The Tory Lover -- Contents

.The Tory Lover by Sarah Orne Jewett

Chapter XII
BETWEEN DECKS

"'But when shall I see Athens and the Acropolis again?'
"'Wretched man! doth not that satisfy thee which thou seest every day? Hast thou aught better or greater to see than the sun, the moon, the stars, the common earth, the sea?'"

"Who would Hercules have been if he had sat at home?"
 

     The Ranger was under full sail, and ran like a hound; she had cleared the Banks with all their snow squalls and thick nights, without let or hindrance. The captain's boast that he would land his dispatches and spread the news of Burgoyne's surrender in France in thirty days seemed likely to come true. The men were already beginning to show effects of constant vigilance and overwork; but whatever discomforts might arrive, the splendid seamanship of Paul Jones could only be admired by such thorough-going sailors as made up the greater portion of his crew. The younger members of the ship's company were full of gayety if the wind and work eased ever so little, and at any time, by night or day, some hearty voice might be heard practicing the strains of a stirring song new made by one of the midshipmen: -

     "That is why we Brave the Blast
     To carry the news to Lon-don."

     There were plenty of rival factions and jealousies. The river men were against all strangers; and even the river men had their own divisions, their warm friendships and cold aversions, so that now and then some smouldering fire came perilously near an outbreak. The tremendous pressure of work alow and aloft, the driving wind, the heavy tumbling seas, the constant exposure and strain in such trying duty and incessant service of the sails, put upon every man all that he could well bear, and sent him to his berth as tired as a dog.

     It takes but little while for a good shipmaster to discover who are the difficult men in his crew, the sea lawyers and breeders of dissatisfaction. The captain of the Ranger was a man of astonishing readiness both to blame and praise; nobody could resist his inspiriting enthusiasm and dominating presence, but in absence he was often proved wrong, and roundly cursed, as captains are, with solid satisfaction of resentment. Everybody cheered when he boldly declared against flogging, and even tossed that horrid sea-going implement, the cat, lightly over the ship's side. Even in this surprising moment, one of the old seamen had growled that when you saw a man too good, it was the time to look out for him.

     "I dasen't say but it's about time to get a fuss going," said one of these mariners to a friend, later on. "Ginerally takes about ten days to start a row atween decks, 'less you're extra eased off with good weather."

     "This bad weather's all along o' Dickson," ventured his comrade; "if they'd known what they was about, he'd been the fust man they'd hasted to set ashore. I know him; I've knowed him ever since he was a boy. I see him get a black stripe o' rage acrost his face when he seen Mr. Wallin'ford come aboard, that mornin'. Wallin'ford's folks cotched him thievin' when he had his fat chance o' surveyor up country, after the old judge died. He cut their growth on his own account and done a sight o' tricks, and Madam dismissed him, and would ha' jailed him but for pity of his folks. I always wished she'd done it; 't would ha' stamped him plain, if he'd seen the inside o' old York jail for a couple o' years. As 't was, he had his own story to tell, and made out how he was the injured one; so there was some o' them fools that likes to be on the off side that went an' upheld him. Oh, Dickson's smart, and some calls him pious, but I wish you'd seen him the day Madam Wallin'ford sent for him to speak her mind! That mornin' we was sailin' out o' Porchmouth, I see him watch the young man as if he was layin' for him like a tiger! There he is now, comin' out o' the cabin. I guess the cap'n's been rakin' him fore an' aft. He hates him; an' Simpson hates him, too, but not so bad. Simpson don't jibe with the cap'n hisself, so he demeans himself to hark to Dickson more 'n he otherwise would. Lord, what a cur'ous world this is!"

     "What's that n'ise risin' out o' the fo'c's'le now, Cooper? Le' 's go see!" and the two old comrades made haste to go below.
 

     Paul Jones gave a hearty sigh, as he sat alone in his cabin, and struck his fist into the empty air. He also could hear the sound of a loud quarrel from the gun deck, and for a moment indulged a fierce hope that somebody might be well punished, or even killed, just to lessen the number of citizens in this wrangling village with which he had put to sea. They had brought aboard all the unsettled rivalries and jealousies of a most independent neighborhood.

     He looked about him as he sat; then rose and impatiently closed one of his lockers where there was an untidy fold of crumpled clothing hanging out. What miserable surroundings and conditions for a man of inborn fastidiousness and refinement of nature!

     Yet this new ship, so fast growing toward the disgusting squalor of an old one; these men, with their cheap suspicions and narrow ambitions, were the strong tools ready to his hand. It was a manly crew as crews go, and like-minded in respect to their country's wrongs.

     "I feel it in my breast that I shall some day be master in a great sea fight!" said the little captain as he sat alone, while the Ranger labored against the waves, and the light of heroic endurance came back to his eyes as he saw again the splendid vision that had ever led him on.

     "Curse that scoundrel Dickson!" and his look darkened. "Patience, patience! If I were a better sleeper, I could face everything that can come in a man's day; I could face the devil himself. The wind's in the right quarter now, and the sea's going down. I'll go on deck and give all hands some grog, - I'll give it them myself; the poor fellows are cold and wet, and they serve me like men. We're getting past the worst," and again Paul Jones fell to studying his charts as if they were love letters writ by his lady's hand.
 

     Cooper and Hanscom had come below to join the rest of their watch, and still sat side by side, being old shipmates and friends. There was an easy sort of comfort in being together. Just now they spoke again in low voices of young Mr. Wallingford.

     "Young master looks wamble-cropped to me," said Hanscom. "Don't fancy privateerin' so well as ridin' a blood horse on Porchmouth Parade, and bein' courted by the Tory big-bugs. Looks wintry in the face to me."

     "Lord bless us, when he's old 's we are, he'll l'arn that spring al'ays gets round again long 's a creatur' 's alive," answered Cooper, who instinctively gave a general turn to the discussion. "Ary thing that's livin' knows its four seasons, an' I've long maintained that after the wust o' winter, spring usu'lly doos come follerin' right on."

     "I don't know but it's so," agreed his mate politely. Cooper would have these fanciful notions, while Hanscom was a plain-spoken man.

     "What I'd like to know," said he, "yes, what I'd like to ascertain, is what young Squire Wallin'ford ever come for; 't ain't in his blood to fight on our side, an' he's too straight-minded to play the sneak. Also, he never come from cowardice. No, I can't make it out noway. Sometimes folks mistakes their duty, and risks their all. Bain't spyin' round to do no hurt, is he? - or is he?"

     There was a sharp suggestion in the way this question was put, and Cooper turned fiercely upon his companion.

     "Hunscom, I be ashamed of you!" he said scornfully, and said no more. There was a dull warmth of color in his hard, sea-smitten face; he was an elderly, quiet man, with a round, pleasant countenance unaltered in the worst of weather, and a look of kindly tolerance.

     "There's b'en some consid'able changin' o' sides in our neighborhood, as you know," he said, a few moments later, in his usual tone. "Young Wallin'ford went to school to Master Sullivan, and the old master l'arnt everybody he could l'arn to be honest an' square, to hold by their word, an' be afeared o' nothin'."

     "Pity 't was that Dickson couldn't ha' got a term o' such schoolin'," said Hanscom, as they beheld that shipmate's unwelcome face peering down the companion.

     "Sometimes I wish I was to home again," announced Cooper, in an unexpected fit of despondency. "I don' know why; 't aint usual with me to have such feelin's in the outset of a v'y'ge. I grow sicker every day o' this flat, strivin' sea. I was raised on a good hill. I don' know how I ever come to foller the sea, anyway!"
 

     The forecastle was a forlorn abiding-place at best, and crowded at any hour almost past endurance. The one hint of homeliness and decency was in the well-made sea chests, which had not been out of place against a steadier wall in the farmhouses whence most of them had come. They were of plain wood, with a touch of art in their rude carving; many of them were painted dull green or blue. There were others with really handsome escutcheons of wrought iron, and all were graced with fine turk's-heads to their rope handles, and every ingenuity of sailors' fancywork.

     There was a grumbling company of able seamen, their owners, who had no better place to sit than the chest tops, or to stretch at idle length with these treasuries to lean against. The cold sea was nearer to a man than when he was on deck and could reassure himself of freedom by a look at the sky. The hammocks were here and there sagging with the rounded bulk of a sleeping owner, and all jerked uneasily as the vessel pitched and rolled by turns. The air was close and heavy with dampness and tobacco smoke.

     At this moment the great sea boots of Simon Staples were seen descending from the deck above, and stumbling dangerously on the slippery straight ladder.

     "Handsomely, handsomely," urged a spectator, with deep solicitude.

     "She's goin' large now, ain't she? How's she headin' now?" asked a man named Grant.

     "She's full an' by, an' headin' east by south half east, - same 's we struck out past the Isles o' Shoals," was the mirthful answer. "She can't keep to nothin', an' the cap'n's got to make another night on 't. But she's full an' by, just now, all you lazy larbowlines," he repeated cheerfully, at last getting his head down under decks as his foot found the last step. "She's been on a good leadin' wind this half hour back, an' he's got the stu'n'sails set again; 't is all luff an' touch her, this v'y'ge."

     There was a loud groan from the listeners. The captain insisted upon spreading every rag the ship could stagger under, and while they admired his persistent daring, it was sometimes too much for flesh and blood.

     Staples was looking ruefully at his yarn mittens. They were far beyond the possibility of repair, and he took off first one and then the other of these cherished reminders of much logging experience, and, sitting on his sea chest, began to ravel what broken gray yarn was left and to wind it into a ball.

     "Goin' to knit you another pair?" inquired Hanscom. "That's clever; empl'y your idle moments."

     "Mend up his stockin's, you fool!" explained Grant, who was evidently gifted with some sympathetic imagination.

     "I wish they was thumbs up on the stakes o' my old wood-sled," said Staples. "There, when I'm to sea I wish 's how I was lumberin', an' when I'm in the woods I'm plottin' how to git to sea again; ain't no suitin' of me neither way. I al'ays wanted to be aboard a fast sailer, an' here I be thrashin' along, an' lamentin' 'cause my mittins is wore out the fust fortnight."

     "My! I wish old Master Hackett that built her could see how she runs!" he exclaimed next moment, as if a warm admiration still had power to cheer him. "I marked her lines for a beauty the day I see her launched: 't was what drove me here. There was plenty a-watchin' her on Langdon's Island that hoped she'd stick in the stays, but she took the water like a young duck."

     "He'd best not carry so much sail when she's clawin' to wind'ard close hauled," growled James Chase, an old Nantucket seaman, with a warning shake of the head. "'T won't take much to lay her clear down, I can tell him! I never see a ship drove so, in my time. Lord help every soul aboard if she wa'n't so weatherly!"

     Fernald and Sherburne, old Portsmouth sailors, wagged their sage heads in solemn agreement; but William Young, a Dover man, with a responsible look, was waiting with some impatience for Chase to stand out of the poor supply of light that came down the narrow hatchway. Young was reading an old copy of the New Hampshire Gazette that had already been the solace of every reading man aboard.

     "What in time's been the matter amongst ye?" Staples now inquired, with interest. "I heard as how there was a fuss goin' down below; ain't ary bully-raggin' as I can see; dull as meetin'!" Hanscom and Cooper looked up eagerly; some of the other men only laughed for answer; but Chase signified that the trouble lay with their messmate Starbuck, who appeared to be surly, and sat with his back to the company. He now turned and displayed a much-disfigured countenance, but said nothing.

     "What's the cap'n about now?" Chase hastened to inquire pointedly.

     "He's up there a-cunnin' the ship," answered Staples. "He's workin' the life out o' Grosvenor at the wheel. I just come from the maintop; my arms aches as if they'd been broke with a crowbar. I lost my holt o' the life line whilst we was settin' the stu'n's'l there on the maintops'l yard, an' I give me a dreadful wrench. He hadn't ought to send them green boys to such places, neither; pore little Johnny Downes was makin' out to do his stent like a man, but the halyards got fouled in the jewel blocks, an' for all he's so willin'-hearted the tears was a-runnin' down his cheeks when he come back. I was skeert the wind'd blow him off like a whirligig off a stick, an' I spoke sharp to him so 's to brace him, an' give him a good boxed ear when I got him in reach. He was about beat, an' half froze anyway; his fingers looked like the p'ints o' parsnips. When he got back he laid right over acrost the cap. I left him up there a-clingin' on."

     "He worked as handsome a pair o' man-rope knots as I ever see, settin' here this mornin'," said Cooper, compassionately. "He'll make a good smart sailor, but he needs to grow; he's dreadful small to send aloft in a spell o' weather. The cap'n don't save himself, this v'y'ge, nor nobody else."

     "Come, you'd as good 's hear what Starbuck's b'en saying," said Chase, with a wink. He had been waiting impatiently for this digression to end.

     "That spry-tempered admiral o' yourn don't know how to treat a crew!" Starbuck burst forth, at this convenient opportunity. "Some on us gits a whack ivery time he parades the deck. He's re'lly too outdacious for decent folks. This arternoon I was a-loungin' on the gratin's an' got sort o' drowsin' off, an' I niver heared him comin' nor knowed he was there. Along he come like some upstropelous poppet an' give me a cuff side o' my head. I dodged the next one, an' spoke up smart 'fore I knowed what I was doin'. 'Damn ye, le' me be!' says I, an' he fetched me another on my nose here; most stunded me.

     "'I'll l'arn ye to make yourself sca'ce! Keep to the port-hand side where ye belong! Remember you're aboard a man-o'-war!' says he, hollerin' like a crowin' pullet. ''T ain't no fishin' smack! Go forrard! Out o' the way with ye!' says he, same 's I was a stray dog. I run to the side, my nose was a-bleedin' so, an' I fumbled arter somethin' to serve me for a hankicher.

     "'Here's mine,' says he, 'but you've got to understand there's discipline on this frigate,' says he. Joseph Fernald knows where I was," continued the sufferer; "you see me, Joseph, when you come past. 'Twa'n't larboard nor starboard; 't was right 'midships, 'less I may have rolled one way or t'other. I could ha' squinched him so all the friends he'd ever needed 'd be clargy an' saxon, an' then to pass me his linning handkicher 's if I was a young lady! I dove into my pockets an' come upon this old piece o' callamink I'd wropped up some 'baccy in. I never give a look at him; I d' know but he gallded me more when he was pleasant 'n when he fetched me the clip. I ketched up a lingum-vitæ marlinspike I see by me an' took arter him. I should ha' hit him good, but he niver turned to look arter me, an' I come to reason. If I'd had time, I'd ha' hit him, if I'd made the rest o' this v'y'ge in irons."

     "Lord sakes! don't you bluster no more!" advised old Mr. Cooper soothingly, with a disapproving glance at the pleased audience. "Shipmasters like him ain't goin' to ask ye every mornin' how seafarin' agrees with ye. He ain't goin' to treat hisself nor none on us like passengers. He ain't had three hours sleep a night sence this v'y'ge begun. He's been studyin' his charts this day, with his head set to 'em on the cabin table 's if they showed the path to heaven. They was English charts, too, 'long by Bristol an' up there in the Irish Sea. I see 'em through the sky-light."

     "I'll bate he's figurin' to lay outside some o' them very ports an' cut out some han'some prizes," said Falls, one of the gunners, looking down out of his hammock. Falls was a young man full of enthusiasm, who played the fiddle.

     "You'll find 't will be all glory for him, an' no prizes for you, my young musicianer!" answered Starbuck, who was a discouraged person by nature. Now that he had a real grievance his spirits seemed to rise. "Up hammocks all! Show a leg!" he gayly ordered the gunner.

     "Wall, I seldom seen so good a navigator as the cap'n in my time," insisted Staples. "He knows every man's duty well 's his own, an' that he knows to a maracle."

     "I'll bate any man in this fo'c's'le that he's a gre't fighter; you wait an' see the little wasp when he's gittin' into action!" exclaimed Chase, who had been with Paul Jones on the Alfred. "He knows no fear an' he sticks at nothin'! You hold on till we're safe in Channel, an' sight one o' them fat-bellied old West Injymen lo'ded deep an' headed up for London. Then you'll see Gre't Works in a way you niver expected."

     This local allusion was not lost upon most members of the larboard watch, and Starbuck's wrongs, with the increasing size of his once useful nose, were quite disregarded in the hopeful laughter which followed.

     "Hand me the keerds," said one of the men lazily. "Falls, there, knows a couple o' rale queer tricks."

     "You keep 'em dowsed; if he thinks we ain't sleepin' or eatin', so 's to git our courage up," said Staples, "he'll have every soul on us aloft. Le' 's set here where 't 's warm an' put some kecklin' on Starbuck; the cap'n 's 'n all places to once, with eyes like gimblets, an' the wind 's a-blowin' up there round the lubber holes like the mouth o' hell."

     Chase, the Nantucket sailor, looked at him, with a laugh.

     "What a farmer you be," he exclaimed. "Makes me think of a countryman, shipmate o' mine on the brig Polly Dunn. We was whaling in the South Seas, an' it come on to blow like fury; we was rollin' rails under, an' I was well skeert myself; feared I couldn't keep my holt; him an' me was on the fore yard together. He looked dreadful easy an' pleasant. I thought he'd be skeert too, if he knowed enough, an' I kind o' swore at the fool an' axed him what he was a-thinkin' of. 'Why, 't is the 20th o' May,' says he; 'all the caows goes to pastur' to-day, to home in Eppin'!'"

     There was a cheerful chuckle from the audience. Grant alone looked much perplexed.

     "Why, 't is the day, ain't it?" he protested. "What be you all a-laughin' at?"

     At this moment there was a strange lull; the wind fell, and the Ranger stopped rolling, and then staggered as if she balked at some unexpected danger. One of the elder seamen gave an odd warning cry. A monstrous hammer seemed to strike the side, and a great wave swept over as if to bury them forever in the sea. The water came pouring down and flooded the forecastle knee-deep. There was an outcry on deck, and an instant later three loud knocks on the scuttle.

     "All the larboard watch ahoy!" bawled John Dougall. "Hear the news, can't ye? All hands up! All hands on deck!"
 


Notes

"'But when shall I see Athens and the Acropolis again?'
"Who would Hercules have been if he had sat at home?"
    Both of these quotations are from Arrian's, The Discourses of Epictetus, Book II, Chapter 16.
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Burgoyne's surrender: October 17, 1777. See Burgoyne in People and Places.
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To carry the news to Lon-don: Augustus Buell in Paul Jones gives the final stanza, quoted from a letter of Jones to Joseph Hewes (p. 84):

     So, now we had him hard and fast,
     Burgoyne laid down his Arms at Last
     And that is why we Brace the Blast,
               To carry the News to London!
          Heigh-ho! Car'r'y'y the News!
               Go! Carry the News to London.
               Tell Old King George he's undone!
          Heigh-ho! Car'r'y'y the News!

However, S. E. Morison in John Paul Jones says that Buell fabricated the account of this "chantry." (426).
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the cat: the-cat-of-nine-tails, a kind of whip used for flogging. Augustus Buell quotes an account of Henry Gardner, who served under Jones on the Ranger and the Bon Homme Richard: "Above all things he hated the cat-o'-nine tails. In two of his ships - The Providence and the Ranger - he threw it overboard the first day out" (Buell 1;186). Though other biographers characterize Jones's discipline as strict but kindly, the story of throwing away the "cat" has not been verified. Jones might have been sensitive about using this instrument of discipline, since he was accused and exonerated of murder as a result of flogging a man under his command in 1770 (Morison, Ch. 2).
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cut their growth on his own account: This seems to mean that Dickson stole timber from the Wallingfords, cutting their growth of timber and selling it as his own.
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wamble-cropped: a localism probably meaning nauseated. "Wamble" refers to queasy motion in the stomach, and "crop" may refer to a bird's crop, part of its digestive system.
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privateerin': Privateers were privately own ships licensed by a national navy to capture and take enemy commercial ships during wartime. The United States employed privateers against the British in the Revolution. In "The Old Town of Berwick," Jewett says, "This region bore its part in all the wars with generosity and bravery. The famous crew of John Paul Jones and the "Ranger" was mainly gathered from the shores of the river. One of the last of his sailors was, in his extreme old age, my father's patient." See also, "River Driftwood" in Country By-Ways.
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Porchmouth Parade: Portsmouth. (See People and Places for details).
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turk's-heads: a Turk's Head decorative knot is turban shaped, formed by working on a rope with a small piece of line.
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lazy larbowlines: The Seaman's Friend: Containing a Treatise on Practical Seamanship, with Plates; A Dictionary of Sea Terms; Customs and Usages of the Merchant Service; Laws Relating to the Practical Duties of Master and Mariners (1851) by R. H. Dana, Jr. defines terms in this chapter.

     Larbowlines are the men on the larboard watch.
     luff an' touch her is the order to bring the vessel up and see how near she will go to the wind.
     a-cunnin,' conning or cunning is directing the helmsman in steering a vessel.
     jewel blocks are single blocks at the yard-arms, through which the studding sail halyards lead.
         (Research: Gabe Heller)
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New Hampshire Gazette: "The first newspaper in the State, the New Hampshire Gazette, was established in Portsmouth in 1756 by David Fowle, and has been appearing each week ever since, the oldest continuously published newspaper in the United States. David Fowle, the printer, had begun business in Boston in 1740, but in 1754 he was arrested by order of the Massachusetts House of Representatives on suspicion of having printed a pamphlet entitled 'The Monster of Monsters, by Tom Thumb, Esq.,' which contained severe criticisms of some of the members of the House. Finally released from prison without trial, Fowle was so disgusted with the government of Massachusetts that he transferred his printing house to Portsmouth." Source: New Hampshire: A Guide to the Granite State by the Federal Writer's Project (1938),
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upstropelous: Mispronunciation of obstreperous (humorous or illiterate), clamorous noise or outcry especially in opposition. (Source: OED; Research: Travis Feltman)
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callamink: A varied pronunciation of calamanco -- a woolen stuff of Flanders (perhaps of camel's hair), glossy on the surface, and woven with a satin twill and chequered in the warp, so that the checks are seen on one side only; much used in the 18th century. (Source: OED; Research: Travis Feltman)
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lingum-vitæ marlinspike: A marlinspike is an iron pin, sharpened at one end, and having a hole in the other for a lanyard. It has a variety of uses. Lingnum-vitae is a tropical tree with very hard wood that might be used in place of iron in a marlinspike. (Research: Gabe Heller)
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the Alfred ... West Injymen: Jones was a lieutenant on the Alfred in 1775-6, in one of the first cruises of what came to be the American navy. It has not been confirmed that Chase served on the Alfred with Jones. See Chase in People and Places.  A West Indiaman is a ship in the trade between England and colonies in the Americas.
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Gre't Works ... the local allusion: It seems that Chase, though he is said to be a Nantucket sailor, knows the area of South Berwick. At least for South Berwick sailors, this would be a local allusion to the Great Works River that enters the Salmon Falls River at South Berwick and to the 18th-century saw-mills that derived power from the Great Works.
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keerds: a deck of cards.
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put some kecklin' on Starbuck: According to Webster's 1913 Dictionary, Keckling is "old rope or iron chains wound around a cable." (Research: Gabe Heller)
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the brig Polly Dunn: The existence of such a ship and Chase's service on it have not been verified. Assistance is welcome.
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caows goes to pastur':  In 18th-century New England, livestock would be gathered from local owners and herded to a common pasture in the summer.
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The Tory Lover -- Contents