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Historical Tales

The Romance of Reality

By

CHARLES MORRIS

Author of "Half-Hours with the Best American Authors,"
"Tales from the Dramatists," etc.

IN FIFTEEN VOLUMES

Volume I

American

I

J.B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY
PHILADELPHIA AND LONDON


Copyright, 1893, by J.B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY.
Copyright, 1904, by J.B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY.
Copyright, 1908, by J.B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY.


[Illustration: WASHINGTON CROSSING THE DELAWARE.]




PREFACE.


It has become a commonplace remark that fact is often
stranger than fiction. It may be said, as a variant of this,
that history is often more romantic than romance. The pages
of the record of man's doings are frequently illustrated by
entertaining and striking incidents, relief points in the
dull monotony of every-day events, stories fitted to rouse
the reader from languid weariness and stir anew in his veins
the pulse of interest in human life. There are many
such,--dramas on the stage of history, life scenes that are
pictures in action, tales pathetic, stirring, enlivening,
full of the element of the unusual, of the stuff the novel
and the romance are made of, yet with the advantage of being
actual fact. Incidents of this kind have proved as
attractive to writers as to readers. They have dwelt upon
them lovingly, embellished them with the charms of rhetoric
and occasionally with the inventions of fancy, until what
began as fact has often entered far into the domains of
legend and fiction. It may well be that some of the
narratives in the present work have gone through this
process. If so, it is simply indicative of the interest
they have awakened in generations of readers and writers.
But the bulk of them are fact, so far as history in general
can be called fact, it having been our design to cull from
the annals of the nations some of their more stirring and
romantic incidents, and present them as a gallery of
pictures that might serve to adorn the entrance to the
temple of history, of which this work is offered as in some
sense an illuminated ante-chamber. As such, it is hoped that
some pilgrims from the world of readers may find it a
pleasant halting-place on their way into the far-extending
aisles of the great temple beyond.




CONTENTS


VINELAND AND THE VIKINGS 9
FROBISHER AND THE NORTHWEST PASSAGE 26
CHAMPLAIN AND THE IROQUOIS 34
SIR WILLIAM PHIPS AND THE SILVER-SHIP 53
THE STORY OF THE REGICIDES 69
HOW THE CHARTER WAS SAVED 80
HOW FRANKLIN CAME TO PHILADELPHIA 90
THE PERILS OF THE WILDERNESS 98
SOME ADVENTURES OF MAJOR PUTNAM 111
A GALLANT DEFENCE 128
DANIEL BOONE, THE PIONEER OF KENTUCKY 138
PAUL'S REVERE'S RIDE 157
THE GREEN MOUNTAIN BOYS 172
THE BRITISH AT NEW YORK 180
A QUAKERESS PATRIOT 189
THE SIEGE OF FORT SCHUYLER 195
ON THE TRACK OF A TRAITOR 211
MARION, THE SWAMP-FOX 223
THE FATE OF THE PHILADELPHIA 237
THE VICTIM OF A TRAITOR 249
HOW THE ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH WAS INVENTED 259
THE MONITOR AND THE MERRIMAC 275
STEALING A LOCOMOTIVE 285
AN ESCAPE FROM LIBBY PRISON 298
THE SINKING OF THE ALBEMARLE 314
ALASKA, A TREASURE HOUSE OF GOLD, FURS, AND FISHES 327
HOW HAWAII LOST ITS QUEEN AND ENTERED THE UNITED STATES 338




LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

AMERICAN. VOLUME I.

WASHINGTON CROSSING THE DELAWARE. _Frontispiece._
VIKING SHIPS AT SEA. 11
LAKE CHAMPLAIN AND ITS SURROUNDINGS. 41
POND ISLAND, MOUTH OF THE KENNEBEC. 54
THE CAVE OF THE REGICIDES. 76
THE CHARTER OAK, HARTFORD. 85
PRINTING-PRESS AT WHICH FRANKLIN WORKED WHEN A BOY. 90
WASHINGTON'S HOME AT MT. VERNON. 98
SHORE OF LAKE GEORGE. 118
INDIAN ATTACK AND GALLANT DEFENCE. 128
THE OLD NORTH CHURCH, BOSTON. 158
THE SPIRIT OF '76. 166
ETHAN ALLEN'S ENTRANCE, TICONDEROGA. 172
THE OLD STATE HOUSE, PHILADELPHIA. 191
THE BENEDICT ARNOLD MANSION. 220
THE MONITOR AND THE MERRIMAC. 280
LIBBY PRISON, RICHMOND. 298
SINKING OF THE ALBEMARLE. 319
MUIR GLACIER IN ALASKA. 328
A NATIVE GRASS HUT, HAWAII. 340




VINELAND AND THE VIKINGS.


The year 1000 A.D. was one of strange history. Its advent
threw the people of Europe into a state of mortal terror.
Ten centuries had passed since the birth of Christ. The
world was about to come to an end. Such was the general
belief. How it was to reach its end,--whether by fire,
water, or some other agent of ruin,--the prophets of
disaster did not say, nor did people trouble themselves to
learn. Destruction was coming upon them, that was enough to
know; how to provide against it was the one thing to be
considered.

Some hastened to the churches; others to the taverns. Here
prayers went up; there wine went down. The petitions of the
pious were matched by the ribaldry of the profligate. Some
made their wills; others wasted their wealth in revelry,
eager to get all the pleasure out of life that remained for
them. Many freely gave away their property, hoping, by
ridding themselves of the goods of this earth, to establish
a claim to the goods of Heaven, with little regard to the
fate of those whom they loaded with their discarded wealth.

It was an era of ignorance and superstition. Christendom
went insane over an idea. When the year ended, and the world
rolled on, none the worse for conflagration or deluge, green
with the spring leafage and ripe with the works of man,
dismay gave way to hope, mirth took the place of prayer,
man regained their flown wits, and those who had so
recklessly given away their wealth bethought themselves of
taking legal measures for its recovery.

Such was one of the events that made that year memorable.
There was another of a highly different character. Instead
of a world being lost, a world was found. The Old World not
only remained unharmed, but a New World was added to it, a
world beyond the seas, for this was the year in which the
foot of the European was first set upon the shores of the
trans-Atlantic continent. It is the story of this first
discovery of America that we have now to tell.

In the autumn of the year 1000, in a region far away from
fear-haunted Europe, a scene was being enacted of a very
different character from that just described. Over the
waters of unknown seas a small, strange craft boldly made
its way, manned by a crew of the hardiest and most vigorous
men, driven by a single square sail, whose coarse woollen
texture bellied deeply before the fierce ocean winds, which
seemed at times as if they would drive that deckless vessel
bodily beneath the waves.

This crew was of men to whom fear was almost unknown, the
stalwart Vikings of the North, whose oar-and sail-driven
barks now set out from the coasts of Norway and Denmark to
ravage the shores of southern Europe, now turned their prows
boldly to the west in search of unknown lands afar.

Shall we describe this craft? It was a tiny one in which to
venture upon an untravelled ocean in search of an unknown
continent,--a vessel shaped somewhat like a strung bow,
scarcely fifty feet in length, low amidships and curving
upwards to high peaks at stem and stern, both of which
converged to sharp edges. It resembled an enormous canoe
rather than aught else to which we can compare it. On the
stem was a carved and gilt dragon, the figurehead of the
ship, which glittered in the bright rays of the sun. Along
the bulwarks of the ship, fore and aft, hung rows of large
painted wooden shields, which gave an Argus-eyed aspect to
the craft. Between them was a double row of thole-pins for
the great oars, which now lay at rest in the bottom of the
boat, but by which, in calm weather, this "walker of the
seas" could be forced swiftly through the yielding element.

[Illustration: VIKING SHIPS AT SEA.]

Near the stern, on an elevated platform, stood the
commander, a man of large and powerful frame and imposing
aspect, one whose commands not the fiercest of his crew
would lightly venture to disobey. A coat of ring-mail
encircled his stalwart frame; by his side, in a
richly-embossed scabbard, hung a long sword, with hilt of
gilded bronze; on his head was a helmet that shone like pure
gold, shaped like a wolf's head, with gaping jaws and
threatening teeth. Land was in sight, an unknown coast,
peopled perhaps by warlike men. The cautious Viking leader
deemed it wise to be prepared for danger, and was armed for
possible combat.

Below him, on the rowing-benches, sat his hardy crew, their
arms--spears, axes, bows, and slings--beside them, ready
for any deed of daring they might be called upon to perform.
Their dress consisted of trousers of coarse stuff, belted at
the waist; thick woollen shirts, blue, red, or brown in
color; iron helmets, beneath which their long hair streamed
down to their shoulders; and a shoulder belt descending to
the waist and supporting their leather-covered
sword-scabbards.



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