MoboReader > Literature > The First Capture; or, Hauling Down the Flag of England


The First Capture; or, Hauling Down the Flag of England By Harry Castlemon Characters: 12868

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

"Father, look at my face," said James, who was the first to begin the conversation. "Just look at it."

"Yes, I see it," said the old gentleman, angrily. "You have been having an argument with some of those young rebels and you have got the knock-down end of it. I will wager that Caleb Young and Enoch Crosby know something about it."

"They were both there," said James, seating himself on the steps, "but Caleb was the only one who struck me. Now, father, what am I going to do about it? I can't go around with my face this way."

"Do you mean to say that you gave up to Caleb and that he struck you only once?" exclaimed Mr. Howard. "You would make a pretty fight, you would."

"But, father, you don't know anything about the strength in that fellow's arms," whined James. "I would just as soon have a horse kick me. I want to see the magistrate about this."

"Let us go up there at once," said Mr. Howard, putting on his hat. "We don't want to let the grass grow under our feet until this thing is settled. These young rebels are getting altogether too brash. They want to be shut up for a while. I wish I had them in England. When they were there, they would find themselves among gentlemen, and they could not talk as they pleased."

"Do you believe you can put him under lock and key for hitting me?" said James. He began to be all excitement now. To see Caleb Young put in jail for what he had done would be ample recompense for him.

"I assure you that I am going to try it. How did the argument begin in the first place?"

James hesitated when his father propounded this question. When he came to think the matter over he found that he had given Caleb good reason for knocking him down. He might have to make the complaint under oath when he came before the magistrate, and he concluded that it was best to tell the truth while he was about it.

"I said that all those who were in that massacre would be hung some day," began James.

"Good enough. You told him the truth."

"And I told him that if he were there I would be one of the first to grab the rope and haul him up," continued James. "Caleb or Enoch, I have forgotten which one, replied that if he went and talked that way about his neighbors, he ought to be hanged."

"And he knocked you down for that?" exclaimed Mr. Howard. "You did perfectly right in saying what you did, and if I were magistrate I would shut him up for two or three days at least."

These last words were spoken as they were passing along the streets toward the magistrate's office. There were many people loitering about, for the news of the battle of Lexington had not been thoroughly discussed, and the inhabitants of Machias could not get over it. Every one knew what was the matter with James without any telling. The provincials smiled and nodded their heads in a way that showed young Howard that he was served just right, while the Tories grew angrier than ever, and insisted on hearing all about it. Before reaching the magistrate's office James began to think that he was something of a hero in town, and fully expected to see Caleb shut up for a long time.

When they arrived at their journey's end they found the magistrate there as well as two constables, who were hanging around for a chance to serve some papers which were slowly being made out for them. The magistrate was surprised when he saw such a company of men coming into his office, for be it known that a good many people, both Tories and provincials, had turned about and gone with them. They wanted to see what was going to be done in regard to it.

"Bless us!" he exclaimed, when he saw James' battered face. "What have you been doing?"

"I have not been doing anything," said James, in an injured tone. "A young rebel got mad at me for something I had said and knocked me down."

"Aha! A young rebel!" said the magistrate, the scowl deepening upon his forehead; for he was one of those "aggressive" Tories who believed in making war upon all those people who did not hold to his own opinions. "Do you want to make out a complaint against him? I will fine him a pound at least. These rebels have got to be kept within bounds. I will make out the papers right away. Here are two constables ready to serve them," he added, speaking in a low tone to Mr. Howard. "You had better have two go with them, for there are some rebels around here and maybe they will stand by to protect him."

The magistrate made a great flourish and prepared to go on with his warrant, while James and his father took time to look about upon the crowd that had followed them in. There were more rebels than Tories in the party, and that was easy enough to be seen. Some of the former exchanged a few words in whispered consultation and then went out, but the Tories stood their ground.

"There!" said the magistrate, who at last turned about with the completed document in his hand. "Kelly, take this, go up to Young's house and arrest Caleb in the name of the king. I need not add that if he does not come you will call upon any man present to help you."

"I don't know as I had better go up there alone," whispered the constable. "The rebels are out in full force."

"Then take Nolton with you. You surely do not need two constables to arrest a boy! Take notice of the way he acts and I will fine him for that, too."

The constables went out reluctantly, for they were about to undertake something which the magistrate himself would have shrunk from if he had been in their place. After thinking a moment Mr. Howard drew nearer to the judge.

"You spoke of fining that boy just now," said he. "What is there to hinder you from shutting him up for three or four days? If the rebels are to be held within bounds, I don't know of a better way of doing than that."

"That is what I think," whispered the magistrate. "But you can't do that for assault and battery. If you could prove that he tried to kill James, why then--"

"How do we know that he did not try to kill him?" asked Mr. Howard. "He knocked him down and there he let him lie."

"Well, we will see about it when he comes. I will shut him up if I can."

Meanwhile the two constables had gone on toward Caleb Young's house, where they found his mother, who was overcome with alarm when they told her that they had come for the purpose of arresting her son. Caleb was not at home, she said; she had not seen him since that man br

ought the news of the battle of Lexington. She guessed he was down at Crosby's house; but what did they want to arrest him for? The constables gave her no satisfaction on this point, but came out and hurried toward Enoch's. They entered without ceremony[5] and found Caleb seated at the table with his friend enjoying breakfast. He had left home before breakfast was ready.

"Ah! Here you are," said Kelly. "Come on. We want you."

It was just what Caleb expected. The boys had been obliged to tell Mrs. Crosby that they had a skirmish with James Howard in front of the house, because she knew it all along. The tussle that Enoch made in getting Caleb into the house had told her that there was something unusual going on, and she was anxious to know all about it.

"I am ready," said Caleb, "at any time you are."

"Caleb, you did not kill him?" exclaimed Mrs. Crosby.

"Oh no," replied Caleb, with a laugh. "I told you that I just knocked him down. It will teach him better than to talk of hauling honest boys up with a rope."

Enoch had sat there talking with Caleb while the latter was eating his breakfast, and had never thought of saying a word; but when he saw his friend rise to his feet and pick up his hat, he took it as a signal that it was high time he was doing something. He jumped up and ran out of the house bareheaded and hurried off to find Zeke Lewis. He burst open the door without waiting to knock, and caught Zeke in the act of picking his teeth after enjoying a comfortable breakfast.

"Say, Zeke, the Tories have come to arrest Caleb!" said he, so impatient to tell what he knew that he could scarcely speak the words plainly.

"Do tell!" exclaimed Zeke. "What has he been a-doing of?"

"He knocked down James Howard," said Enoch.

"Serves him right. He has been saying something that he had no business to say. What did he get out this time."

Enoch repeated the conversation that his friend had with James, and Zeke all the time nodded his head as if he knew all about it. When Enoch had finished Zeke wanted to know how he could assist him.

"They are going to fine him for hitting that cowardly Tory, and Caleb has not got any money," said he. "He will have to go to jail, and I will wager that that is where James wants him to be."

"He ain't got no money, ain't he? Well, I have been that way myself, and we will see what we can do to help him out."

It was strange what an uproar the giving of a warrant for the arrest of Caleb Young made in the village. Those "rebels" who had pushed their way out of the court-room while James was making his complaint had found plenty of friends to tell it to, and by the time they reached the street they saw any number of people, all hastening with eager footsteps toward the magistrate's office. When Zeke and Enoch arrived in front of the store, in the back part of which the judge held his court, they found the apartment jammed and the highway for twenty feet each way was packed full.

"Zeke," said a companion, "you don't get a show here."

"I must," replied Zeke. "I have got to see that fellow out."

"Well, get in if you can and if you want any help, just sing out."

It was a matter of some difficulty for Zeke to work his way through the crowd and up within sight of the magistrate's desk, but his size and weight had a good deal to do with it, and Enoch kept close behind him. When he got near enough to the desk he could hear that the magistrate was talking to the prisoner.

"And so you knocked James down?" was the question he heard.

"Yes, sir, I did," answered Caleb. "He said that--"

"I don't want to hear what he said," interrupted the magistrate. "I want to know what you did. You knocked him down and left him lying there. You did not care whether you killed him or not. I shall have to fine you one pound and costs."

If the magistrate had said that he would fine Caleb one hundred pounds he would have stood just about as much chance of getting it as he did to fine him one pound. Caleb had never seen so much money in his life, and he wondered where in the world it was to come from. Seeing that he hesitated, the magistrate went on.

"If you cannot pay that one pound I shall have to shut you up for twenty days," said he. "You will then pay it at the rate of one shilling a day. I think if more of you rebels were shut up, we should have peace here in the colonies."

Zeke had heard all he wanted to hear. It was enough for him to know that the magistrate wanted to shut up the rebels for a while, and that was more than they had power to do. Working his way further toward the desk he seized Caleb by the arm and pulled him back by his side; after which he placed his arms on his hips and looked at the magistrate as if to ask him what he was going to do about it.

"What do you mean by such work as that?" demanded the judge. "We have two constables here--"

"I don't care if you have a dozen," replied Zeke, and his composure was not in the least ruffled by what had happened. "That boy ain't a-going to be shut up, and, furthermore, he has not money to pay his fine. You know that as well as I do. The only thing you can do, judge, is to let him go."

"Hear, hear!" exclaimed one of Zeke's supporters.

"Keep silence in the court-room," exclaimed the magistrate. "Kelly, you and Norton arrest the first man who interrupts me. Zeke Lewis, I will fine you ten pounds and--"

"You will fine nobody nothing," said Zeke. "Come on, Caleb. Let us go home."

"C-C-Caleb, don't you stir one peg from where you are," stammered the magistrate. "Norton, arrest him if he moves."

He was evidently frightened, for it was all he could do to keep up a steady tone of voice. On looking around he could see no Tories present except the constables. The others had gone out as soon as Zeke made a move, and there was no one left to help him. Zeke showed what he thought of the magistrate's order by pulling Caleb's arm through his own and starting for the door with him. The provincials moved on one side to let him pass, and two or three of them gave him a cheer. The magistrate was utterly confounded. He called upon the constables to do their duty, but none of them moved from his place. A glance into the eyes of the "rebels" standing around was enough to satisfy them that they had better keep their hands off. That was the first rebellion that had ever taken place in Machias.

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