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: 12714

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

To say that the magistrate was intensely surprised by the rebellion that had taken place in his office, would be putting it very mildly. He was completely taken aback, so much so, that, when he saw the coat tails of the last provincial disappearing through the door, he settled back in his chair, let his hands fall helplessly by his side, and looked at Mr. Howard with eyes that seemed ready to start from their sockets. Mr. Howard was equally astonished. He looked around for a chair and sank into it.

"This beats me," were the first words that he uttered.

"It is a-a-revolution," said the magistrate, pulling his handkerchief from his pocket and wiping his face with it. "The spirit that animated those fellows at Lexington has got up here, has it not? Nolton, you are not worth your salt. Why did you not arrest Zeke when he started to move away with that boy?"

"You told me to do my duty," said the constable, "and I thought it my duty to remain quiet in my place. I wish you had been in my shoes. If I had touched that man I would not have known what hurt me."

"If I was a constable and sent here to preserve order, I would have arrested that man in spite of everything the provincials could do to stop me," exclaimed the magistrate, doubling up his huge fist and pounding the desk with it. "It is all owing to you that this rebellion, or whatever you call it, has got to such a pass. Now what are we going to do? Must we stand by and let those rebels run things to suit themselves?"

"By no means," said Mr. Howard hastily. "There must be some place in the colonies where our men are strong enough to collect that fine of Caleb. What is the use of the Margaretta here?"

"Do you want to send Caleb off to New York?" whispered the magistrate, bending toward Mr. Howard, while his eyes gleamed with satisfaction. "I never once thought of that."

"I mean just that and nothing else," said Mr. Howard, in the same cautious tone. "I would like to see those men get up a rebellion in the face of Captain Moore. He would blow the town out of sight."

"I don't know whether I want him to try that or not," said the magistrate, doubtfully. "I have a house up here and I don't want him to put any shells through that."

"It would be very easy for him to send his shells wherever he wanted them to go. I believe in going down and calling upon him right away. You may rest assured that you will not do any more court business while this thing is hanging over you. Besides, the Governor may hear of it and put another man in your place."

"Let us go down and see him the first thing we do," said the magistrate, getting upon his feet. "You men stay here until we come back," he added, turning to the constables. "We may have more work for you."

"Well, you just wager that you can do it yourself," said Kelly mentally, as he helped himself to a chair. "I am not going around where Zeke is any more."

Kelly looked toward Nolton as these thoughts passed through his mind, and from something he saw there he made up his mind that he was not alone in deciding this way. It was very easy for the magistrate to send men into danger, but he took good care to keep out of it himself.

The magistrate put on his hat and led the way toward the door, and Mr. Howard and the two boys followed close at his heels. They stopped when they got to the door and held a consultation as to whether or not they should let the boys go with them, but after a little talk they decided that James should go on board the schooner to show the captain the lump on his eye, which grew bigger and blacker all the while, and Emerson, who saw the assault, should be a witness to it.

"I want to let the captain see that I fined him one pound and costs for a reason," said the magistrate. "Then he will think that I was doing my duty."

They found a boat at the wharf just preparing to go off to the schooner, and the parties all got down into it. The sailors looked at James with surprise and something very like a grin overspread their faces; but they were too well-trained to ask any news. They found Captain Moore in his quarters, and he had his coat off and was lying at his ease on a lounge reading a book. He got up and looked his astonishment when he shook James by the hand.

"A rebel did that," said the boy.

"What makes you call him a rebel?" asked the captain. "Has that affair of Lexington got up here?"

"Yes, sir," said the magistrate. "And thereby hangs a tale as long as your arm. I fined Caleb Young for striking James, but the rebels got around him and took him home."

"And did he not pay his fine at all?" said the captain in surprise.

"No, sir. One rebel told me that the boy had no money to pay his fine, and I should not be allowed to shut him up either, so the only thing I could do was to let him go. The spirit of rebellion is bigger than one would think for."

"Well, I should think it was," said the captain, angrily. "When they begin to interfere with a magistrate for the work he does on his bench, it is time they were being hanged, the last one of them. What did you do then?"

The magistrate began his story at once and told it through without interruption. At last he came to the point which brought him there. He wanted Caleb arrested, taken on board the schooner, and carried to New York and given to some power that could enforce the law. And Captain Moore was the only man they knew who could help them in the matter.

"Do you want my men to arrest him?" asked the captain.

"Yes; and you will have to be pretty quiet while you are about it. Don't let him shout for help or anything else, for, if you do, you will have the village on you before you can think twice."

"Well, things have come to a pretty pass," said Captain Moore, rising to his feet and walking up and down the narrow limits of his quarters. "Do you know that you have given me something hard to do? If I can catch him outside the house all would be well; but suppose I should have to go in after him? Then what will happen?"

"You will have to take your chances on that," said Mr. Howard, who was more in favor of his scheme than he was before. The captain seemed willing to undertake it, and he determined that he should undertake it if he could bring any arguments to make him think that way.

"It all rests with you," said th

e magistrate. "I have tried to enforce the law and could not do it, and now I leave it to yourself to determine whether or not you have any authority in the matter."

"I don't suppose I have, if you really come down to it," said the captain, gazing thoughtfully at the floor. "But I shall depend a good deal upon those magistrates in New York. They are not very lenient with any one who tries to get up a rebellion here in the colonies, and the news of that battle at Lexington will urge them to be severe on all who try it. I will do it, but you must keep still about it until after I get away."

"You may depend upon us for keeping still about it," said Mr. Howard. "I want that boy fined, and I shall not spoil the thing by saying a word to anybody. At what time do you think the sloops will get loaded up?"

"I shall be ready to start on Tuesday. If I can once get him on board my vessel I will risk anybody's getting him away."

"I knew I would some day get even with that fellow," said James, as he arose to his feet and put on his hat. "I think he will learn that a gentleman has a right to say what he pleases without being knocked down by some rebel."

"I guess he will too, James," said the captain, laying his hand confidentially on the boy's shoulder. "Let me get my hands on him once and I will teach him a lesson."

Captain Moore put on his coat and accompanied them to the deck, and in obedience to his order the cutter was called away for them. The captain watched them until they had gotten ashore, and then intimated to his first lieutenant (he is called the executive officer in our day) that he had something of importance to say to him in his cabin. The lieutenant went, and was thrown into as great a rage as the captain had been when he heard of the rebellion in the magistrate's office.

"Now, Hobson, I want you to capture that fellow to-night," said Captain Moore, in conclusion. "Do you think you can do it?"

"Yes, sir," was the reply. "If those constables are afraid to attend to their business on account of the rebels I am not."

"My advice to you would be that you go ashore and walk twice by that house and see how things are located there. You may have to go in in order to get him. I need not tell you that you have got to be very careful about it. You know the boy when you see him?"

"Oh, yes, sir. And I will take particular pains that he does not call for help, either."

The lieutenant was placed ashore, and walking with his hands behind him, as if he were out for the air and nothing else, he bent his steps toward Caleb Young's home. When he came within sight of it he found Caleb standing in front of the woodshed door, cleaning up the old flint-lock. He was evidently getting ready for another Lexington affair if the British troops came near Machias. At least, that was what the officer thought.

"But you will be safe in jail, paying that fine of yours," soliloquized the first lieutenant, as he walked on his way. "I know now how I am going to work it. As soon as it comes dark I will go to his house and demand admittance in the name of the king, and when I once get my hands on him I will choke him so that he can't holler."

The officer returned on board the schooner in less than an hour, reported what he had seen and the way he was going to get around it. He noticed that his shoes were covered with dust during his walk, and he pulled out his handkerchief and dusted them with it. His brand-new uniform was somewhat dusty, too, and that came in for a share of his attention. He was a good deal of a "dude," this first lieutenant was, and he took pride in looking as neat as if he had just come out of a lady's band-box. He did not think how his uniform would look when he brought it into the presence of the captain all spattered with yeast.

There were some hours of daylight still left, but all the lieutenant had to do was to pick out the men he wanted to accompany him and give them their instructions in regard to arresting Caleb Young. One, to have heard his orders in regard to being quick and still about it, would have thought that Caleb was a big and powerful man, and that it was as much as all of them could do to manage him. But the trouble was the officer was not so much afraid of Caleb as he was of the people who would come to the rescue if he succeeded in giving the alarm.

Supper over the foremast hands enjoyed their hour given to smoking and song, and then the lieutenant came up from below with his side-arms on. This was a signal to his men, who promptly armed themselves, and in a few minutes they were pulling across the narrow bay toward a place where boats did not often land. It was to be a secret expedition all the way through, and when they got back aboard their vessel with their prisoner, they did not want anybody to be the wiser for it.

"Keep as silent as possible," said the officer. "You know Caleb Young better than I do, and if you see him close with him at once. We will give these rebels a lesson that they will remember."

It so happened that the lieutenant drew up behind a tree in front of Caleb's gate just as the boy came out with a pail in his hand to go after the yeast. It was so dark that Caleb could not see anything, and he struck up a whistle and went on all unconscious of the danger that threatened him. As soon as he was out of hearing one of the men whispered-

"That's him, sir."

"I know it," replied the lieutenant. "He has gone off on an errand for his mother, but he will soon be back. That's the time we will catch him."

We have already told how desperately Caleb fought for his freedom and how he called lustily for help; but it was rather chilly in the evening, being in the month of May, the people were gathered about the fires in their kitchens with the doors closed, and Caleb's yell did not reach any of them. He knew that he was in the hands of the Tories, but to save his life he could not imagine what he had been captured for. He was choked so violently that he could not utter a sound until he got into the boat, and then he did make out to reply to a question by the officer who was wiping the contents of his bucket off his uniform. In a very few minutes Caleb had been lifted out of the boat to the schooner's deck, the irons had been put on and he was safely in the brig.

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