The Dark Frigate

The Dark Frigate

by Charles Boardman Hawes


View All Available Formats & Editions
Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details


Get swept up in this historical Newbery Award winner about pirates and the open seas

Fans of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island will love this original, award-winning young adult story! In seventeenth-century London, Phil, a nineteen-year-old sailor, has been recently orphaned. After an accident involving a gun, Phil runs away, soon ending up on a sailing ship, Rose of Devon. Phil works his way up in the ranks aboard the ship, being promoted to boatswain after the original dies in an accident.

In the aftermath of a violent storm, Rose of Devon and its crew come across a wrecked ship, whose men seem friendly enough. But they soon take over the ship, killing the captain, and revealing themselves to be pirates. With the talk of gold and treasure, the original Rose of Devon crew willingly joins their number, all except Phil and his friend, Will, who unwillingly join life on the now pirate ship. After raiding a small island town, Will escapes, only be to captured by the pirates, tortured, and killed. Wanting revenge, Phil begins to plot his escape . . . will he make it out alive?

A tale of pirates, mutiny, justice, and swash-buckling adventure, The Dark Frigate will captivate any pirate story fan, young or old!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781614275039
Publisher: Martino Fine Books
Publication date: 10/09/2013
Pages: 280
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 13 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt



Philip Marsham was bred to the sea as far back as the days when he was cutting his milk teeth, and he never thought he should leave it; but leave it he did, once and again, as I shall tell you.

His father was master of a London ketch, and they say that before the boy could stand unaided on his two feet he would lean himself, as a child does, against the waist in a seaway, and never pipe a whimper when she thrust her bows down and shipped enough water to douse him from head to heels. He lost his mother before he went into breeches and he was climbing the rigging before he could walk alone. He spent two years at school to the good Dr. Josiah Arber at Roehampton, for his father, being a clergyman's son who had run wild in his youth, hoped to do better by the lad than he had done by himself, and was of a mind to send Philip home a scholar to make peace with the grandparents, in the vicarage at Little Grimsby, whom Tom Marsham had not seen in twenty years. But the boy was his father over again, and taking to books with an ill grace, he endured them only until he had learned to read and write and had laid such foundation of mathematics as he hoped would serve his purpose when he came to study navigation. Then, running away by night from his master's house, he joined his father on board the Sarah ketch, who laughed mightily to see how his son took after him, do what he would to make a scholar of the lad. And but for the mercy of God, which laid Philip Marsham on his back with a fever in the spring of his nineteenth year, he had gone down with his father in the ketch Sarah, the night she foundered off the North Foreland.

Moll Stevens kept him, while he lay ill with the fever, in her alehouse in High Street, in the borough of Southwark, and she was good to him after her fashion, for her heart was set on marrying his father. But though she had brought Tom Marsham to heel and had named the day, nothing is sure till the words are said.

When they had news which there was no doubting that Tom Marsham was lost at sea, she was of a mind to send the boy out of her house the hour he was able to walk thence; and so she would have done, if God's providence had not found means to renew his strength before the time and send him packing in wonderful haste, with Moll Stevens and certain others after him in full cry.

For the third day he had come down from his chamber and had taken the great chair by the fire, when there entered a huge-bellied countryman who carried a gun of a kind not familiar to those in the house.

"Ah," Phil heard them whispering, as he sat in the great chair, "here's Jamie Barwick come back again." Then they called out, "Welcome, Jamie, and good morrow!"

Philip Marsham would have liked well to see the gun himself, since a taste for such gear was born in him; but he had been long bedridden, and though he could easily have walked over to look at it, he let well enough alone and stayed where he was.

They passed it from one to another and marvelled at the craftsmanship, and when they let the butt fall on the floor, the pots rang and the cans tinkled. And now one cried, "Have care which way you point the muzzle." But the countryman who brought it laughed and declared there was no danger, for though it was charged he had spent all his powder and had not primed it.

At last he took it from them all and, spying Moll Stevens, who had heard the bustle and had come to learn the cause, he called for a can of ale. There was no place at hand to set down his gun so he turned to the lad in the chair and cried, "Here, whiteface with the great eyes, take my piece and keep it for me. I am dry — Oh, so dry! Keep it till I have drunk, and gramercy. A can of ale, I say! Hostess! Moll! Moll! Where art thou? A can of ale!"

He flung himself down on a bench and mopped his forehead with his sleeve. He was a huge great man with a vast belly and a deep voice and a fat red face that was smiling one minute and frowning the next.

"Ho! Hostess!" he roared again. "Ale, ale! A can of ale! Moll, I say! A can of ale!"

A hush had fallen upon the room at his first summons, for he had been quiet so long after entering that his clamour amazed all who were present, unless they had known him before, and they now stole glances at him and at one another and at Moll Stevens, who came bustling in again, her face as red as his own, for she was his match in girth and temper.

"Here then!" she snapped, and thumped the can down before him on the great oaken table.

He blew off the topmost foam and thrust his hot face into the ale, but not so deep that he could not send Phil Marsham a wink over the rim.

This Moll perceived and in turn shot at the lad a glance so ill-tempered that any one who saw it must know she rued the day she had taken him under her roof in his illness. He had got many such a glance since word came that his father was lost, and more than glances, too, for as soon as Moll knew there was nothing to gain by keeping his good will she had berated him like the vixen she was at heart, although he was then too ill to raise his head from the sheet.

It was a sad plight for a lad whose grandfather was a gentleman (although he had never seen the old man), and there had been times when he would almost have gone back to school and have swallowed without a whimper the Latin and Greek. But he was stronger now and nearer able to fend for himself and it was in his mind, as he sat in the great chair with the gun, that after a few days at longest he would pay the score in silver from his chest upstairs, and take leave forever of Moll Stevens and her alehouse. So now, giving her no heed, he began fondling the fat countryman's piece.

The stock was of walnut, polished until a man could see his face in it, and the barrel was of steel chased from breech to muzzle and inlaid with gold and silver. Small wonder that all had been eager to handle it, the lad thought. He saw others in the room furtively observing the gun, and he knew there were men not a hundred leagues away who would have killed the owner to take it. He even bethought himself, having no lack of conceit in such matters, that the man had done well to pick Phil Marsham to keep it while he drank his ale.

The fellow had gone to the opposite corner of the room and had taken a deep seat just beneath the three long shelves on which stood the three rows of fine platters that were the pride of Moll Stevens's heart.

The platters caught the lad's eye and, raising the gun, he presented it at the uppermost row. Supposing it were loaded and primed, he thought, what a stir and clatter it would make to fire the charge! He smiled, cocked the gun, and rested his finger on the trigger; but he was over weak to hold the gun steady. As he let the muzzle fall, his hand slipped. His throat tightened like a cramp. His hair, he verily believed, rose on end. The gun — primed or no — went off.

He had so far lowered the muzzle that not a shot struck the topmost row of platters, but of the second lower row, not one platter was left standing. The splinters flew in a shower over the whole room, and a dozen stray shots — for the gun was charged to shoot small birds — peppered the fat man about the face and ear. Worst of all, by far, to make good measure of the clatter and clamour, the great mass of the charge, which by grace of God avoided the fat man's head although the wind of it raised his hair, struck fairly a butt of Moll Stevens's richest sack, which six men had raised on a frame to make easier the labour of drawing from it, and shattered a stave so that the goodly wine poured out as if a greater than Moses had smitten a rock with his staff.

Of all in the room, mind you, none was more amazed than Philip Marsham, and indeed for a moment his wits were quite numb. He sat with the gun in his hands, which was still smoking to show who had done the wicked deed, and stared at the splintered platters and at the countryman's furious face, on which rivulets of blood were trickling down, and at the gurgling flood of wine that was belching out on Moll Stevens's dirty floor.

Then in rushed Moll herself with such a face that he hoped never to see the like again. She swept the room at a single glance and bawling, "As I live, 'tis that tike, Philip Marsham! Paddock! Hound! Devil's imp!" — at him she came, a billet of Flanders brick in her hand.

He was of no mind to try the quality of her scouring, for although she knew not the meaning of a clean house, she was a brawny wench and her hand and her brick were as rough as her tongue. Further, he perceived that there were others to reckon with, for the countryman was on his feet with a murderous look in his eye and there were six besides him who had started up. Although Phil had little wish to play hare to their hounds, since the fever had left him fit for neither fighting nor running, there was urgent need that he act soon and to a purpose, for Moll and her Flanders brick were upon him.

Warmed by the smell of the good wine run to waste, and marvellously strengthened by the danger of bodily harm if once they laid hands on him, he got out of the great chair as nimbly as if he had not spent three weeks in bed, and, turning like a fox, slipped through the door.

God was good to Philip Marsham, for the gun, as he dropped it, tripped Moll Stevens and sent her sprawling on the threshold; the fat countryman, thinking more of his property than his injury, stooped for the gun; and those two so filled the door that the six were stoppered in the alehouse until with the whoo-bub ringing in his ears Phil had got him out of sight. He had the craft, though they then came after him like hounds let slip, to turn aside and take to earth in a trench hard by, and to lie in hiding there until the hue and cry had come and gone. In faith, he had neither the wind nor the strength to run farther.

It was "Stop thief!" — "Murders done!" — "Attach the knave!" — "Help! Help!"

Who had dug the trench that was his hiding-place he never knew, but it lay not a furlong from the alehouse door, and as he tumbled into it and sprawled flat on the wet earth he gave the man an orphan's blessing. The hue and cry passed him and went racing down the river; and when the yells had grown fainter, and at last had died quite away, he got up out of the trench and walked as fast as he could in the opposite direction, stopping often to rest, until he had left Moll Stevens's alehouse a good mile behind him. He passed a parish beadle, but the fellow gave him not a single glance; he passed the crier calling for sale the household goods of a man who desired to take his fortune and depart for New England, and the crier (who, one would suppose, knew everything of the public weal) brushed his coat but hindered him not. In the space of a single furlong he met two Puritans on foot, without enough hair to cover their ears, and two fine gentlemen on horseback whose curls flowed to their shoulders; but neither one nor other gave him let. The rabble of higglers and waggoners from the alehouse, headed by the countryman, Jamie Barwick, and by Moll Stevens herself, had raced far down the river, and Phil Marsham was free to go wherever else his discretion bade him.

Now it would have been his second nature to have fled to the docks, for he was bred a sailor and could haul and reef and steer with any man; but they whom he had no wish to meet had gone that way and in his weakness it had been worse than folly to beard them. His patrimony was forfeit, for although his father had left him a bag of silver, it lay in his chest in Moll Stevens's alehouse, and for fear of hanging he dared not go back after it. She was a vindictive shrew and would have taken his heart's blood to pay him for his blunder. His father was gone and the ketch with him, and, save for a handful of silver the lad had about him, he was penniless. So what would a sailor do, think you, orphaned and penniless and cut off from the sea, but set himself up for a farmer? Phil clapped his hand on his thigh and quietly laughed. That a man needed money and skill for husbandry never entered his foolish head. Were not husbandmen all fond fellows whom a lively sailor man might fleer as he pleased? Nay, they knew not so much as one rope from another. Why, then, he would go into the country and set him up as a kind of prince among husbandmen, who had, by all reports, plenty of good nappy liquor to drink and bread and cheese and meat to eat.

With that he turned his back on the sea and London and on Moll Stevens, whom he never saw again. His trafficking with her was well ended, and as well ended his father's affair, in my belief; for the woman had a bitter temper and a sharp tongue, and there are worse things for a free-hearted, jovial man such as Tom Marsham was, than drowning. The son owed her nought that the bag in his chest would not repay many times over, so he set out with all good courage and with the handful of silver that chanced to be in his pocket and, though his legs were weak and he must stop often to rest, by nightfall he had gone miles upon his way.


A Leal Man and a Fool

Clouds obscured the sun and a gusty wind set the roadside grasses nodding and rustled the leaves of oak and ash. Phil passed between green fields into a neat village, where men and women turned to look after him as he went, and on into open country, where he came at last to a great estate and a porter's lodge and sat him down and rested. There was a hoarse clamour from a distant rookery, and the wind whispered in two pine trees that grew beside the lodge where a gentleman of curious tastes had planted them. A few drops of rain, beating on the road and rattling on the leaves of a great oak, increased the loneliness that beset him. Where he should lie the night he had no notion, or whence his supper was to come; but the shower blew past and he pressed on till he came to a little hamlet on the border of a heath, where there was a smithy, with a silent man standing by the door.

As he passed the smithy the lad stumbled.

The man looked hard at him as if suspecting some trickery; but when Phil was about to press on without a word the man asked in a low voice, "Who the de'il gaed yonder on sic like e'en and at sic like hoddin' gait?"

At this Phil sat down on a stone, for his weakness had grown on him sorely, and replied that whither he was going he neither knew nor cared. Whereupon the man, whom he knew by his tongue to be a Scot, cried out, "Hech! The lad's falling!" And catching the youth by the arm, he lifted him off the stone and led him into the smithy.

Phil found himself in a chair with straight back and sides, but with seat and backing woven of broad, loose straps, which seemed as easy as the best goose-feathers. "It is nought," he said. "A spell of faintness caught me. I'll be going; I must find an inn; I'll be going now."

"Be still. Ye'll na be off sae soon."

The man thrust a splinter of wood into the coals, and lighting therewith a candle in a lanthorn, he began rummaging in a cupboard behind the forge, whence he drew out a quarter loaf, a plate of cheese, a jug, and a deep dish in which there was the half of a meat pie. Placing before his guest a table of rough boards blackened with smoke, a great spoon, and a pint pot, he poured from the jug a brimming potful of cider, boiled with good spices and fermented with yeast.

"A wee healsome drappy," said he, "an' then the guid vittle. Dinna be laithfu'."

Raising the pot to his lips the lad drank deep and became aware he was famished for food, although he had not until then thought of hunger. As he ate, the quarter loaf, the cheese, and the half of a meat pie fell victims to his trenchering, and though his host plied the jug to fill his cup, when at last he leaned back he had left no morsel of food nor drop of drink.

Now, for the first time, he looked about him and gave heed to the smoking lanthorn, the dull glow of the dying sea-coals in the forge, the stern face of the smith who sat opposite him, and the dark recesses of the smithy. Outside was a driving rain and the screech of a gusty wind.

It was strange, he thought, that after all his doubts, he was well fed and dry and warm. The rain rattled against the walls of the smithy and the wind howled. Only to hear the storm was enough to make a man shiver, but warmed by the fire in the forge the lad smiled and nodded. In a moment he was asleep.


Excerpted from "The Dark Frigate"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Charles Boardman Hawes.
Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Customer Reviews