Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

Captain Kidd’s Money
by [?]

One of our most favorite legendary resorts was the old barn. Sam Lawson preferred it on many accounts. It was quiet and retired, that is to say, at such distance from his own house, that he could not hear if Hepsy called ever so loudly, and farther off than it would be convenient for that industrious and painstaking woman to follow him. Then there was the soft fragrant cushion of hay, on which his length of limb could be easily bestowed. Our barn had an upper loft with a swinging outer door that commanded a view of the old mill, the waterfall, and the distant windings of the river, with its grassy green banks, its graceful elm draperies, and its white flocks of water-lilies; and then on this Saturday afternoon we had Sam all to ourselves. It was a drowsy, dreamy October day, when the hens were lazily “craw, crawing,” in a soft, conversational undertone with each other, as they scratched and picked the hay-seed under the barn windows. Below in the barn black Caesar sat quietly hatchelling flax, sometimes gurgling and giggling to himself with an overflow of that interior jollity with which he seemed to be always full. The African in New England was a curious contrast to everybody around him in the joy and satisfaction that he seemed to feel in the mere fact of being alive. Every white person was glad or sorry for some appreciable cause in the past, present, or future, which was capable of being definitely stated; but black Caesar was in an eternal giggle and frizzle and simmer of enjoyment for which he could give no earthly reason: he was an “embodied joy,” like Shelley’s skylark.

“Jest hear him,” said Sam Lawson, looking pensively over the hay-mow, and strewing hayseed down on his wool. “How that ‘are critter seems to tickle and laugh all the while ’bout nothin’. Lordy massy! he don’t seem never to consider that ‘this life’s a dream, an empty show.'”

“Look here, Sam,” we broke in, anxious to cut short a threatened stream of morality, “you promised to tell us about Capt. Kidd, and how you dug for his money.”

“Did I, now? Wal, boys, that ‘are history o’ Kidd’s is a warnin’ to fellers. Why, Kidd had pious parents and Bible and sanctuary privileges when he was a boy, and yet come to be hanged. It’s all in this ‘ere song I’m a goin’ to sing ye. Lordy massy! I wish I had my bass-viol now.–Caesar,” he said, calling down from his perch, “can’t you strike the pitch o’ ‘Cap’n Kidd,’ on your fiddle?”

Caesar’s fiddle was never far from him. It was, in fact, tucked away in a nice little nook just over the manger; and he often caught an interval from his work to scrape a dancing-tune on it, keeping time with his heels, to our great delight.

A most wailing minor-keyed tune was doled forth, which seemed quite refreshing to Sam’s pathetic vein, as he sang in his most lugubrious tones,–

“‘My name was Robert Kidd
As I sailed, as I sailed,
My name was Robert Kidd;
God’s laws I did forbid,
And so wickedly I did,
As I sailed, as I sailed.’

“Now ye see, boys, he’s a goin’ to tell how he abused his religious privileges; just hear now:–

“‘My father taught me well,
As I sailed, as I sailed;
My father taught me well
To shun the gates of hell,
But yet I did rebel,
As I sailed, as I sailed.

“‘He put a Bible in my hand,
As I sailed, as I sailed;
He put a Bible in my hand,
And I sunk it in the sand
Before I left the strand,
As I sailed, as I sailed.’

“Did ye ever hear o’ such a hardened, contrary critter, boys? It’s awful to think on. Wal, ye see that ‘are’s the way fellers allers begin the ways o’ sin, by turnin’ their backs on the Bible and the advice o’ pious
parents. Now hear what he come to:–