| America First|
|by Lawton B. Evans|
|Collection of one hundred action-packed stories, covering the range of American history, from the first visit of Leif the Lucky to the exploits of Sergeant York in World War I. In relating the long, thrilling story of the trials and triumphs of the pioneers and patriots, the author aims to gratify the love of children for the dramatic and picturesque, to satisfy them with stories that are true, and to make them familiar with the great characters in the history of their own country. Ages 8-12 |
THE BOY WHO SAVED A VILLAGE
IN western pioneer days, out on the Pacific Coast, the adventurous life of the settlers was beset with many
dangers. About the time the "gold fever" struck the people of the United States, a family named Goodman,
started from one of the eastern states to find a home in the Northwest, somewhere along the coast. The region
was inhabited only by a few Indians and hunters, engaged in trapping wild animals for their fur.
After weary months of travel overland, in slow carts drawn by oxen, suffering from hunger, thirst and
sickness, and harassed by Indians,—the family at last reached a place on Puget Sound, and built
themselves a home. There were two children,—a little girl, and a boy who, even though only nine years
old, was quite useful in helping his father build the log cabin, and plant the garden.
As the boy grew larger, he went with his father hunting wild game, and fishing. So that, by the time he was
twelve years of age, he could use his
 rifle with deadly aim, and could paddle a boat as well as any Indian along the coast.
After a while, other settlers came and, for protection, moved in the neighborhood; thus, after a time, quite a
colony grew up. The Indians looked on with distrust and alarm. The whites were coming in such numbers that the
red men feared they would be driven away, and lose their hunting- and fishing-grounds. The savages held a big
meeting of all the tribes, and there was much pow-wow, before they agreed to make war on the little town, and
kill all the white people in it.
The settlers heard nothing of the intention of the Indians, and went on with their planting and building and
fishing, not knowing of the deadly danger that hung over them. They had been kind to the Indians, had
furnished them with guns and powder, and had given them presents; they had every reason to believe that the
tribes were friendly.
One day, however, word came that a body of Indians had appeared at a remote farm-house, and, after burning
everything, had slain all the inhabitants. The next day, news arrived that other white men had been killed in
the woods, and that the Indians had put on their war-paint. This so alarmed the settlers that they prepared
 A friendly squaw brought word to Mr. Goodman that the Indians were on the way to destroy his house. It was a
few miles from the village itself, so he hastily sent his wife and the girls to the hamlet, while he and his
son stayed behind to discover the purpose of the savages. That very night the barking of the dogs gave warning
that the Indians were near. Looking out, the father saw dusky, painted forms, and was greeted with a shower of
Closing the door, he and his son escaped through the back, leaped into a canoe, and were soon beyond the reach
of their foes, though arrows fell thick about them as they paddled away. It was not long before they came to
the sleeping hamlet a few miles up the coast.
"The Indians are coming. Awake and arm yourselves," they cried, as they landed.
Then commenced a great hurrying of men and women. All night long they built a big clay fort, brought water and
food, loaded guns, and made ready for the attack which they knew was not far off.
About noon, the next day, a fleet of war canoes was seen approaching. They came within gun-shot of the village
fort, and opened fire. The settlers replied with deadly aim. The Indians were
 in open boats, and the settlers behind clay walls, so that many a savage fell into the water with a bullet
wound, while only a few of the settlers were hurt. Late in the afternoon, the Indians decided they had had
enough for one day, and withdrew for the night.
They intended to renew the attack the next day, so they drew off about a half-mile, to a neck of land, beached
their canoes, and built fires for cooking and dancing. They had a great feast of meat and corn, and then began
to beat their drums, utter wild cries, and dance their war-dances.
Now, let us return to the hero of our story, young Goodman. All day long he had been firing his gun with
unerring aim, causing many a savage to fall from his canoe. When night came, and the Indians retired, the boy
cautiously left the fort, and crept through the bushes to see what they were doing. No one missed him, for he
told no one where he was going. Slowly and carefully, he crept nearer and nearer, until he was quite close to
the dancing and howling crowd. Then, he formed a bold plan of stealing all the canoes of the savages, so that
they could not go back to the village. Besides which, the canoes held the guns and powder and much of the
provisions owned by the savages.
 He waited till nearly midnight, then undressed, and, tying his clothes around his neck, he waded into the
water and swam until he rounded a point which brought him near the canoes and close to the Indian camp.
He was very quick, and swam as silently as a fish. Slowly, he crawled up to one of the canoes, and cut the
thongs that held it to its moorings. He was glad to see it swing loose, and drift away from shore. Then he
began to cut them all loose, one after the other, and push them from shore. He worked silently; for, if the
Indians heard him, it would mean certain death.
After he had cut away about a dozen canoes, an Indian came toward the shore, but the night was dark, and the
savage was tired and sleepy; so Goodman hid himself behind one of the boats and waited. The Indian took some
food out of the canoe nearest him, and went back to his howling companions.
In about three hours, all the boats were cut loose and adrift. Some were far out, and all were being carried
away by the tide. Goodman jumped into the last canoe, seized the paddles, and rowed away, uttering a loud yell
of triumph—for now he was out of danger.
The Indians rushed to the shore, but it was
 too late. Day was breaking, and they could see their canoes adrift, and they realized that they were helpless.
They howled in anger, and fired off their guns, and some of them even started to swim for their canoes. But
Goodman was too sure a shot to miss a single swimmer; he lay flat in his canoe and fired at them one by one.
Howling with rage, they gave up the pursuit, and, by sunrise, were on their way home overland. When Goodman
reached his own fort, the old men patted him on the back, while the women, with tears in their eyes, hugged
and kissed him. To this day, they tell the story of how Goodman saved the village.
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