. The tide was down during the rxiornng, so that there was no danger íor a f-w hours, and all the people went out on 1 be cliffs and beaches to watch the ship n..d to see what would happen next. On the eud of the low, sandy spit that uiakes one Bide of the harbor, stood the mtle white tower known as the Suituate Light. In the house behind tho light iivtd the keeper's family, oonsisting of uiiuself, wite, and several boys aud girls. At the tuue thH ship appeared the keeper as away, and there was uo one at home save Mi. Bates, tho eldest daughter, Reuecca, about fourieen yearB old, two ot i he httle boys, aud a youug girl named dai ah Winsoi, wlio was a visitor. Rebec ca had been the tirst to discover the ship, while she was up in the light-house towli' pohsuing the rfleeior. She at once descended ihe steep stairs and sent off the iioys lo the village to give the alarm au honr or two, the ship tacked md btoud off to sea, tbeu tacked again, and made tor the shore. Men, women, aud cbildren watched her with anxious interest. Tbeu the tide turued and begaii tu flow into the harbor. The boats aiound ttie flats floated, and those in deep water swuug rouud at their moorings. Now the uoldiers would probably laad if the people meant to save anthing it was tune to be stitrmg. Boats were hastily put out trom the whart, and such clothuig, nets and otber valuables as ;iuid be hamlled were brought ashore, lo-idfd mto hny earts and carried away" It was of uo use to resist. The sol'tiers, ol cuurse, werewell armed, and it the puopie m.ide a staud auiong the Uiiust-s, that wouid not prevent theeneuiy irotli destroying the shipping. A tiie tide spread out over the sandy flats it fiüed the hiubor so that, instead of a sinall channel, it became a wide aud iieaiititül bny. The day was fine, aud there was a gentle breeze ripplmg the svater and uiaking it shiue in the sun. What a splendid day for fishing or sailnig! Not luuch use to thmk of either hile that war-ship crossed and recrossed üefore ihe harbur's inouth. About two o'clock the tide reached high water mark, and, to the disuiay ot ihe people, the fehip let go her anchor, swuug her yards round, and lay quiet about half a-mile froui the first cliff They wrre going to land to burn the town. Wüh their spy-glasses the people could ste the boats lowered to take the soidiers ashore. Ah! theu there was confusión and up■oar. Every horse in the village was put mto soine kiud of teaiu, and the woiuen and children were hurried off to the woods bnbind the towu. Tbe men would stiiy and offer as brave a resistance as pasable. Their guns were light and poor, but they conld use the old fishhuiises as a fort, and perhaps make a brave fight of it. If worse carne to worse, tuey could at last retreat and take to the shelter of the woods. It was a splendid sight. Pive large boats, manned by sailors, and filled with soldiers in gay red coats. How their guns ghttered iu the sun ! The oars all moved together in regular order, and thfe ofh'cers in theii fine uuiforms stood up to direct the expedition. It was a courageius compauy come with a war-Bhip and canuon to tight helpless fishermeu. So Rebecca Bates and Sarah Winsor thought, as they sat np iu the light-house tower looking down on ihe harbor. " üii ! If I only were a man !" cried Rebecca. " What could you do? See what a lot of theiu ; and look at their guns!" "I don't care I'd fight. l'd use fíither's old shot-gun - anything. ThinK oí uncle's new boat and sloop !' ' Yes, and uil the boats." " It's too bad ; isn't it 't" "Yes; and to think we must sit here and see it all and not lift a fínger to help." "Doyoutbink there will be a fight?" " I don't kuow. Uncle and father are in the village, and they will do all they can." "See bow still it is in town. There's not 11 man to be seen." "Oh, they are hiding till the soldiers ret uearer. Then we'll hear the shots and i he drum." " Th drum ! How can they ? It's here. Father brought it home to uiend it last night." " Did he 't Oh ! then let's " " See, tbe first boat has reaohed the sloop. "Oh ! oh ! They are going to burn her." "lau't it mean 'f' " It's too bad ! - too " " Where is that drum 't" " It's in the kitchen." " I've a great mind to go down and beat it." " What good would that do 'i" " Scare 'eni." " They'd Ree it was only two girls, and they wolW laugh and go on burning just tne same." " No, we could hide behind the Band hills and the bushes. Come let's " " Oh, look I look I the sloop's afire I" " Come, I cau't stay and see it any mors. The cowardly Britiahera to burn the the boats ! Why don't they go up to the town and fight like " " Come, let's gut the drum. It'll do no hariu ! and perhaps " " Well, let's. There's the fife, too ; we might take that with us." " Yes ; and we'll " No time for further talk. Down the step stairs ot' the tower rushed these two youug patriota, bent on doing what they eoutd for their country. They buist into the kitchen like a whirlwind, with rosy cbeek and flying hair. Mrs. Bates sat sorrowfully gaziug out of the window at the soene of de&truction going on in the harbor, and praying tor her country and that the dreadful war might soon be over. She could not help. Sun aud husband vere shouldering their poor old guns in the ton, and there was nothing to do but to watch and wait aud pray. Not so with the two girle. They meant to do bomething, and in a fever of excitement, they got the drum and took the crucked iife f rom the bureau drawer. Mrs. Bates, intent on the scène outside, did not heed theoi, and they slipped out by the back door, unnoticed. They must be careful, or the soldiers would see them. They went rouud back of tho house to the north and towards the outside beach, and then turned and plowed throiigh the deep sand just above high water mark. They must keep out ot sight of the boats, and of the ship, also. Luckily, she was anchored to the south ot the light ; and as the beach curved to the west, they soon left her out of sight. Then they took to the water side, and, with the drum between them, ran as fast as they could towards the mainland. Pre8ently they reached the low heaps of sand that showed where the sxlit joined the tields and wood. Pantiug and excited, they tightened up the drum and tried the fife softly. "You, take the fife, Sarah, and 111 drum." ' All right ! but we mustn't stand still. We must march along the shore towards the light." "Won't they see us?' " No. Ww'li walk next the water on the outside beach." " Oh, yes, and they'll think it's soldiers going down to the Point to head 'ein off.1' ' Just so. Come, begin ! Oue, two,- one, two!" Dium! drum!! drum!!! Squeak ! squeak !! squeak !!! " For'ard- niarch !" "Ha! ha!" The fife stopped. " Don't laugh. You'll spoil everything, and I cau't pucker iny iips." Drum! drum!! drum!!! Kqueiik ! squeak !! squeak !!! men in the towu heard it and were atnazed beyond measure. Had the. sol diers arrived trom Boston 't What did it mean 't Who were coming 't -Louder and louder on the breeze came the roll ot a sturdy drum and the sound ot a brave fife. The soldiers in the boats heard the uoise and paused in their work o aestruction. The otlicers ordered every body iuto the boats in the greatest haste. The people were rising ! They were coinlug down the poiut with citunou, to head them otf! They would all be captured, and perhaps hung by the dreadful Amari cans ! How the drum rolled ! The fiie uhauged its tune. It played " Yankee Doodte," that hurrid tune ! Hark ! The uieu were cheeiing in the town; there were thousands of them in the woods along the shore ! In firiu sileuce marched the two girls, - ploddiug over the sharp stones, splashïug through the puddles, - Kebecca beating the oid drum with might and maiu. Sarah blowing the fite with shrill deter tuinatiÓD. How the Britishers scrambled into their boats ! üue of the brave oflieers was iiearly lelt behind on the burniug sloop. Auotlier teil over board and wet nis gooü uiuihes, in his haste to escape iioui the Amtricau army' marchiug down the ueach- a thousand stroug ! How the smiors pulled ! No fancy rowing uow, but Jesperate haste to get out of the place .tud escape to theship. How the people yelled and cheered on the shore! Fifty men or more jumped ïtito boats to prepare for the chase. Kinging shots began to crack over the water. Louder and louder rollod the terrible drum. Sharp and clear rang out the uruel fife. Nearly exhausted, half dead with fa tigue, thj girls toiled on,- tearful, laughlug, ready to drop on the wet saud, aud still beating and blowing with fiery courage. The boats swept swiftly out of the harbor on the outgoiug tide. The fisheruieu came up with the burniug buats. Part stopped to put out the tires, and ihe rest pursued the flyiug eneluy with such shots as they couid get at ihem. In the luidst of it all, the sun went down. Tüe red-coats did not return a shot. They expefted every minute to see a thousand men opea on them at short range from the beach, and they reserved their powder. Out of the harbor they went in confusión and dismay. The ship weighed anchor and ran out her big guns, but did not fire a shot. Darkness teil down on the scène as the boats reached the ship. Tnen she sent a rouud shot toward the light. It feil short and threw a great lountain of white water into the air. The girls saw it, and dropping their drum and fife, sat down on the beach and laugbed tí 11 they cried. That night the ship sailed away. The great American army of two had arrived, and she thought it wise to retreat in time! Eebecca is still living, old and feeble in body, but brave in spuit and strong in patriotism. She told this story hertelf to


Old News
Michigan Argus