On gaining the wood to which she had pointed, Grizel tied the postman's horse to a tree, at a safe distance from the road, and set about unfastening the straps of the mail-bags. With a sharp penknife she ripped them open, and searched for the government despatches among their contents. To find these was not difficult, owing to their address to the council in Edinburgh, and of the imposing weight of their seals. Here she discovered, not only the warrant for her father's death, but also many other sentences inflicting punishment in varying degrees on the unhappy men who had been taken in the late rising. Time was pressing; she could not stop to examine the warrants, but, quickly tearing them in small pieces, placed them carefully in her bosom.
This done, and having arranged all the private papers as far as possible as she had found them, Grizel mounted her horse again and rode off. The postman's horse and the mail-bags, she imagined, would soon be found, from the hints which she had given to the man about the wood--and this afterwards proved to be the case. She now set her horse at a gallop again, and did not spare whip or spur until she reached the cottage of her nurse, where her first care was to burn, not only the warrant for her father's death, but the remainder of the sentences on his fellow-prisoners. Having satisfied herself that all trace of the obnoxious papers was now consumed, she put on again her female garments, and was once more the gentle and unassuming Miss Grizel Cochrane.
It was high time, however, to be making her way northwards again; accordingly she left her pistols and cloak to be concealed by the nurse, and again set forward on her journey. By avoiding the highroad, resting only at the most sequestered cottages--and then but for an hour or so--and riding all the while as hard as she might, she reached Edinburgh in safety early next morning.
It remains only to say that the time thus won by this devoted girl was enough to gain the end for which she strove; and Father Peters plied the ear of King James so importunately that at length the order was signed for Sir John Cochrane's pardon.
The state of public affairs rendered it prudent for many years that this action of Grizel Cochrane's should be kept secret; but after the Revolution, when men could speak more freely, her heroism was known and applauded. She lived to marry Mr. Ker, of Morriston, in Berwickshire, and doubtless was as good a wife as she had proved herself a daughter.
THE SUNKEN TREASURE
By Nathaniel Hawthorne
Picture to yourselves a handsome, old-fashioned room, with a large, open cupboard at one end, in which is displayed a magnificent gold cup, with some other splendid articles of gold and silver plate. In another part of the room, opposite to a tall looking-glass, stands our beloved chair, newly polished, and adorned with a gorgeous cushion of crimson velvet, tufted with gold.
In the chair sits a man of strong and sturdy frame, whose face has been roughened by northern tempests and blackened by the burning sun of the West Indies. He wears an immense periwig, flowing down over his shoulders. His coat has a wide embroidery of golden foliage; and his waistcoat, likewise, is all flowered over and bedizened with gold. His red, rough hands, which have done many a good day's work with the hammer and adze, are half covered by the delicate lace ruffles at his wrists. On a table lies his silver-hilted sword; and in the corner of the room stands his gold-headed cane, made of a beautifully polished West India wood Somewhat such an aspect as this did Phips present when he sat in Grandfather's chair after the king had appointed him Governor of Massachusetts.
But Sir William Phips had not always worn a gold-embroidered coat, nor always sat so much at his ease as he did in Grandfather's chair.
He was a poor man's son, and was born in the province of Maine, where in his boyhood he used to tend sheep upon the hills. Until he had grown to be a man, he did not even know how to read and write.
Tired of tending sheep, he apprenticed himself to a ship-carpenter, and spent about four years in hewing the crooked limbs of oak trees into knees for vessels.
In 1673, when he was twenty-two years old, he came to Boston, and soon afterwards was married to a widow lady, who had property enough to set him up in business. It was not long before he lost all the money that he had acquired by his marriage, and became a poor man again. Still, he was not discouraged. He often told his wife that he should be very rich, and would build a "fair brick house" in the Green Lane of Boston.
Several years passed away; and Phips had not yet gained the riches which he promised to himself. During this time he had begun to follow the sea for a living. In the year 1684 he happened to hear of a Spanish ship which had been cast away near Porto de la Plata.
She had now lain for fifty years beneath the waves. This old ship had been laden with immense wealth; and nobody had thought of the possibility of recovering any part of it from the deep sea which was rolling and tossing it about. But though it was now an old story, Phips resolved that the sunken treasure should again be brought to light.
He went to London and obtained admittance to King James. He told the king of the vast wealth that was lying at the bottom of the sea. King James listened with attention, and thought this a fine opportunity to fill his treasury with Spanish gold. He appointed William Phips to be captain of a vessel, called the _Rose Algier_, carrying eighteen guns and ninety-five men. So now he was Captain Phips of the English navy.
The captain sailed from England and cruised for two years in the West Indies, trying to find the wrecked Spanish ship. But the sea is so wide and deep that it is no easy matter to discover the exact spot where a sunken vessel lies. The prospect of success seemed very small, and most people thought that Phips was as far from having money enough to build a "fair brick house" as he was while he tended sheep.
The seamen became discouraged, and gave up all hope of making their fortunes by discovering the Spanish wreck. They wanted Phips to turn pirate. There was a much better prospect of growing rich by plundering vessels which still sailed in the sea than by seeking for a ship that had lain beneath the waves full half a century.
They broke out in open mutiny, but were finally mastered by Phips, and compelled to obey his orders. It would have been dangerous to continue much longer at sea with such a crew of mutinous sailors; and the ship was unseaworthy. So Phips judged it best to return to England.
Before leaving the West Indies, he met with an old Spaniard who remembered the wreck of the Spanish ship, and gave him directions how to find the very spot. It was on a reef of rocks, a few leagues from Porto de la Plata.
On his arrival in England Phips solicited the king to let him have another vessel and send him back again to the West Indies. But King James refused to have anything more to do with the affair. Phips might never have been able to renew the search if the Duke of Albemarle and some other noblemen had not lent their assistance.
They fitted out a ship, and he sailed from England, and arrived safely at La Plata, where he took an adze and assisted his men to build a large boat.
The boat was intended for going closer to the rocks than a large vessel could safely venture. When it was finished, the captain sent several men in it to examine the spot where the Spanish ship was said to have been wrecked. They were accompanied by some Indians, who were skilful divers, and could go down a great way into the depths of the sea.
The boat's crew proceeded to the reef of rocks, and gazed down into the transparent water. Nothing could they see more valuable than a curious sea shrub growing beneath the water, in a crevice of the.
reef of rocks. It flaunted to and fro with the swell and reflux of the waves, and looked as bright and beautiful as if its leaves were gold.
"We won't go back empty-handed," cried an English sailor; and then he spoke to one of the, Indian divers. "Dive down and bring me that pretty sea shrub there. That's the only treasure we shall find!"
Down plunged the diver, and soon rose dripping from the water, holding the sea shrub in his hand. But he had learned some news at the bottom of the sea. "There are some ship's guns," said he, the moment he had drawn breath, "some great cannon, among the rocks, near where the shrub was growing."
No sooner had he spoken than the English sailors knew that they had found the spot where the Spanish galleon had been wrecked, so many years before. The other Indian divers plunged over the boat's side and swam headlong down, groping among the rocks and sunken cannon. In a few moments one of them rose above the water with a heavy lump of silver in his arms. That single lump was worth more than a thousand dollars. The sailors took it into the boat, and then rowed back is speedily as they could, being in haste to inform Captain Phips of their good luck.
But, confidently as the captain had hoped to find the Spanish wreck, yet, now that it was really found, the news seemed too good to be true. He could not believe it till the sailors showed him the lump of silver. "Thanks be to God!" then cries Phips. "We shall every man of us make our fortunes!"
Hereupon the captain and all the crew set to work, with iron rakes and great hooks and lines, fishing for gold and silver at the bottom of the sea. Up came the treasures in abundance. Now they beheld a table of solid silver, once the property of an old Spanish grandee.
Now they found an altar vessel, which had been destined as a gift to some Catholic church. Now they drew up a golden cup, fit for the King of Spain to drink his wine out of. Now their rakes were loaded with masses of silver bullion. There were also precious stones among the treasure, glittering and sparkling, so that it is a wonder how their radiance could have been concealed.
After a day or two they discovered another part of the wreck where they found a great many bags of silver dollars. But nobody could have guessed that these were money-bags. By remaining so long in the salt-water they had become covered over with a crust which had the appearance of stone, so that it was necessary to break them in pieces with hammers and axes. When this was done, a stream of silver dollars gushed out upon the deck of the vessel.
The whole value of the recovered treasure, plate, bullion, precious stones, and all, was estimated at more than two millions of dollars.
It was dangerous even to look at such a vast amount of wealth. A captain, who had assisted Phips in the enterprise, lost his reason at the sight of it. He died two years afterward, still raving about the treasures that lie at the bottom of the sea.
Phips and his men continued to fish up plate, bullion, and dollars, as plentifully as ever, till their provisions grew short. Then, as they could not feed upon gold and silver any more than old King Midas could, they found it necessary to go in search of food. Phips returned to England, arriving there in 1687, and was received with great joy by the Albemarles and other English lords who had fitted out the vessel. Well they might rejoice; for they took the greater part of the treasures to themselves.
The captain's share, however, was enough to make him comfortable for the rest of his days. It also enabled him to fulfil his promise to his wife, by building a "fair brick house" in the Green Lane of Boston. The Duke of Albemarle sent Mrs. Phips a magnificent gold cup, worth at least five thousand dollars. Before Captain Phips left London, King James made him a knight; so that, instead of the obscure ship-carpenter who had formerly dwelt among them, the inhabitants of Boston welcomed him on his return as the rich and famous Sir William Phips.
THE LOST EXILES OF TEXAS
By Arthur Gilman
If we could have stood upon the shores of Matagorda Bay with the Indians on a certain day over two hundred years ago we might have been witness to a strange sight. Before us would have been spread out the waters of a broad and sheltered harbor opening towards the sea through a narrow passage which was obstructed by sandbars and an island. One's eyes could not reach to the end of the bay, which is fifty miles long; nor could they see land beyond the sea-passage, for that opens into the broad Gulf of Mexico. Let us take our stand on the shore and see what we can see.
There appear to us, as if by magic, the forms of two French gentlemen accompanied by a small party of soldiers, who come from the mouth of the bay, and carefully thread their way along the shore. It is a strange company of men. The leader is a native of Rouen, and he says that few of his companions are fit for anything but eating.
He thought that his band comprised creatures of all sorts, like Noah's ark, but unlike the collection of the great patriarch, they seemed to be few of them worth saving.
As we look, the men begin to gather together the pieces of drift-wood that the peaceful waves throw up on to the shore. They are evidently planning to make a raft; but as one of them casts his lazy eyes in the direction in which ours were at first thrown, he exclaims with evident joy, in his native French _"Voila les vaisseaux!"_ or words to that effect, for he has descried two ships entering the bay from the Gulf. The ships slowly keep their way towards the inland coast, and from one of them there lands a man evidently higher in authority than any we have seen. His air is calm, dignified, forceful, persistent. He announces to those about him that they are at one of the mouths of the great Mississippi, or, as he well calls it _"La riviere fu-neste,"_ the fatal river. "Here shall we land all our men," he adds, "and here shall our vessels be placed in safe harbor."
In vain does the commander of one of the little ships protest that the water of the bay is too shallow and that the currents are too powerful; the strong man has given his order, and it must be obeyed.
The channel was duly marked out, and on the twentieth of February, one of the ships, the _Aimable,_ weighed anchor and began to enter the bay. The commander was on the shore, anxiously watching to see the result, when, suddenly, some of his men who had been cutting down a tree to make a canoe, rushed up and exclaimed, with terror in their faces, "The Indians have attacked us and one of our number is even now a captive in their hands." There was nothing to be done but go in pursuit of the savages.
It did not take long to arm a few men, and off they started with their leader in the direction that the Indians had taken. The savages were overtaken and a parley ensued. The leader's thoughts were now in two places at once, and he was not far enough from the shore not to be able to cast a glance towards the _Aimable_, and to say to his lieutenants, as he saw the vessel drifting near shoal water, "If she keeps on in that course, she will soon be aground."
Still, no time was to be lost. The parley with the Indians did not hinder them long, and soon they were on the way towards the village whither the captive had been taken. Just as they entered its precincts and looked upon its inhabitants, clustered in groups among the dome-shaped huts, the loud boom of a cannon burst upon their ears. The savages were smitten with terror, and the commander felt his heart beat quickly as he looked again towards the water and saw the _Aimable_ furling its sails, a sure token to him that she had indeed struck the rock and would be lost, with all the stores intended for use when her passengers should be landed.
Undaunted by the prospect, or even by the dark picture that his imagination conjured up, he pressed onward among the miserable savages, until his man had been recovered. Then he returned, and found his vessel on her side, a forlorn spectacle. Now the wind rose, and the sea beat upon the helpless hulk. It rocked backwards and forwards on its uneasy bed; its treasures of boxes and bales and casks were strewn over the waters; the greedy Indians made haste to seize what they could; and as night approached the hurriedly organized patrol of soldiers had all that they could do to face the deepening storm and protect their goods from the treacherous natives, as the less treacherous waves cast them upon the sands of the shore.
Who were these men, thus unceremoniously thrust upon the shores of the New World? How did it happen that they were found at a point that no European had before seen? Perhaps it is not necessary to ask how they happened to mistake the entrance to Matagorda Bay for one of the broad mouths of the Mississippi. They were Frenchmen.
So much their speech has told us. The leader was Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, a man whom the historian Bancroft says that he had no superior among his countrymen for force of will and vast conceptions; for various knowledge, and quick adaptation of his genius to untried circumstances; for sublime magnanimity that resigned itself to the will of Heaven and yet triumphed over affliction by energy of purpose and unfaltering hope.
In early life he had renounced his inheritance and devoted himself to the service of the Church, but he soon left the order of Jesuits which he had entered, because, as Mr. Parkman surmises, he did not relish being all his life the moved and not the mover; because he could not give up his individuality and remain one of the great body, all of whom were compelled to march in a track pointed out to them by a superior. It is pleasant to know that he left the order with good feelings on both sides.
In 1667, we find the young man already entered upon the career of adventure in which the rest of his life was to be spent. He had sailed to Canada, the place of attraction for ambitious French youth, and there he remained several years, making the familiar acquaintance of the Indians and learning their language, while he was dreaming, like many others, of the passage to China through the rivers that came down from the westward. He had looked, too, in his vivid imagination over the vast plains of the great West, and had become filled with brilliant visions of an empire that he hoped some day to see established there for France. We have already learned how France took possession of the region, at this very period.