Mehetabel Roger's Cranberry Swamp

Charles Nordhoff.
1864.
Harper's New Monthly Magazine

I.


"MAN proposes, God disposes;" so says an old proverb. Sometimes women propose.

Mehetabel Rogers proposed to go to Boston to-morrow. She had been there once before in her life for Boston is a long ways off, and the old colony railroad runs only to Barnstable as yet; and Mehetabel Rogers lived below Chatham, on old Cape Cod.

Captain Rogers was light-house keeper at Nausett. There are three lights there to look after; they stand on a high bluff, at the foot of which washed the Atlantic, while back of it stretches a sandy plain, the greater part of which is yet "Congress land," which our Uncle Samuel does not find it easy to sell, even at a shilling an acre. Captain Rogers was a sailor, that you might see at the first glance. He was a ship captain, not a militia captain; that is to say, he had been a ship captain, now he was a shore captain, and his lights were his ship. It made little difference to him, so far as responsibility went, or work either; for though he had no longer a lee-shore to fear for himself, every easterly gale made him fidget at his lights, thinking of the poor fellows who might be warned off by their gleam; and for the rest, his observations, which were formerly taken at noon, were now made at midnight; where he would before have got a pull on the main-sheet, be now ordered a rub of the lantern-glasses; and if he had no dead-reckoning to work up, he yet kept a log—no light job to an old tar whose fingers are handier at a long splice or a timber hitch than at pot-hooks and hangers.

Captain Rogers was a man of regular habits—for you see, a light-house keeper is a responsible person. He is not like a Governor of a State, or member of the Cabinet, who has all night in, and has only to sign letters, and order things to be done, which are of no consequence when they are done. A light-house keeper must keep his lights bright, and if he should be a careless person, or a sleepy-head, or, perhaps, even a lover of strong drink, don’t you see, some night a poor mariner, steering for his light in fullest confidence, would run his ship ashore, and perhaps lose his crew as well as his cargo. From which you will quickly gather that only the most trusty men in the State ought to be appointed light-house keepers, and a man who could not be elected hog-reeve in his town ought to he ashamed of himself for asking the Secretary of the Treasury—who knows no better, mere ignorant creetur !—to trust him with a light.

I advise you not to ask Captain Rogers if he could be elected hog-reeve. That is beside the matter.

"I wish you warn’t goin’ to Boston," said the Captain, for the twentieth time, on the evening of the day before Aunt Mehetabel was to set out. She was packing up, and it made him nervous to see now one thing and, then another, now a comb, and then a piece of molasses cake, and then a pair of stockings, slipped into the carpet-sack which was to accompany the good lady on her journey.

"Too late," said she, catching up a hymn-book, which her eye happened to light upon just then, and putting it into a handy pocket in the all-containing carpet sack, by way of light reading.

"Seems to break up every thing so," groaned Uncle Rogers. "I don’t see what’s the use of Boston."

"You ain’t goin’," was the triumphant reply, as a shiny and well-preserved pair of shoes were hauled out of a corner and crammed into the bag.

Aunt Mehetabel was determined not to be vexed with the old man. She was going to Boston; she was sure of that, and why should she lose her temper? "Men is sich poor, helpless creeturs. Ef they don’t hey every thin’ jest so, they’m all upsot, ‘nd no more use ‘a cod-hook without a bait."

"Now then, old man, there’s the ile, and there's the wick, 'nd there’s yer cloths for the lanterns, 'nd there’s the gal, she knows how to cook 's well ‘s her marm. Now then, let’s turn in, for you’ve got to drive me over to the stage soon ‘s you put out your lights in the mornin’."

The gal’s name was Rachel, and she was pretty. There are a good many pretty girls on old Cape Cod; a Cape man once told me in confidence that in all his voyages he had not seen such women as they breed on the Cape, and I think he was right. Rachel was not only pretty; she could cook, as her mother said; she could iron a shirt, and wash it too; she knew how to clean the lantern-glasses all except the last finishing touch, which the old Captain administered himself, with a cloth locked up in a separate locker.

Rachel was "hanging round the room," her mother said, "‘s though she expected a feller." Poor child! her "feller" was in Boston, getting ready for a voyage to the Bank Querall after cod; and Rachel was "hangin’ round" in hopes that she might, at the last moment, gain permission of her mother to go along in the stage to-morrow.

Aleck Nickerson was captain of the Lucy Ann, banker; and the Lucy Ann was getting her outfit in Boston for an early start to the Banks. Captain Aleck was determined to fish for "high line" out of Chatham; it was his first voyage as master, and he was what they call a "fishy man" —not a man given to incredible stories, but one who meant to fill his ship, or to "wet his salt," as they say.

He had selected a good crew, and his brother was his mate. Down in Chatham people said that the Lucy Ann was likely to come home with a good stint of fish.

It used to puzzle the gossips which of the two it was that Rachel Rogers favored, whether Aleck, or Mulford his brother. I am not sure that she knew herself. Aleck had committed the in discretion of almost offering himself to her; and her mother had been indiscreet enough to say once that Aleck Nickerson was a "likely feller," which makes me think that Mulford had the best chance just then. But the two were always together; and some people pretended to say that they went courting in common, and that either would have been satisfied with the other’s success.

"Cape folks" are not cold-blooded, but they are careful. There is an old rule, never to dance with the mate if you can dance with the captain, which is sound enough, so far as I know. Some young women, who live by rule, follow this one among others, and I have known them to profit by its observance. In a cold country and a barren, where bread and butter is not over-plentiful, the captain’s house has perhaps attractions which the mate’s has not; and women, as every body knows, have to live a great deal indoors. But where promotion goes by merit the captain is apt to be the better man; and, so being, he has a right to the prettiest girl, which no pretty girl I ever knew would dispute. So that, perhaps, after all, Captain Aleck had the best chance.

Aunt Mehetabel arrived safely in Boston, and at once took charge of the Lucy Ann’s cabin. She had a plan to talk over with Captain Aleck —a plan which had occurred to her during her last visit to Harwich. At this time the gradual failure of the fish, and the somewhat rapid increase of the population of the Cape, caused a good deal of uneasiness to the people of that thrifty region. All the young men and most of the old fellows are fishermen; the whole living of the Cape is taken from the ocean. Hitherto there had been abundance for all, according to their frugal expectations; but now the prospect grew dark. The great fish days off Chatham were no longer what they had been in former years. The fleet, which was formerly always "hauled up" before Thanksgiving-day, now cruised anxiously after the missing schools till far into December, and could not find them; and the Banks no longer furnished codfish in the wonted abundance. And yet every Cape boy is a born sailor and fisherman. They are a web-footed race; and, to add to the difficulty, a curiously home-loving race. Any other people would have emigrated. The California and Oregon coasts yield fish in such abundance as no Cape man ever even dreamed of, and to a sailor the world is open. But to these curious Cape men there is no place in the world so beautiful or so dear as their own flat, sandy, tide-washed waste, where the corn scarcely grows breast- high, and the sand is ankle-deep in the best cultivated garden. Once Uncle Shubal Robbins drove me out in his hay-wagon, and coming to a knoll a little higher and a little greener than the surrounding flats, the enthusiastic old fellow cried out, in great exaltation, "Let us stop here and look around: far’s you’ve traveled, I know you never saw so fine a piece of country as this!" Place him where you will—in the most fertile and beautiful part of the globe if you please and the Cape Cod man will sigh wearily for his sand, his pine needles, and the moan of the ocean on his flat beach. That is in the nature of the creature, and you can not change it.

Given, then, that no one would move away; that all were bent on fishing; that, in fact, this was the only possible employment for the mass of the people, the single source of their prosperity; and finally that there were not fish for all the fishermen: and you will understand that the old folks began to fear a famine for the next generation, and to talk drearily of the fading glories of the Cape.

Just at this time an ingenious Yankee invented the cranberry culture, and saved the Cape. The cranberry is a fruit which grows best on swamp lands, which can be overflowed at will with fresh water. It is an amphibious berry, which dwindles and becomes diseased if deprived of an occasional soaking. It is a God-send therefore to a people living in the midst of fresh-water ponds, and a third of whose land lay in worthless swamp, dear at a dollar an acre, useless to all, and owned only because it was a part of the place.

Enoch Doane read about cranberry swamps in his agricultural paper, saw that the berries were in good demand in the Boston market, made a careful calculation overnight, and next morning rode out and bought a dozen acres of the worst looking swamp land in the neighborhood of Harwich. It took him a year to prepare a ten-acre lot. He had to cut drains, to build proper flood-gates, to clear the land of the rank growth of scrub oak which covered it, to cart away a foot deep of the sour top earth, to carry on new soil, to cover that with a layer of white beach sand, and lastly to set out his berries. He laid out three hundred dollars on each acre of his "patch," and the neighbors united to call him a fool. In three years he was a rich man, swamp lands were worth fifty dollars per acre, and the Cape was saved from starvation.

Now Aunt Mehetabel had heard of Enoch Doane’s folly, which was in every body’s mouth. She knew he was a shrewd old fellow; and one day she rode down to Harwich in the stage to inspect his operations. She came back next day in a fluster, and before she ate her dinner had selected the site for a cranberry patch of her own. The question was, how to raise money enough to get a couple of acres under cultivation. The old light-house keeper had money in bank; but he plainly told his wife he meant to keep it there; if Enoch Doane was a fool he was not; everybody knew that cranberries would presently be worth no more in Boston than beach plums; and then where would all the dollars be which silly people buried in swamps! Fortunately for Aunt Mehetabel the berry fever had not yet got so far down as Nausett, and she was able to buy her two acres of well selected but tangled swamp for little more than a song. Her own savings, from knitting socks, and entertaining chance strangers, were sufficient for that. But how to get it into cultivation ? How to clear it of that mass of scrub oak and rank stringy grass which now made it an impregnable fortress? How to pay for drains, and flood-gates, for the much digging, and carting, and hoeing, and planting, which must precede a crop? Captain Aleck Nickerson had a little money in bank, and from him, as one of her nearest neighbors and confidential friends, she resolved to get help. All winter she had done her best to infect him with her own enthusiasm; and now she had come to Boston to make a last effort with him.

"Ef I had jist five hundred dollars I’d hev the pesky swamp all cleared and sot out before you cum back with your first fare," said she.

"But I want to build my house, Aunt Mehetabel," replied the Captain.

"Ye ain’t got nobody to put in it, Aleck."

"Never you mind about that," retorted the Captain with a smile; "how’s Rachel ?"

"Rachel’s ready to wait," said she. "Besides, you haven’t asked her."

"Wait till I come back, high line," said Aleck, smiling.

"By that time I can hey the patch clear's the palm o’ yer hand."

"You won’t get yer money back in three year."

"But the first crop ‘ll build you two housen, Aleck."

"I don’t want but one, old lady, and a pooty gal to live in it."

"You young fellers is always thinkin’ ‘bout pooty gals. I swan, ef I was a man I’d think o' somethin’ else."

"Cranberries, Aunt Mehetabel?" queried Captain Aleck, who was lazy and inclined to tease, and besides owed a grudge to the old woman because she had left Rachel at home.

"Yes, cranberries," she replied; "cranberries is wuth ten dollars a berril, 'nd an acre ‘ll yield fifty berrils easy."

"And the worms ‘ll eet ‘em before ye pick ‘em," said Aleck.

"And yer wife ‘ll git cross ‘nd ugly," said Aunt Mehetabel.

"And half crazy ‘bout cranberry swamp," said Aleck, with an irrepressible chuckle, swinging himself suddenly from the transom, where he was lying, through the open skylight on deck.

"You’m a fool, Aleck Nickerson !" screamed the old woman after him. "O Lordy, what fools men be! Here, you boy, ye lazy hound, split some wood quick.: here’s ten o’clock, ‘nd no dinner on the fire. See ‘f I don’t worry him into it!" she grumbled to herself, as she poured a mess of beans into the pot.

Captain Aleck "had more’n half a mind to do it," as he said to himself. But "better look twice before you jump once;" and he went into the hold and began to roll salt barrels and water barrels about, and help stow the ship for her voyage,. "so’s to kind o’ settle down his idees." It is unnecessary to recount the farther strife between these two; the reader already knows, if he has a proper notion of what an ambitious middle-aged woman can do, if she once sets her heart upon a matter, that Aunt Mehetabel won the battle. The Captain was not averse to the speculation. He had five hundred dollars laid aside on interest; he had no doubt of the success of the enterprise. Cranberries were a "sure thing," as he well knew. The difficulty was here: he had determined to build himself a house that fall; the place was chosen and already bought; and he intended that while the house was building he would court Rachel Rogers, and when it was finished he would marry her and stay at home that winter, as he could easily afford to do if he had only moderate luck on the Banks. The prospect was an alluring one; like most of the enterprising young fellows on the Cape, he had been going "south"—that is to say, to the West Indies, or the Brazils, or Demerara, or Mobile, every winter, to make up the year’s work; and the thought of staying at home, in a snug house of his own, all winter, with a pretty young wife, while other fellows were freezing their fingers and toes on the coast, or toiling among molasses hogsheads or cotton bales in the South, was one not lightly to be given up. But "you must keep on the right side of your mother-in-law—at least till you marry your wife," says an old Cape proverb; and Captain Aleck gave way, and made up his mind to go another, and perhaps another winter South, and build his house the grander when the cranberries came in. As he sailed out of the harbor Aunt Mehetabel stood on the dock, her precious bank bills tightly clutched in her hand.

"Remember us both to Rachel, Auntie," said Aleck, pointing toward his brother on the forecastle, "and don’t lose the ribbon I sent her;" and so they sailed off for the Banks.

I would not like to have been one of the poor fellows whom Aunt Mehetabel employed to work on her cranberry patch. She looked after them sharply. She did not spare her own hands from the brush, and you may be sure no one else was spared. Even the old Captain was induced to devote his spare hours to the work, which went on rapidly, though slowly enough to the old woman s eager temper. She was determined to surprise Captain Aleck on his return; and before the end of July the whole two-acre lot was cleared and fenced, and a small part of it was already of that strange, unearthly white which surprises and disgusts one who sees for the first time a Cape Cod cranberry plantation.

The drains were neatly cut, the flood-gates securely built, and before the autumn frosts she hoped to have the whole ground in readiness for planting.

"Miss Rogers is a hard boss," grumbled the two men who cleared, and dug, and carted fresh earth on to this waste; but "Miss Rogers" was a general who led her troops, and looked very sharply after skulkers.

II.


Meantime while Rachel cooked, and washed, and ironed, and kept house like a well-trained Cape girl, the Lucy Ann was fast anchored on the Banks, and her brace of lovers were such unsightly objects, covered with fish gurry, clad in oil-skins, stamping about in huge sea-boots, and enveloped in barvil, and sou’wester, and awkward fish-mittens, that she would scarcely have recognized them. There are Sundays on fish-ground, when all hands shave, and wash, and clean-shirt themselves—if the weather happens to be fine, that is to say. But if it is rough, a pipe and an old novel and the warm hunk in the cabin are preferred; and the most that is done to renovate the outer man is to wash in warm water and wrap in clean rags the sore fingers which a good fish day produces.

Aleck Nickerson was commonly a lucky man; he struck fish if any body did. He lifted his anchors less often than most men; and he had a crew that could catch fish if any were within reach of their skillfully contrived baits. But this time his usual luck seemed to forsake him. He dropped his cod-lead in vain; "picking fishing," one fish in an hour, and small at that, was the best which fell in his way. Nothing is so disheartening as poor luck in fishing; men lose even their skill, as their confidence oozes out at their fingers’ end; and it is only the most sagacious who have the wit to keep their temper, and saw their lines on the rail with the patience which is sure to win in the end.

One day Captain Aleck anchored and struck fish; but not in such abundance as he desired.

"I’ll go down in the boat; lower away there, two or three of you," said he, at last. "I'll try ‘em a little ways off; it’s clear weather."

The day was almost cloudless, as fair and smooth as a calm June day off Sandy Hook. The boat was lowered, and Captain Aleck jumped into it with a bucket full of good baits and his codcraft, and pulled away about a mile off, where he had no sooner dropped his lead than he got a bite. The men on board watched him, greedily, for half an hour, sawing their own lines the while across the rail, when, suddenly, they too "struck a school," and in a moment every man was hauling in a twenty pounder. The Captain was forgotten in the excitement till the cook chanced to stick his head out of the companion-way, who cried out, "Why it’s as thick as mush!"

So it was. The treacherous fog had settled down all at once, as it often does on the Banks; and where a short half hour ago all was clear as a bell, now you could not see the jib-boom end. "Where’s the Skipper?" was the question, as all hands held up a moment and stared in each other’s faces.

"Ring the bell, quick, some one!" said Mulford. "Skipper’s all right, he’ll he along soon’s he bears the sound." Nevertheless, Mulford went forward himself, and with an iron belaying-pin beat lustily on the fluke of the spare anchor.

"Hold up a minute," he said, presently; "listen, every body !" The men stopped talking and bent their ears to the rail; but they heard no plashing of oars, no shout through the white darkness.

"Shout; sing out all together, now!" ordered Mulford. They "sung out" from full throats; then listened again, eagerly, for an answering cry, but none came.

"Ring the bell there, somebody, and ring loud," said Mulford; "he’ll be here, directly."

Somebody rung, and somebody beat the anchor, while another man climbed to the mast-head, to see if he could peer above the fog, and perhaps beyond it; but he came down shaking his head, and declaring that it was thicker up there than down on deck.

Mulford slipped down on the dolphin striker and stretched his head along the surface of the ocean, hoping to get a glimpse in that way, but in vain.

"Sh—sh !" said Uncle David Meeker, suddenly; "I heard a cry." In a moment all was still, and presently there came a wail; but it was from the mast-head, and was the lonely voice of a sea-bird welcoming the companionship of man in the thick fog.

"It’s only a gull," said some one.

"Good God, this is dreadful! Shout again, men; sing out loud, every man. What would mother say if she was here ?" muttered Mulford.

They shouted again and again; they rung the hell and heat the anchor; they listened as men listen on whose hearing depends the life of a shipmate.

"How did the boat bear ?" asked the cook.

"Nor-northeast," was the reply. "Let’s up anchor and look after him; maybe he laid to his line when the fog came up."

"Not yet," was Mulford’s reply; "he might have drifted apast us, and then we’d be leaving him."

But now the wind began to sigh through the shrouds, and the little Lucy Ann began to roll with the swell which foretold an approaching gale. Her crew looked at each other with solemn faces. In such a fog, once miss the direction, once get out of ear-shot, and the chances are slim of ever finding your ship again.

They went to the windlass presently and hove out the anchor, set the mainsail and jib, and cruised about, making short tacks through the fog, and shouting and listening by turns. All hands remained on deck; the cook in vain cried out, "Sate ye, one half"— the customary call to dinner on a Cape fishing schooner; the dinner was put away untasted; the growing anxiety for their Captain kept every man at his post. The fog did not lift; it began to drive, thick and fimst, as the northeast wind blew up; and presently the swash of the sea against the bows became so loud as to make any cry of a human voice inaudible. Then night came on, and at last, after running half a dozen miles dead to leeward, the anchor was let go, a double watch set, and the remainder of the crew went below to their berths in silence.

And thus Captain Aleck was lost to the Lucy Ann. To lose a man at sea, and that man the Captain, the leader of the small band, casts a gloom over the whole voyage. Mulford was a capable fellow, he knew the fish-ground as well as his brother; and by a curious turn of luck, when the northeaster blew itself out, the cod seemed to seek the little vessel whose master was drifting no one knew whither or how. The men drew in their fish in silence; the wonted joke was omitted; and every body drew a sigh of relief when at last, in three weeks after the loss of Captain Aleck, the last barrel of salt was wet, the anchor was hove up for the last time, and all sail set to a fair wind for home.

And now came the most wretched days for Mulford. In the hurry of fishing, and the anxiety of caring for the vessel, his mind had been too fully occupied to leave space for thought about his brother. But now, with a fair wind to fill the sails, and no labor except to work up his reckoning, he began to think, for the first time, that he was to be the bearer of ill-news—and such ill-news. How should he tell the mother who was living quietly and happily at home, waiting in confidence for her son’s return, proudly thinking of him as smartest and best among the young men on her "shore" or neighborhood? How should he go to Rachel alone he who had never visited her except in company with Aleck?

And yet it was pleasant to think that now he might win Rachel for himself. He hated himself for the thought—and yet he thought it. You can not help thinking, that’s the mischief of it; and in the midst of the most real sorrow this ugly ray of comfort obtruded itself till poor Mulford, half-distracted, wished the girl at the deuce, whose pretty face made him indulge in a thought which was mean, as he felt, and which had no proper place in his grieving heart. So long as Aleck lived Mulford had been content that Rachel should be his sister-in-law; it was not till now it occurred to him that she could be his own wife. Why not? and yet, why? Should he take advantage by his brother’s death? Could he ever forgive himself the joy of such a wedding?

Mulford was not the first generous-hearted man tormented by such thoughts of unwelcome compensations for a great sorrow. And yet how unreasonable, said a voice in his heart. What is done is done; Aleck was lost: should he, for a punctilio, cast away what he felt would be a happiness for him? Should he give to some stranger that which Aleck would have most certainly preferred him to have, under the circumstances? Was he not his brother’s heir? He would inherit his savings—why not also the wife of his heart?

III.



When Mehetabel Rogers heard the news she was "thrown all in a fluster," according to her own account. "What’ll Miss Nickerson do ?" she cried; "what’ll Rachel say, poor gal? O Lordy, what’ll become of the cranberry patch ?"

This last question was the most important. She had given a summer to that barren swamp, and now it was a fair, smooth, chalky, ugly, but very promising plain, with ditches run through it, and water ready to cover it. She had spent the enormous sum of four hundred and fifty dollars upon it; and she was scared at the outlay, for whose return she and her partner would have so long to wait. She had thought with dread of the account she would have to give to Aleck—and now she must render this account to Mulford—or perhaps, worse yet, to strangers, executors, lawyers! men who were sure to understand nothing except that a frightful sum of money had been wasted, and no sign of profit appeared.

"Maybe Aleck was picked up !" she at last exclaimed, ran for her bonnet, and set off for the widow Nickerson’s to communicate her hopeful doubt. The two old women hugged the sweet thought to their hearts, and watched daily for some news of the lost Captain. But no news came; the first fare men were all in and out again, and no tidings were heard; in Cape Ann no one had seen or heard of a missing boat; the second fare men got home and fitted out for a fall cruise after mackerel. At last it was tune to give up Aleck for lost; no hope remained; and when the last banker was hauled up for the winter, Mrs. Nickerson put on black and gave up her boy for lost.

Rachel Rogers, too, was clad in mourning, but underneath the black stuff gown there beat a very contented little heart. So long as the two brothers came courting together she had had no heart in the courtship. While Aleck was near she would have surrendered to him, because he was the older of the two, and came with an air which was that of a man used to have his own way, and to be helped first. Besides he was nearest to that nest-building which, in Cape Cod life, as among the birds, precedes the wedding. But as Mulford and Rachel sat together, talking of the brother lost, she began to find her heart warming to the brother living; and their common sorrow opened the way to a common confidence of love.

When Aleck was given up Rachel was promised to Mulford; and, to Aunt Mehetabel’s great satisfaction, the young fellow proved to have great faith in cranberries. He insisted that the plants should be set out that fall yet; and before the pond froze over the patch had been flooded. The work was done; and during the winter she rested and was thankful; not only thankful, indeed, but triumphant. She dragged the old captain down to see her work; she boasted in his ears of the bushels of crimson berries which should reward her labors and justify the outlay. She had scarcely patience to wait till spring.

The spring came; Mulford was off to the Banks in a new vessel; the swamp was drained, and the cranberries were in bloom; when, one day, Captain Aleck Nickerson walked into his mother’s house, sat down on a chair in the kitchen, and said, "How’s all at home ?" The poor mother thought at first she saw a ghost, but when she felt her boy’s arms around her she fell away in a happy swoon. While Aleck was yet busy with her came in to these two—Rachel Rogers. She gave a little scream of terror when she saw her old lover, and, obeying the first impulse, ran out of the house. But presently she turned and came back. She could not leave Captain Aleck alone with his fainting mother; he needed help; and for the rest—she must see him at some time. But as she walked slowly back to the door, how her heart hardened toward the poor fellow within! "What business had he to come back?" she was saying to herself.

"Glad to see you’ve come back safe, Captain Nickerson," she said to Aleck as she stepped into the kitchen again.

"All right, Rachel," said he, looking up. "But first lets get the old woman to rights. I hope my droppin’ in on her hain’t killed her."

The poor old mother presently came to herself. She clung to her son, whom the deep had given up; but as she gathered her thoughts in order, and saw Rachel standing there, with stony face, her joy was distracted by the thought of the changes which a year had produced.

"We thought you were dead, boy," said she, fondly, smoothing his hair.

"You see I’m as live as any man of my size and weight," replied Aleck, shaking himself to prove that he was real flesh and blood.

"Go home, Rachel, and tell your mother," said she, dismissing the young girl, who turned and went out silently.

"What’s the matter with Rachel ?" asked Captain Aleck. "She don’t seem glad to see me back."

"She thought you was lost, my son."

"And then?"

"She’s promised to Mulford, my son," said the old woman, looking at him anxiously. "But oh, Aleck, I’m so happy! Don’t mind her. Look at me. It was so weary without you, boy."

Captain Aleck sat himself down silently in a chair beside her. It was not such a coming home as he had looked forward to.

"Where’s Mulford, mother ?" he asked, after a while.

"He’s got a new vessel, and he’s gone to the Banks."

"Did he do well last year ?"

"Yes, he was lucky. He made money. But he grieved for you, Aleck; it was a blow to him."

"And Rachel’s promised to him ?"

"Yes, boy. But what makes you sit there so solemn? Why don’t you look to me? Don’t you see I’m glad you’ve come home ?"

Her old eyes filled with tears of longing love. Hard-featured she was, hard-handed, wrinkled, faded, with a harsh, cracked voice—now curiously soft and womanly. She looked at him as though she feared he would fly out of window; she studied the shadows flitting across his dark face as though her life depended upon his humor.

"Come, sit you down close by me," she said, as he began to walk about the room, and examine the walls and windows, and the dishes in the pantry. "I can’t abear you out of my sight, Aleck. What’s the use of botherin’ about that gal. I’m your mother, that bore you, ‘nd missed you, ‘nd kerried you round in my arms. I love you, Aleck; I’m glad you’ve come home. I’ve got more right to you than any gal on the Cape.

‘‘Tell me how it was," said she, presently, curious to hear how he was saved from the death which must have been so near him, and ready, too, to divert his mind from poor Rachel.

The story was simple enough. He had been able to keep his little shallop afloat till, late at night, he saw suddenly the huge hull of a ship looming through the fog, and bearing straight down upon him. Unable to get out of her path, death seemed certain. But with a seaman’s presence of mind he saw his opportunity; with a seaman s eye he measured the distance for a leap for life; and as the vast hull swept down upon his cockle-shell he jumped for her dolphin-striker, caught it, and was saved. Twice he was dipped in the ocean as the ship pitched her bows under in the sea-way. But at last he clambered to the bowsprit, and in on deck, where he had hard work to persuade the superstitious French crew not to throw him overboard, so scared and amazed were they at his appearance. The ship was a French Indiaman, carrying a cargo of fish to Pondicherry. The captain set him off upon a homeward-bound American ship in the Indian Ocean. And here he was, with nearly a twelvemonth lost out of his life, as he said.

"But you’re saved to your old mother," said she.

"And Rachel Rogers is promised to Mulford ?" said Captain Aleck.

"You mustn’t think hard on her, Aleck; gals don’t know much—and she thought you was gone."

"Was it so long to wait ?" he asked, conscious that he would have waited twice a twelve-month for her.

"Mehetabel was willin’, and Rachel didn’t know which she liked best of you two, Aleck. You always went courtin' in couples."

"It’s not too late to go to the Banks yet," he said, thinking aloud. "I can go down to Provincetown to-morrow, and get a pinky for myself."

"Not so soon, Aleck; not so soon, boy; I want you a little while. I want to look at you, to see how you’ve growed."

"Lord a-massy! and so you’ve come back, Aleck Nickerson !" shouted Aunt Mehetabel, coming into the kitchen; "glad to see ye alive! The cranberries is all in: won’t you come over and look at the swamp ?" "I'm goin’ to Provincetown to-morrow to took up a vessel fit to go to the Banks," said Captain Aleck. "I ‘dare say the cranberries ‘ll keep."

"But I can’t; I’ve got my work to show you, and the swamp belongs to ye till you get your money back, Aleck."

"Never mind, Aunt Mehetabel, I don’t want to build my house now."

"For why don’t ye? Don’t look grouty the first time I see ye; I’ll be sorry about the money I owe ye."

Poor Aleck was sadly badgered with these women. He had expected to come home and find Miss Rachel receive him as a lover lost and found; he heard only about cranberry swamps. He had never thought about her except as his own, and yet he vexed himself with the thought that his own ill-luck, and not Rachel, was in fault; and that his ill-humor was neither manly, nor fair to her who caused it, or to his poor old mother, who was sad on his account when she ought to have been entirely happy.

"I’ll send my old man over for you by-and-by, Aleck," said Aunt Mehetabel, feeling—the crafty old woman !—that she was not likely just yet to get a good word from him.

"I’m a mean fool to be puttin’ on a sour face, mother, about this gal," said Aleck, looking up after she was gone. "It’ll be all right when I see Mulford once. Better let me go off to-morrow. This ‘ll all wear off when I get on fish ground again."

He rode over to Provincetown in the stage next morning; found a little pink-sterned schooner laid up, which no one had thought worthy of another trip to the Banks; hauled her up, cleaned her bottom, painted it in two tides, picked up a crew, got his outfit, and in a week was on the way to the region of fogs and fish. Before he sailed he visited the lights, and to Aunt Mehetabel’s great delight expressed his satisfaction at the condition of the cranberry patch. Also he met Miss Rachel, who held out her hand to him, like a girl who bears no grudge against a discarded lover—a piece of generosity which not many young women are capable of.

"I’m goin’ to look up Mulford, Rachel; take care of yourself till I bring him home," he said. His heart was light once more; a week of hard work, and a foretaste of the Banks, had set his thoughts in order. "I felt mean to ye at first, Rachel," he said, as they walked out together toward the road; "but it wasn’t your fault, gal. And Mulford’s a good fellow as ever lived."

So he sailed away.

One day his little vessel lay, pitching like a mad bull, in a northeasterly gale, with all her cable out and a rag of storm-sail fluttering in the gale, while in the high stern sat Skipper Aleck, with two or three weather-beaten fishermen in sou’westers and oiled-clothes, watching the weather. The sea was too heavy to fish, and the fog was so thick that a good look-out was necessary.

"When it broke away a while ago I saw a vessel off yonder, to windward," said uncle David Meeker; "‘t looked like Mulford’s schooner, too. Hed jist sich a kink in her top-mast. But I couldn’t see her but for a minute; maybe ‘t warn’t."

"Anchored ?" asked the Skipper.

"No; onder way. Dreffle work to be onder way sich weather."

"Too thick to bang about much," said Sylvie Baker. "I’d ruther lay to anchor than onder sail."

"We’ll have to look out for that fellow, boys," said Aleck, cheerfully. "Hope he’ll not foul our hawse."

"Guess he stood across, on the starboard tack; he’s all clear before this."

"Whew! how it howls !" said uncle Sylvie Baker, as a squall burst fiercely over the little vessel, and for a moment bore her down, and held her and the sea almost still.

Just then the fog bank lifted a little, and the alert eyes of the little group peered curiously around, as the vessel rose on a great sea, in search of possible companions.

"By gracious! how wild it looks—hello! what’s that ?" shouted one, pointing directly to windward, where now only a great black mass of water was to be seen as the schooner sank with a receding billow. "That’s a wreck, ef my old eyes is wuth any thing."

All hands watched eagerly. It was quite a minute before the vessel was thrown up on a sufficiently high sea to enable them to get a fair view. Then all cried, with one voice, "A wreck! a wreck !"

"Turn out there, boys I" cried Skipper Aleck down the companion-hatch; "this fellow ‘ll be down on top of us if he don’t mind !"

The sleepers tumbled out of their warm berths, and crawled in to their oiled jackets and fish-boots as hurriedly as they could. It was unwelcome news which the Skipper had cried down the hatch, and some who were dressing themselves in the cabin were pale at the thought of it. Leave them alone, and they were safe, there, in the midst of the ocean, with a fierce northeaster blowing great guns, and the sea rolling mountains high—safe as though they had been sleeping with their wives at home. Let the wind howl; let the sea bellow, and hiss, and tumble their little cockle-shell about, as though it was bent now on dashing her on the sand a hundred fathoms down below, and again tossing her up to the pale full moon, of which they got a glimpse overhead once in a while. Their cable was new and strong; their little sharp-sterned craft was of a build to outride many a line-of-battle ship; only leave them alone, and these accustomed seamen ate their cold cut of beef and slept in their narrow berths as securely as any Wall Street banker in his Fifth Avenue mansion. But once slip the cable; once derange, in the middle of such a gale, the conditions on which their comfort and safety depended, and they knew that they would have such a struggle with the storm as not one but dreaded—such a battle for life as none of them could be sure of winning in.

The vessel which was drifting down upon them was about two miles away when she was first seen. She was dismasted; her main-mast was a mere stump; her foremast was swept away flush with the deck. She was tossed about like a helpless chip, a bit of rag fluttering from the stump of the mainmast barely sufficing to keep her head to the wind. Captain Aleck and his crew watched her with eager and careful eyes. It was only at intervals they got a momentary glimpse of her. The sea ran so high that it was only when both vessels happened to be at the same time tossed upward, and when no intermediate mountain roller obstructed the sight, that they could see the helpless, dismasted craft.

"She’s not anchored, Skipper," shouted David Meeker into Aleck’s ear.

"No, she’s drifting down on us," replied Aleck, looking nervously forward, where a few flakes of his stout hempen cable still lay faked neatly on the deck—too few to be of use in getting out of the way of the approaching vessel.

"We can’t stick out any more; there ain’t enough," shouted David, in answer to his Captain’s glance.

"She’s going to leeward like mad; looks ‘s though she’d fetch agin us, sure."

The discipline of a fishing vessel is not very strict. The men obey the captain, but they know as much as he does, and they do not always wait for orders. Every man aboard understood the necessities of the case perfectly, and it did not need Skipper Aleck’s orders to set them to reefing the main-sail and foresail.

"Balance reef’s the best, Skipper ?" roared some one, making himself understood as well by signs.

Aleck nodded; and the sails were so reefed that only a small triangular piece of each would be exposed if it became necessary to raise them.

"Lash down the throat solid," shouted the Skipper. "Don’t let any thing get adrift look out !" as a great sea swept under the schooner, and lifted her for a moment nearly straight up. The cook’s tin pans rattled drearily in the galley—a sound which those who have heard it in a great storm at sea never forget. It strikes the ears of seamen as a sign of the utmost violence of a gale.

The men at the sails were swung off their feet, and clung to the rigging with their hands till she settled down again. Those in the high stern used the moment when they were tossed high up to watch the fast-approaching wreck.

"She comes down on us awful fast," said Uncle David.

She was not more than half a mile away now. She had drifted a full mile in seven or eight minutes; the sea and wind were sweeping her along at the rate of not less than eight knots an hour. In less than five minutes more it would be decided whether Captain Aleck’s little Swallow was safe or no.

"Go forward now with your axe, Uncle David; don’t cut till I tell ye, old man; and stand clear when ye cut. Sylvia Baker, stand by the foresail and keep yer eye on me. Tell the boys to lash themselves fast. Drive half a dozen nails into this companion slide here; if we ship a sea it may wash it off else, and fill the cabin."

"She’s not a dozen ship’s lengths off now, Skipper," said Job Scudder, pointing with his finger at the schooner, on whose deck a few helpless mites could by this time be seen clinging to the bulwarks and motioning, as though dumbly entreating them for help. There was no longer any fog to obscure the vision. The blinding spoon-drift swept constantly across, impelled with such violence by the fury of the gale that it struck the face like needle-points or like sharp hail. The sea was white with foam, and the tops of the huge black mountain billows curled over in foam rifts, which broke with a hoarse, sullen roar, and were swept by or under the Swallow with a dull hiss, as of ten thousand venomous serpents eager for the lives of the poor crew. At such times the waves no longer appear of a sea-green; their vast masses, rolled up by the steady fury of the wind, are dark and gloomy, as though laden with tea thousand deaths; they have a resistless weight and momentum; they move with the same majestic grandeur which distinguishes and makes awful the great tide which rolls over the Canadian fall at Niagara. They break slowly, and the curling top of such a wave is instantly seized by the wind and dashed, in sheets of fiercely-driven drops, along the surface: this is called "spoon-drift."

As time dismasted hull swept down toward them, the crew of the little Swallow forgot for a moment their own peril, in watching eagerly the helpless creatures who were now so near that their faces could be seen. The wreck was almost directly ahead. "She’ll drift athwart our cable, sure, and then we’re gone," old David was saying to himself, while all held their breath in dread suspense. Just then, when their own fate seemed already sealed, a huge wave seized the hulk and carried her in one great bold sweep down past the Swallow’s bow. As both vessels rose on the high crest of a sea they lay for a moment abreast, and not twenty yards apart, and the two crews scanned eagerly each other’s faces.

"Good God! it’s your brother Mulford, Skipper !" roared the cook, who stood at Captain Aleck’s side, clinging to the same shroud, and pointing to a figure, with flying hair and sea-washed clothes, which was lashed to the quarter of the wreck.

Captain Aleck had seen him already; he stood, pale and silent, looking with scared eyes at the vision, which lasted but a moment. In the next the vessel was hidden by an intervening wave; but as she disappeared a cry of mortal terror came from her crew—a cry so sharp, so full of horror that it pierced through the roaring gale, and reached even to the ears of the Swallow’s men. Well might they cry out, the hapless crew; for, with death clutching at them in every wave, they saw suddenly before their eyes the apparition of one whom the seas had swallowed up a year ago, as they believed—they saw Captain Aleck Nickerson standing there, one risen from the dead, to call them to a fate like his own.

"They’ve gone down!" screamed David, who had worked his way aft again; he understood the cry they had heard as the last utterance of the drowning wretches.

"Not yet—there they drift," shouted Aleck, who had leaped upon the top of the main gaff, and held himself there by the throat halyards. "There they drift, poor fellows! We can’t help them now; they’re too far off." He comprehended well enough the meaning of the cry which had come from Mulford and his crew; he waved wildly with his arms toward the fast-disappearing hulk, eager to assure the poor fellows that he was no spirit summoning them to death; but his motions, if they saw them, were not calculated to reassure.

IV.


The gale blew itself out that night; and a sharp rain, which set in for some hours toward morning, cut down the sea so much that when the sun rose, bright and cheery, and the blue sky was once more seen, all hands were quickly called to weigh anchor and set sail in search of the wreck. Aleck buckled on his spy-glass and mounted to the main cross-trees, to look out. The wind blew lightly from the southward, and as they sailed slowly along half the crew gathered in the cross-trees and rigging, every eye scanning the horizon for some sign of the wreck. For many hours they saw nothing; but about two o’clock in the afternoon Captain Aleck, who had tasted no food yet that day, nor felt the need of any, in his anxiety for his brother, sung out sharply, "Look out on the starboard bow there; I think I see a spar or something floating."

"Keep her away a point," he ordered the helmsman presently, when he had viewed the object through his glass.

As they bore down upon it it proved to be a mast, but no live thing was attached to it.

"That belongs to some one else than Mulford. It warn’t lost in this gale; see the barnacles on it," said one of the men before they came up to it.

"Haul her up again!" ordered Captain Aleck.

But presently they came to other signs of shipwreck—floating barrels, a bucket, part of a stoven boat; and at last, in the far distance, sharp-eyed David declared he saw a spar, with something like a flag waving.

"It’s only the sea breaking over it," said the Skipper, nervously, not daring to gives his hopes an airing in words; yet he watched intently the piece of wreck which the Swallow was now sailing toward. Certainly there was something like a fluttering rag visible on it as it was lifted by the .swell; and what was that black thing which clung to the spars? "I do believe there’s a man on that wreck !" shouted Captain Aleck, suddenly, in some excitement. "Here, David, take a careful look with the glass."

"He’s waving to us," said David, after some minutes. "It’s a man; I see his arms waving; now I see him trying to stand up. He sees us plainly. He is on three spars lashed together. He keeps waving, poor creetur !" This much David reported in a monotonous voice, without removing his eye from the glass.

"Bring up the colors, some of you," ordered Aleck; "we’ll let him know we see him, any how. Look sharp there! It’s not comfortable waiting on that spar for a sign from us. Get the boat ready, down there !"

"Boat’s all ready, Sir," was the reply.

"O Lordy, how slow we do go ahead"’ fidgeted the Captain at the mast-head. "Seems to me we don’t get any nearer at all. There, thank God! he sees the colors. Look, David, he’s set down. Thank the Lord! he’s comfortable now, poor fellow!"

"There’s more wreck on the lee bow, Skipper!" sung out a man who was perched on the foremast-head. "By Godfrey, there’s two men on that piece! I see ‘em both. Seems to me one’s dead; he don’t move."

"Take hold there and launch that boat; I can’t wait any longer," cried Aleck, swinging himself from the cross-trees, and sliding rapidly down on deck. "Get in here with me, Tom; it’s only a quarter of a mile, and we can pull it easy. "

"Keep an eye on the others, aloft there," he ordered, as they struck out from the Swallow. "First come first served: they’ll have to wait."

The two oarsmen had no easy task before them. The sea was still high. The rain of last night had smoothed the tops of the billows; the sea no longer broke angrily but there remained the long ground-swell, which takes always some days to subside. The little shell of a boat was not a very safe conveyance; but Skipper Aleck did not think of safety for himself. He and his companion tugged at their oars, now forcing the boat up the great mountain-side of a long wave, and presently propelled with a fearful rush into a deep pit of waters. The wind had nearly died out, and, slowly as they made headway, they progressed more rapidly than the Swallow, whose sails were half the time becalmed under the lee of the great seas.

"I’d give all I’ll ever be worth ef that was Mulford Nickerson," said Captain Aleck, half to himself. "Pull, Tom Connor; do your best; I want to see the man’s face."

It was a long pull; but at last they heard a faint shout, and, turning their heads the next time the boat rose on the swell, they saw the poor fellow whom they came to save.

"All right, my man !" shouted Aleck, in reply. "Look at his face, Tom Connor, and see ef you know him. I can’t bear to look."

"It’s not your brother, Skipper," reported Tom, in a few minutes. "It’s Dan’el Twyer, of Barnstable."

The poor Skipper gave a groan, but pulled ahead. "We’ll make his wife glad, any how, please God," said lie. "Hold fast, Uncle Dan‘el!" he shouted; "we’ll get you safe aboard directly !"

With skillful management they got the boat alongside the floating spar for a moment, without knocking a hole in her bottom; and in that moment Daniel Twyer, summoning for the effort all the little strength he had left, leaped into the stern sheets, and sank down in a heap, with damd eyes and a frightened look, asking, "Be you alive, Aleck Nickerson, or be you a sperrit?"

"He’s more alive than you, you old fool !" answered Tom Connor, gruffly, ready to quarrel with the poor fellow, now that he had saved his life; "where’s your Skipper ?"

But Daniel Twyer was too weak to reply; the feeling that he was safe, that presently he would be on a ship’s deck, overcame him, and he dropped insensible in the stern sheets, and was not aroused till Tom Connor had put a bowline under his arms, and he felt himself swung on board, and lying upon the deck of the Swallow.

"Keep her away for the other men!" shouted the Captain, as he leaped on board, and the boat was hauled in over the low rail of the schooner. "Now then, Dan’el Twyer, where’s your Skipper ?" he demanded.

"Mulford Nickerson and Zebah Snow were lashed to the main-hatchway when I saw em last."

The wind had freshened, and the Swallow was running down toward the two men rapidly. David Meeker sat in the cross-trees, with the glass, watching them, and waving his hat every few minutes, to reassure their hopes.

Presently he sung out, "‘Pears to me one on ‘em’s Zebah Snow—"

"Hurrah, boys !" shouted Aleck, his anxious face at last lighted up with joy.

"T’other one’s dead," added David.

"‘Tain’t so !" instantly shouted the Skipper in return. "‘Taint so; ef he was dead his weight wouldn't camber the raft." And in a moment he had "shinned" to the cross-trees and held the glass to his own eye.

"Tain’t so, Uncle David," he repeated; "you don’t know nothing ‘bout it, old man. T’other one’s Mulford Nickerson, and he ain’t dead, by Godfrey, for—there! I saw him move !" he shouted, at the top of his voice. "Get that boat ready to launch, down there on deck !"

Down he slid, and in a minute was once more afloat in the boat, pulling with eager strokes for the raft, which the Swallow dared not approach too nearly for fear of being flung on top of it by the sea.

"Who’s that on the hatch with you, Snow ?" he called out, as the boat neared the raft.

The man who had been declared dead tottered half to his feet, but fell again, crying out, "Is it you, Aleck Nickerson?" It was all he could say. The next minute Zebah Snow was jerked off the raft, and flung into the boat, and Captain Aleck stood in his place.

"Thank God, it’s you, sure," said he, grasping Mulford’s hands in both his; "but what’s the matter?"

"My leg’s broke in two places. And you’re alive, dear old fellow! Thank God for that, any how. I don’t care now. We thought it was your ghost when we drifted past you in the gale."

They got him on to the boat and into the Swallow’s cabin as carefully as they could; and here his leg was dressed, and he was cared for as tenderly as rough but kind-hearted seamen knew how. They are a rude set, no doubt, the men of the sea, and have but little pity for the minor ails. They are merciless toward men with headaches, or nerves, or dyspepsia; they can not believe a man sick if he can walk or eat; but there is no tenderer nurse, no more thoughtful, skillful, long-suffering, self-denying attendant on a real and serious sick bed than the roughest old tar in the forecastle. When Skipper Aleck had seen Mulford comfortably tucked away in his own berth, and had administered a cup of tea and such other nourishment to him as was fit and at hand, he went on deck and called his crew around him. Cod fishermen are not paid wages; each man keeps account of his own fish, and receives their value when they are sold, less a certain share reserved for the owners of the vessel, and another smaller share which the Captain has for his conduct of the voyage. Aleck was determined to steer at once for home; but the Swallow was not more than half full of fish, and to make what is called a broken voyage would be a serious loss to men who had families to feed and clothe.

The seniors of the crew had already agreed upon their course, however; and when their Captain said, "Men, I want to take the Swallow home as fast as she can sail," David Meeker put the helm up, Tom Connor bent on the stay-sail, and with a ready "All right, Skipper!" the little craft was put upon her proper course with all sail set.

On the tenth day they sailed into Provincetown. It was a bright June day, and Mulford, who had been gradually sinking, lay upon the deck with his brother by him.

"Don’t think hardly of poor Rachel," he said, for the hundredth time. "It was I that persuaded her; and God knows I was sorry for you, brother; but we all thought you dead."

"I’ll dance at your wedding, dear old fellow, this winter," said Aleck.

"You’ll bury me in the old grave-yard next to father," replied Mulford, solemnly; "and, Aleck, promise me that you’ll take Rachel. She loves you now; she’s a good gal; don’t let me go, feelin’ that I parted you two."

Aleck held the poor fellow’s hot hands in his own. He did not suspect how near his brother was to death. There was not much pain in the broken leg now; but that was because mortification had set in. The fractured limb had been too badly wounded when it was jammed between two heavy floating spars, to afford hopes of recovery, even had Mulford had more skillful treatment than the poor fishermen could give him. He died shortly after they had cast anchor; and poor Aleck, broken with grief, set out for home to carry the sad tidings to his mother.

It is a true story which I have told you; and the poor mother who sorrowed for two sons lost at sea, and yet thanked God for one of them saved, still lives with that one who now brought home his dead brother. The women of the Cape have need of stout hearts, for they do not know what moment their dearest are suffering the agony of death: they can not tell what minute shall make any one of them a widow or childless. I could show you a row of white houses in a little Cape village, in seven of which live the widows made by one great gale. It is not often the greedy sea gives up its dead; it is not always, alas! that of two sons one is saved; and when the widow Nickerson had heard all this sad tale it was not without proper cause she said, through her tears, "I’ve saved one, any how. Thank God, who took away, but who also gave me back you, my boy!"

She lives yet, this old woman, and is happy too; for is she not spoiling a white-haired grandson, who, at three years old, is impatient to he six, that he may be cook of his father’s schooner? Rachel and Aleck sorrowed together over Mulford’s death. They are now man and wife. Captain Aleck had to "go away South" for a couple of winters to restore his broken fortunes; but with this and two good fish years he gained back more than he had lost. And one Thanks-giving afternoon he went over and asked Rachel if she would marry him.

The cranberry patch in these years had borne so abundantly that Aunt Mehetabel was regarded in her neighborhood as a woman of great capacity and good luck; and when Captain Aleck came to ask her and the old light-house keeper for their daughter, she said, "Rachel’s been wastin’ for ye, Aleck; she wouldn’t hev none else but you—and this year’s crop of berries ‘ll build you yer house."

"The worms ‘ll eat ‘em before you pick ‘em," said Aleck, remembering the old bout in the Lucy Ann’s cabin.

"They’m all picked, and not a worm amongst em," she replied. "And ef it warn’t for them cranberries you’d hev to go away this winter, little as you thought it, instead of sittin’ comfortable in your own house. Tell ye what, boy, cranberry swamp’s better’n goin’ to the banks."

If the respectable reader will accept that last sentence as a moral to this true tale he is welcome to it.




Mehetabel Roger's Cranberry Swamp. Charles Nordhoff. Feb 1864. Harper's New Monthly Magazine 28: 165, pp. 367-377

Cornell University, Making of America series story link