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Afar the clouds of conflict loom;
Her hot blood leapeth like the wine; She dares the darkness and the doom; She saith, "The strength is mine."
She stretcheth out the iron hand
To seize; her lips exalt the might; She shakes the lightning from her brand And cries, "It is the light."
On sea and land the voice sublime
Dies out; red surge and smoking sod
SALTER AND PACKER.
A TRUE STORY OF OLD PORTSMOUTH.
By Caroline C. Shea.
IT the close of the Revolutionary War there lived in the little town of Portsmouth-by-theSea two middle-aged bachelors, who were fast friends with few living relatives. Salter had a room in the house of a distant cousin of the same name. A quaint old house it was, too, with its broad window seats in the great square wainscoted rooms, with fluted columns about the large fireplaces, and queerly carved balusters on the stairway leading to his roomy south chamber.
Packer, for lack of a similarly hospitable relative, lived at the tavern. Tradition does not say what tavern, but it was pleasantly enough situated -not far from the harbor, overlooking the river mouth and the blue ocean beyond. In truth it was so full of warmth and mirth and good cheer that Salter sometimes envied Packer's lack of relatives; and he visited his friend twice for every once that Packer went to him. This was a con
descension on Salter's part, for his was a prominent family and his claim. to being a gentleman was accentuated by the fact that he wore gold sleeve buttons, knee, shoe, and stock buckles; while Packer's, inherited like his friend's from his father, were only silver.
Indeed it was pleasant to sit by the big fire in the bar-for taverns in those days all had bars-and talk of the recent war, its battles and generals; or to surprise the visitors from Boston, or near-by towns, with accounts of many lucky gunning trips; or to chat of the wreck of the old Mastship on Hampton Beach, laden with all sorts of merchandise, which had made the fortune of at least two enterprising men; or of the quantities of white wax found all along the shore after the loss of a Russian vessel far out at sea. Sometimes when the storm raged without and the shutters were shut tight, and the fire burned brightly for many pokings, and the candles burned low for want of snuffing, and the fragrance of a
steaming punch bowl filled the room, they would all draw their chairs nearer the hearth and in low voices tell of the headless horseman seen in Chatham wood; of the silken clad lady who rustled in stately elegance over the stairway of General Moulton's mansion at Hampton, with her jealous and ghostly eyes frightening the second wife out of her wits in the dead of night. Then Packer, the hour growing late, would declare that his friend must not set forth in such a storm but "go up chamber and go to bed" with him.
They did not always sit in the public room, but sometimes by the cheerful fire in Packer's own apartment; and here they chattered and chuckled and grunted together over matters not to be discussed in the company below, however friendly and genial it might be. In that chamber were gathered all of Packer's earthly treasures. Over the door hung his long gun, a trusty fowling piece which had brought down many a yellow-bill coot, which had stopped the whirring of many an innocent partridge to the delight of more than one palate in the picturesque town of Portsmouth. Hard by hung the quaintly carved powder horn, and the shot pouch; while in the Salter mansion not far up the street reposed a similar gun, and accoutrements, which were Salter's pride. By the chimney hung the portraits in oil of Packer's father and mother, while there was a row of profiles in black of his three sisters and other relatives long ago dead.
the mantel shelf were his books,-the Bible, a hymn book, "Calvary," a poem by Richard Cumberland, a "Guide to Learning," the "Young Ladies' Assistant," an "Old English Reader," "A History of England," "Robinson Crusoe," and a few others. Between the south windows was a copy of the Declaration of Independence, with its fac-simile signatures, hung up map-fashion, and a sheet of war songs was tacked to another wall. On the table near the fire was a litter
of powder horns and bullet moulds, brass candlesticks, tow wadding for the guns, a couple of snuffboxes and pipes, and the tinder box, while in the corner hung his precious fiddle. Beneath the looking-glass were his toilet articles, and though they were exceedingly primitive, there was not a neater or better kept man in town than Packer. Never were silken hose drawn smoother to meet smalls; never was a cue braided nicer, or powder more evenly laid on; never was blue broadcloth freer from dust, or ruffles whiter or more daintily crimped than his, as he stepped forth in holiday attire to meet Salter similarly arrayed for some festive occasion. I say similarly arrayed, for the only difference was in the metal of their buckles and buttons, the one being silver, and the other gold, as I have already stated, and Salter wore a thin gold ring. Thus they would go arm in arm through the streets of Portsmouth, Salter's cane tapping on the hard gravel, on their way to pay some state visit, or, if it was Sunday, to church, where they sat in the Salter pew.
In many respects Salter's abode was like Packer's, only cousinly hands would take greater liberties tidying up than tavern chambermaids dared or cared to do; and in place of the fiddle was a buffet, well filled with quaint blue china, for Salter's was a veritable bachelor's hall; and, with the addition of sundry. viands from the kitchen below to the fowl roasted by his own fire, the rye cake baked in the embers, a cup of tea of his own brew, he was able, Packer said, "to live like a lord." Furthermore, he kept a hive or two of bees in the back yard, the honey from which was most delectable to the palates of the two friendly old men, who, by long feasting at each other's table, had cultivated much the same taste.
Salter and Packer were the envy of all men in Portsmouth, for, beside the happy, careless lives they led, they were welcome in many a household,
-Salter's aristocratic mien and glittering buckles lending an air of distinction to any company, while Packer's fiddle afforded much amusement. Said the landlord: “It is sartin he is a master hand at reels and hornpipes;" and to Sunday tunes and songs he lent a most solemn or pathetic air. This envy was heightened by an annual "going abroad." Going abroad in those days did not mean crossing the ocean, but any sort of visit though only a tea drinking with the next neighbor. What a busy time there was for three or four days before they set out on their gunning trip to Hampton! Certain calls had to be made and good-byes said; then what a packing there was of many boxes. Some were filled with powder, lead, and bullet moulds, flint and tow wadding; one with the gunning suit and bags; and another with the broadcloth and ruffles for some company occasion. Then there was Packer's precious fiddle; while Salter, whose hair was thin, must not fail to put in his best false piece. After all was in readiness they would set forth on a bright October day in the stage, the admiration of the gaping crowd gathered about the tavern door, the goodbyes of the people of the inn sounding in their ears, with the barking of several dogs whose favorite Packer was.
The journey was always uneventful. They were left at the tavern in Hampton, where the stage changed horses and continued on its way to Newburyport, while Salter and Packer went on foot to Squire Knowles's, where travellers who did not stay at the tavern might find accommodation. The Squire's was a mile or two nearer the sea and opposite Captain Marston's, the guide and companion of their hunting trips. The Captain was as genial and fond of sport as either Salter or Packer, and like them unencumbered with a wife, for he had been a widower for many years.
What a place for gunning Hampton was to be sure! The woods were full of partridges and wild pigeons;
the marshes abounded in yellowlegs and plover; the meadows were the haunt of blue-winged teal and black duck; while flocks of yellow-billed coots, white gulls, and big fat loons made the ocean the favorite sporting ground. It was pleasant to rustle. through the October woods, or to ramble over the beautiful meadow in search of game; but for real sport, give Salter and Packer a call on a frosty autumn morning at daybreak. Let them go with Captain Marston to the sea, haul their boats down the gangway, and push off on the bounding wave. There was the boat to manage as well as the fowl to shoot on the wing. The gunners were lying all about, waiting for every shot that was. missed. There were cries from boat to boat as good or bad shots were made, and when the fowl came in great companies what care had to be taken lest one get excited! When the birds flew high and shy, it was only the best aim that brought them down. In the evening they would meet by the fire in Captain Marston's foreroom with other choice spirits of their kind and tell stories of former gunning days, melt the lead in a big shining brass spoon or a tiny threelegged pot for the moulds, and make all preparations for the following morning; while a mug of cider sat on the hearth to mull, and the loggerhead heated in the fire for the goodnight bowl of flip.
These pleasant days passed all too soon. There was the Squire's party, -he was a bachelor also, and during the visit of Salter and Packer always gave a party. Old Mrs. Knowles spent three days getting ready for it, -for the Squire was her only son and her joy and pride. There were his ruffles to crimp, his broadcloth to dust, and his buckles to shine. The pewter platters and porringers were scoured, the silver spoons rubbed up, and the knives and forks polished. There were birds to dress, a goose to stuff, and such a baking of pound and election cake, pumpkin and mince
pies. There was cider apple sauce to prepare and cranberries to stew; while on the last day, the day of the feast, the choicest cheese was cut, the clearest honeycomb selected, the golden butter made. made into dainty shapes, and many tiny pitchers filled with yellow cream. The bottles of wine, brandy, cordials and gin were taken from the liquor case and placed in a row on the secretary, with a variety of glasses and tumblers. Last there was the braiding of the Squire's cue and a careful dusting of it with powder. It was a men's party and only the "tops of the town" were invited. What wit, mirth and jollity there was; and what tales of witches and ghosts, of buried treasure and compacts made with the devil, of valorous deeds in battle and pathetic tears in love, all true! Packer's fiddle was there to accompany both song and dance. The Squire's party was always a success. "Indeed," declared Salter, "it couldn't be done better in Portsmouth,—a little more mahogany and plate, but no truer hospitality or better cheer or keener wit.
The day of packing and farewells would come. Mistress Knowles never set any price on her hospitality. "For 'tis no tavern," said she. "Please yourself and you please me." Holding out her hand for the reckoning, Packer would put in a coin and Salter would do likewise; but the hand never moved until another and another would find its way there. "And bless me," said Packer, "she'd be holding it out till now, Salter, if we didn't pick up our hat boxes and be off."
Thus the stream of life glided on. Time touched them gently, but still they were growing old. Each scarcely knew it of himself and only to a small extent of the other. "How Salter scuffs!" Packer said to himself one day, as he heard his friend coming through the hall. "How loud I have to speak to Packer! He must be a little deef," thought Salter; and
each felt the other must be getting along in years. Though neither spoke, they found themselves selecting the pleasant summer time for their trips to Hampton, where they might potter over the marshes and rest behind a haystack, instead of laboring with the oars or putting aging eyesight and nerves to the severe test of hunting sea fowl.
Though they were such fast friends, each had a secret; and sometimes when alone, each, with a guilty feeling tugging at his heart, would make up his mind that he would confide with the other on the morrow. But somehow that to-morrow of confidences never came. Salter's secret was a harmless one of long standing and had to do with his gold ring. When a young man he fell in love with a fair damsel, bewitched by pink ribbons in a bonnet and pink roses on a cheek. He quite lost his heart, and the young coquette led him on and on until they exchanged rings; but he heard her "called" in the meetinghouse one Sunday with another swain. Salter always wore the ring and in his heart carried an unfading picture of ribbons and roses, and an undying love for Packer was the coquette's only rival.
Packer's secret was of a different nature. Packer enjoyed life beyond his means which were fast coming to an end. His raiment was too fine, his fare too substantial, his punch too often, and his "going abroad" quite incompatible with the state of his finances; but still he never told Salter. His secret burned and glowed a secret still, until one day he found himself helplessly and hopelessly in debt with the prison staring him in the face. In fact the sheriff was already present to escort him to jail, and Salter did not know it. The landlady bade him good-by, declaring that she would send every one of his things to him and that she would never trouble him for the bit he owed her; adding, with a tear in her eye, that he had always been a credit to her house, and