The Dark Frigate

The Dark Frigate

by Charles Boardman Hawes


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A Newbery Medal winner for the year's most distinguished contribution to American literature for children, a swashbuckling tale of adventure and bravery on the high seas.

Philip Marsham's father is lost at sea leaving him alone in the world. An accidental discharge of a gun causes him to flee London and seek his fortunes on the high seas.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781515442158
Publisher: Wilder Publications
Publication date: 11/14/2019
Pages: 194
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.45(d)
Age Range: 6 - 12 Years

About the Author

Charles Boardman Hawes was a twentieth century American author. He was posthumously awarded the 1924 Newbury Medal for The Dark Frigate. One of his other titles, The Great Quest, was also a Newbury Honor title in 1922.

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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.

Table of Contents

Flight 6

A Leal Man and a Fool 12

Two Sailors on Foot 23

The Girl at the Inn 30

Sir John Bristol 38

The Rose of Devon 47

The Ship’s Liar 61

Storm 67

The Master’s Guest 76

Between Midnight and Morning 81

Head Winds and a Rough Sea 86

The Porcupine Ketch 95

A Bird to Be Limed 108

A Wonderful Excellent Cook 113

A Lonesome Little Town 124

The Harbour of Refuge 134

Will Canty 142

Tom Jordan’s Mercy 150

A Man Seen Before 155

A Prize for the Taking 163

Ill Words Come True 169

Back to the Inn 181

And Old Sir John 186

And Again the Rose of Devon 190

Customer Reviews

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The Dark Frigate 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
MaowangVater on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
England is on the brink of civil war when Philip Marscham is washed up in London after his father¿s death at sea. The adventurous young seafarer strikes out on his own, but soon finds himself unwittingly fallen in with a crew of vicious pirates. It's fight, die or escape, and there's little hope of escape from a ship at sea. Hawes¿s colorful language and sharply drawn characters evoke the time of Charles I in this bold adventure tale.
SHARONTHEIL on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Dark Frigate is a pirate adventure set in seagoing England. Its Shakespearean language might challenge young readers, and even mature readers should keep Merriam-Webster within reach of this book. The book's author, Charles Boadman Hawes, received his Newbery Medal posthumously, as he died in 1923; he also won the Newbery honor award for The Great Quest (1922), grew up as a seaman, and added detailed research and firsthand accounts to preserve the authenticity of his book's portrayal of 13th-century seafaring life. Its attention to detail and its rhythmic, expressive language create an adventurous tale of substance. However, the rich and complex moral layering provides no easy answers¿good guys often do bad things, and bad guys can also be very good people; these factors pull The Dark Frigate up to the level of great literature.
TadAD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hawes tells the story of Philip Marsham, an orphan who runs away to sea to get away from the unloving woman who takes care of him. His ship is seized by pirates and Philip is forced to join them or be killed. Eventually, the pirates are taken and Philip is brought to trial for piracy and finally exonerated. He tries to return to the various places and people in his life that he thought he wanted, but all prove disappointing and the book ends with his return to the sea.Hawes has populated the book with many well-drawn and vivid characters, but I could never summon the necessary liking for Philip to make it all work. Some books are set up so the reader is supposed to find the protagonist unpleasant, but this wasn't one of them. However, instead of rooting for him, I found him arrogant, self-absorbed, ungrateful and generally boring.I also had trouble with the language. Period dialect is fine in its place, but trying to parse "A wee healsome drappy an' then the guid vittle. Dinna be laithfu'." seriously detracted from what is, at heart, just an adventure story. Even the prose not spoken by characters had a stilted quality to it.Newbery Medal or no, I cannot recommend this one.
tjsjohanna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an adventure story, perfect for boys. However, modern boys might be at pains to get through it, which is a shame. The hero of this book is brave, true, and confident in his ability and worth. Well written, good plot line, and leaves the reader wanting to know more about Philip.
debnance on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Philip Marsham signed on to work on a ship. Before he had traveled far, however, pirates on the ship kill the ship¿s captain and part of the crew and take the ship over. Philip has no choice but to stay on the ship and help the pirates, as much as he is able, to carry on with their plan to take over other ships. Finally Philip has an opportunity to escape from the ship onto an island, but he cannot survive long there. He finds another ship and has hope to convince the captain of this ship that he was not a willing member of the pirate crew and that he will be allowed to travel on the ship to home.
Hamburgerclan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
From my earliest days, I have had a taste for science fiction. To me, adventure equaled hopping in one's spaceship and blasting off for distant worlds. As I grew older and became aware of other genres of fiction, I gained a vague awareness that the plot of a typical space opera could easily be rewritten--to fit another genre, to be set in the Wild West or on the open seas. I never had an interest in experiencing those other genres, however. The few snatches of westerns or pirate swashbucklers I saw on television never made me hungry for a different taste. I have now learned that maybe I just needed to experience a good story in one of those other genres. The Dark Frigate is a pirate story. It's the tale of Philip Marsham, a young man born and bred to the sea. Left on his own when his father is lost at sea, Philip sets out to seek his fortune. After wandering a bit inland he is drawn to the sailor's life and ships out on The Rose of Devon. Unfortunately, the ship encounters a band of pirates and circumstances force Philip to sail with them. It's a great book. Mr. Hawes made the entire world come alive, so much so that I had to adapt my thinking to the archaic language used by the characters. Conversely, I had no problem picturing scene after scene in my mind as I read it. It's sold as a book for young adults, but I found the story and characters to be quite grown up. We bought the book for my daughter's schooling and, given her tastes, she may not like this one. If that's so, I'll be glad to take this tome off her hands and put it on my own shelf.--J.
HomeSchoolBookReview More than 1 year ago
In seventeenth-century England, nineteen-year-old Philip Marsham’s mother had died when he was young, and his ship captain father Thomas raised him on the sea. Philip would have been with his father when Thomas’s ship went down and he was lost, but the son had become ill and was being nursed in London by his father’s hopeful fiancée Moll Stevens. But an unfortunate accident forces him to flee London. He meets up with a couple of sailors headed for a ship at Bideford, and Philip goes with them. Along the way they stop at an inn where he meets Nell Entick and they agree that he will return to marry her. At Bideford, he signs on with the Rose of Devon, a dark frigate bound for the quiet shores of Newfoundland. However, the ship is seized in midocean by a devious group of men plucked from a floating wreck, the Captain is murdered, and Philip is unwillingly coerced into joining these "gentlemen of fortune" or pirates on their evil activities. What will happen when they are caught and Philip is brought to trial? And will he ever see Nell Entick again? This book won the 1924 John Newbery Medal. I admit I was a bit apprehensive about reading the book as a result of some evaluations, but now that I have it doesn’t seem to me that it was as bad as they implied. Yes, some of the women are less than virtuous, but in contrast Philip Marsham himself is a model of honesty and loyalty. He didn’t come across to me generally as having “an eye towards comely women” but simply as a young man of nineteen smiling at “a comely lass” who caught his attention and whom he decided that he wanted to marry. A little bad language is found along with a lot of references to drinking alcohol, and I will grant that some of the murder descriptions are rather blunt, especially that of Will Canty. For that reason I would not recommend it for small or sensitive children, but after all it is a pirate story, and there is really nothing worse than what one would read in Treasure Island or a G. A. Henty novel. Charles Hawes’s first novel was The Mutineers written in 1920, though not published until 1925. He won a Newbery Honor Award in 1922 for The Great Quest, but then died shortly after the publication of The Dark Frigate, and his widow had to accept the Medal. If you are looking for a rousing seafaring adventure with bloody battles, brutal buccaneers, and a bold, spirited hero, The Dark Frigate will fill the bill.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was very disappointing because the author doesn't describe the characters very well.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Poor Phillip Marsham, he joined a frigate in his teens and then the ship is taken over by a bunch of pirates. Fortunately for Phillip the pirate captain realizes how loyal Phillip is. Will he make it back to England? You'll just have to read the book and trust me it will be worth it. i enjoyed this book very much and I'm very picky when it comes to books. One of the few downfalls on the book is getting used to the English dialogue, but after that it really gives you a feel for what it was like in the 1640's. Other than that this a great book of a journey of a young man. You can see how well the author develops Phillip into a real man throughout the book. The author obviously took this book to heart and it definately payed off. I wouldn't argue with the reward he received any day of the week.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Dark Frigate is an exciting seafaring adventure story of Philip Marsham, a young man bred to sea who signs up with the Rose of Devon. The frigate is taken by pirates and Philip is forced to accompany them. Set in the time of King Charles and seventeenth century England, this story is extremely well written. A tremendous amount of care and thought went into writing this one and well worth reading again and again.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great tale of adventures on the seas and piracy! After reading it, I could easily understand why it was a Newberry Award winner. It has some old English in it, but once you get used to reading it, you'll find it is a very good story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book-on-tape is a wonderful way to spend some time escaping into an interesting and exciting story...Domenick Allen's narration is magical. He provides a multitude of characters that bring the words to life for the listener.