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   Chapter 10 A VISIT TO THE JAIL.

The First Capture; or, Hauling Down the Flag of England By Harry Castlemon Characters: 12203

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


For a wonder the evening following the day on which the news of the battle of Lexington was received, was an evening of "do-nothing" with Enoch Crosby. He could not perform any of the odd jobs about the house, he could not read, and under almost any other circumstances he would have regarded the time as wasted. The next day was Sunday, and Enoch and his mother were very much opposed to doing any work of their own on that day; but they remembered the parable of the sheep who fell into a pit on that day, and the owner had pulled him out and carried him home on his shoulder. So they took that parable to themselves, and thought Enoch would not be doing any wrong by attempting to seize the officers of the schooner when they came ashore to attend divine service.

"I tell you, mother, we are already standing on the edge of a much worse pit than the sheep of old fell into," said Enoch. "If the king does not wake up and do something very soon, we are going to see a war here."

His mother did not attempt to deny it. She nodded her head and went on with her knitting, while Enoch got down in front of the fire as close as he could, rested his elbows on his knees, and gazed thoughtfully at the floor. His mother thought he was growing down-hearted, and that would not do for a provincial; so she began and related some adventures of which his father had been the hero after he resigned his commission and came out of the service. Enoch listened intently, and now and then he heard something that made his eyes flash, and he really wished he could have stood beside his father with another flint-lock in his hand.

When Caleb came over after the yeast Enoch detained him as long as he could, but that was not very long, for Caleb was on an errand for his mother. He got the yeast, promised that he would be on hand when that cheer was sounded on the morrow, and went out. Something, we don't know what it was, prevented Enoch from taking up his hat and accompanying Caleb to his home. If he had done so, we should have had two boys in that brig instead of one.

The hands on the old-fashioned clock that stood on the mantle were beginning to come around toward nine o'clock, the hour when all good persons ought to be in bed, when there came a timid knock at the kitchen door. Wondering who could want to see any of his family at that hour Enoch opened it and found Mrs. Young on the threshold. Enoch thought she looked uneasy about something, and without saying a word she stepped into the kitchen and ran her eyes all around it. She was looking for Caleb, but she failed to find him there.

"Has my boy been here to-night?" she asked, in a trembling voice. "I sent him over to borrow some yeast of you--"

"He got the yeast and went home," said Mrs. Crosby. "Have you not seen anything of him?"

"No, I have not," said Mrs. Young, groping for the nearest chair and sinking into it. "He has not been near our house since he came over here."

"Where do you suppose he is?" said Enoch.

"If I knew where he was I should have gone after him," replied Mrs. Young. "He does not generally perform errands in this way."

"No," said Enoch, who grew angry when anything was said against his companion. "He generally does your bidding right up to the handle; and he would have been at your house unless something has happened to him."

"Happened to Caleb!" exclaimed Mrs. Young. "Why-what--"

"I don't know," replied Enoch. "But you will remember that he did not pay his fine to-day."

The women looked at each other but did not say anything.

"Now it has just occurred to me all on a sudden that that magistrate is going to collect that pound and costs of Caleb in some way," began Enoch.

"And has he arrested him for it?" stammered Mrs. Young.

"I don't know, but I can soon find out," replied Enoch. "I will go down and see Zeke about it."

"Be careful, my son, that you don't fall into the hands of the Tories yourself," said Mrs. Crosby, when she saw Enoch taking down his hat.

"They have not got anything against me," said Enoch, as he opened the door. "I don't know what sort of stories James has told about me, but I know that I took Caleb away from him when he had him down. He can't say anything hard against me for that."

"But you are not a Tory, and that will go against you."

Enoch went out, making no reply, and he left two very uneasy women behind him. They were not frightened, for in those days it took more than a supposition to alarm them. Mrs. Young felt uneasy in regard to Caleb, and Mrs. Crosby felt that Way when she considered that Enoch was going out there in the dark and perhaps would run into the very trap that had been set for his friend.

"I can't help it," said Enoch, as he closed the gate behind him and set off at a rapid run for Zeke's house. "He must be in jail, but I kept my mouth silent in the presence of his mother."

Enoch took to the middle of the street, for he concluded that he would be safer there than on the sidewalk. It was dark, but Enoch knew the way, and presently was standing on Zeke's back steps. It was all dark in the house and that proved that the man he wanted to see had gone to bed; but this was too serious a matter to admit of delay. "With his fist he pounded loudly upon the door, and a voice from the inside immediately asked-

"Who is that out there?"

"It is I-Enoch Crosby," replied the boy. "You'll have to get up and help us again. Caleb is in trouble."

It did not need any second call to bring Zeke out of bed and to his feet. He opened the door, saying as he did so-

"That Caleb beats all the boys in the world that I ever heard of. What has he been doing now?"

Enoch replied that he did not know. Caleb had come over to his house to borrow something of his mother, and he had never gone home with it. His mother was at Mrs. Crosby's now looking for him.

"Beyond a doubt he is in jail," said Enoch. "You know he did not pay his fine to-day, and I will bet that that magistrate has arrested him and locked him up."

"Bussin' on it, I believe you are right," said Zeke

, hurrying on his clothes. "If he is in jail I wager that he will come out. Come in."

"I guess I had better stay out here. You will have to take a lantern with you, for it is awful dark."

In much less time than it takes to tell it Zeke presented himself at the door arrayed in his usual costume, but he had something else that he did not carry in the daytime. It was a huge club, and he had fashioned it after a style of his own. The club looked too heavy for one man to manage, but Zeke handled it as though it were a walking-cane. In his left hand he carried a lantern which he handed to Enoch.

"You don't think there is going to be a fight, do you?" asked the boy. "If you do I had better go home and get my flint-lock."

"There is no knowing what will happen," returned Zeke, with a peculiar twist of his head. "Suppose he is in jail, and the magistrate has brought up some of them fellows from the Margaretta to act as his guards. I don't know that he has done it, but it is well enough to be on the safe side. Now let us go and see the place where Caleb was arrested. We may be able to find out something from that."

"Now, Zeke, do be careful of yourself," said his wife, who was sitting up in bed.

"You never heard of Zeke being captured yet, did you?" asked Zeke. "Well, you never will."

Enoch, being provided with the lantern, took the lead down the sidewalk toward the place where Caleb had struggled so hard for his freedom. Almost the first thing he saw was the bucket which had contained the yeast. It was thrown up on one side near the fence, and was jammed in the side; but it was empty.

"Here is the place where he was caught," said Zeke, taking the lantern from Enoch's hand and carefully examining all the footprints in the soft earth. "Now, are these constables' tracks or Tories' tracks?"

Enoch did not know. He was all in the dark in more respects than one, and he forbore to express an opinion.

"Now, we will visit the jail," said Zeke, starting off with one of his long strides which compelled Enoch to strike a trot in order to keep up with him. "If he is in there he will come out."

"Where are you going to get some help?" asked Enoch.

"I do not want help. That old Tory knows me, and as soon as he knows my voice he will open that door. Now you mind what I tell you."

In a few minutes they ascended the steps that led to the jail, but all was dark inside. Zeke lifted his club and pounded loudly upon the door. It seemed as if the echoes would arouse everybody within hearing. An answer came from the inside, but it was not such a one that suited Zeke.

"Go away from there!" shouted a voice that was full of rage. "You are not a constable, I know, for they do not make such a noise when they come here. Go away, now, or I will shut you up."

So soon as this answer was received the club fell heavier than before; whereupon there was the creaking of a bed and the sound of bare footsteps on the other side of the door.

"Who's that on the outside there?" came the inquiry this time; and it was not nearly so full of rage as it was before.

"It is me," answered Zeke. "And if you want to see this door stay where it is, you will open it up pretty quick."

"Oh, Zeke, is it you? I'll open the door directly. Why didn't you tell me who you were?"

"Didn't I say he would open the door?" said Zeke, hitting Enoch in the ribs with his elbow. "He knows me."

In process of time the door came open and Zeke and Enoch stepped inside of it. The Tory was frightened, and he grew more so as he glanced at the club which Zeke carried in his hand.

"What do you want here at this time of night?" asked the jailer. "I haven't got but one with me here to-night--"

"Give me your keys," interrupted Zeke.

"Now, Zeke, is not that going pretty far?" asked the Tory, who was really frightened now. "You know I haven't any right to give you my keys--."

"Give me your keys," said Zeke in a louder tone, at the same time seizing the jailer by the collar with one hand while with the other he raised his club and held it over his head. "This is the last time I shall ask you."

* * *

"Give me your keys," said Zeke.

* * *

"Of course if you are bound to have the keys there they are," said the jailer, going to his bed and feeling under his pillow. "You will remember that I give them up to you because I had to--"

"That is all right," said Zeke, who had kept close by his side. He threw the pillow off as the jailer felt under it, and there lay two heavy horse pistols, of which he took immediate possession. "I will leave these things on the other side of the way and you can easily get them after we go away," he added, as he pushed the weapons into his pocket. "Now let us see if our man is in here."

"Who are you looking for?" asked the jailer. "There is not but one man in here, and he was put in for being drunk."

Zeke did not delay his search for what the jailer had said. He might be telling him the truth and then again he might not. He found the key which gave entrance into the cell-room, the doors of which were all open with one exception, and that one confined a prisoner. Enoch and Zeke were so surprised that they could not express themselves in fitting language. They looked at each other for a minute or two and then Zeke said:

"Bussin' on it, Caleb is not here."

"Are you speaking of Caleb Young?" asked the jailer. "I have not seen him. I did hear that he would be here to keep company with me to-night because he could not pay his fine which the magistrate imposed upon him, but I have not seen him or the constable either."

"Well, he is gone, if it will do you any good to know it," said Zeke, thoroughly at his wits' end. "And now the next question is, Where is he? I got that boy in a scrape, and I am bound to find him and give him up to his mother before I quit looking for him. Enoch, where is he?"

"Have you got through with your business here?" asked Enoch in reply. "If you have let us go. I will tell you what I think of Caleb's disappearance when we get outside."

* * *

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