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penter. With this trade at his fingers’ ends he went to Boston, and there first learned to read and write, accomplishments which had not penetrated to the Kennebec. His next step was to marry, his wife being a widow, a Mrs. Hull, with little money but good connections. She lifted our carpenter a step higher in the social scale. At that time, says his biographer, “he was one tall beyond the common set of men, and thick as well as tall, and strong as well as thick; exceedingly robust, and able to conquer such difficulties of diet and of travel as would have killed most men alive. He was of a very comely though a very manly countenance,” and in character of “a most incomparable generosity." He hated anything small or mean, was somewhat choleric, but not given to nourish malice.
To this notable young man there soon came an adventure. He had become a master workman, and built a ship for some Boston merchants on the river Sheepscote, a few leagues from his native Kennebec. The vessel was finished, and ready to be loaded with lumber; but its first cargo proved to be very different from that which Phips had designed. For Indians attacked the settlement; the inhabitants, flying for their lives, crowded on board the vessel, and Phips set sail with a shipload of his old friends and neighbors, who could pay him only in thanks. It is not unlikely that some of his own brothers and sisters were among the rescued. Certainly the extensive family of Phips must have spread somewhat widely over the coast region of Maine.
Williarn Phips's first adventure had proved unprofitable except in works of charity. But he was not one to be easily put down, having in his nature an abundance of the perilous stuff of ambition. He was not the man to sit down and wait for fortune to come to him. Rather, he belonged to those who go to seek fortune. He was determined, he told his wife, to become captain of a king's ship, and owner of a fair brick house in the Green Lane of North Boston. It took him some eight or nine years to make good the first of these predictions, and then, in the year 1683, he sailed into the harbor of Boston as captain of the “ Algier Rose," a frigate of eighteen guns and ninety-five men.
It was by the magic wand of sunken silver that our hero achieved this success. The treasures of Peru, loaded on Spanish ships, had not all reached the ports of Spain. Some cargoes of silver had gone to the bottom of the Atlantic. Phips had heard of such a wreck on the Bahamas, had sailed thither, and had made enough money by the enterprise to pay him for a voyage to England. While in the Ba. hamas he had been told of another Spanish wreck, “wherein was lost a mighty treasure, hitherto un. discovered.” It was this that took him to England. He had made up his mind to be the discoverer of this sunken treasure-ship. The idea took possession of him wholly. His hope was to interest some wealthy persons, or the government itself, in his design. The man must have had in him something of that silver. tongued eloquence which makes persuasion easy, for the royalties at Whiteball heard him with favor and support, and he came back to New England captain
of a king's ship, with full powers to search the seas for silver.
And now we have reached the verge of the romance of the life of William Phips. He had befyre him a difficult task, but he possessed the qualities which enable men to meet and overcome difficulty. The silver-ship was said to have been sunk somewhere near the Bahamas; the exact spot it was not easy to learn, for half a century had passed since its demise. Sailing thither in the “Algier Rose,” Phips set himself to find the sunken treasure. Here and there he dredged, using every effort to gain information, trying every spot available, ending now in disappointment, starting now with renewed hope, continuing with unflagging energy. His frequent failures would have discouraged a common man, but Phips was not a common man, and would not accept defeat.
The resolute searcher had more than the difficulties of the sea-bottom to contend with. His men lost hope, grew weary of unprofitable labor, and at last rose in mutiny. They fancied that they saw their way clear to an easier method of getting silver, and marched with drawn cutlasses to the quarter-deck, where they bade their commander to give up his useless search and set sail for the South Seas. There they would become pirates, and get silver without dredging or drudging.
It was a dangerous crisis. Phips stood with empty hands before that crew of armed and reckless men. Yet choler and courage proved stronger than sword-blades. Roused to fury, he rushed upon the mutineers with bare hands, knocked them down till the deck was strewn with fallen bodies, and by sheer force of anger and fearlessness quelled the mutiny and forced the men to return to their duty.
They were quelled, but not conquered. The daring adventurer was to have a more dangerous encounter with these would-be pirates. Some further time had passed in fruitless search. The frigate lay careened beside a rock of a Bahaman island, some eight or ten men being at work on its barnacled sides, while the others had been allowed to go on shore. They pretended that they wished to take a ramble in the tropical woods. What they wished to do was to organize a more effectual mutiny, seize the ship, leave the captain and those who held with him on that island, and sail away as lawless rovers of the deep.
Under the great trees of that Spanish island, moss-grown and bowery, in a secluded spot which nature seemed to have set aside for secret counsels, the mutinous crew perfected their plans, and signed a round-robin compact which pledged all present to the perilous enterprise. One man they needed to make their project sure. They could not do without the carpenter. He was at work on the vessel. They sent him a message to come to them in the woods. He came, heard their plans, affected to look on them favorably, but asked for a half-hour to consider the matter. This they were not disposed to grant. They must have an answer at once. The carpenter looked about him ; dark and resolute faces surrounded him. Yet he earnestly declared he must have the time. They vigorously declared he should not. He was persistent, and in the end prevailed. The halfhour respite was granted.
The carpenter then said that he must return to the vessel. His absence from his work would look suspicious. They could send a man with him to sce that he kept faith. The enterprise would be in danger if the captain noticed his absence. The mutineers were not men of much intelligence or shrewdness, and consented to his return. The carpenter, who had at heart no thought of joining the mutineers, had gained his point and saved the ship. In spite of the guard upon his movements he managed to get a minute's interview with Captain Phips, in which he told him what was afoot.
He was quickly at his post again, and under the eyes of his guard, but he had accomplished his purpose. Captain Phips was quick to realize the danger, and called about him those who were still in the ship. They all agreed to stand by him. By good fortune the gunner was among them. The energetic captain lost no time in devising what was to be done. During the work on the ship the provisions had been taken ashore and placed in a tent, where several pieces of artillery were mounted to defend them, in case the Spaniards, to whom the island belonged, should appear. Quickly but quietly these guns were brought back to the ship. Then they and the other guns of the ship were loaded and brought to bear on the tent, and the gangway which connected the ship with the land was drawn on board. No great